Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Potential For A Libya 2.0?




The Potential For A Libya 2.0?

An article in the New York Times was published recently discussing that the US and Turkey had agreed to create a ‘safe zone’ in Syria. Specifically the article stated that the plan was to have “an Islamic State-free zone controlled by relatively moderate Syrian insurgents, which the Turks say could also be a ‘safe zone’ for displaced Syrians.”

Now, ignoring the fact that this is obviously a massive infringement upon the sovereignty of the Syrian state, there are some problems with this, as well as larger implications.

For starters, Turkey has actively been aiding ISIS. In November 2014, Newsweek ran an interview with a former ISIS member in which he stated that he “travelled in a convoy of trucks as part of an ISIS unit from their stronghold in Raqqa, across Turkish border, through Turkey and then back across the border to attack Syrian Kurds in the city of Serekaniye in northern Syria in February”  and that commanders told him and other fighters that they nothing to fear “because there was full cooperation with the Turks.” The very next month, Claudia Roth, then-deputy speaker of the German Parliament, noted that the Turkish government was aiding ISIS.

In addition to this, information just came to light from a US Special Forces raid in May, which shows “undeniable” evidence that “Turkish officials directly dealt with ranking ISIS members.”

The second problem is the hope that “relatively moderate Syrian insurgents” will take over the area. This assumes that there are moderates, which doesn’t seem to be true, given the fact that the US essentially gave up on the Free Syrian Army when it decided to create an entirely new force of fighters. Before then, the US had been touting the FSA as moderates. (This, of course, doesn’t get into the fact that, for example, an FSA brigade commander admitted to working with Al Nusra and ISI or that a major beneficiary of this war on ISIS is AL Qaeda.)

A third problem is that while Turkey has essentially declared war on ISIS, they are bombing Kurdish positions as well, due to the fear that they have always had of Kurdish independence.

The US had been backing the Kurds, however it seems to now have sold them out, at least on the Syrian front, in order to further its own goals in the region and calms the Turks’ nerves.

The Times article also reported that “American officials said they would need to arrange the same kind of system for calling in airstrikes that American Special Operations forces have worked out successfully with Kurdish fighters to the east in Syria,” which sounds like Libya, where US forces were on the ground, aiding the Libyan rebels.

Furthermore, the article later reports that “Insurgents, as well as their supporters in the Syrian opposition and the Turkish government, are already envisioning the plan as a step toward establishing an area where alternative governance could be set up without fear of attack by Islamic State or government forces.” Thus implying that this entire idea of a ‘safe zone’ could really just be used as a staging ground to consolidate anti-Syrian government forces and allow them to coordinate attacks.

What this does for the US is it allows for them to continue to put even more pressure on the Syrian government, it gives the Turks free reign for the most part and lets them know that Washington will turn a blind eye to the bombing of the Kurds, and gives the US the option of turning the situation into another Libya, all while the US doesn’t have to truly directly engage in any actions aside from Special Forces and air strikes.

This entire scenario could allow for another Libya-type situation to unfold where the goal posts are constantly shifted until they are at the outcome the US and its allies want: the fall of the Assad government.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The New Social Media



 
Image Courtesy of Russia Today


Below is the transcript of an email interview I did with the founders of the new social media site Minds.com.

1. What is Minds? How did it come to be a reality?
Minds is a free, open-source and encrypted social networking platform. It rewards users with viral reach and is powered by the people via voting. It came into existence out of the glaring need for a top social network that respects the freedom and privacy of humanity as well as empowering users with reach and other rewards (coming soon). 
2. How does Minds differ from mainstream social media sites? What are some of the goals of the website?
The free, open-source software, encryption, and reward system are all key differentiators. All other 'alternative' social networks are missing at least one of those pieces. We are making freedom and privacy EASY which is key because it seems too complicated for most people. The mass appeal though is coming because people's voices are being heard. You earn points for various actions on the app and can then use those points to directly boost your content to totally new audiences. For example if you earn 100 points you currently get 100 views. This rate will fluctuate over time due to market forces. You can also exchange points for shares with other users.  We will never manipulate newsfeed algorithms and limit reach like other networks do. 
3. Given the fact that government surveillance of social media is so all-encompassing, do you think that eventually the governments of the world will be able to crack Minds of infiltrate it?
The fact that we are allowing the global security community to peer review our encryption code is the best anyone can do to battle unwanted hackers. Most companies claiming encryption have proprietary code meaning they actually cannot prove that they don't have backdoors into the system. Because we will be allowing anyone access to the source code, the proof is in the pudding and the most advanced encryption protocols known to mankind will be used. It isn't perfect now and will evolve over time to become ever better. We already have great participation from the world helping us find bugs and vulnerabilities which have already been fixed. This is the beta phase and still very early. Patience is important! It's possible certain agencies have cracked various encryptions, but that isn't proven yet, and either way we have to continue to work to make encryption better. 
4. What is the website's connection, if any, to the hacker collective Anonymous?
Anonymous is a decentralized movement of Internet freedom activist and programmers. There are whitehats, grayhats and blackhats. Various sub groups of the greater movement made calls to action to inspire people to collaborate on Minds and it happened. Minds.com is run by a team of public individuals who are actually not anonymous. We are known. That being said we welcome support and development from all ethical hackers around the world, but we never claimed all of Anonymous supported us. Many do. Many don't.
5. Minds is free and open-source. What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of being an open-source site?
We don't see any disadvantages to being composed of free software. We think the free and open source movement is destined to take over the web. 
6. Do you think that Minds will be able to build up and be a serious contender with major social media sites like Facebook?
We hope so!

7. Minds is organized in such a manner that users interact with posts and are given points to promote their own posts. How was this thought up and why was it implemented?

This was thought up as a direct response to the proprietary and manipulative algorithms on top networks in the world which limit visibility and rank what they want over what the users may want.

8. How can be support Minds and contribute financially or otherwise to it?

The best way for people to support us now is to spread the word, inspire signups and BOOST your posts, especially the paid version. Users are able to both earn and buy points. We love both but obviously it's a huge financial help if people are willing to purchase them. We are initiating bounty programs soon for finding bugs and doing various other moderation tasks on the site so stay tuned for that. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Question of Benghazi



What occurred on September 11, 2012 in Benghazi, Libya has been mired in controversy, political agendas, stories appearing and disappearing and rumors. This report is an attempt to go past all of the political nonsense and the varying political opinions, to get to the heart of exactly what went on that night to the best that one can ascertain.

Immediate Aftermath

Immediately after the attacks on the US embassy in Benghazi, the Obama administration began pushing a narrative based on a video. The official narrative was that “The violence began around 10 p.m. Tuesday amid a protest by the radical Islamist group Ansar Al-Sharia against a film mocking Islam's prophet. Four hours later, the consulate was destroyed, its walls blackened by shooting flames.”[1] The following week on September 18th, Press Secretary Jay Carney stated that “Our belief based on the information we had was that it was the video that caused the unrest in Cairo and the video that — and the unrest in Cairo that helped — that precipitated some of the unrest in Benghazi and elsewhere.”[2] The idea was that the attack had been over a video insulting the Prophet Mohammed and that was it.

However, even then, there were some whispers that the attack may have been planned[3] and this only grew as more evidence came out. US officials and experts noted that the attack “involved the use of a rocket-propelled grenade and followed an al-Qaeda call to avenge the death of a senior Libyan member of the terrorist network.”[4] Further evidence came out with regard to the protest that allegedly occurred before the attack with a Libyan guard saying that the assault “was a planned attack by armed Islamists and not the outgrowth of a protest over an online video that mocks Islam and its founder, the Prophet Muhammad."[5]

The nail in the coffin finally came when new Libyan president Mohammed Magarief said that “the controversial film that mocked Islam's Prophet Muhammad and ignited protests throughout the Muslim world had 'nothing to do' with the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, and that he [had] 'no doubt' it was an act of terrorism.”[6] The evidence was so overwhelming that the Obama administration was forced to admit the following month that there were no protests before the attack.[7]

Early in October 2012, video evidence was added to the mix which “[showed] an organized group of armed men attacking the compound, according to two U.S. intelligence officials who have seen the footage and are involved in the ongoing investigation.”[8] Later that month, Business Insider revealed that “Officials at the White House and State Department were advised two hours after attackers assaulted the US diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11 that an Islamic militant group had claimed credit for the attack, official emails show.”[9] While the question of what caused the attack was put to rest, another question was raised: What about security?

Security
The first discussions of security around the embassy came up in not soon after the attack occurred. The Independent reported that “American diplomats were warned of possible violent unrest in Benghazi three days before the killings of US Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three members of his team, Libyan security officials say.” and that Libya's “interim President, Mohammed el-Megarif, said his government had information that the attack on the US consulate had been planned by an Islamist group with links to al-Qa'ida and with foreigners taking part.”[10] The interim President's statement brings up the question: Were Al Qaeda-linked groups with the Libyan rebels?

