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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Plan to oust Saddam Hussein was drawn up 2 years before invasion...

Plan to oust Saddam drawn up two years before the invasion
Secret document signalled support for Iraqi dissidents and promised aid, oil and trade deals in return for regime change
By Michael Savage, Political Correspondent
Monday, 1 February 2010

A secret plan to foster an internal coup against Saddam Hussein was drawn up by the Government two years before the invasion of Iraq, The Independent can reveal.

Whitehall officials drafted the "contract with the Iraqi people" as a way of signalling to dissenters in Iraq that an overthrow of Saddam would be supported by Britain. It promised aid, oil contracts, debt cancellations and trade deals once the dictator had been removed. Tony Blair's team saw it as a way of creating regime change in Iraq even before the 9/11 attack on New York.

The document, headed "confidential UK/US eyes", was finalised on 11 June 2001 and approved by ministers. It has not been published by the Iraq inquiry but a copy has been obtained by The Independent and can be revealed for the first time today. It states: "We want to work with an Iraq which respects the rights of its people, lives at peace with its neighbours and which observes international law.

"The Iraqi people have the right to live in a society based on the rule of law, free from repression, torture and arbitrary arrest; to enjoy respect for human rights, economic freedom and prosperity," the contract reads. "The record of the current regime in Iraq suggests that its priorities remain elsewhere.

"Those who wish to promote change in Iraq deserve our support," it concludes. "We look forward to the day when Iraq rejoins the international community." A new regime was to be offered "debt rescheduling" through the Paris Club, an informal group of the richest 19 economies, given help from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund and handed an EU aid and trade deal. Companies were to be invited to invest in its oil fields. A "comprehensive retraining programme" was to be offered to Iraqi professionals.

During his evidence to the inquiry last week, Mr Blair said it was only after 9/11 that serious attention was given to removing Saddam as the attack changed the "calculus of risk". However, another classified document released by the Iraq inquiry on Friday night showed that No 10 explicitly saw the Contract with the Iraqi People as an early tool to remove the former Iraqi dictator. A memo issued in March 2001 by Sir John Sawers, then Mr Blair's foreign policy adviser, cited the document under the heading "regime change".

"Regime change. The US and UK would re-make the case against Saddam Hussein. We would issue a Contract with the Iraqi People, setting out our goal of a peaceful, law-abiding Iraq," the memo states. "The Contract would make clear that the Iraqi regime's record and behaviour made it impossible for Iraq to meet the criteria for rejoining the international community without fundamental change."

Officials planned to release the contract alongside tougher sanctions against Saddam's regime being negotiated in 2001. When no agreement was reached and the US began to seek more active measures to remove the Baghdad administration after 9/11, the contract was dropped.

The document was not released by the Iraq inquiry, despite being cited as significant by Foreign Office officials. Sir William Patey, the Government's head of Middle East policy at the time it was drafted, said it was "our way in the Foreign Office of trying to signal that we didn't think Saddam was a good thing and it would be great if he went". He said it was used in place of an "explicit policy of trying to get rid of him".

"It was a way of signalling to the Iraqi people that because we don't have a policy of regime change, it doesn't mean to say we're happy with Saddam Hussein, and there is life after Saddam with Iraq being reintegrated into the international community," he said.

Ed Davey, the Foreign Affairs spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, said the document called into question Mr Blair's evidence and should have been made public before his hearing on Friday. "A plan to back Iraqis seeking to oust Saddam may have been far less damaging and certainly more legal than what happened. Yet it shows that Blair's intent was always for regime change from an early stage and before 9/11," he said. "Yet again, it seems that critical documents have not been declassified, hampering the questioning of Blair and others."

* Tony Blair is to be recalled by the Chilcot Inquiry to give further evidence, according to The Guardian. It claims that Mr Blair will be questioned in both public and in private after the panel raised concerns that his evidence relating to the legality of the invasion conflicted with that given by the former Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith.

Passenger claims 'sharp dressed man' who aided Christmas Day bomber onto Flight 253 was US government agent...

The Sharp Dressed Man Who Aided Mutallab Onto Flight 253 Was U.S. Government Agent
Kurt Haskell
January 30, 2010

Please note that in the article that follows, I am not claiming that the U.S. Government knew Mutallab had a bomb or intended to hurt anyone on Flight 253 when the U.S. Government let him board.

Since our flight landed on Christmas Day, Lori and I have been doing everything in our power to uncover the truth about why we were almost blown up in the air over Detroit. The truth is now finally out after the publication of the following Detroit News article:


Let me quote from the article:

“Patrick F. Kennedy, an undersecretary for management at the State Department, said Abdulmutallab’s visa wasn’t taken away because intelligence officials asked his agency not to deny a visa to the suspected terrorist over concerns that a denial would’ve foiled a larger investigation into al-Qaida threats against the United States.

“Revocation action would’ve disclosed what they were doing,” Kennedy said in testimony before the House Committee on Homeland Security. Allowing Adbulmutallab to keep the visa increased chances federal investigators would be able to get closer to apprehending the terror network he is accused of working with, “rather than simply knocking out one solider in that effort.”‘

Now it all becomes apparent. Let me detail everything we know about the “Sharp Dressed Man” (SDM).

1. While being held in Customs on Christmas Day, I first told the story of the SDM.

2. My story has never changed.

3. The FBI visited my office on December 29, 2009, and showed me a series of approximately 10 photographs. None were of the SDM. I asked the FBI if they brought the Amsterdam security video to help me identify the SDM, but they acted as though my request was ridiculous. The FBI asked me what accent the SDM spoke in and I indicated that he had an American accent similar to my own. I further indicated that he wore a tan suit without a tie, was Indian looking, around age 50, 6′0″ tall and 250-260 lbs. I further indicated that I did not believe that he was an airline employee and that he was not on our flight.

4. During the first week of January, 2010, Dutch Military Police and the FBI indicated that over “200 Hours” of Amsterdam airport security video had been reviewed and it “Shows Nothing”.

5. The mainstream media picked up the “Shows nothing” story, which slanders my story. After visiting my office twice for a flight 253 special, Dateline NBC and Chris Hanson indicated that my story was “Unsubstantiated rumor dispelled as myth” and our story did not air during the tv special.

6. On January 2, 2010, I receive a call from a flight 253 passenger who indicated to me that it may be in my best interest to stop talking publicly about the SDM because he believes I am “wrong” in what I saw. He did not make any claim that he saw the SDM boarding gate incident at all. This call was made out of the blue after he made a “revelation” of this event on January 1, 2010. I later discover that this caller has ties to the U.S. Government.

7. On January 20, 2009, current Director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), Michael E. Leiter, made a startling admission. Leiter indicated that: “I will tell you, that when people come to the country and they are on the watch list, it is because we have generally made the choice that we want them here in the country for some reason or another.”

8. On January 22, 2010, CongressDaily reported that intelligence officials “have acknowledged the government knowingly allows foreigners whose names are on terrorist watch lists to enter the country in order to track their movement and activities.”

CongressDaily also reported, citing an unnamed “intelligence official” that Michael E. Leiter’s statement on January 20, 2010, reflected government policy and told the publication, “in certain situations it’s to our advantage to be able to track individuals who might be on a terrorist watch list because you can learn something from their activities and their contacts.”

9. On Janury 22, 2009, ABC News published an article that shoed a change of position in the government’s official story. Please see the following blog post for more information:


The U.S. government provided no explanation for the reason my story was initially discounted.

10. The SDM could not be from Al Qaeda. When speaking at the counter in Amsterdam, the SDM said the following “He is from Sudan, we do this all the time”. Who is “we”? If it is Al Qaeda, you surely don’t make such a statement to an airposrt security official.

11. The SDM could not be from airport security. The SDM did not dress in any secuirty uniform and did not appear to have any security badge. The SDM did not speak with a Dutch accent. The SDM dressed in a suit coat and pants. If the SDM was a higher up security official, he would not have to convince the ticket agent to let Mutallab on the plane without a valid passport. Instead, he would just order her to do it.

12. Could the SDM have been a U.S. Government official? He dressed in a suit and not a security uniform. Check. He indicated we do this all the time. Could “we” be the U.S. Government? Check. He spoke Enlish with an American accent. Check. Would he need to convice the ticket agent that this was a normal procedure to allow boarding without a passport? Check. Would he have the ability to obtain such clearance? Check. Could he enter this security area even though he wasn’t a passenger? Check. Would the ticket agent likely refer this request to a manager? Check. Would the U.S. Government not want this information public and try to hide it? Check.

13. The Amsterdam security video has not been released. A much more minor airport security violation occurred at the Newark New Jersay airport several days after the flight 253 incident. That video was released shortly thereafter.

14. Senators Levin and Stabenow, as well as Congressman Dingle, all refuse to discuss the matter with me.

With the information we already knew and the admission from the above referenced Detroit News article, we have evidence and claims made by government officials that the U.S. Government wanted Mutallab to proceed into the U.S. in order to obtain information on other terrorists involved with him. Once we take this statement and add it to my eyewitness account of a “Sharp Dressed Man” escorting Mutallab through the boarding process and allowing him to baord without a valid passport we can make the connection that the “Sharp Dressed Man” was a U.S. Government offical/agent.

The reasoning behind the following events now becomes very clear:

1. The reason Mutallab got through security despite the numerous warnings for months before our flight.

2. The reason why there have been so many lies from the U.S. Governemnt attempting to discredit my eyewitness account.

3. The reason why the Amsterdam airport security video is being hidden from the public.

4. The reason why the government is proposing a “Failed to Connect the Dots” account of the failure. The truth is too damning.

