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Monthly Archives: June 2013

NSA Spying, NSA Lying, and Where the Fourth Amendment Is GoingPosted: 25 Jun 2013 09:19 AM PDT

Jim Harper (CATO Inst.)

If you want a good primer on the

NSA PRISMNSA spying disclosed so far, check out the item by Cato alum Tim Lee on the Washington Post’s WonkBlog. It’s a blessedly brief but informative run-down covering:

– mass collection of phone records;

– the PRISM program, which gathers data about Americans incidentally to its stated aim of foreign surveillance; and

– the NSA’s fiber optic eavesdropping: “[T]he NSA has a broad program (actually, several of them) to sweep up Internet traffic from fiber optic cables.”

Also, be sure to read the letter Senators Wyden (D-OR) and Udall (D-CO) sent to NSA head General Keith Alexander yesterday. In it, they point out inaccurate and misleading statements the

The seal of the U.S. National Security Agency....

The seal of the U.S. National Security Agency. The first use was in September 1966, replacing an older seal which was used briefly. For more information, see here and here. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

NSA made in a recently distributed fact sheet. At a certain point, inaccuracies become willful.

On the question of whether surveillance of every American’s phone calling is constitutional, Lee notes how the government and its defenders will rely on a 1979 case called Smith v. Maryland. In that case, the government caused a telephone company to install a pen register at its central offices to record the numbers dialed from the home of a suspected robber. Applying doctrine that emerged from Katz v. United States (1967), the Court found that a person doesn’t have a “reasonable expectation of privacy” in phone calling information, so no search occurs when the government collects and examines this information.

It takes willfulness of a different kind to rely on Smith as validation the NSA’s collection of highly revealing data about all of usSmith dealt with one suspect, about whom there was already good evidence of criminality, if not a warrant. The NSA program collects call information about 300+ million innocent Americans under a court order. And the Supreme Court is moving away from Katz doctrine, having avoided relying on it in recent major Fourth Amendment cases such as Jardines (2013), Jones(2012), and Kyllo in 2001.

Nobody knows where exactly the Court is headed with the Fourth Amendment in the challenging area of communications, but I’ve argued for reaching back to the wisdom of Justice Butler, dissenting inOlmstead (1929):

Telephones are used generally for transmission of messages concerning official, social, business and personal affairs, including communications that are private and privileged – those between physician and patient, lawyer and client, parent and child, husband and wife. The contracts between telephone companies and users contemplate the private use of the facilities employed in the service. The communications belong to the parties between whom they pass.

      
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June 25, 2013 Dear Gaston,From my office at the Southern Poverty Law Center, I can see the route where thousands marched from Selma to Montgomery in 1965 in support of the right to vote. Today, the Supreme Court basically said that the country should reverse its course.

Señalización de lugar de votación en Californi...

Señalización de lugar de votación en California. 2008. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In its decision to gut key provisions of the Voting Rights Act, the Court brushed aside the considered judgment of a nearly unanimous Congress and opened the door to new forms of discrimination against minority voters.

After compiling an extensive legislative record, the House passed a bill in 2007 reauthorizing the preclearance provisions of the Voting Right Act by a vote of 390 to 33. In the Senate, the vote was even more lopsided – 98 to 0. Today, by a narrow 5 to 4 vote, the Supreme Court has said that Congress has to start over.

Chief Justice Roberts, writing for the activist wing of the Court, said that the formula in the Voting Rights Act used to identify jurisdictions like Alabama and Mississippi for added voter protections was no longer “justified by current needs.”

The facts tell a different the story.

In the history of voting in Alabama, not a single black candidate has been able to defeat a white incumbent or win an open seat in a statewide race. Black office holders in Alabama are confined almost exclusively to minority districts because voting in the state is still highly polarized along racial lines. This polarization distorts the political process and gives the majority the very ability to dominate the minority that the Voting Rights Act was designed to address.

And yes, places like Alabama in the Deep South are different. Again, the facts tell the story. While 40 percent of the white voting public cast their ballots for a black president nationwide, only 15 percent of white voters did so in Alabama. And as Justice Ginsburg pointed out in her dissent, there are still Alabama legislators who talk openly about suppressing the black vote and refer to black voters as “aborigines.” Freed by the Supreme Court from the protections for minority voters that Congress envisioned, one can only imagine what these kind of legislators will think of next.

At the conclusion of the great Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights march, Dr. King said that it would not be long before the era of discrimination in voting would be behind us. After today’s decision, the path will be much longer and tortuous. But we must not be discouraged or give up. The dream is still worth fighting for.

    Sincerely,
Richard Cohen
President, Southern Poverty Law Center

 
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6/25/13
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It’s THE RULE OF LAW for everybody BUT for Judges determining its meaning?

