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Boardman writes: "We are waging war on terrorism even as we embody terrorism. No wonder we seem sometimes to be at war with ourselves, and have been for most of the 21st century."

U.S. officials, responding to an unspecified threat to diplomatic posts overseas, will shut down some U.S. embassies in the Middle East and North Africa. (photo: NBC)
U.S. officials, responding to an unspecified threat to diplomatic posts overseas, will shut down some U.S. embassies in the Middle East and North Africa. (photo: NBC)

US Shuts Embassies Because?

By William Boardman, Reader Supported News

06 August 13


Your duty as a citizen is to be afraid whenever they say "Be afraid!"
If a country is at war, and that war is an illusion, is there a cure?

e are a country at war, as President Obama reminded us in his notable May 23 speech about "contemplating the future of warfare here in the 21st century."

The war we're at is the undeclared war that began, for all practical purposes, on September 11, 2001. It is the war on terrorism. It is a war on an abstraction, a tactic, an idea that can be embodied by anyone or everyone or no one. We are waging war on terrorism even as we embody terrorism. No wonder we seem sometimes to be at war with ourselves, and have been for most of the 21st century.

"We have now been at war for well over a decade," the president said in a statement so simple and broad as to include all the devastation we've wrought in Iraq and Afghanistan to so little useful effect, right down to the latest drone strike against some person we decided fits today's enemy combatant profile.

That much is obvious to almost everyone. Less obvious is that the same war has been turned inward, waged against Americans at home - increasingly prisoners of the homeland and increasingly surrounded by homeland security, whether it's needed or not. The unchecked expansion of policing entities since 9/11, too vast to be easily or briefly described, continues unchecked, because we are at war.

No American Under 12 Has Lived in a Country at Peace

If the United States is in an actual war, as generally defined by history and our constitution, then we must have enemies who can be identified, or so one might think. So who are the enemies of the United States? Officially, in the president's words, "the United States is at war with al Qaeda, the Taliban, and their associated forces." This is the term or the president uses to maintain the possible fiction that our seemingly endless war against a concept is actually legal.

Okay, so what does that mean: "Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and their associated forces"?

Al Qaeda is a brand name, but there's little public evidence that it's actually a significant corporate entity. Al Qaeda may or may not be one thing or many things, and American actions may or may not be killing al Qaeda members faster than it creates them. Whatever the U.S. government knows, or thinks it knows, is not widely shared with most of its citizens.

The Taliban appears to be a real, regional entity with real, regional goals that mostly have never had anything much to do with the United States except when the U.S. came into the region. If the Taliban has ever posed a serious threat to the United States, the evidence for that remains secret.

America's Main Enemy Is Nameless, Shapeless "Associated Forces"

That leaves "their associated forces," in the president's phrase that exercises presumably purposeful threat inflation by using "forces" to refer to what we have no reason to believe are more than assorted gangs of malcontents with a range of grievances, many of which are legitimate and long-standing.

And who are these "associated forces?" The government won't say. The country may be at war, but most of the names of our enemies are classified, and subject to change without notice.

At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on May 16, a week before the president's speech, the committee chairman, Senator Carl Levin, a Democrat from Michigan, questioned Michael Sheehan, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict, about designating enemies with no more Congressional authority than the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) passed by Congress three days after the 9/11 attacks, which gave the president effectively unlimited discretion to wage the war on terrorism, wherever he might imagine it to be.

Senator Levin Asks Questions, the Pentagon Takes Evasive Action

At the May 16 hearing, senators were making an effort to develop a more firm, reliable basis in fact and law for killing foreigners (mostly), a basis that has been absent from the AUMF since it became law in September 2001. One of those questions of fact and law was the determination of who decides who is an enemy:

Chairman LEVIN. Now, under the definition of ''enemy,'' do you agree that mere sympathy with al Qaeda is not sufficient to be an associated force for purposes of the AUMF?

