Libya When Prisoners Had to Sing Tributes to the Dictator

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I took this video clip in March 2010 when I visited Tripoli, Libya and was interested in counter-terrorism activities of the Libyan government. When I was there, we were taken to a prison where hundreds of prisoners — most of whom were either Libya Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) members or other young jihadists who wanted to fight “infidels” in Afghanistan and Iraq.
These men were dancing and singing tributes to their leader, to Moammer Gaddafi. The scene very much disturbed me — and thus am only posting it now.
But this is the kind of celebration of dictatorship that people do to survive. When they got out of the prison, I saw the eruptive emotional outcries when they connected with their families. They would do anything to get out of those prisons.
I would wager this men and their families are not singing tributes to their Leader now.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

24 comments on “Libya When Prisoners Had to Sing Tributes to the Dictator

  1. questions says:

    no no nadine, not kos…. (and they generally aren’t kids either. There are some wonderfully well-informed data-using careful-reading people involved with the site. There is also dross.)
    I read a lot of econo blogs at this point, and the authors seem generally to have doctorates, not middle school diplomas. They seem to teach at some reasonable universities, not so much students in 4th grade. They seem to be able to use data well and not claim that 61% of the people in a recent poll support Walker, when in fact the opposite is the case! (That’s Fox for ya!)
    I couldn’t say for sure if I’m a European socialist. I actually don’t really think of myself as a socialist at all. I think of myself as a structuralist lately. And social structures give rise to social dysfunction that needs dynamic pushbacks. So we need to find ways to institutionalize dynamism — not easy, but necessary.
    The alternative seems to be the institutionalization of decrepit old line risk-averse non-productive capital that seeks to purchase already-made inventions and discoveries rather than to fund the discovery and research in the first place on the one hand, and heavily risk-favoring leverage capital such that the risk is always someone else’s.
    Those hedge fund managers make an awful lot of money without concomitant risk of their own capital.
    Our corporate system is rigid, dinosaur-like, slothful, risk-averse unless it’s spending someone else’s money. It has a preference for capitalized/privatized profit and socialized/taxpayer supported loss.
    Perhaps you’re the one drinking the elixir of the love of money?
    There are alternatives between the wicked ways of the West(ern Europe) and the Wicked Ways of the Capitalist Running Dogs. I’m in the, ummm, market, for some of these institutional alternatives.
    We join together in a society not to have a 1% chance of becoming a billionaire, but to preserve our lives and to let the state take over from the vigilantes and to consolidate the good we can do and make possible culture and language, poesis, and the wonders of security of conscience and action. It’s a pretty good thing, this society. And when we are suffused with mutualism, we do better. The parasitic version of symbiosis does us no good at all.
    Corporate capital functions as a parasite. We need to help it evolve into a mutualist.

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  2. questions says:

    Ok, nadine, I’m still a Democrat!
    And I don’t think the dem party is the least littlest teensiest weensiest ittiest bittiest left at all.
    In fact, though the DLC be deader ‘n a door nail, the DLC spirit rules the dems.
    A dem ended welfare. A dem may actually cut back some on SoSec. Dems do all sorts of nasty right wing things.
    The social welfare state should provide those goods and services that the private markets fail to provide because of collective action problems, adverse selection, prisoners dilemmas, asymmetries of information and so on. Market failures mean that we don’t get the thing we actually want — a decent life, clean air, non-excludable, non-rival public goods. Market failures give us tainted products, dead friends and family. Market failures give us, eventually, no jobs, no innovation, and deep immiseration because the market fails to set salaries for the crony capitalists who collude at the top of the economic heap. Market failures kill innovation because the goal becomes the minimization of risk and the maximization of rent.
    So, as big as they wanna be, as big as it gotta be, big enough to be a countervailing force against big capital, big enough to protect unions and other cooperative worker ventures, big enough to handle epidemics, asteroids, hurricanes, dams that are breaking down, big enough to build BIG RAIL (see, I’m a lefty on rail through high density population corridors, and maybe even on a few long distance routes as well, cuz air travel sucks!)
    Big enough to manage 300 MILLION people. I want a reasonable range of services, regulations, and assistance for all who need. I want some help when I can’t possibly manage — and there are many things I can’t manage — I can’t be a doctor, a lawyer and an engineer all at the same time. So I want others to pick up the slack. That means I want education, primary and higher and professional. I want subsidies for those who can’t afford it but who have the talent.
    See, I’m greedy. I want every life to be a good life well lived, not wasted in poverty and hopelessness.
    I have yet to see many corporations try to increase hiring, decrease stock and CEO pay, and invest for no profit at all, but merely for humane goodness. This kind of investment is what the public sector does for itself. Without the profit motive.
    Read some more on the failings of markets, read Quiggen, read Steve Keen’s Debunking Economics. Watch the smarter sectors of the discipline wonder if they know anything at all. And then when you write about how evil the gov’t is, at least admit that the market has some serious problems, too.
    Then think to yourself how much better off we are when the two sectors, public and private, are duking it out in countervailing fashion.
    There are indeed excesses in the gov’t. BUT the excesses of capital are worse — if for no other reason than the simple fact that we CAN vote out the gov’t bums, but we are fucking stuck with whatever the corporate world hands us.
    We are stuck with unemployment, disinvestment, toxic air, toxic water, mining tailings in exploding and bursting ponds. We are stuck with the Gulf of Mexico/Horizon/Macondo mess which goes on and on and on in its toxic cesspool. We are stuck with overfishing, overfarming, the salinization of the soil. We are stuck with endless poor decisions that enrich a few, impoverish or poison the rest of us.
    We need to be able to have a greater impact on the world — the gov’t provides that impact. Corporate capital doesn’t.
    I don’t want to do away with markets as they do seem to handle local information, they do seem to price SOME goods and services in ways that help allocate.
    We also need subsidies and regulation. Lots of ’em.
    Hope you see that “big enough” is the wrong question. The right question should be, how is this particular service best provided? What mix of private and public in this good or this service will guarantee that what we need done is getting done? What market failures lurk here, and what’s the best way to provide for success instead.
    A big enough gov’t is one that can deal with these issues.
    And remember, there’s private capital corruption, evil nature, and death dealing. The gov’t does not have a monopoly on wickedness, wicked intent, or coercion or force or death. Corporate capital is quite capable of meting all this stuff out too. Only, corporate capital doesn’t answer EVER to voters.

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  3. questions says:

    nadine,
    Just in case you didn’t know — I’m a Democrat! A little on the left side of the spectrum, but with some respect for the parts of the market that function, a sense that game theory situations interfere with the market’s providing what we want and need, and so a desire for strong government regulation.
    The public sector, with a desire to serve the public good and provide all those non-excludable, non-rival public goods we all want (clean air and water, safe food and products), and a public sector designed to help with asymmetries of information, and a public sector that doesn’t think ruthless efficiency is the only goal, and a public sector that helps individuals during times of crisis — all this I do indeed want.
    I’m not one for letting people lay in the streets bleeding to death, certain that it’s the Darwin effect and it’ll never happen to me.
    (Ayn Rand took Medicare and SoSec bennies, near as I can tell from reading about this.)
    Principled non-assistance is the basis of libertarian thinking. Look at Brad DeLong’s uncomprehending look at Sasha Volokh’s insistence that we not levy taxes to protect the earth from an asteroid hit and you will see why I’m not a libertarian! One simply cannot comprehend the thinking that underlies Volokh’s position, nor can one understand Volokh’s supporters.
    Liberty is an absolute, for Rawls, unless it’s traded off for greater liberty that helps the least advantaged. So losing some liberty to preserve human existence would seem to be a reasonable trade off. The lexocographic ordering DeLong bashes has a workaround in Rawls, and the workaround is useful. It’s even Kantian! You can’t universalize non-assistance for Kant, for you cannot will that you would get no assistance were you in need. Were you to will non-assistance for yourself, you’d put yourself into a position in which you couldn’t will anything at all. Kinda self-defeating.
    And libertarianism is simply kinda self-defeating that way.
    So, hooray for the public sector. Hooray for taxes. And if there’s a little corruption or a medium amount of corruption, well, that’s ok. There’s prison when we catch it, and fines, too. And there’s always going to be SOMEone who figures out a way to make an extra buck by selling of his family. But then, corporate capitalists participate in the selling of family members too.
    Think about Madoff’s son, and one of the Enron guys lost a son to suicide as well. See, you fuck up enough, you fuck the world enough, and you do it all for your children, and look what you get…..
    I would recommend for the nth time that people take very seriously what Socrates says in Books VII, IX, and X of the Republic.
    We live badly, we hand our stupidity and ignorance to our children, and we devour our children by choosing our lives badly and with ignorance. We become private or public tyrants. We kill our parents, eat our children and we live in the greatest prison of all — fear of all other people and enslavement to desire and fear.
    It’s a chilling set of images.
    The public sector is part of the good side of things.