John Baptist Alberdi (Author of Argentine Constitution knew better!. He included into The Constitution his Article 29  (I do mention Art. 29 as “The Curse of Alberdi to the Infamous Traitors to The Homeland” (La Maldicion de Alberdi a Los Infames Traidores a La Patria) –  Is that too Harsh, Rough, Insolent Language? … Well It is in The Constitution!, and it is not strong enough to avoid violations to The Constitution! BUT at least let us -(plain and simple citizens)- qualified some judges as: “Infamous traitors to The Nation

Art 29 Argentine Constitution:

(Original in Spanish)Art.29 CN-1853    El Congreso no puede conceder al Ejecutivo Nacional, ni las Legislaturas Provinciales a los Gobernadores de Provincia facultades extraordinarias, ni la suma del poder público, ni otorgarles sumisiones y supremacías por las que la vida, el honor o las fortunas de los argentinos queden a merced de gobiernos o persona alguna. Actos de esta naturaleza llevan consigo una nulidad insanable, y sujetarán a los que los formulen, consientan o firmen, a la responsabilidad y pena de los infames traidores a la Patria.

(Translated to English)Art.29. CN-1853    Congress can not grant to the National Executive, nor the Provincial Legislatures, to Provincial Governors, extraordinary powers or the sum of public power, neither prerogatives nor special privileges in order to put the life, honor or wealth of argentines to the mercy of government, neither any person whatsoever. Acts of this nature imply absolute nullity, are utterly useless, and condemn to those who formulate, consent or endorse it, the responsibility and punishment of infamous traitors to The Homeland.
American Jurisprudence as Sausage-Making: Who Interprets the Constitution? Posted: 21 Jun 2013 02:51 PM PDT

Doug Bandow  (CATO Institute)

The Supreme Court is finishing up its latest term, saving its most controversial decisions for last. Americans venerate the Constitution, but judges determine its meaning.

Unfortunately, the result of the judicial process vindicates German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, who famously said that no one should see his sausages or his laws being made. As I point out in my latest Forbes online column, much of the Constitution is treated like an antique wall decoration: although the federal government is supposed to have only limited, enumerated powers, today it pretty much does whatever it wants.

Unfortunately, there may be no way to avoid judicial rulemaking. Louis Fisher of the Library of Congress argued: “Being ‘ultimate interpreter,’ however, is not the same as being exclusive interpreter.”

It seems obvious that if you take an oath to support the Constitution, you shouldn’t act in ways that violate the law. Former congressman and judge Abner Mikva argued that a failure by Congress to consider constitutionality “is both an abdication of its role as a constitutional guardian and an abnegation of its duty of responsible lawmaker.”

Still, the judiciary long has had the final say. But that actually is supposed to limit government and protect liberty. As I wrote on Forbes online:

The final say logically goes to the judiciary, since the legislative and executive branches pass and approve/execute laws, respectively, making them the institutions in most need of constraint. Alexander Hamilton argued in Federalist 78 that limitations on government power “can be preserved in practice no other way than through the medium of courts of justice, whose duty it must be to declare all acts contrary to the manifest tenor of the Constitution void. Without this, all the reservations of particular rights or privileges would amount to nothing.”

In this way, the judiciary was supposed to protect individual liberty. In introducing the Bill of Rights, James Madison told Congress: “If they are incorporated into the Constitution, independent tribunals of justice will consider themselves in a peculiar manner the guardians of those rights; they will be an impenetrable bulwark against every assumption of power in the Legislature or Executive; they will be naturally led to resist every encroachment upon rights expressly stipulated for in the Constitution by the declaration of rights.” (Tragically, this is no longer the case.)

Unfortunately, too many judges no longer really “interpret” the Constitution. That is why Madison’s “few and defined” powers for the national government have become “everything and unlimited. Basically, legislative and executive branch officials act however they like, subject only to judges, who decide however they like. It is government by zeitgeist—if it feels good, do it.

That means the rest of us need to work extra hard to “defend and support” the Constitution. It ain’t much of a bulwark for liberty these days, but it really is about all we have.

Federal Judge to Kentucky Bureaucrats: Stop Prohibiting Free Competition

Posted: 18 Jun 2013 06:29 AM PDT

Ilya Shapiro

Last Thursday, a federal district court judge issued an injunction blocking the

Kentucky

Kentucky (Photo credit: davebarger)

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet – the genteel name given the Bluegrass State’s department of transportation – from enforcing the state’s anti-competitive licensing law for movers.

