The Intercept, the CIA, and corporate surveillance

CIA COVER
This quote comes from this interview. Read more about the Liberty Union party on their website here.

As avid followers may know I had some interesting conversations with members of Omidyar’s play thing, The Intercept, which is part of a broader effort known as “First Look Media” that funds certain projects such as the recent movie, Spotlight. Anyway, this conversation begins with Jon Schwartz (@tinyrevolution) of The Intercept and ends with head honcho/celebrity left personality Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald). In this article I tie together both of these conversations not only to a broader critique of the CIA but of surveillance, corporate and governmental.

The reality of Jon Schwartz’s “pro-reality” article 

Jon Schwartz recently published an article in The Intercept which justifies Bernie Sanders’s position in 1974 to abolish the CIA when he ran as part of the still-existing-democratic socialist party called the Liberty Union Party. While some have convincingly argued that since he doesn’t have the position now that he shouldn’t be taken seriously and that “pragmatic” progressives won’t recognize why the CIA should be abolished today, Schwartz makes a stranger argument. In an article that could have called for the CIA’s abolishment but actually took a pro-Sanders bent, in my view, he says that Sanders’s position is NOT radical by claiming (and implying at times) that John F. Kennedy (JFK), Harry S. Truman, Dean Acheson, the final report of the Church Committee, and Daniel Moynihan wanted to abolish the CIA. Then he claims that the original article in POLITICO that revealed this information is part of a smear campaign against Sanders, implying that the Clinton campaign gave him the information about Sanders’s position to begin with. However, it is not worth wasting time with such silly speculation. It is better to look at Schwartz’s article to see if what he is saying is accurate.

Schwartz starts off with a quote from JFK to “prove” he wanted the CIA’s abolishment. The quote, for context was after the failed debacle, to unseat the newly communist Cuban government, known as the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961. Kennedy said and I quote: “I wanted to splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces, and scatter it into the winds.” Now, that sounds like he would want to abolish it, and numerous people in conspiracy theory books from here to kingdom come have claimed this. This is totally inaccurate. There is no record that he pushed for the abolishment of the CIA in his other two years in office. Secondly, JFK did NOT want to blame the entire agency for the Bay of Pigs invasion. Thirdly, JFK turned to Operation Mongoose not long after. As a reminder, Operation Mongoose was, like the Bay of Pigs Invasion, an imperialist destabilization effort aimed at communist Cuba, which I’ll mention a bit later in this article. Hence it easy to conclude that JFK was just mad about the Bay of Pigs invasion failing so miserably and hence was not serious about abolishing the CIA. After all, JFK was ok with CIA operations for the rest of his time in office until his assassination, so to say he would want to eliminate them is laughable.

We then move onto an article by Truman which Schwartz cites in which he apparently calls for the CIA’s abolishment. The quote from the article from Truman’s article, which cannot be accessed unless you have a subscription, which Schwartz uses as follows

“I never had any thought that when I set up the CIA that it would be injected into peacetime cloak and dagger operations. … I, therefore, would like to see the CIA be restored to its original assignment as the intelligence arm of the president … and that its operational duties be terminated or properly used elsewhere.”

As helpful comrade @nancyhoffner pointed out, Truman is lying just by looking at the Truman Doctrine (also see here) itself since there were “cloak and dagger operations” and the purpose of the CIA. While, as I noted above, the article cannot be accessed without a subscription, I could find most of it transcribed in the book Shadow Warfare: The History of America’s Undeclared Wars, but it is fully transcribed and posted here.

In the article itself, Truman acts disappointed that the CIA isn’t acting enough like “an arm of the President” who, in his view, needs “immense task and requires a special kind of an intelligence facility.” After talking about information the president receives, he claims that he set up the CIA to as an organization “charged with the collection of all intelligence reports from every available source, and to have those reports reach me as President without department “treatment” or interpretations” not with destabilization. This seems suspicious enough. He then goes on to say that the CIA apparently would would “guard against the chance of intelligence being used to influence or to lead the President into unwise decisions” and that no information should be kept from the CIA. Then he goes on to be “disturbed” by recent CIA actions, saying: “for some time I have been disturbed by the way CIA has been diverted from its original assignment. It has become an operational and at times a policy-making arm of the Government.” Before going on, I don’t understand how the CIA was never a policy-making arm. That doesn’t make sense, as it was doing that from the beginning. Anyway, Truman continues and says this “new” assignment was “has led to trouble and may have compounded our difficulties” because of “peacetime cloak and dagger operations” and that it is is “being interpreted as a symbol of sinister and mysterious foreign intrigue—and a subject for cold war enemy propaganda.” Hence he is saying that the CIA must change because it is serving as a form of Communist propaganda, a strong anti-communist view, then goes on to say that Adm. Souers, Gen. Hoyt Vandenberg and Allen Dulles were “men of the highest character, patriotism and integrity” in leading the CIA which is ridiculous. He then says he would “like to see the CIA be restored to its original assignment as the intelligence arm of the President” and that “there is something about the way the CIA has been functioning that is casting a shadow over our historic position and I feel that we need to correct it.”

Some people may cheer at Truman’s words and say that he is completely right, however the reality isn’t necessarily that way. The CIA is described by the State Department’s Office of the Historian in a similar way to Truman: “The CIA served as the primary civilian intelligence-gathering organization in the government.” The National Security Act of 1947 that established the CIA declared that it would have the purpose

“of coordinating the intelligence activities of the several Government departments and agencies in the interest of national security… advise the National Security Council…to make recommendations to the National Security Council…to correlate and evaluate intelligence relating to the national security, and provide for the appropriate dissemination of such intelligence within the Government…to perform, for the benefit of the existing intelligence agencies, such additional services of common concern… to perform such other functions and duties related to intelligence affecting the national security”

Within this, I can see the actions such as CIA coups and other forms of destabilization as being justified. I don’t think that is much of a stretch ans I don’t even have to go through official diplomatic history to prove this.

Schwartz goes on to cite the memoirs of Truman’s Secretary of State, Dean Acheson who had a similar “warning” about the CIA. He specifically wrote “I had the greatest forebodings about this organization [CIA] and warned the President that as set up neither he, the National Security Council, nor anyone else would be in a position to know what it was doing or to control it.” While he said this, Acheson had a problematic history. While he apparently sympathized with Third World nationalism, he was staunchly anti-communist, blamed Mossadegh for not cooperating with the British, and kept in place US imperialist foreign policy manifested in the Truman Doctrine as noted in Kinzer’s All the Shah’s Men and Robert Beisner’s Dean Acheson: A Life in the Cold War. It is important to note that Acheson also supported the creation of NATO and perpetrated the US/Soviet divide as noted in his biography by the Office of the Historian. So, lets not praise him so easily.

Moving on, Schwartz cites two more sources, among others, including this, to argue that the Church Committee and Daniel P. Moynihan supported the abolishment of the CIA. As it turns out both arguments are very reserved. The Church Committee final report (sections can be read here and here), declares that

“The Committee concludes that the policy and procedural barriers are presently inadequate to insure that any covert operation is absolutely essential to the national security. These barriers must be tightened and raised or covert action should be abandoned as an instrument of foreign policy…Covert operations must be based on a careful and systematic analysis of a given situation, possible alternative outcome, the threat to American interests of these possible outcomes, and above all, the likely consequences of an attempt to intervene…With respect to congressional oversight of covert action, the Committee believes that the appropriate oversight committee should be informed of all significant covert operations prior to their initiation and that all covert action projects should be reviewed by the committee on a semi-annual basis. Further, the oversight committee should require that the annual budget submission for covert action programs be specific and detailed as to the activity recommended. Unforeseen covert action projects should be funded only from the Contingency Reserve Fund which could be replenished only after the concurrence of the oversight and any other appropriate congressional committees. The legislative intelligence oversight committee should be notified prior to any withdrawal from the Contingency Reserve Fund.”

While some could say that this is calling for the abolishment of the CIA, I don’t really see that. I basically see more restrictions on the CIA’s activities, ending covert ops if certain requirements can’t be met. I can tell you that the agents of 24 (ex: Jack Bauer), Mission Impossible, and other spy thrillers, would be pissed off at something like this. All those forms of mass media entertainment treat even minimal oversight by Congress as the worst thing ever, restricting their action to kill/torture/maim the “bad guys,” a theme which is more common than not in our current post-2001, “anti-terror” era.

Finally, Schwartz cites a section of the Congressional Record in 1995 in which Daniel P. Moynihan claiming it called for the abolishment of the CIA. Unlike the Church Committee’s final report, it turns out this was a reality. Not only does Moynihan take a predictably anti-communist bent, he says that “secrecy is a disease. It causes hardening of the arteries of the mind” and that US foreign policy institutions should be reformed. But his act abolishing the CIA is problematic because “all of the functions, powers and duties of the Director of Central Intelligence, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and any officer or component of the Central Intelligence Agency” would be transferred to the US Secretary of State. Some may think this is great, except when you realize all the implied powers the CIA had gained from 1947 to 1995 including assassination, despite it sorta being banned by executive order, concocting forms of destabilization such as coup d’etats. So basically the Secretary of State would have these powers. How does this solve anything? Why not just abolish the CIA and all of its powers?

For the record, I think the CIA should be abolished. After all, lets just look at the things the CIA has done over the years:

  1. Involvement in 1963 Baghdad Coup with funding of the Baath Party which just happens to be the same party as Saddam Hussein. [1] What a coincidence, not.
  2. A campaign to destabilize newly communist Cuba codenamed Operation Mongoose or the Cuban Project, which is related to Operation Northwoods where the US agents would commit acts of terrorism within the United States and then blame them on Cuba in order to justify a war
  3. Involvement in Operation Gladio despite what the CIA says
  4. The failed Bay of Pigs invasion
  5. Operation 40, which was a group of Cuban exiles who worked to destabilize Cuba, a group which apparently disbanded in 1970 after ten years in existence
  6. A mind-control program named MKUltra (discovered in 1977) which consisted of illegal tests on numerous people to test certain psychedelic drugs like LSD and heroin. Related to this is a former mind control project called Operation ARTICHOKE, and a connected sub-project called Operation Midnight Climax in which there were CIA safehouses in San Fransciso and “prostitutes paid by the government to lure clients to the apartment served up acid-laced cocktails to unsuspecting john.” [2] Also see this and information about Project MKOften
  7. A domestic intelligence operation called Operation CHAOS [3]
  8. Giving money and assistance to pro-Tibet forces such as the Dalai Lama for years and years as part of a plan to destabilize China. [4]
  9. A secret program named Operation Mockingbird to influence media with recruiting of “leading American journalists into a network to help present the CIA’s views, and funded some student and cultural organizations, and magazines as fronts”
  10. An operation called Project COLDFEET to extract intelligence from an abandoned Soviet Arctic drilling station
  11. A program called the Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG) program developed in 1961 to train South Vietnamese military united
  12. The famed program called Operation Cyclone to arm and finance the Afghan mujahideen which ultimately became Al Qaeda. Later the CIA apparently tried to buy the weapons back in Operation MIAS but this failed.
  13. Project FUBELT, a code name for CIA operations to destabilize and topple Salvador Allende’s government in Chile.
  14. A program, assisted by the British, called Operation Gold, to tap into communication lines of Soviet Army headquarters in Berlin
  15. Battalion 3-16 was a murderous Honduran military unit that received training and support from the CIA
  16. CIA involvement in drug trafficking like the information revealed in Gary Webb’s Dark Alliance series
  17. All sorts of medical experiments, which made the US citizenry a laboratory for testing, as noted in this article. These experiments aren’t a surprise considering they funded one such program called Project 112 run by the military from 1962 to 1973.
  18. A project called Project Azorian to obtain a sunken Soviet sub. Related is an operation called Operation Matador.
  19. A secret covert OPs and intelligence fathering station called JMWAVE which was operated by the CIA in Florida from 1961 until 1968.
  20. A secret operation named Operation IA Freedom where the US government UNITA and FNLA militants in Angola’s Civil War.
  21. A guerrilla training program during the Loatian Civil War which was called Operation Momentum. Related is Operation Pincushion.
  22. Of course, I can’t forget about the Phoenix Program.
  23. Operation Washtub, a program to plant a phony Soviet arms cache in Nicaragua in an attempt to overthrow the Guatemalan president
  24.  A recon program called Project Dark Gene of the CIA and Iranian airforce to engage in recon of the Soviet Union
  25. According to William Blum, between 1949 and 1999, the CIA was involved in the assassination of thirty-three “prominent foreign individuals” not including the 200 political figures on a CIA/Neo-Nazi hit list, nine Sandinista commandantes. [5]
  26. As noted in the chapter of William Blum’s Rogue State about torture, the CIA taught torture techniques in Greece, Iran, Germany, Vietnam, Bolivia, Brazil, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Panama
  27. As noted in  the chapter of William Blum’s Rogue State titled “A Concise History of the United States Global Interventions, 1945 to the Present,” it is noted that the CIA meddled in the internal affairs of China, France, Italy, Greece, Philippines, Eastern Europe, Germany, Iran, Guatemala, Indonesia, Western Europe, Guyana, Iraq, Soviet Union, Vietnam, Laos, Ecuador, Congo, Algeria, Cuba, Ghana, Chile, South Africa, Bolivia, Australia, Portugal, South Yemen, Chad, Fiji, Afghanistan, Haiti, and Peru.
  28. As also noted in William Blum’s Rogue State, the CIA perverted elections in Lebanon, Indonesia, Philippines, Japan, Nepal, Laos, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Portugal, Jamaica, Panama, Nicaragua, and Haiti.
  29. The documents revealed in the Family Jewels report showing the that CIA: (1) confined a KGB defector, (2) wiretapped two syndicated columnists, (3) engaged in surveillance of investigative journalist Jack Anderson and associates, (4) engaged in surveillance of reporter Michael Getler, (5) broke into the homes of three people, two of whom were two former CIA employees, (6) opening of mail to and from the USSR from 1953 to 1973, (7) opening of mail to and from communist China from 1969 to 1972, (8) unsuccessful assassination plots against foreign leaders (Fidel Castro, Patrice Lumumba, Rafael Trujillo, and Rene Schneider), (9) surveillance of dissident groups between 1967 and 1971, (10) surveillance of particular individuals (including Victor Marchetti), and US citizens in Detroit, (11) amassing files on citizens involved in the antiwar movement, (12) polygraph experiment in California, (13) fake CIA ID documents that could violate state laws, and (14) testing electronic equipment on US telephone circuits

In recent years, the CIA has done some horrid things as any observer would recognize. These include the torture program in the 21st century, horribly called “enhanced interrogation” but still allowing “extraordinary rendition” to occur. Related to this are the “CIA manuals” for torture and this. Then there’s the CIA drone assassination program of course and the funding of supposed Syrian rebels.

But there is a story relating to the CIA that is worth noting that is ignored as I noted in a recent thread. That is the CIA’s involvement in the Benghazi attacks, attacks which the Republicans went totally out-of-their-minds over, and use as a partisan bludgeon. Still, there is something to be said on the CIA’s role. One report said that their only role was drafting talking points on the attacks for the House Intelligence Committee, generating “the initial drafts of the unclassified talking points and provided them to other officials within the Executive Branch for clearance,” and later a high-ranking CIA official editing, when working with State Department officials, “the talking points to their final form,” supposedly changed to protect a FBI investigation. Others told more about what the CIA’s role was in Libya and Benghazi.

