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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

US recants claims on 'high-value' detainee Abu Zubaydah...

US Recants Claims on 'High-Value' Detainee Abu Zubaydah
Tuesday 30 March 2010
by Jason Leopold
Truthout

The Justice Department has quietly recanted nearly every major claim the Bush administration had made about "high-value" detainee Abu Zubaydah, a Guantanamo prisoner who at one time was said to have planned the 9/11 attacks and was the No. 2 and 3 person in al-Qaeda.

Additionally, Justice has backed away from claims intelligence officials working in the Clinton administration had also leveled against Zubaydah, specifically, that he was directly involved in the planning of the 1998 embassy bombings in East Africa.

Zubaydah's name is redacted throughout the 109-page court document, but he is identified on the first page of the filing by his real name, Zayn Al Abidin Muhammad Husayn. He was the first detainee captured after 9/11 who was subjected to nearly a dozen brutal torture techniques, which included waterboarding, and was the catalyst, the public has been told, behind the Bush administration's "enhanced interrogation" program. Former Vice President Dick Cheney has publicly admitted that personally approved of Zubaydah's waterboarding.

His torture was videotaped and the tapes later destroyed. The destruction of 90 videotapes of his interrogations is the focus of a high-level criminal investigation being conducted by John Durham, a federal prosecutor appointed special counsel in 2008 by then-Attorney General Michael Mukasey.

In recent months, former Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen has been on a public relations campaign promoting his book, "Courting Disaster," in which he defended the torture of Zubaydah, claiming, among other things, that he reviewed classified intelligence that revealed Zubaydah's torture produced actionable intelligence that thwarted imminent plots against the United States.

But court documents unclassified last week debunk Thiessen's assertions as well as those made by, among others, George W. Bush, who said Zubaydah was one of al-Qaeda's "top operatives plotting and planning death and destruction on the United States."

For the first time, the government now officially admits that Zubaydah did not have "any direct role in or advance knowledge of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001," and was neither a "member" of al-Qaeda nor "formally" identified with the terrorist organization.

The government has a new set of eharges it is leveling against Zubaydah and claims he is being detained by the United States based on his "actions" as an "affiliate" of al-Qaeda that may have included the planning of a counterattack against US forces after the US invaded Afghanistan in November 2001 and a "thwarted" attack at the time of his arrest.

"The Government's accounts frequently have been at variance with the actual facts, and the government has generally been loath to provide the facts until forced to do so," said Zubaydah's attorney, Brent Mickum, in an interview. "When the Government was forced to present the facts in the form of discovery in Zubaydah's case, it realized that the game was over and there was no way it could support the Bush administration's baseless allegations. So it changed the charges."

The government wants the judge presiding over the habeas case to deny defense requests for evidence that would "undermine" government claims that Zubaydah worked in Bin Laden's "military and security plan to confront an American counterattack" in Khost, Afghanistan, after 9/11.

"The Government does not rely on any contention that [Zubaydah] did this work as an 'al-Qaida' deputy or because he was subject to al-Qaida command," according to the court document.

But the exact charges the government appears to be making here is unknown because the information is classified.

"Evidence suggesting that [Zubaydah] lacked knowledge of plans by other persons or groups would not undermine the Government's allegations about [Zubaydah's] own thwarted plans, or any other allegations" against him, according to the Justice Department's filing.

The government acknowledges that it's case against Zubaydah is based entirely on the first six volumes of his diaries that he wrote beginning in 1992 [Please see this report for details about Zubaydah's diaries.] In the court filing, the government says that it filed a "factual return" on April 3, 2009, which included "six volumes of diaries written by REDACTED" and "an undated "propaganda video [Zubaydah] recorded before his capture in which [he] appears on camera expressing solidarity with Usama Bin Laden and al-Qaida." The government further says that it does not rely on "any statements [Zubaydah] made after his capture" in Pakistan in March 2002.

But later in the filing, however, the government concedes that Zubaydah was not aligned with or directly associated with Bin Laden or al-Qaeda.

The government "does not contend that [Zubaydah] was a 'member' of al-Qaida in the sense of having sworn bavat (allegiance) or having otherwise satisfied any formal criteria that either [Zubaydah] or al-Qaida may have considered necessary for inclusion in al-Qaeda. Nor is the government detaining [Zubaydah] based on any allegation that [Zubaydah] views himself as part of al-Qaida as a matter of subjective personal conscience, ideology or worldview.

"Rather, [the government's] detention of [Zubaydah] is based on conduct and actions that establish [Zubaydah] was 'part of' hostile forces and 'substantially supported' those forces," states the Justice Department's point-by-point response to 213 discovery requests Zubaydah's attorneys made in connection with his habeas corpus case, which sought evidence to support the government's position that Zubaydah was a top al-Qaeda official.

The Justice Department declined to comment on what appears to be contradictory claims in its court filing.

The Bush administration claimed in April 2002, days after Zubaydah was captured in Afghanistan and moved to a CIA-operated black site prison in Thailand that he was a top al-Qaeda official.

Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld described Zubaydah on April 1, 2002, as a "close associate of [Osama Bin Laden], and if not the number two, very close to the number two person in the organization. I think that's well established."

Nor did the Bush administration deviate from that position after Zubaydah was transferred to Guantanamo in 2006 and declared an "enemy combatant" in 2007 following a Combatant Status Review Tribunal.

John Bellinger, former legal adviser to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, said during a June 2007 briefing on Guantanamo Bay that Zubaydah helped plan the 9/11 attacks and was "extremely dangerous."

The Justice Department's response to discovery request "No. 21" says that "the Government has not contended in this [habeas] proceeding that [Zubaydah] had any direct role in or advance knowledge of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, so [to] the extent that this request seeks information 'tending to show ... that [Zubaydah] did not know of the planned attacks of 9/11', the request seeks evidence about contentions the Government has not made."

The government's new position is significant because one of the August 2002 torture memos prepared for the CIA and signed by former Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel attorneys Jay Bybee, now a Ninth Circuit Appeals Court judge, that described the torture techniques interrogators could use against Zubaydah, asserted that he "is one of the highest ranking members of the al-Qaeda terrorist organization," "has been involved in every major terrorist operation carried out by al-Qaeda," and was "one of the planners of the September 11 attacks" and that his torture was necessary in order to thwart pending attacks on US interests, which the CIA claimed Zubaydah knew about.

Exactly what Zubaydah's attorneys had requested from the government in their discovery filing is unknown as the document has not been cleared for release. The Justice Department asked the judge presiding over the case to deny virtually every discovery request sought by his attorneys, explaining, in some instances, that the government no longer relied upon the explosive allegations the Bush administration made about Zubaydah when he was captured and subsequently tortured.

At the time the response to the discovery requests was filed in the fall of 2009, the government argued that the court should "stay further evidentiary proceedings" because it could interfere with Durham's criminal probe into the destruction of the torture tapes. Durham filed a motion under seal thereafter that said as much. A report published in the Washington Post last week said Durham's probe is now winding down.

According to Mickum, the government's "entirely new position" about Zubaydah was revealed late last year in a 50-page Factual Return that included 2,500 pages of exhibits.

"I'm not surprised at all that the Government has dropped the old charges against our client and is alleging new charges against him," Mickum said in an interview. "That is their tried and true modus operandi. That's exactly what they did with my client Bisher al Rawi. He was initially charged with associating with a known al-Qaeda figure in London. Unfortunately, Bisher was associating with him at the express request of Britain's MI5 [intelligence service]. After we established that he worked for MI5, the US simply changed the charges against him, alleging that he had terrorist training in Bosnia and Afghanistan.