In Bruner v. Zawacki, which is being litigated by CATO INSTITUTECato adjunct scholar Timothy Sandefur and our other friends at the Pacific Legal Foundation, small business owner Raleigh Bruner argues that the licensing laws, which allow existing moving companies to file “protests” to block new companies from opening, create a “Competitor’s Veto” that has no rational basis. Judge Danny Reeves ordered the state not to enforce those laws, at least until he has the opportunity to issue a complete opinion – but he strongly indicated that he already thinks those laws are unconstitutional:

The Sixth Circuit has held that “protecting a discrete interest group from economic competition is not a legitimate governmental purpose.” And it appears that the notice, protest, and hearing procedure in the statutes – both facially and as applied – operate solely to protect existing moving companies from outside economic competition. The defendants have admitted that they know of no instance where, upon a protest by an existing moving company, a new applicant has been granted a certificate … .  [O]ver the past five years, no protest filed has been regarding an applicant’s safety record. Likewise, no applications have been denied on the grounds that the applicant was a danger to public health, safety, or welfare.

You can read more about the case at PLF’s Liberty Blog.

CATO INSTITUTEPosted: 13 Jun 2013 09:33 AM PDT

Tim Lynch

Today the Washington Post says the federal government “should allow” Google and other business firms “to say a little more about their relationship with the government.” It is a telling indication of our “relationship with the government” that we are now pleading for freedom of speech.

Quick story to illustrate this point. Nick Merill is a business person in the telecommunications and web services field and one day federal agents brought him a “national security letter.” Astonished by what the “letter” demanded of him, Merill sought legal advice even though the government threatened him with jail if he told anyone else about his “letter.”NATIONAL SECURITY LETTERS & GAG ORDERS I invited Merill to a Cato event on Capitol Hill. Listen to his story and then forward it across the internet so others will have a better idea of what the government is doing.

CATO - NICHOLAS MERRILLNicholas Merrill Speaks Out About Receiving a National Security Letter http://www.youtube.com/watch

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=eU2wAu4qE60

From A Washington Post

U.S., British intelligence mining data from nine U.S. Internet companies in broad secret program

The National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio and video chats,

National Security Agency Seal

National Security Agency Seal (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track foreign targets, according to a top-secret document obtained by The Washington Post.

The program, code-named PRISM, has not been made public until now. It may be the first of its kind. The NSA prides itself on stealing secrets and breaking codes, and it is accustomed to corporate partnerships that help it divert data traffic or sidestep barriers. But there has never been a Google or Facebook before, and it is unlikely that there are richer troves of valuable intelligence than the ones in Silicon Valley.

https://snt145.mail.live.com/default.aspx?id=64855#n=1480984979&fid=1&mid=b35438bb-cfd7-11e2-af53-00237de4a252&fv=1

http://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/us-intelligence-mining-data-from-nine-us-internet-companies-in-broad-secret-program/2013/06/06/3a0c0da8-cebf-11e2-8845-d970ccb04497_print.html

 

Google, like the other companies, denied that it permitted direct government access to its servers.

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

Google cares deeply about the security of our users’ data,” a company spokesman said. “We disclose user data to government in accordance with the law, and we review all such requests carefully. From time to time, people allege that we have created a government ‘back door’ into our systems, but Google does not have a ‘back door’ for the government to access private user data.”

Internet!

Internet! (Photo credit: LarsZi)

Microsoft also provided a statement: “We provide customer data only when we receive a legally binding order or subpoena to do so, and never on a voluntary basis. In addition we only ever comply with orders for requests about specific accounts or identifiers. If the government has a broader voluntary national security program to gather customer data we don’t participate in it.”

Yahoo also issued a denial.

“Yahoo! takes users’ privacy very seriously,” the company said in a statement. “We do not provide the government with direct access to our servers, systems, or network.”

From: Sue Littleton (Corn Woman)

Picture of Sue Littleton
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:

I refuse to become angry or disappointed at the revelation that the U.S. government has been collecting personal information from telephone messages (and possibly MANY other sources connected to computers).  One of my favorite authors, also a Texan, novelist David Lindsey of Houston,  wrote the following in a chapter of his novel An Absence of LightDoubleday May 1994, ISBN No. 0-553-5694-1-4.  I was re-reading the book and found the following on pages 52, 53 and 54 of the Bantam edition.

“The age of the personal computer has brought about a sea change in the private investigative and intelligence business.  Now anyone who could afford a modem could enter the voyeuristic world of “databanking” where a subterranean network of information, resellers, known as superbureaus, had assembled in a limitless number of categories every act imaginable about most American citizens.  Every time an individual filled out an information form, whether he was registering for a free prize at his local grocery or answering a “confidential” medical record form at his doctor’s office, he was providing data that in all likelihood eventually would be purchased by an information reseller.  ¨Bank records, medical records, insurance records, personal data, credit records, everything was fair game in the information reselling business where practically nothing was protected by law.  And virtually everyone who collected information—including doctors, bankers, and creditors—would eventually sell it.  The fact was, in the United States today [N.B. – 1994], the individual had no way of controlling information about himself.  For a price, everyone’s privacy was for sale.