These reports don’t say everything, but they say something. One report talked about CIA personnel were were killed on the day of the attack, mentioned that 20 minutes after the attack started on the main diplomatic facility, “CIA security personnel from a nearby CIA facility” which was informally called the “annex” raced to the facility, then exchanged “fire with the attackers and then…fought their way back to the annex.” Other parts of the report say that a individual “associated with” the CIA repeatedly asked for “assistance from existing “combat aircraft” but a “CIA superior “ignored” the demand because “he knew that no combat aircraft were available for such a mission” and that the response “of the CIA personnel at the annex has also been critiqued.” Other than this, the report says no more. Another heavily redacted report says that the chief of the CIA base in Benghazi was at the “annex” on the night of the attacks on September 11, 2012, that there was apparently no order by the CIA base chief to “stand down,” that the “annex” was “known by some in Benghazi as an American facility.” This report also says there were concerns to how “safe” it was for a U.S. “Temporary Mission Facility” (TMF) mission, CIA implementing “security upgrades” to protect the “annex” which had an unknown number of people, a six-man security team from the annex went to the mission after the attack, the CIA, along with the State Department, depended on the security o local militias who didn’t come through during the attack. An additional comment at the end said that the “CIA should be equally criticized for its own security at the Annex,” as equally as the State Department did not defend the TMF.

Finally there is the investigative report published in November of 2014 which is unclassified. This report, unlike the others, mentions the CIA quite a bit. It notes that there were “CIA facilities in Benghazi,” claims that there was no evidence the CIA was doing anything illegal in Libya (including arms smuggling), that there was a “Benghazi Base” with a CIA chief, and that there were 28 personnel at the TMF and annex combined. The report also says that the CIA team made arrangements with Libya’s new special forces team, that there was a CIA base in Tripoli, the CIA had a “low profile” in Benghazi, the CIA was collecting intelligence on those moving weapons from Libya but apparently not holding weapons, and the CIA Office of Public Affairs made changes to the talking points. There are some other points where the CIA is mentioned, but mostly these are just defending the CIA from accusations.

There are a number of aspects that these reports didn’t enter into. The conspiracy theory-leaning Washington’s Blog (see here and here), and some others, like this one, claimed that there were connections to the Syrian war. Journalist Seymour Hersh, linked Turkey, Benghazi, Syria and Sarin gas in an article. In the article, Hersh wrote that “the rat line, authorised in early 2012, was used to funnel weapons and ammunition from Libya via southern Turkey and across the Syrian border to the opposition” and that a secret annex to the report, according to an unnamed “former senior Defense Department official,” described a

secret agreement reached in early 2012 between the Obama and Erdoğan administrations…funding came from Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar; the CIA, with the support of MI6, was responsible for getting arms from Gaddafi’s arsenals into Syria…Washington abruptly ended the CIA’s role in the transfer of arms from Libya after the attack on the consulate, but the rat line kept going…The American decision to end CIA support of the weapons shipments into Syria left Erdoğan exposed politically and militarily.”

However, one could say this is just speculation, shaky as it is only based on what one unnamed official said. [6] After all this doesn’t go as far as those who said the TMF was a CIA front and/or a CIA operation (see here and here). An article on September 5, 2014 in the New York Times by David Kirkpatrick titled “New Book Says C.I.A. Official in Benghazi Held Up Rescue” claimed that CIA “commandaos” left their base “in defiance of the chief’s continuing order to “stand down”” which was questioned later by that same CIA chief named “Bob” (see here and here), and that the base chief “hoped to enlist local Libyan militiamen, and the commandos speculate that he hoped the Libyans could carry out the rescue alone to avoid exposing the C.I.A. base. No meaningful Libyan help ever materialized.” The article also quoted CIA “commandos” as joking with diplomatic security agents “What’s the difference between how Libyans look when they’re coming to help you versus when they’re coming to kill you? Not much.” Then there’s a “concerned” article from neocon Max Boot whose concern that “how the attackers knew about what was supposed to be a secret CIA facility is important” but forgets, as a report cited earlier in this section noted, that some in Benghazi knew it “as an American facility.” Additionally there’s an opinion piece by the former deputy director of the CIA, Michael Morell, in which he admits the CIA base, which some had weakly called an “annex” in the past, “remained a key outpost used by the United States to understand developments during the revolution and to influence key players in eastern Libya after Qadhafi. CIA had established a presence in Benghazi with the mission of collecting intelligence” and claims that the CIA “did not play any role in moving weapons from Libya to the opposition in Syria and neither did any other CIA officer or facility in Libya.” He even admits, while spitting out the normal imperial response that Gaddafi’s departure “from the scene in Libya in 2011 was a good thing in that it prevented the slaughter of thousands of his own citizens,” that what “followed was a failed state that provided room for extremist groups to flourish,” along with a slew of other claims.

A number of commentators argued in publications such as CounterPunch that the TMF and the installation as a whole [7] was more than a diplomatic mission. Norman Pollack argued that “Benghazi is but a pawn not only in US domestic politics, but also in spreading America’s  emphasis on paramilitary operations worldwide…Benghazi was primarily a CIA installation, its “annex” given the cloak of diplomatic immunity…these facilities are often fronts for a range of covert activities…[it was] a CIA outpost.” He added that “the locals know the score and deeply resent the armed fortresses spread globally, the claims of diplomatic immunity when personnel or the protectors…violate the laws of the country when committing crimes.” Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer and executive director of the Council for National Interest wrote in the slightly neocon American Conservative that “…Benghazi has been described as a U.S. consulate…The much larger CIA base was located in a separate building a mile away. It was protected by a not completely reliable local militia.” Giraladi argues that “on Benghazi, the CIA’s operating directive would have been focused on two objectives: monitoring the local al-Qaeda affiliate group, Ansar al-Sharia, and tracking down weapons liberated from Colonel Gaddafi’s arsenal.” Horace Campbell added to this. In an article in CounterPunch he raised a number of good points saying the attacks were the outcome of “Libyan society is in chaos” two years after NATO intervention, that Benghazi was “the largest CIA station in North Africa, where they ran militias into Syria,” said there were numerous unanswered questions like how the CIA station was used to train “Jihadists” and that “the debates in the USA can be viewed as another diversion to cover up the CIA operations in North Africa.” Melvin Goodman, a former CIA analyst and national security expert argued that “the U.S. presence in Benghazi was an intelligence platform and only nominally a consulate…[and] the was primarily diplomatic cover for an intelligence operation that was known to Libyan militia groups.” In an earlier article he expanded on this saying the why was obvious if you considered the role of the U.S. “consulate” in Benghazi:

“The consulate’s primary mission was to provide an intelligence platform that would allow the CIA to maintain an operational and analytical role in eastern Libya…[it] was the diplomatic cover for an intelligence platform and whatever diplomatic functions took place in Benghazi also served as cover for an important CIA base…Any CIA component in the Middle East or North Africa is a likely target of the wrath of militant and terrorist organizations because of the Agency’s key role in the global war on terror waged by the Bush administration and the increasingly widespread covert campaign of drone aircraft of the Obama administration…The CIA contributed to the problem with its reliance on Libyan militias and a new Libyan intelligence organization to maintain security for its personnel in Benghazi.”

These views are reinforced in a number of articles on the subject in popular, but still bourgeois, publications. An article on pro-Democrat and pro-Obama site, America Blog, complained that a GOPers outed a secret operation by saying that “Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz, and his House Republican colleagues on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, outed a classified CIA operation, on C-SPAN no less, endangering American national security” and that apparently they didn’t extra security “because it might have signaled that there was actually a CIA operation underway.” That propagandist approach was mirrored, as Reuters noted later, by the Center for American Progress, a think tank which easily allies with the Obama administration. Liberal columnist Dana Milbank whined about this as well, saying in an opinion piece for the Washington Post, that House Republicans “…accidentally blew the CIA’s cover…[they] left little doubt that one of the two compounds at which the Americans were killed, described by the administration as a “consulate” and a nearby “annex,” was a CIA base,” live on C-SPAN. Milbank claimed that “”other government agency,” or “OGA,” is a common euphemism in Washington for the CIA” and that it was absurd to have “a televised probe of the matter,” again implying that the CIA should NOT be criticized in public. Ugh. Then there was an article in The Telegraph which cited a CNN article, arguing that “up to 35 CIA operatives were working in the city during the attack last September on the US consulate that resulted in the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans” and just summarizing the article in general. The CNN article itself cited a number of unnamed sources, making claims about CIA actions, saying that “the agency is going to great lengths to make sure whatever it was doing, remains a secret…an unprecedented attempt to keep the spy agency’s Benghazi secrets from ever leaking out.” that 21 Americans “were working in the building known as the annex [CIA base], believed to be run by the agency,” and possible State Department involvement in the gun-running, if you read between the lines or a certain way.

Other articles make it clear that the CIA might be hiding something. A Reuters article on October 12, 2012 by Mark Hosenball titled “U.S. intelligence hurt when Libya base was abandoned” claims, according to unnamed government sources, “U.S. intelligence efforts in Libya have suffered a significant setback due to the abandonment and exposure of a facility in Benghazi, Libya” by Dana Milbank and Congressional Republicans. The article also calls the CIA Base an “intelligence post,” says that “publication of satellite photos showing the site’s location and layout have made it difficult, if not impossible, for intelligence agencies to reoccupy the site.” The article claims, according to unnamed sources that the CIA base had been “collecting information on the proliferation of weaponry looted from Libyan government arsenals, including surface-to-air missiles” and that “intelligence officials are not happy at being drawn into the political battle.” What makes the CIA’s role even more suspicious is an ABC News article on November 13, 2012 by Jonathan Karl titled “Petraeus Personally Investigated Benghazi Attack.” The article notes that “in late October [2012], [David] Petraeus [former CIA director] traveled to Libya to conduct his own review of the Benghazi attack that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens” and while in Tripoli “he personally questioned the CIA station chief and other CIA personnel who were in Benghazi on Sept. 11 when the attack occurred.” While the article claims this was supposed to be “a way to prepare for his upcoming testimony before Congress on Benghazi,” he said he wanted to avoid testifying because “acting CIA Director Morell is in possession of all the information Petraeus gathered in conducting his review and he has more current information gathered since Petraeus’ departure; and it would be a media circus.” To me, this just seems like a cop-out. Still, some publications like Wired magazine, which engage in snide attacks on Gaddafi, claim that Petraeus’s reputation was “an unexpected casualty of the September assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya…a bureaucratic effort to throw Petraeus under the bus is showing through in the press…The CIA, operating out of an “annex” near the 13-acre consular compound, dwarfed the regular diplomatic presence in Benghazi, with the mission of hunting down ex-dictator Moammar Gadhafi’s unsecured rockets and missiles…Petraeus kept the CIA’s Benghazi role in the shadows.” The article also claims that the “State Department relied on a previously obscure British firm, Blue Mountain, to guard the entire compound. Blue Mountain paid its Libyan guards $4 an hour.” [8]

The final article worth sharing on this is Adam Entous, Siohhan Gorman, and Margaret Coker’s November 1, 2012 article in the Wall Street Journal titled “CIA Takes Heat for Role in Libya.” The article notes that Petraeus stayed away from discussing the attacks “in an effort to conceal the agency’s role in collecting intelligence and providing security in Benghazi” and that, according to anonymous officials, “the U.S. effort in Benghazi was at its heart a CIA operation” with the operation “under diplomatic cover, which was a principal purpose of the consulate, these officials said.” The article claims that “the CIA’s secret role helps explain why security appeared inadequate at the U.S. diplomatic facility,” that it explains why “the consulate was abandoned to looters for weeks afterward while U.S. efforts focused on securing the more important CIA quarters,” and that in Libya “the consulate provided diplomatic cover for the classified CIA operations.” The article also said that “the spy agency was the first to set up shop” during the “Libyan revolution” starting in February 2011, focusing on “countering proliferation and terrorist threats…[and] the spread of weapons and militant influences throughout the region” and that “in mid-2011, the State Department established its consulate in Benghazi, to have a diplomatic presence in the birthplace of the Libyan revolution.” Almost confirming with that congressional report, this article claims that “outside of Tripoli and Benghazi, the nature of the security relationship between the consulate and the annex wasn’t widely known,” that there was a CIA team in Tripoli,” that local Libyan agents were sent to the annex “to destroy any sensitive documents and equipment there, even as the consulate compound remained unguarded and exposed to looters and curiosity seekers for weeks” and some documents, “including the ambassador’s journal, were taken from the consulate site.” The article then goes further by saying that “…many more people worked there [in the CIA base] and they were doing sensitive work, while the consulate, by design, had no classified documents” and that according to unnamed U.S and Libyan officials, “the CIA abandoned the annex after it had been scrubbed clean of any sensitive materials, according to U.S. and Libyan officials.” [9]

Before moving on, I think a few things are clear from the information: the CIA had multiple bases in Libya (Tripoli and Benghazi), with the one in Benghazi apparently not engaged in gun-running to the Syrian rebels (how we are supposed to trust what the CIA says on this?) and suspiciously arriving on the scene during the “Libyan revolution.” So clearly, the CIA did some suspicious up stuff, but all of what did is not exactly clear. I’m not sure if Schwartz recognizes all this, but his article that is NOT “pro-reality,” as he claims. This shouldn’t be a surprise for someone who defended Sarah Palin, Ahmad Chalabi, is anti-comminist, claiming that too little is being spent in the political process, and other wacky stuff. Still, he seemed to call for the CIA’s abolishment:

There is a point to be made that even abolishing the CIA would not do much over all since the imperial foreign establishment of the United States would still be largely in place. Stil, it would be a positive step. At one point,  I asked him if the corporate world shouldn’t be held to the same standard and he never responded. This leads us to Greenwald. In retrospect, I could have challenged him more, but now I know that he responds tepidly, so I can challenge him more effectively in the future.

Glenn Greenwald and corporate surveillance

The horrid libertarian and celebrity left personality, Glenn Greenwald, had a brash response to my comment challenging him. Let me step back. He tweeted, citing a Pew Research Center poll, saying that there was “strong evidence” that Apple’s move to deny FBI access to an iPhone to assist in an investigation was not PR. In response, I argued the following: “Lol strong evidence? Apple cares about its shareholders not the general populace. Come on.” His response was to call me dumb and acting like I was brainless, basically saying I didn’t know what I was talking about:

After I called this response brash and said I didn’t trust Apple’s response, he asked the same question again, basically acting like I didn’t know what I was talking about. I responded by saying that he was falsely assuming that all of those who said yes in to FBI access in the poll were Apple customers. He then responded by acting like I wasn’t making sense at all

In response to this, I fired back by saying that Apple was right to deny the request but that it is PR to cover their own surveillance, adding later that “I also don’t trust that they aren’t giving data to the NSA, FBI, or whatever govt. agency. I think it is indirectly given.” In further conversation I said that (1) Apple harvests all sorta of data, (2) it wants monetization, (3) isn’t taking a stand against corporate surveillance and only government surveillance, (4) provides false security, (5) gives data to a third party,  and so on (see here and here). I also found, in responses to Greenwald and yours truly comments that invalidated Greenwald’s concern (see here and here), BS in favor of Apple (see here), and the convincing argument that not much is really private anymore (see here) and so on (see here and here. I could mention and get into an article (titled “How Tim Cook, in iPhone Battle, Became a Bulwark for Digital Privacy”) in the New York Times that elevates Apple CEO Tim Cook’s supposedly noble privacy crusade, proving that no one should question Cook’s motive apparently.

