Review: The Sorrows of Empire–Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (American Empire Project)

5 Star, Empire, Sorrows, Hubris, Blowback, Intelligence (Government/Secret), Military & Pentagon Power, Misinformation & Propaganda, Secrecy & Politics of Secrecy

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4.0 out of 5 stars Sobering, Makes an Important Case, Rough Around the Edges,

January 24, 2004
Chalmers Johnson
This double-spaced book is an indictment of American militarism and unilateralism, and it merits reading by every citizen. It loses one star to a lack of structure and sufficient references to a broader range of supporting literature, and to the author's tendency to go “a bridge too far” in blaming the CIA for everything and in assuming that our troops and their families are somehow enjoying their “luxurious” overseas deployments.It may be best to begin the review where the author ends, by agreeing with the case he makes for the potential collapse of America if the people fail to take back the power and restore integrity and participatory democracy to the Congress. Absent a radical reverse, four really bad things will happen to America: 1) it will be in a state of perpetual war, inspiring more terrorism than it can defeat in passing; 2) there will be a loss of democracy and constitutional rights; 3) truthfulness in public discourse will be replaced by propaganda and disinformation; and 4) we will be bankrupt.

It merits comment that today, as I read and reviewed the book, which documents over 725 US bases around the world, many of them secret, there is a public discussion in which the Pentagon is acknowledging only 400 or so bases to exist.

There is a considerable amount of short-hand history in the book that can be skimmed rapidly–from the roots of American militarism in the Spanish-American war, to the non-partisan efforts of both Clinton and Bush fils to establish a military base structure in Arabia and in Central Asia.

The author provides a number of worth-while commentaries on war crimes and associations with genocidal acts and repressive dictators on the part of Henry Kissinger, Wes Clark, James Baker, Dick Cheney, and other mostly Republican “wise men” associated with the oil companies of America.

On pages 100-101 he draws on a number of authoritative sources to note that the casualty rate for the first Gulf War was close to 31% (THIRTY-ONE PERCENT) due to the exposure of the 696,778 veterans serving there being exposed to depleted uranium rounds and other toxic conditions *of our own making*, with 262,586 of these consequently falling ill and being *officially* declared to be disabled by the Veteran's Administration. I have no doubt that there will be an additional 100,000 or more disabled veteran's coming out of Gulf War II. These disabilities are multi-generational. Veterans disabled in the Gulf have higher possibilities of spawning children with deformities “including missing eyes, blood infections, respiratory problems, and fused fingers.”

The author excels, I believe, in bringing together in one book the combined costs and threats to the American Republic of a military that on the one hand is creating a global empire that is very costly to the US taxpayer and very threatening to everyone else; and on the other hand, is creating anti-democratic conditions within the United States, to include frequent and expensive preparations for dealing with “civilian disorder conditions” here at home.

The author also excels in discussing both the collapse of US diplomacy (today the Pentagon manages 93% of the international relations budget, the Department of State just 7%), and the rise of private military companies that he carefully lists on page 140–Halliburton, Kellogg Brown and Root, Vinnell, Military Professional Resources, DynCorp, Science Applications Corporation, BDM (now TRW), Armor Holdings, Cubic, DFI, International Charter. There are more–they are all “out of control” in terms of not being subject to Congressional oversight, military justice and discipline, or taxpayer loyalty.

In the middle of the book the author examines the change in the roles of the military from its World War II and post-Cold War missions to five new missions that have not been cleared with the American people: 1) imperial policing; 2) global eavesdropping; 3) control of petroleum fields and channels; 4) enrichment of the military-industrial complex; and 5) comfortable maintenance of the legionnaires in subsidized compounds around the world, such that numbers could be justified that could never be maintained in garrison within the USA.

On page 164 the author notes most interestingly that China is among the greatest purchasers of fiber-optic cable in the world (thus negating much of NSA's 1970's capabilities), and on page 165 he discusses, with appropriate footnotes, how the US, UK, Canada, and Australia are circumventing the prohibitions against monitoring their own people by trading off–the Canadians monitoring British politicians for the British, the British monitoring US politicians, etcetera.

Among the strongest sections of the book is the detailed discussion of America's love affair with ruthless dictators (and Muslim dictators at that) in Central Asia, all in pursuit of cheap oil our privilege elite think they can control. Of special interest to me is the author's delicate dissection of the vulnerability of any Central Asian energy strategy, and his enumeration of all the vulnerabilities that our elite are glossing over or ignoring.