“This ongoing boom in information had been a boom to the burgeoning private investigative business, so much so that anybody and every body was doing it.  Now anybody could do a sip trace, search for a missing person, check the background of a job applicant, check criminal records, track down an old girl friend, check out a competitor’s financial status and credit standing, locate anyone’s address, telephone number, bank account, and medical records.  The data was so easy to obtain hat it was like picking it up for the sidewalk. [Italics mine.]

“… these agencies had even turned their investigation businesses into huge corporate entities like Kroll and Associates [LLC] of New York.., Investigative Group Inc. [now Investigative Group International], of Washington …whose annual gross incomes were in the tens of millions.  These high profile agencies often specialized in money chasing for corporations and even foreign governments.  [In case you want to think the companies named are a novelist’s fiction or no longer exist, look them up on the Internet.]

“…anyone who ignored the importance of evolution did so at their own risk.  But as the world entered the closing years of  the twentieth century, few of those sages could have imagined the neck-snapping speed at which change would one day occur. …

“Now, more than ever at any other time in world history, “private” information was in danger of becoming only a nominal concept. The information business, legal and illegal, governmental and private, commercial and policial, personal and public, legitimate and underground, was in an era of explosive growth. And, as in all boom-time businesses, abuse was rampant.  Unfortunately, the American public didn’t have a clue about what was happening to it. [Ìtalics mine].”

This was 1994.  Now the number of personal computers with names like “cell phone,” “Ipad,” “Notebook,” and the information spewed into the public domain (via FB, Twitter, Linkedin, you name it) have increased beyond belief.  There is no way to protect privacy with millions of computers pouring information into the airways, so why are people surprised and indignant that information they have passed on by computer, knowingly or unknowingly, is being ”picked up off the sidewalk”?  We live in the age of the Computer, and with the ease information can be broadcast, we have lost our privilege of privacy.  Live with it.  You can be assured if we do not monitor ourselves (and others), we change nothing, because others will be monitoring US.

Sue Littleton

Los gobiernos y los políticos son males necesarios; ¡también es necesario interrumpir lo que  estamos haciendo, para ir al baño a vaciar nuestra vejiga! Esta  es un pasable buen ejemplo a lo que se refiere el lema de este blog;

AMO A MI PATRIA… A QUIEN TEMO ES A MI GOBIERNO…”

Pero…!Cuidado!

No caigamos tampoco en la crítica ligera, inconducente… ¡No hubiese yo querido estar en los zapatos del Presidente Truman… cuando después de oír a todos sus asesores (incluidos los mentirosos, interesados, o  de espíritu pequeño y mezquino) debió tomar -en soledad- esa decisión : ¿usar o no usar esas dos armas nucleares sobre Hiroshima y Nagasaki?

Todos los gobiernos son humanos y como tales son falibles, ¡todos cometemos errores! – Los errores no me asustan, es el método más viejo de aprender si no los escondemos bajo la alfombra y los usamos bien  (intento y error)

¡Hasta la institución humana más vieja que conozco (La Iglesia Católica) que por miles de años ha sostenido “la infalibilidad Papal”  ha dado un paso gigantesco para aprender y limitar a su gobierno; me refiero a cuando el Papa Polaco pidió Perdón al mundo por las atrocidades cometidas por La Inquisición.

Al re-leer el artículo de abajo me, pregunto: ¿es esta una crítica al Presidente Truman y a su decisión? –  ¡No lo entiendo así! – Es una crítica a todo el uso posterior basado en aquellos hechos. – Usted, yo y la gente común, tenemos muy pocas chances de vernos involucrados en dilemas como los vividos por Truman y Kennedy; pero SI –(si nos da la gana)- de participar en aprender. a elegir mejor y/o limitar a nuestros gobiernos.  –  Pero ¿aprender?… ¿Que podemos aprender nosotros… a nuestro nivel, cuando a la historia la escriben los triunfadores! – Si eso es verdad… ¿o mas bien, ERA verdad?

Fíjense: Debieron pasar 500 años para que La Iglesia Católica diera ese gran paso a la modernidad,… pero pasaron muchísimos menos para que reaccione a graves escándalos modernos como la ostentación de riqueza, el banco Ambrosiano o la pedofilia… el Papa Alemán saltó como un fusible divino, y el Conclave en menos de tres días, (como sacado de la  galera de un mago), ¡ZAS! Francisco, desde el fin del mundo… apareció… Seguro no será  infalible, podrá arreglar solo parte, pero él en sí, no es lo más importante “Los Grandes Cambios Lo Son”  ¡No más infalibilidad! … No más jefe vitalicio… Si un Papa fue mal elegido, no puede, no quiere, o no sirve, se lo cambia, “!…Intento y Error…!”

