Friday, October 9, 2015

Vigil at the NSA at 11 AM on October 10, 2015/Snowden: Prepared for Prison, But Won't Serve to Discourage Other Whistleblowers


 The Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore is participating in Keep Space for Peace Week. This is an International Week of Protest to - Stop the Militarization of Space -- andis taking place from Sat., Oct. 3 to Sat., Oct. 10.  The Pledge plans to vigil at the National Security Agency at 11 AM on Sat., Oct. 10.  These are some of the issues to raise: Stop Drones Surveillance & Killing; No Missile Defense; No to NATO; End Corporate Domination of Foreign/Military Policy; Convert the Military Industrial Complex; and Deal with climate change and global poverty. RSVP at 410-366-1637 or email mobuszewski at



Monday, October 05, 2015

Snowden: Prepared for Prison, But Won't Serve to Discourage Other Whistleblowers

In new BBC interview, Edward Snowden describes his attempts to reach plea deal and reveals how spy agencies can unlock your smartphone at will

"What I won’t do is I won’t serve as a deterrent to people trying to do the right thing in difficult situations," said NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. (Photo: CyberHades/flickr/cc)

Edward Snowden repeatedly reached out to the U.S. Department of Justice in search of a plea deal—and even expressed willingness to serve time in prison—but has so far received no response, the NSA whistleblower told BBC Panorama in an interview slated to air Monday night.

"I've volunteered to go to prison with the government many times," said Snowden, who is currently living under asylum protection in Russia. "What I won’t do is I won’t serve as a deterrent to people trying to do the right thing in difficult situations."

Asked if he is prepared to face jail, Snowden answered: "Of course."

Despite his willingness to submit to some level of incarceration, Snowden said the DOJ has yet to respond to those gestures. "We are still waiting for them to call us back," he told the BBC.

The revelation comes months after former U.S. attorney general Eric Holder said the "possibility exists" that Snowden, who is wanted for charges under the Espionage Act, could reach a plea deal with the U.S.

Others, however, have struck a far harsher tone. Gen. Michael Hayden, former director of the NSA, told Panorama in Monday's interview that Snowden is "going to die in Moscow. He's not coming home."

Snowden insisted in his Panorama interview that he is a whistleblower, not a spy or a traitor.

And people around the world agree. Two years after Snowden's disclosures to journalists sparked a global debate about U.S., UK, and international mass surveillance, many are taking inspiration from his revelations.

The 32-year-old has been lauded around the world, and many are calling for him to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Last month, a new global pact, introduced as the "Snowden Treaty," was launched by civil liberties advocates to "curtail mass surveillance and protect the rights of whistleblowers."

In a separate segment, Snowden revealed that British spy agency GCHQ has the ability to control smart phones.

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Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Baltimore Activist Alert - October 8 -9, 2015

33] Cost of Nuclear Forces – Oct. 8

34] Chinese Nuclear Thinking – Oct. 8

35] Ecuador’s oil extraction – Oct. 8

36] Protest attack on the hospital – Oct. 8

37] Nixon’s Nuclear Specter – Oct. 8

38] Iran Deal – Oct. 8

39] New demographics – Oct. 8

40] Paid Family Leave – Oct. 8

41] Justice or Else – Oct. 8


43] Pledge of Resistance meeting – Oct. 8

44] Peace vigil at the White House – Oct. 9

45] Meet & Greet with Donna Edwards – Oct. 9

46] Black Lives Matter Vigil – Oct. 9

47] Ballroom Dancing – Oct. 9


33] – On Thurs., Oct. 8 from 10 to 11 AM, Todd Harrison, Center for Strategic and International Studies, and Evan Montgomery, Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment, will discuss "The Cost of U.S. Nuclear Forces: From BCA to Bow Wave and Beyond" at Heritage Foundation, Lehrman Auditorium, 214 Massachusetts Ave. NE, WDC. RSVP at

34] – On Thurs., Oct. 8 at 10:15 AM, Fan Jishe, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences; Li Bin, Carnegie Endowment; and Pan Zhenqiang, Central University of Finance and Economics (Beijing), will tackle "Chinese Nuclear Thinking" at the University of Maryland, 1203 Van Munching Hall, College Park. Visit

35] -- Amazon Watch invites you to a "Green-Bag Lunch" Presentation: "Environmental Attitudes in a Climate-Vulnerable State: Self-Interest Challenges To Post-Materialist Values along Ecuador's Oil Extraction Frontier" with Prof. Todd Eisenstadt, American University on Thurs., Oct. 8 at 12:30 PM to 2 PM in the Amazon Watch / CIEL Conference Room, 1350 Connecticut Ave. NW, #1100, (above Cosi, Dupont Circle South), WDC.

There is little evidence of what motivates environmental concern in developing countries like Ecuador. In contrast to the value-driven post-materialist argument that environmental issues are a concern only of the relatively affluent in advanced democracies, there is an argument based on self-interest.  Eisenstadt is Professor of Government at American University. He and his co-author, Karleen West (of SUNY-Geneseo), conducted a national survey of Ecuadorans funded by National Science Foundation Awards #1324158 and #1457861.