5. The reason why Mr. Wolf of the Obama administration indicated on the Keith Olberman Show that the White House was investigating a possible “intentional act” from within the U.S. Government as the reason for the Christmas Day attack.

6. The explanation for the cameraman and why he hasn’t been identified (Obviously, he was another U.S. Government agent) whose job was to film Mutallab for some governmental purpose.

7. The reason for the lax security after landing, which can be attributed to foreknowledge of the possible suspects involved.

8. The reason for the failure to search or secure the plane and passengers after landing, which can also be attributed to foreknowledge of the possible suspects involved.

9. The corporate media’s attempt to bury my eyewitness account.

10. Carl Levin’s, Debbie Stabenow’s and John Dingle’s intentional avoidance of my story and failure to return my calls/emails.

11. Janet Naploitano’s statement that “The System Worked”. From her point of view it probably did as this WAS PART OF THE SYSTEM!

Special Inspector General warns of a 'deeper financial crisis in the future' due to bankster bailout...

Barofsky’s Winding Road and Fast Car to Economic Disaster
Kurt Nimmo
January 31, 2010

According to Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general for the so-called trouble asset relief program, the bankster bailout will ensure the destruction of the economy. “The government’s response to the financial meltdown has made it more likely the United States will face a deeper crisis in the future, an independent watchdog at the Treasury Department warned,” reports the Associated Press.

“Even if TARP saved our financial system from driving off a cliff back in 2008, absent meaningful reform, we are still driving on the same winding mountain road, but this time in a faster car,” Barofsky writes in a quarterly report to Congress that was released today.

TARP was not designed to save the economy. It was designed to nudge it over Barofsky’s cliff. It has increased the size of large banks. Barofsky said the banks still have an incentive to take on risk because they know the government will save them rather than bring down the financial system.

Barofsky also warned that the government and the bankster cartel known as the Federal Reserve are working to create yet another housing bubble. Over the past year, the federal government has spent hundreds of billions propping up the housing market. About 90 percent of home loans are backed by government controlled entities, mainly Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration, according to the Associated Press.

How did the Fed and the banksters do this? By directly manipulating the money supply. Earlier this month a survey of economists by The Wall Street Journal revealed that low interest rates were responsible for the housing bubble that eventually affected the economy.

Low interest rates and so-called “easy money” resulted in an epidemic of high-risk loans, the derivatives trade, and irrational speculation. If you watch the financial news programs or read The New York Times, you might believe all of this was simply the result of greed in absence of meaningful regulation and oversight. In fact, the Federal Reserve’s policy of manipulating the supply of funny fiat money and thus artificially creating speculative bubbles is part of a plan to crash the world economy.

In May of 2009, intrepid Bilderberg sleuths Daniel Estulin and Jim Tucker reported on a plan to bring about an economic crash. Information leaked from the Bilderberg meeting that year revealed a plan to undertake either “a prolonged, agonizing depression that dooms the world to decades of stagnation, decline and poverty… or an intense-but-shorter depression that paves the way for a new sustainable economic world order, with less sovereignty but more efficiency.”

The Great Bubble Machine (as Matt Taibbi calls it) is the preferred method of taking down the economy and preparing the way for fire sales and bankster and transnational corporate consolidation. “From now on, depressions will be scientifically created,” remarked Congressman Charles Lindbergh in 1913 after the Federal Reserve was established in the dead of night during Christmas.

In order for all of this to be successful the sheeple will of course need to be deceived. On the Bilderberg agenda in 2009 was a plan to “continue to deceive millions of savers and investors who believe the hype about the supposed up-turn in the economy. They are about to be set up for massive losses and searing financial pain in the months ahead.”

Obama’s glowing State of the Union was part of this insidiously crafted deception. In one fell swoop, Obama turned the bankster bailout gimmick into a jobs program. “The illusion will tear apart soon enough, and the world will come to realize that the crisis we have gone through thus far is merely the introductory chapter to the economic crisis as it will be written in history books,” warns Andrew Gavin Marshall.

“The biggest financial bubble in history is being inflated in plain sight,” Gerald Celente noted last year. The emerging Bailout Bubble “is the Mother of All Bubbles,” he said. It will be a coup de grâce for the global economy when it bursts.

At the end of March of 2009, Bloomberg reported that the “U.S. government and the Federal Reserve have spent, lent or committed $12.8 trillion, an amount that approaches the value of everything produced in the country last year.” This “works out to $42,105 for every man, woman and child in the U.S. and 14 times the $899.8 billion of currency in circulation. The nation’s gross domestic product was $14.2 trillion in 2008.”

By July of 2009, this figure had doubled. Barofsky was a bit more modest. In testimony before Congress, he said the figure may reach $23.7 trillion dollars.

Either way we are headed for a cliff in a speeding car, as the mid-mannered special inspector general warns in his report.

Congress is clueless. Last week the grand wizard of this impending crash was reappointed to the Federal Reserve.

The international banksters now have a green light to proceed.

Obama administration opposes 9/11 health funding...

Obama Admin. Opposes 9/11 Health Funding
By Michael McAuliff
January 28, 2010

The Obama administration stunned New York's delegation yesterday, dropping the bombshell news that it does not support funding the 9/11 health bill.

The state's two senators and 14 House members met with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius just hours before President Obama implored in his speech to the nation for Congress to come together and deliver a government that delivers on its promises to the American people.

So the legislators were floored to learn the Democratic administration does not want to deliver for the tens of thousands of people who sacrificed after 9/11, and the untold numbers now getting sick.

"I was stunned -- and very disappointed," said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who like most of the other legislators had expected more of a discussion on how to more forward.

"To say the least, I was flabbergasted," said Staten Island Rep. Mike McMahon.

The 9/11 bill would spend about $11 billion over 30 years to care for the growing numbers of people getting sick from their service at Ground Zero, and to compensate families for their losses.

The legislators were shocked the idea was falling lower on the administration priority list than other parts of the war on terror and financial bailouts.

"She made it clear that the administration does not support any kind of funding mechanism that goes into the bill," said Bronx Rep. Eliot Engel.

"I think it's fiscal restraint... but you know what? They find money for everything else, they need to find money for this," Engel said. "We were attacked because we're a symbol of our country."

McMahon was furious that caring for the heroes of Sept. 11 would take a back seat to anything but military funding.

"I thought there was a complete lack of understanding of the issue by the secretary and quite frankly, I did not expect that lack of compassion and failure to understand the urgency of the issue."

Victims and advocates of 9/11 families are similarly stunned.

Lorie Van Auken, whose husband died on 9/11 and who supports the White House in its push to try the terrorists in New York, was crestfallen at the news.

"I thought that these people would be taken care of. I would have expected better from this administration," Van Auken said, adding that she thought it sends the wrong message to all of America's would-be heroes that the government won't be there for them.

"These people put their lives on the line to help people who live here and who were in danger, and now the government doesn't want to support them," Van Auken said. "What happens in the future when something else happens? Are people going to say, 'No, sorry, I'm not going to help?'"

The legislators did hold out hope, though. McMahon and others said they would appeal to the President to consider adding 9/11 money to the list of mandatory items, rather than discretionary measures subject to the White House planned budget freeze.

Health and Human Servicices officials and the White House did not have an immediate response.

UPDATE:Team Obama to double budget for treating 9/11 responders in an amazing same-day U-turn

Argentina reveals secrets of 'dirty war'...

Argentina reveals secrets of 'dirty war'
Irish Sun
Friday 29th January, 2010

Buenos Aires, Jan 29 (IANS/EFE) Argentina has disclosed the secrets of the 'dirty war' waged against the left by the country's military regime 1976-83.

The secret files of Battalion 601, described as the 'brain' that coordinated killings, kidnappings and other abuses, contains the identities of both military and civilian personnel who played a role in the repression.

The declassification of the documents began with an order from Argentine President Cristina Fernandez Jan 1.

The documents presented before the federal Judge Ariel Lijo for review contain data on 3,952 civilians and 345 army personnel who worked for Battalion 601, said Ramon Torres Molina, director of the National Archive of Memory.

The battalion's civilian operatives included everyone from college professors to people who worked as porters, concierges and maintenance men at apartment buildings.

They were used to collect information and to infiltrate guerrilla groups and human rights organisations, with those assigned to infiltration duties given aliases with initials matching those of their real names.

The civilian agents were classified by grades corresponding to military ranks and the most proficient could aspire to the equivalent of colonel.

Torres, who refused to divulge any names until Judge Lijo finishes reviewing the documents, said the intelligence structure was created in the early 1970s and that it survived until 2000, when Battalion 601 was disbanded and its remaining 500 or so civilian operatives dismissed.

Some former commanders of the unit have died and others have been criminally charged, but many military and civilian veterans of the unit are at large, the archive director said.

The archive continues to thumb through more than 4 million digitised pages and thousands of dossiers in search of information about the crimes of a regime that left more than 30,000 'disappeared'.

Obama to seek major increase in nuclear weapons funding...

Obama to seek major increase in nuclear weapons funding
By Jonathan S. Landay, McClatchy Newspapers
– Fri Jan 29, 7:21 pm ET

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration plans to ask Congress to increase spending on the U.S. nuclear arsenal by more than $5 billion over the next five years as part of its strategy to halt the spread of nuclear weapons and eventually rid the world of them.

The administration argues that the boost is needed to ensure that U.S. warheads remain secure and work as designed as the arsenal shrinks and ages nearly 18 years into a moratorium on underground testing and more than two decades after large-scale warhead production ended.

The increase is also required to modernize facilities — some dating to World War II — that support the U.S. stockpile and to retain experts who "will help meet the president's goal of securing vulnerable nuclear materials worldwide . . . and enable us to track and thwart nuclear trafficking (and) verify weapons reductions," Vice President Joe Biden wrote in a Friday Wall Street Journal opinion piece.