¿Quieres otro ejemplo? Tal como Francisco, este también traído del frio: La Guerra de Malvinas… Ya no existe más una sola historia, (la “oficial”) hoy la gente, el pueblo tiene Internet, google, correo electrónico, cámaras digitales y amigos en todo el mundo… y entre todos desenmascaramos a los mentirosos y traidores de adentro, de afuera y de los costados, que por desgracia malos políticos hay en todos lados…

¿Cuando crees comenzó La Guerra Austral de Malvinas?  – ¿comenzó el 2 de Abril de 1982 tal como nos la cuenta la “historia oficial Argentina y Británica?  –  ¿Comenzó  con la ocupación incruenta de territorio propio?  ¡Ni una sola baja! … ocupación pre-acordada con Inglaterra y los propios  isleños que veían con agrado ser ciudadanos de algún país (Inglaterra no los trataba así, los consideraba “población implantada, ya cara de mantener para unas islas que habían perdido su valor. Por su lado Argentina los trataba con cariño no como una inver$ión!, sin reparar en gastos.  – O –  ¿Comenzó el 2 de Mayo con la orden de ataque al Crucero General Belgrano? ¡Esa orden causó  más de mil muertos como desmentirán los propios Ingleses cuando levanten el secreto a las cifras oficiales y toda la documentación decretada por el gobierno de su Magestad. Esa orden criminal, la dio La Primer Ministro Ingles, como un desesperado intento en salvar su carrera política que se hundía “como el peor Gobierno de La Historia del Reino Unido” Orden tomada en absoluta soledad contra toda opinión; La del Parlamento (oposición y sus propios partidarios), contra la de su mejor aliado (USA) y aun desde el punto de vista militar fue tan absurda y criminal que el capitán del submarino atómico la hizo repetir tres veces. ¿Quieren que hunda al Crucero General Belgrano, fuera del área de guerra, y en rumbo de retirada? “SI hunda al Belgrano” … “SI HUNDA AL BELGRANO”… “SI, AFIRMATIVO HUNDA AL BELGRANO  – Que yo sepa ningún comandante en guerra, debe pedir autorización para defenderse o atacar, si esta en guerra!  –  Esa orden fue como asesinar por la espalda a un parlamentario con bandera blanca, en retirada… solo allí comenzó la guerra… El cumplimiento de esa repugno a un buen guerrero profesional, que como todos los militares están educados y entrenados, para cumplir ordenes sin discutirlas” La traición fue política como hoy lo han denunciado los propios ingleses en el funeral de Margaret Thatcher.

Hoy tenemos comunicaciones instantáneas a nivel planetario, y lo mejor de todo gratis, no dependientes de selectores oficiales, ni censores (propios o ajenos. Cada uno de nosotros puede construir (a su responsabilidad) su propio castillo de naipes, y si es bien intencionado será mejor que cualquier historia oficial.

Te robo unos instantes más antes de dejarte leer la nota de abajo

Comparemos al cambio de la Iglesia Católica (500 años) con Inglaterra actual, solo 90 años de los que ya han pasado 31.

El Gobierno de su Majestad, decreto el archivo secreto por 90 años de toda la documentación sobre la guerra de Malvinas. Lo no impide a “Sir Lawrence Freedman escribiese sus libros sobre “La Historia Oficial De La Guerra Austral 1982” (pueden ver esos libros en Amazon, siguiendo este link http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=The+official+History+of+the+Falklands) pero si eres inquieto, un poco rebelde a dejarte manejar, si sigues investigando en Amazon encontraras otra historia “Oficial” del gobierno de un pseudo paisito de 2000 isleños que critican desconformes por la insuficiente parcialidad de la anterior historia “oficial”  –  Yo no he considerado útil en absoluto gastar U$A 104.05 para leer propaganda oficial de un “profesor con titulo nobiliario” siguiendo la necesidad de salvar al menos algo del prestigio nacional Ingles. Especialmente cuando tengo mucha mejor, veraz y mas imparcial información gratis, al alcance de mis dedos (mi laptop) y conste me refiero a fuentes serias, espontaneas no censuradas de los propios ingleses; tal como las críticas hechas a “la peor Leader de Guerra de toda la historia del reino unido”  tal las critica hechas públicas por la oposición y los medios de difusión incluida la BBC de Londres, con motivo del sepelio de Margaret Thatcher, donde se pretendió torcer la historia oficialmente llevando a su sepelio 800 militares para rendirle “homenaje” a su memoria. Quien dese conocer (gratis, sin pedirle permiso a los ingleses e ignorando sus 90 años de secreto (El equivalente al “Índex” con que la Iglesia Católica amenazaba con las llamas del infierno a quien leyese  los libros allí incluidos por orden papal) On Line, ahora, y gratis está plagado con testimonios argentinos y británicos hechas espontáneamente. Si un contendiente (de cualquier guerra) alaba a su enemigo yo le creo mucho más que si se lo acusa de atrocidades, o se alaba a si mismo; pero ¡cuidado! Aun en esos casos no los descarto a la ligera, trato de buscar más publicaciones sobre el mismo hecho. El gran reto que nos desafía hoy Internet es la sobreabundancia de información, no hay una censura y también los mezquinos, mentirosos, criminales de guerra, y mezquinos traidores a sus patrias tienen acceso a Internet. Margaret Thatcher es solo un ejemplo