I think it is worth mentioning, before going on, that Greenwald is NOT the only one advocating on behalf of Apple. The shifty CIA whistleblower John Kirakou, who will be mentioned more in detail in a future article, shilled for Apple, with a goofy cartoon in Truthdig to go along with it. Even Chelsea Manning, the Wikileaks whistleblower, fell in line in an opinion piece about privacy online, saying

“…I support Apple in its fight against the FBI…I disagree with Apple on many things – such as its exclusive use of proprietary software and arbitrary restrictions on users seeking to copy, share, edit and create software on their devices. However, I strongly feel that defending its users’ and customers’ right to strong encryption in court is incredibly important.”

If there couldn’t be anything more twisted, here it is. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which claims it cares about digital rights, and celebrated a legal victory against the NSA had protests outside Apple stores in San Francisco to PROMOTE Tim Cook’s position (see here, here, here) and broader support (see here and here). The EFF’s protests were part of a bigger event, in conjunction with “Fight for the Future” (see here and here) which was famous for pushing back against internet-restrictive/censorship bills, SOPA and PIPA, years ago, in an event that sounds eerily pro-Apple. This shouldn’t be a surprise considering Fight for the Future’s supporters connected to the Democratic Party and important foundations, among others.

Before going on, I think it is important to reprint the letter of Tim Cook that has got people such as Snowden (as implied and noted here, here, here, here, here, and here) and celebrity left personality Deray to back Apple. Cook is projecting obvious government-blaming and I don’t trust him.  In the “consumer letter” with the preface saying that Apple opposes a US government order to access to an iPhone and that “this moment calls for public discussion, and we want our customers and people around the country to understand what is at stake.” The letter is as follows [subtitles removed and bolded sections with comments in brackets]:

Smartphones, led by iPhone, have become an essential part of our lives. People use them to store an incredible amount of personal information, from our private conversations to our photos, our music, our notes, our calendars and contacts, our financial information and health data, even where we have been and where we are going. [Oh, I wonder who collects that info]

All that information needs to be protected from hackers and criminals who want to access it, steal it, and use it without our knowledge or permission. Customers expect Apple and other technology companies to do everything in our power to protect their personal information, and at Apple we are deeply committed to safeguarding their data [yeah that’s a lie, you monetize information all the time].

Compromising the security of our personal information can ultimately put our personal safety at risk. That is why encryption has become so important to all of us.

For many years, we have used encryption to protect our customers’ personal data because we believe it’s the only way to keep their information safe. We have even put that data out of our own reach, because we believe the contents of your iPhone are none of our business [but information is monetized so it kinda is their business, but ok].

We were shocked and outraged by the deadly act of terrorism in San Bernardino last December. We mourn the loss of life and want justice for all those whose lives were affected. The FBI asked us for help in the days following the attack, and we have worked hard to support the government’s efforts to solve this horrible crime. We have no sympathy for terrorists.

When the FBI has requested data that’s in our possession, we have provided it. Apple complies with valid subpoenas and search warrants, as we have in the San Bernardino case. We have also made Apple engineers available to advise the FBI, and we’ve offered our best ideas on a number of investigative options at their disposal.

We have great respect for the professionals at the FBI, and we believe their intentions are good. [why the heck would you ever think that?] Up to this point, we have done everything that is both within our power and within the law to help them. But now the U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone.

Specifically, the FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation. In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession. [ok, that’s true, but they’ll find a way in somehow. But what are the “right hands” in this case?]

The FBI may use different words to describe this tool, but make no mistake: Building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a backdoor. And while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control.

Some would argue that building a backdoor for just one iPhone is a simple, clean-cut solution. But it ignores both the basics of digital security and the significance of what the government is demanding in this case.

In today’s digital world, the “key” to an encrypted system is a piece of information that unlocks the data, and it is only as secure as the protections around it. Once the information is known, or a way to bypass the code is revealed, the encryption can be defeated by anyone with that knowledge. [they can already crack encryption anyhow and you you know that]

The government suggests this tool could only be used once, on one phone. But that’s simply not true. Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices. In the physical world, it would be the equivalent of a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks — from restaurants and banks to stores and homes. No reasonable person would find that acceptable.

The government is asking Apple to hack our own users and undermine decades of security advancements that protect our customers — including tens of millions of American citizens — from sophisticated hackers and cybercriminals. [see it is about serving their customers, I knew this was coming] The same engineers who built strong encryption into the iPhone to protect our users would, ironically, be ordered to weaken those protections and make our users less safe.

We can find no precedent for an American company being forced to expose its customers to a greater risk of attack. For years, cryptologists and national security experts have been warning against weakening encryption. Doing so would hurt only the well-meaning and law-abiding citizens who rely on companies like Apple to protect their data. [here we go again, defending your consumer base.] Criminals and bad actors will still encrypt, using tools that are readily available to them.

Rather than asking for legislative action through Congress, the FBI is proposing an unprecedented use of the All Writs Act of 1789 to justify an expansion of its authority.

The government would have us remove security features and add new capabilities to the operating system, allowing a passcode to be input electronically. This would make it easier to unlock an iPhone by “brute force,” trying thousands or millions of combinations with the speed of a modern computer.

The implications of the government’s demands are chilling. If the government can use the All Writs Act to make it easier to unlock your iPhone, it would have the power to reach into anyone’s device to capture their data. [can’t they already do that to an extent?] The government could extend this breach of privacy and demand that Apple build surveillance software to intercept your messages, access your health records or financial data, track your location, or even access your phone’s microphone or camera without your knowledge. [um they can get a lot of that stuff from monetization already]

Opposing this order is not something we take lightly. We feel we must speak up in the face of what we see as an overreach by the U.S. government. [Ok, not a surprise there

We are challenging the FBI’s demands with the deepest respect for American democracy and a love of our country. [this is total bull you corporate tax dodgers and wealthy capitalists.] We believe it would be in the best interest of everyone to step back and consider the implications.

While we believe the FBI’s intentions are good, it would be wrong for the government to force us to build a backdoor into our products. [why would you think the FBI’s intentions are good. That is just ridiculous] And ultimately, we fear that this demand would undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect.

So it is clear from this that Apple is doing this because of their consumer base and to maintain their current customer and theoretically get new ones as well. Lest us not forget Apple’s role in terms of monetization. As one article noted in 2013, as also noted here, “…iOS app downloads will help Apple stay ahead of its competitors in terms of revenues from app monetization” an though many of their apps “are free, they feature advertisements, which generate revenue for both Apple and its developers,” money which rakes in the billions. Then there’s other services such as Apple Pay, and opportunities, as a Goldman Sachs analyst thought, “to increase its monetization potential given its 500 million iPhone user base.” But there’s more when it comes to data.

In a recent set of tweets I noted Apple’s role when it comes to collecting information. I noted Apple’s response to the PRISM program and saying they didn’t have DIRECT access to Apple servers, implying that there was indirect access, possibly through something like Plantir, likely so, while the publicly denied it. Even Micah Lee in The Intercept argued in an article back in 2014 in response to a similar letter the following:

“[Apple] seriously oversold…[its]…commitment to privacy…despite these nods to privacy-conscious consumers, Apple still strongly encourages all its users to sign up for and use iCloud, the internet syncing and storage service where Apple has the capability to unlock key data like backups, documents, contacts, and calendar information in response to a government demand…While Apple’s harder line on privacy is a welcome change, it’s important to put it in context…Since the iPhone 3GS, all iOS devices have supported encrypting personal data such as text messages, photos, emails, contacts, and call history. If you set a passcode it would be used to encrypt some, but not all, of the data on your device. Apple was still able to decrypt some of the data without knowing your passcode. The improved encryption in iOS 8 is a great move towards protecting consumer privacy and security. But users should be aware that in most cases it doesn’t protect your iOS device from government snoops…This isn’t the first time that Apple has oversold the security of its products.”

They’ve now conveniently changed their “legal process guidelines” to a page about “government requests.” Some may argue that this is from 2014 and much has changed since then. Other articles said that the surveillance scandal is a great way to market products, that Apple and Google aren’t on your side as much as you think, that Apple is among one of the corporate collaborators with the NSA, and numerous crimes of Apple across the world, just in 2013. Then there’s the reality that Apple is, like Google, essentally a corporate intelligence operation which profits by “monetizing user data…gleefully sell[ing] your data to the highest bidder on one hand while simultaneously working to dilute privacy laws with the other.” While Cook denied this (and here), despite it being partially true with an “internet master” like Apple, among others, collecting safari searches, private location information (also see here), and so on (also see here). One article put it best: “Apple gathers up about as much personal information on users as any other big tech company. The main difference is, it says it doesn’t connect the dots. It may know everything about you, but it doesn’t know you’re you.” Cook claims that “Our commitment to protecting your privacy comes from a deep respect for our customers,” but their responses to what data they give is a bit problematic:

“We carefully review any request to ensure that there’s a valid legal basis for it. And we limit our response to only the data law enforcement is legally entitled to for the specific investigation…We encourage any customer who suspects their device is stolen to contact their respective law enforcement agency.”- government information request page

“[For Apple Pay] We may receive anonymous transaction information such as the approximate time and location of the transaction, which helps us improve Apple Pay and other Apple products and services…Apple Pay retains anonymous transaction information such as approximate purchase amount…If we use third-party vendors to store your information, we encrypt it and never give them the keys…We use only the necessary data to help create the best experience for you, whether you’re using Maps to locate a restaurant or Apple Music to discover a new artist. And we never sell your data…The longer you use Siri and Dictation, the better they understand you and the better they work. To help them recognize your pronunciation and provide better responses, certain information such as your name, contacts, and songs in your music library is sent to Apple servers using encrypted protocols…Album names are only sent to Siri to help provide you with better results. If you have Location Services turned on, the location of your device at the time you make a request will also be sent to Apple to help Siri improve the accuracy of its response to your requests. You may choose to turn off Location Services…For example, event addresses and a user’s location are sent to Apple so that we can provide accurate Time to Leave predictions that take into consideration traffic and local transit schedules. Information like a user’s location may be sent to Apple to provide localized suggestions as well as relevant news and search results. When we do send information to a server, we protect your privacy…In order for features like Radio, For You, and Connect to reflect your musical tastes, we collect some information about your activity in the app…The more you read, the more personalized the News app becomes. We don’t link your reading activity to other Apple services. Information we collect about articles you read is used to improve News…You don’t have to sign in to use Maps, and it only knows you by a random identifier that resets itself frequently as you use the app…Searching with Spotlight goes beyond your device to give you suggestions from sources like Wikipedia, the iTunes Store, and local News and Maps results. Before it answers, Spotlight considers things like context and location…You can also opt out of having Spotlight use Location Services anytime you want. If you opt out, Spotlight will still use your IP address to determine a general location to make your searches more relevant…Apps can share data for the purpose of improving your health or health research, but only with your permission…By default, developers don’t have access to your Apple ID, just a unique identifier. If you give your permission, developers can use your email to let others find you in their app… Only essential information that enhances the CarPlay experience will be used from your car. For example, iPhone can combine its own GPS data with your car’s to make Maps as accurate as possible…And through Apple’s Volume Purchase Program (VPP), schools can purchase apps and deliver them to a student’s iPad without having to use an iTunes login”- Approach to privacy page

“It’s important to note that Frequent Locations remain on your device and are not sent to Apple, or even backed up in iTunes or iCloud. The one exception is if you opt in to improve Maps for yourself and other users, in which case we will occasionally collect your Frequent Locations but only retain this data in a purely anonymous form. Frequent Locations are encrypted with keys protected by your passcode on your device, and you always have the option to turn this feature off. And you’ll notice that your iOS device asks for your permission before giving any app, even built-in Apple apps, access to your location information…On iOS, advertising does support some apps, so to help protect your privacy we have developed the nonpersistent Advertising Identifier. Apple’s advertising service, iAd, uses this identifier to deliver ads to you via things like third-party apps and iTunes Radio…You can choose to send Apple anonymous technical data that we can use to make our products and services better. If you would like to help improve our products and services, you can opt in to our Diagnostic & Usage program and send nonidentifiable information about your device and applications”- Manage your privacy page

“If you opt in to diagnostic and usage collection, you agree that Apple and its subsidiaries and agents may collect, maintain, process and use diagnostic, technical, usage and related information, including but not limited to information about your iOS Device, computer, system and application software, and peripherals, that is gathered periodically to facilitate the provision of software updates, product support and other services to you (if any) related to the iOS Software, and to verify compliance with the terms of this License. Apple may use this information, as long as it is collected in a form that does not personally identify you, to provide and improve Apple’s products and services. ..Apple may also provide any such partner or third party developer with a subset of diagnostic information that is relevant to that partner’s or developer’s software, hardware and/or services, as long as the diagnostic information is in a form that does not personally identify you… By using any location-based services on your iOS Device, you agree and consent to Apple’s and its partners’ and licensees’ transmission, collection, maintenance, processing and use of your location data and queries to provide and improve location-based and road traffic-based products and services. You may withdraw this consent at any time… By using Siri or Dictation, you agree and consent to Apple’s and its subsidiaries’ and agents’ transmission, collection, maintenance, processing, and use of this information, including your voice input and User Data, to provide and improve Siri, Dictation, and other Apple products and services…By using the iOS Software, you agree that Apple may transmit, collect, maintain, process and use these identifiers for the purpose of providing and improving the FaceTime feature…By using the iOS Software, you agree that Apple may transmit, collect, maintain, process and use these identifiers for the purpose of providing and improving the iMessage service. The iMessage service requires a Wi-Fi or cellular data connection…By using the Photo Stream feature of iCloud, you agree that Apple may store photos taken on your iOS Device or uploaded from your computer for a limited period of time and automatically send the photos to your other Apple iOS Devices or computers that are Photo Stream-enabled…Apple may provide mobile, interest-based advertising to you. If you do not want to receive relevant ads on your iOS Device, you can opt out…This opt-out applies only to Apple advertising services and does not affect interest-based advertising from other advertising networks…You agree that the Services contain proprietary content, information and material that is owned by Apple and/or its licensors, and is protected by applicable intellectual property and other laws, including but not limited to copyright… Apple and its licensors reserve the right to change, suspend, remove, or disable access to any Services at any time without notice. In no event will Apple be liable for the removal of or disabling of access to any such Services. Apple may also impose limits on the use of or access to certain Services, in any case and without notice or liability.”- iOS SOFTWARE LICENSE AGREEMENT

So basically this is saying that Apple still collects a lot of data but doesn’t monetize as heavily as Google and others. Already, the security of its devices has come under scrutiny (also see here), and they collect all sorts of information (also see here and here) since they are part of Surveillance Valley.

Even the animated sitcom, that I like so much, The Simpsons, had a number of episodes criticizing Apple. These iPods uniting and “overthrowing the very humans they entertained,” basically turning them into slaves. But more pointedly is not this, this, thisthis,  or addiction to online games, but the use of “Mapple” as stand-in for Apple. These include addiction to the MyPad (basically the iPad) and “Steve Mobbs” instead of Steve Jobs. In one clip, Steve Mobbs declares to Homer “now press the submit icon an agree to buy all our future products. And we’re going to be making a lot of stuff.” When Homer grimaces at this, Mobbs declares incessantly “submit,” with a closer focus on his face, to which Homer says “I don’t know. I don’t want to” and Mobbs threatens “or you could buy something from Hewlett-Packard.” In response, of course, Homer presses “I submit” and Mobs declares in an evil voice “YES! YES!” making him look like a villain. Other clips show Lisa mad about her “MyBill” which charges her over $1,000 for songs she bought, the goofiness of Siri, and so on. te best clip is one in which Bart acts like Steve Mobbs is speaking at a Mapple store, after the Mapple supporters call him a “genius” and a “god who knows what we want” being laughable but making a point about Apple (Bolding is when Bart comes in):

“Greetings, it is I, your great leader, Steve Mobbs. I’m speaking to you from Mapple headquarters, deep below the sea, with an announcement that will completely change the way you look at everything. [expressions of awe]. And that announcement is [Bart comes in with a plugged in microphone] You’re all losers. You think you’re cool because you buy a $500 phone with a picture of fruit on it? Well, guess what, they cost $8 bucks to make and I pee on every one. I have made a fortune off you chumps and I’ve invested it all in Microsoft. Now, my boyfriend, Bill Gates and I kiss each other on a pile of your money.”

