Obama, the People and the Facts

Exclusive: The political crisis facing President Obama and the Democratic Party results from a profound loss of faith in the U.S. government, made worse by Obama’s obsessive secrecy. But he could address both problems by opening the books on some key hidden chapters relevant to today, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

There is much handwringing among Democrats about the deepening pessimism that pervades the American people as they question the value of governance and even the viability of a democratic Republic. As the rich get richer, the middle class shrinks and foreign wars go on endlessly, many people feel powerless to change things. They don’t trust politicians and are not even inspired enough to vote.

In November, this malaise meant the electorate, in effect, ceded control of the House and Senate to the Republicans who find their anti-government themes at least reinforced in this despairing environment. The Democrats have a tougher sell amid the cynicism. To alter the dynamic, they must convince people that the government is on their side and can make a positive difference.

President Barack Obama discusses Ukraine during a meeting with members of his National Security Staff in the Oval Office, Feb. 28, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama discusses Ukraine during a meeting with members of his National Security Staff in the Oval Office, Feb. 28, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

But there is a simple way for President Barack Obama to address this political crisis: He could give an old-fashioned Oval Office speech that shares with the people key facts about what has been going on around the world over the past dozen years or so. He could engage the public not by spinning with clever rhetoric but by telling some unvarnished truths much like Dwight Eisenhower did in his “military-industrial complex” speech or John Kennedy did when saying “we all inhabit this small planet.”

Obama could start by releasing the secret section of the 9/11 Report that discusses Saudi financing of the hijackers who attacked the Twin Towers in New York and the Pentagon outside Washington. Americans have the right to know these facts, especially with Saudi Arabia now pressing the United States to join in overthrowing the government of Syria, a move which could open the gates of Damascus to a victory by al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front or the even more extreme Islamic State. Just whose side is Saudi Arabia on?

By giving the American people facts about this erstwhile ally, Obama could let the public better assess whether another “regime change” war in the Middle East is in U.S. national interests or not. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Israeli-Saudi Alliance Slips into View.”]

Secondly, Obama could disclose as much of the Senate’s torture report as possible, overriding the quibbling complaints of his CIA Director John Brennan. America’s descent into torture and other war crimes is a chapter of U.S. history that the public should know so no sequel will ever be written. There is an old saying that sunlight is the best disinfectant and if anything needs the light of day, it is the dark side where Vice President Dick Cheney and the neoconservatives took the country.

But Obama should go beyond the secrets of the last administration and update the American people on some more recent events. I’m told that U.S. intelligence has changed its assessments of several key incidents that raised tensions in the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

There was the sarin gas attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013, that Secretary of State John Kerry and other senior officials rushed to blame on the government of President Bashar al-Assad. Kerry urged a punitive military campaign against Syria’s military. But many of the pillars of Kerry’s argument including the number of sarin-laden missiles and the actual range of the one rocket that was found to carry sarin have since collapsed.

Increasingly, it appears that some extremist Syrian rebels may have carried out the attack as a provocation to force Obama’s hand and get him to retaliate against Assad for crossing the “red line” that Obama had drawn earlier on chemical weapons use. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Was Turkey Behind Syria-Sarin Attack?”]

Though Obama pulled back from a military strike at the last minute and accepted Russian President Vladimir Putin’s help to get Assad to surrender all his chemical weapons, the mistaken allegations from Kerry and others have never been retracted and thus contribute to a political climate favorable to attacking Assad’s military just as the Saudis, al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, the neocons and Israel want.

Whatever the current intelligence assessment about the sarin attack, Obama could share it with the American people, taking them into his counsel rather than treating them like suckers whose only purpose is to be manipulated into doing what the powers-that-be have already decided.

Ukraine Crisis

Obama could do the same regarding two violent incidents that plunged the world into another crisis in Ukraine. On Feb. 20, there was mysterious sniper fire around Kiev’s Maidan square that killed both police and protesters, thus escalating the violence. U.S. officials and the mainstream U.S. press pinned the sniper shootings on elected President Viktor Yanukovych, setting the stage for the Feb. 22 coup that ousted him.