The Bomb Didn’t Beat Japan… Stalin Did

by WARD WILSON  –  May 29, 2013

The U.S. use of nuclear weapons against Japan during World War II has long been a subject of emotional debate. Initially, few questioned President Truman‘s decision to NUCLEAR BOMBS 2 HIROSHIMA and NAGASHAKIdrop two atomic bombs, on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But, in 1965, historian Gar Alperovitz argued that, although the bombs did force an immediate end to the war, Japan’s leaders had wanted to surrender anyway and likely would have done so before the American invasion planned for November 1. Their use was, therefore, unnecessary. Obviously, if the bombings weren’t necessary to win the war, then bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki was wrong. In the 48 years since, many others have joined the fray: some echoing Alperovitz and denouncing the bombings, others rejoining hotly that the bombings were moral, necessary, and life-saving.

Both schools of thought, however, assume that the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with new, more powerful weapons did coerce Japan into surrendering on August 9. They fail to question the utility of the bombing in the first place — to ask, in essence, did it work? The orthodox view is that, yes, of course, it worked. The United States bombed Hiroshima on August 6 and Nagasaki on August 9, when the Japanese finally succumbed to the threat of further nuclear bombardment and surrendered. The support for this narrative runs deep. But there are three major problems with it, and, taken together, they significantly undermine the traditional interpretation of the Japanese surrender.

Timing

The first problem with the traditional interpretation is timing. And it is a serious problem. The traditional interpretation has a simple timeline: The U.S. Army Air Force bombs Hiroshima with a nuclear weapon on August 6, three days later they bomb Nagasaki with another, and on the next day the Japanese signal their intention to surrender.* One can hardly blame American newspapers for running headlines like: “Peace in the Pacific: Our Bomb Did It!”

When the story of Hiroshima is told in most American histories, the day of the bombing — August 6 — serves as the narrative climax. All the elements of the story point forward to that moment: the decision to build a bomb, the secret research at Los Alamos, the first impressive test, and the final culmination at Hiroshima. It is told, in other words, as a story about the Bomb. But you can’t analyze Japan’s decision to surrender objectively in the context of the story of the Bomb. Casting it as “the story of the Bomb” already presumes that the Bomb’s role is central.

Viewed from the Japanese perspective, the most important day in that second week of August wasn’t August 6 but August 9. That was the day that the Supreme Council met — for the first time in the war — to discuss unconditional surrender. The Supreme Council was a group of six top members of the government — a sort of inner cabinet — that effectively ruled Japan in 1945. Japan’s leaders had not seriously considered surrendering prior to that day. Unconditional surrender (what the Allies were demanding) was a bitter pill to swallow. The United States and Great Britain were already convening war crimes trials in Europe. What if they decided to put the emperor — who was believed to be divine — on trial? What if they got rid of the emperor and changed the form of government entirely? Even though the situation was bad in the summer of 1945, the leaders of Japan were not willing to consider giving up their traditions, their beliefs, or their way of life. Until August 9. What could have happened that caused them to so suddenly and decisively change their minds? What made them sit down to seriously discuss surrender for the first time after 14 years of war?

It could not have been Nagasaki. The bombing of Nagasaki occurred in the late morning of August 9, after the Supreme Council had already begun meeting to discuss surrender, and word of the bombing only reached Japan’s leaders in the early afternoon — after the meeting of the Supreme Council had been adjourned in deadlock and the full cabinet had been called to take up the discussion. Based on timing alone, Nagasaki can’t have been what motivated them.

Hiroshima isn’t a very good candidate either. It came 74 hours — more than three days — earlier. What kind of crisis takes three days to unfold? The hallmark of a crisis is a sense of impending disaster and the overwhelming desire to take action now. How could Japan’s leaders have felt that Hiroshima touched off a crisis and yet not meet to talk about the problem for three days?