"Once again, we were able to show those charges were utterly bogus when we proved that Bisher had never left England from 1998 until his fateful business trip to Africa, where he was arrested by the CIA, rendered to the 'Dark Prison' in Afghanistan and tortured, tortured at Bagram Air Force base and tortured in Guantanamo. What all these cases have in common is torture, and [Zubaydah's] case has that in spades. Given, the government's history, it is not likely they would simply let him go and apologize. No, when their case falls apart, they rejigger the evidence, and come up with new charges and we will defend the new charges with the same zeal we defended the earlier bogus charges."

Zubaydah's attorneys argued in his initial petition for habeas corpus filed in February 2008 that he was not a member of al Qaeda, that he had no knowledge of any terrorist operations, and that the military camp he was alleged to be affiliated with, Khaldan, was closed by the Taliban after it refused repeated demands that it fall under the formal control of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida.

"We have never deviated from that position, and now the government admits that we were correct all along," Mickum said.

Indeed, the Justice Department's response agrees with Zubaydah's attorneys that Khaldan was "organizationally and operationally independent" of al-Qaeda's camps and backed off of other claims made by Bush administration officials that Zubaydah knew the identities of specific individuals who trained at Khaldan and later went on to al-Qaeda-operated camps and allegedly took part in terrorist activities.

"The Government has not contended in this proceeding that petitioner selected or knew the identities of specific persons who were selected to leave Khaldan for training at al-Qaida camps," the filing states.

Nor does the government contend that Zubaydah was responsible for paying Khaldan's "expenses" or that he financed specific terrorist operations that may have had ties to Khaldan. Therefore, the Justice Department said, evidence Zubaydah's attorneys requested to support these earlier claims should be denied.

The government's new position also dramatically changes the substance of the final contents of the 9/11 Commission's report, as it relates to Zubaydah. The report said he was the leader of Khaldan.

When she revealed last year that Zubaydah had been waterboard 83 times in August 2002, blogger Marcy Wheeler noted that the 9/11 Commission had obtained "just ten pieces of information are sourced to Abu Zubaydah's interrogation reports."

"...There are several other damning details that come from this analysis," Wheeler wrote. "One of the ten pieces of intelligence that appears in the 9/11 Report–regarding Abu Zubaydah's role running terrorist training camps–came from July 10, 2002, before the CIA first received oral authorization to use torture. Thus, it either came from persuasive, rather than coercive, techniques. Or it came from treatment that had not been legally approved."

The 9/11 report also said Zubaydah was a "major figure" in the "Millennium plot," claiming he was one of the masterminds behind a plan to blow up a hotel in Jordan and the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The 9/11 report cited several intelligence memoranda from then-counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke that Zubaydah was planning "a series of major terrorist attacks" on Israeli and possibly US targets and was working closely with Bin Laden.

Clarke declined numerous requests for comment.

But the Justice Department no longer supports any of those claims, according to the court document.

When asked about what the 9/11 Commission was told, Mickum suggested that the panel was lied to by the CIA.

"After torturing our client, the CIA knew he was never a member of al-Qaeda and that he had no knowledge of any al-Qaeda terrorist activities," Mickum said. "And this fact was confirmed after other members of al-Qaeda like [self-professed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed] and the [alleged mastermind of the USS Cole bombing] al Nashiri were tortured."

Zubaydah was also identified as Bin Laden's "lieutenant" in the infamous August 6, 2001, Presidential Daily Brief titled, "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US, " which alleged that he "helped facilitate" the plot to detonate a bomb LAX. FBI officials obtained that information from Ahmed Ressam, who was actually convicted for the crime in April 2001.

In exchange for a lenient sentence he made up stories about Zubaydah's connections to Bin Laden and his role at Khaldan, which Ressam attended for five to six months in 1998). Ressam also said Zubdaydah told him in 1998 that, independent of Bin Laden, he was preparing his own attack against the United States. He later recanted those claims.

In an exclusive interview last year, Jack Cloonan, a former FBI special agent assigned to the agency's elite Bin Laden unit, said the CIA and the Bush administration were flat wrong in designating Zubaydah as a top official in al-Qaeda.

"To cast him and describe him as the al-Qaeda emir or leader for the subcontinent or worse ... I think was a mistake... . Based on his age and ethnicity, [he] would [n]ever be brought into the inner circle of al-Qaeda," Cloonan said.

There was also the question of Zubaydah's personality. "My partner had a chance to look at a lot of Abu Zubaydah's diaries [which forms the basis of the government's case], poems and other things that he has written and he said that after reading this you just come away with the feeling that this is a guy who can't be trusted or be given huge amounts of responsibility."

At his Combatant Status Review Tribunal in March 2007, Zubaydah said that his torturers eventually apologized to him and told him they concluded he was not a top al-Qaeda lieutenant as the Bush administration and intelligence officials had claimed (h/t Marcy Wheeler).

"They told me sorry we discover that you are not number three [in al-Qaeda], not a partner, even not a fighter," Zubaydah said during his tribunal hearing.

CIA aided DOJ prosecutors in 1995 OKC bombing case...

CIA Aided DOJ Prosecutors in 1995 OKC Bombing Case
by Anthony L. Kimery
Tuesday, 30 March 2010
HSToday.us
‘Secret’ CIA documents withheld in FOIA suit raise more questions than they answer

Questions about foreign complicity in the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in downtown Oklahoma City for which Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols were convicted, were disclosed Friday in a ruling by US District court judge Clark Waddoups on a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the CIA for the CIA's refusal to completely declassify records it has acknowledged it possesses that pertain to the case.

It is the first indication that the CIA and the Department of Justice (DOJ) worked together in the bombing investigations and prosecutions.

The classified materials also were never made available to McVeigh's defense team, led by attorney Stephen Jones, who has publicly expressed his concern that the federal government knows more about the bombing than it has admitted.

The ruling Friday in Salt Lake City was in response to the December 12, 2006 FOIA suit brought by Jesse Trentadue, an attorney who sought numerous documents from the CIA, “including any [related to] potential involvement of foreign nationals in that attack.”

Waddoups ruled that the CIA materials were properly classified by the CIA for the variety of reasons that the Agency had claimed, and that they would not be made available to the public. It was the first such national security defense ever used by the government in denying records to Trentadue.

While the exact content of the documents - which were not reviewed by Waddoups in camera - were not revealed, Waddoups in his ruling hinted at what they contained based largely on "supporting affidavits" and other materials that the CIA provided to him.

The judge's ruling constituted the first documented involvement of the CIA in the federal government’s handling and prosecution of the bombing investigation, either before or after the attack that killed 168 persons.

In his ruling, Waddoups stated in reference to a “letter … prepared [for the CIA] in response to a Department of Justice attorney’s request for information related to Mr. McVeigh’s prosecution” that “it is clear that the CIA and DOJ were cooperating in the prosecution of Mr. McVeigh.”

The letter “contains information, legal analysis and opinion prepared by a CIA attorney in contemplation of the prosecution of Mr. McVeigh,” Waddoups wrote.

Another “four-pages of classified handwritten notes summarizing classified information that a DOJ attorney reviewed in connection with the Oklahoma City bombing prosecution” were properly classified “secret,” Waddoups ruled, adding, “to the extent it matters here whether the DOJ attorney who made the notes marked classified had security clearances (and it is not clear that it does), that fact can be inferred from the fact that he or she was allowed access to review classified documents.”

Still another September 6, 1996 eight-page letter from a CIA attorney to a DOJ attorney “respond[ing] to the DOJ’s request for further information related to the Oklahoma City bombing trial” was properly classified secret in “its entirety,” Waddoups ruled.

In another document, dated September 17, 1996, “… the CIA clarifies prior correspondence regarding CIA record searches related to the prosecution of Mr. McVeigh and Terry Nichols," continued Judge Waddoups.