Since then, ethnic/political violence has torn Ukraine apart and sparked a new Cold War between Russia and the West. But the identity of the snipers has remained a mystery and some evidence has suggested that they were actually working for extremists within the anti-Yanukovych movement, i.e. a provocation. Some investigative journalists have traced some of the sniper fire to buildings controlled by the neo-Nazi Right Sektor.

Accelerating the Ukraine crisis was the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine on July 17. The incident prompted another rush to judgment by Secretary Kerry and the U.S. political/media establishment blaming the disaster which killed 298 people on the ethnic Russian rebels and, indirectly, Russia and Putin for supposedly supplying the anti-aircraft missile that brought down the civilian plane.

The MH-17 hysteria got the European Union to sign off on anti-Russian sanctions that began a trade war that has harmed both Russia’s and the EU’s economies as well as edging the world toward a new and costly Cold War.

Yet, some and maybe all of the initial MH-17 assumptions now appear to have been wrong, with Western intelligence services seemingly unable to confirm that Russia provided the rebels with an anti-aircraft system that could bring down a plane at 33,000 feet. Russia’s slow-moving Buk missile batteries are quite large and would be easily detected by American spy satellites and other intelligence capabilities.

According to Der Spiegel, German intelligence has dismissed the idea of the Russians supplying the system, saying the rebels may have captured a missile battery from a Ukrainian military base and shot down the passenger plane by accident. I’ve been told that some U.S. intelligence analysts now suspect that a rogue element of the Ukrainian government was responsible for the tragedy, not the rebels.

The question of what U.S. intelligence now knows about the MH-17 case is particularly important since Congress may move to pass a highly belligerent resolution that amounts to a declaration of a new Cold War against Russia and calls for sending U.S. military equipment and trainers to Ukraine. One of the justifications is that “Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, a civilian airliner, was destroyed by a Russian-made missile provided by the Russian Federation to separatist forces in eastern Ukraine, resulting in the loss of 298 innocent lives.”

[Update: The sense-of-the-House resolution passed on Dec. 4 in a 411-10 vote with only five Democrats and five Republicans voting no.]

This intemperate legislation, House Resolution 758, has the earmarks of a new Gulf of Tonkin resolution, which started the Vietnam War based on what turned out to be a rush to judgment over a murky military incident in the Gulf of Tonkin off North Vietnam in 1964. But the Ukraine situation is arguably more hazardous since Congress is considering a confrontation on the border of nuclear-armed Russia. If Obama knows better — regarding the circumstances of the Malaysia Airlines shoot-down — it is crucial that he speaks out now.

Whatever the ultimate truth, it’s clear that the U.S. government’s understandings of the circumstances surrounding the sniper fire at the Maidan and the MH-17 disaster have changed since the first frantic days of those two pivotal incidents. Given the costs and dangers of a new Cold War, President Obama could show respect for the American people by at least updating them on what is now known and correcting earlier false reports.

Simply by admitting some errors in the hasty U.S. finger-pointing, Obama could have a positive effect in cooling down passions and creating political space for a more rational debate.

A stark presidential speech with straightforward information and minimal theatrics also could go a long way toward convincing Americans that they are not being treated like sheep getting herded to the slaughterhouse, that their government trusts them and thus maybe they should trust their government.

Politically, it’s even hard to identify the downside for Obama for giving such a speech. By taking the American people into his confidence, Obama would finally fulfill his campaign pledge of maximum “transparency.” He would energize his now demoralized progressive “base.” And, he could even win support from many conservatives since the Right’s libertarian wing has been calling for less government secrecy and more public knowledge about these foreign crises.

Yes, Obama might offend the elitist neoconservatives who have long believed that the American people should be manipulated through propaganda themes, not empowered by honest information. And, some officials in his and his predecessor’s administrations surely would prefer to keep their dirty deeds and their hasty misjudgments secret.