36] -- Voices for Creative Nonviolence Calls for Emergency Protest of Airstrike on Afghanistan Hospital.  Voices ( is mobilizing activists to gather in front of hospitals across the U.S. and beyond, with the message, Dropping Bombs Here would be a War Crime! and The same is true in Afghanistan. On Thurs., Oct. 8 from 3 to 4 PM, the Phila. Area Anti-Drone Network (PAAN), including the Brandywine Peace Community and other groups or organizations will hold a vigil at Hahnemann Hospital, Broad and Vine Sts., Philadelphia.   Use the Race-Vine stop on the Broad St. subway. Bring signs or banners which could say:  Dropping Bombs Here Would Be a War Crime, US Bombed Afghan Hospital, Killing 22, Surgical Strike?, or War Crime: U.S. Bombs Afghan Hospital.  Contact Marge Van Cleef at 203-804-3013. 

37] – On Thurs., Oct. 8 from 4 to 5:30 PM, William Burr, National Security Archive, and Jeffrey Kimball, Miami (OH) University will talk about "Nixon's Nuclear Specter--The Secret Alert of 1969, Madman Diplomacy, and the Vietnam War" at Wilson Center, Sixth Floor, Reagan Building, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, WDC. RSVP at

38] – On Thurs., Oct. 8 from 4:30 to 6 PM, Joe Cirincione, Ploughshares Fund, and Bernadette Meehan, State Department, will address "The Policy and Politics of the Historic Agreement with Iran" at Georgetown University, McGhee Library, ICC301, 37th and O Sts. NW, WDC. RSVP

39] -- Come to Local 16, 1602 U St. NW, WDC on Thurs., Oct. 8 from 6 to 8 PM, join the Brennan Center for Justice and Vox for a candid conversation about what the shifting demographic landscape means for grassroots movements, political action, and civic engagement.  How can we shape our democracy into one that is truly representative of the people being governed?  By the year 2043, current minority groups and people of color are expected to be a majority of the population in the United States. As the country undergoes this historic demographic shift, what will the new majority look like? How can movements around critical issues such as restrictive voting laws and the corruptive influence of money in politics utilize the momentum and energy of this new demographic? And what role can/should millennials play as some of the newest members of the nation’s electorate?  Contact Jafreen Uddin at or 646.292.8345.

40] -- No one should have to choose between caring for their family and earning a living, however, that's the reality for too many people who don't have access to paid family or medical leave insurance. That's why Jews United for Justice is calling on the DC City Council to #LeadOnLeave and pass legislation ensuring paid family and medical leave for EVERYONE who lives or works in the District.

Join Jews United for Justice for a Campaign Action Meeting to learn, strategize, and plan for action at the Quaker Meeting House, 2111 Florida Ave. NW, WDC, on Thurs., Oct. 8 from 6 to 9 PM.  Everyone is welcome, and dinner will be provided. Childcare available if requested. See

41] -- At the Plymouth Congregational Church, 5301 N. Capitol St. NE, WDC, on Thurs., Oct. 8 from 6 to 9 PM, celebrate black lives and get excited for the upcoming Justice or Else Million Man March on Saturday with a pre-rally by the Women for Justice or Else Committee! There will be vending, concession, spoken word, musical selections & more. Call Ayo Handy at 202-667-2577.

42] – On Thurs., Oct. 8 from 7 to 10 PM at 1658 Columbia Rd. NW, WDC, Diana Block presents her book “Clandestine Occupations - An Imaginary History.” When San Francisco activist Luba Gold goes underground in 1984 to support the Puerto Rican Independence movement, a far-flung network of women is confronted with the risks of prison, the terrible costs of betrayal, and the exhilarating possibilities of love through struggle. Based on lived experience, Diana Block's bold new novel spans two generations of radical women, their lovers, children and friends. This is revolutionary feminism in epic form, from the passions of Solidarity to the awakenings of Occupy and even beyond--to a beautifully imagined insurgency of the Future. Block has been an activist since the 1970s and a founding member of San Francisco Women Against Rape, Prairie Fire Organizing Committee, and California Coalition for Women Prisoners. She is the author of the memoir “Arm the Spirit: A Woman’s Journey Underground and Back.”

43] – The Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore now meets on Thursdays at 7:30 PM, and the meetings take place at Max’s residence.  There will be a meeting on Thurs., Oct. 8 at 7:30 PM.  The agenda will include Keep Space for Peace Week, Leon Panetta, killer drones, Gilmore Homes scandal, a protest at McKeldin Square on Oct. 4 and the Sept. 22 action in D.C. Call 410-366-1637 or email mobuszewski at

44] – On Fri., Oct. 9 from noon to 1 PM, join the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker in a vigil urging the powers that be to abolish war and torture, to disarm all weapons, to end indefinite detention, to close Guantanamo, to establish justice for all and help create the Beloved Community! This will be a Keep Space for Peace vigil, and will take place at the White House on Pennsylvania Ave. NW. 