Summing it all up, the author attributes US militarism and the Bush fils “doctrine” to “oil, Israel, and domestic politics”, and he bluntly condemns it all as “irrational in terms of any cost-benefit analysis.” Quoting Stanley Hoffmann, an acclaimed international relations theorist, he condemns Bush's “strategy” (as do I) as “breathtakingly unrealistic”, as “morally reckless”, and as “eerily reminiscent of the disastrously wishful thinking of the Vietnam War.”

This is a fine book. Read widely enough, it has the potential for constructively informing the popular debate that is emerging despite all efforts by the Administration and its corporate cronies to suppress discussion [e.g.'s $2M in cash for a Superbowl ad has been rejected by CBS on the grounds of being too controversial]. Despite a few rough edges, I believe the author represents a body of informed scholarly and practical opinion such as I have tried to honor with my many non-fiction reviews, and I hope that everyone who reads this review decides to buy the book.

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Review: Gold Warriors–America’s Secret Recovery of Yamashita’s Gold UPDATE to Add Links to CDs

5 Star, Corruption, Crime (Government), Empire, Sorrows, Hubris, Blowback, Impeachment & Treason, Military & Pentagon Power, Secrecy & Politics of Secrecy
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5.0 out of 5 stars Earth-Shattering, Faith-Shaking, Well-Documented Deceit,

September 25, 2003
Sterling Seagrave

This book is earth-shattering and faith-shaking, a well-documented tale of deceit at the highest levels of the US government. So controversial and potentially explosive are the findings of this book, to wit, that the White House recovered most of the Nazi and Japanese loot and created a secret slush fund for covert political operations world-wide, that the authors go the extra mile and offer, at a nominal price, two CD-ROMS containing 60,000 pages of supporting documentation including the Japanese treasure maps used by the US to recover the gold and other valuables.Major players include Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, and Nixon, both Allen and John Foster Dulles, Douglas MacArthur, John McCloy, and the famous unconventional warrior Edward Lansdale. What we learn from this book is that those writing about “blowback” (the consequences of unwise US actions) have barely scratched the surface. What we learn is that rather than truly seeking to help the Japanese, Chinese, and other looted nations recover in the aftermath of WWII, the most senior leaders of the US government, no doubt with the best of intentions, actually conspired with Nazi bankers and the Japanese imperial family to create a Black Eagle Trust controlled by a very select hand-picked cabal in Washington.

Originally used to fight communism, the Black Eagle Trust, according to the authors and as thoroughly documented by the book and the two CD-ROMS (which I am happy to have in hand), quickly became a global slush fund used to bribe national leaders and manipulate elections around the world. This fund remains in existence today, making the Swiss Holocaust funds seem like loose-change. According to the authors, major banks are “addicted” to the funds and would face collapse if public investigations resulted in a forced return of this gold and related certificates to the rightful owners.

The authors have produced a magnificent work of both scholarship and investigative journalism. They document the extent of Japanese looting of Korea (beginning in 1895) and China as well as the other countries in the “co-prosperity sphere.” They document the manner in which Japan hid most of the gold in the Philippines (some in Indonesia), and were forced to leave it there from 1943 onwards, when US submarine interdiction became too effective to risk shipments homeward.

I found the level of detail in this book to be quite gripping. The ingenious nature of the Japanese burial sites, with caverns below the more obvious tunnels, with sea-water protection, with maps created in reverse–and the in-bred cruelty of the Japanese, thinking nothing of burying all of the US and other national slave labor *and the Japanese engineers* alive as the final stage of protecting the looted treasure, leave one stunned.

The authors document the central role played by Lansdale in recognizing the opportunity and then briefing MacArthur and then President Truman. According to the authors, the architects of the Black Eagle Trust were three advisors to President's Roosevelt's Secretary of War, Henry Stimson: John McCloy (later head of the World Bank), Robert Lovett (later Secretary of Defense), and Robert Anderson (later Secretary of the Treasury). They made the case to Roosevelt, and presumably to Truman after Roosevelt died, that it would be impractical to return the looted gold to the rightful owners, in part because many of the looted countries were now under Soviet control.

The authors, who conducted many interviews in support of the work, including interviews of former CIA deputy director Ray Cline, who they say was involved with Lansdale and the gold in the 1940's and remained involved with the black gold through the 1980's, provide copies of documents showing the redirection of the looted gold to 176 bank accounts in 42 countries. The gold was then used to support the creation of gold bearer certificates that were in turned used to bribe the most senior officials around the world.