Also properly classified “secret” in their entirety was a three-page May 10, 1995 cable “relaying information provided by a foreign government about the possible identification of a suspect in the Oklahoma City bombing,” and a two-page April 19, 1995 cable that “relays information provided by a foreign liaison contact regarding the Oklahoma City bombing …”

Additional “secret” materials properly withheld in their entirety, Waddoups ruled, was a two-page April 21, 1995 cable “relaying information about the Oklahoma City bombing that was provided by a US Ambassador by a foreign official,” and a one-page April 20, 1995 cable “outlining a federal prosecutor’s attempts to extradite an organized crime figure from another country.”

Other classified materials Waddoups ruled were properly withheld by the CIA in their entirety was a two-page May 2, 1995 cable “relaying information provided by a human source regarding the Oklahoma City bombing,” and a three-page April 15, 1995 cable “relaying background information on a source who provided information to the CIA about” the bombing.

Asked by Oklahoma City KTOK Radio News Director Jerry Bohnen whether the ruling and description of the classified materials indicates that there was a foreign involvement in some manner in the bombing or the investigation, Trentatdue responded, “without a doubt. Without a doubt."

"If there was no foreign involvement, then why was the CIA asked to help federal prosecutors?" asked Trentadue, noting that the information about the CIA.

In its initial June 1, 2009 response to Trentadue’s FOIA in which the CIA released only a few heavily redacted documents, the Agency asserted that the “documents contain little information other than the name of the person or agency to whom or to which they were directed,” and “for all practical purposes the CIA completely withheld” the materials, Waddoups stated in his order.


About the author: Online Editor/Senior Reporter and HSToday eNewsletter Editor, Anthony L. Kimery, is a respected award-wining editor and journalist who has covered national and global security, intelligence and defense issues for two decades.

Pro-western Georgia gov't accused of backing Moscow bombings...

Georgia accused over Moscow Metro bombing
Tony Halpin

The head of Russia’s Security Council accused Georgia today of backing terrorism in the North Caucasus and said that it could be involved in the Moscow Metro bombing.

As Moscow held the first funerals for victims of the attack, Nikolai Patrushev alleged that members of Georgia’s special services had links with terrorist groups in the region and said that investigators would look for evidence of their involvement in the double suicide-bombing that killed 39 people on the Metro.

Mr Patrushev, the former director of the Federal Security Service, the successor to the Soviet-era KGB, singled out Georgia and its pro-Western President Mikheil Saakashvili after being asked in an interview about possible foreign involvement in the terror attack.

“All theories have to be checked. For example, there is Georgia and the leader of that state, Saakashvili, whose behaviour is unpredictable,” Mr Patrushev told the Kommersant newspaper.

“He has already unleashed war once. It is possible that he may unleash it again. We have had information that individual members of Georgian special forces support contacts with terrorist organisations in the Russian North Caucasus. We must check this also in relation to the acts of terror in Moscow.”

Mr Patrushev headed the FSB for nine years until President Medvedev appointed him Secretary of the Security Council in May 2008, three months before the war between Russia and Georgia over the breakaway region of South Ossetia.

Mr Medvedev later recognised South Ossetia and Georgia’s other separatist region of Abkhazia as independent states, a move that outraged Mr Saakashvili.

Russia has stationed thousands of troops in both territories, which border the North Caucasus, although most of the world continues to recognise them as part of Georgia.

The Security Council is chaired formally by the President and includes Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister, as well as the defence and foreign ministers and the heads of Russia’s various security agencies. Mr Medvedev broke off all contact with Mr Saakashvili after the war and regularly accuses him of being a criminal.

Mr Patrushev’s claim that Georgian officers may be encouraging terrorism in Russia will inflame relations further. The director of the FSB, Alexander Bortnikov, has blamed the Moscow attack on terrorists from the North Caucasus, although no group has claimed responsibility.

The accusation came as two new suicide bomb attacks killed 12 people, including nine policemen, and wounded 23 in the North Caucasus republic of Dagestan today.

The local police chief, Vitaly Vedernikov, was among the victims in the town of Kizlyar, close to Dagestan’s border with Chechnya, where Islamist militants have waged a long guerrilla war against Russian forces.

Rashid Nurgaliyev, the Interior Minister, said that one suicide bomber detonated explosives in his car as police tried to stop the vehicle, killing two officers. In remarks broadcast on Russian television, he said: “Traffic police followed the car and almost caught up – at that time the blast hit.”

A second suicide bomber wearing a police uniform struck 20 minutes later after approaching police and local residents who had gathered at the scene of the first blast. A school and police station were damaged in the explosion.

Mr Nurgaliyev suggested that government buildings could have been the target of the attack because the explosions took place 300 metres from the offices of the local Interior Ministry and the FSB. Muslim Dagestan has been plagued by violence for years, though much of it involves rival clans rather than Islamist separatists.

Mr Medvedev recently appointed a presidential envoy to oversee the North Caucasus, saying that separatists had spread “like a cancerous tumour” throughout the region.


RELATED ARTICLE:
Circassians Look to Georgia for International Support

Obama to propose more oil drilling in Gulf...

Obama to Propose More Oil Drilling in Gulf
BY STEPHEN POWER AND IAN TALLEY

WASHINGTON—The Obama administration will propose allowing offshore oil and natural-gas exploration and development in a large swath of the eastern Gulf of Mexico, after months of criticism from Republicans who have made expanded offshore drilling a political rallying cry.

In addition, the administration plans to announce new steps to determine how much oil and natural gas is buried off the coasts of Middle and Southern Atlantic states, where oil-reserve estimates are decades out of date.

Pakistan president asks UN to delay Bhutto assassination inquiry report...

U.N. Bhutto assassination inquiry report delayed
Yesterday, 06:27 pm

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has accepted an urgent request from Pakistan to delay presentation of a U.N. report on the 2007 assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, the world body said on Tuesday.

The report on a nine-month inquiry by a three-person U.N. panel, was originally due to be presented by Wednesday, but Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari requested it be delayed until April 15, U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said.

Nesirky gave no reason for the Pakistani request.

The panel, headed by Chile's U.N. Ambassador Heraldo Munoz, looked into the circumstances surrounding the attack that killed Bhutto after an election campaign rally in Rawalpindi city on December 27, 2007.

Nesirky told reporters that the report was completed and was ready for delivery. But he said neither Secretary-General Ban nor the Pakistani government had seen it.

Ban set up the panel at the request of Pakistan's coalition government, led by Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party.

The previous government, headed by allies of former president and army chief Pervez Musharraf, blamed then Pakistani Taliban leader and al Qaeda ally Baitullah Mehsud for Bhutto's murder. Mehsud was killed in a U.S. drone strike last August.

(Reporting by Patrick Worsnip; Editing by Stacey Joyce)

Protesters march against police violence in Portland...

Portland protest aftermath: Four officers hurt, eight protesters arrested
By Kimberly A.C. Wilson, The Oregonian
March 30, 2010, 6:29PM

Four Portland Police officers were injured, including one on a horse that went down in the crowds, during an anti-police protest that wended through downtown Monday evening.

Rising anger ratcheted up the protest, which left behind a trail of overturned newspaper boxes, broken glass and shaken bystanders. Windows were smashed at a branch of Bank of America and at the Northwest 19th Avenue offices of the Portland Police Association.

At least eight people were arrested for disorderly conduct during the event, loosely organized by a masked, black clad group that dubbed itself "Black Bloc."

"They had rocks, bottle, padlocks, punches thrown at them," said Detective Mary Wheat, police spokeswoman, said of officers, who sustained only minor injuries.

The demonstration was one in a series that have followed two fatal shootings this year: the Jan. 29 shooting of Aaron Campbell by Officer Ron Frashour in a Northeast Portland apartment parking lot, and the March 22 shooting of Jack Dale Collins near a Hoyt Arboretum restroom by Officer Jason Walters.

Since Collins' death, anti-police protests have erupted and last week included the arrest of a demonstrator who allegedly tossed a bicycle at a motorcycle patrolman.