While Bart is a bit over the top, he makes a point about how Mapple (Apple) is exploiting people. The later part of the clip shows that Mobs is self-absorbed and isn’t willing to renegotiate a ridiculous bill, saying their real slogan is “no refunds” while their posters say “think differently.” Hence, these clips are saying Apple is powerful, with Jobs/Mobbs like a god, and by extension shouldn’t be trusted. Moving back to the practices of Apple, they engage in a good amount of information gathering. Still, despite this, they are somehow qualified, in the minds of some, to lead the charge against government surveillance with previous efforts like this. Lest us not forget the criminal acts Apple has done in the past, like “…failing to inform parents that, by entering a password, they were permitting a charge for virtual goods or currency to be used by their child in playing a children’s app” for example, possibly conspiring to raise prices of e-books (also see here), and much more likely listed in the Federal Register.

A conclusion

While this article jumped from the CIA to corporate surveillance both topics are interconnected (after all the CIA has been trying to poke through Apple’s security for years). This is because there is corporate espionage as well, and there is too much blaming of government entities without recognizing how the government and corporate sector work together. To put it more plainly, the government is protecting the interests of the capitalists, who are in this case the heads of the big tech giants. Hence, to oppose government surveillance without recognizing how it interlinks with corporate surveillance is not only naive but it is counterproductive. The best approach is to recognize how both forces connect, as communist China has by declaring the iPhone a national security threat and being wary of companies that worked with the NSA, in order to fight against existing surveillance efforts in our current society.


Notes

[1] See a Komer memo of February 12th [document 18 in this collection]: “A number of signs suggest the Soviets may be trying a counter-coup in Iraq…some in the CIA share my suspicions, though we all feel that Moscow would probably fail, and in the process blot its copybook still further. [written in pen:] Nothing we can usefully do yet anyway…You don’t see most of the cables but State and I are trying every trick.” Also see this document sent on February 7, 1963 by the US Department of State: “We concur situation in Iraq disturbing but as yet by no means clear Iraq actually becoming Soviet base…Through our posture, US has sought maintenance American presence in Iraq, and, concomitantly, avoidance of open controversy with Qasim regime; readiness to respond to any Iraqi desire improve official relations; and continuance official and unofficial American contacts with view not only of influencing Iraqi attitudes but also of acquiring valuable intelligence…US statements cannot be disseminated without distortion within Iraq, and shortwave broadcasts would not have impact on wide group. Qasim would have freedom within Iraq to twist US representations to provide basis for increasing tempo of anti-US campaign and intensifying harassment of Embassy and Consulate Basra…our position and prestige in other Arab countries determined by factors other than our relations with Iraq or Iraqi propaganda.” Also see this document which says: “a coup d’etat reportedly led by Colonel Abdul Karim Mustafa was mounted in Baghdad in the early morning of February 8, 1963. Former Prime Minister Qasim is reported dead. Affirmations of support for the new regime have come from military and civil leaders in all parts of Iraq…the United States would welcome public affirmation that the new Iraqi regime intends to carry out Iraq’s international obligations. He will also ask for assurance that the new regime will safeguard American citizens and interests in Iraq…Following our recognition of the new Iraqi regime, assignment of a new Ambassador will be required.” This document kinda confirms the coup as well: “Sometime after midnight, local time, elements of the armed forces staged a coup in Iraq. Information presently available has not confirmed that Qasim is actually dead…It is believed by members of CIA that the coup was triggered by Qasim’s recent arrest of a large number of Bath Party members…The consensus of members of State and CIA is that if the coup is successful, relations between the U.S. and Iraq will be considerably improved and the internal situation in Iraq should gradually improve.” Oh and the memo from Komer to Kennedy [also see here] which says “[the] Iraqi revolution seems to have succeeded. It is almost certainly a net gain for our side…We will make informal friendly noises as soon as we can find out whom to talk with, and ought to recognize as soon as we’re sure these guys are firmly in the saddle” is yet another indication this was a CIA action.” Many more documents and such are noted in this article, which include this, this, thisthis, this, and this. For more official documents, see here.

[2] For more on Midnight Climax see here, here, here, here, here, and here.

[3] Also see what the Pike Committee said about the CIA

[4] For more information on this, see official documents here and here. Also see articles in popular publications such as New York Review of BooksIn These Times, The Daily Beast, Chicago Tribune, The Age, and the LA Times.

[5] As notes on pages 38-40 of Rogue State: Kim Koo (1949), Zhou Enlai (1950s), Sukarno (1950s, 1963), Kim Il Sung (1951), Claro M. Recto (1950s), Jawaharlal Nehru (1955), Gamal Abdul Nasser (1957), Norodom Sihanouk (1959), Abdul Karim Kassem (1960), Jose Figueres (1950s-70s), Francois Duvailer (1961), Patrica Lumumba (1961), Rafael Trujilo (1961), Ngo Dinh Diem (1963) which is noted in this document, Fidel Castro (1960s), Raul Castro (1960s), Francisco Caamano (1965), Charles de Gaulle (1965-6), Che Guevara (1967), Salvador Allende (1970), Rene Schneider (1970), Omar Torrijos (1970s, 1981), Manuel Noreiga (1972), Mobutu Sese Seko (1975), Michael Manley (1976), Moammar Qaddafi (1980-6), Ayatollah Khomeini (1982), Ahmed Dlimi (1983), Miguel d’Escoto (1983), Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah (1985), Saddam Hussein (1991), Osama Bin Laden (1998), and Slobodan Milosevic (1999).

[6] An article by Gadi Adelman, a right-winger for sure, quotes a former CIA operative of 20 years, Clare Lopez, who claims that the CIA was helping facilitate weapons transfers: the short answer is yes. They were working with the very same Al-Qaeda linked relationships in Libya to gather up and buy back and collect weapons from Gaddafi’s stock pile that were missing from the revolution in Libya last year and what it looks like is that they were shipping them onwards to Syria…[the weapons have] gone to the Sinai and they’ve also gone to Mali and to other places in western Africa and they’ve also gone to Syria. That was the operation, that’s what they were doing.” Yet again, this really isn’t concrete evidence of anything such as gun-running.

[7] In a US State Department briefing a senior State Department Official  said the following about the “consulate”:

 “The compound is roughly 300 yards long – that’s three football fields long – and a hundred yards wide. We need that much room to provide the best possible setback against car bombs…The compound has four buildings on it, and you guys are going to have to get used to this, because I refer them to – as Building C, Building B, Tactical Operations Center, and a barracks. So Building C is a building that is essentially a large residence. It has numerous bedrooms and it is – it has a safe haven installed in it, and I’ll talk more about that in a minute. Building C ultimately is the building that the Ambassador was in, so keep that in your heads. Building B is another residence on the compound. It has bedrooms and it has a cantina. That’s where the folks dine. The Tactical Operations Center, which is just across the way from Building B, has offices and a bedroom. That’s where the security officers had their main setup, that’s where the security cameras are, a lot of the phones – it’s basically their operations center…A safe haven is a fortified area within a building. This particular safe haven has a very heavy metal grill on it with several locks on it. It essentially divides the one – the single floor of that building in half, and half the floor is the safe haven, the bedroom half. Also in the safe haven is a central sort of closet area where people can take refuge where there are no windows around…I have my timeline wrong…At that point, a decision is made at the annex that they are going to have to evacuate the whole enterprise.”

[8] A number of articles in official media expand on this including James Risen’s October 12, 2012 article titled “After Benghazi Attack, Private Security Hovers An Issue” in the New York Times, an October 17th article in Reuters titled “For Benghazi diplomatic security, U.S. relied on small British firm,” articles in Wired (see here and here), The Guardian, Salon, and others.

[9] This statement of classified documents is interesting because during a State Department briefing a senior state department official claimed that “this was a post and…[it] held no classified documents. They had computer communications with Washington, but the material would arrive on the screen and you would read it on the screen, and then that was it. There was no classified paper, so there was no paper to burn. So maybe there are some documents or files out there at least. We’ll see.

Update

Recent tweets have showed that more are jumping on the “side with Apple” train like BORDC (Bill of Rights Defense Committee) people. BORDC recently merged with another foundation (Defending Dissent foundation) and honors who it considers “patriots,” is connected to the usual folks which include celebrity left personalities like Daniel Ellsburg. However, beyond this, the Apple solidarity rally was overwhelmed by mad and confrontational #ResignRahm protesters as this thread (starting here) shows. The Chicago Tribune article notes the following:

“The Apple Store on North Michigan Avenue was among nearly 50 locations worldwide where Fight for the Future, an organization that advocates for privacy for Internet users and opposes Web censorship, planned rallies Tuesday. A small group assembled for that rally late Tuesday afternoon proved unequal to a more vocal group of protesters, who had marched from the Thompson Center in the Loop to North Michigan Avenue. That group saw the media assembled to cover the Apple rally and quickly commandeered the spotlight. The protesters started chants against Emanuel and Alvarez, then several in the crowd got into a shoving match with police officers. Some of the demonstrators were knocked into the planter boxes that line Michigan Avenue. A small cluster of protesters huddled at Michigan Avenue and Huron Street, where they burned a small American flag and shouted profanities before continuing to march north. After the skirmish, only two or three Fight for Future protesters remained, including Jon Monroe, who said he drove downtown from Libertyville to participate in the rally. He said the others were “scared off.”…Organizers had encouraged protesters to turn their phones and tablets into protest signs and carry 10-foot iPhone-shaped banners reading “Don’t Break Our Phones” to show opposition against the court order compelling Apple to help the FBI hack into Syed Rizwan Farook’s work-issued iPhone.”

To be honest, this story kinda cracks me up. That’s all I have to add.

Advertisements

Reflecting on the “human rights watcher” guy

CbSib9MWEAEbJ1t

There is one troll and/or deluded person on the twitterverse called the “human rights watcher.” This post aims to point out his delusions, his connections to broader forces of the Celebrity Left, and give more of an overview.

My conversation with Garry

It all started when this Human Rights Watcher, with the abbreviation being the same as the supposed human rights organization named Human Rights Watch (HRW), with the twitter handle GarryR10 smeared a comrade. He claimed that Emma Quangel (EQ), along with RedKahina (RK), was rich and had a “fat” bank account. [1] How he would know this information is beyond me, hence what he was saying is just pure conjecture and arguably makes him a “fascist stalker” as @kazahann (Karen) tweeted in response. GarryR10 later laughably claimed that Karen would have lawyers go after him and that “you piss on Russian graves with your cultist fantasies.” Yikes. I jumped right into this conversation, being a good comrade and ally, wondering where this guy was going. After criticizing his response to Karen, I said that I didn’t know who he was working for with such wacky statements, which I still agree with but will expound on later in this article. Others rightfully poked at his response (see here and here) and said that he sounded mad.

GarryR10’s didn’t get any better. He claimed that Karen was of the “type” that the Russian people kicked “out of their government as fast as they could” and said this was “probably with good reason.” I’m still not sure what “type” of person he is thinking of or what he really isn’t talking about, but this was obviously odd and problematic to say the least. That’s not all. He claimed that he wouldn’t trust American communists again because he apparently hadn’t met “or seen a single one who was not a hoarder themselves & millions starve.” [2] This wacky statement sounds almost like a statement out of anti-communist propaganda and is more like what actions a capitalist would take. I guess that coincidence isn’t a surprise since he claimed that EQ would not be harmed by the doxing, which is utterly preposterous. [3]

This is only the tip of the iceburg. He almost creepily claimed that those who criticize Crabapple don’t donate to causes, and that such critics seem “like a clique based in NYC, pretending to be a “communist party”” and “obsess” over Molly Crabapple (MC), a statement to which he provided no evidence at all. [4] Clearly this indicated that she, MC, should be left alone to which he responded by claiming that critics of Crabapple started the feud “with Crabapple & Vice, after they gave you an opportunity to debate them fully” (he later claimed that this was fracturing the Left too) Before going on, I can say this is utterly false and is arguably historical revisionism. In the first iteration of my account, which I then called CrabappleWatch, I had planned to response to Crabapple as an informed critic and to learn what all the hullabaloo was about. After literally five tweets I was blocked by Crabapple. If she had really wanted to give “an opportunity” to debate her, then she wouldn’t have blocked me. That was not the case. As will be shown later, doxxing of critics has become the accepted method to “discredit” critics in the minds of Crabapple and co. All this is no surprise since Garry admitted, at one point, he would work for VICE even as he said that MC had her “own misguided view,” which is very telling.

I started to challenge Garry even more directly. I called him out on his supposed “exposure” of what he claimed was a “dumb clique,” saying point blank: “Dumb clique. What’s your problem?” His reason for saying this was that he apparently wanted people who criticize MC to “apologize and be better for it” even as he admitted that “I liked some of their points” but thought that “they hoard IMO.” In the same breath he called out MC critics, well-meaning comrades some whom he accused of having “fat bank accounts,” for supposedly not donating and saying that they should do research on “the best charities and funds.” Is he a walking advertisement for a humanitarian org. or philanthropy or what? Just wacky stuff. Of course, I responded by saying that “donation isn’t everything” and that he was being kooky (or acting like a spy).

Garry’s other tweets make him seem even more out there. He said that in “certain times of crisis or despair” the desires or  prudence for martial law was understandable, seemingly implying that he would support martial law under those circumstances. This tweet, which disturbed me, was followed by others such as one saying that he wasn’t communist because “images of Stalinist paranoia or torture” are apparently accepted. I really don’t know where he gets his information. But it almost sounds like the Black Book of Communism. Then he started to get really wacky. He claimed that people were neglecting their ethical duties by not giving aid (which is his big answer to poverty) and claimed the American people were responsible. His exact quotes were that the people of the United States are “accessories & beneficiaries of untold mass murder of the most vulnerable” and if they are shown the facts, “we can avoid further suffering while fully giving aid to the most vulnerable and innocent, desperate for education & opportunity.

I responded to Garry by saying that his statements were not a good start for activism and later said that this approach will make it hard to gain followers.He responded by saying that the “posts about EQ and MC” were apparently “a commentary in a way on American and Western leftist activism” and that their ethics are “typical.” Hmm, who would have thought that from someone who claimed that NO ONE in the United States cares about global starvation, meaning that people who are starving in this country don’t care about their own starvation, and that their ethics should be questioned. Still, he apparently cares about the one million Iraqis that died from the US invasion as this tweet seems to evidence but also supports the actions of Snowden which positions himself in a certain camp with certain types of people (Greenwald and co for example). This isn’t a surprise since he claims that MC and others have done “positive” work. What.

