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Bad News From America’s Top Spy

Posted on Feb 16, 2009
AP photo / Petros Giannakouris

Riots have become common occurrences in many countries as the financial meltdown continues. The U.S. military is preparing to quell civil unrest at home.

By Chris Hedges

We have a remarkable ability to create our own monsters. A few decades of meddling in the Middle East with our Israeli doppelgänger and we get Hezbollah, Hamas, al-Qaida, the Iraqi resistance movement and a resurgent Taliban. Now we trash the world economy and destroy the ecosystem and sit back to watch our handiwork. Hints of our brave new world seeped out Thursday when Washington’s new director of national intelligence, retired Adm. Dennis Blair, testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee. He warned that the deepening economic crisis posed perhaps our gravest threat to stability and national security. It could trigger, he said, a return to the “violent extremism” of the 1920s and 1930s.

It turns out that Wall Street, rather than Islamic jihad, has produced our most dangerous terrorists. You wouldn’t know this from the Obama administration, which seems hellbent on draining the blood out of the body politic and transfusing it into the corpse of our financial system. But by the time Barack Obama is done all we will be left with is a corpse—a corpse and no blood. And then what? We will see accelerated plant and retail closures, inflation, an epidemic of bankruptcies, new rounds of foreclosures, bread lines, unemployment surpassing the levels of the Great Depression and, as Blair fears, social upheaval.

The United Nations’ International Labor Organization estimates that some 50 million workers will lose their jobs worldwide this year. The collapse has already seen 3.6 million lost jobs in the United States. The International Monetary Fund’s prediction for global economic growth in 2009 is 0.5 percent—the worst since World War II. There are 2.3 million properties in the United States that received a default notice or were repossessed last year. And this number is set to rise in 2009, especially as vacant commercial real estate begins to be foreclosed. About 20,000 major global banks collapsed, were sold or were nationalized in 2008. There are an estimated 62,000 U.S. companies expected to shut down this year. Unemployment, when you add people no longer looking for jobs and part-time workers who cannot find full-time employment, is close to 14 percent.

And we have few tools left to dig our way out. The manufacturing sector in the United States has been destroyed by globalization. Consumers, thanks to credit card companies and easy lines of credit, are $14 trillion in debt. The government has pledged trillions toward the crisis, most of it borrowed or printed in the form of new money. It is borrowing trillions more to fund our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. And no one states the obvious: We will never be able to pay these loans back. We are supposed to somehow spend our way out of the crisis and maintain our imperial project on credit. Let our kids worry about it. There is no coherent and realistic plan, one built around our severe limitations, to stanch the bleeding or ameliorate the mounting deprivations we will suffer as citizens. Contrast this with the national security state’s strategies to crush potential civil unrest and you get a glimpse of the future. It doesn’t look good.

“The primary near-term security concern of the United States is the global economic crisis and its geopolitical implications,” Blair told the Senate. “The crisis has been ongoing for over a year, and economists are divided over whether and when we could hit bottom. Some even fear that the recession could further deepen and reach the level of the Great Depression. Of course, all of us recall the dramatic political consequences wrought by the economic turmoil of the 1920s and 1930s in Europe, the instability, and high levels of violent extremism.”


Square, Site wide

The specter of social unrest was raised at the U.S. Army War College in November in a monograph [click on Policypointers’ pdf link to see the report] titled “Known Unknowns: Unconventional ‘Strategic Shocks’ in Defense Strategy Development.” The military must be prepared, the document warned, for a “violent, strategic dislocation inside the United States,” which could be provoked by “unforeseen economic collapse,” “purposeful domestic resistance,” “pervasive public health emergencies” or “loss of functioning political and legal order.” The “widespread civil violence,” the document said, “would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities in extremis to defend basic domestic order and human security.”

“An American government and defense establishment lulled into complacency by a long-secure domestic order would be forced to rapidly divest some or most external security commitments in order to address rapidly expanding human insecurity at home,” it went on.