"Officers showed a great deal of restraint in dealing with the crowds," said Wheat on Tuesday. "We deal with these protests, we've gotten very proficient with dealing with protests,"

Those posting on the Website Portland Independent Media, however, said police reacted with violence.

Monday's event began about 5 p.m. n the South Park Blocks, near Southwest Salmon Street and Park Avenue, as many as 200 protesters – many wearing masks and bandannas – marched, chanted slogans, carried signs and yelled at officers.

They also shouted "Free Joel Dow," a reference to Joel "Dickie" Dow, the protester arrested last week after allegedly tossing his bike at an officer during a much smaller demonstration on Portland's eastside.

Dow was charged with two felonies and two misdemeanors, ranging from disorderly conduct to assault.

As of 1 p.m. today. a Facebook page in support of Dow had drawn about 660 supporters who said they had raised about $849 toward his $259,000 bail.

Authorities named seven men charged in Monday night's protest. They were:

•Kyle Michael Treier, 25, charged with interfering with police, resisting arrest, harassment.
•Jordon Armisted, 19, charged with resisting arrest, interfering with police, possession of less than 1 ounce of marijuana.
•Clifford Andrew Richardson, 24, charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, interfering with police, harassment.
•Saul Bellamy Foster, 19, charged with assaulting a police officer, interfering with police.
•Zachery Joseph Mason, 19, charged with interfering with police.
•Kenneth Ryan Symonds, 23, charged with interfering with police, disorderly conduct.
•Mathew Chapin Miller, 28, charged with criminal mischief, riot.
•Tanner Swick, 19, charged with disorderly conduct, harassment, interfering with police.

LA Times reports on patients eliminating diabetes meds through diet, exercise...

LA Times Reports on Patients Eliminating Diabetes Meds Through Diet, Exercise
Tuesday, March 30, 2010 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) The Los Angeles Times has run an article highlighting the cases of five people, including television star Larry Hagman of "Dallas," who have successfully cut out the use of insulin and other diabetes drugs through improvements in their diet and exercise habits.

"Don't underestimate the body's potential to heal on its own," said John Burgess. One of the featured patients, Burgess originally was able to control his diabetes with just diet and exercise, but eventually resorted to drugs. The medication caused him to gain more than 50 pounds in three months, and eventually he found himself taking five daily injections of the strongest insulin on the market.

Eventually, a new doctor put Burgess on a strict diet, which enabled him to end insulin injections within a week. Eventually, combining diet with a new exercise routine, he was able to lose 84 pounds and no longer needs any of his diabetes drugs. He runs half a mile on a treadmill and five and a half miles on an elliptical machine every day.

Burgess advises people who are watching what they eat to take a trick from his book -- when his business requires him to take a client out to lunch, he checks out the menu and nutritional information of a restaurant ahead of time, so he can know what to order.

Howard Yosha, who was also able to phase off his diabetes drugs with a strict diet and exercise program, advises other diabetics to remain active.

"Make moving more [of] a habit," he said. "I park on the top floor of my office's parking structure . . . and I pick the farthest parking space at the shopping center. I will do anything to avoid that terrible foot pain I had. I had uncles lose limbs to diabetes. I never want that to happen to me."

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Advancing the Transatlantic agenda...

Advancing the Transatlantic Agenda
Dana Gabriel
Infowars.com
March 30, 2010

Although there is a need for Canada to expand its trade horizons, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) currently being negotiated with the European Union (EU) appears to be based on the flawed NAFTA model. Many view it as an opportunity to decrease its trade reliance on the U.S., but it could serve to accelerate the corporate takeover of the country. The deal would exceed NAFTA in its scope and with the third round of negotiations scheduled for April 19-23 in Ottawa, there are lingering concerns regarding its lack of transparency. A Canada-EU CETA could be used to expand NAFTA, strengthen U.S.-EU economic relations and further advance the transatlantic agenda.

Some believe that the recent Canada-U.S. Agreement on Government Procurement is an important step in providing protection for future bilateral trade relations, but in the process it opens up provincial and municipal contracts to foreign corporations. Maude Barlow and Stuart Trew of the Council of Canadians criticized the Conservative government for giving up too much and receiving too little. In an collaborative article they emphasized that, “The provinces have been loath to sign the WTO’s Government Procurement Agreement and did not agree to include subnational procurement in NAFTA because they could lose too much say in how public money is spent without getting any new access to the U.S. market..” They went on to say, “We believe the Buy American controversy provided Harper and the provinces, who are actively engaged in ambitious free-trade talks with Europe, with an opportunity to restructure the Canadian economy to reduce the role of our communities in setting spending priorities.” As part of the proposed CETA with Canada, one of the EU’s top objectives includes gaining access to procurement and services in areas of health, energy, water, as well as other sectors. The Canada-U.S. Buy American deal is an extension of NAFTA and has set a precedent which could further reinforce EU demands.

In mid-December 2009, Internet law columnist Michael Geist reported that the EU had proposed negotiating an intellectual property chapter which could reshape Canadian copyright law. He stated that, “While the leaked document may only represent the starting European position, there is little doubt there will be enormous pressure on Canadian negotiators to cave on the IP provision in return for ‘gains’ in other areas.” This also ties into Canada’s participation in the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) negotiations which also include the EU, U.S. and other nations. With respect to the Canada-EU CETA, Geist also acknowledged that, “When combined with ACTA, the two agreements would render Canadian copyright law virtually unrecognizable as Canada would be required to undertake a significant rewrite of its law. The notion of a ‘made-in-Canada’ approach – already under threat from ACTA – would be lost entirely, replaced by a made-in-Washington-and-Brussels law.” Both the U.S. and the EU have singled out Canada for criticism on intellectual property and are pressing for copyright along with other reforms. Conceding to such demands could severely compromise Canadian interests.

Opposition to the scope and process of Canada-EU trade negotiations is increasing. The talks have been marred in secrecy, with little disclosure on the part of the Canadian government and hardly a mention from the mainstream media. Sighting serious concerns, groups such as the Council of Canadians are calling for full transparency. They are also demanding a comprehensive impact assessment, protection for public services and procurement, along with the exclusion of any investment chapter. There are fears that a Canada-EU CETA could include provisions such as NAFTA’s Chapter 11, which gives corporations the power to challenge governmental laws and regulations that restrict their profits. NDP International Trade critic Peter Julian recently berated Canadian negotiators for using the obsolete and harmful NAFTA template. He proclaimed, “we need to push the Canada-EU negotiations towards a much more progressive fair trade model.” Julian admitted that, “It is regrettable that it seems to have been pushed aside for a NAFTA-style agreement that would decrease most Canadian incomes, encourage lower standards and lead to the loss of democratic sovereignty.” A Canada-EU CETA would further promote transatlantic ties and could later include the U.S., as well as Mexico.

In 2007, the U.S.-EU reached a deal on a new Transatlantic Economic Partnership in an effort to work towards eliminating trade barriers, increasing investment and streamlining harmonization on regulations. The agreement established the Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC) as a permanent body. Trade policy analyst, Daniella Markheim compared the TEC to the now defunct Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) of North America. “Both the SPP and the TEC address property rights protection and enforcement, effective inspections and data sharing on food safety, border measures affecting trade, and other economic and security concerns.” She also added, “Both of these are forums that enable the U.S. and its significant trade partners to find new avenues to improve the flow of commerce and promote greater coherence and consistency in trade rules and regulations.” A Canada-EU free trade agreement would deepen transatlantic economic integration and advance plans for a common market in the region.

Negotiations are proceeding quickly which could lead to a Canada-EU CETA being signed by 2011. The deal would be subject to compatibility with the terms of NAFTA and could help revive and expand the trilateral accord. In addition to further liberalizing trade in goods, services, investment and procurement, it could also include a labor mobility provision. Interlocking superstates are the foundation for global governance and much like the formation of the EU, a North American Union is being created incrementally. Take NAFTA, along with the SPP agenda which is still moving forward through other initiatives, combine it with the TEC, as well as a Canada-EU CETA and you have the basis for a Transatlantic Union.