The authors tell a shocking tale of how quickly MacArthur chose to collaborate with the very leadership of Japan that declared war on the USA and was responsible for genocide and looting in Asia on a scale rarely achieved by anyone else. Bringing the story up to date, the authors show how prior attempts to investigate the Black Eagle Trust have led to the ruin of individuals such as Norbert Schlei, at one time deputy attorney general to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. While I have no direct knowledge and cannot be certain myself, I believe the authors have provided a sufficiently compelling case to warrant an international investigation concurrently with a General Accounting Office investigation to be chartered by Congress with unlimited supeona powers specifically directed against classified personalities and archives.

If this story is true, and I personally think that it is, then the US government, in active collusion with the very people the American people fought to defeat in WWII, has been guilty of fraud and depravity on a global scale and against the best interests of both the American people, and the against the rightful owners of the looted gold and other treasures. The authors may well have uncovered the last really big secret of the post-WW II era, and in so doing, opened the way for a restoration of the balance of power among diverse nations, and a sharp delimitation of the abuses that appear to characterize American leadership when it thinks it can rely on secret gold and stolen oil to engage in imperial adventures and domestic improprieties. As an American citizen and voter, and as a person of faith who believes that we must do unto others as we would have them do unto us, I find this book to be shocking, credible, and a basis for popular outrage and demands for truth and reconciliation.

UPDATE: The below links have NOT been tested.




Review: Blank Check–The Pentagon’s Black Budget

5 Star, Congress (Failure, Reform), Crime (Corporate), Crime (Government), Empire, Sorrows, Hubris, Blowback, Impeachment & Treason, Intelligence (Government/Secret), Military & Pentagon Power, Power (Pathologies & Utilization), Secrecy & Politics of Secrecy

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5.0 out of 5 stars Spend-Thrift Intelligence Reduces National Security,

June 16, 2003
Tim Weiner
I know the author personally, from his time as the New York Times investigative journalist responsible for covering the US national and military intelligence programs, and I consider him one of the most balanced, thoughtful, and well-intentioned reporters in the intelligence field.His book remains very, very important because the Pentagon is in the process of reconstituting the “Yellow Fruit” organization, with the same blank check black budget, and the same mind-sets that previously led to enormous ineffectiveness, waste, and some outright corruption and theft of government funds. Known as Gray Fox, this new incarnation of Yellow Fruit has Richard Secord, one of the leaders or the Iran-Contra scandal for which several top personalities were indicted and some convicted, as a primary player.

Tim Weiner's book is important, it is relevant, and it should be read by those responsible for the oversight of military intelligence budgets and capabilities–and by citizens who might wish to question their elected representatives on this important topic.

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Review: Dreaming War–Blood for Oil and the Cheney-Bush Junta

5 Star, Congress (Failure, Reform), Corruption, Crime (Government), Empire, Sorrows, Hubris, Blowback, Executive (Partisan Failure, Reform), Iraq, Military & Pentagon Power, Secrecy & Politics of Secrecy, War & Face of Battle

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5.0 out of 5 stars Jeffersonian Voice of the People–Not Wearing Blinders,

January 23, 2003
Gore Vidal
Gore Vidal speaks truth bluntly and clearly. He addresses points that need to be addresses by every voter, for the people of America are losing their birthrights–their freedoms, their power over their own fate, their control of the resources of the nation that have been–quite literally–hijacked by a mandarin wealthy elite that would sooner cut deals with terrorists and their oil-field sponsors, than look after the best interests of the American public.Interestingly, this book emphasizes something I had not considered that bears emphasis: although there were numerous intelligence failures in detail, Vidal suggests that the Director of Central Intelligence is correct when he claims that 9-11 was not (at root) an intelligence failure–but then leaves unsaid what Vidal says explicitly: it was a policy failure in that Bush-Cheney decided not to alarm the people and not to share the warning information, in part to avoid turbulence and in part because such an attack would be welcome–as Pearl Harbor was welcome–as a means to remilitarize foreign policy.

Indeed, Vidal focuses relentless on the fact that all of the terrorist planes were allowed to run their course, without being intercepted and shot down by any of the military aircraft in the area. Although it would have taken a “strip alert” aircraft to be really effective, and it may not have been possible to load and launch aircraft on standby status in a hanger, it does appear that both the civilian and military chains of command avoided any active efforts to stop the airplanes from hitting their intended targets.