“Under the most extreme circumstances, this might include use of military force against hostile groups inside the United States. Further, DoD [the Department of Defense] would be, by necessity, an essential enabling hub for the continuity of political authority in a multi-state or nationwide civil conflict or disturbance,” the document read.

In plain English, something bureaucrats and the military seem incapable of employing, this translates into the imposition of martial law and a de facto government being run out of the Department of Defense. They are considering it. So should you.

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Outraged's avatar

By Outraged, February 16, 2009 at 11:06 am Link to this comment

Quote of Adm. Blair’s report:  “At the national and subnational level, purposeful opponents could synchronize nonmilitary effort, agitating quasi-legitimate proxies into concerted social action and precision political violence targeted at nullifying traditional U.S. military advantages, limiting American freedom of action, and adversely shaping the strategic choices of or political outcomes inside key but vulnerable American partners. Imagine “a new era of containment with the United States as the nation to be contained” where the principal tools and methods of war involve everything but those associated with traditional military conflict. Imagine that the sources of this “new era of containment” are widespread; predicated on nonmilitary forms of political, economic, and violent action; in the main, sustainable over time; and finally, largely invulnerable to effective reversal through traditional U.S. advantages.

The pressure on the United States would be cumulative and persistent. In the extreme, it could drive U.S. decisionmakers into increasingly desperate and potentially illegitimate counteraction.”

I absolutely agree with Adm. Blair’s conjecture in this regard and we can see the seeds of this being sown in communities across America, some in the form of “zero tolerence” (read intolerence) laws, the destruction of the economy, politicians squarely in the pocket of religious, corporate and/or agenda driven organizations.  Police state “propositions” which directly conflict with rights guaranteed to the citizenry by the constitution.

Our governments, local, state and federal have been infiltrated or “bought off” by various factions and it will take the order of the DOD to address this very serious situation.  Investigations by authorities mindful of the nation’s interests and protective of its tenets is what is currently lacking.  This is not the time to stand down, this is the time to stand up and support those in these positions so that they are able to conduct investigations unhindered.  H. Clinton could do much to redeem herself at this critical impass.

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Eric L. Prentis's avatar

By Eric L. Prentis, February 16, 2009 at 10:35 am Link to this comment

Using US military force to quell public US demonstrations that may ultimately lead to disturbances is an atrocious idea. The military, or a private security company, is not the police and won’t have the general public’s backing, leading to a loss of trust in government. Military juntas don’t last long and retribution is extensive.

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By Paul_GA, February 16, 2009 at 10:31 am Link to this comment

If they are, indeed, to blame for the impending economic collapse of the USA, republicanSScareme, then the Zionists have shot themselves in the foot, because without the USA as Israel’s cash-cow, they’re not going to last very long.

I appreciate your comments, Big B. However, as an “Austrian” (a believer in the Austrian School of Economics and libertarianism as a philosophy), I firmly believe that genuine laissez-faire capitalism and liberty are intertwined. I want something better than either socialism or the faux capitalism we’ve lived under ever since the founding of this country. I admit I may not see it; as you imply, human nature being what it is, any social/political/economic system is a perfect schema cast for imperfect actors.

Perhaps we’re on the cusp of the collapse of the “American experiment”, but I hope the ideals of Austrian economics and libertarianism are kept alive in the coming Dark Ages.

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By Folktruther, February 16, 2009 at 10:30 am Link to this comment

As I’ve said many times before, the Zionist War on Terrorism is directed primarily against the American people.  It is not only against the interests of the American people to target a billion and a holf Muslims, it is against the interests of the American power struture.  It has been done because Zionists have gained control of the American power system and are support Israel’s imperialist interests rather than those of the US.  And this is disguise in the Zionist controlled mass media.

the imperialist wars against Muslims, the neoloberal looting of the economy, and now the militarized police state that is forming in the US, benefits Israeli imperialism, not the US.  And Aipac and other Zionst lobbiests control the elctoral system.  When Jane Harman, the Zionist House member, sponsored the thought control bill to gut the Internet with Zionist support, to passed the House 404-6.  No one was willing to buck the Zionists, at the peril of losing the next election.