President John F. Kennedy was sitting up in bed reading the morning papers at about 8:45 am on October 16, 1962 when McGeorge Bundy, his national security advisor, came in to inform him that the Soviet Union was secretly putting nuclear missiles in Cuba. Within two hours and forty-five minutes a special committee had been created, its members selected, contacted, brought to the White House, and were seated around the cabinet table to discuss what should be done.

Español: Augusto Pinochet Ugarte. Militar y Pr...

Español: Augusto Pinochet Ugarte. Militar y Presidente de Chile. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When Prime Minister Winston Churchill new he lost the elections, just after the Second World War. he exclaimed: “THAT IS WHAT FOR WE WON THE WAR: TO LET PEOPLE VOTE AS THEY WISH…”

General Pinochet aided the British war effort by allowing them to use Chilean ports. Thatcher treated him as an honoured friend after that, despite Pinochet having overthrown the elected government of President Salvador Allende in a military coup and having thousands of people tortured and killed.

She condemned Nelson Mandela’s ANC as terrorists and refused to place economic sanctions on Apartheid South Africa, though we are assured that in private she was putting verbal pressure on South African Presidents to free Mandela. Sanctions would have made considerably more difference and much sooner.

Thatcher’s government also provided training, tens of millions of pounds of money and dozens of jet fighter bombers to Mugabe’s military as he was massacring members of the tribes of his political opponents by the thousand. Perence Shiri, one of the officers who headed the genocide was subsequently allowed to come to Britain to train at the Royal Defence College. The massacres were played down by the Foreign Office as “exaggerated” (21) – (22).

She even armed Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s and right up until the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in the middle of 1990; including selling him chemicals used as ingredients for chemical weapons, spare parts for tanks and attempting (but failing) to sell him hawk jets which could be used to bomb ground targets (as they later were in Indonesia) while Saddam was using chemical weapons on Iranians and Iraqi Kurds and carrying out his Anfal campaign of genocide against the latter. (23) – (24)

On top of this, British taxpayers ended up having to pay the £1 billion bill for Saddam’s purchases from British arms companies, as after the 1991 Gulf War there was no chance of his government paying – and Thatcher had approved the exports under Export Credit Guarantees (25).

She signed the Al Yamamah oil for arms deal with the Saudi monarchy, which continues to be an absolute dictatorship imposing a medieval version of Islamic law – and torturing confessions out of suspects before executing them by beheading. Her son Mark Thatcher had a £1 million house purchased for him by a company based on a tax haven and owned by Wafic Said, a dodgy Middle Eastern arms deal broker. Said also gave Mark a £14,000 Rolex watch. Said’s wife donated large amounts to the Conservative party before the 2010 election . Mark Thatcher has denied rumours that he received millions more as part of the deal (26) – (27).

Margaret Thatcher also sent the SAS to train the mass murdering Khmer Rouge’s monarchist allies in laying land mines in the 1980s (28).

Supporting mass murdering dictators, monarchist allies of ultra-nationalist regimes guilty of genocide and governments which gave black people no rights whatsoever seem like strange ways to promote freedom, but then Thatcher never really supported freedom or democracy in the sense that most people use the words.

A Prime Minister who divided Britain – just like Major and Blair and Cameron

Thatcher was the first post-war Prime Minister to divide Britain, largely through strident English nationalism thinly disguised as British nationalism, combined with constant attempts to divide the majority in order to make conquering them easier.

Those who had jobs were encouraged to hate those who were unemployed as supposedly all lazy scroungers, while Thatcher continued to drive unemployment higher and higher. Those who worked in the private sector were told they should disdain public sector employees and trade unions as supposedly selfish “vested interests” – and the working class were encouraged to hate the middle class as effete namby pamby liberals who were meant to be out of touch with reality and had more education than was good for them. Hatred of foreigners, minority nationalities, religions and ethnic groups, as well as refugees and asylum seekers was also encouraged.

This was all continued under Blair to some extent, with opposition to his policies also blamed on the “middle class” as if a bunch of former lawyers who were now on over £100,000 a year ministerial and Prime ministerial salaries weren’t middle class.

Under Cameron we are back to all the divide and conquer tactics used under Thatcher.

Thatcher’s period as Prime Minister did more than anything to boost support for Scottish and Welsh devolution and for independence for Scotland – and this has been cemented by the continuation of many of her policies by her successors.