The administration will seek an initial $600 million increase for nuclear weapons programs in the proposed 2011 budget it submits to Congress on Monday. That would increase annual spending on those programs by about 10 percent, to almost $7 billion .

The spending plan already has sparked controversy.

Some arms control advocates who ordinarily support the administration contend that the boost will fund unnecessary construction of new facilities that could give future administrations the ability to design and build new warheads, something that President Barack Obama has forsworn.

"Essentially the new facilities would allow an increase in the production of new warheads if they wanted to do that. They (the Obama administration) say they don't, but the next administration could," said Stephen Young of the Union of Concerned Scientists . "There are risks . . . for our overall non-proliferation goals."

Conservatives contend that with the arsenal to be slashed to no more than 1,675 deployed warheads under a new pact being finalized with Russia , U.S. security will depend on ending the testing moratorium and designing and fielding a new "modern" warhead.

"Nobody should kid themselves if they think there is a substitute for testing," said John Bolton , who served as the Bush administration's top nuclear arms control official and was an ambassador to the United Nations .

All 40 Republican senators and Sen. Joseph Lieberman , a Connecticut independent, implied in a letter to Obama last month that they'd block ratification of the new treaty with Russia unless he funds a "modern" warhead and new facilities at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and the Y-12 Plant in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

"We don't believe further reductions can be in the national security interest of the U.S. in the absence of as significant program to modernize our nuclear deterrent," wrote the senators, led by Republican Jon Kyl of Arizona .

Some experts said the administration apparently is hoping that its plan to boost spending on nuclear weapons will persuade enough Republicans to join Democrats in ratifying the new treaty with Russia and a global ban on underground testing known as the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Iran and North Korea , however, could argue that the plan contradicts Obama's pledge to cut the U.S. arsenal and seek a nuclear weapons-free world in their campaigns to blunt U.S.-led efforts to halt their nuclear programs.

Other countries could see increased U.S. spending for nuclear weapons as backsliding by Obama, whose strategy helped win him the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize.

"The tightrope the president has to walk is to put in enough funding to ensure everyone that the weapons will remain safe, secure and effective, but not so much that it looks like a new arms buildup," said Joseph Cirincione of the Ploughshares Fund , a foundation that underwrites arms control programs. "There is no question that some counties, friends and foes, will see the increased spending as a sign of U.S. hypocrisy."

Obama vowed to take "concrete steps towards a world without nuclear weapons" in an April 5 speech in the Czech Republic capital of Prague , warning that the growing danger of powers such as Iran or terrorist groups acquiring them puts "our survival" at risk.

He committed the U.S. to signing the new treaty with Moscow , de-emphasizing the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. defense strategy, joining the global ban on underground testing and bolstering the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the keystone of the international system to halt the spread of nuclear arms.

Obama, however, stipulated that "as long as these weapons exist, the U.S. will maintain a safe, secure and effective arsenal" to deter nuclear strikes on the U.S. or its allies.

Since the mid-1990s, the U.S. has used computer simulations, advanced experiments, inspections, monitoring and overhauls — the Stockpile Stewardship Program — to ensure the safety, security and effectiveness of its arsenal, now estimated at 2,200 deployed strategic warheads and 2,500 reserve strategic warheads.

A series of government and independent studies have certified the reliability of the arsenal. A September report by the JASONs, an independent advisory group, found that the "lifetimes of today's nuclear warheads could be extended for decades with no anticipated loss in confidence."

The JASONs' report, however, also added to concerns about a loss of U.S. nuclear weapons expertise, inadequate support for the Stockpile Stewardship Program and the need to modernize the Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico and the Lawrence Livermore laboratory in California and five other sites of the "nuclear complex" where warheads are maintained, monitored, overhauled and stored.

The National Nuclear Security Administration , the civilian agency that oversees the U.S. arsenal, is pursuing a multi-billion dollar plan to "transform" the complex by demolishing old, unsafe and unused facilities and consolidating their functions in modern, high-security buildings.

'Drone Porn' develops a cult following on the internet...

‘Drone Porn’ Develops a Cult Following on the Internet
29th January 2010
World Focus | January 28, 2010

U.S. government implements tougher airport security rulesWorldfocus Radio: LGBT politics and gay asylumChina commits massive funds to future high-speed railU.S. intensifies drone attacks on Pakistan’s tribal regionIn tactical shift, drone-fired missiles rain on Helmand U.S. seeks hearts and minds in combatting global jihadPashtunistan faces huge escalation of U.S. anti-terror war.

As unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have become increasingly central to America’s wars, “drone porn” has taken the internet by storm with captivating aerial images of death and destruction.

The Defense Department actually posts its drone attack footage on YouTube via DVidsHub. Some of the videos have caught the attention of millions, but critics ask whether the videos are newsworthy — or just lowbrow entertainment.

And while the drone strikes have undoubtedly taken out militants in many places that soldiers just can’t go, there is disagreement about whether UAVs are an effective anti-terror deterrent.

The military’s Predators and Reapers routinely strike Iraq, Afghanistan — and increasingly in Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere. Additionally, the C.I.A. is using drones to hit al-Qaeda and Taliban targets in northwest Pakistan.

The most watched “drone porn” segments are from Iraq. This video of Baghdad has over 1 million views:

Blogger Keith Thomson writes on Alternet about drone porn’s impact on the news media.

“In researching remotely piloted aircraft, I visited the stretch of Southern Nevada desert that has become to UAVs what Silicon Valley is to the device on which you’re reading this column. In 2007, Creech Air Force Base was made the home of the 432d Air Expeditionary Wing, the first Air Force wing dedicated to unmanned aircraft systems. Its daily missions in Afghanistan and Iraq could provide the military version of a SportsCenter highlight reel.

With an aim of promoting UAVs domestically as well as “enlightening” our enemies, the Defense Department recently began placing the Predator and Reaper mission clips on YouTube. Ranging from relatively detached wide shots of bombings taken by onboard cameras to startlingly graphic close-ups, the so-called “drone porn” has been a smash hit, as it were, tallying over 10 million views.

Perhaps best explaining its popularity are the thousands of YouTube commenters. Some marvel at the new technology and discuss the resulting paradigm shift in warfare. Some raise questions, including whether it’s principled, dignified or otherwise in America’s best interest to post drone prone in the first place. Most comments are along the lines of, “Hell yeah HOOOAH BABY!”

This video shows footage of a drone that destroyed two rocket rails in the Sadr City section of Baghdad:

Allison Kilkenny of True/Slant analyzes the drone porn trend:

Now, I don’t want to launch into a “kids these days” diatribe about how the human race is de-evolving into a pack of bloodthirsty, warmongering savages. I don’t believe video games, or violent films, make kids any less human or more prone to attack each other. However, I do blame a disconnection from the consequences of battle for this kind of war fetishism.

The drone footage looks like a video game (admittedly a shitty one), and of course the footage doesn’t show the targets’ lives (if they had a family, what their favorite book is, when they had their first kiss, etc.) The clips don’t even really show their faces. They are anonymous targets. The US military tells us these are The Bad Guys, so they are guilty, and deserve to die. Trials: unnecessary. Evidence: superfluous…

But the drone aspects of war are also clearly appealing to young people. The “point and shoot” video games are all the rage right now, which is partly why drone porn exists. Yet, the moral hazards of such extrajudicial killings are never explored in video games, or drone attacks, and all the usual human safeguards against killing during a ground invasion (namely that you have to look your target in the eye while killing them with your bare hands) are no longer an obstacle. Long ago, hand-to-hand combat gave way to guns, which gave way to better guns, which gave way to human-navigated aerial assault that has now been replaced by robotic drones. …

International Criminal Court complaint filed against Bush,Cheney,Rumsfeld,Tenet,Rice and Gonzales...

International Criminal Court Complaint Filed Against Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Tenet, Rice And Gonzales; International Arrest Warrants Requested
By Francis Boyle | Atlantic Free Press | 26 January 2010

Professor Francis A. Boyle of the University of Illinois College of Law in Champaign, U.S.A. has filed a Complaint with the Prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (I.C.C.) in The Hague against U.S. citizens George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, George Tenet, Condoleezza Rice, and Alberto Gonzales (the “Accused”) for their criminal policy and practice of “extraordinary rendition” perpetrated upon about 100 human beings. This term is really their euphemism for the enforced disappearance of persons and their consequent torture. This criminal policy and practice by the Accused constitute Crimes against Humanity in violation of the Rome Statute establishing the I.C.C.

Woman who worked at KBR says she was raped and drugged...

Raped and Drugged at KBR, Woman Says
29th January 2010

HOUSTON (CN) – At least two fellow workers drugged, raped and sodomized a paramedic working for Kellogg Brown and Root in Iraq, after KBR failed to warn her about the numerous sexual assaults that KBR employees had inflicted upon other women there, the woman says in a federal complaint.

The plaintiff was hired as a paramedic/medic in July 2007 and after her first assignment in Iraq was assigned to Camp Harper outside of Basra, where she says she was brutalized on Feb. 3, 2008.

She says she began to feel strange after drinking a screwdriver with some of her civilian colleagues after work that night on base. While she was incapacitated, she says William Risner, a KBR employee, led her to his room where Risner and a “special forces agent” identified only as “Jason” raped and sodomized her together, she says.

She recalls being anally penetrated by Jason, and screaming when this occurred. When she screamed, Mr. Risner quieted [the plaintiff] by putting his penis in her mouth. [The plaintiff] was sexually assaulted. At no time did she consent to the conduct of Defendant Risner or Jason. Defendant Risner and Jason then switched places, and [the plaintiff] recalls someone holding her legs up,” the complaint states.