No one likes to admit error or face accountability, but it is misfeasance or worse for Obama to conceal government wrongdoing or to maintain false accusations when exculpatory evidence is now available. That is especially true when the erroneous impressions risk taking the United States into another hot war, as is the case with Syria, or into another Cold War, as is the case with Ukraine and Russia.

If Obama can’t find the courage to share important facts with the American people — if he can’t rise to the occasion as Eisenhower and Kennedy once did — he will only confirm the growing sense that he is just another elitist politician who feigns respect for the public but does the bidding of the rich and powerful.

Even worse, Obama will contribute to a historic loss of faith among the citizenry toward their constitutional government, which asserted in 1787 that national sovereignty was based on “We the People of the United States.”

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). For a limited time, you also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

21 comments for “Obama, the People and the Facts

  1. John P
    December 5, 2014 at 18:34

    I believe the problem grew worse after Eisenhower who warned Americans of the dangers of the military industrial complex and not to let it run amok. Since then I think the problem grew to include the industrial complex in general and wealthy special interest groups, AIPAC for example. What Americans and some other western countries need to do, is bring into effect strong rules on the monetary support of political parties. In the last few years the Republicans have opened up the flood gates to unknown cash sources. There could be effective limits on election expenditures say, or a means of dividing a pot between the different parties according to their popularity. How that is measured must be protected from slime.
    To me, the problem is power of money corrupts and nobody is stopping it, and the powers that be are letting it grow.

  2. bfearn
    December 4, 2014 at 16:12

    The problems started well before 1963. When people who wanted more than their share arrived here after 1513 they never considered sharing this vast, rich and fairly empty land with the people who already lived here. They wanted it all and many were quite prepared to kill to get it. Now in 2014, killing, theft, BS, inequality and ignorance are still the American way. Changing this firmly entrenched culture may be impossible.

  3. WG
    December 4, 2014 at 13:34

    Pro Tip : Just read the article aloud in a sarcastic voice and it’ll be the funniest thing you’ve heard in weeks.

  4. Bruce
    December 4, 2014 at 12:05

    But 0’s simply the burning Bushs’ Bully PUPPET Company man Abroad; and their PNACi police-state warden of the USchwitz open-air Barackoons, coast-to-coast here in der PoppyLand!

  5. F. G. Sanford
    December 4, 2014 at 10:08

    Bravo, Bravo, Bravo! If Loren is a woman’s name, then Brava, Brava, Brava! If nothing else, Mr. Parry’s article will serve to define the parameters of our disappointment when none of the measures outlined are heeded, for none of this shall pass. It did begin on 22 November, 1963 when the last democratically elected American Sovereign was publicly executed by the cabal that has ruled ever since. Johnson was facing criminal conspiracy charges that included murder. Nixon, the arch criminal, thought his intimacy with the criminal cabal granted him immunity. Ford, the useful idiot and loyal member of the Warren Commission, served brilliantly as the willing stooge he proved to be. Carter, whose infatuation with the titular ‘intellectuals’ represented by Zbigniew Brzezinski and the CFR began the anti-civilizational descent into the maelstrom of supporting terrorists in order to destabilize nation-states. Supporting the illiterate barbarians of the Mujahideen was the first step. Reagan continued, with every fascist or theocratic criminal regime in the world benighted with the ridiculous mantle of “Freedom Fighters”. Poppy Bush followed in his footsteps – the only man in America who couldn’t remember where he was on 22 November, 1963. Few now remember Prescott, his father, carefully straightening Nixon’s tie. Rhodes Scholarship, the recruitment tool tediously outlined by Professor Carrol Quigley, was the conduit through which Clinton passed in order to gain membership. His silence about the Mena, Arkansas CIA drug running operation bought him credentials as a loyal member of the club. Baby Bush, whose cortico-thalamic tracts were severed at an early age or vestigial in the first place, had no moral objections to serving the cabal. The current occupant of the faux democratic frontispiece masquerading as an executive office got his first real job working for a CIA front organization. A bone thrown to the American people to perpetuate the notion that the duopoly is anything but inverse totalitarianism, he fooled a lot of people, including me. Elizabeth Warren represents the same strategy – mark my words, nothing will change. Unfortunately, issues like global warming, gay and reproductive rights, ethnic inequality and immigration are all non-starters. They represent “cultural populism”, which more effectively divide than unite a polity. That’s what they want – a country that can’t achieve a consensus capable of threatening THEM. Note that the latest nominee for Secretary of Defense is a Rhodes Scholar and a Yale graduate – a slice of prime choice CFR insider cabal “Grade A” deep state beef.