Haiti post-quake - Devastation, depravation, exploitation & oppression...

Haiti Post-Quake - Devastation, Depravation,
Exploitation & Oppression
By Stephen Lendman
3-29-10

Two and half months post-quake, the major media mostly ignore Haiti, the calamitous conditions on the ground, and the growing desperation of millions forced to largely endure on their own - out of sight, mind, the concern of world leaders, and UN, USAID and other aid organizations diverting most of the $700 million + donated to contractors and profiteering NGOs.

A March 11 New York Times editorial titled, "Haiti, Two Months Later," tried to have it both ways, citing relief effort failures, yet praising the US, UN, foreign countries, and aid organizations for:

"dispatch(ing) tents, tarps, food, water, medicine and doctors as they should. They have done a lot of good, particularly the United States, which rushed supplies, a troop force....and a hospital ship. Many lives were saved."

Unmentioned was the thousands of US combat troops obstructing aid, getting none to the most impoverished neighborhoods, and amounts to emergency shelters have been woefully inadequate, making calamitous conditions worse.

A March 25 Times editorial titled, "Haiti's Misery," in fact, admitted it, stating:

"The emergency in Haiti isn't over. It's getting worse, as the outside world's attention fades away....(Yet) Misery rages like a fever in the hundreds of camps sheltering hundreds of thousands of....people left homeless....The dreaded rains have swamped tents and ragged stick-and-tarp huts. They have turned walkways into mud lakes (exacerbating the problem of) cooking food, washing clothes, staying clean and avoiding disease."

It's the plight of around 1.3 million with no shelter, proper sanitation, clean water, enough food, or medical care. On March 4, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention raised concerns about a potential deadly malaria outbreak, besides numerous other diseases now spreading. On March 5, Partners in Health (PIH) called conditions on the ground "shameful....shocking, inhumane and rapidly deteriorating."

Daily they worsen, placing millions of Haitians in grave peril of calamitous depravation, deadly diseases, greater pain and suffering, and potential mass deaths because imperial plans for Haiti are to plunder it for profit and control, not help desperately needy people, many of whom will suffer, then die.

Haiti is open for business. What was no longer exists. Reconstruction will be profit-driven, replacing former neighborhoods with gentrified ones, corporate ventures, and other upscale projects - poor Haitians being dispossessed, exploited, neglected, abandoned, and oppressed if they resist, especially if they interfere with planned plundering of Haiti's oil and other resources.

On March 24, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton visited Port-au-Prince with Rene Preval, feigned concern, and participated in staged refugee camp photo-ops. Haitians reacted angrily, especially at Bush for ousting President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004, exiling him to South Africa, and preventing his return, now more than ever when he's needed.

Protestors outside the national palace burned tires and an American flag, shouting: "Return Aristide! Down with Preval! Down with Bush! The Miami Herald described the Champ de Mars refugee camp visit saying:

"Quake survivors screamed at the three leaders, shouting details of the losses they suffered....Others took a moment to criticize their own president's leadership. 'President Preval has never come to see us before,' screamed Myrlande Saint-Louis, who lives in the Place Mosolee camp the presidents visited. 'Now because Bush is here he comes. Now he wants to see us!' "

The trip served two purposes:

-- to increase interest for a March 31 New York international investment conference expected to approve an $11.5 billion package to solidify corporate control of the country, and

-- for Preval to resolve land issues obstructing quake survivor relocations from areas wanted for commercial redevelopment, so Haitians have to go, willingly or by force.

Haitians are on their own, women and children most vulnerable, according to Amnesty International (AI). A March 25 report said:

"Sexual violence is widely present in the camps where some of Haiti's most vulnerable live. It was already a major concern (pre-quake) but the situation in which displaced people are living exposes women and girls to even greater risks."

Most victims AI interviewed were minors. "One eight-year-old girl was raped when alone in her tent at night. (A) 15-year-old was raped when she went out of the camp to urinate....There are no shelters in the country where victims of sexual violence can be protected and have access to services."

From March 4 - 25, AI assessed conditions in quake struck areas, in particular, human rights abuses affecting women and children. It reported mass displacement, makeshift camps on "every plot of empty land, public or private, and in every space, square and football pitch." Even a golf course and secondary roads were used.

Within the camps, security is non-existant, except for scattered ad hoc efforts, leaving women and girls most vulnerable as well as everyone to theft or assaults that might cost them their lives.

AI visited camps with no emergency shelter, food, sanitation, water or medical care, saying:

"Living conditions in these camps are dire and the majority of inhabitants are deeply frustrated with the Haitian authorities and international agencies" showing no concern for their condition.

The Latin American Solidarity Coalition's (LASC) Assessment on the Ground Pre-Quake

LASC (lasolidarity.org) "is an association of national and local US-based grassroots Latin American and Caribbean solidarity groups (for) a truly progressive Latin America solidarity movement....in support of the people of Latin America struggling for justice and a better future for their countries free of economic, military and cultural imperialism."

From December 28, 2009 - January 7, 2010 (five days before the quake), its 11-member delegation visited Haiti to investigate UN Blue Helmet (MINUSTAH) human rights abuses. On returning, it published a report titled, "Haiti: An Oppressed State," its highlights reviewed below.

LASC met with over 70 individuals and organization representatives in Port-au-Prince and two of its most impoverished neighborhoods, Cite Soleil and Bel Air. It also spent two days in Jacmel visiting sustainable development projects.

Testimonies from MINUSTAH-inflicted violence victims were gotten, including people whose family members were murdered. Virtually everyone:

-- demanded Aristide's return;

-- called MINUSTAH a repressive, criminal force;

-- said international aid hasn't reached the poor, but instead has been diverted to predatory NGOs, prison building, or stolen by corrupt politicians; and

-- believed economic development is exploitive, not providing a living wage, or benefitting poor Haitians productively.

The story is long, painful and familiar. "For over 200 years (and 300 before that), the US, France, and Western Europe (actively) ble(d) and exploit(ed) Haitians and prevent(ed) the only nation born of a slave revolt from becoming successful." It endured "military invasions, economic embargoes, gunboat blockades, trade barriers, diplomatic quarantines, subsidized armed subversions, US-armed black dictators, and finally, two US-supported coups against" its only beloved leader since liberation, twice democratically elected overwhelmingly, now exiled, and kept from returning.

Repeatedly people said:

"We want Preval to send President Aristide a passport. If Obama wants that to happen it will, because Preval takes his orders from the powerful nations." Representing hope, Aristide "values social justice and would be an inspiration to the grassroots majority. When he was president, there were more jobs, healthcare and education for our children." No longer since 2004 or Preval's 2006 election.

"They don't hear our demands for better education, healthcare, better roads, and an end to malnutrition. Where does the international aid go? We don't see it. Preval is weak and corrupt. We want him to listen to us. We want the return of Aristide, and Preval should change and not exclude Lavalas."

Preval was complicit in the 2004 coup, then allied with the Washington-installed interim Latortue government to prevent Aristide's return after a more people-oriented 1996 - 2001 first term.

Post-quake, he's been pathetic, inept, and indifferent to his peoples' plight - largely invisible, out of sight, silent, and on the sidelines when he's most needed. Public anger toward him is palpable. For one Haitian, he's "the devil and we don't want him" any more. His prospects for a third term are likely nil - he himself saying in a radio interview, "I don't do politics, okey?" Former opposition figure, Evans Paul, accused him of "single-handedly show(ing) the Haitian people that he cannot lead them."