The woman says that when she reported the rape to KBR officials, they subjected her to prolonged interrogation, forced her to sign false statements, and took away her company computer.

She seeks punitive damages from KBR, Risner and “John Doe Rapists,” for negligence, false imprisonment, assault and battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress. She is represented by Kell Simon with the Ross Law Group of Austin.

Mossad, Shin Bet responsible for Al-Mabhouh, alleged liaison between Iran and Hamas, assassination...

Israeli Media: Mossad Responsible for Al-Mabhouh Assassination
30th January 2010

Bethlehem – Ma’an – A four-person squad of Israeli Shin Bet and Mossad operatives arrived in Dubai on European passports to assassinate Muhammad Al-Mabhouh, an alleged liaison between Iran and Hamas, Israeli media reported on Saturday. According to the Israeli news-site Inyan Merkazi, the assassination squad interrogated Al-Mabhouh in his hotel room before killing him. The squad returned with “precious information” attained following Al-Mabhouh’s interrogation, which was focused on arms deals between Hamas and Iran, as well as how arms are smuggled into the West Bank, the news-site reported.

The Iran-Contra perpetrators of Black Tuesday(Alex Constantine)

Carnage for My Daily Bread: The Iran-Contra Perpetrators of Black Tuesday (Chapter One)
30th January 2010
By Alex Constantine (Formerly “Adnan Khashoggi Linked to 9/11 Terrorists,” plus updates and revisions)

Eighteen years before burning skyscrapers, codified torture, secret trials, concentration camps, kidnapping, mass detentions and state sanctioned assassinations, Barrick Gold, a mining concern in Canada with roots in the American intelligence establishment, was founded. It is fitting that gold, the seductive but dead heart of world capitalism, should christen a story about the most unconscionable event in Wall Street history: 9/11.

Barrick’s incorporation is obscure. Most accounts claim that the firm was founded by Peter Munk, a former radio manufacturer who made a splash in the Canadian press when he disposed of his shares in the company shortly before it was declared insolvent, a golden parachute paid for by investors and the Canadian taxpayer. His name was instantly mud in the investment community, but fortunately for Munk, no indictment was ever brought against him.

Peter Munk

Today, his overall worth is estimated at $350 million.1 Munk’s redemption was the work of Adnan Khashoggi, who would go on to notoriety as an Oliver North intermediary in the Iran-Contra affair. Khashoggi and Munk kicked off their partnership with a series of hotel investments. In 1983, he raided the corporation’s fat cash reserves to purchase Barrick. Munk – who had business ties to Australian airline magnate Rupert Murdoch and his business partner, Sir Peter Abeles, who represented certain organized crime interests in the United States (both maintained intimate ties to the CIA) - was installed as chairman.

Khashoggi distanced himself from Barrick after the Iran-Contra scandal broke (but held onto his stock, tied up as collateral for North’s arms transfers to Iran in 1985), notes Observer reporter Gregg Palast in a book on the 2000 presidential election, before Bush was invited in. That was in 1995: “Munk’s reputation was restored, at least in his own mind, in part by massive donations to the University of Toronto. Following this act of philanthropy, the university awarded Munk ­adviser Bush an honorary degree. Several students were arrested protesting a cash-for-honors deal.”2

The bonds were positively Sicilian. in 1986, Khashoggi was arrested for fraud and held in a New York prison. Munk paid his $4 million bail.3

Barrick Resources International (BRI), the nascent firm founded two years before Barrick Gold, was spun off by the Central Intelligence Agency’s Kermit Roosevelt to serve as a dummy business front. This was roughly the same time that Roosevelt cemented relations with Khashoggi, who brought Munk along, on behalf of the CIA. In 1983, the disgraced entrepeneur “picked up the mantle of this clandestine front (read looted taxpayer dollars) in Toronto as though it was his operation. It gave Khashoggi an excuse to be visible in Toronto, where he planted more businesses and outposts.”4 The offshore division of Khashoggi’s Barrick Resources, for instance, controlled Jetborne, Inc., a company in Toronto used by Khashoggi to ship arms to Iran under the direction of Reagan’s NSC.5

Khashoggi’s empire, raised on a bed of gold, metastisized rapidly. In 1973, he dropped in his burgeoning portfolio a company in possession of nearly two million acres of prime real estate, the Arizona-Colorado Land & Cattle Company — not far from the 100,000 acre Paloma Ranch near Gila Bend, deeded to the CIA’s Kermit Roosevelt and John B. Anderson.6

Two years later, in cahoots with Sheik Kamal Adham — then director of Saudi intelligence (1963-79), brother-in-law of King Faisal and the CIA’s key liaison to the Arab world — Khashoggi founded Oryx.

But the Saudi Sheik’s thieving bonds with Khashoggi and the CIA were forged decades earlier, with the incorporation of Barrick. The company’s seed investors were Saudis with Agency ties, including Shiek Kamal Adham, Adnan Khashoggi, and Prince Nawaf bin Abdul Aziz (a major investor in Barrick, code-named “Tumbleweed” by his CIA contacts).7

By 1978, Adham was worth roughly $134 million.

It was but two years earlier that the son of Prescott Bush, a well-heeled CIA director, struck up an alliance with Saudi Arabia and Iran under the Shah. George H.W. Bush’s left-hand man at Langley was Kamal Adham. After leaving the CIA in January, 1977, Bush was appointed to the executive committee chair of First International Bancshares (FIB), the largest bank in the District of Columbia. (In the 1980s, the Shiek and Abdul Khalil – Adham’s successor as Saudi intelligence director - then officers of BCCI, were implicated in a hostile bid for FIB, by this time transformed into a dummy front for its scandal-infested parent, BCCI.)

Raymond Close

Raymond Close, another revolving-door, covert dervish, CIA station chief in Saudi Arabia, took arms from the Saudis and gave them to Pakistan - a maneuver Oliver North would repeat at the NSC in the Iran contra swaps - and in 70s left the Agency and went to work for BCCI director Kamal Adham.

Majority shares in Capcom, a BCCI susidiary, were held by Saudi spooks Adham and Khalil. Capcom sidelines included money laundering and drug trafficking.8 Adham was eventually prosecuted for fraud in the BCCI case and paid a $100 million fine.

Of the 220 flight schools in Florida, Atta picked Huffman Aviation.

Wallace Hilliard snatched up Huffman Aviation in 1999 and hired Rudi Dekkers, a Dutchman, to run it.

The following year, Hilliard’s LearJet was stopped on the runway at Orlando Executive Airport by armed DEA agents.

The CIA’s Myron Du Bain was president of the Stanford Research Institute in the sixties, and in that capacity oversaw covert Cold War mind control experimentation

At Huffman, too, the CIA was a silent partner. Sander Hickes, a reporter for the Long Island Press, found that Hilliard “did business with Myron Du Bain, who worked alongside late ex-CIA director John McCone on the boards of several banks. Du Bain was chairman of the Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company in 1981 when the company announced plans to acquire Employers Health, an insurance company cofounded by Hilliard.”9 (He was also a director of American Express, Wells Fargo, Transamerica, and Pacific Gas & Electric.)

Hilliard’s alleged Saudi connection would soon be immersed in criminal activity of his own — with direct ties to terrorism — in Armenia. Bank fraud was rampant there, Global News Wire reported in August, 2004, “thanks to the Arab millionaire Adnan Khashoggi — an active partner of Armenian businessmen in the illicit drug and arms trades.” Khashoggi’s first bucket-shop banking operation was a branch of the Caucasus Investment Bank in Susa. In quick succession, with the assistance of Abu Muslum, an Arab businessman, he opened the Hamaz and Beit ul-Muqaddas banks.

Rovsan Novruzoglu, a political scientist and director of the International Strategic Research Center in Azerbaijan, fiound that Adnan Khashoggi’s banks “played a big part in the formation of terrorist camps and in the opening of laboratories for developing chemical and bacteriological weapons in Nagornyy Karabakh.”11

Back home, Wally Hilliard was training terrorists to fly airplanes — including both pilots who crashed into the World Trade Center.”

Drugs and arms dealer providing jet to fly Posada Carriles to trial...

Drugs and Arms Dealer Provides Jet to Take Posada Carriles to Trial in El Paso
31st January 2010

HAVANA, Cuba, Jan 29 (acn) Terrorist Luis Posada Carriles will fly to El Paso, Texas – where he will be tried for lying under oath on March 1 – in an aircraft provided by a drugs and arms dealer linked to the Iran-Contra scandal.

Granma newspaper reported today that Alberto “Al” Pardo Herreros (82), who offered the private jet to carry Carriles, is listed in records related to arms and cocaine trafficking managed by Posada Carriles, who is the self-confessed mastermind of the 1976 mid-air bombing of a Cuban airliner in which 73 people died, known as the Barbados Crime.

The article also notes that under the false name of Ramon Medina, CIA agent Carriles was the chief of logistics of the Salvadorian air force base in Ilopango from where he led trafficking operations to support theNicaraguan Contra at the moment.

Posada Carriles’s lawyers revealed Herreros’s name when they requested Judge Kathleen Cardone to authorize the terrorist to fly in a private jet to El Paso, since he is not allowed to use a commercial flight.

CIA declassified documents show that Herreros was linked to Pedro Luis Diaz Lanz when the latter was dismissed from his post as Head of the Cuban Air Force and later betrayed the Cuban Revolution.

Díaz Lanz joined the CIA and led bombings against Cuban territory from the United States killing several innocent people. Lanz killed himself on June 26, 2008, in Miami with a shot in his chest.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Traffickers targeting Haiti's children, human organs...