Keep Space for Peace Week is an international week of protest to stop the militarization of space. The major issues being protested at this event are as follows: Stop Drones Surveillance & Killing, No Missile Defense, No to NATO, End Corporate Domination of Foreign/Military Policy, Convert the Military Industrial Complex, and Deal with climate change and global poverty.  To learn more about this event, you can email your questions to Contact Art @ or at 202-360-6416. 

45] -- On Fri., Oct. 9 from 4:30 to 6:30 PM, Donna Edwards is hosting a meet and greet at the Liberty Pavilion, Liberty Heights Ave. & Auchentoroly Terrace, Baltimore 21217. She will give an update about her campaign for U.S. Senate, and wants to hear what you have to say. Discuss the local issues that matter to you and the possible solutions. RSVP at

46] – There is usually a silent peace vigil on Fridays, from 5 to 6 PM, sponsored by Homewood Friends and Stony Run Meetings, outside the Homewood Friends Meetinghouse, 3107 N. Charles St.  The next scheduled vigil is on Oct. 9. Black Lives Matter. 

47] – There is an opportunity to participate in ballroom dancing, usually every Friday of the month, in the JHU ROTC Bldg. at  8 PM.  Turn south on San Martin Dr. from the intersection of Univ. Parkway and 39th St.  Drive on campus by taking the third left turn. The next dance will be Oct. 9. Call Dave Greene at 410-599-3725.

To be continued.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

With Trust Destroyed by Mass Spying, Top EU Court Asserts Need for Privacy Reform

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

With Trust Destroyed by Mass Spying, Top EU Court Asserts Need for Privacy Reform

European Court of Justice finds Safe Harbor agreement violates "essential" privacy rights

The Safe Harbor pact allowed U.S. companies to "self-certify" that they were abiding by strict privacy safeguards while pulling data from European servers. (Photo: Intel Free Press/flickr/cc)

Europe's top court on Tuesday delivered a historic blow to mass surveillance with a ruling that found the right to personal privacy trumps government spying.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) found in its decision (pdf) that the so-called "Safe Harbor" agreement, which allowed U.S. companies to "self-certify" that they met strict privacy safeguards while pulling data from European servers, "must be regarded as compromising the essence of the fundamental right to respect for private life" as guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights.

The case was brought by Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems, who argued that American surveillance operations such as PRISM—exposed by National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013—rendered useless the privacy safeguards in the Safe Harbor agreement, which for years has allowed technology companies to transfer user data across continental boundaries.

Tuesday's ruling was celebrated widely by privacy advocates, including Snowden himself, who toasted Schrems on Twitter, writing, "Congratulations, @MaxSchrems. You've changed the world for the better."

The bottom line, Snowden said, is that "the #SafeHarbor ruling indicates the indiscriminate interception of communications is a violation of rights."

The ECJ's ruling means companies in the U.S. and EU have to come up with alternative ways of transferring user data—and could impact as many as 4,000 firms, including tech giants like Facebook and Google.

Jens Henrik-Jeppesen, director of European Affairs at the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), said the ECJ's decision "shows the need to step up reforms of government surveillance practices."

"The invalidation of the Safe [Harbor] agreement should spur governments on both sides of the Atlantic to ratchet up long-overdue reform efforts," Jeppesen said, adding that it was "undoubtedly a major jolt for companies and will likely adversely impact their operations."

Schrems specifically named Facebook in his complaint (pdf) to the ECJ, charging that the company forwards information from its Ireland office, where data on more than 83 percent of its users is stored, directly to the NSA and other U.S. intelligence agencies.

Moreover, the court said, the U.S. did not provide adequate recourse for European citizens seeking legal redress over violations of their privacy rights, which "compromises the essence of the fundamental right to effective judicial protection."

"This judgement draws a clear line," Schrems said on Tuesday. "It clarifies that mass surveillance violates our fundamental rights. Reasonable legal redress must be possible."

As for what real-world solutions may be on the horizon, Schrems said the U.S. government would have to implement "severe changes" in American law and "more than just an update to the current 'safe harbor' system. Otherwise full compliance with EU fundamental rights and the judgment will be very hard to achieve."

But, he said, "There are still a number of alternative options to transfer data from the EU to the U.S. The judgement makes it clear that now national data protection authorities can review data transfers to the U.S. in each individual case—while the 'safe harbor' allowed for a blanket allowance."

Despite some "alarmist comments" about how the ruling may impact the way tech companies do business, Schrems said he sees no reason why better data protection and reviews of data transfers would cause "major disruptions" for consumers or providers.

Nonetheless, notes Electronic Frontier Foundation international director Danny O'Brien, the "fundamental incompatibility of U.S. mass surveillance with European data protection principles" could "certainly force the companies to re-think and re-engineer how they manage the vast amount of data they collect."

However, O'Brien added, it will take more than better "reviews" of data transfers to protect Europeans from mass surveillance.