There is a strong possibility AQ-linked groups were among the rebels. The Guardian reported in 2011 that while some individuals had left the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, “Other top ex-LIFG figures remain in al-Qaida.”[11] The Telegraph quoted Libyan rebel leader Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi as saying that the "members of al-Qaeda are also good Muslims and are fighting against the invader [Gaddafi].” There was even some background information on the relationship between the LIFG and Al Qaeda: “Even though the LIFG is not part of the al-Qaeda organisation, the United States military's West Point academy has said the two share an 'increasingly co-operative relationship'.”[12] Thus, this creates the strong possibility that the attack was carried out by terrorists, as the Libyan president noted.

Furthermore, on the question of Al Qaeda-linked members to the embassy attack, The Daily Beast wrote in December 2013 that according to “two members of the House intelligence committee, Republican Mike Rogers and Democrat Adam Schiff” the “U.S. intelligence assessments concluded al Qaeda did play a role in the attack.”[13] This was in response to an earlier New York Times article which asserted that based on “extensive interviews with Libyans in Benghazi who had direct knowledge of the attack there and its context,” there was “no evidence that Al Qaeda or other international terrorist groups had any role in the assault.”[14]

According to both Rogers and Schiff, there was no talk of the Jamal Network, a group that “In October, the State Department designated Jamal Network as a terrorist group tied to al Qaeda” and that the Times itself reported information regarding their source, Ahmed Abu Khattala, that he “was close to a leader of the militia the U.S. had entrusted to protect its facilities in Benghazi in light of an attack.”[15] What was the name of the militia that the US had trusted its Benghazi facilities to? They were called the February 17 Martyrs Brigade.[16] The group is an affiliate of the organization Ansar al-Sharia.[17] It should be noted that “While both organizations are nominally independent, each has outwardly expressed either a direct or indirect affiliation with the terror brand known as Al Qaeda.”[18]

So why were Al Qaeda affiliated terrorists protecting the embassy? According to a US Senate Committee report, this occurred due to the fact that the Libyan government itself wasn’t strong enough to provide security. However, even then, “Throughout 2012, Department of State officials questioned the February 17 Brigade’s competence and expressed concerns about its abilities.”[19] In addition to this, “In early September [2012], a member of the February 17 Brigade told another [Regional Security Officer] in Benghazi that it could no longer support U.S. personnel movements. The RSO also asked specifically if the militia could provide additional support for the Ambassador’s pending visit and was told no.”[20] So not only were US personnel questioning the competence of the Brigade, but the Brigade had flatly told the Americans that they were not going to provide security support for J. Christopher Stevens.

The State Department can also be viewed as problematic as they admitted in early October 2012 that “it rejected appeals for more security at its diplomatic posts in Libya in the months before a fatal terrorist attack in Benghazi.”[21] Later that month, Fox News reported that there was “an urgent request for military help during last month’s terrorist attack on the US consulate there 'was denied by the CIA chain of command” and “a Special Operations team had been moved to US military facilities in Sigonella, Italy – approximately two hours away – but were never told to deploy.”[22] The Pentagon denied those assertions, stating that “The U.S. military did not get involved during the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, last month because officials did not have enough information about what was going on before the attack was over" and then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta saying that "there was no 'real-time information' to be able to act on."[23]

Next year, according to NBC News “A small team of Special Forces operatives was ready to fly from Tripoli to Benghazi last year after Libyan insurgents attacked the U.S. mission there, but was told it was not authorized to board the flight by regional military commanders”and that the “flight [would not have arrived] in time for their presence to have had an impact in the fighting.”[24] So, while it is true that the US could not have provided much aid during the actual attack, they could have acted proactively by providing an increase in security.

Yet, the journey does not end there as there are some questions surrounding the question of security surrounding the embassy. The CIA is bought into the mix as CIA members at a nearby annex stated “that they asked permission to leave for the consulate immediately and twice were told to wait. The CIA says the base chief was trying to arrange Libyan help.”[25] This brings up the question of what exactly was the CIA doing in Libya.

The CIA’s Gun-Running
According to a 2012 Business Insider article, “the State Department presence in Benghazi ‘provided diplomatic cover’ for the previously hidden CIA mission, which involved finding and repurchasing heavy weaponry looted from Libyan government arsenals,”[26] according to unnamed officials. While this may sound ludicrous on its face, this claim actually not only has some legs to it, but is true.

The allegations started earlier than 2012. In 2011, there were already reports of Libyan fighters going into Syria. Russia Today reported that the Libyan government “has sent 600 of its troops to support local militants against the Assad regime.”[27] Jordanian news outlet Al Bawaba wrote that “Libyan sources conveyed in recent days that 600 rebel fighters have already gone from Libya to Syria in order to support the Syrian opposition” and that “there is coordination between the Libyan interim government and the Syrian opposition.”[28]

In October 2012, Fox News wrote that “a source told Fox News that Stevens was in Benghazi to negotiate a weapons transfer, an effort to get SA-7 missiles out of the hands of Libya-based extremists.” However, they also noted that “the Libyan-flagged vessel Al Entisar, which means ‘The Victory,’ was received in the Turkish port of Iskenderun -- 35 miles from the Syrian border -- on Sept. 6, just five days before Ambassador Chris Stevens, information management officer Sean Smith and former Navy Seals Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were killed during an extended assault by more than 100 Islamist militants.”[29] The allegations went further into the mainstream in 2013 when it was reported that CNN “said that a CIA team was working in an annex near the consulate on a project to supply missiles from Libyan armories to Syrian rebels.”[30] However, the hammer came down in 2015 when Judicial Watch, via a FOIA request, received documents which showed that weapons were shipped from Libya to Syria. Specifically the Defense Department documents noted that “Weapons from the former Libya military stockpiles were shipped from the port of Benghazi, Libya to the Port of Banias and the Port of Borj Islam, Syria. The weapons shipped during late August 2012 were sniper rifles, RPGs, 125mm and 155mm howitzers missiles.”[31]

It is interesting to note, though, that the new Libyan government was also providing the Syrian rebels with weaponry. In November 2011, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that “Syrian rebels have held secret talks with Libya's new authorities, aiming to secure weapons and money for their insurgency against Bashar al-Assad's regime” and that “At the meeting, which was held in Istanbul and included Turkish officials, the Syrians requested assistance from the Libyan representatives and were offered arms and, potentially, volunteers.”[32] So both the Libyan government and the US were aiding the Syrian rebels. So, what does this mean? It means that the US was actively aiding in the destabilization of Syria and the new government in Libya was more than happy to aid in the cause of helping their Islamist friends (the new Libyan government was extremely Islamist as Sharia law was to be the main source of legislation [33]). However, it also raises the question: Why was the US government smuggling guns and fighters when the Libyans seemed to willing to do it? It may have to do with the fact that gun-running was overall aiding them in their regional plans and that the Libyan government just happened to also contribute as well.

Now it is time to look at the problems and revelations in the House and Senate Reports.

US Government Reports
In January 2014, the US Senate report on Benghazi came out and it was found that the Benghazi attack was preventable.[34] The report stated that in the months following up to the attack, “the [intelligence community] provided ample strategic warning that the security situation in eastern Libya was deteriorating and that US facilities and personnel were at risk in Benghazi.”[35] It also noted a number of other aforementioned issues, such as security could have been beefed up and the like.

What is of real interest is the House report, which came out in November 2014 and the media claimed that the report found that the Obama administration had done no wrong.[36] However, a further look at the report will reveal that some of the statements made are problematic.

There are two glaring problems with the House Benghazi report. The second conclusion of the report is that “there was no intelligence failure prior to the attacks. In the months prior, the [intelligence community] provided intelligence about previous attacks and the increased threat environment in Benghazi, but the [intelligence community] did not have specific, tactical warning of the September 11th attacks.”[37] This is nothing more than a slight of hand. Given the fact that they did have warning of the attack, ten days to be specific according to newly released Defense and State Department documents[38], in addition to the fact that extra security was denied, there was definitely a mixture of intelligence and security problems.

The other claim made in the House report is that they “found no evidence that the CIA conducted unauthorized activities in Benghazi and no evidence that the [intelligence community] shipped arms to Syria.”[39] Given all of the aforementioned information, including the newly disclosed documents, that argument is patently false. The CIA did in fact ship weapons from Libya to Syria.

Therefore, only one question remains which concerns a major political figure and presumed party presidential nominee: Hillary Clinton.