Then the tweets back and forth began. They started with Garry’s response to a tweet from humanitarian interventionist and current US representative to the UN, Samantha Power, a tweet which he claimed was “strange.” I commented on his tweet calling Power an imperialist snake. But it was not this that set off the conversation. [5] Instead it was a set of tweets in which he claimed: (1) stereotype of “Ugly American” is ignored, (2) he was skeptical of “global Wests,” and that millions of people apparently turn away UNICEF donations. I argued that UNICEF was only one organization of many, to which he barked back “Is this your excuse for a debate? I’m right here but it’s like you’re talking over my head” and that UNICEF is only one example. He apparently cares so much about global starvation that he said that Ken Roth had spooky posts and that the US didn’t have “moral fibre” on starvation. Uh huh. He later almost implied that we should be more critical of each other than the economic system with greed seemingly as an “incorrect” side effect instead of one that was intended. [6] Beyond this, he took a stand against factory farming, and is apparently a vegetarian, but in the grand scheme he barely talks about it. [7]

The true back and forth only started in earnest later on. He responded to my earlier tweets first and foremost. He claimed the EQ was Canadian (without evidence), didn’t donate anything, and implied she was a hoarder once again. In response to his “excuse for a debate” tweet I said that I was only trying to say that UNICEF was only one organization (and imply that he hadn’t mentioned any others). Also, in response to one tweet, I said that those living on $2 a day are not hoarders as it seemed he was implying, when I actually think in hindsight he was claiming that EQ was a hoarder again. Garry went even further and said that EQ didn’t donate an “ethical amount” to which I responded was basically irrelevant to her politics. In response to my tweet he went into wacko land and claimed three things: (1) in time some will recognize “the dire situation” of global starvation, (2) people in the West are greedy, and (3) that he has to get on a “base ethical level” when debating with “Wests,” including people like me. To (3) I responded by saying that he is wrong to think that “Wests” are dumb, arguing “some are but some aren’t.” I also responded to (3) by saying that I didn’t understand what he meant by “ethical level.” He responded to this by claiming that “USAs have shallow, bad ethics, thus, starvation” (I later said that this was too much of a generalization) and that by ethical level he meant “confronting the basic beliefs of what is right & wrong, & how a person should behave morally.” As for (2), I responded by saying the following: “there are people starving in the West too. Hence I wouldn’t say everyone in the West is greedy but some are.”

This is only the start. In another response to (2) I argued that the malnutrition in the world is a result of the capitalism, with him backing away from the word capitalism! I responded by saying that the word should still be used. Still he is a person who claims he he is neutral on abortion but agrees with the pro-choice side. Hence, he is NOT neutral on abortion. [8] Anyway, he is also the same person who claimed Samantha Power killed more in Africa than Hitler and is “dumb like [the] Nazis.” Those tweets, almost for shock value as I can see in retrospect, led to a long series of tweets. I responded by asking why she is the only one to blame in his mind. He responded by saying that she should resign because of global starvation. I responded to this by saying that she is a person who pushes humanitarian imperialism. In response to this, Garry argues that the US embassy may write her tweets and that she is reading from a script. He went even further and almost defended her despite he claim she is “or became a horrific mass murderer in my view,” claiming “she is actually in control of a huge embassy, plus shes twitter lonely” despite the fact she is clearly part of the foreign policy establishment. Instead of accepting this claim, he sidetracked, called her a useful tool of neocons and the US military (see here, here, and here), and had this strange tweet. He even thought that those who called the GOPers who signed the letter against the Iran deal “traitors” was irony when it really wasn’t. Later he said that the GOP was incompetent to which I reminded him the Dems were incompetent too. As the conversation chain came to an end he claimed he couldn’t debate with me anymore because I didn’t subscribe to his view that NO people in the US could be trusted on their ethics, calling them “ethnically hazardous.” In response I argued that: (1)”I don’t think Americans overall are “ethically hazardous.” I think like any people there are good, deep-seated values”; (2) “I’m aware that there’s a lot of fucked up stuff in America from a war machine, police killings, sexual violence, & so on”; (3) “I still have faith in Americans or Usians sure. Not sure what “America” constitutes anymore.” The last point was an opening to further conversation which he never explored. But his responses were clues for what was to come.

In a short conversation Garry claimed it was Power’s job to be on top of global starvation. In response I argued that “I don’t think a representative of an imperialist state would magically become more principled.” He fired back by saying it happened with Iraq but not now forgetting that that was a specific circumstance unlike what he describing. Before going on, I think it important to recognize that he seems to be emotionally/mentally unstable as these two tweets (see here and here) seem to indicate. Perhaps that is related, or not, to him calling a wacko Freemasonry video “excellent” despite his criticisms. He also started to get full of himself, liking his own tweets (also noted here and here) which is just bizarre. He even claimed that me calling her part of the foreign policy establishment was unfounded and that she resigned even though this was not the case, as I noted at the time. Then he kinda mocked me and my belief about Power with my response as follows: “Um, you can’t magically think you know what I believe.” Clearly the tension was being raised. He even claimed that Power was a “clownish millionaire” instead of an “imperialist mouthpiece” as I argued. In response to his argument that I hadn’t been engaging in a reasonable debate, I noted that I hadn’t called him any names and he claimed he was just talking about people of the United States as a whole instead, a view I still disagree with.

Herein starts a new thread. In a tweet I was responding to, likely when he said that the people of the United States didn’t care about starvation, I argued that such people support public assistance to the poor, and in response he cited FAO stats. I shot back saying that deaths from malnutrition are the result of capitalism and that giving money to a charity isn’t going to make them disappear (see here and here). He then tried to tell me what ethics was and claimed I was being snobbish when I questioned this. I responded by saying that the US capitalists had the real money, not the populace (see here, here, here, and here). He then cited the amount of US GDP despite the problematic nature of this measure along with claiming the median income was $53,000 which I later learned was wrong according to BLS stats (see here and here. He used this to argue that every person should give $1,000 to which I said would not solve the fundamental problems that cause malnutrition and incur other costs (see here and here). He then cited this NY Times piece once again saying that it would cost $30 billion to end the world food crisis, to which I said he should be pushing the US government to do it rather than the populace, a suggestion he roundly rejected, almost mocking me. He then went even further, making it seem that because people were not giving aid the way HE wanted they were committing genocide (a conspiracy) to which I said the capitalists are responsible, and he said it was “shameful” that I did not feel responsible. [9] I responded with a classic Sarah McLachlan commercial just to show his level of understanding.

Garry said things that were even more wacko. He claimed I had “grand plans” for starving people in the world without evidence and that the USA people don’t care. I countered this by saying that they do care, along with noting UNICEF funding, the former which he characterized as “rationalizing” their actions. It was in this tweet he claimed that I should face starvation so I can “learn” about it: “Disturbing how you try to rationalize their actions. I hope you have to face starvation, so you can learn how bad it is.” [10] What sick individual would wish that for someone? Gosh, what the heck is wrong with him? I later called him out on this, even saying that I was NOT rationalizing the actions of the US populace, and he claimed that he had little “faith that you will ever take or feel responsibility.” He went even further and said wackily that, and I quote, “You don’t care about the people starving now. It’s like bathing a cat simply trying to get you to admit that it happens.” Yikes. What in the world. As for characterizing me a snob, I can’t laugh enough at that and say that by his own standards his own ethics can be questioned (see here and here). When he went down his wacko way, I asked for help from my fellow comrades who helpfully gave me support. Garry continued on saying that there was an “epic situation” of global starvation, that I should blame myself for it and more. I responded by saying again that the capitalist system was more to blame, which he rejected and later called be partially delusional which implies that I should blame myself which I refuse to do. He later said that it is harsh to call me delusional but that “it’s about the life or torturous death of 9 million people every year.” Finally, after I blocked him he declared “not surprised to be blocked by yet ANOTHER person with an antagonistic hate-crush on Molly Crabapple. Sigh… Lol” despite the fact that I have been blocked by Crabapple since DAY ONE of my account and don’t have a “hate crush” but rather believe she should be criticized. Also what’s ridiculous is that the conversation was barely if at all all about Crabapple and he still tried to smear me with it. It’s just absurd.

Later, I said that the whole incident was like this Simpsons clip (along with this one and this one). After I soft-blocked him, I decided to fully block him for good after his wacky tweets, along with joking about it. For those like @africommunist who said Garry should fuck off, they are totally right. And here’s some tweets I found which I thought would close the chapter on Garry the “human rights watcher.” But I was wrong.

Garry entering the world of doxxing

In the past, Garry has shown he was willing to unite with twitterers who favored MC (Molly Crabapple), almost forming a pro-MC front of sorts. Examples include responding directly to MC and to Chuckles of course. [12] He even allied with a Crabapple backer who worked in distributing US imperial propaganda in the past as noted in tweets here and here. In recent days he has said he wanted to smear EQ with something other than words, said he was being slandered, and stalked the TL of @rancidsassy (RS). Lest us remember that Garry is kinda obsessing over EQ, which is interesting since he accuses people of obsessing over MC, falsely claims that she is threatening journalists and calling her a murderer. Jeez. Perhaps all of this is related to his depression, which is as RS notes, a sad story but it doesn’t forgive his actions. Hard to know. At the same time, he find Melanie Trump attractive for some reason, and has a long series of tweets which are bit creepy in which he says he wants to marry an immigrant or non-US citizen, with a focus on a Russian girl, and this messed up tweet. Then he claimed that RS was lead-poisoned, which implies, as noted by his earlier tweet, that RS and critics of MC are just totally brainless beyond belief.

Recently he took another step. He began sharing private information with Chuckles, MC and others. In help with a user named @OzKaterji, he doxxed people who chose to stay anonymous. For Garry, he is ON RECORD as doxxing RK. If you can, report him for this. As for his friend, @OzKaterji, he claims to be a “real” journalist, mad at MC critics for pictures such as this one, and supports the actions of FEMEN (see here and here). [11] At one pint, even when RS was trying to be supportive Garry seemingly threatened RS with doxxing, declaring: “You are a really sad person to me. You can’t hide behind a computer screen any longer. Get used to it.” Clearly since I blocked him, the “desperate idiot,” he has become more wacko, so I regret nothing about that blocking since he can’t bother me anymore. Since I don’t want to perpetrate the dox, it is important to recognize that Oz, with the help of Garry, publicly revealed the names of five people who chose to be anonymous, three of which Oz called “anonymous twitter trolls” as the tweet, which I recently posted, shows:

 

 

 

 

A conclusion

I could continue on with this article but I think it is important to bring it to an honest conclusion. As we all know, this doxing/doxxing business, at least in recent memory, started with Crabapple outing EQ for purely political reasons, saying that she worked for a UN agency and was supposedly doing something heinous when she really was not. A good question to ask, as I did on twitter is who Garry, the “human rights watcher and his snievly friends, in concert with Crabapple and co., will dox next.” Its hard to know. But what is clear is that the pro-Crabapple forces, which may even be a limited characterization, are engaging in actions that reinforce the imperial status quo. Whether Garry and his friend Oz like it or not, they are reinforcing the aims of the murderous US empire. Likely they don’t care much that this is the case or are naive enough to think they are not reinforcing these objectives by giving fodder to the propaganda machine. Never once have these forces tried to dox bigots or racists, instead they dox those who criticize them and reside on the radical left. That is totally unacceptable. It is an open question in my mind if any form of doxxing is acceptable such as against racists and bigots, and if not, then there should be a strong stance against doxxing across the board no matter who it is. As those critical of the Celebrity Left which includes Glenn Greenwald, Deray, Molly Crabapple, and numerous others, there should be no backing down from criticism but instead there should be movement forward. Efforts by the Celebrity Left to reinforce the status quo with faux criticism should be opposed at all costs but this should not include using the same tactics used against comrades such as myself. That would be hypocrisy of the highest degree and would just give more ammunition to the forces in favor of the Celebrity Left. In the end, those on the critical and/or sensible left as some have called it, should oppose doxing, revealing it to show their true tactics, and to serve as a place of criticism and radical thought not available elsewhere. I look forward to your comments.


 

 

Notes

[1] In one tweet I found he condemned EQ claiming that “her job is puffy by global standards” and without evidence said “didn’t see her donating her large salary either.” He also said that “I don’t get it, Em didn’t even respond to the attack, scared for her puffy job likely.” Really starting to think he is a spy or something.

[2] Elsewhere he said the following in a tweet of his own that he favorited: “Mind you, I have never been a communist, but have felt they had some good arguments & materials, and also interesting reads on Twitter.” Also see these tweets related to this: here, here, and here. He also said in a statement that throws radical theory out the window the following: “Western communists should likely fall into this, not worthy of respect, but I don’t have as much experience. 99% hoarders & typical selfish.” Jeez, where does he get his information?

[3] In one tweet I found he said the following: “You’re right. I don’t feel huge sympathy for Emma though, no bad will happen to her.” What a heartless asshole who doesn’t feel anything for commies.

[4] He also used the term “clique” elsewhere to describe people who work at water utility companies who are apparently corrupt (see here and here). So I’m not sure if he even knows how he is using the term.

 

[5] Even my response to a tweet in which Garry claimed that people in the United States are “the most ethnocentric and self-centered people I’ve ever met, & I’ve met many. I’m hesitant of embracing any of them” did not trigger a response from him. Neither did my response to his comment about the US’s mass media market or my question to his strange tweet about a magical database he had heard of.

[6] In a classic Garryism he demanded that people who care about global starvation have a job “to be at the front of the debate-line to demand the 9 million get aid” with the number 9 million coming from the UN’s FAO apparently. That for one isn’t a democratic notion and it ignores WHO will get the aid. In another classic Garryism, he tweets that “it’s somewhat scary to me seeing Germany having a nationalistic government, diplomatic envoy, huge military on the rise – and a new bigotry.” How is only somewhat scary? What really scares him? This tweet really doesn’t make sense to me. Oh and lets not forget that despite the fact that Femen is a supposedly feminist organization run by an abusive man, as I noted on twitter, he supports them. Just see what he says: “I am a funny American, a part of this generation, who might hang out with Femen – but also support fairness towards Russia & minorities.” Still he took positions which seemed to take a positive view of the Syrian government (see here, here, here, and here). But this could just be posing. After all he has some strange views on the US Civil War which don’t mention black confederates. But hey, this is in his character when he, almost in a racist way, calls out “gang rapper profiteers” whatever that means. Don’t worry, he’ll tweet videos like this (also here, here, and here) which either is legit or not at all and claim that political correctness exists when it really doesn’t. Then he has strange tweets like this.

[7] This series of four tweets [here, here, here, and here] is the ONLY place he talks about this I could find.

[8] Just see this set of tweets (see here, here, here, here, and here, along with this one)  to prove this assessment. He ignores that rights to abortion and contraceptives has been under attack since the 1970s.

[9] You could argue that the US public is responsible for genocide especially of the indigenous people and the enslavement of thousands of black Africans. After all, the wealth of the United States is built on the blood, sweat and tears of Asian immigrants (especially Chinese and Japanese), enslaved blacks, indigenous people (by stealing their land), Mexican immigrants (especially after the war of 1846-8), and many others. However, what he is talking about is not genocide in the slightest.

[10] Later he favorited my response for no apparent reason.

[11] He also supports overthrow of Syria’s government, mad that his version of events isn’t being distributed by certain sources (also see here, here, and here), is part of some supposedly pro-refugee charity (also see here), is pro-intervention in Syria, and much more. He describes himself on his blog as “a writer, filmmaker, journalist, secularist and Scotch enthusiast who spends his time bouncing between London and the Middle East and binging on international politics.”

[12] I could get into the recent tweets of Chuckles but that is for another day. For that, see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

 

Is the Star Wars series fascist?

vaderquote

I recently encountered a post, promoted by “Crypto Cuddlefish,” and I decided to look into if this post, published three years ago, which has a number of movies as referents, has any basis. As a moderate Star Wars fan, it only makes sense to look at this post, which a transcript of a video by improv and standup comedian Dave Gutteridge. This article will respond to specific elements of the transcript with my own commentary. While this may not seem politically important, it is because of the effect that the Star Wars franchise has on what Jurgen Habermas calls the bourgeois public sphere and the minds of the populace, especially in the United States, and elsewhere across the world. Anyway, here it goes.