The "geographic siloing of data" by itself, he argues, "is of little practical help against mass surveillance if each and every country feels that ordinary customer data is a legitimate target for signals intelligence. If governments continue to permit intelligence agencies to indiscriminately scoop up data, then they will find a way to do that, wherever that data may be kept. Keep your data in Ireland, and GCHQ may well target it, and pass it onto the Americans. Keep your data in your own country, and you'll find the NSA—or other European states, or even your own government— breaking into those systems to extract it."

Other observers had even stronger words for the decision. The World Wide Web Foundation called it a "landmark judgment." The internet advocacy group's global campaign manager Renata Avila said, "Today's Judgment puts people's fundamental right to privacy before profit."

"Without effective safeguards for privacy, the Web as we know it could wither and die," Avila said. "Following today's ruling, new safeguards must now urgently be put in place that protect the Web as it should be, a secure and private space where people can start businesses, research confidential topics or just chat with friends without the fear of being subjected to unwarranted government snooping."

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Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Johns Hopkins Medicine Terminates Compromised Black Lung Program/Brady Campaign Statement on Umpqua Community College Shooting

Published on Portside (

Johns Hopkins Medicine Terminates Compromised Black Lung Program

October 3, 2015

Jamie Smith Hopkins

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Center for Public Integrity

Johns Hopkins Medicine said Wednesday that it has discontinued its black lung program, the subject of a Center for Public Integrity-ABC News investigation that showed how coal companies routinely beat back sick coal miners’ disability claims with help from doctors [1] at the nationally recognized hospital.

Johns Hopkins initially suspended the program [2], a move that came two days after the 2013 series ran.

“The program has been suspended since November 1, 2013 and, following a thorough review, will not be resumed,” Jania Matthews, a Johns Hopkins Medicine spokeswoman, said in an emailed response to a Center query.

It’s unclear when or why the decision to end the program was made. Matthews did not respond Wednesday to a request for more details.

Miners diagnosed with black lung — an incurable and potentially fatal disease [3] triggered by breathing coal dust — can apply for benefits and medical care through a federal program. But the coal companies liable for those payments, aided by doctors [1] and lawyers [4], have pushed back to get claims denied, the Center and ABC News found.

The series, “Breathless and Burdened,” which won a Pulitzer Prize [5] for investigative reporting, prompted policy changes [6] by the U.S. Department of Labor [7] and a pending proposal [8] from members of Congress for what they called “sweeping reforms” of the benefits program.

Dr. Paul Wheeler, who headed the Johns Hopkins unit, has retired, Matthews said. Wheeler did not find a single case of severe black lung in the more than 1,500 cases decided since 2000 in which he offered an opinion, a review by the Center and ABC News found. Such a  finding would automatically qualify a miner for benefits.

Last year, the Department of Labor told approximately 1,100 coal miners [6] that their black lung benefit claims may have been wrongly denied as a result of Wheeler’s readings of their X rays.

Jamie Smith Hopkins is a reporter for the Center for Public Integrity.



For Immediate Release

Thursday, October 1, 2015 - 4:30pm

Brady Campaign Statement on Umpqua Community College Shooting

WASHINGTON - Of the recent mass shooting at Oregon's Umpqua Community College, Dan Gross, President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said:

"We join the rest of the nation in shock, horror, and grief as the news of today’s school shooting in Oregon continues to unfold. What should have been a sanctuary for education and a symbol of bright futures will now become the latest memorial of victims lost to America’s gun violence epidemic.

"While investigators continue their work to understand what would drive someone to commit such a crime, we will also be eager to learn more about how and where the shooter obtained the gun or guns. Our hearts are with the families, friends, and community members of all those who were killed or injured in this tragedy."


The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and its legislative and grassroots affiliate, the Brady Campaign and its dedicated network of Million Mom March Chapters, is the nation's largest, non-partisan, grassroots organization leading the fight to prevent gun violence.

We are devoted to creating an America free from gun violence, where all Americans are safe at home, at school, at work, and in our communities.

Organization Links

Donations can be sent Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Protest Panetta on October 6 at 7 PM/Rogue States and Nuclear Dangers


On Tues., Oct. 6 there will not be a protest against JHU's drone research, as the Pledge of Resistance intends to gather outside the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St, Baltimore 21201.  An alleged war criminal is part of the Baltimore Speakers Series: Leon Panetta. Panetta is scheduled to speak at 8 PM.  After serving in the U.S. House of Representatives for 16 years, President Clinton selected Panetta as Director of the Office of Management and Budget in 1993, and then in 1994 appointed him White House Chief of Staff. President Obama selected Panetta to run the CIA in 2009, and later he was Secretary of War from 2011–2013.  We will protest Panetta from 7 to 8 PM to condemn war, killer drone strikes and income inequality. RSVP to Max at 410-366-1637 or mobuszewski at Verizon dot net.