Traffickers targeting Haiti's children, human organs, PM says
By Tom Evans, CNN
January 28, 2010 -- Updated 0321 GMT (1121 HKT)

(CNN) -- Trafficking of children and human organs is occurring in the aftermath of the earthquake that devastated parts of Haiti, killed more than 150,000 people, and left many children orphans, Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive said Wednesday.

"There is organ trafficking for children and other persons also, because they need all types of organs," Bellerive said in an exclusive interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour.

He did not give specifics, but asked by Amanpour if there is trafficking of children, Bellerive said, "The reports I received say yes."

Haiti is trying to locate displaced children and register them so they can either be reunited with other family members or put up for adoption, Bellerive said.

But, he said, illegal child trafficking is "one of the biggest problems that we have."

Many groups appear to be legitimate, "but a lot of organizations -- they come and they say there were children on the streets. They're going to bring them to the [United] States," he said.

Bellerive said he's trying to work with embassies in Port-au-Prince to protect Haiti's children from traffickers.

"Any child that is leaving the country has to be validated by the embassy under a list that they give me, with all the reports," he said.

Speaking at his temporary headquarters in a police station near the Port-au-Prince Airport, Bellerive said the first thing Haitian officials seek to confirm is whether the children have adoption papers before they leave the country.

In Washington, the State Department said Wednesday it is moving cautiously on the issue of adoptions from Haiti.

"We want to be sure that when a child has been identified, that due diligence has been done to make sure that this is truly an orphan child and not a child that actually has family," said State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley. "Sometimes if you push too hard, too fast there can be unintended consequences. So we are being very, very careful."

"We respect the sovereignty of Haiti and their right to control the departure of Haitian children. So we think the system that has been established is working effectively. I know there is a perception out there of 'cut through the red tape.' But there are very good reasons we want to make sure this process works well," Crowley said.

On the broader issue of Haitian children, Bellerive told Amanpour the government will reopen schools Monday in most of the country.

He said there were particular problems in Port-au-Prince.

"We cannot open one school and not the other. But some of the schools want to operate right now. They say if there are tents -- if there are facilities and we can help them -- they are willing to open very rapidly."

Bellerive also highlighted the critical importance of getting enough tents and shelters to Haiti before the rainy season begins in May. He said he didn't know where all the tents promised by aid agencies and governments are.

"We have reports that they've already sent 20,000 tents maybe, and 20,000 more are on the way. But yesterday, when we didn't see the tents and we didn't see any action to organize the shelters, the president himself asked to see the storage place and we only counted 3,500 tents."

Bellerive said President Rene Preval asked for 200,000 tents to house between 400,000 and 500,000 people. "We are very preoccupied about the consequences of all those people on the street, if it starts to rain."

The prime minister also rejected criticism from within Haiti and overseas that his government needs to be more visible to the Haitian people.

"We are in charge. Frankly I don't understand what that position is that we are not visible," he said. "I almost feel that I spend more time talking to radio, television, than I am working."

"I know it's part of my job and I have to communicate. But I really feel that I have spent too much time doing that."

Bellerive also said he does not believe it's necessary to relocate the capital to another part of Haiti.

"I have to wait for technical and scientific evaluation, but from what I've heard until now, Port-au-Prince will stay there."

"Tokyo is still there, Los Angeles is still there. We just have to prepare a better constructed Port-au-Prince, a safer Port-au-Prince," he said.

He also acknowledged the need for more transparency and new procedures to prevent corruption in Haiti. But he said 70 to 80 percent of the aid coming to the country right now does not go through the Haitian government.

Bellerive said about 90 percent of American aid, for example, goes through non-governmental organizations. "They are accountable to the American government, but not to the Haitian government," he said.

The prime minister told Amanpour that he does not believe people overseas are helping Haiti out of a moral obligation.

"I believe it's a more pragmatic responsibility," he said. "I believe Haiti could be an interesting market in the midterm. We are 10 million [people] here and it's a market."

Authorities quietly reverse underwear bomber official story...

Authorities Quietly Reverse Underwear Bomber Official Story
Paul Joseph Watson
Prison Planet.com
Thursday, January 28, 2010

Authorities have quietly reversed the official story behind the Christmas Day underwear bomber attack and acknowledged that an accomplice was involved, despite weeks of denial and derision of eyewitness Kurt Haskell’s description of a sharp-dressed man who helped Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab board Flight 253 in Amsterdam.

Buried in the last two paragraphs of a story about alleged female suicide bombers coming from Yemen, an ABC News report contains the following bombshell.

“Federal agents also tell ABCNews.com they are attempting to identify a man who passengers said helped Abdulmutallab change planes for Detroit when he landed in Amsterdam from Lagos, Nigeria.”

“Authorities had initially discounted the passenger accounts, but the agents say there is a growing belief the man have played a role to make sure Abdulmutallab “did not get cold feet.”

Detroit lawyer Kurt Haskell maintained from the beginning that he saw a well-dressed Indian man aid the accused bomber to board the plane despite the fact that he had no passport and was on a terror watch list.

“While Mutallab was poorly dressed, his friend was dressed in an expensive suit, Haskell said. He says the suited man asked ticket agents whether Mutallab could board without a passport. “The guy said, ‘He’s from Sudan and we do this all the time,’” reported the Michigan Live news website.

FBI agents interviewed Haskell and he told them about the sharp-dressed man but officials refused to admit that a wider conspiracy was at hand, stoically maintaining the official story that Abdulmutallab had acted alone. Authorities claimed that videotapes did not show a second man accompanying Abdulmutallab and yet they refused to release any footage of the alleged bomber.

“Why is this not total breaking news?” asks Haskell’s wife on their family blog. “I think we now know WHY the video is not being released. Because IT SHOWS WHAT KURT SAID!!!!!! I mean, where is his apology? Where? They come out in the media, basically calling Kurt a liar, then they take it back, but it is in the bottom of another nonrelated article. Ridiculous. And still, to date, no authorities contacting KURT to ask him to look at the freaking video and help identify the guy. It’s so insane to me. We have an eyewitness to this, and they just don’t care.”

There seems little doubt that Abdulmutallab had at least one accomplice if not more. Authorities have remained silent on other eyewitness reports which described a man intently filming the alleged terrorist throughout the whole flight, a connection that strongly suggests the attempted bomber was involved in some kind of drill and that his strings were being pulled by people in more senior positions.

In addition, Flight 253 passengers reported seeing a third man connected to the incident being handcuffed by FBI agents after sniffer dogs found something suspect in his luggage. After initially denying any knowledge of this individual, authorities were forced to acknowledge his existence but claimed he had nothing to do with the attempted attack, completely contradicting multiple eyewitness accounts that state passengers were moved from a waiting area after it was made clear to them that a bomb had been found.

The fact that Abdulmutallab’s accomplices were all described as being Indian in appearance would contradict the story that has been spun around the issue in an effort to sell the public on naked body scanners in airports as well as deeper U.S. military involvement in Yemen.

The ludicrous spectacle of long-deceased boogeyman Osama bin Laden apparently claiming responsibility for the attempted attack this past weekend only confirmed that a fairytale was being contrived which was totally at odds with what eyewitnesses described.

Now that Haskell’s eyewitness account has been vindicated, it remains to be seen whether evidence of a wider conspiracy will be investigated or buried. There seems little doubt that the latter will be the case if Abdulmutallab’s accomplices don’t conveniently lead back to the Al-Qaeda patsies the establishment has already framed for the attack.

One of the 4 men arrested trying to 'interfere' with the telephone of senator helped run academic program funded by US intelligence...

Accused Louisiana Co-Conspirator Helped Run Academic Program Funded by U.S. Intelligence
Mark Hosenball

One of four men arrested on Tuesday for attempting to interfere with the telephones at the New Orleans office of Sen. Mary Landrieu previously worked for a U.S. intelligence-funded program to train would-be American spies, Declassified has learned.

Between August 2007 and October 2008, Stanley Dai served as assistant director of a program called the Intelligence Community Center of Academic Excellence at Trinity Washington University, a small Catholic college in Washington D.C., according to a school official. The official, university vice president Ann Pauley, said that the program was completely funded by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. She said the purpose of the program was to expose both undergraduates and graduate students at the university to the work of the intelligence community and to prepare them for possible careers in intelligence. As a result of the program, Pauley said, the university established a master's degree program in intelligence and security studies. She added that the government grant funding the program ended in 2008.

Online postings indicate that in April 2008 the program held a "colloquium" on "intelligence support for the War on Terrorism" at which at least three serving intelligence officials spoke: Ted Gistaro, the top terrorism analyst on the National Intelligence Council; an official named Joe Brittain of the National Counterterrorism Center; and an unnamed representative from WINPAC, a CIA office responsible for collecting and analyzing intelligence related to weapons of mass destruction. The daylong event ended with a reception featuring recruiters from various U.S. agencies, including NSA, CIA, and the Defense Intelligence Agency. Dai's e-mail is listed on the program as a contact point for the symposium.

Pauley said that she did not know what qualifications Dai had when he was hired to be the program's assistant director, and she said that he left Trinity when the DNI grant that financed it ended. She said the program was entirely funded by money from the intelligence czar's office. Other online postings, some of which are linked here indicate that Dai was a speaker at a "CIA day" last summer that was arranged by Georgetown University's "Junior Statesmen Summer School". This program included a field trip to the CIA, although current indications are that Dai had no relationship whatsoever with the agency and never visited its building.

A spokesman for Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair said that Dai never worked for the DNI's office and never had any security clearance from that office. The spokesman said the intelligence czar's office routinely supplied speakers to various university and school groups. The spokesman added that there was no indication Dai ever visited the intelligence czar's headquarters, which are located in a Northern Virginia office complex.