Mr. SHEEHAN. Yes, Senator. Sympathy is not enough. As Jay Johnson and others have mentioned in public, it has to be an organized group and that group has to be in co-belligerent status with al Qaeda operating against the United States.

Chairman LEVIN. Is there any good reason why both Congress and the public should not be informed of which organizations and entities the administration has determined to be co-belligerents of al Qaeda and to promptly be informed of any additions or deletions from that list?

Pentagon Says: Congress Has Oversight Role, but No Right to Know Facts

Mr. SHEEHAN. Senator, I think that the appropriate role for the Congress is in its oversight regarding the designation of groups. A lot of these groups, as you know, Senator, have very murky membership and they also have very murky alliances and shifting alliances. And they change their name and they lie and obfuscate their activities. So I think it would be difficult for the Congress to get involved in trying to track the designation of which are the affiliate forces. We know when we evaluate these forces what they are up to, and we make that determination based on their co-belligerent status with al Qaeda and make our targeting decisions based on that criteria rather than on the shifting nature of different groups and their affiliations.

Chairman LEVIN. Is there a list now? Is there an existing list of groups that are affiliated with al Qaeda?

Mr. SHEEHAN. Senator, I am not sure there is a list per se. I am very familiar with the organizations that we do consider right now are affiliated with al Qaeda, and I could provide you that list of organizations. [emphasis added]

Chairman LEVIN. Would you give us that list?

Mr. SHEEHAN. Yes, sir. We can do that.

Guess What Happened When Pro Publica Asked to See the List?

Pro Publica defines itself as "an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest. Our work focuses exclusively on truly important stories, stories with 'moral force.'" Pro Publica reported on July 26 that it had requested the Pentagon list of America's "enemies" from Senator Levin's office, "but Levin's office told Pro Publica they aren't allowed to share it."

Pro Publica reported that it then asked the Pentagon for the American enemies list, only to have Lt. Col. Jim Gregory say that revealing the list could cause "serious damage to national security." How is it that people suffering drone strikes can threaten national security by having their purported identities revealed to the public half a world away?

Lt. Col. Gregory explained: "Because elements that might be considered 'associated forces' can build credibility by being listed as such by the United States, we have classified the list. We cannot afford to inflate these organizations that rely on violent extremist ideology to strengthen their ranks."

The American Enemies List Is Decided Anonymously and Secretly

So who, exactly, is deciding who the enemy is? Not the president, according to Sheehan's testimony in May: "The issue of affiliated force has not gone to the presidential level, Senator. That issue is managed at a much lower level."

So according to the public record, the president decides whether or not to kill people with drone strikes, but he has no direct role in deciding who those people might actually be.

Although Sheehan's testimony (above) equivocates regarding Congressional oversight, he was later more direct about the determination of who's an enemy: "I would think that that is a decision better for the executive branch. As I mentioned to the chairman, these organizations right now are quite savvy in regards to how they are perceived overseas, and so they are always shifting their rhetoric, their names and affiliations. And I think that is better left to the executive branch."

So that's where the United States stands today, officially, a country at war with people whose names can't be shared with the American people, and whose enemy status is determined by someone other than the Congress, or even the president, and that secrecy is necessary because these people might not know we think they are co-belligerents and that might inflate their egos or their numbers, or both, and besides they're "murky" and change their names and lie and obfuscate - national security is at stake, trust us. Isn't that about it?

U.S. Foreign Missions Are Being Closed Because of Dangerous "Chatter"

And some of those enemies "chatter." There's been a lot of media chatter lately about the terrorists' chatter that led the State Department to shut down nine embassies or consulates over the weekend of August 3-4, and another 19 until August 10, three days after the end of Ramadan.

"The one thing we can talk about is the fact that there's been an awful lot of chatter out there," said the highest ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee on talking head TV. And just to make sure the fear card was fully played, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia added that the recent chatter of our enemies, whom he did not name, is "very reminiscent of what we saw pre-9/11."