Hillary Clinton

In March 2015, Hillary Clinton made headlines regarding her emails as related to the assault on Benghazi. Reuters reported that “Huge gaps exist in the emails former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has provided to a congressional committee investigating the 2012 attack on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.”[40] Due to this, Clinton was asked to hand over her email server, while she did this, she deleted more than 30,000 emails[42] and even wiped her server clean.[43] This only added more suspicion about her.

While the New York Times stated that the emails showed nothing incriminating[44], that eventually turned out to be false as in February 2015, Judicial Watch obtained emails via a FOIA request that show that Clinton’s advisers knew that the attack was armed immediately.

An email from September 11, 2012, sent at 4:22 pm reads that the “[Diplomatic Security Command Center] received a phone call from [REDACTED] in Benghazi, Libya initially stating that 15 armed individuals were attacking the compound and trying to gain entrance. The Ambassador is present in Benghazi and currently is barricaded within the compound. There are no injuries at this time and it is unknown what the intent of the attackers is.”[45] (emphasis added) This was also reported in the Wall Street Journal which makes note that the emails “show at least some of the details about the worsening security environment in Benghazi that were presented directly to her.”[46]

The lies and deception of the Obama administration have been unraveling since the day officials started making statements. Now is the time to push for the truth to be revealed.

Endnotes

1: Sarah Aarthun, “4 Hours of Fire and Chaos: How the Benghazi Attack Unfolded,” CNN, September 13, 2012 (http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/12/world/africa/libya-consulate-attack-scene/)

2: New York Times, Administration Statements on the Attack in Benghazi, http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/09/27/world/africa/administration-statements-on-the-attack-in-benghazi.html?_r=0

3: Michael Birnbaum, William Branigin, Karen DeYoung, “U.S. Officials: Attack on consulate in Libya may have been planned,” Washington Post, September 12, 2012 (http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/news-agencies-us-ambassador-to-libya-killed-in-attack-outside-consulate/2012/09/12/665de5fc-fcc4-11e1-a31e-804fccb658f9_story.html)

4: Mark Hosenball, “US Intelligence Now Says Benghazi Attack 'Deliberate and Organized,” Reuters, September 28, 2012 (http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/09/28/us-usa-libya-intelligence-idUSBRE88R1EG20120928)

5: Nancy A. Youssef, Suliman Ali Zway, “No Protest Before Attack, Wounded Libyan Guard Says,” McClatchy DC, September 13, 2012 (http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/09/13/168415/no-protest-before-benghazi-attack.html)

6: Dylan Stableford, “Libyan President: Benghazi Attack Was a 'Pre-Planned Act of Terrorism,” Yahoo News, September 26, 2012 (http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/the-lookout/libya-president-benghazi-attack-terrorism-133154516.html)

7: Maggie Haberman, “Officials: No protests before Benghazi attack,” Politico, October 10, 2012 (http://www.politico.com/blogs/burns-haberman/2012/10/officials-no-protests-before-benghazi-attack-137978.html)

8: Eli Lake, “Video From Benghazi Consulate Shows Organized Attack,” The Daily Beast, October 12, 2012 (http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/10/12/video-from-benghazi-consulate-shows-organized-attack.html)

9: Business Insider, These Emails Make It Hard To Believe The White House Thought Benghazi Attackers Were Just Protesters, http://www.businessinsider.com/white-house-officials-were-told-of-militant-gangs-two-hours-after-benghazi-attack-2012-10 (October 24, 2012)

10: Kim Sengupta, “Libya: We Gave Three-Day Warning of Benghazi Attack,” The Independent, September 18, 2012 (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/libya-we-gave-us-threeday-warning-of-benghazi-attack-8145242.html)

11: Ian Black, “The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group- from Al-Qaida to the Arab Spring,” The Guardian, September 5, 2011 (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/sep/05/libyan-islamic-fighting-group-leaders)

12: Duncan Gardham, Nick Squires, Praveen Swami, “Libyan rebel commander admits his fighters have al-Qaeda links,” The Telegraph, March 25, 2011 (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/8407047/Libyan-rebel-commander-admits-his-fighters-have-al-Qaeda-links.html)

13: Eli Lake, “Yes, There Is Evidence Linking Al Qaeda to Benghazi,” The Daily Beast, December 29, 2013 (http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/12/29/yes-there-is-evidence-linking-al-qaeda-to-benghazi.html)

14: David D. Kirkpatrick, “A Deadly Mix in Benghazi,” New York Times, December 28, 2013 (http://www.nytimes.com/projects/2013/benghazi/#/?chapt=0)

15: Ibid

16: Fred Burton, Samuel M. Katz, “40 Minutes in Benghazi,” Vanity Fair, August 2013 (http://www.vanityfair.com/news/politics/2013/08/Benghazi-book-fred-burton-samuel-m-katz)

17: Lawrence Myers, “Source: Clinton Directly Involved In Terrorist Group ‘Security Force’ At Benghazi,” Townhall, September 29, 2014 (http://townhall.com/columnists/lawrencemeyers/2014/09/29/source-clinton-directly-involved-in-terrorist-group-security-force-at-benghazi-n1897853)

 18: Eric Draitser, “Benghazi, the CIA, and the War in Libya,” Global Research, June 9, 2014 (http://www.globalresearch.ca/benghazi-the-cia-and-the-war-in-libya/5386266)

19: U.S. Congress, Senate, Committee On  Homeland Security And Governmental Affairs, Flashing Red: A Special Report On The Terrorist Attack At Benghazi (Washington, D.C.: Committee On  Homeland Security And Governmental Affairs, 2012), pg 11

20: Ibid

21: Anna Gearan, “State Dept. acknowledges rejecting requests for more security in Benghazi,” Washington Post, October 10, 2012 (http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/state-dept-downgraded-security-in-libya-before-deadly-attack-ex-officer-claims/2012/10/10/d7195faa-12e6-11e2-a16b-2c110031514a_story.html)

22: Brad Knickerbocker, “Benghazi attack: Urgent call for military help ‘was denied by chain of command,” Christian Science Monitor, October 27, 2012 (http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Military/2012/1027/Benghazi-attack-Urgent-call-for-military-help-was-denied-by-chain-of-command)

23: Chris Lawrence, “Panetta on Benghazi attack: 'Could not put forces at risk,” CNN, October 26, 2012 (http://security.blogs.cnn.com/2012/10/26/panetta-on-benghazi-attack-could-not-put-forces-at-risk/)

24: Lisa Myers, “Official: US Special Forces Team Wasn’t  allowed to fly to Benghazi during attack,” NBC News, May 6, 2013 (http://investigations.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/05/06/18086898-official-us-special-forces-team-wasnt-allowed-to-fly-to-benghazi-during-attack)

25: Jennifer Griffin, Adam Housley, “Military Timeline from night of Benghazi attack begs more questions,” Fox News, November 11, 2012 (http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/11/11/military-timeline-from-night-benghazi-attack-begs-more-questions/)

 26: Michael B Kelley, “There’s A Reason Why All The Reports About Benghazi Are So Confusing,” Business Insider, November 3, 2012 (http://www.businessinsider.com/benghazi-stevens-cia-attack-libya-2012-11#ixzz2Ea3tvDzg)

27: Russia Today, Bomb voyage: 600 Libyans ‘already fighting in Syria, http://rt.com/news/libya-syria-fighters-smuggled-475/ (November 29, 2011)

28: Al Bawaba, Libyan fighters join "free Syrian army" forces, http://www.albawaba.com/news/libyan-fighters-join-free-syrian-army-forces-403268 (November 29, 2011)

29: Pamela Browne, Catherine Herridge, “Was Syrian Weapons Shipment Factor In Ambassadors Benghazi Visit?” Fox News, October 25, 2012 (http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/10/25/was-syrian-weapons-shipment-factor-in-ambassadors-benghazi-visit/)
   
30: Damien McElroy, “CIA 'running arms smuggling team in Benghazi when consulate was attacked,” The Telegraph, August 2, 2013 (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/10218288/CIA-running-arms-smuggling-team-in-Benghazi-when-consulate-was-attacked.html)

31: Judicial Watch, Defense, State Department Documents Reveal Obama Administration Knew that al Qaeda Terrorists Had Planned Benghazi Attack 10 Days in Advance, http://www.judicialwatch.org/press-room/press-releases/judicial-watch-defense-state-department-documents-reveal-obama-administration-knew-that-al-qaeda-terrorists-had-planned-benghazi-attack-10-days-in-advance/ (May 18, 2015)

 32: Ruth Sherlock, “Libya to arms rebels in Syria,” Sydney Morning Herald, November 27, 2011 (http://www.smh.com.au/world/libya-to-arm-rebels-in-syria-20111126-1o088.html)

33: Al Jazeera, Libya assembly votes for Sharia law, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2013/12/libya-assembly-votes-sharia-law-2013124153217603439.html (December 4, 2013)