    The solution is to start dismantling the cabal, and that begins with the coup d’etat of November 22, 1963. Why else would they be so adamant about releasing those records? The Secret Service has already destroyed paper documents under the guise of “computerization”. It’s time to move on this before more records are destroyed. Time is running out, if it isn’t too late already.

    • Joe Tedesky
      December 4, 2014 at 11:21

      F.G. What you have written here is a wonderful brief summary of the past 50 years.

      Cecil Rhodes truly believed the English were the more superior of the human race. He formed the Milner Group, and the Council on Foreign Relations is an off shoot of that. Thus we had as our 42 president the Rhodes Scholar Bill Clinton.

      The assassination era (JFK/MLK/RFK/X) brought us to where we are now. The DARK POWER found their stride within that era of murder, and the average person loss a great deal in return.

      Before anyone accuses JFK of not being a good president, I say that is not the issue. The issue is THEY murdered him, and THEY got away with it. This was the beginning of the New World Order.

    • Joe Tedesky
      December 5, 2014 at 00:29

      F.G. Google…’picture Prescott Bush with Richard Nixon’ …..Prescott is adjusting Nixon’s hat, and in the back ground is Jack Ruby.
      Joe Tedesky

  6. Jay
    December 4, 2014 at 01:51

    I’d avoid the term “elitist”; in the past it’s been used as an antisemitic code word.

    It has big problems. It’s also used by Tea Party types (and the opera buff Koch) to question the integrity of intellectual activities by academics.

    After the fall of 2008 FISA vote by senator Obama, this kind of corporatist status quo behavior is about what I expected from a President Obama, therefore since my state would vote Obama anyway, I voted for Nader and then Stein in 2012.

    Obama also needs to be honest about how stupid it is to listen to the likes of Larry Summers. (Stupid unless you’re already very very rich. Summers may have been smart at grad school problem sets, but he is a genuinely stupid person. And Obama rehired him.)

    Well imaging how bad Hillary Clinton’s foreign policies would have been, or even worse McCain/Palin’s. (Romney would have been the GWBush lite that is Obama.)

  7. Gail Harrison
    December 4, 2014 at 01:06

    I respectfully disagree that it’s not to late for Obama to make amends and be once again returned to super start status. It is too late. Obama and his Democrats have lost credibility and more important the trust, of the people. What ever Obama may disclose would only be viewed as a last ditch effort to increase his dwindling rating and a means to stop the Democrat slide to nothingness.

  8. December 4, 2014 at 00:38

    As much as I respect Mr. Parry’s courageously informative reportage, I have to vehemently disagree with his notion of when We the People began losing faith in government — federal, state and local — and therefore also in politicians and even the potential of political solutions.

    The turning point for my generation — I was born in 1940 — was the murder of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy on 22 November 1963 and the subsequent lies and disinformation disseminated by the Warren Commission. The commission’s most obvious purpose was to cover up the fact the murder was a coup, acknowledgement of which would have proven to the world the United States is the biggest banana republic of all. The commission’s parallel function was to ensure the plotters — obviously members of the capitalist aristocracy regardless of their specific identities — would remain as unpunished as their conspiratorial predecessors did after the Bankers’ Plot of 1934.

