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Justin Townes Earle:

Adviser to warlords

I take it back: The NYT is interested in at least part of this story.

Does this surprise me? Of course not. Neither does the fact that the media is not all that interested in this story:

Walid Phares, the recently announced co-chair of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s Middle East advisory group, has a long résumé. College professor. Author. Political pundit. Counterterrorism expert. But there’s one chapter of his life that you won’t find on his CV: He was a high ranking political official in a sectarian religious militia responsible for massacres during Lebanon’s brutal, 15-year civil war.

During the 1980s, Phares, a Maronite Christian, trained Lebanese militants in ideological beliefs justifying the war against Lebanon’s Muslim and Druze factions, according to former colleagues. Phares, they say, advocated the hard-line view that Lebanon’s Christians should work toward creating a separate, independent Christian enclave. A photo obtained by Mother Jones shows him conducting a press conference in 1986 for the Lebanese Forces, an umbrella group of Christian militias that has been accused of committing atrocities. He was also a close adviser to Samir Geagea, a Lebanese warlord who rose from leading hit squads to running the Lebanese Forces.

Since fleeing to the United States in 1990, when the Syrians took over Lebanon, Phares has reinvented himself as a counterterrorism and national security expert, traveling comfortably between official circles and the GOP’s anti-Muslim wing. In a little over two decades, he’s gone from training Lebanese militants to teaching American law enforcement and intelligence officials about the Middle East, and from advising Lebanese warlords to counseling a man who could be the next president of the United States.

“I can’t think of any earlier instance of a [possible presidential] adviser having held a comparable formal position with a foreign organization,” says Paul Pillar, a 20-year veteran of the CIA and a professor at Georgetown’s Center for Peace and Security Studies. “It should raise eyebrows any time someone in a position to exert behind-the-scenes influence on a US leader has ties to a foreign entity that are strong enough for foreign interests, and not just US interests, to determine the advice being given.”

Phares has long faced questions about his background with the Lebanese Forces. As sketchy details have trickled out, he’s tried to downplay his involvement, claiming that he was “politically in the center” of Lebanese Christian politics and that he “was never a military official.” But a Mother Jones investigation has found that he was a key player within the Lebanese Forces when it was involved in a bloody sectarian conflict.

Slave labor is good for business

Corporate chiefs and their stooges in Congress don’t like “big government” in America, but they love gigantic, oppressive governments such as China’s. More here.


Why reading it is good for your media career!


The doctor tells me the pain is almost certainly gas, because I have no other symptoms. He mentioned that my rib cage was longer than average (who knew?), they had to work around it and might have bruised the ribs — also, that they did do a suture to prevent a hernia and that could contribute to the muscle pain.

So I have a plethora of reasons for why I’m not imagining things.

He also said as long as I could turn my head around to check traffic without the pain, and I wasn’t taking the Percocet, I could drive again. Woo hoo!

P.S. But I’m getting a cold. Sniff!

Virtually Speaking Tuesdays

Tuesday, Jan 24 | 9 pm eastern | 6 pm pacific |Virtually Speaking Tuesdays |Dave Johnson (Seeing the ForestCampaign for America’s Future) hosts Progressive Ideas Network ED Barry Kendall, recently returned from DC , having organized a second meeting with the Congressional Progressive Caucus. We’ll learn more ….
Follow @DCJohnson Listen live and later on BTR

Tim Thomas

Athletes are a group not known for liberal thinking, but this one really takes the cake.

French underground art

Truly, one of the most interesting things I’ve ever heard about.

Rahm gets his crackdown

Pretty staggering that a “liberal” city like Chicago is going to such lengths to criminalize protests.

Who needs science?

It’s more important to look on the sunny side of life!

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