34: Tom McCarthy, “Benghazi embassy attack was 'preventable,' US Senate report finds,” The Telegraph, January 15, 2014 (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/15/benghazi-embassy-attack-preventable-us-senate-report) 

35: U.S. Congress, Senate, Select Committee on Intelligence, Review of the Terrorist Attacks on U.S. Facilities in Benghazi, Libya, September 11-12, 2012 Together with Additional Views (Washington, D.C.: Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, 2014), pg 9

36: Carolyn Lochhead, “House Panel: No Administration Wrongdoing in Benghazi Attack,” San Francisco Gate, August 1, 2014 (http://www.sfgate.com/politics/article/House-panel-No-administration-wrongdoing-in-5663509.php)

37: U.S. Congress, House, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Investigative Report on the Terrorist Attacks on U.S. Facilities in Benghazi, Libya, September 11-12, 2012 (Washington D.C., Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, 2014) pg 1

38: Judicial Watch, Defense, State Department Documents Reveal Obama Administration Knew that al Qaeda Terrorists Had Planned Benghazi Attack 10 Days in Advance, http://www.judicialwatch.org/press-room/press-releases/judicial-watch-defense-state-department-documents-reveal-obama-administration-knew-that-al-qaeda-terrorists-had-planned-benghazi-attack-10-days-in-advance/

39: Investigative Report on the Terrorist Attacks on U.S. Facilities in Benghazi, Libya, September 11-12, 2012, pg 2

40: Timothy Gardner, Lisa Lambert, “Huge Gaps’ in Clinton email record, Benghazi probe chief says,” Reuters, March 8, 2015 (http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/08/us-usa-politics-clinton-emails-idUSKBN0M40US20150308)

41: Krishnadev Calamur, “Benghazi Panel Asks Clinton To Hand Over Her Email Server,” NPR, March 20, 2015 (http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/03/20/394355939/benghazi-panel-asks-clinton-to-hand-over-her-email-server)

42: Hunter Walker, “Why did Hillary Clinton Delete about 30,000 Emails?” Business Insider, March 10, 2015 (http://www.businessinsider.com/why-did-hillary-clinton-delete-about-30000-emails-2015-3)

43: Fredreka Schouten, “Clinton Wipes Server After Handing Over Emails,” USA Today, March 28, 2015 (http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2015/03/28/hillary-clinton-emails/70583404/)

44: Michael S. Schmidt, “In Clinton Emails On Benghazi, a Rare Glimpse at Her Concerns,” New York Times, March 23, 2015 (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/23/us/politics/in-clinton-emails-on-benghazi-a-rare-glimpse-at-her-concerns.html?_r=0)

45: Judicial Watch, Documents Obtained by Judicial Watch Reveal Top Hillary Clinton Advisers Knew Immediately that Assault on Benghazi was Armed Attack, http://www.judicialwatch.org/press-room/press-releases/documents-obtained-judicial-watch-reveal-top-hillary-clinton-advisers-knew-immediately-assault-benghazi-armed-attack/ (February 26, 2015)

46: Peter Nicholas, Byron Tau, “Emails Show Clinton Was Warned Over Security in Benghazi Ahead of Attack,” Wall Street Journal, May 22, 2015 (http://www.wsj.com/articles/hillary-clintons-benghazi-emails-to-be-released-by-state-department-1432309888)

Sunday, May 31, 2015

The College Bureaucracy

The College Bureaucracy: How Education Forgot The Students And Became A Business

This article was originally published on Occupy.com.



Students attend college to pursue their interests, broaden their intellectual horizons and make headway toward a career. While this is made difficult due to the amount of debt that many must saddle in order to earn a degree, there is also another, much stealthier problem as well: the college bureaucracy.

University bureaucracies absorb large amounts of funding and undermine the alleged goal of college, which is to provide an education. But they also signal something more sinister: the neo-liberalization of education, now viewed as a business.

The rise in college bureaucracy is nothing new, and has been noted for quite some time. Ralph Reiland wrote in 1996 in the National Review that “over the past two decades, the number of college and university faculty has increased by 30 per cent and the number of non-faculty jobs on campus has more than doubled.” And Benjamin Ginsberg, in his 2011 book The Fall of the Faculty: The Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why It Matters provides more recent numbers, noting that from 1985 to 2005 the number of "administrators rocketed by 85 percent and their attendant staff by a whopping 240 percent.”

All of which begs the question: what is it exactly that these college bureaucrats do? Universities wouldn’t spend precious funds hiring them for no reason, yet much of the time there isn’t even enough work to keep all the bureaucrats busy. As a result, many have been charged with creating tradition committees, whose goal it is to instill “pride in the university for the campus community as well as for extended university community members through preservation and resurrection of time-honored traditions.”

Other bureaucrats, meanwhile, are merely afflicted with meeting madness, symptoms of which include the creation of “endless rounds of meetings, mostly with other administrators, often consisting of reports from and plans for other meetings.”

Thus, like bureaucracies elsewhere, many college bureaucrats may engage in important work, but they also do a good amount of pointless exercises in order to justify their continued existence. This isn't in itself a cause for calamity, but the situation gets worse when these individuals end up taking home the lion's share of school funding.

For example, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that in the 2010-11 school year, colleges spent $449 billion – but out of that, less than 30 percent, or $129 billion, went to actual instruction. “For every $1 spent on instruction, $1.82 is spent on non-instructional things such as 'academic support, student services, institutional support, public service' and a catch-all category called 'other,'” the center reported.

Some universities argue that the massive costs are due to federal research grant rules, affirmative action, and general campus safety, among other things. But these expenditures simply don't cover it, as a cursory examination of college websites shows.

Take the University of Texas at Austin, where President Bill Powers has 17 administrators on his staff, including two “deputies,” an executive assistant and multiple assistants to the assistants. The provost has 10 “vice provosts” working for him (each with staff); the "director of diversity and community engagement” had 14 “key” administrators and an unknown number of lesser workers; and the development office listed 118 employees, 32 of whom worked in university communications (not counting communications specialists at subunits of UT).

In this case, staff sizes are massively bloated – and have nothing to do with affirmative action, research grants or many of the other so-called necessities.

The problem seems to be the nature of bureaucracies themselves: their original purpose may be well intended, but over time the institution becomes less and less about its original goals and more about the perpetuation of the institution, facilitated by its bureaucracy.

Ultimately, bureaucracies not only neglect but undermine the goal and state purpose of colleges. As Cavalier Daily columnist Alex Mink notes, “It is important to remember the purpose of college is to educate students, and therein its institutional focus should lie. This cannot be done as effectively when money that should be spent on faculty members is instead being spent on the people managing those members.”

The problem of exploding bureaucracies – and the cutback in funding to actual education – may help explain why American college graduates test and perform more poorly than other students around the world. In March 2015, CBS News reported on the Educational Testing Service that found that “in Japan, Finland and the Netherlands, young adults with only a high school degree scored on par with American Millennials holding four-year college degrees.”

On a deeper level, what the college bureaucracy trend reveals is an increasing neo-liberalization of U.S. education, in which schools are treated as businesses and students as customers.
Michael A. Peters wrote in Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice that the neo-liberalization of colleges has led to “the huge growth of administration vis-à-vis the teaching and research faculty, to an increasing bureaucratization of the university and to the emergence of a new class of 'knowledge managers' – an administrative cadre – whose job is monitor and measure academic performance and to maximize returns from research... Governing councils have become corporate boards further sidelining academic forums.”

This is especially true today as more and more colleges link up with corporations. For example, Pablo Eisenberg writing in 2010 for Inside Higher Ed noted that “Ruth Simmons, president of Brown University, has been a trustee at Goldman Sachs for 10 years, during which time she participated in the decisions to award the firm’s top executives huge, publicly contentious bonuses,” and that she had also been involved with the governance of Pfizer and Texas Instruments.

More recently, New Brunswick Today reported in April that Rutgers President Robert Barchi “has been getting paid from multiple entities with competing financial interests, including the taxpayers and tuition-payers at the state university, and two companies that do business with Rutgers.” Aren't college presidents supposed to be helping manage the university instead of funneling in more money for themselves and the corporations they work for?

