US ‘Has the Gall’ to Ask Cambodia to Pay War Debt

A U.S. Air Force Boeing Stratofortress dropping bombs over Vietnam. | Photo: Wikimedia

Almost half a century after dropping 500,000 tons of explosives and killing hundreds of thousands of people in Cambodia, the United States seems to be demanding that the country pay back US$500 million in war debts, a move that sparked outcry across the political spectrum in Cambodia.

“To me, Cambodia does not look like a country that should be in arrears … buildings coming up all over the city, foreign investment coming in, government revenue is rapidly rising,” William Heidt, the U.S. ambassador to Cambodia, told local newspaper Cambodia Daily.

Since the elections of President Donald Trump, the Cambodian government has been urging Washington to cancel the debt, but the ambassador dismissed any plans to do so by the new administration.

“I will say that the issue of cancellation … that wasn’t on the table when I was here in the 1990s. It has never been on the table since then. So we have never discussed seriously or considered canceling that debt with Cambodia,” he said, while also calling for a deal to be struck between the two countries for debt payment.

Speaking at a conference earlier this month, Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen, a former commander with the Cambodian communists, slammed the ambassador for his comments and recalled the atrocities committed by the U.S. in the 1970s.

“They dropped bombs on our heads and then ask up to repay. When we do not repay, they tell the IMF (International Monetary Fund) not to lend us money,” Sen said, according to local media. “We should raise our voices to talk about the issue of the country that has invaded other (countries) and has killed children.”

In the late 1960s, the U.S. had given US$274 million loan, mostly for food supplies to the U.S.-backed Lon Nol government who had taken over the country in a coup a year earlier. The debt has almost doubled over the years as Cambodia refused to enter into a repayment program.

As Nol fought against the Khmer Rouge between 1970 and 1975, U.S. fighter jets carried out secret carpet-bombings against the group in support of the right-wing government killing more than 500,000 people, many of them women and children.

After the Khmer Rouge took over the country in 1975, more than 2 million people died as a result of political executions, disease and forced labor.

The idea that Cambodia owed the United States money is rejected by many, including those who witnessed the massacres.

“He (Heidt) has the gall to demand the ‘loans’ back even though either the Khmer Rouge or the current government have been in power since 1975, that this money was still due,” James Pringle, who served as the bureau chief for Reuters in the Vietnamese city of Ho Chi Minh City during the invasion of Cambodia, wrote for The Cambodia Daily.

“Cambodia does not owe even a brass farthing to the U.S. for help in destroying its people, its wild animals, its rice fields and forest cover.”

— source telesurtv.net

The WikiLeaks revelations and the crimes of US imperialism

With increasing frequency, aggressive foreign policy moves by Washington have been palmed off by the media and political establishment as defensive responses to “hacking” and “cyber-espionage” by US imperialism’s geopolitical adversaries: Russia and China.

For months, news programs have been dominated by hysterical allegations that Russia “hacked” the Democratic National Committee in order to subvert the 2016 election. As the print and broadcast media were engaged in feverish denunciations of Russia, the US and its NATO allies moved thousands of troops and hundreds of tanks to the Russian border.

Not content to allege interference only in the American election, the US media and its international surrogates have alleged Russian meddling in elections in France, Germany and other far-flung countries. Prior to the current furor over Russian “hacking” of the election, the Obama administration used allegations of “hacking” and “intellectual property theft” to justify the trade sanctions and military escalation against China that accompanied its “pivot to Asia.”

Whenever the State Department, the CIA or unnamed “intelligence officials” proclaim another alleged “cyber” provocation by Washington’s geopolitical rivals, news anchors breathlessly regurgitate the allegations as fact, accompanying them with potted infographics and footage of masked men in darkened rooms aggressively typing away at computer keyboards.