Chomsky writes: "The Republicans long ago abandoned the pretense of functioning as a normal congressional party. They have, as respected conservative political commentator Norman Ornstein of the right-wing American Enterprise Institute observed, become a 'radical insurgency' that scarcely seeks to participate in normal congressional politics."

Noam Chomsky. (photo: Va Shiva)
Noam Chomsky. (photo: Va Shiva)

Rogue States and Nuclear Dangers

By Noam Chomsky, Noam Chomsky's Website

02 September 15 the world there is great relief and optimism about the nuclear deal reached in Vienna between Iran and the P5+1 nations, the five veto-holding members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany. Most of the world apparently shares the assessment of the U.S. Arms Control Association that "the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action establishes a strong and effective formula for blocking all of the pathways by which Iran could acquire material for nuclear weapons for more than a generation and a verification system to promptly detect and deter possible efforts by Iran to covertly pursue nuclear weapons that will last indefinitely."

  There are, however, striking exceptions to the general enthusiasm: the United States and its closest regional allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia. One consequence of this is that U.S. corporations, much to their chagrin, are prevented from flocking to Tehran along with their European counterparts. Prominent sectors of U.S. power and opinion share the stand of the two regional allies and so are in a state of virtual hysteria over "the Iranian threat." Sober commentary in the United States, pretty much across the spectrum, declares that country to be "the gravest threat to world peace." Even supporters of the agreement here are wary, given the exceptional gravity of that threat. After all, how can we trust the Iranians with their terrible record of aggression, violence, disruption, and deceit?

  Opposition within the political class is so strong that public opinion has shifted quickly from significant support for the deal to an even split. Republicans are almost unanimously opposed to the agreement. The current Republican primaries illustrate the proclaimed reasons. Senator Ted Cruz, considered one of the intellectuals among the crowded field of presidential candidates, warns that Iran may still be able to produce nuclear weapons and could someday use one to set off an Electro Magnetic Pulse that "would take down the electrical grid of the entire eastern seaboard" of the United States, killing "tens of millions of Americans."

   The two most likely winners, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, are battling over whether to bomb Iran immediately after being elected or after the first Cabinet meeting. The one candidate with some foreign policy experience, Lindsey Graham, describes the deal as "a death sentence for the state of Israel," which will certainly come as a surprise to Israeli intelligence and strategic analysts -- and which Graham knows to be utter nonsense, raising immediate questions about actual motives.

  Keep in mind that the Republicans long ago abandoned the pretense of functioning as a normal congressional party. They have, as respected conservative political commentator Norman Ornstein of the right-wing American Enterprise Institute observed, become a "radical insurgency" that scarcely seeks to participate in normal congressional politics.

   Since the days of President Ronald Reagan, the party leadership has plunged so far into the pockets of the very rich and the corporate sector that they can attract votes only by mobilizing parts of the population that have not previously been an organized political force. Among them are extremist evangelical Christians, now probably a majority of Republican voters; remnants of the former slave-holding states; nativists who are terrified that "they" are taking our white Christian Anglo-Saxon country away from us; and others who turn the Republican primaries into spectacles remote from the mainstream of modern society -- though not from the mainstream of the most powerful country in world history.

  The departure from global standards, however, goes far beyond the bounds of the Republican radical insurgency. Across the spectrum, there is, for instance, general agreement with the "pragmatic" conclusion of General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that the Vienna deal does not "prevent the United States from striking Iranian facilities if officials decide that it is cheating on the agreement," even though a unilateral military strike is "far less likely" if Iran behaves.

   Former Clinton and Obama Middle East negotiator Dennis Ross typically recommends that "Iran must have no doubts that if we see it moving towards a weapon, that would trigger the use of force" even after the termination of the deal, when Iran is theoretically free to do what it wants. In fact, the existence of a termination point 15 years hence is, he adds, "the greatest single problem with the agreement." He also suggests that the U.S. provide Israel with specially outfitted B-52 bombers and bunker-busting bombs to protect itself before that terrifying date arrives.

"The Greatest Threat"

  Opponents of the nuclear deal charge that it does not go far enough. Some supporters agree, holding that "if the Vienna deal is to mean anything, the whole of the Middle East must rid itself of weapons of mass destruction." The author of those words, Iran's Minister of Foreign Affairs Javad Zarif, added that "Iran, in its national capacity and as current chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement [the governments of the large majority of the world's population], is prepared to work with the international community to achieve these goals, knowing full well that, along the way, it will probably run into many hurdles raised by the skeptics of peace and diplomacy." Iran has signed "a historic nuclear deal," he continues, and now it is the turn of Israel, "the holdout."

Israel, of course, is one of the three nuclear powers, along with India and Pakistan, whose weapons programs have been abetted by the United States and that refuse to sign the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).