Addressing Dave Gutteridge’s argument

“I’m actually not a Star Wars fan anymore. But I want you to appreciate just how far I’ve come when I say I’m not a fan. When I first saw the very first Star Wars movie , I was so young and naive that I didn’t know that in movies the hero always wins. When Luke Skywalker was flying down that trench, and he was being chased by Darth Vader, and he had to hit that target just right… I honestly didn’t know if he was going to pull it off. I was genuinely scared the universe could be doomed. It made a deep impression on me, and to this day, when I see that scene, I can’t help but feel tense. I loved Star Wars. I had all those action figures they made, even the Boba Fett you had to write away for . I had Star Wars wallpaper in my bedroom. On Halloween I dressed as a Jawa. I watched, and enjoyed, that shitty holiday special they made. So you’d think I’d be the kind of guy going to conventions dressed like an Ewok and having furry sex or whatever.”

I must admit that one time I was as sorta that type of fan, when I was younger. I even saw two of the movies in the 2000s (Episode 2 and 3) in a local movie theater which had a huge screen, one of the last of its kind. That always made an impression on me when I watched the movies from time to time. As of now, I’m just a moderate fan but I wouldn’t buy any merchandise, toys or such from the Star Wars franchise. There’s no need.

“Sadly, those days are gone. As more movies were made, it got harder and harder to ignore the ugly truth.”

Well, this should be interesting.

I started to have doubts even before the new series of movies was made. Everyone had a “whoah, what the…?” moment when they first saw Jar Jar Binks . And for good reason. Jar Jar Binks apparently comes from a whole race of ready made Amos and Andy style sidekicks . They have built in Jamaican dreadlock-things and the whole “Me so happy massa” Uncle Tom attitude. What’s the racial message here Lucas? And what about the aliens that the Jar Jarians were fighting, these creatures that had flat faces and yellow, slanted eyes, and were all secretive… There hasn’t been this much sublimated racial stereotyping in a science fiction series since the wildly anti-Semitic Ferengi in Star Trek.

I haven’t seen Star Trek but I can say something about Jar Jar Binks. I think that Lucas did stick him in his movies as a sort of comic relief. However, I do think there is a racial stereotype in place, almost like his a modern version of Stepin Fetchit. Even if one countered this this stereotype, Binks is a horrid character in general who acts like a goof and is extremely mindless. But perhaps that is the point. I’m not sure what the racial message is there, or with the greedy Neimodians of the Trade Federation who could represent an Asian stereotype. As one writer points out, “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace clearly invokes imagery and audio from racist ethnic stereotypes. The fact that the recipient of these stereotypical characteristics are non-human aliens does not change this fact.” As a personal admission I’d need to know a bit more about racial stereotypes to see if this is the reality. Still, I think this a valid concern.

“But the clumsy racial metaphors aren’t what bugged me.”

This bothers me. The six Star Wars movies are white and male-dominated with female characters mostly pushed to secondary roles (except for Princess Leia and Padme Amidala) and male characters are put in the primary role. Literally there are only two black characters I can think of: Mace Windu, who gets pushed out a window in Episode 3, and Lando Calrissian, a black capitalist/racketeer who betrays the Rebels to the Empire in Episode 5 then turns around and “good” in Episode 6. Not a good track record. Yes, the most recent Star Wars movie does have a black main character, Finn, and a female lead character, Rey, but this doesn’t change the nature of the previous six movies in terms of racial and gender diversity.

“If anyone here has seen the movie Clerks , you might remember the scene where they are talking about Return of The Jedi . In it, one of the characters describes The Rebellion as a bunch of leftists. That got me thinking. A bunch of “leftists”.”

I don’t think I’d think of them as leftists necessarily, just a rebellious force, the details of which I’ll explain later.

“In the first movie, it was all about saving Princess Leia. Then in the new movies, there’s Queen Amalamadabadoo , whatever her name is. If you’re a princess, you’re in a royal family… and monarchies are not democratic . Now, the far left is not always democratic either, but since the left is usually socialist in some way, I don’t know a lot of far left extremists who are pro-monarchy.”

Hmm, that’s a good point. However, Leia is only part of the rebellion, she isn’t necessarily leading it. As for Amidala, she is controlling a planet, Naboo, that likely embodies what some have called “capitalist peace” since it was, according to Wookiepedia, “considered a world of classical beauty due to the aesthetics of its population centers” and was “peaceful.” As a result, I don’t know if I’d consider the Galactic Republic, of which Amidala was part of, to be leftist in the radical sense. After all, as it is described, it sounds kinda elitist but a little like the American federal system, which could be endorsed by today’s liberals and conservatives:

“The Galactic Republic, commonly referred to simply as the Republic, and later also known as the Old Republic, was the democratic union that governed the galaxy for a thousand years prior to the rise of the Galactic Empire. The Republic was aided by the efforts of the Jedi Order, who stood as the guardians of peace and justice, enabling the Republic to be free of full-scale conflict for over a thousand years.”

Then you come to the Empire:

“Now take a look at the “Empire”. They come across as hard core right wing authoritarians. But if you look at how they operate, they have a republic, a senate… it’s not too clear if they have universal suffrage . Maybe only the wealthy planet owners can vote. But still… even if it’s a primitive Grecian style democracy, it’s still a democracy.”

I’m not completely sure about this. The reason about this, is that in Episode 3, that evil Palpatine/Sidious who killed most of the elitist force, the Jedi in what was basically a “surprise” extermination campaign, took power and created the Galactic Empire, a day referred to as “Empire Day” in other series. Palpatine in that movie declares that “In order to ensure the security and continuing stability, the Republic will be reorganized into the first Galactic Empire, for a safe and secure society.” That doesn’t sound very democratic to me. After all, Wookiepedia notes that this Empire replaced the republic, with authority going to the Emperor:

“The Galactic Empire…was the government that rose to power in the aftermath of the Clone Wars, replacing the Galactic Republic. Central authority was given to Darth Sidious, publicly known as Emperor Palpatine, who was also the Dark Lord of the Sith. For nearly two decades, the legislative body was the Imperial Senate, but it was dissolved by the Emperor shortly before the Battle of Yavin. During the reign of the Empire, countless star systems were conquered and dissident actions ruthlessly stamped out by the rapidly expanding Imperial Army and Navy. The Empire also oversaw the near extermination of the Jedi, with the destruction of the Jedi Temple on Coruscant and its renovation into the newly named Imperial Palace.”

I know one could say this a Star Wars wikia and it will bias. However, what this says makes it obvious that the Empire was an authoritarian regime. Also in Episode 4, the Imperial Senate was DISSOLVED. The legislative body was a joke, as noted in the following passage from this article:

“…By its fourteenth year of existence, the new Senate had started growing weaker as the Emperor’s planetary governors assumed more responsibility over their territories. However, the Emperor preserved the Senate in order to make the Empire’s member worlds believe that they still had a part to play in government. Secretly, he planned to disband the Senate from the start but he needed it to preserve order until the Death Star was completed.”

So, I just don’t buy the idea that Empire was a democracy. That goes against the events in the Star Wars animated series and the movies (4, 5, 6) in general. The same goes for the First Order in the new movie which is described as a military junta that was inspired by the Galactic Empire, led by a Supreme Leader and his right-hand man, Kylo Ren who “would oversee the colonization of the Unknown Regions and destruction of the last Jedi” but lacked an official capital.

So back to Gutteridge. He writes that “we’re cheering a bunch of monarchists fighting a democracy? How’d that happen?” then tweets comparisons between the Rebel Alliance, which was a “military resistance government” just like the Resistance. So, in that way the Rebel Alliance are right-wing one could argue. However, one could say they are a resistance force to the empire, almost a guerrilla movement, and don’t really constitute a state like the Empire or the First Order which has, as Max Weber notes about all states, “monopoly on the use of force.” But I’ll address this later on.

“The hints were there from the start”

Ok. Let’s see what you have to say.

“Who exactly are these “rebels”? When you look at it, they don’t seem like an uprising of working class people. When we very first see Luke Skywalker on the farm on Tattooine , his Uncle owns the farmland. It’s droids who do all the blue collar work. It seems the rebellion is led by landed gentry and dispossessed monarchists who’ve had their traditional power structure threatened by an emerging republic.”

Hmm. You could say that and perhaps the rebellion is made up of middle-class folks. By this description Luke would be part of the petty bourgeoisie since he could be arguably part of a strata that “rely entirely on the sale of their labor-power for survival…and thus can buy the labor-power of the proletariat [the droids in this case] and lumpenproletariat to work the means of production” as noted here. At the same time the Rebellion could arguably include lumpenproletariat people like gangster Han Solo and his companion Chewbacca. But I agree its not a rebellion of the proletariat in a Marxian or radical sense. That can even be said about the group of rebels in the new animated series Star Wars Rebels in one sense or another.

Now onto the other claims. According to Wookiepedia, the Rebel Alliance had their origins in a group of Senators who “were vocal opponents of Palpatine’s reformations” and was “found itself increasingly at odds with the Chancellor’s increasing executive powers, and often had trouble gaining an audience with him.” Two of the individuals were key in what became the Rebel Alliance. Jumping ahead, another page notes that this rebellion had a mission to restore “liberty” to the galaxy, at least initially and eventual establishment of a Republic like the Galactic Republic in Episodes 1, 2, and 3. Another part of the same page notes that the Rebel Alliance constituted of a government and a military command led by the Chief of State who was led an “elected dictatorship, [since] the Chief of State had virtually unlimited power over the Alliance” and was taken out of power after the Emperor died. Other parts of the Rebel government included an Advisory Council comprises of representatives from “seven Alliance governments who had given the most lives in battle to defeating the Empire” and it was “responsible for approving or disapproving the proposals of the Chief of State.” There was also an alliance cabinet which allowed the Chief of State to “maintain and run the Alliance,” Alliance Allied Commands, or the “the individual governments of worlds, organizations, and groups that were members of the Alliance” and then the military which was led by the Chief of State. In this way, the Rebel Alliance can be considered a state but also a guerrilla movement at the same time. Undoubtedly it can be considered right-wing but so can the Empire.

“There was one time I was talking about this, a guy said to me, “actually Queen Abadalamadingdong was “elected” to her seat in the senate.” I looked it up on the interwebs, and that’s technically true. She was elected. When she was 14, though. Now, I know this was probably written this way because,George Lucas wanted to line things up so that Princess Allibabababoo [actually Amidala] wouldn’t be too much older, years later when she got it on with young boy-band-era Vader. I don’t know why that was a problem, because there ain’t nothing wrong with a little cougar action, but that seems to be what happened at the script writing level.”

Yes, this is true and Anakin was a creeper. Naboo definitely had what one could call an elected monarchy.

“Whatever, though. Lucas might have been more focused on character time lines than the politics, but it doesn’t excuse anything. We’ve still got the story we’ve got.”

I guess you could say that.

“No functioning democracy elects a 14 year old girl to anything higher than hall monitor , so she has to have been ushered into power by a ruling elite.”

That’s a good point, except not everything in the world that is considered a “democracy” is not necessarily a democracy. So in this way, yes, Naboo isn’t a democracy.

“If the rebellion were just the landed gentry, that might be a excusable. Hell, George Washington was the wealthiest land owner in the colonies , but there was still some merit in his rebellion. But the situation gets worse. Because at the heart of the rebellion are the Jedi.”

Ok, I don’t know how that would be excusable. Well, the Jedi are sort of at the heart of it, but they also aren’t.

“At first glance, the Jedi seem all Zen and spiritual and peaceful. You first see Obi Wan out wandering in the desert, fighting injustices, like Caine in Kung Fu . So, you know, you think they’re all a bunch of counter culture revolutionary warrior monks. But then in the movie The Phantom Menace , which historically is further back in time, you see the Jedi in the penthouse suite of some deluxe high rise on the capital planet of the galaxy. They have this Star Chamber with bay windows overlooking the metropolis. They’re casually chatting over Earl Gray tea about how to influence politics and alter the fates of all the citizens of the galaxy.”

That is kinda true if you think about it. I can remember some scene in a Clone Wars episode when a clone calls the Jedi slavemasters literally:

“As they present Slick before the Jedi, Slick snaps that his brothers are enslaved by the Jedi, that he was striking a blow for all clones and that he loves his brothers, but Cody and Rex retort that he has now exposed them all to certain doom. Cody orders the other clones to take the traitor to lockup.”

Not only that but I can remember people in the animated series saying there’s a hypocrisy for “defenders of the peace” (Jedi) to be warriors. This part from the Episode 3 screenplay is also relevant here:

MACE WINDU: I sense a plot to destroy the Jedi. The dark side of the Force surrounds the Chancellor.

Kl-ADI-MUNDI: If he does not give up his emergency powers after the destruction of Grievous, then he should be removed from office.

MACE WiNDU: That could be a dangerous move … the Jedi Council would have to take control of the Senate in order to secure a peaceful transition . . .

Kl-ADI-MUNDI: . . . and replace the Congress with Senators who are not filled with greed and corruption.

YODA: To a dark place this line of thought will carry us. Hmmmmm. . . . great care we must take.

Seriously they want a coup in a republic, arguably a bourgeois democracy/republic. Yikes! Thinking about that now, that’s messed up. This really would make them theocrats and actually kinda philosopher kings too in a sense. However, without this they are neither of these labels.

“Nobody elected these guys. Nobody voted for Yoda. What the hell happened to the separation of church and state? They’re like the evangelical movement in the US Republican party, pushing their agenda behind the scenes.”

Ok. However, they were basically treated as elite warriors who would defend the Republic. But in some sense you could say they are religious leaders. They aren’t really like the evangelical movement in the US. Here’s a relevant passage from the Episode 4 screenplay which sounds almost like the Force is a religion in a sense:

HAN: Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.

LUKE: You don’t believe in the Force, do you?

HAN: Kid, I’ve flown from one side of this galaxy to the other. I’ve seen a lot of strange stuff, but I’ve never seen anything to make me believe there’s one all-powerful force controlling everything. There’s no mystical energy field that controls my destiny.

Ben smiles quietly.

HAN:  It’s all a lot of simple tricks and nonsense.

BEN:  I suggest you try it again, Luke.

Then the post notes that:

“Not only are we cheering for anti-democratic monarchists, they’re also fundamentalist theocrats. These guys aren’t just out to stop gays from becoming stormtroopers. These guys start whole ground wars that get who knows how many people killed.”

I wouldn’t say the Jedi start the war. I think Darth Sidious wanted the invasion of Naboo. Even if the Jedi “ambassadors” hadn’t been there, showing their high status, then the invasion and blockade of Naboo would have included. But, yes in a sense we are cheering for right-wingers/rightests. However, there is a bourgeois democracy in the form of the Galactic Republic which sorta seems like the US in some way or another. This “democracy” as it will, which Marx and Engels called “dictatorship of the bourgeoisie,” mirrors the dictatorship that ruled Mexico with an iron fist from the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1920 until the 1990s which constituted a corporatist political structure led by the PRI and had the legislature as merely a rubber-stamp.

“For example, in Phantom Menace they go down to planet Jamaica where the Jar Jarians live, and convince them to fight a robot army and get mowed down like Aztecs being slaughtered by conquistadors . What do the Jedi offer in return? They send in two human white guys to rescue a human white girl.”