Chambliss did not explain why, if the current chatter is reminiscent of 9/11, the American response is limited to closing embassies overseas. And of course he wasn't asked any probing questions.

"This is the most serious threat that I've seen in the last several years," Chambliss asserted, pretty much contradicting all the Republican huffing and puffing about Benghazi. He wasn't asked about that, either.

The Political Version of a Drug Mule, Chambliss Ferries Propaganda

Of course Chambliss was appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press" to shill for the official line with the full cooperation of host David Gregory. This is Saxby Chambliss, remember, the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee in recent years who, when Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, was trying to warn the country about National Security Agency (NSA) spying on Americans, said nothing.

As soon as news of the embassy closings broke, the news was full of skeptical voices saying how convenient that seems for the Obama administration, changing the subject from NSA law-breaking to something somewhat scary. And Chambliss helped with that, making a breathtakingly dishonest comment about the NSA spy programs:

"These programs are controversial. We understand that. They're very sensitive. But they're also very important, because they are what lead us to have the— or allow us to have the ability to gather this chatter that I referred to. If we did not have these programs, then we simply wouldn't be able to listen in on the bad guys. And I will say that it's the 702 program that has allowed us to pick up on this chatter. That's the program that allows us to listen overseas, not on domestic soil, but overseas."

In other words, according to Chambliss, the legal NSA program of gathering intelligence overseas gathered some intelligence overseas, even if was just "chatter." But as to the NSA's illegal behavior in the homeland, never mind.

And especially never mind the breaking news from Reuters on August 5, that the NSA is - presumably with no known legal authority - sharing phone data with another element of the homeland security state, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which in turn misleads the courts, prosecutors, and defense attorneys as to the source of their information. How is this not a criminal conspiracy?

Because we're a country at war, and that war is an illusion, and the enemy can't be named publicly because the enemy is the public?

William M. Boardman has over 40 years experience in theatre, radio, TV, print journalism, and non-fiction, including 20 years in the Vermont judiciary. He has received honors from Writers Guild of America, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Vermont Life magazine, and an Emmy Award nomination from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. your social media marketing partner


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+61 # ER444 2013-08-06 15:59
Timing? My German neighbors are laughing at this. Come on.... this is so obvious... how stupid does the US government think we are. The NSA is stealing our privacy and no silly tricks to keep us off the subject are going to work. Mr. Obama, you have lost the faith of the rest of the world. What a shame. The next "change" needs to be your replacement.
+4 # Shaas 2013-08-07 03:35
By whom? There is no alternative. When they allow you to be a president, you are not an alternative! Remember that.
-1 # karenvista 2013-08-09 21:20
Quoting Shaas:
By whom? There is no alternative. When they allow you to be a president, you are not an alternative! Remember that.

There are elections and a line of succession. Joe Biden ring a bell?
+1 # RLF 2013-08-07 05:26
Not to mention that it is the perfect time of year for a long paid vacation!
+6 # cwbystache 2013-08-07 05:31
More like the rest of the world has come to its senses, even if Democrats are never going to.
0 # karenvista 2013-08-09 21:17
Quoting cwbystache:
More like the rest of the world has come to its senses, even if Democrats are never going to.

Are you still not aware that many, if not most of us who go after Obama's policies are, or were, Democrats. We still believe Mitt Romney would have been worse.
+9 # curmudgeon 2013-08-07 07:21
Stupid - how stupid?

We are not in the streets DEMANDING the enforcement of our Constitution at all and ANY cost...that is how stupid.