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  4. DonS says:

    “the union position is preferred” (questions) . . . yup, that’s rights . . . except when Fox “news” intentionally distorts the poll results. Oh yeah, for the right wing bots, they attempted to “correct” their “mistake”, so it’s all good. LOL.
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/02/23/948814/-Fox-flips-poll-results-to-falsely-claim-Americans-support-union-busting

    Reply

  5. questions says:

    nadine,
    If I recall correctly, there’s a RASMUSSEN poll that shows, despite biased question order, that the union position is preferred.
    There are charts and graphs all over the place trying to deal with whether or not public employees are “overpaid”. Thus far, the consensus is that when you match education levels and the like, indeed private employees make more.
    There are still people looking into the data.
    Here’s one place to look for consideration of some of the complications:
    http://www.themonkeycage.org/2011/02/are_wisconsin_public_employees.html#more
    In the end, it’s worth noting that adults sat around a table, came to an agreement about benefits and salaries. It’s a 2 party contract. And it has worked fine. Absent major economic recession, and absent an unwillingness to have reasonable corporate taxation with reasonable compliance, all is well.
    As many have pointed out, the unions have long agreed to the give backs. Walker isn’t interested in give backs. Give backs deal with the budget issues for now.
    Walker hates unions. He’s supported by libertarian money. Libertarians, for completely unknown reasons, seem to HATE unions, and so union-busting it is. Walker is holding out for the collective bargaining issue. This issue is far less a budget crisis issue than are the give backs.
    Middle class salaries and middle class benefits are what make the middle class function. As far back as Aristotle people have understood how important the middle class is as a pushback against the oligarchs and the mass of poor people who might otherwise rebel.
    Basically, then, we either pay the fuckin’ taxes and tax the fuckin’ corporations or we become the Libya of the Western World……
    I choose taxes!
    (and before you start citing numbers all over the place, please separate out income from total compensation and don’t conflate the two. It murks up the waters…..)

    Reply

  6. DonS says:

    Hey, I can repeat stuff too, just like the right wing noise machine here:
    Via Jane Hamsher:
    “It seemed like only yesterday that a contract was sacrosanct. Remember 2009, and those AIG bonuses, paid for with taxpayer dollars?
    ” The administration official said the Treasury Department did its own legal analysis and concluded that those contracts could not be broken.
    Larry Summers:
    ” We are a country of law. There are contracts. The government cannot just abrogate contracts.
    “But now that we

    Reply

  7. DonS says:

    On “unions”, even public worker unions. Cutting through all the fucking right wing hypocrisy,
    “It seemed like only yesterday that a contract was sacrosanct. Remember 2009, and those AIG bonuses, paid for with taxpayer dollars?”
    So, are times different now? Oh yeah, all those dollars siphoned from the middle class into the pockets of the banksters. Shhhhhh.
    http://fdlaction.firedoglake.com/2011/02/23/we-cant-break-aig-bonus-contracts-but-worker-pensions-no-problem/

    Reply

  8. questions says:

    Mark,
    ALL comments are held for moderation now. There’s no “special treatment” for anyone.
    nadine, any union that commands vaguely decent wages and/or benefits is a pushback at capital. Sadly we don’t pay sufficient taxes in this country to cover the level of services we prefer.
    And polling data seem to show that there is pretty broad support for the protesters, and fairly narrow support for Walker and the other union bashers. Note that govs in Fla and Indiana are backing down. They are more like the Saudi King, saying, holy shit, people are pissed. We have to pay them better. The govs like Walker who keep pushing have a little droplet of autocratic and unyielding rule in them.
    I hope the dems in Wisc. organize enough to get a recall going such that a few Republicans really back down and calm the rhetoric a bit. Walker’s plan is not the only way to deal with budgets, and trashing collective bargaining is a particularly oligarchic and anti free market and non-libertarian sort of thing to do. Not sure how conservatives think it’s wrong for unions to push back at capital. Seems it’s a reasonable market-style response to capital….. Just one of those cognitive dissonance moments people live with.