    Since 22 November 1963 We the People have witnessed time and again irrefutable proof of the axiom that whenever a politician’s lips move, it’s the utterance of (another) lie. After President Kennedy came Lyndon Baines Johnson, who in 1964 campaigned as the peace candidate even as he was secretly escalating Vietnam in to a major war. Next was the arch-criminal Nixon, then Ford whose sole function was to keep Nixon out of jail by pardoning him. After ford came the Christian theocrat Carter, who got into office by his lying promise to protect women’s reproductive freedom, then betrayed his constituents with a federal abortion ban, a misogynistic legacy that lives on in the war against women. Then was Reagan — “government is not the solution it is the problem” (and we will damn sure do everything we can to make it even more burdensome on the public). Next was Bush I, who could not remember where he was on 22 November 1963, then Clinton — the first Republican ever elected president on the Democratic ticket, then Bush II of the Reichstag Fire re-run of 9/11 and (undeniable) was crimes versus (nonexistent) weapons of mass destruction. And finally now we have Barack the Betrayer — the most brazen Big Liar ever to hold the presidency.

    No wonder there is no longer any trust for the U.S. political system: the politicians who run it are not just proven liars, they are sneering betrayers as well.

    The American Dream and the U.S. system of constitutional governance are thus dead beyond any hope of resurrection. But their death-throes began on 22 November 1963.

    • Thomas Howard
      December 4, 2014 at 07:22

      Could not have said it better.

      The criminals took over November 22 1963, and they haven’t given one inch back.

      It is naive to think the criminals will hand over the government they control…and equally naive to rely on the government correct any wrong.
      They are crooks doing what crooks do…fix November 22 1963 and we could at least have a legit government to weed out the criminals.

    • F. G. Sanford
      December 4, 2014 at 10:16

      Kudos to you! Please see my comment below. “Throwing a bone” to the American public isn’t going to stop this. The foundational crime that set it all in motion, the ‘coup d’etat’ of 22 November, 1963, must be addressed and rectified. That’s where it started, and America has been living in a world of Big Lies ever since.

    • Joe Tedesky
      December 4, 2014 at 11:02

      Loren, excellent comment.
      Joe Tedesky

      • December 4, 2014 at 14:38

        Thank you. Sorry for the third-graf typos (“Ford” with a lower-case F, “was crimes” instead of “war crimes”). Was writing in haste to avoid being late for dinner with friends.

      • Joe Tedesky
        December 4, 2014 at 15:18

        Loren you are forgiven…just read some of my post. Fingers move faster than brain…proofing is tough, when writing something quick. BTW you know your stuff.
        Joe Tedesky

        • Loren Bliss
          December 4, 2014 at 20:39

          Re typos, that’s why — especially when I was working rewrite — I was always damn glad there was at least one editor between me and what hit the street.

    • Bob Loblaw
      December 4, 2014 at 18:26

      Government is not the problem, corporatist controlled government is the problem.

      The Founding Fathers (TM) allegedly created a flexible Constitution that can survive over two centuries.

      The system of checks and balances all work for the puppetmaster, now. But We the People can wrest it away and back to a government of the people, by the people, for the people.

      How? Remove the leverage the lobby and dark money has over us. Money is not speech corporations are not people.

      Move to Amend dot org. is the thin end of the wedge. The more we apply pressure there, the less big money can do.

  9. Zachary Smith
    December 3, 2014 at 22:10

    … he is just another elitist politician who feigns respect for the public but does the bidding of the rich and powerful.

    Mark me down as expecting this to be suitable for a one-sentence summary of BHO’s presidency.

    • Bruce
      December 4, 2014 at 12:18

      A better “metric” is a single digit, 0.

    • Bob Loblaw
      December 4, 2014 at 18:19

      Bbbb but he’s is a Marxist who hates Amurrica!

    • Scaevola
      December 5, 2014 at 14:14

      Indeed. More than a “growing sense” it has been a self evident fact since Obama put Jamie Dimon, Lloyd Blankfein and the rest of those Wall Street crooks right back in cockpit of the bubble machine on our dime six years ago. This chump is as common a stooge as they come. Another speech…Yeah, that’s what we need.

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