Apparently the jury is still out on this. And meanwhile, the problem of college bureaucracies not only seems here to stay, but on course to expand well into the future. That is, unless students and schools' faculties themselves stand up to demand that education – not the business of it – becomes the priority.
tudents attend college to pursue their interests, broaden their intellectual horizons and make headway toward a career. While this is made difficult due to the amount of debt that many must saddle in order to earn a degree, there is also another, much stealthier problem as well: the college bureaucracy.
University bureaucracies absorb large amounts of funding and undermine the alleged goal of college, which is to provide an education. But they also signal something more sinister: the neo-liberalization of education, now viewed as a business.
The rise in college bureaucracy is nothing new, and has been noted for quite some time. Ralph Reiland wrote in 1996 in the National Review that “over the past two decades, the number of college and university faculty has increased by 30 per cent and the number of non-faculty jobs on campus has more than doubled.” And Benjamin Ginsberg, in his 2011 book The Fall of the Faculty: The Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why It Matters provides more recent numbers, noting that from 1985 to 2005 the number of "administrators rocketed by 85 percent and their attendant staff by a whopping 240 percent.”
All of which begs the question: what is it exactly that these college bureaucrats do? Universities wouldn’t spend precious funds hiring them for no reason, yet much of the time there isn’t even enough work to keep all the bureaucrats busy. As a result, many have been charged with creating tradition committees, whose goal it is to instill “pride in the university for the campus community as well as for extended university community members through preservation and resurrection of time-honored traditions.”
Other bureaucrats, meanwhile, are merely afflicted with meeting madness, symptoms of which include the creation of “endless rounds of meetings, mostly with other administrators, often consisting of reports from and plans for other meetings.”
Thus, like bureaucracies elsewhere, many college bureaucrats may engage in important work, but they also do a good amount of pointless exercises in order to justify their continued existence. This isn't in itself a cause for calamity, but the situation gets worse when these individuals end up taking home the lion's share of school funding.
For example, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that in the 2010-11 school year, colleges spent $449 billion – but out of that, less than 30 percent, or $129 billion, went to actual instruction. “For every $1 spent on instruction, $1.82 is spent on non-instructional things such as 'academic support, student services, institutional support, public service' and a catch-all category called 'other,'” the center reported.
Some universities argue that the massive costs are due to federal research grant rules, affirmative action, and general campus safety, among other things. But these expenditures simply don't cover it, as a cursory examination of college websites shows.
Take the University of Texas at Austin, where President Bill Powers has 17 administrators on his staff, including two “deputies,” an executive assistant and multiple assistants to the assistants. The provost has 10 “vice provosts” working for him (each with staff); the "director of diversity and community engagement” had 14 “key” administrators and an unknown number of lesser workers; and the development office listed 118 employees, 32 of whom worked in university communications (not counting communications specialists at subunits of UT).
In this case, staff sizes are massively bloated – and have nothing to do with affirmative action, research grants or many of the other so-called necessities.
The problem seems to be the nature of bureaucracies themselves: their original purpose may be well intended, but over time the institution becomes less and less about its original goals and more about the perpetuation of the institution, facilitated by its bureaucracy.
Ultimately, bureaucracies not only neglect but undermine the goal and state purpose of colleges. As Cavalier Daily columnist Alex Mink notes, “It is important to remember the purpose of college is to educate students, and therein its institutional focus should lie. This cannot be done as effectively when money that should be spent on faculty members is instead being spent on the people managing those members.”
The problem of exploding bureaucracies – and the cutback in funding to actual education – may help explain why American college graduates test and perform more poorly than other students around the world. In March 2015, CBS News reported on the Educational Testing Service that found that “in Japan, Finland and the Netherlands, young adults with only a high school degree scored on par with American Millennials holding four-year college degrees.”
On a deeper level, what the college bureaucracy trend reveals is an increasing neo-liberalization of U.S. education, in which schools are treated as businesses and students as customers.
Michael A. Peters wrote in Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice that the neo-liberalization of colleges has led to “the huge growth of administration vis-à-vis the teaching and research faculty, to an increasing bureaucratization of the university and to the emergence of a new class of 'knowledge managers' – an administrative cadre – whose job is monitor and measure academic performance and to maximize returns from research... Governing councils have become corporate boards further sidelining academic forums.”
This is especially true today as more and more colleges link up with corporations. For example, Pablo Eisenberg writing in 2010 for Inside Higher Ed noted that “Ruth Simmons, president of Brown University, has been a trustee at Goldman Sachs for 10 years, during which time she participated in the decisions to award the firm’s top executives huge, publicly contentious bonuses,” and that she had also been involved with the governance of Pfizer and Texas Instruments.
More recently, New Brunswick Today reported in April that Rutgers President Robert Barchi “has been getting paid from multiple entities with competing financial interests, including the taxpayers and tuition-payers at the state university, and two companies that do business with Rutgers.” Aren't college presidents supposed to be helping manage the university instead of funneling in more money for themselves and the corporations they work for?
Apparently the jury is still out on this. And meanwhile, the problem of college bureaucracies not only seems here to stay, but on course to expand well into the future. That is, unless students and schools' faculties themselves stand up to demand that education – not the business of it – becomes the priority.
- See more at: http://www.occupy.com/article/college-bureaucracy-how-education-forgot-students-and-became-business#sthash.XGwow54X.dpuf
tudents attend college to pursue their interests, broaden their intellectual horizons and make headway toward a career. While this is made difficult due to the amount of debt that many must saddle in order to earn a degree, there is also another, much stealthier problem as well: the college bureaucracy.
University bureaucracies absorb large amounts of funding and undermine the alleged goal of college, which is to provide an education. But they also signal something more sinister: the neo-liberalization of education, now viewed as a business.
The rise in college bureaucracy is nothing new, and has been noted for quite some time. Ralph Reiland wrote in 1996 in the National Review that “over the past two decades, the number of college and university faculty has increased by 30 per cent and the number of non-faculty jobs on campus has more than doubled.” And Benjamin Ginsberg, in his 2011 book The Fall of the Faculty: The Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why It Matters provides more recent numbers, noting that from 1985 to 2005 the number of "administrators rocketed by 85 percent and their attendant staff by a whopping 240 percent.”
All of which begs the question: what is it exactly that these college bureaucrats do? Universities wouldn’t spend precious funds hiring them for no reason, yet much of the time there isn’t even enough work to keep all the bureaucrats busy. As a result, many have been charged with creating tradition committees, whose goal it is to instill “pride in the university for the campus community as well as for extended university community members through preservation and resurrection of time-honored traditions.”
Other bureaucrats, meanwhile, are merely afflicted with meeting madness, symptoms of which include the creation of “endless rounds of meetings, mostly with other administrators, often consisting of reports from and plans for other meetings.”
Thus, like bureaucracies elsewhere, many college bureaucrats may engage in important work, but they also do a good amount of pointless exercises in order to justify their continued existence. This isn't in itself a cause for calamity, but the situation gets worse when these individuals end up taking home the lion's share of school funding.
For example, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that in the 2010-11 school year, colleges spent $449 billion – but out of that, less than 30 percent, or $129 billion, went to actual instruction. “For every $1 spent on instruction, $1.82 is spent on non-instructional things such as 'academic support, student services, institutional support, public service' and a catch-all category called 'other,'” the center reported.
Some universities argue that the massive costs are due to federal research grant rules, affirmative action, and general campus safety, among other things. But these expenditures simply don't cover it, as a cursory examination of college websites shows.
Take the University of Texas at Austin, where President Bill Powers has 17 administrators on his staff, including two “deputies,” an executive assistant and multiple assistants to the assistants. The provost has 10 “vice provosts” working for him (each with staff); the "director of diversity and community engagement” had 14 “key” administrators and an unknown number of lesser workers; and the development office listed 118 employees, 32 of whom worked in university communications (not counting communications specialists at subunits of UT).
In this case, staff sizes are massively bloated – and have nothing to do with affirmative action, research grants or many of the other so-called necessities.
The problem seems to be the nature of bureaucracies themselves: their original purpose may be well intended, but over time the institution becomes less and less about its original goals and more about the perpetuation of the institution, facilitated by its bureaucracy.
Ultimately, bureaucracies not only neglect but undermine the goal and state purpose of colleges. As Cavalier Daily columnist Alex Mink notes, “It is important to remember the purpose of college is to educate students, and therein its institutional focus should lie. This cannot be done as effectively when money that should be spent on faculty members is instead being spent on the people managing those members.”