_______________________

(1) = BBC News 08 Apr 2013 ‘David Cameron: Baroness Thatcher ‘saved our country’’, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-22068771

(2) = Telegraph.co.uk 15 Apr 2013 ‘Margaret Thatcher’s funeral: it would be extraordinary not to spend so much, says No 10’,
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/margaret-thatcher/9994872/Margaret-Thatchers-funeral-it-would-be-extraordinary-not-to-spend-so-much-says-No-10.html

(3) = ITV news 16 Apr 2013 ‘Poll: 60% oppose taxpayer funding of Thatcher funeral’,
http://www.itv.com/news/update/2013-04-13/poll-60-oppose-taxpayer-funding-of-thatcher-funeral/

(4) = BBC News 02 Apr 2013 ‘George Osborne: Benefit critics talk ‘ill-informed rubbish’’, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-21998784

(5) = Office for National Statistics 20 Mar 2013 ‘Labour Market Statistics, March 2013’, http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/lms/labour-market-statistics/march-2013/statistical-bulletin.html

(6) = Office for National Statistics 20 Mar 2013 ‘Labour Market Statistics, March 2013 – Vacancies’, http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/lms/labour-market-statistics/march-2013/statistical-bulletin.html#tab-Vacancies

(7) = Guardian 15 Jan 2013 ‘Statistics cast doubt on coalition’s ‘500,000 new jobs’ claim’, http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/jan/15/statistics-doubt-coalition-500000-jobs

(8) = BBC News 03 Apr 2013 ‘George Osborne: Benefit critics talk ‘ill-informed rubbish’’,
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-21998784

(9) = Guardian 22 Oct 2012 ‘Extra 10,000 working people a month reliant on housing benefit, says report’, http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/oct/22/working-people-housing-benefit-report

(10) = Guardian 01 Apr 2013 ‘The day Britain changes: welfare reforms and coalition cuts take effect’, http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2013/mar/31/liberal-conservative-coalition-conservatives

(11) = Ian Gilmour (1992) ‘Dancing with Dogma – Britain under Thatcherism’, Simon and Schuster, London, 1992, Chapter 4, pages 60 – 65

(12) = Observer 09 Oct 2011 ‘Big Bang’s shockwaves left us with today’s big bust’,
http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/oct/09/big-bang-1986-city-deregulation-boom-bust

(13) = Ha Joon Chang (2007) ‘Bad Samaritans’, Random House, London, 2008

(14) = Guardian 02 Dec 2011 ‘Big six energy firms face fresh accusations of profiteering’,
http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/dec/02/energy-firms-accusations-profiteering-electricity

(15) = Guardian 12 Apr 2013 ‘Big six energy firms accused of ‘cold-blooded profiteering’’, http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2013/apr/12/big-six-energy-firms-accused-profiteering

(16) = BBC News 31 Dec 2010 ‘New Year Honours: Broughton and Carr business knights’, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-12093737

(17) = BBC News 15 Apr 2013 ‘Benefit cap ‘will encourage people to work’’, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-22148764

(18) = BBC News 01 Jun 2005 ‘Secret Falklands fleet revealed’,
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4597581.stm

(19) = Freedman, Lawrence (2005) ‘Official History of the Falklands Campaign Volume 1’,
Routledge, 2005, chapters 8 – 9

(20) = Lenman, B. P. (1992) The Eclipse of Parliament: Appearance and Reality in British Politics since 1914 (London: Edward Arnold)

(21) = Campaign Against The Arms Trade ‘UK Arms Exports to Zimbabwe’ by Emily Mitchell, Section 3, Mugabe’s Zimbabwe , http://www.caat.org.uk/resources/countries/zimbabwe/ and
http://www.caat.org.uk/resources/countries/zimbabwe/#3

(22) = Programme Transcript – Panorama, “The Price of Silence” , RECORDED FROM TRANSMISSION: BBC 1-10 Mar 2002, http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/static/audio_video/programmes/panorama/transcripts/transcript_10_03_02.txt

(23) = Financial Times 29 Jul 1991 ‘Britain Exported Poisonous Gas Ingredients to Iraq’

(24) = Financial Times 30 Dec 2011 ‘UK secretly supplied Saddam’, 
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/52add2c4-30b4-11e1-9436-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2QfcSoZKo

(25) = Guardian 28 Feb 2003 ‘How £1bn was lost when Thatcher propped up Saddam’, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2003/feb/28/iraq.politics1

(26) = Guardian 13 Apr 2013 ‘Mark Thatcher’s return to the spotlight’, 
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/apr/11/mark-thatcher

(27) = Guardian 28 May 2010 ‘Questions raised over Conservative party donations by businessmen’s wives’, http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/may/28/donations-tory-wives-businessmen

(28) = Pilger , John (1998) Hidden Agendas Vintage , London , 1998, pages 33-34 , 260-261 of paperback edition