And Obama's handlers - our rich oligarchy - know it

We are a nation of sheepies - and " 'fraidy cats" as well .
0 # treadlightly 2013-08-08 22:38
Maybe they finally figured the only way to defeat the people who are supposedly our enemies is to nuke em. Or maybe somebody over there finally managed to build one of their own.
How would we ever know the true source of any nuclear detonation.
Clear out everybody, we're gonna pop a big cap off in their ass.
Who knows, they keep lowering the bar. I don't believe there is anything too insane for our black operators.
0 # karenvista 2013-08-09 21:14
Land of the free and home of the brave?
+26 # cmp 2013-08-06 16:53
Isn't it funny, that we hear no talk of the Suez Canal? They obviously have it surrounded within their targeted zone.. If they are moving tankers through the Canal, can you imagine the size of the military escorts, etc.?

Isn't it funny too, that we hear nothing about the Local cooperation? Are there measures to protect the Citizens? Or, is it that the available resources are dedicated to the "foreign invested assets?"

Uncle Sam...

But, Clare Daly, is a Deputy for Northern Dublin. She was a member of the Socialist Party but is now a member of the United Left Alliance.

If you haven't seen it yet, I would highly recommend watching the following video where she ties together the G-8, the Syrian War and the Corporate Tax Havens with her Prime Minister, Enda Kenney. I think that we could use about 536 Clare's, within our Hall's..:

Quoted excerpt:
"People in this country are very fond of our American brothers and sisters. We stand far more shoulder to shoulder with them by making valid criticisms of their President who has broken his election promises rather than just pimping this nation as a tax haven for their corporations. I am sure the Americans would far prefer their multinationals to pay their taxes at home rather than offshore here so that they could develop their health care and would not be wasting money on arms being sent to slaughter people in other countries."

“Mr. Tax Exile” is a reference to Bono of U2.
+22 # Walter J Smith 2013-08-06 19:06
Obama will stop at nothing to be the US Nazi in chief.

The GOP will stop at nothing to help him.

The Democrats in the Senate and House will do nothing to stop him.

How is this not a conspiracy to defraud the United States of America of any semblance of leadership?

They are so bonkers in their shared extreme bipartisan paranoias they compete only to prove who is the most bonkers.
+5 # wantrealdemocracy 2013-08-07 08:33
Got it wrong about the Dimocraps. They will do all they can to support him. This is another clear sign that the government is totally corrupt and we must take strong action to change this. We want real democracy!! Direct democracy would be best. We, the people tell our representative how to vote in Congress. They put up the bill coming up for a vote and ask us to instruct them on how to vote. The people want our government to stop the wars, tax the rich, take care of the people and protect the environment. They are doing none of these things now---but just the opposite.
+4 # Cassandra2012 2013-08-08 13:43
It is 1933 and the brownshirts are everywhere.
It is the 50s and McCarthy rants out for commies under your bed ...

The Kochs are trying to buy PBS and tell us there is no climate change,
+32 # reiverpacific 2013-08-06 22:57
Welcome to the most self-generated paranoid society (and the word "Society" is paying it a compliment) since the McCarthy era.
Gawd, this country used to be so much fun and had so many creative and stimulating possibilities.
Unfortunately the possibilities are seemingly becoming the most ugly and self-destructive.
Hold on to y'r senses of humor folks -it's about all we have left.
"In all their promises of paradise, you will not hear a laugh"
Bob Dylan -The Gates of Eden.
+20 # ishmael 2013-08-06 23:20
Isn't there some teensy detail about Congress having the necessary authority to declare war?
+22 # soularddave 2013-08-06 23:36
With Answers to the US Congress like that, I'm sure we're lost down the rabbit hole.
+4 # Milarepa 2013-08-07 00:16
After WWII the concept of perpetual war (Korea, Vietnam etc) began to permeate the US. Lots of money to be made. This worked for a while but then became self-devouring. That's where we are now - the US desperately trying to dominate and bully the world through war or threat of war. Nature is putting a stop to all of this even as I write - hurricanes, floods, droughts, polar ice melting, nuclear catastrophes. We're all sitting in the same boat, doesn't matter who is at the helm who at the oars.
+14 # Dr Peter Sloane 2013-08-07 02:33
The paragraph in the above article that reads:-
"and who are these 'associated forces' The Government won't say. The country may be at war but most of the names of our enemies are classified and subject to change without notice" could have come straight out of Orwell's 1984
+2 # EternalTruth 2013-08-07 14:26
We are at war with Eastasia. We have always been at war with Eastasia.
0 # karenvista 2013-08-09 22:05
Quoting EternalTruth:
We are at war with Eastasia. We have always been at war with Eastasia.