The problem of exploding bureaucracies – and the cutback in funding to actual education – may help explain why American college graduates test and perform more poorly than other students around the world. In March 2015, CBS News reported on the Educational Testing Service that found that “in Japan, Finland and the Netherlands, young adults with only a high school degree scored on par with American Millennials holding four-year college degrees.”
On a deeper level, what the college bureaucracy trend reveals is an increasing neo-liberalization of U.S. education, in which schools are treated as businesses and students as customers.
Michael A. Peters wrote in Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice that the neo-liberalization of colleges has led to “the huge growth of administration vis-à-vis the teaching and research faculty, to an increasing bureaucratization of the university and to the emergence of a new class of 'knowledge managers' – an administrative cadre – whose job is monitor and measure academic performance and to maximize returns from research... Governing councils have become corporate boards further sidelining academic forums.”
This is especially true today as more and more colleges link up with corporations. For example, Pablo Eisenberg writing in 2010 for Inside Higher Ed noted that “Ruth Simmons, president of Brown University, has been a trustee at Goldman Sachs for 10 years, during which time she participated in the decisions to award the firm’s top executives huge, publicly contentious bonuses,” and that she had also been involved with the governance of Pfizer and Texas Instruments.
More recently, New Brunswick Today reported in April that Rutgers President Robert Barchi “has been getting paid from multiple entities with competing financial interests, including the taxpayers and tuition-payers at the state university, and two companies that do business with Rutgers.” Aren't college presidents supposed to be helping manage the university instead of funneling in more money for themselves and the corporations they work for?
Apparently the jury is still out on this. And meanwhile, the problem of college bureaucracies not only seems here to stay, but on course to expand well into the future. That is, unless students and schools' faculties themselves stand up to demand that education – not the business of it – becomes the priority.
- See more at: http://www.occupy.com/article/college-bureaucracy-how-education-forgot-students-and-became-business#sthash.XGwow54X.dpuf
tudents attend college to pursue their interests, broaden their intellectual horizons and make headway toward a career. While this is made difficult due to the amount of debt that many must saddle in order to earn a degree, there is also another, much stealthier problem as well: the college bureaucracy.
University bureaucracies absorb large amounts of funding and undermine the alleged goal of college, which is to provide an education. But they also signal something more sinister: the neo-liberalization of education, now viewed as a business.
The rise in college bureaucracy is nothing new, and has been noted for quite some time. Ralph Reiland wrote in 1996 in the National Review that “over the past two decades, the number of college and university faculty has increased by 30 per cent and the number of non-faculty jobs on campus has more than doubled.” And Benjamin Ginsberg, in his 2011 book The Fall of the Faculty: The Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why It Matters provides more recent numbers, noting that from 1985 to 2005 the number of "administrators rocketed by 85 percent and their attendant staff by a whopping 240 percent.”
All of which begs the question: what is it exactly that these college bureaucrats do? Universities wouldn’t spend precious funds hiring them for no reason, yet much of the time there isn’t even enough work to keep all the bureaucrats busy. As a result, many have been charged with creating tradition committees, whose goal it is to instill “pride in the university for the campus community as well as for extended university community members through preservation and resurrection of time-honored traditions.”
Other bureaucrats, meanwhile, are merely afflicted with meeting madness, symptoms of which include the creation of “endless rounds of meetings, mostly with other administrators, often consisting of reports from and plans for other meetings.”
Thus, like bureaucracies elsewhere, many college bureaucrats may engage in important work, but they also do a good amount of pointless exercises in order to justify their continued existence. This isn't in itself a cause for calamity, but the situation gets worse when these individuals end up taking home the lion's share of school funding.
For example, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that in the 2010-11 school year, colleges spent $449 billion – but out of that, less than 30 percent, or $129 billion, went to actual instruction. “For every $1 spent on instruction, $1.82 is spent on non-instructional things such as 'academic support, student services, institutional support, public service' and a catch-all category called 'other,'” the center reported.
Some universities argue that the massive costs are due to federal research grant rules, affirmative action, and general campus safety, among other things. But these expenditures simply don't cover it, as a cursory examination of college websites shows.
Take the University of Texas at Austin, where President Bill Powers has 17 administrators on his staff, including two “deputies,” an executive assistant and multiple assistants to the assistants. The provost has 10 “vice provosts” working for him (each with staff); the "director of diversity and community engagement” had 14 “key” administrators and an unknown number of lesser workers; and the development office listed 118 employees, 32 of whom worked in university communications (not counting communications specialists at subunits of UT).
In this case, staff sizes are massively bloated – and have nothing to do with affirmative action, research grants or many of the other so-called necessities.
The problem seems to be the nature of bureaucracies themselves: their original purpose may be well intended, but over time the institution becomes less and less about its original goals and more about the perpetuation of the institution, facilitated by its bureaucracy.
Ultimately, bureaucracies not only neglect but undermine the goal and state purpose of colleges. As Cavalier Daily columnist Alex Mink notes, “It is important to remember the purpose of college is to educate students, and therein its institutional focus should lie. This cannot be done as effectively when money that should be spent on faculty members is instead being spent on the people managing those members.”
The problem of exploding bureaucracies – and the cutback in funding to actual education – may help explain why American college graduates test and perform more poorly than other students around the world. In March 2015, CBS News reported on the Educational Testing Service that found that “in Japan, Finland and the Netherlands, young adults with only a high school degree scored on par with American Millennials holding four-year college degrees.”
On a deeper level, what the college bureaucracy trend reveals is an increasing neo-liberalization of U.S. education, in which schools are treated as businesses and students as customers.
Michael A. Peters wrote in Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice that the neo-liberalization of colleges has led to “the huge growth of administration vis-à-vis the teaching and research faculty, to an increasing bureaucratization of the university and to the emergence of a new class of 'knowledge managers' – an administrative cadre – whose job is monitor and measure academic performance and to maximize returns from research... Governing councils have become corporate boards further sidelining academic forums.”
This is especially true today as more and more colleges link up with corporations. For example, Pablo Eisenberg writing in 2010 for Inside Higher Ed noted that “Ruth Simmons, president of Brown University, has been a trustee at Goldman Sachs for 10 years, during which time she participated in the decisions to award the firm’s top executives huge, publicly contentious bonuses,” and that she had also been involved with the governance of Pfizer and Texas Instruments.
More recently, New Brunswick Today reported in April that Rutgers President Robert Barchi “has been getting paid from multiple entities with competing financial interests, including the taxpayers and tuition-payers at the state university, and two companies that do business with Rutgers.” Aren't college presidents supposed to be helping manage the university instead of funneling in more money for themselves and the corporations they work for?
Apparently the jury is still out on this. And meanwhile, the problem of college bureaucracies not only seems here to stay, but on course to expand well into the future. That is, unless students and schools' faculties themselves stand up to demand that education – not the business of it – becomes the priority.
- See more at: http://www.occupy.com/article/college-bureaucracy-how-education-forgot-students-and-became-business#sthash.XGwow54X.dpuf
tudents attend college to pursue their interests, broaden their intellectual horizons and make headway toward a career. While this is made difficult due to the amount of debt that many must saddle in order to earn a degree, there is also another, much stealthier problem as well: the college bureaucracy.
University bureaucracies absorb large amounts of funding and undermine the alleged goal of college, which is to provide an education. But they also signal something more sinister: the neo-liberalization of education, now viewed as a business.
The rise in college bureaucracy is nothing new, and has been noted for quite some time. Ralph Reiland wrote in 1996 in the National Review that “over the past two decades, the number of college and university faculty has increased by 30 per cent and the number of non-faculty jobs on campus has more than doubled.” And Benjamin Ginsberg, in his 2011 book The Fall of the Faculty: The Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why It Matters provides more recent numbers, noting that from 1985 to 2005 the number of "administrators rocketed by 85 percent and their attendant staff by a whopping 240 percent.”
All of which begs the question: what is it exactly that these college bureaucrats do? Universities wouldn’t spend precious funds hiring them for no reason, yet much of the time there isn’t even enough work to keep all the bureaucrats busy. As a result, many have been charged with creating tradition committees, whose goal it is to instill “pride in the university for the campus community as well as for extended university community members through preservation and resurrection of time-honored traditions.”
Other bureaucrats, meanwhile, are merely afflicted with meeting madness, symptoms of which include the creation of “endless rounds of meetings, mostly with other administrators, often consisting of reports from and plans for other meetings.”
Thus, like bureaucracies elsewhere, many college bureaucrats may engage in important work, but they also do a good amount of pointless exercises in order to justify their continued existence. This isn't in itself a cause for calamity, but the situation gets worse when these individuals end up taking home the lion's share of school funding.