But the official narrative of a benevolent and well-intentioned US government coming under attack from hordes of Russian and Chinese hackers, spies and “internet trolls” was upended Tuesday with the publication by WikiLeaks of some 9,000 documents showing the methods used by the Central Intelligence Agency to carry out criminal cyber-espionage, exploitation, hacking and disinformation operations all over the world.

The documents reveal that the CIA possesses the ability to exploit and control any internet-connected device, including mobile phones and “smart” televisions. These tools, employed by an army of 5,000 CIA hackers, give the agency the means to spy on virtually anyone, whether inside or outside the United States, including foreign governments, “friend” and foe alike, as well as international organizations such as the United Nations.

The WikiLeaks documents expose the United States as the world’s greatest “rogue state” and “cyber criminal.” The monstrous US espionage network, paid for with hundreds of billions in tax dollars, uses diplomatic posts to hide its activities from its “allies,” spies on world leaders, organizes kidnappings and assassinations and aims to influence or overturn elections all over the world.

On Tuesday, former CIA director Michael Hayden replied to the revelations by boasting, “But there are people out there that you want us to spy on. You want us to have the ability to actually turn on that listening device inside the TV to learn that person’s intentions.”

One can only imagine the howls of indignation such statements would evoke in the American press if they were uttered by a former Russian spymaster. In his comments, Hayden barely attempts to cover up the fact that the United States runs a spying and political disruption operation the likes of which Russian President Vladimir Putin or Chinese President Xi Jinping could only dream of.

The WikiLeaks documents show that the United States seeks to cover up its illicit operations by planting false flags indicating that its geopolitical adversaries, including Russia and China, bear responsibility for its crimes.

Cybersecurity expert Robert Graham noted in a blog post, for example, that “one anti-virus researcher has told me that a virus they once suspected came from the Russians or Chinese can now be attributed to the CIA, as it matches the description perfectly to something in the leak.”

The revelations have already begun to reverberate around the world. German Foreign Ministry spokesman Sebastian Fischer said Wednesday that Berlin was taking the revelations “very seriously,” adding, “issues of this kind emerge again and again.” Meanwhile Germany’s chief prosecutor has announced an investigation into the contents of the documents, with a spokesperson telling Reuters, “We will initiate an investigation if we see evidence of concrete criminal acts or specific perpetrators…We’re looking at it very carefully.”

The documents expose the CIA’s use of the US consulate in Frankfurt, Germany as a base for its spying and cyber operations throughout Europe, employing a network of intelligence personnel including CIA agents, NSA spies, military secret service personnel and US Department of Homeland Security employees. Many of these operatives were provided with cover identities and diplomatic passports in order to hide their operations from the German and European governments.

Wednesday’s rebuke by the German government followed the revelations in 2013 by Edward Snowden that “unknown members of the US intelligence services spied on the mobile phone of Chancellor Angela Merkel,” as Germany’s top prosecutor put it in 2015.

The US media, true to its function as a propaganda arm of the CIA and other intelligence agencies, immediately sprang into action to minimize the significance of the revelations and to accuse Russia, entirely without substantiation, of having released the documents in an effort to subvert US interests.

NPR quoted favorably the statements of Hayden, who declared, “I can tell you that these tools would not be used against an American,” while the Washington Post quoted a bevy of security experts who said there is nothing to worry about in the documents. It favorably cited one such “expert,” Jan Dawson, who declared, “For the vast majority of us, this does not apply to us at all … There’s no need to worry for any normal law-abiding citizen.”

Such absurd statements, made about a security apparatus that was proven by Snowden’s revelations to have spied on the private communications of millions of Americans, and then lied about it to the public and Congress, were taken as good coin by the US media.

Just one day after the WikiLeaks revelations, the media spin machine was already busy portraying them as part of a Russian conspiracy against the United States, and indicting WikiLeaks for acting as an agent of foreign powers. “Could Russia have hacked the CIA?” asked NBC’s evening news program on Wednesday, while another segment was titled “Could there be a [Russian] mole inside the CIA?”

