Communism is the Father of Capitalist Culture

It is communism that elicits culture in capitalism. Britain’s Channel 4 and The Independent newspaper report the story “Modern Art Was CIA Weapon” of how the CIA in the mid-20th century promoted and used modern art–Abstract Expressionism–to flog the idea that capitalism can foster artistic freedom, where communism cannot. However, the extent to which the market fosters artistic freedom was greatly exaggerated–by the elite cadre of American secret police that temporarily, for propaganda purposes, fostered that freedom. And that little mid-century “long leash” blip of freedom depended on capitalists who believed that they had to compete with communism for world opinion.

Capitalist Artistic Freedom (2 AA Communist Batteries Required)

Without communism, do we have freedom in capitalism? For the working class, the post-communist evidence points to “not much” or “no.”

Interesting in the report are 2 subplots:

1) The mid-20th century division of labor/personnel between the CIA and other ruling institutions in the US, and
2) An early chapter in the long tradition of media manipulation:

“The decision to include culture and art in the US Cold War arsenal was taken as soon as the CIA was founded in 1947. Dismayed at the appeal communism still had for many intellectuals and artists in the West, the new agency set up a division, the Propaganda Assets Inventory, which at its peak could influence more than 800 newspapers, magazines and public information organisations. They joked that it was like a Wurlitzer jukebox: when the CIA pushed a button it could hear whatever tune it wanted playing across the world.”

The Capitalist Press
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US Torture Report, Spring 2009

Links to US torture reports:

The New York Times

Knowlton, Brian. 2009. “Report gives new detail on approval of brutal techniques.” New York Times, April 22.

Shane, Scott and Mark Mazzetti. 2009. “In adopting harsh tactics, no inquiry into their past.” New York Times, April 22.

Shane, Scott. 2009. “2 suspects waterboarded 266 times.” New York Times, April 20.

The editors. 2009. “The torturers’ manifesto.” New York Times, April 18.

Danner, Mark. 2009. “Tales from torture’s dark world.” The New York Times, March 14.

Krugman, Paul. 2009. “Reclaiming America’s soul.” The New York Times, April 23.

Glenn Greenwald

Greenwald, Glenn. 2009. “The NYT’s definition of blinding American exceptionalism.” Salon.com, May 8. In which Greenwald points out that the American press calls all non-American-based torture by its name.

“(U)sing the editorial standards of America’s journalistic institutions — as explained recently by the NYT Public Editor — shouldn’t this (non-US-based torture) be called ‘torture’ rather than torture — or ‘harsh tactics some critics decry as torture’? Why are the much less brutal methods used by the Chinese on Fischer called torture by the NYT, whereas much harsher methods used by Americans do not merit that term? Here we find what is clearly the single most predominant fact shaping our political and media discourse: everything is different, and better, when we do it. In fact, it is that exact mentality that was and continues to be the primary justification for our torture regime and so much else that we do.”

Phillip Agee

CIA whistleblower Phillip Agee dies

modified from the story by
Fred Attewill and agencies
Wednesday January 9, 2008
Guardian Unlimited

Philip Agee, a former CIA agent who became a critic of Washington’s Cuba policy, has died aged 72, Cuban state media reported today.

Bernie Dwyer, a Radio Havana journalist, said Agee had been in hospital since last month, where he died following several operations for perforated ulcers. Dwyer said friends planned a remembrance ceremony for Agee on Sunday at his Havana apartment.

Granma, Cuba’s communist party newspaper, said Agee died on Monday night and described him as “a loyal friend of Cuba and fervent defender of the peoples’ fight for a better world”.

A Brief Biography of Phillip Agee:

Agee quit the CIA in 1969 after 12 years in which he mainly worked in Latin America.

His famous 1975 book, Inside the Company: CIA Diary, cited CIA violations against leftist people in the region and included a 22-page list of agency operatives.

In Britain, Agee worked with journalists to list the names of the agents, leading to many spies being sent back to Washington (at least temporarily) with their cover blown.

In comments published last year, Agee explained his decision to expose the CIA: “It was a time in the 70s when the worst imaginable horrors were going on in Latin America. Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Guatemala, El Salvador – they were military dictatorships with death squads, all with the backing of the CIA and the US government. That was what motivated me to name all the names and work with journalists who were interested in knowing just who the CIA were in their countries.”

His intent to destabilise the organisation’s own disruptive operations by revealing the identities of CIA agents infuriated the right wing US intelligence community.