I guess you could say this. However, the Jedi do offer something in return. They help clear the hangar with the help of the Queen and her forces so that Naboo starfighters can destroy the Trade Federation ship of which Anakin succeeds in but by accident. Anyway, it is true they rescue a human white girl (the Queen). At the same time, the Gungans fight a robot army but are quickly surrounded and have to surrender, so I don’t think it accurate to say that they are slaughtered by Aztecs as that almost implies that the movie condemns imperialism which it obviously does not.

“Why do the Jar Jarians agree? ‘Cause the leader of the Jar Jarians is a fucking king… another monarchist. He’s got a divine right to rule to protect, so of course he’s on board.”

I guess you could say that but I think the Gungans are willing to side with the humans (“the Naboo”) because they see their planet under attack by a foreign force (a robot army led by the Trade Federation).

Now, you’re probably thinking “Yeah, but just look at the Empire, they’ve got lots of black, dark atmospheric mood lighting, and lots of heavy breathing. They’ve got to be evil, right? And the Jedi have all soft earth tones, lots of brown, long hair, and eating granola, they’ve got to be good, right? What makes them so good, all deep down?

No I wasn’t wondering that at all. Not sure who would be wondering that.

“Here’s where it gets really fucked up. In the new series of movies, George Lucas revealed to us what it is that makes a Jedi a Jedi. In order to be a part of “the force”, you have to have this stuff in your blood called “Midi-chlorians”. So… you have to be born with the right blood… Not just antidemocratic monarchist fundamentalist theocrats… they’re also racial supremacists! Holy fuck!”

I don’t think that is necessarily racial supremacy. I guess it could be considered genetic supremacy but not racial supremacy necessarily. This is because Jedi do NOT have to be humans to be Jedi. But I will agree it is strange. In fact, as they note in the movies, EVERYONE has medi-chlorians to some extent. As Qui-Gon said in Episode 1 to a young Anakin, who was literally a slave, but freed:

“Midi-chlorians are a microcopic lifeform that reside within all living cells and communicates with the Force. [they are] In your cells. We are symbionts with the midi-chlorians [or] Life forms living together for mutual advantage. Without the midi-chlorians, life could not exist, and we would have no knowledge of the Force. They continually speak to you, telling you the will of the Force. When you learn to quiet your mind, you will hear them speaking to you.”

So, I don’t think this constitutes racial supremacy akin to the Nazis. In fact, this kinda just says “the Force” comes from within you, but doesn’t have to do with if you have “the right blood.” One could argue this means it constitutes eugenics, but I don’t agree.

Now it makes sense why the Jedi wear the brown shirts ! We’re supposed to cheer for these fascists?

I don’t think they are fascists. Sure, you could argue convincingly they are theocrats, though I don’t agree with that viewpoint, but since the part of the movie about midi-chlorians was wrongly interpreted, this undermines that they are fascists. However, I see the Jedi and the Sith, who are basically conflicting sects of “The Force” religion, as religious warriors, not necessarily as totally theocrats since they don’t completely rule or govern “as a representative of God or a deity, or is a member of the ruling group in a theocracy, as a divine king or a high priest.” Remember there’s still the Senate and the Chancellor. True, these warriors are rogue, but I’m not sure if they can be considered totally part of a “ruling group.” 

“We’re supposed to be happy, singing “yub yub”, along with the Ewoks, when these authoritarian assholes win at the end of Return of the Jedi?”

Well, the Rebels are rightists but aren’t necessarily “authoritarian assholes.” Also by this time most of the Jedi in the galaxy are killed so they aren’t leading the Rebellion.

“A victory which is ludicrous when you think about it. I don’t know what it takes to build a death star, but apparently a death star is something an empire the size of a galaxy can only build one at a time. I think it’s safe to assume that they’d devote their best troops to protecting this thing. The best troops in an entire galaxy.”

Well it could be considered ludicrous except I think the Empire was over-confident and the Ewoks helped the Rebels turn the tide of victory.  So its sorta unbelievable but this is fiction. What do you expect? You could say the same about the destruction of the Starkiller Base in the newest Star Wars movie. Additionally, it is possible for the best troops to be beat by troops that aren’t the best. Its happened in world history before in military battles. It is possible.

“We’re seriously meant to believe that they couldn’t defend a shed in the woods from a pack of plush toys with pre-bronze age technology? It’s so incredulous, it defies all reason… Unless… you think about what the far far away galaxy is like after the final battle that defeats the Empire.”

Well, they couldn’t defend it because of the Ewoks who were able to destroy much of the Empire’s technology in their guerrilla tactics. Also, they only sent a legion of troopers down to Endor, and the Rebels had fought the Empire for years, so I’d imagine there were seasoned enough troops who knew how the fight the empire. Also, what’s so bad with a “primitive” force defeating a “modern,” technologically-advanced force? It happened in Avatar, a movie which had issues considering the white male savior of indigenous people, so it can happen here most definitely.

“There’s probably some tough questions being asked during Luke Skywalker’s thousand year Reich . Questions like, “We fought all these battles, all these people died, We got rid of the evil overlord Darth Vader, and now… his son is in charge? Another Skywalker and his crypto-incestuous sister are running the show now? What kind of revolution was this?””

No, no one is asking those questions. Luke and his sister were NEVER in charge, they were just part of a broader rebellion. Sure, Leia was arguably more part of the ruling class, but she wasn’t directly in charge of the Rebels and Luke most definitely was not, but basically was just like a high-ranking officer in the military. Also, Vader (whose full name could mean “dark father” but it is contested) was never in charge, that was the Emperor. I do think this part of episode 4 is relevant here:

HAN:  It is for me, sister! Look, I ain’t in this for your revolution, and I’m not in it for you, Princess. I expect to be well paid. I’m in it for the money!

LEIA: You needn’t worry about your reward. If money is all that you love, then that’s what you’ll receive!

Later Han becomes a loyal footsoldier of the Rebellion, but this still relevant here.

“Not only has all the power in the galaxy been passing around within one family, but with the death of exiled Pope Yoda, Luke has moved into the position of head of the official state religion. Church and state have been unified, and Ayatollah Skywalker reigns supreme over his dystopian theocratic dictatorship.”

I just don’t think that interpretation is correct. Yoda was never the head of the “official state religion.” The Force can be argued as a religious force or feeling but was NOT the official religion of either the Empire, the Rebellion, First Order, or Resistance. Hence, there was no “theocratic dictatorship.” However, there is a convincing argument that two rightist forces were fighting each other.

“And that’s when it hit me. I saw it, man, I saw what was going on. Maybe George Lucas is the most brilliant film maker of all time.”

What in the world. This ia almost half sarcastic.

“You see, think of it like this. History is written by the victors. So maybe what George Lucas is doing is writing this whole series from a meta-contextual point of view, showing us history as it would be depicted if the forces of evil had won.”

Um, ok history is written by victors. As for the next part of this quote, I just don’t think so.

“The story is shown from the point of view after Dear Leader Skywalker went all Stalin on the historical records. The photos have been airbrushed , the scrolls have been burned , the statues knocked down … we’re seeing the revisionist history the House of Skywalker wants us to believe.”

Luke Skywalker never did that. He never was really in a leading position of power. It is true he was a valued footsoldier of the Rebellion, but he was NOT the leader of the Alliance. I don’t even know what to say about the comparison to Stalin here.

“If that’s what George Lucas is doing, it’s fucking brilliant. The hints are there, but you have to peel back the layers of propaganda to look for the real story. What’s really going on?”

Oh boy here we go with the “layers of propaganda.”

“Before the story depicted in the movies begins, democracy was emerging in the galaxy in the form of a republic, with a democratically elected senate. The monarchists and elite were seeing their tyrannical rule coming to an end. They tried to maintain power by filling the sentate with their own kind, like they did with Queen Amadamadingdong. That failed, and they were marginalized.”

I don’t think its that simple. I think there was the pretense of democracy but it was, as Sheldon Wolin puts it, a managed democracy, in the Galactic Republic. But more accurately it was a bourgeois democracy. Yet, Gutteridge doesn’t say this.

“[Referring to an above picture.] In this telling scene, Anakin Skywalker argues against the extra-judicial summary execution of a political leader by a Jedi zealot, and calls instead for a trial by jury. For this, he is depicted as a villain.”

The “political leader” who speak of was actually also a theocrat in a sense and led his own branch of “The Force” religion. Hence, Palpatine was more like a religious leader who masqueraded as a political leader than the latter. He is almost more a theocrat than the Jedi since he holds a leading position in government while the Jedi don’t technically hold such a position but just kinda do their own thing, which has some consequences (good and bad). Also, Palpatine was trying to kill the Jedi warrior. Yes, Anakin was trying to call for a trial, but Windu’s point that he is “too dangerous to stay alive” if I remember the words right, is valid. In my thinking Palpatine knew something like this would happen, so he made it so the Jedi would say he should die and then Anakin would come to Palpatine’s aid. Also, Anakin is a bit selfish and out for himself, so he can’t be painted as the “good” guy here. Anyway, here’s the relevant passage showing that Anakin is painted an agent of evil for good reason, even though he advocated a right for trial of Palpatine even as the courts are corrupt (bolding is my emphasis):

ANAKIN lands his speeder, jumps out, and runs down a long corridor toward the Chancellor’s office.

In the heat of battle, MACE cuts the window behind the Chancellor’s desk, and it crashes away. MACE is forced out onto the ledge, which is twenty stories up. They fight over the precipice. ANAKIN arrives to see PALPATINE and MACE fighting.

They stop as MACE forces PALPATINE to drop his sword. PALPATINE and MACE start yelling at each other.

MACE WINDU: You are under arrest, My Lord.

PALPATINE: Anakin! I told you it would come to this. I was right. The Jedi are taking over.

MACE WlNDU: You old fool. The oppression of the Sith will never return. Your plot to regain control of the Republic is over . . . you have lost . . .

PALPATINE: No! No! You will die!

PALPATINE raises his hands, and lightning bolts shoot out. They are blocked by MACE’s lightsaber. PALPATINE is pushed back against the window sill.

PALPATINE: He is a traitor, Anakin.

MACE WlNDU: He’s the traitor. Stop him!

PALPATINE: Come to your senses, boy. The Jedi are in revolt. They will betray you, just as they betrayed me.

MACE WlNDU: Aarrrrggghhhhh . . .

PALPATINE: You are not one of them, Anakin. Don’t let him kill me.

MACE WlNDU: Aarrrrggghhhhh . . .

PALPATINE: I am your pathway to power. I have the power to save the one you love. You must choose. You must stop him.

MACE WlNDU: Don’t listen to him, Anakin.

PALPATINE: Help me! Don’t let him kill me. I can’t hold on any longer. Ahhhhhhh . . . ahhhhhhh . . . ahhhhhhh . . .

MACE pushes PALPATINE out to the edge of the ledge. As the Jedi moves closer, the bolts from Palpatine’s hands begin to arch back on him. The Chancellor’s face begins to twist and distort. His eyes become yellow as he struggles to intensify his powers.

PALPATINE: I can’t … I give up. Help me. I am weak … I am too weak. Don’t kill me. I give up. I’m dying. I can’t hold on any longer.

MACE WlNDU: You Sith disease. I am going to end this once and for all.

ANAKIN: You can’t kill him, Master. He must stand trial.

MACE WlNDU: He has too much control of the Senate and the Courts. He is too dangerous to be kept alive.

PALPATINE: I’m too weak. Don’t kill me. Please.

ANAKIN: It is not the Jedi way . . .

MACE raises his sword to kill the CHANCELLOR.

ANAKIN: (continuing) He must live . . .

PALPATINE: Please don’t, please don’t . . .

ANAKIN: I need him . . .

PALPATINE: Please don’t . . .

ANAKIN: NO!!!

Just as MACE is about to slash PALPATINE, ANAKIN steps in and cuts off the Jedi’s hand holding the lightsaber.

As MACE stares at ANAKIN in shock, PALPATINE springs to life.
The full force of Palpatine’s powerful Bolts blasts MACE. He attempts to deflect them with his one good hand, but the force is too great. As blue rays engulf his body, he is flung out the window and falls twenty stories to his death. No more screams. No more moans. PALPATINE lowers his arm.

PALPATINE: Power! Unlimited power!

His face has changed into a horrible mask of evil. ANAKIN looks on in horror. PALPATINE cackles.

ANAKIN: What have I done?

Hence, its not as simple as just “defending” the right to a trial. There’s a bit more there.

“Even worse for the Jedi, Anakin Skywalker, Luke’s father and their chosen messiah, is won over by democratic values. Anakin becomes so keen to distance himself from the cult that has tried to brainwash him since childhood that he dons a Subcomandante Marcos mask and renames himself Darth Vader.”

Well, he doesn’t completely distance himself. He still accepts The Force but just in a different form. In this way he is a religious warrior who will serve an authoritarian Empire and/or the Emperor. So, NO he is not “won over by democratic values.” Don’t you remember when he KILLS all those Jedi in the Jedi Temple literally. Isn’t that basically a religious massacre or what is called a pogrom? Come on now.

“He then aggressively, and for a time successfully, tries to purge the Jedi from the halls of power, making him a champion of the separation of church and state. Which, in my books, is a good thing.”

There never really was a state religion, hence there can’t be a separation of church and state. No one was EVER forced to believed in The Force. It was almost like the Jedi were like high-level thinkers or philosopher kings to some extent, except that they didn’t really have political power but had political prestige.

“By the time we get to Luke Skywalker, democracy is everywhere and things might have gone well, except no one could have anticipated just how ruthless Luke Skywalker would be. Luke was probably moisture farmer on Tatooine as much as George Bush was a Texan rancher. No, Luke was a demagogue laying in wait.”

I really don’t think that was accurate at all. There definitely isn’t democracy everywhere. The Republic at least had a Senate of some value. However, the Empire has a useless and mock-powerful Senate which is abolished in Episode 4. Of not is an episode of the new Star Wars animated series, Star Wars Rebels where Vader orders the burning of a city (Tarkintown) on one of the character’s home planets, Lothal in order to spread fear. Then there was the massacre, which has a My Lai quality, of the town’s inhabitants and the destruction of the town in the newest Star Wars movie as noted in this screenplay:

“Lor San Tekka moves sadly through the village as STORMTROOPERS wielding FLAME THROWERS destroy structures. Surrendering Villagers are ROUNDED UP. Penned ANIMALS panic…The Troopers and villagers in battle — as one Trooper is HIT and goes down. Another — OUR TROOPER — KNEELS to help. The hit trooper raises a torn, bloody glove — his HUMAN HAND visible — and MARKS OUR STORMTROOPER’S MASK WITH BLOOD just before he dies. Our Trooper, stands — overwhelmed by the battle.”

Then this goes on.

“The Skywalker name gives Luke the backing of the Jedi, but they need the money and resources of the monarchists and land owners to fund the Jedi’s jihad against the secular government. To convince the monarchists to come along, Luke and his cohorts concocted this whole story about how he discovered a weapon of mass destruction that only he could destroy. How convenient.”

No, they didn’t concoct the story. Come on. If the Empire is secular, it is a murderous secular state. Who would want to support that?

“Was there really a death star? Everyone who supposedly witnessed a planet being destroyed by a “death star” are all dead now, except, by no coincidence, for Luke’s sister.”

Um, all the rebel pilots saw the death star. Anyway, at the end of Episode 3 the Death Star was under construction and the Geonosians were apparently constructing it or at least had the plans for its construction in Episode 2.