We are at war with Eurasia, We have always been war with Eurasis.

The Ministry of Truth is the only job creator left.
+2 # Cassandra2012 2013-08-08 13:44
+4 # cordleycoit 2013-08-07 05:22
My Strawberry Statement:"All we are saying is give peace a chance."
+8 # cwbystache 2013-08-07 05:29
No, Mr. President, what you should be contemplating is not "the future of warfare", but warfare having no future.
+2 # barbaratodish 2013-08-07 05:49
The closing of the embasies, etc., reminds me of my older brother telling me about 5 years ago: "Barbara, you have enemies!" I asked him to tell me who my enemies are. He refused to tell me. Guess my brother is my enemy! lmao
+4 # JJMK3 2013-08-07 05:54
we started the "Perpetual Warring" when we landed on that East Coast Rock. ( Warring is U. S.; ITS WHAT WE DO! The United States of ARMAMENT; we need to start realizing this as TRUELY U.S.
+8 # seeuingoa 2013-08-07 06:45
And don´t forget how wrong intelligence
was about WMD/Iraq.

Why should we believe them this time ?
+3 # Salus Populi 2013-08-07 15:41
Indeed. Arthur Silber [powerofnarrati ] has pointed out that intelligence should *never* be relied on by critics, whether it happens to support the criticism -- as the NIEs on Iran did both in 2007 and in 2012 -- or not, because intelligence has *nothing whatsoever* to do with policy.

As the Downing Street Memo put it, "the intelligence is being fixed": *all the time.*

Policy decisions are made 'for reasons of State' -- that is, they are expected to accrue to the interest of the elites making the decisions. They have nothing at all to do with 'national security,' which is essentially a totalitarian term of discourse in any case.

The 'intelligence,' like the conveniently timed fake audio and video tapes of Binladdin, is there purely for propaganda purposes -- to enhance the hoped-for terror and feelings of helplessness among the general populace, and divert them while their pockets are being picked, their houses stolen, and their fundamental human rights flushed down the toilet.
+8 # walt 2013-08-07 06:50
Despite all the "security" and fear perpetuated in the USA, as well as the unlimited spying and surveillance, we all know little or nothing. And it began with, as David Corn wrote in his book, "The Lies of George W. Bush."

The real cause of our endless war seems to be an unbridled influence in the government and that is the neocon lobby and military/indust rial complex that will work hard at keeping the country at war in the middle east while telling the people that we are defending our country. Our country? Seriously?

If we really cared about making peace and securing the USA, we would stop our terrorist attacks and seek solutions non-violently.

Americans are long tired of policing the world on behalf of others while neglecting and even depriving our own citizens.
+8 # wrknight 2013-08-07 07:03
"We have met the enemy and he is ours." - Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, 1813

"We shall meet the enemy, and not only may he be ours, he may be us." - Walt Kelly, 1953