    Reply

  9. questions says:

    “In Tajura on the Mediterranean coast just east of Tripoli, loyalists were firing antiaircraft weapons at people, according to witnesses in the capital. ”
    …..
    “Witnesses said mercenaries from elsewhere in Africa were flown in last week and sprayed bullets at civilians”
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/23/AR2011022303342.html?hpid=topnews&sid=ST2011022203809

    Reply

  10. Cee says:

    Paul,
    France has promised the president of Chad that he’ll be protected.
    JohnH,
    Libya didn’t have any WMD program to give up.
    Indeed he was an ally in the War on Terror because our proxies tried to kill him too. See my earlier post.

    Reply

  11. questions says:

    And there’s this —
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/02/23/948773/-Use-live-ammunition-on-Wisconsin-protesters
    As the kos diarist asks:
    “We have the Koch’s sponsoring the gutting of Unions in Wisconsin and Assistant DAs in Indiana calling for protesters to be shot. Why am I beginning to feel like Libya is coming to America? ”

    Reply

  12. questions says:

    Gotta admit, the punking phone call is probably not the best kind of journalism, and I shouldn’t enjoy it so much…but Scott Walker got punked…..
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/23/scott-walker-buffalo-beast-phone-prank_n_827058.html

    Reply

  13. JohnH says:

    “After Colonel Qaddafi abandoned his pursuit of weapons of mass destruction in 2003, many American officials praised his cooperation. Visiting with a congressional delegation in 2009, Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, Independent of Connecticut told the leader and his party-loving national security adviser, Muatassim, that Libya was

    Reply

  14. Cee says:

    This group, along with the US also wanted to assassinate Gaddhafi. How odd, huh? No.
    LIFG was founded in the fall of 1995 by Libyans who had fought against Soviet forces in Afghanistan. It aims to establish an Islamic state in Libya and views the current regime as oppressive, corrupt and anti-Muslim, according to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. LIFG claimed responsibility for a failed assassination attempt against Qadhafi in February 1996, which was in part funded by MI6 according to David Shayler, and engaged Libyan security forces in armed clashes during the mid-to-late 1990s.
    They continue to target Libyan interests and may engage in sporadic clashes with Libyan security forces.
    Btw…the Raymond Davis story is becoming more widespread. Yahoo news today.

    Reply

  15. JohnH says:

    “After Colonel Qaddafi abandoned his pursuit of weapons of mass destruction in 2003, many American officials praised his cooperation. Visiting with a congressional delegation in 2009, Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, Independent of Connecticut told the leader and his party-loving national security adviser, Muatassim, that Libya was

    Reply

  16. Paul Norheim says:

    As I mentioned in a comment some days ago, although we
    talk about this as a “Middle East” revolution, Egypt,
    Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, and Libya are actually African
    nations. The revolt could easily spread to other countries
    ruled by “Presidents-for-Life on the African continent.
    I mentioned Ethiopia, Uganda, Sudan and Eritrea among
    those. But here is a twitter from Nick Kristof some hours
    ago:
    “The democracy uprising is spreading to new parts of
    Africa: Cameroon, Gabon, Zimbabwe, Mauritania.
    about 8 hours ago via web”
    These African countries may seem insignificant for
    Americans involved in a geopolitical game. Their presence
    will be felt, however, if they descend into failed states, like
    Somalia.

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  17. questions says:

    Saudi thinking, Saudi spending, is money a substitute for EXPRESSION, driving, and sex???
    “RIYADH (Reuters) – Saudi King Abdullah returned home to the world’s biggest oil exporter after three months abroad for medical treatment on Wednesday and unveiled a series of benefits for citizens estimated to be worth $35 billion.
    The benefits include funding to offset high inflation, to help young unemployed people and to support families to get affordable housing and were offered as popular protests over poverty, corruption and repression hit many Arab countries. ”
    http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2011/02/23/world/middleeast/international-us-saudi-king.html?hp
    and there’s this:
    “Oil is now at a price not seen since the recession began, and it is more than $20 above goals set in recent months by Saudi officials as strong enough to satisfy the top producers but not so strong they might suffocate the global economic recovery.
    Although there are still plentiful supplies of oil and gasoline in the United States and in much of the world, American consumers are now paying an average of $3.17 a gallon for regular gasoline, a steep rise of 6 cents a gallon over the last week, according to the AAA daily fuel gauge report. With consumers paying roughly 50 cents more a gallon than a year ago, analysts are warning that prices could easily top $3.50 by the summer driving season. ”
    ******
    The word of the day is STAYCATION
    and the question of the day is “Honey, why the fuck did we buy an SUV in January?”

