Listen to a reading of this article (reading by Tim Foley):

Lots of fun stuff in the news today.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), which oversees the spy agencies of the United States, has admitted in a report requested by Senator Ron Wyden that the US intelligence cartel has been circumventing constitutional regulations designed to protect US citizens from government surveillance by simply purchasing information collected by commercial data brokers.

In an escalation in surveillance capitalism that should surprise no one but alarm everyone, US intelligence agencies have found that while the Fourth Amendment prohibits their directly wiretapping, hacking or bugging whomever they please without a warrant, there’s nothing stopping them from simply purchasing massive amounts of data harvested by Silicon Valley tech companies which can provide them with similar kinds of information. So that’s what they’ve been doing, because of course it is.

But remember kids, it’s important for you to be very afraid of TikTok because TikTok might harvest your information and give it to an authoritarian surveillance state.

A disturbing new Responsible Statecraft piece by Branko Marcetic notes that the civilian leadership roles in the US government which have historically been responsible for reining in the more dangerous impulses of the US war machine have actually been far more hawkish and aggressive on Ukraine than the Pentagon’s professional warmakers. According to a recent Washington Post report, inside the Biden administration “the Pentagon is considered more cautious than the White House or State Department about sending more sophisticated weaponry to Ukraine.”

If only the war machine is responsible for placing checks on the nuclear brinkmanship of the war machine, that means there are no real checks on the nuclear brinkmanship of the war machine. If JFK had been more hawkish and aggressive than his own generals at the most perilous moments of the last cold war, it’s entirely likely that the world as we know it would not exist today. It is bone-chilling that we are relying on the better angels of the most murderous military on earth to see us through these increasingly close games of nuclear chicken.

As Marcetic discussed in another article last year, the insanely hawkish rhetoric we are seeing from the western political/media class around the subject of nuclear brinkmanship is demonstrably far more oriented toward reckless confrontation than it was during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The people whose job it is to encourage restraint in these situations — the press, the diplomats, and the elected officials — are instead doing the exact opposite.

And the discourse is only getting crazier. The neoconservative think tank American Enterprise Institute is now floating the idea of giving nukes to Ukraine, which is about as evil and demented a foreign policy position as anyone could possibly come up with.

This as influential Russian foreign policy strategist Sergey Karaganov argues that Moscow has “set too high a threshold for the use of nuclear weapons” and that “it is necessary to arouse the instinct of self-preservation that the West has lost” by “lowering the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons” and “moving up the deterrence-escalation ladder.” Karaganov cites the fact that Belarus has begun receiving tactical nukes from Russia to show that Moscow is already moving in this direction.

This looks all the more disquieting in light of Michael Tracey’s observations in a recent Newsweek article titled “The Government Keeps Lying to Us About Ukraine. Where Is the Outrage?” Tracey discusses the way fighters from Ukraine and from NATO member Poland have been ramping up attacks on Russian territory, while the US government and news media deceive the American public about the fact that this is happening and how dangerous it is.

On top of all this you’ve got the empire’s increasingly ridiculous spin about the Nord Stream pipeline bombings. The mass media are now saying that Ukrainian special operations forces perpetrated the attack, and that the CIA had advanced knowledge of their plans, but tried unsuccessfully to tell them not to go through with it.

Which is a narrative that just so happens to fit perfectly into alignment with the information interests of the US empire. It contradicts reporting by Seymour Hersh that the US was directly involved in the attack, it pins culpability on a nation with whom the west highly sympathizes who can be framed as acting in their own defense against Russian invaders, and the US intelligence cartel gets to wash its hands of the whole ordeal by claiming it told the Ukrainians not to attack pipelines used by US ally Germany.

It’s also a narrative that is completely nonsensical. Saying “America didn’t attack Nord Stream, Ukraine did!” is like saying “Will Smith didn’t slap Chris Rock, his hand did!” Ukraine is completely dependent on the will of the US government to continue this war; if the US government draws a hard line and tells them not to do something or risk losing support, it will necessarily have to obey. It’s been public knowledge for a year now that the CIA is intimately involved in activities on the ground in Ukraine, and the CIA has been actively training Ukrainian special operations forces since before this war even began.

So it’s a distinction without a difference to claim that Ukraine and not the US bombed Nord Stream — and that’s pretending for the sake of argument that we know the US wasn’t much more directly involved in the attack than it is admitting. There is currently no logical reason to assume that’s even the case, and there is never any valid reason to take the US intelligence cartel at its word about anything.

We are marching toward dystopia and oblivion, and we are doing it in ways that have no historical precedent. We’re in completely uncharted waters, and things are only getting crazier and crazier.

What a wild world. What a time to be alive.


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