MINUSTAH, the Problem, Not the Solution

It was established on June 1, 2004 for an initial six month renewable period to "promote interaction with the Haitian authorities as partners," operating under the following mandate:

-- "in support of the Transitional Government, to ensure a secure and stable environment within which the constitutional and political process in Haiti can take place;

-- to assist with the restoration and maintenance of the rule of law, public safety and public order....;

-- to protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence; and

-- to promote and protect human rights, particularly of women and children among other responsibilities."

In fact, for the first time in UN history, a Blue Helmet force supported a coup d'etat regime, allied with imperial forces, prevented a democratically leader from returning, and systematically committed human rights abuses, including, persecutions, violence, rape, and cold-blooded murder.

Haiti Liberte journalist Yves Pierre Louis said:

"Since 2004, the only human rights violations are by the UN. In Cite Soleil, they break into houses and kill people. They shot into a protest by students. At Jean Juste's funeral, the UN shot a mourner. People from the Central Plateau were demonstrating for electricity and the UN killed two of them. They commit rape and sexual abuse. They steal peasants' goats....They are protecting the elites by terrorizing the population."

Another Cite Soleil resident said "Now that there are no bandits, the UN are the bandits. If they search you and find jewelry, they steal it. They make women take off their clothes to humiliate them."

Other accounts accused UN forces of shooting up a market, killing and wounding people there, Nigerian soldiers beating a man so severely he nearly died, and no investigations conducted of these or other incidents when demanded.

The case of human rights activist Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine is shocking and disturbing. After announcing his 2007 Senate candidacy and participating in sit-ins denouncing UN human rights violations, he was disappeared without a trace.

Lavalas organizer Rene Civil said "The occupation is killing and humiliating the people. At any time it could explode into a revolt. MINUSTAH has incited the people to be violent. They live and eat well while we are hungry, homeless, and without schools....If not for the UN guns, Haiti would already have its freedom."

Haiti's Dysfunctional Judicial System

LASC investigated four areas:

(1) Lack of Legal Recourse

Victims of MINUSTAH violence are pressured to drop charges. Street vendors in Haiti's informal sector report attacks that are ruining them financially, the police doing nothing to intervene or investigate. When suits are filed, the court system disadvantages the poor, including by transferring venues to distant locations, making it hard and costly for plaintiffs.

(2) Legal Limbo

Although Haitian law requires prisoner court hearings within 48 hours of arrest, delays of three months or longer are common, and according to Amnesty International, fewer than 20% of many thousands of prisoners ever get to trial, leaving innocent victims languishing under horrific confinement for years.

(3) Prison Conditions

Unconscionable describes them because of mistreatment, extreme overcrowding, prisoners forced to sleep in shifts, inadequate poor food, unsafe water, poor sanitation, little or no medical care, and no remediation efforts for change.

(4) Activist Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine

His prominence was his undoing, LASC speculating that his abductors don't intend to release him. Perhaps he's dead, and efforts to learn the truth have been stonewalled.

Haitian Elections

The most recent April 19, 2009 one to fill 12 open Senate seats was a sham after Haiti's Provisional Election Council (CEP) disqualified Fanmi Lavalas (FL) candidates on procedural grounds. Mass outrage showed up in pre-election polls with only 5% of eligible voters saying they'd participate.

Imagine holding a national election and virtually no one showed up. Because of clear election rigging, FL leaders urged a national boycott. They complied, discrediting the results. LASC testimonies called it a continuation of the 2004 coup, the people given no choice except hand-picked candidates they opposed.

Predatory NGOs

Haiti is called "the Republic of NGOs" for good reason, with over 10,000 in country, according to World Bank estimates, the highest per capital presence worldwide in all sectors of activity and society, many with sizable budgets and very much operating for profit.

LASC repeatedly heard complaints that they "reinforce systems of oppression and exclusion rather than ameliorate the economic and political conditions that lead to poverty and inequality."

Common criticisms were that aid rarely goes for people needs or to grassroots activists who can best use it. In communities like Cite Soleil, residents get nothing - no schools, hospitals, just police stations. Organizations like Save the Children, Catholic Relief Services, World Vision, and many others exploit people they claim to serve, especially after disasters like wars, floods, famine, and earthquakes.

A peasant group complained that CARE International dumped cheap rice in the country that destroyed local agriculture, and ultimately Haiti's ability to feed itself. International aid agencies divert funds for high salaries, luxury living, other business ventures, and according to Rene Civil, to co-opt social movement leaders, leaving little for poor Haitians.

After the quake, NGOs scrambled for their share of donations, over $700 million and rising, a bonanza ripe for plunder, so they're lining up for their share, with plenty more expected to come.

The Economy

Pre-quake, Haiti was heavily dependent on foreign interests, especially American, at the expense of worker rights, a fair wage, even a job with mass unemployment or underemployed for the Hemisphere's poorest nation, 80% of its population so deeply impoverished that malnutrition is rampant.

The result is a vulnerable population, most on small, subsistence farms, others easily exploited in corporate-run sweatshops, the kinds Bush and Clinton want more of as well as sweeping privatizations, tourism ventures, port development, free trade zones, and deregulatory freedom creating worker hell. Besides unmentioned resource development, the benefits solely for business, not people.

Haitian oligarchs control local agriculture and industry. Cheap imports, privatizations, poor infrastructure, slave wages, too few jobs, and management co-opted unions control Haiti, exploiting people deprived of their rights.

Conditions in Haiti's sweatshops are instructive. They're inhumane workplaces where employees work for starvation wages, few or no benefits, in unsafe, unfavorable, harsh, and/or hazardous environments with no ability to organize for redress.

In a 1990s report (still relevant now), the National Labor Committee (NLC) explained the dark, "pernicious...US corporate presence in Haiti: that many of the companies profiting from the abuse and exploitation of Haitian workers are among the largest and most successful US corporations: Disney, Wal-Mart, Kmart, JC Penney, Sears, Hanes/Sara Lee and Kellwood," among the many.

NLC asked why can't manufacturers and retailers pay a living wage? Why won't they give independent human rights monitors access to their contractors' plants? Why do they extract the most work for starvation wages? Why is the air heavy with dust and lint with no ventilation to speak of? Why are factories hot, dimly lit and crowded? Why do workers have sad, tired faces?

Why are they forced to work seven days a week (with no overtime pay) to accommodate company order schedules? Why must they work 70 hours a week during the year's hottest season under stifling hot conditions? Why are they treated more like slaves than human beings? Why is none of this reported publicly so consumers can decide whether or not to support these practices by buying or boycotting sweatshop products?

Haitians Explain MINUSTAH violence

An unnamed man said a neighborhood youth disappeared. Many were killed. There's shooting every day. People can't conduct their daily activities safely. They're threatened by MINUSTAH. They enter the area, shoot in the air or randomly at people, terrifying everyone.

Azy Jean Delanio mentioned an August 8, 2005 incident. He was visiting another home when UN soldiers "started shooting and people were just going crazy everywhere so I didn't want to just run because I could get face to face with them and it would be worse for me."

Outside, a soldier pushed him down and shot him in the neck. His partner wanted to get him to a hospital. At first, she couldn't when beaten. Finally, he was treated, asked a lawyer for help, but nothing happened. Since the incident, the bullet is still in his body. He can't walk, care for himself, or afford surgery to correct the problem. He's like many others, victimized by a brutal occupier.

Bernard Maudler discussed a June 22, 2009 incident involving UN forces. They shot him in the legs and feet. He still can't move his toe. He has iron in his leg to fix the bone. He needs medical help to remove it because it's painful. But it's too close to his spine for Doctors Without Borders. They don't have the proper equipment. The bullet entered his stomach causing him cramps.

Jean-Baptist Ristil explained a July 6, 2005 incident. He was sleeping, heard shooting, and went outside to check. Jordanian and Brazilian soldiers were in the street. They had tanks, an MPV, and a helicopter overhead. He heard screams. They were shooting everywhere. He saw a man struck. His mouth was paralyzed. Others were hit. Dead bodies were on the street.