  Zarif was referring to the regular five-year NPT review conference, which ended in failure in April when the U.S. (joined by Canada and Great Britain) once again blocked efforts to move toward a weapons-of-mass-destruction-free zone in the Middle East. Such efforts have been led by Egypt and other Arab states for 20 years. As Jayantha Dhanapala and Sergio Duarte, leading figures in the promotion of such efforts at the NPT and other U.N. agencies, observe in "Is There a Future for the NPT?," an article in the journal of the Arms Control Association: "The successful adoption in 1995 of the resolution on the establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the Middle East was the main element of a package that permitted the indefinite extension of the NPT." The NPT, in turn, is the most important arms control treaty of all. If it were adhered to, it could end the scourge of nuclear weapons.

Repeatedly, implementation of the resolution has been blocked by the U.S., most recently by President Obama in 2010 and again in 2015, as Dhanapala and Duarte point out, "on behalf of a state that is not a party to the NPT and is widely believed to be the only one in the region possessing nuclear weapons" -- a polite and understated reference to Israel. This failure, they hope, "will not be the coup de grâce to the two longstanding NPT objectives of accelerated progress on nuclear disarmament and establishing a Middle Eastern WMD-free zone."

A nuclear-weapons-free Middle East would be a straightforward way to address whatever threat Iran allegedly poses, but a great deal more is at stake in Washington's continuing sabotage of the effort in order to protect its Israeli client. After all, this is not the only case in which opportunities to end the alleged Iranian threat have been undermined by Washington, raising further questions about just what is actually at stake.

In considering this matter, it is instructive to examine both the unspoken assumptions in the situation and the questions that are rarely asked. Let us consider a few of these assumptions, beginning with the most serious: that Iran is the gravest threat to world peace. In the U.S., it is a virtual cliché among high officials and commentators that Iran wins that grim prize. There is also a world outside the U.S. and although its views are not reported in the mainstream here, perhaps they are of some interest. According to the leading western polling agencies (WIN/Gallup International), the prize for "greatest threat" is won by the United States. The rest of the world regards it as the gravest threat to world peace by a large margin. In second place, far below, is Pakistan, its ranking probably inflated by the Indian vote. Iran is ranked below those two, along with China, Israel, North Korea, and Afghanistan.

"The World's Leading Supporter of Terrorism"

Turning to the next obvious question, what in fact is the Iranian threat? Why, for example, are Israel and Saudi Arabia trembling in fear over that country? Whatever the threat is, it can hardly be military. Years ago, U.S. intelligence informed Congress that Iran has very low military expenditures by the standards of the region and that its strategic doctrines are defensive -- designed, that is, to deter aggression. The U.S. intelligence community has also reported that it has no evidence Iran is pursuing an actual nuclear weapons program and that "Iran's nuclear program and its willingness to keep open the possibility of developing nuclear weapons is a central part of its deterrent strategy."

The authoritative SIPRI review of global armaments ranks the U.S., as usual, way in the lead in military expenditures. China comes in second with about one-third of U.S. expenditures. Far below are Russia and Saudi Arabia, which are nonetheless well above any western European state. Iran is scarcely mentioned. Full details are provided in an April report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), which finds "a conclusive case that the Arab Gulf states have... an overwhelming advantage of Iran in both military spending and access to modern arms."

Iran's military spending, for instance, is a fraction of Saudi Arabia's and far below even the spending of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Altogether, the Gulf Cooperation Council states -- Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE -- outspend Iran on arms by a factor of eight, an imbalance that goes back decades. The CSIS report adds: "The Arab Gulf states have acquired and are acquiring some of the most advanced and effective weapons in the world [while] Iran has essentially been forced to live in the past, often relying on systems originally delivered at the time of the Shah." In other words, they are virtually obsolete. When it comes to Israel, of course, the imbalance is even greater. Possessing the most advanced U.S. weaponry and a virtual offshore military base for the global superpower, it also has a huge stock of nuclear weapons.

To be sure, Israel faces the "existential threat" of Iranian pronouncements: Supreme Leader Khamenei and former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad famously threatened it with destruction. Except that they didn't -- and if they had, it would be of little moment. Ahmadinejad, for instance, predicted that "under God's grace [the Zionist regime] will be wiped off the map." In other words, he hoped that regime change would someday take place. Even that falls far short of the direct calls in both Washington and Tel Aviv for regime change in Iran, not to speak of the actions taken to implement regime change. These, of course, go back to the actual "regime change" of 1953, when the U.S. and Britain organized a military coup to overthrow Iran's parliamentary government and install the dictatorship of the Shah, who proceeded to amass one of the worst human rights records on the planet.

These crimes were certainly known to readers of the reports of Amnesty International and other human rights organizations, but not to readers of the U.S. press, which has devoted plenty of space to Iranian human rights violations -- but only since 1979 when the Shah's regime was overthrown. (To check the facts on this, read The U.S. Press and Iran, a carefully documented study by Mansour Farhang and William Dorman.)

None of this is a departure from the norm. The United States, as is well known, holds the world championship title in regime change and Israel is no laggard either. The most destructive of its invasions of Lebanon in 1982 was explicitly aimed at regime change, as well as at securing its hold on the occupied territories. The pretexts offered were thin indeed and collapsed at once. That, too, is not unusual and pretty much independent of the nature of the society -- from the laments in the Declaration of Independence about the "merciless Indian savages" to Hitler's defense of Germany from the "wild terror" of the Poles.