Dai and three other men were arrested by the FBI on Tuesday on charges that they fraudulently attempted to enter the New Orleans office of Democratic Senator Landrieu "for the purpose of willfully and maliciously interfering with a telephone system operated and controlled by the United States of America." The four men were reportedly released on bail. One of the four, James O'Keefe, became a hero to conservative-movement activists last year after he conducted a series of home video "stings" in which he and a female associate posed as pimp and prostitute at several offices of the left-wing community-organizing group ACORN. A lawyer for one of the men said outside the courthouse that his clients may have the product of "poor judgment" and that he didn't intend to commit a crime; lawyers for other defendants could not immediately be reached for comment.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Drug firms 'drove swine flu pandemic warning to recoup billions of pounds spent on research'...

Drug firms 'drove swine flu pandemic warning to recoup £billions spent on research'
Last updated at 7:49 AM on 27th January 2010

Drug companies manipulated the World Health Organisation into downgrading its definition of a pandemic so they could cash in on a swine flu outbreak, it is claimed.

An inquiry heard yesterday that the WHO allegedly softened its criteria for declaring a H1N1 flu pandemic last spring - just weeks before announcing there was a worldwide outbreak.

Critics said the decision was driven by pharmaceutical companies desperate to recoup the billions of pounds they had invested in researching and developing pandemic vaccines after the bird flu scares in 2006 and 2007.

As a result, millions of people have been vaccinated against a mild illness, and money that could have been used to prevent and treat major killers such as heart disease has been squandered.

The claims, which emerged during the first of several Council of Europe hearings into the handling of the swine flu pandemic, were strongly rejected by the WHO.

Following the organisation's declaration of a pandemic, the Department of Health warned of 65,000 deaths, set up a special advice line and website, and suspended normal rules so anti-flu drugs could be given without prescription.

But with just 250 or so deaths in Britain and 14,000 worldwide, the WHO is being asked to account for its actions.

The Government is now trying to off-load millions of jabs it ordered at the height of the scare. Sources say it is even considering giving some doses away for free.

Wolfgang Wodarg, former head of health at the Council of Europe, the Strasbourg-based 'senate' responsible for the European Court of Human Rights, said vaccine contracts were put in place in 2007, when it was feared the more lethal bird flu virus would mutate into human form.

Drug companies, which spent up to £2.5billion developing a vaccine, then pushed their interests within the WHO, leading to the definition of a pandemic being softened and an outbreak declared.

He told the hearing: 'It was stated in panic- stricken terms that this was a flu that could threaten humanity and a great number of humans could fall ill.

'This is why billions of dollars of medications were bought.

Dr Wodarg, an expert on the spread of disease, said that the change in definition made it possible for a worldwide pandemic to be declared and for the pharmaceutical companies to cash in.

Also giving evidence, Professor Ulrich Keil, a WHO adviser on heart disease, said the decision had led to a 'gigantic misallocation' of health budgets.

'We know the great killers are hypertension, smoking, high cholesterol, high body mass index, physical inactivity and low fruit and vegetable intake,' he said.

'In spite of all these facts, governments instead wasted huge amounts of money by investing in pandemic scenarios whose evidence base is weak.'

But Dr Kieji Fukuda, the WHO's top flu expert, rejected the allegations. 'We do not wait until (these global virus outbreaks) have developed and we see that lots of people are dying,' he said.

'What we try to do is take preventive actions. Our purpose is to try to provide guidance, to reduce harm.'

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Howard Zinn, author of 'People's History', dies at 87...

Howard Zinn, author of 'People's History' and left-wing historian, dies at 87 in California
AP National Writer
January 27, 2010 | 5:48 p.m

Howard Zinn, an author, teacher and political activist whose leftist "A People's History of the United States" sold a million copies and became an alternative to mainstream texts and a favorite of such celebrities as Bruce Springsteen and Ben Affleck, died Wednesday. He was 87.

Zinn died of a heart attack in Santa Monica, Calif., daughter Myla Kabat-Zinn said. The historian was a resident of Auburndale, Mass.

Published in 1980 with little promotion and a first printing of 5,000, "A People's History" was — fittingly — a people's best-seller, attracting a wide audience through word of mouth and reaching 1 million sales in 2003. Although Zinn was writing for a general readership, his book was taught in high schools and colleges throughout the country, and numerous companion editions were published, including "Voices of a People's History," a volume for young people and a graphic novel

At a time when few politicians dared even call themselves liberal, "A People's History" told an openly left-wing story. Zinn charged Christopher Columbus and other explorers with genocide, picked apart presidents from Andrew Jackson to Franklin D. Roosevelt and celebrated workers, feminists and war resisters.

Even liberal historians were uneasy with Zinn. Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. once said: "I know he regards me as a dangerous reactionary. And I don't take him very seriously. He's a polemicist, not a historian."

In a 1998 interview with The Associated Press, Zinn acknowledged he was not trying to write an objective history, or a complete one. He called his book a response to traditional works, the first chapter — not the last — of a new kind of history.

"There's no such thing as a whole story; every story is incomplete," Zinn said. "My idea was the orthodox viewpoint has already been done a thousand times."

"A People's History" had some famous admirers, including Matt Damon and Affleck. The two grew up near Zinn, were family friends and gave the book a plug in their Academy Award-winning screenplay for "Good Will Hunting." When Affleck nearly married Jennifer Lopez, Zinn was on the guest list.

"He taught me how valuable — how necessary dissent was to democracy and to America itself," Affleck said in a statement. "He taught that history was made by the everyman, not the elites. I was lucky enough to know him personally and I will carry with me what I learned from him — and try to impart it to my own children — in his memory."

Oliver Stone was a fan, as well as Springsteen, whose bleak "Nebraska" album was inspired in part by "A People's History." The book was the basis of a 2007 documentary, "Profit Motive and the Whispering Wind," and even showed up on "The Sopranos," in the hand of Tony's son, A.J.

Zinn himself was an impressive-looking man, tall and rugged with wavy hair. An experienced public speaker, he was modest and engaging in person, more interested in persuasion than in confrontation.

Born in New York in 1922, Zinn was the son of Jewish immigrants who as a child lived in a rundown area in Brooklyn and responded strongly to the novels of Charles Dickens. At age 17, urged on by some young Communists in his neighborhood, he attended a political rally in Times Square.

"Suddenly, I heard the sirens sound, and I looked around and saw the policemen on horses galloping into the crowd and beating people. I couldn't believe that," he told the AP.

"And then I was hit. I turned around and I was knocked unconscious. I woke up sometime later in a doorway, with Times Square quiet again, eerie, dreamlike, as if nothing had transpired. I was ferociously indignant. ... It was a very shocking lesson for me."

War continued his education. Eager to help wipe out the Nazis, Zinn joined the Army Air Corps in 1943 and even persuaded the local draft board to let him mail his own induction notice. He flew missions throughout Europe, receiving an Air Medal, but he found himself questioning what it all meant. Back home, he gathered his medals and papers, put them in a folder and wrote on top: "Never again."

He attended New York University and Columbia University, where he received a doctorate in history. In 1956, he was offered the chairmanship of the history and social sciences department at Spelman College, an all-black women's school in then-segregated Atlanta.

During the civil rights movement, Zinn encouraged his students to request books from the segregated public libraries and helped coordinate sit-ins at downtown cafeterias. Zinn also published several articles, including a then-rare attack on the Kennedy administration for being too slow to protect blacks.

He was loved by students — among them a young Alice Walker, who later wrote "The Color Purple" — but not by administrators. In 1963, Spelman fired him for "insubordination." (Zinn was a critic of the school's non-participation in the civil rights movement.) His years at Boston University were marked by opposition to the Vietnam War and by feuds with the school's president, John Silber.

Zinn retired in 1988, spending his last day of class on the picket line with students in support of an on-campus nurses' strike. Over the years, he continued to lecture at schools and to appear at rallies and on picket lines.

Besides "A People's History," Zinn wrote several books, including "The Southern Mystique," ''LaGuardia in Congress" and the memoir, "You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train," the title of a 2004 documentary about Zinn that Damon narrated. He also wrote three plays.

One of Zinn's last public writings was a brief essay, published last week in The Nation, about the first year of the Obama administration.

"I've been searching hard for a highlight," he wrote, adding that he wasn't disappointed because he never expected a lot from Obama.

"I think people are dazzled by Obama's rhetoric, and that people ought to begin to understand that Obama is going to be a mediocre president — which means, in our time, a dangerous president — unless there is some national movement to push him in a better direction."

Zinn's longtime wife and collaborator, Roslyn, died in 2008. They had two children, Myla and Jeff.

Associated Press Writer Rodrique Ngowi contributed to this report from Boston.

"Casino Jack and the United States of Money"- A look at corporate money and politics(Video)

“Casino Jack and the United States of Money”–A Look at Corporate Money and Politics

As a Supreme Court ruling opens the floodgates for corporations to affect elections, we take a look at corporate money and politics with Academy Award-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney. His new documentary, Casino Jack and the United States of Money, focuses on the rise and fall of disgraced Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff. We also speak with David Sickey, a member of the Tribal Council of the Coushatta Tribe, and Tom Rodgers, a lobbyist and member of the Blackfeet tribe who was a key whistleblower in the Abramoff case. Outside of the film, this is Rodgers’ first national broadcast interview.

What should we make of Obama's "spending freeze"...

What Should We Make of Obama’s “Spending Freeze”
Washington’s Blog
January 27, 2010

The big news today is Obama’s proposed “spending freeze”.

Fiscal liberals say this cuts spending at the exact time that we most need to increase it. See this and this.