"The same day an old guy was shot and before they killed him, (UN soldiers) put like doo doo fecal from a goat on bread and told him to eat it, and then they killed him."

It was a reprisal raid. MINUSTAH later blamed gangs for the incident.

Marie Therese Gazie discussed a July 6, 2005 incident from 3AM until 12:30 PM. Gangs had nothing to do with it. A "cannon bullet" hit the side of her house and smashed it. Her husband inside was killed. She's now a single mother on her own with three children. She can't afford to send them to school, pay rent, or feed them properly.

Lenene Morice described a December 22, 2006 incident. There was a lot of shooting in the neighborhood. Everyone was screaming. She was by herself, went outside, and was shot in the stomach. With help, she was taken to the hospital, was in pain, spent a month there, couldn't get food down, and thought she wouldn't survive. She was told if she got pregnant again she'd die because of the bullet's location.

Edline Pierre Louis discussed a July 6, 2006 incident. She was sleeping when struck with a bullet in her stomach. At the time, she was seven months pregnant. The baby was prematurely delivered but died. She was the only one hurt. Her other children were screaming but not hit.

Pierre Jean Bernard described a July 6, 2005 incident when MINUSTAH shot and killed his brother. He wasn't a bandit, had no gun, and never owned one. He was a domestic worker, played casino in the streets, but wasn't involved with gangs. Soldiers claimed they were after bandits, but only hurt civilians going about their activities peacefully.

His brother had four children. They can't go to school or have the basics for daily life. They're victims like their father.

Lumane Etienne discussed a June 7, 2007 incident. Two of her children were going to visit a cousin, were shot in the street and killed. Five others survive, but life is very hard for her with everything going on in Haiti.

Cine Mirlande spoke about two incidents - on October 5 and 15, 2008. On October 5, UN soldiers killed her father. Then on October 15, they killed her eight-year-old son en route to school. The pretext again was going after bandits.

The above incidents describe daily life for poor Haitians, especially in the most impoverished areas. US and MINUSTAH forces are in charge along with repressive Haitian police as brutal as UN paramilitaries. From one day to the next, Haitians aren't sure they'll survive, now more than ever post-quake.


Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Undersea volcano threatens southern Italy...

Undersea volcano threatens southern Italy: report
March 29, 2010

Europe's largest undersea volcano could disintegrate and unleash a tsunami that would engulf southern Italy "at any time", a prominent vulcanologist warned in an interview published Monday.

The Marsili volcano, which is bursting with magma, has "fragile walls" that could collapse, Enzo Boschi told the leading daily Corriere della Sera.

"It could even happen tomorrow," said Boschi, president of the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV).

"Our latest research shows that the volcano is not structurally solid, its walls are fragile, the magma chamber is of sizeable dimensions," he said. "All that tells us that the volcano is active and could begin erupting at any time."

The event would result in "a strong tsunami that could strike the coasts of Campania, Calabria and Sicily," Boschi said.

The undersea Marsili, 3,000 meters (9,800 feet) tall and located some 150 kilometres (90 miles) southwest of Naples, has not erupted since the start of recorded history.

It is 70 kilometres long and 30 kilometres wide, and its crater is some 450 metres below the surface of the Tyrrhenian Sea.

"A rupture of the walls would let loose millions of cubic metres of material capable of generating a very powerful wave," Boschi said.

"While the indications that have been collected are precise, it is impossible to make predictions. The risk is real but hard to evaluate."

Geneva atom smasher sets collision record...

Geneva atom smasher sets collision record
Associated Press Writer Alexander G. Higgins
24 mins ago

GENEVA – The world's largest atom smasher conducted its first experiments at conditions nearing those after the Big Bang, breaking its own record for high-energy collisions with proton beams crashing into each other Tuesday at three times more force than ever before.

In a milestone for the $10 billion Large Hadron Collider's ambitious bid to reveal details about theoretical particles and microforces, scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, took high-tech photographs so they could study the disintegrating protons after they collided at a combined energy level of 7 trillion electron volts.

The collisions herald a new era for researchers working on the machine in a 17-mile (27-kilometer) tunnel below the Swiss-French border at Geneva.

"That's it! They've had a collision," said Oliver Buchmueller from Imperial College in London as people closely watched monitors.

In a control room, scientists erupted with applause when the first successful collisions were confirmed. Their colleagues from around the world were tuning in by remote links to witness the new record, which surpasses the 2.36 TeV CERN recorded last year.

Dubbed the world's largest scientific experiment, researchers hope the machine can approach on a tiny scale what happened in the first split seconds after the Big Bang, which they theorize was the creation of the universe some 14 billion years ago.

The extra energy in Geneva is expected to reveal even more about the unanswered questions of particle physics, such as the existence of antimatter and the search for the Higgs boson, a hypothetical particle that scientists theorize gives mass to other particles and thus to other objects and creatures in the universe.

Tuesday's initial attempts at collisions were unsuccessful because problems developed with the beams, said scientists working on the massive machine. That meant the protons had to be "dumped" from the collider and new beams had to be injected.

The atmosphere at CERN was tense considering the collider's launch with great fanfare on Sept. 10, 2008. Nine days later, the project was sidetracked when a badly soldered electrical splice overheated, causing extensive damage to the massive magnets and other parts of the collider some 300 feet (100 meters) below the ground.

It cost $40 million to repair and improve the machine. Since its restart in November 2009, the collider has performed almost flawlessly and given scientists valuable data. It quickly eclipsed the next largest accelerator — the Tevatron at Fermilab near Chicago.

Two beams of protons began 10 days ago to speed at high energy in opposite directions around the tunnel, the coldest place in the universe, at a couple of degrees above absolute zero. CERN used powerful superconducting magnets to force the two beams to cross, creating collisions and showers of particles.

"Experiments are collecting their first physics data — historic moment here!" a scientist tweeted on CERN's official Twitter account.

"Nature does it all the time with cosmic rays (and with higher energy) but this is the first time this is done in Laboratory!" said another tweet.

When collisions become routine, the beams will be packed with hundreds of billions of protons, but the particles are so tiny that few will collide at each crossing.

The experiments will come over the objections of some people who fear they could eventually imperil Earth by creating micro black holes — subatomic versions of collapsed stars whose gravity is so strong they can suck in planets and other stars.

CERN and many scientists dismiss any threat to Earth or people on it, saying that any such holes would be so weak that they would vanish almost instantly without causing any damage.

Bivek Sharma, a professor at the University of California at San Diego, said the images of the first crashed proton beams were beautiful.

"It's taken us 25 years to build," he said. "This is what it's for. Finally the baby is delivered. Now it has to grow."


Associated Press Writer Frank Jordans contributed to this report.

Inside The Collapse(Video)

Michael Lewis writes about a handful of Wall Street outsiders who realized the subprime mortgage business was a house of cards and found a way to bet against it.

Part 1:

Watch CBS News Videos Online


Michael Lewis talks about the current situation on Wall Street, the large bonuses still being paid and his predictions for the future of the industry.

Part 2:

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Monday, March 29, 2010

Moscow Metro blasts: Another FSB inside job?

Moscow Metro Blasts: Another FSB Inside Job?
Paul Joseph Watson
Prison Planet.com
Monday, March 29, 2010

Two separate bomb blasts that ripped apart trains on the Moscow Metro system, killing at least 34 people during morning rush-hour, have been blamed on female suicide bombers, but previous instances of terrorism in Russia were proven to be the work of the FSB security service itself.

“The first explosion took place on a train after it had stopped in the Lubyanka station in central Moscow, close to the headquarters of Russia’s FSB security service, a spokeswoman for the Russian emergencies ministry told AFP.”

“The first blast at the Lubyanka metro station killed 22 people and wounded 12. The second at Park Kulturi station left 12 dead and 7 wounded,” reported AFP.