No serious analyst believes that Iran would ever use, or even threaten to use, a nuclear weapon if it had one, and so face instant destruction. There is, however, real concern that a nuclear weapon might fall into jihadi hands -- not thanks to Iran, but via U.S. ally Pakistan. In the journal of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, two leading Pakistani nuclear scientists, Pervez Hoodbhoy and Zia Mian, write that increasing fears of "militants seizing nuclear weapons or materials and unleashing nuclear terrorism [have led to]... the creation of a dedicated force of over 20,000 troops to guard nuclear facilities. There is no reason to assume, however, that this force would be immune to the problems associated with the units guarding regular military facilities," which have frequently suffered attacks with "insider help." In brief, the problem is real, just displaced to Iran thanks to fantasies concocted for other reasons.

Other concerns about the Iranian threat include its role as "the world's leading supporter of terrorism," which primarily refers to its support for Hezbollah and Hamas. Both of those movements emerged in resistance to U.S.-backed Israeli violence and aggression, which vastly exceeds anything attributed to these villains, let alone the normal practice of the hegemonic power whose global drone assassination campaign alone dominates (and helps to foster) international terrorism.

Those two villainous Iranian clients also share the crime of winning the popular vote in the only free elections in the Arab world. Hezbollah is guilty of the even more heinous crime of compelling Israel to withdraw from its occupation of southern Lebanon, which took place in violation of U.N. Security Council orders dating back decades and involved an illegal regime of terror and sometimes extreme violence. Whatever one thinks of Hezbollah, Hamas, or other beneficiaries of Iranian support, Iran hardly ranks high in support of terror worldwide.

"Fueling Instability"

Another concern, voiced at the U.N. by U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power, is the "instability that Iran fuels beyond its nuclear program." The U.S. will continue to scrutinize this misbehavior, she declared. In that, she echoed the assurance Defense Secretary Ashton Carter offered while standing on Israel's northern border that "we will continue to help Israel counter Iran's malign influence" in supporting Hezbollah, and that the U.S. reserves the right to use military force against Iran as it deems appropriate.

The way Iran "fuels instability" can be seen particularly dramatically in Iraq where, among other crimes, it alone at once came to the aid of Kurds defending themselves from the invasion of Islamic State militants, even as it is building a $2.5 billion power plant in the southern port city of Basra to try to bring electrical power back to the level reached before the 2003 invasion. Ambassador Power's usage is, however, standard: Thanks to that invasion, hundreds of thousands were killed and millions of refugees generated, barbarous acts of torture were committed -- Iraqis have compared the destruction to the Mongol invasion of the thirteenth century -- leaving Iraq the unhappiest country in the world according to WIN/Gallup polls. Meanwhile, sectarian conflict was ignited, tearing the region to shreds and laying the basis for the creation of the monstrosity that is ISIS. And all of that is called "stabilization."

Only Iran's shameful actions, however, "fuel instability." The standard usage sometimes reaches levels that are almost surreal, as when liberal commentator James Chace, former editor of Foreign Affairs, explained that the U.S. sought to "destabilize a freely elected Marxist government in Chile" because "we were determined to seek stability" under the Pinochet dictatorship.

Others are outraged that Washington should negotiate at all with a "contemptible" regime like Iran's with its horrifying human rights record and urge instead that we pursue "an American-sponsored alliance between Israel and the Sunni states." So writes Leon Wieseltier, contributing editor to the venerable liberal journal the Atlantic, who can barely conceal his visceral hatred for all things Iranian. With a straight face, this respected liberal intellectual recommends that Saudi Arabia, which makes Iran look like a virtual paradise, and Israel, with its vicious crimes in Gaza and elsewhere, should ally to teach that country good behavior. Perhaps the recommendation is not entirely unreasonable when we consider the human rights records of the regimes the U.S. has imposed and supported throughout the world.

Though the Iranian government is no doubt a threat to its own people, it regrettably breaks no records in this regard, not descending to the level of favored U.S. allies. That, however, cannot be the concern of Washington, and surely not Tel Aviv or Riyadh.

It might also be useful to recall -- surely Iranians do -- that not a day has passed since 1953 in which the U.S. was not harming Iranians. After all, as soon as they overthrew the hated U.S.-imposed regime of the Shah in 1979, Washington put its support behind Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, who would, in 1980, launch a murderous assault on their country. President Reagan went so far as to deny Saddam's major crime, his chemical warfare assault on Iraq's Kurdish population, which he blamed on Iran instead. When Saddam was tried for crimes under U.S. auspices, that horrendous crime, as well as others in which the U.S. was complicit, was carefully excluded from the charges, which were restricted to one of his minor crimes, the murder of 148 Shi'ites in 1982, a footnote to his gruesome record.