Agee wanted to settle in Cambridge, England with his partner, Angela, a Brasilian who had been jailed and tortured by the right wing in her own country, and his two young sons by his former wife. He intended to continue exposing the CIA, but he was deported from England in 1978 as a “threat to the security of the state”. Agee thinks that the British prime minister Jim Callaghan acted under the instruction of the US secretary of state, Henry Kissinger. Kissinger’s vengeance was meted out because he believed that Agee’s exposure of CIA activities in Jamaica influenced the Jamaican elections in favour of progressive Michael Manley and against the US’s own preferred right wing politicians.

Agee settled in Germany with his new partner, the ballet dancer Giselle Roberge, and later split his time between Hamburg and Havana. In 1979, his US passport was finally revoked and was never returned.

Though he was punished, Agee had no regrets about his decision to blow the whistle on the CIA. He said: “There was a price to pay. It disrupted the education of my children [Phil and Chris, then teenagers] and I don’t think it was a happy period for them. It also cost me all my money. Everything I made from the book, I had to spend.

“But it made me a stronger person in many ways and it ensured I would never lose interest or go back in the other direction politically. The more they did these dirty things, the more they made me realise what I was doing was important.”

Under the US Freedom of Information Act, Agee was able to discover the CIA had accumulated 18,000 pages of information on him.

Agee was denounced as a traitor by George Bush Sr and was threatened with death by his former colleagues in the CIA.

The US right wing repeatedly blamed Agee for the death of Richard Welch, the CIA station chief in Athens who was assassinated in 1975. Explained Agee, “George Bush’s father [George Bush Sr] came in as CIA director in the month after the assassination and he intensified the campaign, spreading the lie that I was the cause of the assassination. His wife, Barbara, published her memoirs and she repeated the same lie, and this time I sued and won, in the sense that she was required to send me a letter in which she apologised and recognised what she wrote about me was false. They’ve tried to make this story stick for years. I never know what government hand or neocon hand is behind the allegations, and I don’t pay too much attention, but I know I haven’t been forgotten.” While the Bush family tried to hang the Athens CIA chief’s death on Agee’s work to counter state terrorism, George Bush Jr. outed CIA agent Valerie Plame when the politics suited the right wing’s interests.

Agee was a great supporter of Cuba’s progressive policies providing universal healthcare and education, and he regarded the current US president, George W. Bush, as the “antithesis” of those achievements.

Writing in the Guardian last year, he said: “All Cuba’s achievements have been in defiance of US efforts to isolate Cuba. Every dirty method has been used, including infiltration, sabotage, terrorism, assassination, economic and biological warfare and incessant lies in the media of many countries.”

Agee denied claims from a former Cuban intelligence officer he had received $1m from Cuban intelligence.

Despite the long-running bitterness between him and the US authorities, Agee was allowed to return to the US many times without being arrested and was allowed back into Britain under John Major’s government.

In the 1990s, Agee set up a company to bring visitors to Cuba. Many travellers came from the US, even though Americans are forbidden by law from visiting the country.

Until his death, Agee remained committed to exposing the repressive operations of the CIA. Last year, he was working on a book about the CIA’s activities in Venezuela.

CIA Destroys Recordings of Torture

CIA destroyed interrogation tapes

The CIA destroyed the tapes when being scrutinised over secret prisons
The CIA has confirmed that it destroyed at least two video tapes showing the interrogation of terror suspects.
According to the intelligence agency, the tapes were destroyed to protect the identity of CIA agents and because they no longer had intelligence value.

But civil liberties lawyers have refused to accept this, saying the CIA previously denied such tapes existed.

They say the move appears to be an attempt to destroy evidence that could have brought CIA agents to account.

The New York Times, which broke the story, quotes current and former government officials as saying the CIA destroyed the tapes in 2005 as it faced Congressional and legal scrutiny about its secret detention programme.

Officials feared the tapes could have raised doubts about the legality of the CIA’s techniques, the newspaper says.

The tapes are thought to have shown the interrogation in 2002 of a number of terror suspects, including Abu Zubaydah, who had been a chief recruiter for the al-Qaeda network.

INTERROGATION TECHNIQUES
Water boarding: prisoner bound to a board with feet raised, and cellophane wrapped round his head. Water is poured onto his face and is said to produce a fear of drowning
Cold cell: prisoner made to stand naked in a cold, though not freezing, cell and doused with water
Standing: Prisoners stand for 40 hours and more, shackled to the floor
Belly slap: a hard slap to the stomach with an open hand. This is designed to be painful but not to cause injury

Source: ABC News

The videos were, according to the New York Times, wiped in 2005, at the time the agency was being scrutinised about its secret detention programme.

The Associated Press news agency on Thursday obtained a letter sent to all CIA employees by the agency’s current director, Michael Hayden, explaining why the footage was destroyed.

In the internal memo, Gen Hayden told staff that the CIA had begun taping interrogations as an internal check in 2002 and decided to delete the videos because they lacked any “legal or internal reason” to keep them.