There are some extraordinary truths in this book that bear public discussion during the forthcoming Presidential campaign. I list just a few:

1) It is the US, in its obsessive anti-communism (perhaps aided by the desire of those in power to accummulate wealth and extend their power) which really kicked off the Cold War and were willing to support any dictator, commit any crime, violate any oath, in pursuit of anti-communism. The number of US attacks within an *undeclared* war status is over 250–and this does not count the secret bombing runs into the Soviet Union in the early years when we were just testing their vulnerability.

2) Japan was trying to sue for peace, and the US not only refused to receive their emissaries, but chose to drop the atomic bombs (two of them) to intimate the Russians rather than finalize the Japanese. He also addresses measures the US undertook to force the Japanese to attack Pearl Harbor.

3) Vidal talks about the number of covert wars that have been fought using taxpayer dollars, but without the knowledge or the approval of the taxpayer-voter. This is really a vital point–the people, and their elected representatives in Congress, have lost both the power of the purse and the power over war.

3) Coming further forward, Vidal addresses some stark truths about the current American condition that include the incredible percentage of the population that is either in prison or on parole; the continuing abuse of black citizens, especially in Florida; the continuing censorship of the media in relation to the interests of its advertisers–to include the deceptive and manipulated findings of the polls sponsored by the media; the erosion of individual rights; and the continuing gutting of the US economy by the combined emphasis on arms sales (including to ourselves) and cheap oil that the elite managers of the commonwealth persist in pursuing.

Vidal ends with two notes: first, that a Constitutional Convention, demanded by the people, would allow a complete overhaul of the system–once “we the people” are assembled, they have all the power and can recast the system as they wish–what an exciting idea; and second, that the logical direction for a free people is toward a Swiss like confederation of cantons or city-states (or, as Joel Garreau suggested, “Nine Nations of North America”).

In my view, Vidal stands alone, with Chomsky, in terms of speaking truth to power. Others, like Joe Nye, Jeffrey Garten, Max Manwaring, and Howard Rheingold dance around the issues of policy, credibility, and survivability in capable ways, but Vidal cuts to the heart of the matter: do the people wish to think for themselves and take back the power, or cower as slaves in the gutter? This is very refreshing reading.

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Review: The Fifty Year Wound–The True Price of America’s Cold War Victory

6 Star Top 10%, Atrocities & Genocide, Complexity & Catastrophe, Congress (Failure, Reform), Crime (Government), Diplomacy, Environment (Problems), Executive (Partisan Failure, Reform), Force Structure (Military), History, Intelligence (Government/Secret), Military & Pentagon Power, Misinformation & Propaganda, Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class, Politics, Power (Pathologies & Utilization), Secrecy & Politics of Secrecy, Security (Including Immigration), True Cost & Toxicity, Truth & Reconciliation, Values, Ethics, Sustainable Evolution, Voices Lost (Indigenous, Gender, Poor, Marginalized), War & Face of Battle, Water, Energy, Oil, Scarcity

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5.0 out of 5 stars A Breath of Sanity–Hard Look at Cost of Cold War,

December 1, 2002
Derek Leebaert
This is an extraordinary book, in part because it forces us to confront the “hangover” effects of the Cold War as we begin an uncertain path into the post 9-11 future. It begins by emphasizing that the Cold War glorified certain types of institutions, personalities, and attitudes, and ends by pointing out that we paid a very heavy cost–much as General and President Eisenhower tried to warn us–in permitting our society to be bound by weaponry, ideology, and secrecy.Two quotes, one from the beginning, one from the end, capture all that lies in between, well-documented and I would add–contrary to some opinions–coherent and understandable.

“For the United States, the price of victory goes far beyond the dollars spend on warheads, foreign aid, soldiers, propaganda, and intelligence. It includes, for instance, time wasted, talent misdirected, secrecy imposed, and confidence impaired. Particular costs were imposed on industry, science, and the universities. Trade was distorted and growth impeded.” (page xi)

“CIA world-order men whose intrigues more often than not started at the incompetent and went down from there, White House claims of ‘national security' to conceal deceit, and the creation of huge special interests in archaic spending all too easily occurred because most Americans were not preoccupied with the struggle.” (page 643)

Although the author did not consult the most recent intelligence reform books (e.g. Berkowitz, Johnson, Treverton, inter alia), he is consistently detailed and scathing in his review of intelligence blunders and the costs of secrecy–in this he appears to very ably collaborate the findings of Daniel Ellsberg's more narrowly focused book on “SECRETS: A Memoire of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers.” He points out, among many many examples, that despite Andropov's having been head of the KGB for fifteen years, at the end of it CIA still did not know if Andropov has a wife or spoke English. He also has a lovely contrast between how little was learned using very expensive national technical means (secret satellites) and open sources: “So much failure could have been avoided if CIA has done more careful homework during the 1950s in the run-up to Sputnik; during the 1960s, when Sovieet marshals were openly publishing their thoughts on nuclear strategy; or during the 1970s and 1980s, when stagnation could be chronicled in the unclassified gray pages of Soviet print. Most expensively, the CIA hardly ever learned anything from its mistakes, largely because it would not admit them.” (pages 567-568).

