Boiling Frogs Book Review

BFP Book Review- ‘Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney & Their Masters’ by Andrew Kreig

The Enthralling Connections That Make “Viable” Presidency Candidates

By Mark Mondalek

I was in college when I first read President Obama’s 1995 memoir Dreams from My Father. It was just a little over a year after his inauguration and the book had been curiously assigned in an advanced nonfiction reading course featuring the works of Mark Twain, James Baldwin and George Orwell. A natural aversion to political memoirs undoubtedly left several literary-minded classmates feeling skeptical over the selected reading material, myself included. Not only was the 2008 election still very fresh in our minds, but we were additionally attending classes in Chicago at the time, the very city that had launched it. [Read more...]

BFP Book Review- ‘Secrets, Spies and 7/7’ by Tom Secker

“Dead Men Tell No Tales. Muslim Suicide Bombers––Even Less.”

By Mark Mondalek

To speak of absolutes on behalf of 7/7 is a difficult task. To properly distill the facts of that tragic day, any serious inquiry must rest on one simple foundation: that on July 7, 2005, London bombings (of some kind) killed 56 people and wounded several hundred more. This is the bedrock of it all and surely a stance of great ambivalence to take on the matter, but it’s one of the only pieces of the 7/7 puzzle that remains set in stone. Everything else––as far as the case put forth by Secrets, Spies and 7/7 (Secker Publications, May 2013), self-published by author, filmmaker, and independent intelligence analyst and researcher Tom Secker––is entirely amiable. [Read more...]

BFP Book Review- ‘A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State’ by John W. Whitehead

The Present & Forthcoming Police State in Modern Day America
By Mark Mondalek

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When I first heard news of this month’s worldwide travel alert proclaiming potential terrorist attacks emanating from al-Qaeda or its affiliates in the Arabian Peninsula to be particularly imminent throughout all of August, an excerpt from John W. Whitehead’s newly released A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State (SelectBooks, June 2013) immediately came to mind: [Read more...]

BFP Book Review: “Digital Disconnect: How Capitalism Is Turning the Internet against Democracy’ by Robert W. McChesney”

A Deep Insight into the Decrepit State of the American Press

By Mark Mondalek

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In the beginning it was Big Government that got the ball rolling: subsidized research and directive forays into digital communication in the decades following World War II, all coalesced within the military-industrial complex, perpetual war, and a blood pact between the U.S. government and the corporate giants that grows ever-stronger by the day. [Read more...]

BFP Book Review: “America’s Deadliest Export: Democracy”- By William Blum

The Truth About U.S. Foreign Policy & Everything Else

By Mark Mondalek

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In January 2006, an audiotape from Osama bin Laden was released in which he recommended William Blum’s Rogue State as a useful book to read for Americans looking to better understand the “lies and oppression” perpetrated by George W. Bush on the rest of the world at the time.

Fast-forward to 2013: Barack Obama is President, bin Laden’s dead, and William Blum has a new book out. [Read more...]

BFP Book Review: “The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s Manufactured War on Terrorism’ by Trevor Aaronson”

How the FBI creates and facilitates phony terrorist plots so that the bureau can then claim victory in the war on terror.

By Mark Mondalek

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In his speech on national security on May 23, 2013, President Obama addressed the threat of terrorism perpetrated inside the United States, stating that “the best way to prevent violent extremism inspired by violent jihadists is to work with the Muslim American community, which has consistently rejected terrorism, to identify signs of radicalization, and partner with law enforcement when an individual is drifting towards violence.”

Trevor Aaronson, in his new book The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s Manufactured War on Terrorism (Ig Publishing, January 2013), gives a very contradicting assessment of what this partnership actually entails, one that the government––by the looks of things––has no plans on reigning in anytime soon.

Assembling together the research that was originally a part of his award-winning project about FBI counterterrorism operations for Mother Jones in September 2011, Aaronson poured through the court records of every terrorism-related prosecution in the United States in the ten years following 9/11 to amass a staggering list of 508 defendants considered to be terrorists by the U.S. government. Analyzing this data in accordance as to whether the defendant was targeted through the use of an FBI informant, caught in an FBI terrorism sting or encountered by an agent provocateur (an undercover government agent used to provoke the defendant into illegal activity), Aaronson determined that he “could count on one hand” the number of actual terrorists who posed a direct and immediate threat to the United States. [Read more...]

BFP Book Club: Leaking & Whistleblowing- A Review of Max Holland’s Leak

Max Holland; Leak: Why Mark Felt became Deep Throat; Univ Press of Kansas (March 2012)

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What was Watergate about?  Who was Mark Felt?  Was he “Deep Throat?” If he was, why did he do it?  Why should we care, now?  These are some of the questions underlying, addressed in, and raised by a new book by Max Holland titled Leak:  Why Mark Felt Became Deep Throat.[1]

Watergate, at its root, was about the abuse of executive branch powers.  The discovery of a break-in at the office of a rival political party spiraled into an affair leading to impeachment proceedings and the resignation of a President, following revelations of high-level support for illegal activity including campaign finance violations, money laundering, wiretapping, and burglaries.

In a country based on constitutional principles like ours, drawn on a tapestry following a war for independence from tyrannical government authority, the exercise of executive branch authority always calls for oversight.  And good lessons from history can help illuminate current events.  In Leak, Holland provides a valuable and original inquiry into important historical questions.  Holland’s interpretation gives us some insight into a murky history, and it also provides context for currently pressing questions about the integrity of government and our Rule of Law.

Who Do You Trust?

Who can we trust, when lawmakers and law enforcers become lawbreakers?  What motivates those who speak out, or “leak,” to provide sensitive and previously secret information to society?  Can we always rely on people of integrity to speak out when warranted?   What if we can’t trust the people who do speak out, or the people who report what they say? [Read more...]