  Saddam was such a valued friend of Washington that he was even granted a privilege otherwise accorded only to Israel. In 1987, his forces were allowed to attack a U.S. naval vessel, the USS Stark, with impunity, killing 37 crewmen. (Israel had acted similarly in its 1967 attack on the USS Liberty.) Iran pretty much conceded defeat shortly after, when the U.S. launched Operation Praying Mantis against Iranian ships and oil platforms in Iranian territorial waters. That operation culminated when the USS Vincennes, under no credible threat, shot down an Iranian civilian airliner in Iranian airspace, with 290 killed -- and the subsequent granting of a Legion of Merit award to the commander of the Vincennes for "exceptionally meritorious conduct" and for maintaining a "calm and professional atmosphere" during the period when the attack on the airliner took place. Comments philosopher Thill Raghu, "We can only stand in awe of such display of American exceptionalism!"

After the war ended, the U.S. continued to support Saddam Hussein, Iran's primary enemy. President George H.W. Bush even invited Iraqi nuclear engineers to the U.S. for advanced training in weapons production, an extremely serious threat to Iran. Sanctions against that country were intensified, including against foreign firms dealing with it, and actions were initiated to bar it from the international financial system.

In recent years the hostility has extended to sabotage, the murder of nuclear scientists (presumably by Israel), and cyberwar, openly proclaimed with pride. The Pentagon regards cyberwar as an act of war, justifying a military response, as does NATO, which affirmed in September 2014 that cyber attacks may trigger the collective defense obligations of the NATO powers -- when we are the target that is, not the perpetrators.

"The Prime Rogue State"

It is only fair to add that there have been breaks in this pattern. President George W. Bush, for example, offered several significant gifts to Iran by destroying its major enemies, Saddam Hussein and the Taliban. He even placed Iran's Iraqi enemy under its influence after the U.S. defeat, which was so severe that Washington had to abandon its officially declared goals of establishing permanent military bases ("enduring camps") and ensuring that U.S. corporations would have privileged access to Iraq's vast oil resources.

Do Iranian leaders intend to develop nuclear weapons today? We can decide for ourselves how credible their denials are, but that they had such intentions in the past is beyond question. After all, it was asserted openly on the highest authority and foreign journalists were informed that Iran would develop nuclear weapons "certainly, and sooner than one thinks." The father of Iran's nuclear energy program and former head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization was confident that the leadership's plan "was to build a nuclear bomb." The CIA also reported that it had "no doubt" Iran would develop nuclear weapons if neighboring countries did (as they have).

All of this was, of course, under the Shah, the "highest authority" just quoted and at a time when top U.S. officials -- Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Henry Kissinger, among others -- were urging him to proceed with his nuclear programs and pressuring universities to accommodate these efforts. Under such pressures, my own university, MIT, made a deal with the Shah to admit Iranian students to the nuclear engineering program in return for grants he offered and over the strong objections of the student body, but with comparably strong faculty support (in a meeting that older faculty will doubtless remember well).

Asked later why he supported such programs under the Shah but opposed them more recently, Kissinger responded honestly that Iran was an ally then.

Putting aside absurdities, what is the real threat of Iran that inspires such fear and fury? A natural place to turn for an answer is, again, U.S. intelligence. Recall its analysis that Iran poses no military threat, that its strategic doctrines are defensive, and that its nuclear programs (with no effort to produce bombs, as far as can be determined) are "a central part of its deterrent strategy."

Who, then, would be concerned by an Iranian deterrent? The answer is plain: the rogue states that rampage in the region and do not want to tolerate any impediment to their reliance on aggression and violence. In the lead in this regard are the U.S. and Israel, with Saudi Arabia trying its best to join the club with its invasion of Bahrain (to support the crushing of a reform movement there) and now its murderous assault on Yemen, accelerating a growing humanitarian catastrophe in that country.

For the United States, the characterization is familiar. Fifteen years ago, the prominent political analyst Samuel Huntington, professor of the science of government at Harvard, warned in the establishment journal Foreign Affairs that for much of the world the U.S. was "becoming the rogue superpower... the single greatest external threat to their societies." Shortly after, his words were echoed by Robert Jervis, the president of the American Political Science Association: "In the eyes of much of the world, in fact, the prime rogue state today is the United States." As we have seen, global opinion supports this judgment by a substantial margin.

Furthermore, the mantle is worn with pride. That is the clear meaning of the insistence of the political class that the U.S. reserves the right to resort to force if it unilaterally determines that Iran is violating some commitment. This policy is of long standing, especially for liberal Democrats, and by no means restricted to Iran. The Clinton Doctrine, for instance, confirmed that the U.S. was entitled to resort to the "unilateral use of military power" even to ensure "uninhibited access to key markets, energy supplies, and strategic resources," let alone alleged "security" or "humanitarian" concerns. Adherence to various versions of this doctrine has been well confirmed in practice, as need hardly be discussed among people willing to look at the facts of current history.

These are among the critical matters that should be the focus of attention in analyzing the nuclear deal at Vienna, whether it stands or is sabotaged by Congress, as it may well be.

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