For example, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that in the 2010-11 school year, colleges spent $449 billion – but out of that, less than 30 percent, or $129 billion, went to actual instruction. “For every $1 spent on instruction, $1.82 is spent on non-instructional things such as 'academic support, student services, institutional support, public service' and a catch-all category called 'other,'” the center reported.
Some universities argue that the massive costs are due to federal research grant rules, affirmative action, and general campus safety, among other things. But these expenditures simply don't cover it, as a cursory examination of college websites shows.
Take the University of Texas at Austin, where President Bill Powers has 17 administrators on his staff, including two “deputies,” an executive assistant and multiple assistants to the assistants. The provost has 10 “vice provosts” working for him (each with staff); the "director of diversity and community engagement” had 14 “key” administrators and an unknown number of lesser workers; and the development office listed 118 employees, 32 of whom worked in university communications (not counting communications specialists at subunits of UT).
In this case, staff sizes are massively bloated – and have nothing to do with affirmative action, research grants or many of the other so-called necessities.
The problem seems to be the nature of bureaucracies themselves: their original purpose may be well intended, but over time the institution becomes less and less about its original goals and more about the perpetuation of the institution, facilitated by its bureaucracy.
Ultimately, bureaucracies not only neglect but undermine the goal and state purpose of colleges. As Cavalier Daily columnist Alex Mink notes, “It is important to remember the purpose of college is to educate students, and therein its institutional focus should lie. This cannot be done as effectively when money that should be spent on faculty members is instead being spent on the people managing those members.”
The problem of exploding bureaucracies – and the cutback in funding to actual education – may help explain why American college graduates test and perform more poorly than other students around the world. In March 2015, CBS News reported on the Educational Testing Service that found that “in Japan, Finland and the Netherlands, young adults with only a high school degree scored on par with American Millennials holding four-year college degrees.”
On a deeper level, what the college bureaucracy trend reveals is an increasing neo-liberalization of U.S. education, in which schools are treated as businesses and students as customers.
Michael A. Peters wrote in Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice that the neo-liberalization of colleges has led to “the huge growth of administration vis-à-vis the teaching and research faculty, to an increasing bureaucratization of the university and to the emergence of a new class of 'knowledge managers' – an administrative cadre – whose job is monitor and measure academic performance and to maximize returns from research... Governing councils have become corporate boards further sidelining academic forums.”
This is especially true today as more and more colleges link up with corporations. For example, Pablo Eisenberg writing in 2010 for Inside Higher Ed noted that “Ruth Simmons, president of Brown University, has been a trustee at Goldman Sachs for 10 years, during which time she participated in the decisions to award the firm’s top executives huge, publicly contentious bonuses,” and that she had also been involved with the governance of Pfizer and Texas Instruments.
More recently, New Brunswick Today reported in April that Rutgers President Robert Barchi “has been getting paid from multiple entities with competing financial interests, including the taxpayers and tuition-payers at the state university, and two companies that do business with Rutgers.” Aren't college presidents supposed to be helping manage the university instead of funneling in more money for themselves and the corporations they work for?
Apparently the jury is still out on this. And meanwhile, the problem of college bureaucracies not only seems here to stay, but on course to expand well into the future. That is, unless students and schools' faculties themselves stand up to demand that education – not the business of it – becomes the priority.
- See more at: http://www.occupy.com/article/college-bureaucracy-how-education-forgot-students-and-became-business#sthash.XGwow54X.dpuf
tudents attend college to pursue their interests, broaden their intellectual horizons and make headway toward a career. While this is made difficult due to the amount of debt that many must saddle in order to earn a degree, there is also another, much stealthier problem as well: the college bureaucracy.
University bureaucracies absorb large amounts of funding and undermine the alleged goal of college, which is to provide an education. But they also signal something more sinister: the neo-liberalization of education, now viewed as a business.
The rise in college bureaucracy is nothing new, and has been noted for quite some time. Ralph Reiland wrote in 1996 in the National Review that “over the past two decades, the number of college and university faculty has increased by 30 per cent and the number of non-faculty jobs on campus has more than doubled.” And Benjamin Ginsberg, in his 2011 book The Fall of the Faculty: The Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why It Matters provides more recent numbers, noting that from 1985 to 2005 the number of "administrators rocketed by 85 percent and their attendant staff by a whopping 240 percent.”
All of which begs the question: what is it exactly that these college bureaucrats do? Universities wouldn’t spend precious funds hiring them for no reason, yet much of the time there isn’t even enough work to keep all the bureaucrats busy. As a result, many have been charged with creating tradition committees, whose goal it is to instill “pride in the university for the campus community as well as for extended university community members through preservation and resurrection of time-honored traditions.”
Other bureaucrats, meanwhile, are merely afflicted with meeting madness, symptoms of which include the creation of “endless rounds of meetings, mostly with other administrators, often consisting of reports from and plans for other meetings.”
Thus, like bureaucracies elsewhere, many college bureaucrats may engage in important work, but they also do a good amount of pointless exercises in order to justify their continued existence. This isn't in itself a cause for calamity, but the situation gets worse when these individuals end up taking home the lion's share of school funding.
For example, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that in the 2010-11 school year, colleges spent $449 billion – but out of that, less than 30 percent, or $129 billion, went to actual instruction. “For every $1 spent on instruction, $1.82 is spent on non-instructional things such as 'academic support, student services, institutional support, public service' and a catch-all category called 'other,'” the center reported.
Some universities argue that the massive costs are due to federal research grant rules, affirmative action, and general campus safety, among other things. But these expenditures simply don't cover it, as a cursory examination of college websites shows.
Take the University of Texas at Austin, where President Bill Powers has 17 administrators on his staff, including two “deputies,” an executive assistant and multiple assistants to the assistants. The provost has 10 “vice provosts” working for him (each with staff); the "director of diversity and community engagement” had 14 “key” administrators and an unknown number of lesser workers; and the development office listed 118 employees, 32 of whom worked in university communications (not counting communications specialists at subunits of UT).
In this case, staff sizes are massively bloated – and have nothing to do with affirmative action, research grants or many of the other so-called necessities.
The problem seems to be the nature of bureaucracies themselves: their original purpose may be well intended, but over time the institution becomes less and less about its original goals and more about the perpetuation of the institution, facilitated by its bureaucracy.
Ultimately, bureaucracies not only neglect but undermine the goal and state purpose of colleges. As Cavalier Daily columnist Alex Mink notes, “It is important to remember the purpose of college is to educate students, and therein its institutional focus should lie. This cannot be done as effectively when money that should be spent on faculty members is instead being spent on the people managing those members.”
The problem of exploding bureaucracies – and the cutback in funding to actual education – may help explain why American college graduates test and perform more poorly than other students around the world. In March 2015, CBS News reported on the Educational Testing Service that found that “in Japan, Finland and the Netherlands, young adults with only a high school degree scored on par with American Millennials holding four-year college degrees.”
On a deeper level, what the college bureaucracy trend reveals is an increasing neo-liberalization of U.S. education, in which schools are treated as businesses and students as customers.
Michael A. Peters wrote in Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice that the neo-liberalization of colleges has led to “the huge growth of administration vis-à-vis the teaching and research faculty, to an increasing bureaucratization of the university and to the emergence of a new class of 'knowledge managers' – an administrative cadre – whose job is monitor and measure academic performance and to maximize returns from research... Governing councils have become corporate boards further sidelining academic forums.”
This is especially true today as more and more colleges link up with corporations. For example, Pablo Eisenberg writing in 2010 for Inside Higher Ed noted that “Ruth Simmons, president of Brown University, has been a trustee at Goldman Sachs for 10 years, during which time she participated in the decisions to award the firm’s top executives huge, publicly contentious bonuses,” and that she had also been involved with the governance of Pfizer and Texas Instruments.
More recently, New Brunswick Today reported in April that Rutgers President Robert Barchi “has been getting paid from multiple entities with competing financial interests, including the taxpayers and tuition-payers at the state university, and two companies that do business with Rutgers.” Aren't college presidents supposed to be helping manage the university instead of funneling in more money for themselves and the corporations they work for?
Apparently the jury is still out on this. And meanwhile, the problem of college bureaucracies not only seems here to stay, but on course to expand well into the future. That is, unless students and schools' faculties themselves stand up to demand that education – not the business of it – becomes the priority.
- See more at: http://www.occupy.com/article/college-bureaucracy-how-education-forgot-students-and-became-business#sthash.XGwow54X.dpuf