We are now getting to the martial law stage. as N’AWlins has posted, troops airlifted by helecopters and bombings occurred in a practice raid in New Orleans, done at night to keep it quiet.  And Biden has stated publically that Obama is going to be tested and he will have to do something unpopular to Protect America.

Meanwhile Obama DUPEs (Democratis Under Presidential Enchantment) plead to give Obama a Chance, at a time when he has already devised another bailout swindle, is bombing homes in Pakistan, and is supporting the starvation blockade and mass murder in Gaza.  the American people still don’t understand that they are going to be targeted like the Iraqis and Palestinians to maintain Zionist ruling class control of the US.

We are still afraid to tell the simple truth about political reality, even when it begins to drift to the mianstream media.  It is necessary for progressive truthers to tell Americans what they don’t want to hear.  And Hedges has begun to do so.

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By godistwaddle, February 16, 2009 at 10:26 am Link to this comment

It’s overdue that the workers of the world unite in protest and action, and NOT necessarily nonviolent action.

The anarchist assassinations at the turn of the last century led to trust busting, and the movements of the Depression led to the New Deal.  Capitalists have never shrunk from violence, but we outnumber them.

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By Slow, February 16, 2009 at 10:02 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr. Hedges is again doing a great service.
I would add however, that there was a considerable amount of manipulation slipped into the testimony by Dennis Blair. The most outstanding to me was his stating that Iran IS developing nuclear weapons - we actually have been told by our own “intelligence” that this cannot be proven at this time. Another assessment he made was that the economic decline of Venezuela due to a drop in petroleum pricing was part of a “silver lining.” I have to believe these two assessments are being promoted as a goundwork for more aggressive Imperialist takeovers and it adds further suspicion on how economic factors such as oil pricing are manipulated.

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By republicanSScareme, February 16, 2009 at 9:42 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Anyone who have done his research knows that Zionism is the primary enemy of humanity. It is responsible for the turmoil in the Middle East and for the contrived economic collapse of the United states.

Zionists should be labeled as traitors and treated as such.

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By coloradokarl, February 16, 2009 at 8:01 am Link to this comment

The “Hidden Hand” knew this was coming for years and probably wants it to help control the masses. The new rules for civil engagement by our military were the fresh sign sign posts on this Highway to Hell. Our job is to proceed with NON-VIOLENT protests and don’t let “False Flag” protesters spoil the fun. There will be protests and there should be but any violence will play into the hands of the few who want to control us. Organize food drives, Open abandoned buildings for the displaced and care for the weak and sick among us. Compassion and Love will act as a shield against the hard hearts of the mongers of fear.

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By Apprentice, February 16, 2009 at 7:56 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Nonsense. There can’t be a financial emergency. Judge them not by their words but by their actions.

For weeks we heard about how crucial the passage of the Stimulus Bill was to Americans and how every day of delay was a disaster.

Then, after the passage, Obama decides to wait over three days before signing it while taking time off from his campaign.

What? He’s not campaigning? He has won the election? Somebody better tell him.

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By William T. DeMente, February 16, 2009 at 7:52 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

When I first took an active interest in politics as a high school student in the early 1960s, I remember people saying that there was a war whenever one political party was in power and a recession when the other political party was in power.  It never really occured to me at the time to suggest that war and recession might actually be feeding on each other regardless of the political party in power.
For one brief moment, Barack Obama offered hope that this cycle could be broken by ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and concentrating on paying down the national debt.  Instead, he affirmed his commitment to increase the national debt and escalate the ongoing wars in support of the security of the U.S. and Israel.
The bottom line is that war costs money and increases debt.  Who benefits?  Those who are skilled at controlling money and debt.  Who loses?  The taxpayers.