According to AP, the CIA chief wrote to employees: “The tapes posed a serious security risk.

“Were they ever to leak, they would permit identification of your CIA colleagues who had served in the programme, exposing them and their families to retaliation from al-Qaeda and its sympathizers.”

‘Troubling’

The CIA acknowledges that these early interrogations were harsh, but Gen Hayden says that the CIA’s internal watchdogs saw the tapes in 2003 and verified that the techniques used were legal.

But Senate judiciary committee chairman Patrick Leahy said the tapes’ destruction was troubling.

The damage is compounded when such actions are hidden away from accountability
Senator Patrick Leahy
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman

Send us your comments

“The damage is compounded when such actions are hidden away from accountability,” he said.

The American Civil Liberties Union has accused the agency of showing an utter disregard for the law.

“The destruction of these tapes appears to be a part of an extensive, long-term pattern of misusing executive authority to insulate individuals from criminal prosecution for torture and abuse,” an ACLU statement said.

The BBC’s Jonathan Beale in Washington says the news is likely to trigger more questions about the interrogation techniques used by the CIA and whether they amounted to torture.

There are also questions over whether CIA agents withheld information from the courts and a presidential commission.

The CIA’s failure to make the tapes available to a federal court hearing the case of the terror suspect Zacarias Moussaoui or to the 9/11 Commission could amount to obstruction of justice, according to the New York Times.

Lawyers in the Moussaoui trial and officials from the 9/11 Commission had both requested from the CIA details of any relevant interrogations of al-Qaeda suspects.

Michael Hayden wrote to all CIA employees about the tapes

After the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the US, President George W Bush authorised the use of “harsh techniques” in the interrogation of suspected terrorists.

According to our correspondent, those techniques are alleged to have included water-boarding, a method in which a suspect is held down and gagged while water is poured into his mouth in order to simulate drowning.

Human rights groups say that water-boarding – and other techniques allegedly used by the CIA – can be defined as torture under various international treaties to which the US is a signatory.

The Bush administration has always maintained that it does not allow the use of torture.

Absolute Corruption

The citation for the NYTimes story on the limited, censored release of CIA FoI documents in 2007, RE: the CIA attempts to assassinate Castro, as well as domestic spying, torture, and CIA-mafia connections, from the 1960s and early 1970s:

Mazzetti, Mark and Tim Weiner. 2007. “Files on illegal spying show C.I.A. skeletons from Cold War.” The New York Times, June 27.

CIA abductions in Europe

Freed prisoners have testified about it, Amnesty International has been reporting on it, European Union officials had been denying it, but now EU parliament investigators have confirmed it: The CIA has been secretly abducting people and flying them through Europe to secret torture prisons in Eastern Europe.

See the April 26, 2006 Guardian article “EU report condemns secret CIA flights.”

According to analysis of flight logs through Europe, “The CIA has carried out more than 1,000 undeclared flights over European territory since 2001” (The Guardian 2006). Italy and Bosnia appear to have cooperated in the secret CIA abductions.

Clandestine detention centres, secret flights to or from Europe to countries in which suspects could face torture, or extraordinary renditions all breach the continent’s human rights treaties.

torture = political corruption

This excerpt shows why torture is not used for gaining truth. Torture’s use is for political manipulation. We can expect that where we find torture and advocates for torture, we find political corruption.

From the BBC interview with Col Lawrence Wilkerson, November 29, 2005.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4481092.stm

BBC: “Did Colin Powell feel that he had correct information about Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction when he outlined the case against Saddam?”

Wilkerson: “He certainly did and so did I. I was intimately involved in that process and to this point I have more or less defended the administration.

I have basically been supportive of the administration’s point that it was simply fooled – that the intelligence community, including the UK, Germany, France, Jordan – other countries that confirmed what we had in our intelligence package, yet we were all just fooled.

Lately, I’m growing increasingly concerned because two things have just happened here that really make me wonder.

And the one is the questioning of Sheikh al-Libby where his confessions were obtained through interrogation techniques other than those authorised by Geneva.

It led Colin Powell to say at the UN on 5 February 2003 that there were some pretty substantive contacts between al-Qaeda and Baghdad. And we now know that al-Libby’s forced confession has been recanted and we know – we’re pretty sure that it was invalid.

But more important than that, we know that there was a defence intelligence agency dissent on that testimony even before Colin Powell made his presentation. We never heard about that.

Follow that up with Curveball, and the fact that the Germans now say they told our CIA well before Colin Powell gave his presentation that Curveball – the source to the biological mobile laboratories – was lying and was not a trustworthy source. And then you begin to speculate, you begin to wonder was this intelligence spun; was it politicised; was it cherry-picked; did in fact the American people get fooled – I am beginning to have my concerns.”