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Damn The Debt: Lessons and Tactics from Debt Resistance Movements






This was originally published on Occupy.com.


An active debt resistance movement is seizing hold across the United States. Currently, the debt strikers number over 100 students who are refusing to pay back the student loans they borrowed to go to the now-defunct for-profit Corinthian Colleges. The move has attracted media attention and could potentially provide a platform for a larger student debt movement to expand from here. However, students of history take note: this isn't the first time there have been debt resistance movements in the United States. And the lessons we learn from prior movements can just as easily be applied to today’s situation. 
 
Shays’ Rebellion
While Shays’ Rebellion is something that many people don’t have much knowledge of besides it being a rebellion of farmers against the government, the issue of debt was very much centered around it.
The rebellion came about due to post-Revolutionary War economics. After the Revolutionary War ended, merchants sought to expand their profits via trading with other areas, namely the Baltic states, the Mediterranean, and France. The Baltic was unable as while New England “generally sent surplus grains, fish, and lumber abroad,"[1] these commodities were already produced in the Baltic in large numbers and the commodity that New England could offer, beef, usually spoiled along its journey. The Mediterranean was blocked off due to Barbary pirates attacking merchant ships and France was a no-go as they weren’t able to get enough credit to be able to transport their goods.
The situation was made worse when American merchants attempted to trade with the British controlled West Indies and the British “excluded New England importers from the lucrative British West Indies market and left the Americans with few means to repay English merchants for the commodities they had purchased."[2] The West Indies situation is extremely important as immediately following the Revolutionary War, “British tradesmen continued the prewar practice of offering large cargoes to American merchants on credit.” US merchants took out large loans from the British with the assumption that that they would be able to take advantage of the West Indies market and make enough money to pay off their debts that way. When this proved impossible, the economic situation became critical as the merchants were at major risk of defaulting on their loans which could have severe economic repercussions not just with regards to trade with the British, but also domestically.
In order to continue with their business, the merchants pressed shopkeepers to which they had loaned to for funds and in turn the shopkeepers pressed the farmers to pay back their loans. Most farmers were used to paying back their debts with crops rather than cash and thus didn't have much cash on hand. This quickly landed many farmers in court where their land was at stake or in debtors' prisons. While the shopkeepers were desperate, such actions only heightened in tensions between the urban middle-class merchants and the poor farmers.
In response to this, New England farmers began to organize and resist their debt burdens. The first order of business was to push for reform, via town meetings and county conventions, in favor of state-issued paper money and tender laws, rather than the bullion coins used in that day. This was rejected wholesale by the business class and since many New England legislators were located in coastal cities and needed the support of businesses, they too, rejected the call for reform in 1785 and 1786.
While the meetings were going on, the farmers also wrote petitions to their respective state governments. For example, in Massachusetts, between 1784 and 1787, yeomen in seventy- three rural Massachusetts towns sent petitions to the General Court of Boston and in New Hampshire, from January 1784 to late September 1786, “yeomen in forty-one towns forwarded complaints to the state assembly."[3]
The tactics of the farmers began to take a turn in late 1786 as the protests were doing virtually nothing to get the reforms the farmers needed. During that time protesters armed themselves “and proposed 'moderating government' by planned attacks upon the court system.” However, this rebellion didn't last long as in Massachusetts, the governor called Congress to raise up forces and even though they were only able to raise one thousand troops, the rebellion was quickly put down.
Almost 150 years later, another debt resistance movement would take place, also centering on farmers and the oppression they dealt with. However, the tactics would change with the times as unions made by and for the oppressed advocated for them.
The Resistance to Sharecropping
Sharecropping is something that, along with convict leasing, is rarely mentioned in many history classes. The general myth is that after the Civil War ended, slavery ended with the passing of the thirteenth amendment. The reality is quite different as the oppression of African-Americans didn't end, but rather took the form of convict leasing and also sharecropping. Sharecropping was essentially debt slavery and, as M. Langley Biegert notes in the Journal of Social History, many blacks thought that sharecropping was “often little better than the old system of slavery” and some even went so far as to “[argue] that it was even more dehumanizing than slavery."[6] In order to combat this system, sharecroppers- both black and white alike- began to organize against their oppression.
In July 1934 in Tyronza, Arkansas, eighteen sharecroppers and tenant farmers “met in a local schoolhouse to discuss the idea of forming a union for non-landowning farm workers,"[7] as people were being evicted from farms due to the New Deal incentives to cut back on farm production. In response to this, the workers decided to stand up for themselves on a collective basis, across racial boundaries, and formed the Southern Tenant Farmers Union.
It should be noted that something such as this was not an easy decision to make as the risk of retaliation was quite real as can be seen in the case of former slave Bryant Singfield. Singfield “tried to organize farm workers in Phillips County who were trying to negotiate new labor contracts."[8] He had been kicked off of the plantation he was had worked on as a slave due to his outspokenness, after which he began to organize the former slaves who had decided to stay on the plantation as contract workers. He was quite successful and some people felt emboldened enough to even go beyond the demand for collective bargaining. This greatly angered the planter class and so they targeted Singfield, who, along with other protesters, were rounded up by white planters and never heard from again. However, the members of the Union made their decision and quickly began agitating for workers. One of their notable early actions was the Missouri Sharecropper Demonstration in 1939, where the Union advocated on behalf of sharecroppers.
Many sharecroppers and tenant farmers who worked in Missouri worked in the Bootheel region which was prime real estate for cotton farming. However, in 1939, “the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers announced it would deliberately breach the levee that protected the richest cotton land in the Missouri Bootheel in order to relieve pressure on the levees guarding the city of Cairo, Illinois."[9] This aided in the acceleration of getting rid of sharecroppers and tenants and switching instead to day laborers and increased mechanization. While the New Deal did set up the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, which was to give checks to sharecroppers and tenant farmers, the checks were given to the planters who would keep money and evict the workers. This was made all the easier by the fact that the final arbitrator of any disputes between planters and workers was settled by the county committees which consistently sided with the planters.
In response to this, members of the Union engaged in wildcat cotton-picking strikes in the autumn of 1938. This in and of itself didn't do much, however, it was a serious form of debt resistance as if the sharecroppers didn't work, they were unable to pay on the debts that they owed. By refusing to work, the sharecroppers were effectively engaging in an act of debt resistance.
The Union became more involved upon receiving calls of aid from members. To this end, the Union ultimately helped to organize a roadside demonstration where they demanded a living situation akin to those living on land from the Farm Security Administration which “was compelling because it preserved the social worlds of small farmers on independent homesteads, an aim that continued to resonate with landless people despite the dramatic economic changes that made such an outcome less and less possible."[10] Overall, many of the protesters just wanted their own farms. This would allow for them to work independently rather than having to endure the suffering of sharecropping.
Lessons Learned
So, why does any of that matter? What are the lessons that we can take from these movements and apply to today?
With regards to Shays' rebellion, we can apply two things: (1) have a clear, coherent message and stick to it and (2) escalate the situation over time. With regards to a clear message, the best thing that student debt activists can do it to all get on the exact same page so that there is one message that is repeated again and again. This will only help as it serves as a guiding light, a goal that is to be achieved.
In escalating the situation, there is obviously not be a call for violence as that is completely unneeded for this movement and so when it comes to turning up the heat, it just means that the activists should, over time, up the ante, doing things such as blocking roads and disrupting traffic as can be seen in the Black Lives Matter movement. It should also be noted that the farmers engaged in a diversity of tactics, doing some simultaneously, and that that should also be on the table. One should not stop protesting or slow down protesting when negotiations begin, but rather work to increase the volume of the collective voice.
The sharecropping protest should keep us reminded that while having leaders can be a good thing, they can also be targeted by the establishment whether in terms of disappearance as is what happened to Singfield, or co-optation. This can also been seen as an argument for horizontal organizing, especially when one takes into account the wildcat strike that took place. A second lesson we can learn is that activists should have each others backs and that when one group is crying out for help, we respond quickly and swiftly. Finally, individual activists should also be able to keep their autonomy and engage in actions that they see fit and can work within the context of their situation.
These lessons may be able to help the student debt movement as it would allow for people and groups to have their own autonomy to develop new protest tactics all while staying on message and to, no matter what, speak with one voice. Horizontal organizing, as seems is quickly becoming the norm for modern protests, also aids in the movement as there are no leaders to attempt to corrupt and it makes sowing dissent and discord all the more difficult. If we are to win this fight, we will have to use every tool available to us, so let's get started!



Endnotes

1: David Szatmary, Shays' Rebellion: The Making of an Agrarian Insurrection (Amherst, Massachusetts: University of Massachusetts Press, 1984) pg 20

2: Szatmary, pg 19

3: Szatmary, pg 38

4: Devon Douglas-Bowers, Slavery By A Different Name: The Convict Lease System, The Hampton Institute, http://www.hamptoninstitution.org/convictleasesystem.html#.VTGqoZPsYZx (October 30, 2013)

5: Devon Douglas-Bowers, Debt Slavery: The Forgotten History of Sharecropping, The Hampton Institute, http://www.hamptoninstitution.org/sharecropping.html#.VTGqqJPsYZx (November 7, 2013)

6: M. Langley Biegert, “Legacy of Resistance: Uncovering the History of Collective Action by Black Agricultural Workers in Central East Arkansas from the 1860s to the 1930s,” Journal of Social History 32:1 (1998), pgs 76-77

7: Biegert, pg 73

8: Biegert, pg 79

9: Jarod Roll, "Out Yonder on the Road": Working Class Self-Representation and the 1939 Roadside Demonstration in Southeast Missouri, Southern Spaces, http://www.southernspaces.org/2010/out-yonder-road-working-class-self-representation-and-1939-roadside-demonstration-southeast-mis#section3 (March 16, 2010)