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By samosamo, February 16, 2009 at 7:47 am Link to this comment

There are a lot of things that I had given thought to before what Hedges has written about in his report and there are some he has not mentioned. A part I am now trying to decipher was how the government, those clowns and criminals we elected, were going to take control. I believe this part that they will try to make a grab through the military to become the rulers of this country and and try to maintain the imperialist drive around the world under the guise of ‘the war on terror’. Plain people will become considered as a ‘domestic’ terrorist when they refuse to do the work that will keep the coffers flowing for those that have jumped the line of the people of this country to the ‘political and power elite’ to finally nail down the 2 class system, ‘them and us’. Then the only way to become ‘upwardly mobile’ and in the rich class would be to become ruthless, crooked, devious and heartless and make money your god. A lot of people have already done so as an attempt to survive something that need not have happened if the government had not been infested with crooks. Sad because the real terrorist are those in the financial sector, a lot of our politicians and those goddamn lobbyists(the corporate connection).
What was not really picked into in Hedges article was that it won’t stop desparate people from doing desparate things, it may help some to actually go after those that created this mess and still pompously demand their millions upon millions of dollars in pay and bonuses. If this isn’t done, I would expect Adm. Blair may be closer to the truth about people reacting as he claims. I sure would be extremely irritated to find that becoming a crook, thief, criminal makes it legal to steal what is not theirs and not be accountable to the law, then we are already in an anarchy. Now does it seem just a little bit more reasonable to start applying the law where it should? If that happened the people would be less likely to start ‘domestic terrorism’, where if the immediate line is drawn and the big money crooks get away with their crimes, then expect dishevel, rioting and all the rest of it but don’t start the control switches to put that behavior down if people are only protesting and not going full fledged anarchy.
One of the most pitiful aspects of this whole economic thing is that that little dip shit milton friedman was the cause of it all with his ‘unfettered markets’ and ‘“laissez-faire capitalism” will still be worshipped and he may still get his mounument built in his honor, that being the last pieces of shit thrown in the peoples face.

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By mud, February 16, 2009 at 7:43 am Link to this comment

Not to worry Chris. Our new militarized national police force will save the day.

Google:  Soldiers wage war on drugs

With our new domestic military in charge we will all be protected from notions of free will for the greater good, even if it kills us.

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By Sammy J, February 16, 2009 at 7:34 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Big B, your comment captures something I wish to point out that underlies this entire problem we are discussing here.
“Capitalism fails for the same reason that pure socialism fails, human nature.” Human beings have proven themselves to be the most versatile, malleable creatures this planet has ever borne (so far as human beings know). “Human nature” is exactly what we say it is. That is the power of symbolic language. So long as we subscribe to this misguided narrative of the bloody warring ape-man, bolstered by some shady formulation of a term Darwin did not even coin, i.e. “survival of the fittest”, we are buying in whole-heartedly to the paradigm that has painted us into this corner. The way out is not with a new coat of paint, rather, we should just walk over the wet coat already there and get our shoes a little wet.
“We are a competitive race that will always put personal comfort ahead of community responsibility.” Is that really the case? Then how did we rise up out of the primordial muck in the first place? Individually?-that is to say, by our own respective bootstraps? Who made the boots? I feel, from other things you say in your comments, you would recognize the fallacy of this thinking.
Your reductionism here is the brother of the religious dogmatism that has plagued human communities for millenia, and I think it is proving itself to be the Cain of the pair.

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By N'awlins, February 16, 2009 at 6:58 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

A few weeks ago, the local TV channels in New Orleans were gushing about “urban” combat force practice drill that took place overnight. Practice “bombs” were dropped and active duty combat troops were dropped into the city from helicopters. I am NOT making this stuff up! Check with WWL-TV and WDSU-TV sites for the story. They “interviewed” local residents (all from the upper class lakeshore) who were alarmed when woken from their beds by the detonations and the sound of low flying helicopters. No one asked the question: What were US combat troops doing practicing attacking a US city?