Fiscal conservatives say this doesn’t go nearly far enough. See this, this and this.

But I think there’s a bigger issue that deserves some inquiry: is America being turned into a third world country?

As I wrote last June:

When the International Monetary Fund or World Bank offer to lend money to a struggling third-world country (or “emerging market”), they demand “austerity measures“.

As Wikipedia describes it:

In economics, austerity is when a national government reduces its spending in order to pay back creditors. Austerity is usually required when a government’s fiscal deficit spending is felt to be unsustainable.

Development projects, welfare programs and other social spending are common areas of spending for cuts. In many countries, austerity measures have been associated with short-term standard of living declines until economic conditions improved once fiscal balance was achieved (such as in the United Kingdom under Margaret Thatcher, Canada under Jean Chrétien, and Spain under González).

Private banks, or institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF), may require that a country pursues an ‘austerity policy’ if it wants to re-finance loans that are about to come due. The government may be asked to stop issuing subsidies or to otherwise reduce public spending. When the IMF requires such a policy, the terms are known as ‘IMF conditionalities’.

Wikipedia goes on to point out :

Austerity programs are frequently controversial, as they impact the poorest segments of the population and often lead to a wider separation between the rich and poor. In many situations, austerity programs are imposed on countries that were previously under dictatorial regimes, leading to criticism that populations are forced to repay the debts of their oppressors.

What Does This Have to Do With the First World?

Since the IMF and World Bank lend to third world countries, you may reasonably assume that this has nothing to do with “first world” countries like the US and UK.

But England’s economy is in dire straight, and rumors have abounded that the UK might have to rely on a loan from the IMF.

And as former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker said :

People seem to think the [American] government has money. The government doesn’t have any money.

Indeed, the IMF has already performed a complete audit of the whole US financial system, something which they have only previously done to broke third world nations.

Al Martin – former contributor to the Presidential Council of Economic Advisors and retired naval intelligence officer – observed in an April 2005 newsletter that the ratio of total U.S. debt to gross domestic product (GDP) rose from 78 percent in 2000 to 308 percent in April 2005. The International Monetary Fund considers a nation-state with a total debt-to-GDP ratio of 200 percent or more to be a “de-constructed Third World nation-state.”

Martin explained:

What “de-constructed” actually means is that a political regime in that country, or series of political regimes, have, through a long period of fraud, abuse, graft, corruption and mismanagement, effectively collapsed the economy of that country.

What Does It Mean?

Some have asked questions like, “Is the goal to force the US into the same kinds of IMF austerity programs that have caused riots in so many other nations?” Some predicted years ago that the “international bankers” would bring down the American economy.

I used to think, frankly, that such kinds of talk were crazy-talk. I’m not so sure anymore.

Catherine Austin Fitts – former managing director of a Wall Street investment bank and Assistant Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under President George Bush Sr. – calls what is happening to the economy “a criminal leveraged buyout of America,” something she defines as “buying a country for cheap with its own money and then jacking up the rents and fees to steal the rest.” She also calls it the “American Tapeworm” model, explaining:

[T]he American Tapeworm model is to simply finance the federal deficit through warfare, currency exports, Treasury and federal credit borrowing and cutbacks in domestic “discretionary” spending …. This will then place local municipalities and local leadership in a highly vulnerable position – one that will allow them to be persuaded with bogus but high-minded sounding arguments to further cut resources. Then, to “preserve bond ratings and the rights of creditors,” our leaders can he persuaded to sell our water, natural resources and infrastructure assets at significant discounts of their true value to global investors …. This will be described as a plan to “save America” by recapitalizing it on a sound financial footing. In fact, this process will simply shift more capital continuously from America to other continents and from the lower and middle classes to elites.

Writer Mike Whitney wrote in CounterPunch in April 2005:

[T]he towering [U.S.] national debt coupled with the staggering trade deficits have put the nation on a precipice and a seismic shift in the fortunes of middle-class Americans is looking more likely all the time… The country has been intentionally plundered and will eventually wind up in the hands of its creditors This same Ponzi scheme has been carried out repeatedly by the IMF and World Bank throughout the world Bankruptcy is a fairly straightforward way of delivering valuable public assets and resources to collaborative industries, and of annihilating national sovereignty. After a nation is successfully driven to destitution, public policy decisions are made by creditors and not by representatives of the people …. The catastrophe that middle class Americans face is what these elites breezily refer to as “shock therapy”; a sudden jolt, followed by fundamental changes to the system. In the near future we can expect tax reform, fiscal discipline, deregulation, free capital flows, lowered tariffs, reduced public services, and privatization.

And given that experts on third world banana republics from the IMF and the Federal Reserve have said the U.S. has become a third world banana republic (and see this and this), maybe the process of turning first world into the third world is already complete

Global warming fraud collapses amidst deception and scandal...

Global Warming Fraud Collapses Amidst Deception And Scandal
Paul Joseph Watson
Prison Planet.com
Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The multi-billion dollar global warming fraud is truly beginning to crumble, with even vehement man-made climate change advocates like the BBC acknowledging that the credibility of the IPCC is shot.

“The bloggers are all over the UN IPCC 2007 report, the bible of global warming, which predicted all manner of dire outcomes for our planet unless we got a grip on rising temperatures — and it seems to be crumbling in some pretty significant areas,” writes the BBC’s Andrew Neil in an article entitled ‘The dam is cracking‘.

Climategate was merely the opening salvo in a series of seemingly never-ending scandals that have engulfed the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change over the last few weeks.

The first major blow came when the IPCC had to admit that their 2007 forecast that the Himalayan Glaciers would disappear by 2035 was completely wrong. The absurd claim was first made by a little-known Indian scientist in an interview for an online magazine, invoked by the World Wildlife Fund, and then copied into the 2007 IPCC report with no investigation as to its accuracy.

In reality, even if IPCC estimates of global warming are proven correct, which is severely doubtful in light of their recent track record, the glaciers will be around for at least centuries longer.

“In fact, the IPCC’s 2007 report cites WWF documents as “evidence” at least another 15 times,” writes Andrew Bolt.

“Elsewhere it cites a non-scientific, non-peer-reviewed paper from another activist body, the International Institute for Sustainable Development, as its sole proof that global warming could devastate African agriculture.”

It then emerged that the scientist who first made the claim, Syed Hasnain, is now employed by The Energy Research Institute – headed by IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri. Just two weeks ago TERI won up to $500,000 from the Carnegie Corporation to study Hasnain’s bogus claim.

Pachauri, portrayed as an authoritative scientists by some when in fact he is a railway engineer, only made himself look worse by initially attacking climate skeptics as “arrogant” and believers in “voodoo science” when the glaciers issue was highlighted. Pachauri later had to retract his words but still refuses to apologize. Pachauri’s reputation is in tatters and he is under intense pressure to resign.

The credibility of the IPCC was further devastated when it was revealed that their predictions on the Amazon rainforest were also lifted wholesale from WWF propaganda with no independent verification whatsoever.

Amidst all this scandal, new peer-reviewed studies have emerged to confirm the obvious – the world had ice age activity even when levels of greenhouse gases were four times higher than the level of our pre-industrial times.

Global warming is heading to the same dustbin of history as Y2K, SARS and swine flu – another manufactured scare peddled primarily to make vast profits for corrupt elitists at the expense of the general public. The entire fraud is collapsing under the weight of its own lies as new revelations of IPCC deception and bias emerge on an almost daily basis thanks to the sterling work of climate skeptics who have had their convictions vindicated.

Treasury Secretary drilled after denying playing any role in Fed-AIG cover-up...

Geithner Told To Quit After E Mails Reveal Involvement In AIG Cover-up
Paul Joseph Watson
Prison Planet.com
Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s denial that he played any role in the AIG cover-up is contradicted by emails which confirm that both Geithner and the New York Federal Reserve were both intimately involved in keeping details about payments to banks including Goldman Sachs from the public.

Geithner told lawmakers today that he had no involvement in withholding information about the bailout of AIG, much to the chagrin of House Oversight Committee Ranking Member Darrell Issa, who wasn’t buying it for a second.

“He has asserted complete ignorance of the Fed’s efforts to cover up the bailout details,” said Issa, R-Calif. “Many Americans, including members of this Committee, have a hard time believing that Secretary Geithner entered an absolute cone of silence on the day that his nomination was announced.”

John Mica of Florida went further, calling for Geithner to quit as a result of the scandal.

“Why shouldn’t we ask for your resignation?” Mica asked Geithner. “We’re not getting the whole story, we’re getting the blame story. You’re either incompetent on the job or you knew what was taking place and you tried to conceal it, and I think that’s grounds for your review.”

Mica characterized Geithner’s denials as “lame excuses” as the Treasury Secretary became visibly angry.

In November and December 2008, The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, headed up by Geithner, instructed the bailed out AIG to hide from the public details regarding payments the insurance giant made to banks, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Societe Generale SA.

Using Fed secured taxpayer bailout money, AIG paid several banks 100 percent of the face value of credit-default swaps, as other financial institutions were negotiating deep discounts for the unregulated paper assets that do not have to be backed by cash.

The decision to pay the banks in full may have cost AIG, and therefore taxpayers, at least $13 billion over the odds.

The “backdoor bailout” of the banks, as it has been dubbed was exposed in March 2009 after the SEC challenged AIG’s filing, however, e-mails obtained by Representative Darrell Issa, ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, reignited the situation after they conclusively exposed a collusion between AIG and the Fed to deceive the public.

The e-mails between company and regulator show that The New York Fed crossed out reference to the payments and that AIG also omitted the details when the Securities and Exchange Commission filing was made public on Dec. 24, 2008.