The types of spying and disruption mechanisms revealed in the documents constitute a key instrument US foreign policy, which works to subvert the democratic rights of people all over the planet in the interest of US imperialism. No methods, whether spying, hacking, blackmail, murder, torture, or, when need be, bombings and invasion, are off the table.

Andre Damon

— source wsws.org

CIA’s threat to democratic rights

Speaking at a cybersecurity conference at Boston College Wednesday, FBI Director James Comey said, “there is no such thing as absolute privacy in America.” Every activity that Americans engage in, including conversations between spouses and with members of the clergy and attorneys, is within “judicial reach.” He declared, “In appropriate circumstances, a judge can compel any one of us to testify in court about those very private communications.”

The FBI director did not add, although he could well have, that a judicial order is completely irrelevant to the US military-intelligence apparatus. The US government has far more direct methods than court orders to learn what its citizens are thinking and talking about, through the use of sophisticated cyberweapons. These include the thousands of hacking tools whose existence was made public Tuesday by WikiLeaks, in a data release exposing efforts by the CIA to turn millions of ordinary electronic devices, from cellphones and smart TVs to the computer systems running most cars, into spy weapons.

The FBI director’s declaration that there is no right to privacy was greeted with a yawn by the corporate media, which barely reported his comments, and by Democratic and Republican party politicians. This is in keeping with the overall treatment of the WikiLeaks revelations, which has been one of indifference to the threat to democratic rights exposed in the CIA cyberweapons cache.

As far as the media is concerned, anyone who raises concerns about the right to privacy, or other democratic rights, being threatened by the national-security apparatus is an agent of Russia. This position was put most bluntly by the Washington Post, in its lead editorial Thursday, headlined, “WikiLeaks does America’s enemies a big favor.”

The editorial begins with a flat-out, 100 percent defense of the CIA, declaring, “The first thing to say about the archive of cyberhacking tools stolen from the CIA and released by WikiLeaks is that they are not instruments of mass surveillance, but means for spying on individual phones, computers and televisions. There is no evidence they have been used against Americans or otherwise improperly …”

The editorial continues, “It follows that the targets of the hacking methods, and the prime beneficiaries of their release, will be Islamic State terrorists, North Korean bombmakers, Iranian, Chinese and Russian spies, and other U.S. adversaries.” The editorial goes on to smear WikiLeaks as a tool of Russia, and denounces “privacy zealots” who “are, in effect, advocating unilateral U.S. disarmament in cyberspace.”

In response to such a brazen defense of the CIA, one is tempted to ask, why doesn’t the Washington Post simply announce that it is a propaganda arm of the U.S. government, tasked with the ideological and political defense of the military-intelligence apparatus? There is not a shred of an independent, critical attitude in this editorial. The newspaper swallows whole the CIA’s assurances that its agents are “legally prohibited” from spying on Americans. And it denounces WikiLeaks for acting as real journalists do, collecting information about government misconduct and making it public.

This from a newspaper that, 46 years ago, in conjunction with the New York Times, published the Pentagon Papers, over the vehement objections of the Nixon White House and the CIA and military leaders of the day, who raised the same cry of “national security.” One can only conclude that if someone brought the equivalent of the Pentagon Papers to the Post (or the Times ) today, the editors would immediately call up the FBI and have the leaker arrested.

The line of the Post has been repeated in innumerable forms in newspapers and on television. Former director of the CIA and the NSA Michael Hayden has been brought forward on nearly every news program to deliver the official government line. None of the major broadcasters adopt a critical line or seek to interview anyone who supports WikiLeaks and its exposure of CIA crimes.

A concrete demonstration of the relationship between the media and the military-intelligence apparatus is provided by a report posted on the web site of the New York Times earlier this week by David Sanger, the newspaper’s principal conduit for information that the CIA and Pentagon wish to make public.