The author's biographic information does not include any reference to military service, but footnote 110 suggests that he was at least in Officer Candidate School with the U.S. Marine Corps during the Vietnam era. The biography, limited to the inside back jacket flap, also avoids discussing the author's considerable experience with information technology. Given the importance of this critique of all that most Republicans and most 50-70 year olds hold very sacred, we need to more about the man goring the ox. Future editions should have a much expanded biography.

Bottom line: America muddled through the Cold War, made many costly mistakes, and developed a policy-making process that is, to this day, largely uninformed due to a lack of a comprehensive global intelligence capability, or a sufficient means of consulting diverse experts (as opposed to the in-town intellectual harlots). If ever we needed a clean-sheet look at how we make policy and how we provide decision-support to that policy process, this is the time. The “fifty-year wound” is still open, and the author warns us it will not heal without a reappraisal of how we do the business of national security.

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Review: Secrets–A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers

6 Star Top 10%, Censorship & Denial of Access, Crime (Government), Culture, Research, Empire, Sorrows, Hubris, Blowback, Executive (Partisan Failure, Reform), Impeachment & Treason, Information Operations, Intelligence (Government/Secret), Justice (Failure, Reform), Military & Pentagon Power, Misinformation & Propaganda, Politics, Power (Pathologies & Utilization), Secrecy & Politics of Secrecy, Strategy, Threats (Emerging & Perennial), True Cost & Toxicity, Truth & Reconciliation, Values, Ethics, Sustainable Evolution, Voices Lost (Indigenous, Gender, Poor, Marginalized), War & Face of Battle

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5.0 out of 5 stars History Matters, Secrecy Permits War Crimes by Presidents,

November 2, 2002
Daniel Ellsberg
This extraordinary work comes at the perfect time, as an Administration is seeking to create new forms of secret operations invisible to Congress and the public, in pursuit of its war on Iraq and-one speculates-other targets of ideological but not public priority. The book covers seven areas I categorize as Background, History, Information Strategy, Pathology of Secrecy, Ethics, War Crimes, and Administrative.By way of background, the book establishes that the author was not a peacenik per se, as some might perceive him, but rather a warrior, both in terms of Cold War ideology and from actual experience as a USMC infantry company commander and an on-the-ground observer traveling across Viet-Nam by jeep instead of helicopter, generally in the company of the top U.S. ground expert in Viet-Nam, John Paul Vann. The book establishes-as George Allen has also told us in NONE SO BLIND, that intelligence did not fail in Viet-Nam, that Presidents do get good advice from good men, but that the position of President, combined with executive secrecy as an enabling condition, permits very irrational and ineffective policies, conceived in private without public debate, to go forward at taxpayer expense and without Congressional oversight. The author is timely in emphasizing that the “spell of unanimity” is very dangerous and provides a very false image to the public-the stifling of dissent and debate at all levels leads to bad policy.

The author does an effective job of bringing forward the lessons of history, not only from Truman and Eisenhower forward, but from the Japanese and French occupations of Indochina. We failed to learn from history, and even our own experts, such as Lansdale showing McNamara the rough equipment that the Vietnamese would defeat us with because of their “will to win,” were sidelined.

As a public administration and public policy text this book offers real value as a primary source. The author provides valuable insights into how quickly “ground truth” can be established; on how the U.S. Government is not structured to learn; on how the best answers emerge when there is not a lead agency and multiple inputs are solicited simultaneously; and most importantly, on how private truths spoken in secrecy are not effective within any Administration. The author stresses that Americans must understand what Presidents are doing in their name, and not be accomplices to war crimes or other misdeeds. He does a brilliant job of demonstrating why we cannot let the Executive Branch dictate what we need to know.