“It was Luke and the Jedi cabal who blew up Alderaan! It was a galactic Reichstag Fire , Gulf of Tonkin , Manchurian railway in space. Great disturbance in the force my ass. It was a great disturbance by the force!”

This isn’t what actually happened and the writer of the original post knows this. It WAS the Empire that blew up the planet. Its almost sarcasm at this point.

“The monarchists were convinced, and supplied Luke with all the resources he need to launch his bloody coup d’état . Luke then makes a huge display of blowing up a star base that could have been a medicine factory for all we know, and the monarchists adorn him with medals for his “Mission Accomplished” moment, which, like similar moments , was only the beginning of the bloodshed.”

Um, it wasn’t a medicine factory. Also, they once again were NOT monarchists. And yes, the end of Episode 4 could said the reminiscent of Nazi rallies, but this was convincingly more the case in the newest Star Wars movie with a rally of the First Order. Seriously, those First Order folks were fascists.

“The final twist of the propaganda knife is claiming that his father renounced democracy just before dying. Again, anyone on the second death star who might have witnessed Vader sacrificing the emperor in an act of atonement to his son – they’re all dead now too.”

This is ridiculous. How is a system that is led by an EMPEROR a democracy? What movies did you watch? Jeez this is so far off that all I can do is laugh.

“That’s how Luke rolls. He kills all witnesses.”

Um no he doesn’t. He blows up the first Death Star, sure, but NOT the second one which is blown up by the Rebel starfleet. Also, the second Death Star killed people on the two ships it destroyed with its blasts to show off its power.

“The whole Star Wars series is Ayatollah Skywalker’s whitewashed history of his brutal ascent to power. It’s his Triumph of the Will !”

Gosh this is getting ridiculous. Skywalker, once again did NOT hold a leading position in the Alliance but was just one of the best fighters. Come on now.

“It even explains the terrible storytelling set against incredible scenery. I mean, it’s a state sponsored propaganda film. It has all the brilliant special effects of a Chinese Olympic opening ceremony , but the stilted story telling of a North Korean news report . Even in the very production of the films the historical revisionism is hinted at. I mean, we all know that the free market neocon mercenary Han Solo shot Greedo first, but even that detail got suppressed to support the official state narrative.”

What? It isn’t a state propaganda film. It is also is not like Chinese or North Korean news reports or ceremonies. Sure, Han Solo could be considered a “free market neocon mercenary.” However, from what I remember the movie NEVER says that Greedo shot first or is this detail expressed. Come on. Jabba the Hut, the head of the underground criminal network, is mad Greedo is killed but that’s about it.

“If it’s the case that the whole Star Wars series is a post modern metacontextual propaganda for the Skywalker regime, then maybe George Lucas is a brilliant writer working on so many more levels than we’ve even discovered yet!”

You got to be kidding me. There was NO “Skywalker regime.” There was just two rightist forces fighting each other. Additionally, the Rebellion was almost a tent for those of different viewpoints. However, it is evident that neither of the forces fighting each other can be seen as truly part of the Left.

“And then I saw Indiana Jones part four , and was reminded that, Lucas is just a hack.”

I’ll agree that movie was horrible. I’m not sure if calling Lucas a hack is fair though even though I think he was broadly a conservative and wanted to reinforce “traditional” values coming from the 1950s from what I’ve read.

“Still, we’ve got the story we’ve got, the most deceptive and seductive pro-fascist narrative ever written. The Jedi mind trick has been played on all of us. “This is not the hero’s journey you were looking for.””

I just don’t agree with this at all. Considering the faulty interpretations elsewhere, this is just totally wrong. Yes, the six major movies have a conservative element and reinforces traditionalism along with arguably patriarchalism. The same could be said about the new movie, but there is some level of a corrective with a female lead character (Rey) and a black stormtrooper who refuses to commit a war crime, an equivalent of the My Lai massacre, named Finn. The same could be said about the new Star Wars Rebels series which has a number of female characters even know the cast is still male-dominated, and the second animated clone wars series, not necessarily the first one.

“So… I’m not a Star Wars fan anymore. If it ever happens again that I see that scene where Luke is going down the trench, I’ll still get tense… but I’ll be cheering for Vader.”

Good for you. Cheer for an authoritarian empire, which is kinda fascist just from the name of its footsoldiers: stormtroopers. How about cheering for NEITHER side since both sides are kinda rightist? Just an idea.

While I think that comedian Dave Gutteridge makes some valid points about the Star Wars, but his makes a number of conclusions which are not based on evidence from the series itself (ex: that the Empire is a democracy or that Jedi are theocrats). I’m willing to be convinced otherwise, but I just think there are a number of fundamental issues that he gets totally wrong as I note above. Perhaps I interpreted this all wrong and he is trying to be really really sarcastic but I sincerely doubt it.

Some additional thoughts

There are a number of historical analogies one could make in relation to the Star Wars series. Tom Engelhardt, argued in one written piece that George Lucas challenged the view that Americans shouldn’t be reminded about the Vietnam war, “decontaminating war of its recent history through a series of inspired cinematic decisions that rescued crucial material from the wreckage of Vietnam.” Engelhart continues by rightly pointing out that Lucas started the Star Wars series in its “own self-enclosed universe in deepest space and in an amorphous movie past…an era of civil war, an evil empire, rebels, an ultimate weapon, a struggle for freedom” and that “he uncoupled the audience from a legacy of massacre and atrocity” with Skywalker’s family suffering “its own My Lai,” He writes that this allows the audience and Luke to “set off on an anti-imperial venture as the victimized, not as victimizers” and that later on, “Lucas’s white teenage rebels would glide effortlessly among the natives. They would learn from value-superior Third World mystics…and be protected by ecological fuzzballs like the Ewoks.” Engelhart writes that after the 1970s, “Star Wars-like themes also began to penetrate the world of adult entertainment” and this allowed G.I. Joe to be reintroduced along with other “action figures” to released as Star Wars knock offs.

While Englehart makes valid points, I think it important to recognize the different interpretations of Star Wars before putting forward my own analysis. Steven Belletto and Daniel Grausam argue that the film quickly undermines the reading that it is critical of the United States, saying that Episode IV’s premise “associates the Rebels with Western settlers and heroes” and then populates the Empire “with soldiers and henchmen outfited for a Stanlist regime.” [1] They further argue, on the same page, that the movie also puts forward the idea that the West is represented by “technologically inferior Rebels” rather than an invading war machine, which revives the narrative that “the South Vietnamese Army comprised the freedom fighters” and that the North Vietnamese were “agents of a monolithic, evil, Communist empire set on world domination.” In writing about Episode 5, Belletto and Grausam argue that the movie is just “dumbed down Emerson” and claiming that Yoda has a resemblance to Reagan. [2] They argue that for Episode 6, Luke is an “optimistic Reaganite” who continues to underestimate the power of the Dark Side, that the Rebels aren’t for freedom from the Empire’s grasp but they want to supplant it as the governing force of the galaxy. [3] They later write that there is the triumph of the Rebels in episode 6 means that class distinctions are dissolved, with nobility, who they describe as Luke and Leia, along with Ewok and Wookies participating, meaning that, in their interpretation, “the Eastern establishment and European aristocracy acknowledge their appreciation for the lone ranger, just as he acknowledges his commitment to their benevolent monarchy.” [4] Belletto and Grausum also write that three patriarchs, redeemed Vader, Yoda and Obi-Wan, in their interpretation, return in Episode 6 at the end “to celebrate this marriage of Western adventurism [symbolized by Han Solo] and Eastern monarchy that confirm the union’s implicit hierarchy as part of the natural order.” [5]

Then, there’s Stephen McVeigh who looks at what the engine that drives the Star Wars narrative. He argues that the original trilogy (episodes 4-6) constitutes ” a post-Vietnam critique of military superiority whereby a technological superpower is defeated by smaller, more humanized forces” and that the films present “a dual reading of U.S. military might” as either a “morally bankrupt oppressor” or that U.S. interests and actions are just. [6] He also argues that while some critics tend to argue that the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany is represented by the Empire, that “the dark truth at the core of Lucas’s evil Empire is that it presents a version of America itself” and that the Star Wars movies are more than about posturing of Cold War superpowers, and by recognizing “that the rebels and Empire are one and the same side” only does Lucas’s mission come to the surface. [7]  He goes on beyond this, but this alone is worth mentioning.

It is worth mentioning, last but not least that there is a group of writers that assert that Star Wars is related to Vietnam, as Englehart alluded to. McVeigh writes that Star Wars Episode 4 has to be seen in light of the Vietnam War and that instead of detailing the horrors of Vietnam, he “decided to offer a balm…ramp [of] the mythic landscape that had been so badly traumatized by  American involvement in the war in Southeast Asia.” [8] His mission, as the writers argue, is to repair “the damage done by the Vietnam War on the American people.” [9] McVeigh also writes than later also argue that Episode 1 fit into fears of U.S. culture (conspiracy and paranoia) and that the relevance of Star Wars to “stories that connect to become an account of passage of American self-concept through the aftermath of Vietnam” assures the series a “unique place within American popular culture.” [10] Other than McVeigh, Dan Rubey argues that Episode 4 uses “an image ourselves from the past,” referring to dogfights during WWII which Lucas used as a basis for fights in the Star Wars movies, and that it has direct relation to Vietnam. [11] He also writes that the film feeds on the feelings of the audience of frustration along with numerous desires (escape, mobility, and power) and satisfies them with a good/evil dichotomy, numerous metaphors and endorse “traditional structures of racism, sexism and social hierarchy that have helped to create and maintain those frustrations.” [12] The same write also argues that Lucas has a “conservative ideological bias,” that Star Wars is a “chivalric romance plot” that is about power of the Force which is gendered as male, that the Rebels are restorers of the old order, and that “Lucas dooms Star Wars to repeat all the ideological cliches of our society” [13] 

These assessments are validated in numerous ways by the franchise itself. In one Lucasfilm book titled Star Wars and History, Vietnam is mentioned 19 times. More directly are sections from J. W. Rinzle’s The Making of Star Wars (Enhanced Edition). In the book, it says that George Lucas originally wanted to make Apocalypse Now, which is as any viewers know, a very antiwar and anti-Vietnam War film. As Rinzle writes in a section titled “Vietnam Wars in Space,” “the Vietnam War was just too controversial” meaning that Lucas, who was apparently poor and in debt, turned to an unnamed science fiction project which became Star Wars. In the book, Rinzle quotes Lucas as saying he had “very strong feelings” about Apocalypse Now, implying that Star Wars was about the Vietnam War with political ideas he was going to put in that movie going into Star Wars. [14] The most telling quote from Lucas which basically confirms that Star Wars is about reclaiming the Vietnam War (with “selective” concepts) is as follows:

“A lot of my interest in Apocalypse Now was carried over into Star Wars. I figured that I couldn’t make that film because it was about the Vietnam War, so I would essential deal with some of the same interesting concepts that I was going to use and convert them into space fantasy, so you’d have essentially a large technological empire going after a small group of freedom fighters or human beings.”

I could go on and mention numerous other books that mention how Star Wars is a reflection on the Vietnam War. However, I think it best to give my other thoughts at this present time. The argument that the Rebels and the Empire are just two sides of the same coin, representing different elements of the United States, is relatively convincing. [15] I was thinking about this today and if the Empire represented the Soviet Union, the process of events doesn’t make much sense. I say that because there was no major military defeat of the Soviet Union by the United States before the 1970s, which would be represented by the Death Star’s explosion, and America was not defeated by the Soviet Union as they were by the Empire at the beginning of Episode 5. This would get even more confusing because the Empire was originally a Galactic Republic, which Russia was NOT before the Russian revolution of 1917. I also thought that maybe Episode 1 referred to WWI and that the Clone Wars referred to WWII but in terms of the events that happened in Star Wars, this doesn’t make much sense either. Neither does the destruction of the Death Star refer to the Korean War or the battle of Hoth in episode 5 refer to the Bay of Pigs invasion (and disaster), as one could think.

Still, there are a number of important observations to make and I don’t need to read the Star Wars and Philosophy book in order to assert them. Both forces, “good” and “evil,” are arguably right-wing. The Galactic Republic in episodes 1-3 is basically a bourgeois democracy, the Trade Federation in episodes 1-3 which was “an interstellar shipping and trade conglomerate,” while the CIS in episodes 2-3 is a confederacy led by a Sith lord. It is also possible that Lucas is condemning certain ideas since, as noted in this Wookiepedia entry, the trade groups that supported the CIS’s cause were nationalized by the Galactic Empire. As for the Rebels in episodes 4-6, they were, as noted earlier, an authoritarian government that aimed to bring back the bourgeois democracy of the Galactic Republic (of which they succeeded in Episode 6). Then, the Empire is obviously a fascist force which is authoritarian in nature as well. The same dynamic is the case in the newest Star Wars movie with the First Order as obviously fascist and after the New Republic, which representing the bourgeois democracy, is destroyed, the Resistance is just like the Rebels.

After reading through these different books on the subject, I am more critical than ever of the series. Still, I guess unlike Gutteridge and others,  I guess I still have some hope in the Star Wars series and think that it has at least some value due to its deeply problematic aspects. But, this hope could obviously be shattered into many pieces, and that is why I look forward to your comments on this issue. In the end, I plan to write another article on this topic but I hope that this is the beginning of a more critical approach to the Star Wars series which is lauded too often, especially after the recent movie.


 

Notes:

[1] Belletto, Steven and Grausam, Daniel. American Literature and Culture in an Age of Cold War: A Critical Reassessment. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2012. 197.

[2] Ibid, 198-9.

[3] Ibid, 200, 203.

[4] Ibid, 205.

[5] Ibid, 206-7.

[6] Sweet, Derek R. Star Wars in the Public Square: The Clone Wars as Political DialogueJefferson, NC: McFarland, 2015. 8.

[7] McVeigh, Stephen. The Galactic Way of Warfare. Finding the Force of the Star Wars Franchise: Fans, Merchandise, & Critics (ed. Matthew Kapell and  John Shelton Lawrence). New York: Peter Lang, 2006. 38.

[8] Ibid.

[8] Ibid, 39.

[9] Ibid, 46, 54.

[11] Rubey, Dan. No So Long Ago nor Far Away: New Variations on Old Themes and Questioning Star Wars‘ Revival of Heroic Archetypes. Myth, Media, and Culture in Star Wars: An Anthology (ed Douglas Brode and Leah Deyneka). Lanham: The Scarecrow Press Inc., 2012. 51.

[12] Ibid, 52

[13] Ibid, 53, 57-8, 63.

[14] The book also notes that Vietnam, along with conflicts and government affected his thinking about the series. Also, in one part of the book it reprints a telling quote from a legal pad he used when writing ideas for the original movie which shows he is not necessarily against American empire: “Theme: Aquilae is a small independent country like North Vietnam threatened by a neighbor or provincial rebellion, instigated by gangsters aided by empire. Fight to get rightful planet back. Half of the system has been lost to gangsters…The empire is like America ten years from now, after gangsters assassinated the Emperor and were elevated to power in a rigged election…We are at a turning point: fascism or revolution.” Elsewhere the book quotes Lucas as saying that the movie is a reflection on the Vietnam War: “to not make a decision is a decision…what usually happens is a small minority stands up against it, and the major portion are a lot of indifferent people who aren’t doing anything one way or the other. And by not accepting the responsibility, those people eventually have to confront the issue in a more painful way, which is essentially what happened in the United States with the Vietnam War.”

[15] Also, since there is the division of the galaxywide religion of the Force which is divided into “light” and “dark”, Jedi and Sith, it is clear once again that we are talking about two sides of the same coin.