"We have met the enemy and he is us." - Pogo, 1970

"We are no longer permitted to meet the enemy because he is us." - me, 2013
+7 # mjc 2013-08-07 10:31
This article of Boardman's only confirmed what we all have been guessing: we are being played for too stupid to understand this superior government's policies or actions and we don't deserve to know what they are doing IN OUR NAME! Even a US Senator, Levin cannot be trusted to know who is on the "enemy's list"???
+3 # curmudgeon 2013-08-07 07:23
'Fraidy Cats 'R Us
+5 # Kwelinyingi 2013-08-07 08:48
Perhaps there is a genuine explanation for the advisory that Americans should leave the ME: Obama's new peace initiative in which Israel will agree to withdraw to the pre-1967 borders and demolish all illegal settlements; all occupied lands will be returned to the Palestinians. Our armed forces will withdraw unconditionally from Iraq and Afghanistan and a Marshall-like plan for reconstructing these devastated countries will be put in place. Libya will have free and fair elections and the country will be compensated for the destruction brought about by the US and NATO. In addition, Israel and Iran will sign a non-aggression and nuclear non-proliferati on treaty. We will forthwith cease aiding jihadist terrorists in Syria and all drones will be destroyed with immediate effect. There will be universal health care for all Americans using funds that would otherwise be utilized for war. Finally, all 140 odd US military bases around the globe will be shut down. So Americans are being asked to leave the ME to give peace a chance. For once.
+4 # EternalTruth 2013-08-07 14:33
You're a dreamer. But you're not the only one.
+7 # RobertMStahl 2013-08-07 09:11
You nailed it on the head this time William Boardman. Or, again, you have. One needs protection from the protection. Let me say that again. One needs protection from the protection because those that own the protection, own the protection rackets maintaining their deformation, need [sic] it because they are the most heinous, fear-inducing criminals in all of history. They are the ones who own SWAT, and use it for their protection, solely, through complete usury, re-distributing the costs. Actually, we may, someday, have intelligence on our side, since, as William Binney talks about the FBI's, Tommy Tamm's discovery of the data feeds they manipulate, that proves it is, naturally, designed for the commonwealth, but, through poor management, turned on the commonwealth instead. As would the testimony of the missing-in-acti on since 2008, Indira Singh, what else could this be but the darkest result of hierarchy instead of holarchy, a term coined by the late Lynn Margulis? Where is Indira Singh. Where is the ecology of mind? Where is autopoiesis in lieu of allopoetic machinery? There can be no other reason than to follow hierarchy upward to find Charlie Manson at the very top. Since the law of nature is that all things must converge, this is the convergence we are left with, hardly finding the salvation Saul Bellow said would only be found in putting those before us who defined the issues, or the limitations that would set us free.
+1 # 6thextinction 2013-08-07 10:00
Did you see The Colbert Report on this issue, Monday night? If not, go the his site and watch...classic ! Not to be missed!
+3 # Dr. Amy L. Beam 2013-08-08 10:26
While the US government continues its war on the American public to make them believe Muslims are their enemy, the Muslim world is celebrating Bayram from August 8 - 10. Businesses and government offices are closed for this major annual holiday. Now, you don't suppose that could be connected to why all the US embassies in 19 Muslim countries are closed until Sunday? It is my understanding the US embassies always close not only on US holidays, but also on the national holidays of the host country.

Personally, I think this is just more main stream media blather to keep fueling the fake war on terror and pump up American Islamaphobia.

Happy Bayram.
+2 # tomo 2013-08-08 20:17
Boardman's second paragraph seems particularly relevant and poignant, especially when he asserts "we embody" the terrorism we oppose. We own the most terrifying nuclear arsenal the world has ever seen. We are willing to break all kinds of eggs in order to "make omelettes." The words "collateral damage" roll easily and frequently from our lips. We've never repented incinerating thousands of Japanese at Hiroshima and Nagasaki who had little or no control over Japanese policy--using their lives as a message to the Japanese policy-makers. "It saved thousands of American lives!" The end justified the means.

Yet we are astounded, mystified, scandalized when others use the same line of argument to rationalize attacks on Americans. If it is alright to use the death of innocents as a means to send messages to policymakers then it is alright to use the death of innocents to send messages to policy makers. How can we effectively fight terrorism if the means we use is terrorism? Shock and Awe, we say. It is not really terrorism that we're against--but the other guy's use of terrorism. Obama's use of drones promotes terrorism, and undermines all our claims to oppose it.

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