The emails, the content of which are highlighted in this Bloomberg News article, also show that the Fed wanted numerous other details about the AIG bailout withheld or delayed from public oversight.

“It appears that the New York Fed deliberately pressured AIG to restrict and delay the disclosure of important information,” said Issa, adding that taxpayers “deserve full and complete disclosure under our nation’s securities laws, not the withholding of politically inconvenient information.”

Geithner’s denial that he, even as President of the New York Fed, had no involvement with the AIG case is contradicted by fresh revelations this week in a new report issued by Issa that show Geithner was “at a minimum, engaged personally in reviewing what information about the AIG bailout would be revealed to Congress and the public.”

On November 6, 2008 Geithner received an email from Sarah Dahlgren, the FRBNY’s lead staff member in AIG’s operations, seeking Geithner’s approval for a proposed statement regarding AIG’s upcoming equity capital raise. The fact that Geithner’s approval had to be obtained merely for putting out statements concerning AIG clearly indicates that he was deeply involved in the matter.

On November 13, Geithner was sent a report on AIG’s restructuring that would be sent to Congress. Sophia Allison, a staff member of the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors, asked that Geithner point out any information that he believed should not be “publicly disclosed”.

In addition, records of who Geithner met with during his tenure as President of the FRBNY “show that he was regularly engaged with top AIG officials and the FRBNY officials directly responsible for AIG’s disclosures to the SEC. Geithner’s schedule shows that he had at least six formal meetings with top FRBNY staff members about AIG-related issues between November 4, 2008, and November 21, 2008.”

Watch the clip from today’s hearings where Mica demands Geithner’s resignation.

Presidential assassinations of US citizens...

Presidential assassinations of U.S. citizens
By Glenn Greenwald

The Washington Post's Dana Priest today reports that "U.S. military teams and intelligence agencies are deeply involved in secret joint operations with Yemeni troops who in the past six weeks have killed scores of people." That's no surprise, of course, as Yemen is now another predominantly Muslim country (along with Somalia and Pakistan) in which our military is secretly involved to some unknown degree in combat operations without any declaration of war, without any public debate, and arguably (though not clearly) without any Congressional authorization. The exact role played by the U.S. in the late-December missile attacks in Yemen, which killed numerous civilians, is still unknown.

But buried in Priest's article is her revelation that American citizens are now being placed on a secret "hit list" of people whom the President has personally authorized to be killed:

After the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush gave the CIA, and later the military, authority to kill U.S. citizens abroad if strong evidence existed that an American was involved in organizing or carrying out terrorist actions against the United States or U.S. interests, military and intelligence officials said. . . .

The Obama administration has adopted the same stance. If a U.S. citizen joins al-Qaeda, "it doesn't really change anything from the standpoint of whether we can target them," a senior administration official said. "They are then part of the enemy."

Both the CIA and the JSOC maintain lists of individuals, called "High Value Targets" and "High Value Individuals," whom they seek to kill or capture. The JSOC list includes three Americans, including [New Mexico-born Islamic cleric Anwar] Aulaqi, whose name was added late last year. As of several months ago, the CIA list included three U.S. citizens, and an intelligence official said that Aulaqi's name has now been added.

Indeed, Aulaqi was clearly one of the prime targets of the late-December missile strikes in Yemen, as anonymous officials excitedly announced -- falsely, as it turns out -- that he was killed in one of those strikes.

Just think about this for a minute. Barack Obama, like George Bush before him, has claimed the authority to order American citizens murdered based solely on the unverified, uncharged, unchecked claim that they are associated with Terrorism and pose "a continuing and imminent threat to U.S. persons and interests." They're entitled to no charges, no trial, no ability to contest the accusations. Amazingly, the Bush administration's policy of merely imprisoning foreign nationals (along with a couple of American citizens) without charges -- based solely on the President's claim that they were Terrorists -- produced intense controversy for years. That, one will recall, was a grave assault on the Constitution. Shouldn't Obama's policy of ordering American citizens assassinated without any due process or checks of any kind -- not imprisoned, but killed -- produce at least as much controversy?

Obviously, if U.S. forces are fighting on an actual battlefield, then they (like everyone else) have the right to kill combatants actively fighting against them, including American citizens. That's just the essence of war. That's why it's permissible to kill a combatant engaged on a real battlefield in a war zone but not, say, torture them once they're captured and helplessly detained. But combat is not what we're talking about here. The people on this "hit list" are likely to be killed while at home, sleeping in their bed, driving in a car with friends or family, or engaged in a whole array of other activities. More critically still, the Obama administration -- like the Bush administration before it -- defines the "battlefield" as the entire world. So the President claims the power to order U.S. citizens killed anywhere in the world, while engaged even in the most benign activities carried out far away from any actual battlefield, based solely on his say-so and with no judicial oversight or other checks. That's quite a power for an American President to claim for himself.

As we well know from the last eight years, the authoritarians among us in both parties will, by definition, reflexively justify this conduct by insisting that the assassination targets are Terrorists and therefore deserve death. What they actually mean, however, is that the U.S. Government has accused them of being Terrorists, which (except in the mind of an authoritarian) is not the same thing as being a Terrorist. Numerous Guantanamo detainees accused by the U.S. Government of being Terrorists have turned out to be completely innocent, and the vast majority of federal judges who provided habeas review to detainees have found an almost complete lack of evidence to justify the accusations against them, and thus ordered them released. That includes scores of detainees held while the U.S. Government insisted that only the "Worst of the Worst" remained at the camp.

No evidence should be required for rational people to avoid assuming that Government accusations are inherently true, but for those do need it, there is a mountain of evidence proving that. And in this case, Anwar Aulaqi -- who, despite his name and religion, is every bit as much of an American citizen as Scott Brown and his daughters are -- has a family who vigorously denies that he is a Terrorist and is "pleading" with the U.S. Government not to murder their American son:

His anguish apparent, the father of Anwar al-Awlaki told CNN that his son is not a member of al Qaeda and is not hiding out with terrorists in southern Yemen.

"I am now afraid of what they will do with my son, he's not Osama Bin Laden, they want to make something out of him that he's not," said Dr. Nasser al-Awlaki, the father of American-born Islamic cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. . . .

"I will do my best to convince my son to do this (surrender), to come back but they are not giving me time, they want to kill my son. How can the American government kill one of their own citizens? This is a legal issue that needs to be answered," he said.

"If they give me time I can have some contact with my son but the problem is they are not giving me time," he said.

Who knows what the truth is here? That's why we have what are called "trials" -- or at least some process -- before we assume that government accusations are true and then mete out punishment accordingly. As Marcy Wheeler notes, the U.S. Government has not only repeatedly made false accusations of Terrorism against foreign nationals in the past, but against U.S. citizens as well. She observes: "I guess the tenuousness of those ties don’t really matter, when the President can dial up the assassination of an American citizen."

A 1981 Executive Order signed by Ronald Reagan provides: "No person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, assassination." Before the Geneva Conventions were first enacted, Abraham Lincoln -- in the middle of the Civil War -- directed Francis Lieber to articulate rules of conduct for war, and those were then incorporated into General Order 100, signed by Lincoln in April, 1863. Here is part of what it provided, in Section IX, entitled "Assassinations":

The law of war does not allow proclaiming either an individual belonging to the hostile army, or a citizen, or a subject of the hostile government, an outlaw, who may be slain without trial by any captor, any more than the modern law of peace allows such intentional outlawry; on the contrary, it abhors such outrage. The sternest retaliation should follow the murder committed in consequence of such proclamation, made by whatever authority. Civilized nations look with horror upon offers of rewards for the assassination of enemies as relapses into barbarism.

Can anyone remotely reconcile that righteous proclamation with what the Obama administration is doing? And more generally, what legal basis exists for the President to unilaterally compile hit lists of American citizens he wants to be killed?

What's most striking of all is that it was recently revealed that, in Afghanistan, the U.S. had compiled a "hit list" of Afghan citizens it suspects of being drug traffickers or somehow associated with the Taliban, in order to target them for assassination. When that hit list was revealed, Afghan officials "fiercely" objected on the ground that it violates due process and undermines the rule of law to murder people without trials:

Gen. Mohammad Daud Daud, Afghanistan's deputy interior minister for counternarcotics efforts, praised U.S. and British special forces for their help recently in destroying drug labs and stashes of opium. But he said he worried that foreign troops would now act on their own to kill suspected drug lords, based on secret evidence, instead of handing them over for trial.

"They should respect our law, our constitution and our legal codes," Daud said. "We have a commitment to arrest these people on our own" . . . .

Ali Ahmad Jalali, a former Afghan interior minister, said that he had long urged the Pentagon and its NATO allies to crack down on drug smugglers and suppliers, and that he was glad that the military alliance had finally agreed to provide operational support for Afghan counternarcotics agents. But he said foreign troops needed to avoid the temptation to hunt down and kill traffickers on their own.

"There is a constitutional problem here. A person is innocent unless proven guilty," he said. "If you go off to kill or capture them, how do you prove that they are really guilty in terms of legal process?" . . .

So we're in Afghanistan to teach them about democracy, the rule of law, and basic precepts of Western justice. Meanwhile, Afghan officials vehemently object to the lawless, due-process-free assassination "hit list" of their citizens based on the unchecked say-so of the U.S. Government, and have to lecture us on the rule of law and Constitutional constraints. By stark contrast, our own Government, our media and our citizenry appear to find nothing wrong whatsoever with lawless assassinations aimed at our own citizens. And the most glaring question for those who critized Bush/Cheney detention policies but want to defend this: how could anyone possibly object to imprisoning foreign nationals without charges or due process at Guantanamo while approving of the assassination of U.S. citizens without any charges or due process?


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