Interwoven with the author's balanced discussion of how to get ground truth right is his searing and intimate discussion of the pathology of secrecy as an enabler for bad and sometimes criminal foreign policy, carried out without public debate or Congressional oversight. The author adds new insights, beyond those in Morton Halperin's superb primer on Bureaucracy and Foreign Policy, regarding the multiple levels of understanding created by multiple levels of classification; the falseness of many written records in an environment where truth may often only be spoken verbally, without witnesses; the fact that the Department of Defense created false records to conceal its illegal bombings in Laos and Cambodia, at the same time that the White House created false secret cables, used Acting Director of the FBI Patrick Gray to destroy evidence, and sought to bribe a judge with the offer of the FBI directorship. The author presents a compelling portrait of an Executive Branch-regardless of incumbent party-likely to make major foreign policy miscalculations because of the pathology of secret compartmentation, while also being able to conceal those miscalculations, and the cost to the public, because of Executive secrecy. He is especially strong on the weakness of secret information. As he lectured to Kissinger: “The danger is, you'll become like a moron. You'll become incapable of learning from most people in the world, no matter how much experience they have in their particular areas that may be much greater than yours” [because of your blind faith in the value of your narrow and often incorrect secret information. P. 236]

On such a foundation, the author discusses the ethics of Presidential leadership. He is especially strong-and relevant today-in discussing how Presidential appointees regard loyalty to the President as a mandate for lying to Congress and the media and the public. The author excels at bringing forward how our corruption in permitting corruption is easily recognized and interpreted by indigenous personnel-just as how whom we support is quick evidence of how little we know about local politics.

From here the author segues into the ethics of collateral damage and the liability of the American people for war crimes and naked aggression against the Vietnamese because of our deliberate violation of the Geneva accords and our support for a corrupt series of dictatorships in South Viet-Nam. Much of what we did in Viet-Nam would appear to qualify for prosecution under the International Tribunal, and it may be that our bi-partisan history of war crimes in Viet-Nam is what keeps us from acknowledging the inherent wisdom of accepting the jurisdiction of the International Tribunal in future wars. Tellingly, at one point his wife reads the Pentagon Papers and her tearful reaction is: “this is the language of torturers.”

Administratively we are reminded that the Pentagon Papers were 7,000 pages in total; that Neil Sheehan from The New York Times actually stole a set of the papers from Ellsberg before being given a set; that character assassination by the U.S. Government is a routine tactic in dealing with informed dissent; and that it is not illegal to leak classified information-only administrative sanctions apply, outside a narrow set of Congressionally-mandated exceptions.

This book is a “must read” for any American that thinks and votes.

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Review: The Best Democracy Money Can Buy

5 Star, America (Founders, Current Situation), Banks, Fed, Money, & Concentrated Wealth, Capitalism (Good & Bad), Civil Society, Congress (Failure, Reform), Consciousness & Social IQ, Corruption, Crime (Corporate), Crime (Government), Culture, Research, Democracy, Electoral Reform USA, Impeachment & Treason, Intelligence (Public), Justice (Failure, Reform), Misinformation & Propaganda, Politics, Power (Pathologies & Utilization), Secrecy & Politics of Secrecy, Threats (Emerging & Perennial), Voices Lost (Indigenous, Gender, Poor, Marginalized)
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Greg Palast

5.0 out of 5 stars Let Freedom Ring–Truths the Corporate Thieves Can't Hide

May 29, 2002

The most distressing aspect of this book, written by an American expatriate publishing largely through newspapers in the United Kingdom, is that all of this information should have been published in U.S. newspapers in time to make a difference–to inform the voting public–but was not. One can only speculate how corrupt our media have become–how beholden to their owners and advertisers–if we cannot get front page coverage of the Florida government's disenfranchisement of over 50,000 predominantly black and democratic voters, prior to the presidential election; or of the raw attacks on our best interests by the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization, and others linked in a “trigger” network where taking money from one demands all sorts of poverty-inducing and wealth theft conditions.

Even more timely are his stories about the current Administration continuing a practice of the former Administration, spiking, curtailing, forbidding intelligence investigations into Saudi Arabian government funding of bin Laden's terrorism as well as Pakistani production of the “Islamic” atomic bomb.

His exposes of corporate misdeeds, some criminal, some simply unethical, all costing the U.S. taxpayer dearly, are shocking, in part because of their sleaziness, in part because our own newspapers do not dare to fulfill their role as envisioned by the Founding Fathers, of informing and educating the people of this Nation upon which the government depends for both its revenue and its legitimacy.

Although I take this book with a grain of salt (wondering, for example, why he did not ensure that Gore's campaign had all that he could offer in time to challenge the vote disenfranchisement as part of the Supreme Court case), there is enough here, in very forthright and sensible terms, to give one hope that investigative journalism might yet play a role in protecting democracy and the future of the Republic.

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