Sanger wrote about how he and another Times reporter, William Broad, prepared last Sunday’s front-page report on US efforts to counter North Korean missile launches, headlined, “Trump Inherits a Secret Cyberwar Against North Korean Missiles,” which suggested that the US military had developed methods for causing North Korean missile launches to fail. The main thrust of this article, splashed across the newspaper’s front page, was that the countermeasures were insufficient, and more drastic actions were required against the supposed threat of a North Korean nuclear strike against US targets.

In a remarkable paragraph, Sanger describes “the sensitive part of these investigations: telling the government what we had, trying to get official comment (there has been none) and assessing whether any of our revelations could affect continuing operations.” He explains, “In the last weeks of the Obama administration, we traveled out to the director of national intelligence’s offices,” where, Sanger says, it was “important to listen to any concerns they might have about the details we are planning to publish so that we can weigh them with our editors.”

In plain English, the New York Times’ front-page “exclusive” was nothing more than a press release from the military-intelligence apparatus, aimed at spreading fear of North Korean nuclear capabilities in the upper-middle-class readership of the Times, and setting the tone for national media coverage of the issue. The political goal was to shape public opinion to support a preemptive US military attack on North Korea, an impoverished country the size of the state of Mississippi.

The main significance of the media response to the WikiLeaks revelations is that it demonstrates the complete erosion of democratic consciousness in all the institutions of the American ruling elite. In any serious accounting of the threats to American democracy, the CIA would be in first place: America’s own Gestapo, what even President Lyndon Johnson described as a “damned Murder Incorporated” for its brutal methods of assassination and provocation across the Caribbean and Latin America.

There is no greater danger to the democratic rights of the American people than the military-intelligence apparatus of the American government itself, the last line of defense for a crisis-stricken and historically doomed ruling elite.

Patrick Martin

— source wsws.org

Former CIA Director Michael Hayden Blames Millennials for Government Leaks

Former CIA Director Michael Hayden told the BBC this week that he blames millennials for the government’s secrets being leaked to the public.

“In order to do this kind of stuff, we have to recruit from a certain demographic,” he said, referring to government surveillance. “And I don’t mean to judge them at all, but this group of millennials and related groups simply have different understandings of the words loyalty, secrecy, and transparency than certainly my generation did.”

He specifically cited whistleblowers Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden and speculated that whoever recently gave the CIA spy tool files to WikiLeaks was also likely a millennial.

“Culturally, they have different instincts than people who made the decision to hire them,” he said.

Hayden’s theory, however, doesn’t hold water. Whistleblowers and leakers have been a fact of life throughout United States history — and before its existence, too.

In 1772, Benjamin Franklin — born about 276 years too early to be a millennial — obtained letters from Thomas Hutchinson, governor of Massachusetts, in which he mused about repressing the rights of colonists. Franklin leaked the letters, and they were used by the movement for independence to rile up the colonies against their British rulers.

It’s a tradition that has continued in generation after generation.

Consider Daniel Ellsberg, who was 40 when he leaked the Pentagon Papers to the press in 1971, exposing widespread government deceit about the Vietnam War. Or Mark Felt, who was almost 60 when he helped formed the basis for the Watergate stories under the pseudonym “Deep Throat.”

To the extent that Hayden is right that millennials are different, it’s that younger people value privacy — the core issue behind Snowden’s leaks — more than older Americans.

A 2013 Pew poll found that millennials were more skeptical of government surveillance than any other age group — with 45 percent of millennials saying it was more important for the federal government to “not intrude on personal privacy, even if that limits its ability to investigate possible terror threats” than “to investigate possible terrorist threats, even if that intrudes on personal privacy.” Among those 65 years old and older, just 26 percent held that view.

A 2015 poll commissioned by the ACLU found that 56 percent of Americans between the ages of 18-29 had a favorable view of Snowden, while just 26 percent of those above the age of 55 shared that view.