I believe this article addresses part of that question.

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By Verne Arnold, February 16, 2009 at 6:43 am Link to this comment

Big B, February 16 at 6:08 am;
Capitalism is what it is.

No it isn’t; it’s what we make it. Capitalism can be many things; irresponsible and greedy or responsible and productive and not exploitative; key word here, exploitative. We, foolishly, have chosen the former as opposed to the later. You may continue to follow the maddening crowd; but I choose to follow the intelligent option of independence which follows no model; but rather follows the humanist form of everything regarding our lives. Governments are nothing if they rule; the people must control their governments. We have failed to do this and thus we must accept responsibility for our failure. We now enjoy the fruits of our false labors.

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By Big B, February 16, 2009 at 6:08 am Link to this comment


Capitalism is what it is. Whoever dies with the most toys wins. Capitalism eventually leads to totalitarianism. As competition creates a system where the big eat the little, competition and consumer choice is eventually eliminated. Where there were many companies, there are now few. Sound familiar? This is a snapshot of business in america!

Capitalism fails for the same reason that pure socialism fails, human nature. We are a competitive race that will always put personal comfort ahead of community responsibility. Capitalism is competition, pure and simple. And aa all of us who have ever competed in a sporting atmosphere can tell you, in a tournament of 16 teams, only one comes out a winner. All the rewards and accolades are heaped upon the one winner, while the losers look on with envious eyes. But there is one major difference between sport and business. In sport, the other teams almost always get a second chance. In business, once your gone, your gone! So are your employees, their benefits, their retirement, their homes, ect.

Capitalism can create prosperity. But it also eventually creates pestilence.

Capitalism knows no sense of societal responibility. Employee pay and benefits are determined by “market conditions”, like the ones that cause you to move operations to a third world country that has no standards, no regulations. You know, pure capitalism. But now we find out the other end of that equation. What happens after you move operations to the third world? Why you lower the standard of living in the nation you left, of course. But that’s capitalism, survival of the fittest! We just need to adapt in the US. You know, adapt to Wal-mart wages, living without heathcare, eating less meals, living in homes with no heat. You know, just like in the third world countries that capitalism has moved operations to.

But that was the system we tied our fate to. We trusted it, deregulated, and stood bye why it screwed us over.

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By Verne Arnold, February 16, 2009 at 5:34 am Link to this comment

Oh no, I’m not going to be first on this one, LOL.

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By Big B, February 16, 2009 at 5:33 am Link to this comment

Sacco and Vansetti, we hardly knew ye!

Who would have thought that political corruption and financial instability could lead to violent revolution? Oh wait, anyone who has ever read a history book. Unrest has just taken longer to germinate in america because we all had lines of credit to help us ease the pain. But now we can no longer afford the new cars and dishwashers that made life worth living, so we are begining to get pissed off.

But it will take a lot more for americans to rise up and demand true social change. We have had it too good for too long, and many of us are still frightened that the alternative to what we have now may not be as good.

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Paul_GA's avatar

By Paul_GA, February 16, 2009 at 5:32 am Link to this comment

Mr. Hedges made a mistake in that last paragraph when he blamed “laissez-faire capitalism” for all our ills and said it had “destroyed itself”. Compare with this quotation from Ron Paul:

“Capitalism should not be condemned, since we haven’t had capitalism. A system of capitalism presumes sound money, not fiat money manipulated by a central bank. Capitalism cherishes voluntary contracts and interest rates that are determined by savings, not credit creation by a central bank. It’s not capitalism when the system is plagued with incomprehensible rules regarding mergers, acquisitions, and stock sales, along with wage controls, price controls, protectionism, corporate subsidies, international management of trade, complex and punishing corporate taxes, privileged government contracts to the military-industrial complex, and a foreign policy controlled by corporate interests and overseas investments. Add to this centralized federal mismanagement of farming, education, medicine, insurance, banking and welfare. This is not capitalism!”

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