    Reply

  18. questions says:

    (and nadine on the horrific and horrible and no good very bad corruption of the wicked unions of the midwest…… you know, I’d rather have any kind of union pushing back at capital. Countervailing forces are crucial, and if indeed unions make their money from selling bennies the way AARP makes its money selling insurance, fine. Corporations make their money selling their workers down the river. They don’t waste resources tossing them under the bus when they can sell the body parts. So no matter what evidence of real, or imagined, or psuedo, or mild corruption or seeming conflict of interest you find, I’m thinking about MERS, numerous corporations, malfeasance, the stripping of private pensions, the enrichment of the billionaires and the offshoring of money, the tax breaks, the pitting of race against race and person against person, Enron, Tyco… that corporate capital is so good at. I’m thinking of externalities like pollution and significant health problems from work related activity, I’m thinking of just how hard it is to get through life on the bottom half of the US economy, (or maybe the bottom 4/5) and I’m just not crying because poor poor Gov Walker HATES bennies.
    Oh, and what does AFSCME have to do with the Teamsters anyway? I’m missing a connection here.)
    To tie this all in to the thread at some level, Gaddafi is firing on his own people because they lack precisely the kind of power structures that unions and other socio-politico-eoconomico organizations provide. We truly need alternatives to capital, to politics, to other organizations. Our whole system is far more stable when we have pushbacks everywhere.
    Walker needs to read Book IX of the Republic. He’s not set up for a happy life as an individual or in a state at the rate he’s going.

    Reply

  19. questions says:

    (note to nadine regarding the doctors note issue in Wisc — any time you cite Breitbart for anything, I’m not going to bother. The man has cooked up insane numbers of videos with his partner O’Keefe. The editing of video material to damn anything and everything he disagrees with is enough to make me sick. I am ever hopeful he loses the defamation lawsuit being brought by Shirley Sherrod. Find an unimpeachable source as opposed to a profoundly sue-able source and I’ll rethink. But I kinda doubt there are bunches of doctors willing for real to risk careers to sign genuine fake notes to excuse LABOR supporters.
    And even if a few doctors actually did participate in this level of activism, I gotta say, my conscience remains unshocked. I figure the corruption in the mortgage industry, the dirty dealings of the Koch bros and other members of the billionaire boys club, the war industry and others are all far worse than a few dirty fucking hippie docs going around signing medical excuses for a few people’s employers….. Get upset about something real, instead. Teh outragedujour ain’t much of an outrage….
    If doctors were so totally pro-labor, they’d all have been marching to Congress years ago screaming to support health CARE reform and dropping their incomes from the stratosphere down to the 50 grand level with subsidies for med school debt……)

    Reply

  20. Paul Norheim says:

    Excerpts from the NYT today:
    “TOBRUK, Libya

    Reply

  21. diana witt says:

    All I can say is Wow. Glad you didn’t post before.
    I don’t know, but it’s possible you might have
    endangered these people and it certainly wouldn’t
    have had the impact it does now. If anyone had told
    me a month ago that there was even a possiblity that
    Gaddafi’s position was threatened, I’d have said
    they were crazy. No matter what happens, the fact
    that we are even talking about it, and that you felt
    ready to post this shows how far things have gone.
    They will never be the same. I’m following you
    several times a day right now. Thanks for all your
    wonderful work. Best
    Diana Witt

    Reply

  22. Mark says:

    “Thank you for commenting.
    “Your comment has been received and held for approval by the blog owner.”
    Steve,
    Umm, no offense or anything, but why am I getting the Nadine/Wiggy Treatment? I’ve never been banned or even mildly censored on this site.
    What gives?
    Or does this have something to do with the CIA op, Blackwater, and Xe?
    Not into conspiracies or anything on this end, but the message that you gave me is very much out of step for your website and, well, just plain weird. Explain please.
    Thanks.

    Reply

  23. Mark says:

    Steve,
    Caught you with Mrs. Greenspan discussing the CIA op busted in Pakistan. Never once did you mention our pals and buddies at Blackwater or Xe, for both of which the op used to work. It was sort of like watching Mrs. Greenspan or any other well-comped media pundit discuss Israel without mentioning Lieberman, Avigdor.
    Were you told beforehand by Mrs. Greenspan and/or her employer not to say the words “Blackwater” or “Xe” or in any way reference the op’s history at both organizations?
    Or was the censorship of these organizations and the op’s history with said groups merely standard practice on your behalf?
    Just curious.

    Reply

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