— source theintercept.com by Zaid Jilani

Bush Sr. Helped Reagan Smooth Over Death Squad Terror in El Salvador

In December 1983, then-U.S. Vice President George H.W. Bush slipped away on a little-known trip to Latin America to try to salvage Washington’s agreement to fund a bloody Cold War fight against left-wing rebels in El Salvador as a surge in death squad activity threatened to derail its ability to continue supporting the military regime, newly declassified U.S. intelligence documented have revealed.

In a series of memoranda addressed to Bush detailing the goals of the trip to El Salvador, staffers of then-President Ronald Reagan explained that the vice president would be tasked with communicating a “carrot and stick” approach to the military government in El Salvador, at the time immersed in a brutal Washington-backed civil war against communist guerrilla forces.

Reagan’s administration was at the time growing uncomfortable with exposure of the Salvadoran military’s widespread human rights abuses, such as death squad murders of missionaries and civilians as well as cases of U.S. citizens being killed in the country. The grave human rights situation threatened to put Washington’s support for the military government and its Cold War counterinsurgency strategy in “serious jeopardy,” the documents state.

“Your primary objective is to impress the Salvadoran leadership with the need for specific changes in human rights, military, and political conduct,” then-Secretary of State George P. Shultz wrote in a Dec. 5, 1983, memo to Bush.

The president took the decision to send Bush because he was in danger of losing support for military aid to El Salvador since his opponents in Congress considered the military intervention in the region unnecessary. And the human rights situation was increasingly sparking alarm.

Bush’s goal in El Salvador was to urge military authorities to end the murders and human rights abuses and allow fully free and democratic elections to go forward to avoid Washington potentially being forced to cut off military aid to the country on human rights grounds. Commitments to reform on human rights would allow the U.S. officials to stoke confidence in Congress to give the green light to continue funding the Salvadoran army’s battle against left-wing Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front rebels, aligned with Cuba and the Soviet Union.

According to the document, U.S. officials told El Salvador’s military government to have death squad members “sent out of the country” so as to not negatively impact the U.S.’ ability to fund war. Top Bush advisors Don Gregg and Philip Hughes wrote to the vice president in a Dec. 6, 1983 memo that “unfortunately” Salvadoran officials had not complied with the demand. At the time, Reagan aides reported that death squads had “re-emerged from its dormancy” in recent months.

Reagan knew that even a grain of rice could tip the balance and he did not want to lose a single ally in his Cold War battle against international communism.

Bush’s objective was also to encourage Salvadoran officials to adhere to the upcoming presidential election schedule and communicate an understanding of U.S. impartiality regarding the candidates.

“If we can work with the Salvadoran government on the twin problems of death squads and military performance, these developments can help us weather the current cycle of greater guerrilla initiative,” Gregg and Hughes wrote to Bush. “We may then be set to capitalize on the March 25, 1984 presidential elections which will probably boil down to a two-way race between Napoleon Duarte and Roberto d’Aubuisson, with the former expected to win at this point.”

Duarte and D’Aubuisson were both allies of Washington. The latter was a soldier, extreme right-wing politician and death-squad leader. Months ahead of the election, U.S. officials reported Duarte was expected to win, which he did. His years in office oversaw numerous human rights abuses and massacres of the civilian population by security forces and the death squads.

The infamous leader died of cancer in 1990 at a Washington, D.C., hospital. It has been confirmed that he served as a CIA asset in his country during the civil war, which did not end until January 1992, after up to 80,000 people were killed and another 8,000 people disappeared.

The details of Washington’s attempt to smooth over the issue of death squad terror in El Salvador were revealed in documents released earlier this week in a batch of declassified U.S. intelligence files related to the U.S.-backed South American counterinsurgency program Operation Condor. More files on the 1970s and 1980s campaign that aimed to stabilize dictatorships while cracking down on political dissidents in the region are set to be released next year.

— source telesurtv.net