Russian Federal Security Service chief Alexander Bortnikov has already blamed Chechen rebels for the attack, an explanation slavishly accepted by western media outlets like the BBC who are already running feature articles about the history of terrorism in Russia that completely fail to mention the FSB’s direct role in almost every major attack to have taken place over the last 10 years.

Since the explanation that two female suicide bombers with explosives strapped to their bodies were responsible for the bombing has come directly from the FSB, past history means we can only treat the official story with the utmost suspicion.

The notorious Russian FSB has a documented history of staging false flag events in order to accomplish political agendas.

Vladimir Putin came to power as a result of an FSB orchestrated reign of terror in the autumn of 1999 which involved blowing up apartment blocks all over Russia and blaming the attacks on Chechen separatists, allowing Putin to start a new war and secure victory in the presidential election.

FSB agents were caught planting Hexogen explosives underneath an apartment block in Ryazan. Records indicate that the first call the “terrorists” made after planting the bomb was to FSB headquarters and the culprits were allowed to flee the country by authorities.

The FSB admitted planting the sacks of explosives, but later claimed they contained sugar and were used as part of a drill to test security procedures. Authorities first stated that a terrorist attack had been averted and that the sacks did contain Hexogen, until FSB involvement was discovered at which point the story was changed.

Alexei Kartofelnikov, the first eyewitness to see the explosives and alert the police, went on the record to state that the substance was clearly not sugar, describing the material as looking more like rice and yellow in color – a clear match for the description of Hexogen.

The FSB had planted real explosives and were caught in the act of staging a false flag terror attack, forcing them to concoct an elaborate cover story while blocking any real investigation and silencing whistleblowers.

This instance and many more are documented in the excellent documentary film The Assassination of Russia, which you can watch in full below courtesy of Google Video.




Alexander Litvinenko, the former FSB agent who was later poisoned by radioactive polonium-210 in London, resulting in his death in November 2006, had exposed how the Russian FSB was involved in terrorism, abductions and contract killings in his 2002 book Blowing Up Russia: Terror From Within, co-authored with Yuri Felshtinsky.

The September 2004 Beslan hostage crisis, which led to the deaths of over 300 people including many children, another event blamed on Chechen terrorists, was also wrought with contradictions and red flags suggesting inside involvement.

A video that was finally released in 2007 showed that Russian security forces were likely responsible for the first blast during the event.

A video that remained secret for nearly three years after the horrific Beslan hostage crisis has cast new doubt on official conclusions about what led to the deaths of 334 people, more than half of them children, during one of Russia’s worst terrorist attacks, reported the Associated Press.

The footage is far from definitive, but appears to lend credence to the theory that security forces bear at least some of the blame for the high death toll.

The footage depicts explosions taking place outside of the school buildings and contradicts the official explanation that militants were responsible for the initial blasts, while validating survivor’s accounts of what took place.

As our investigation at the time highlighted, many aspects of the Beslan siege provide stunning contradictions to the official story and clearly indicate that Russian forces had a hand in staging if not at least provocateuring the massacre.

- The Parliamentary Committee investigation uncovered the fact that high-ranking Russian military officers were involved in the plot and acted as accomplices to the terrorists. These individuals were ranked “higher than a major and a colonel,” according to the Committee.

- A former policeman was also exposed as being involved in the plot. Other police involvement was later confirmed.

- The Parliamentary Commission also found evidence that a “foreign intelligence agency” was involved in coordinating the massacre.

- Journalists who reported on the Beslan siege and uncovered evidence of inside involvement were later drugged and detained by Russian authorities as the cover-up swung into high gear.

- During the siege, Russian authorities refused to reveal what the terrorists’ demands were, blocking all phone communications and claiming a tape containing the terrorists’ demands was blank.

- The alleged Chechen terrorists did not even speak Chechen and received orders from abroad, according to reports.

The Beslan massacre occurred amidst a wave of terror attacks in Russia and shortly after the crashes of two Tupolev passenger airliners, which were blamed on Chechen terrorists by authorities. However, citing the fact that the aircraft debris was scattered over large areas, the independent Russian media accused Vladimir Putin of ordering the planes shot down in a crude false flag ploy to secure an election victory for the pro-Kremlin Chechen President Alu Alkhanov two days later.

Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov denied any involvement in the plane crashes or the school siege, citing “a third force that brought Russian President Vladimir Putin to power” as being responsible for the carnage.

The manifestly provable history of Russian FSB officials staging terror attacks which are then blamed on their political enemies illustrates the fact that we would be foolish to immediately accept the government version of events for today’s deadly metro blasts in Moscow until more details can be confirmed by independent parties.

Militia raids part of government effort to provoke violence...

Militia Raids Part Of Government Effort to Provoke Violence, Purge Dissent
Steve Watson & Paul Watson
Prisonplanet.com
Monday, March 29th, 2010

News of a bust on nine members of a militia group in Detroit who were planning to “levy war” against the United States and “oppose by force” the nation’s government, should be treated with extreme suspicion, given that every major terror bust in the U.S. in recent years has been contrived.

According to an indictment (PDF) unsealed this morning in U.S. District Court in Detroit, eight men and one woman were training in modern combat techniques for a prophesized battle with the anti-Christ.

The indictment described the nine as gearing up to use bombs and other weapons to kill local, state, and federal law enforcement officials in an effort to act as a “catalyst for a more wide-spread uprising against the government.”

The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force carried out a series of raids on group members in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio over the weekend.

Known as the “Hutaree” militia, each of the nine faces three to five charges, including sedition, attempts to use weapons of mass destruction, teaching/demonstrating use of explosive materials and two counts of carrying weapons in relation to a crime of violence.

Seven of the defendants appeared in court this morning and were ordered held without bond until Wednesday.

“This is an example of radical and extremist fringe groups which can be found throughout our society,” FBI special agent Andrew Arena told The Detroit News.

“The FBI takes such extremist groups seriously, especially those who would target innocent citizens and the law enforcement officers who protect the citizens of the United States.” Arena added.

Comments made by a well known former militia leader indicate that the Hutaree were regarded by other militia outfits as radical and reckless “low-hanging fruits”.

Mike Vanderboegh, who has close connections with the militia movement in Michigan and all over the country, was critical of the Hutaree, saying that they “have indicated in the past that, much like John Brown, they WANTED to start a civil war, which is why no responsible militia group in Michigan was willing to ally with them.”

Vanderboegh described the group as “a perfect target” for the feds, adding that the raids could have provoked a nationwide uprising if they had turned violent.

As we highlighted earlier this month, following the highly suspicious Pentagon shooting, recent history proves that domestic terror, far from being a militia plot or an “extremist fringe” threat, is a government specialty.

Just a brief reprisal of the last handful of major terror cases in the United States instantly reminds us that in every single instance the plot was artificially engineered by the federal government and then later seized upon, with the enthusiastic support of the corporate media, as justification for more funding, more power, and more authority to denounce critics of the war on terror and dissent against the state in general.

From ensuring known extremist Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, now known as the underwear bomber, was able to board Flight 253 in Amsterdam last December, to allowing Fort Hood shooter Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan to remain on a U.S. Army base, and even to participate in Homeland Security exercises, the actions of Federal authorities have provoked often tragic newsmaking incidents.

Dozens of terror busts and stings since 9/11 have been orchestrated by handlers aiding the accused terrorists at every turn. We have never come across a major case where the terrorists involved in a plot were not being prodded by the FBI and federal informants, or where clear prior knowledge and forewarning was not evident.

Lawyers in a case relating to the much vaunted 2007 terror plot to attack Fort Dix and kill “as many soldiers as possible” concluded that FBI informants were the key figures behind the operation and that the accused, six foreign-born Muslims, were merely bungling patsies.

Similarly, the “Toronto 18″ terrorists turned out to be “a bunch of incompetent guys who were primarily misled by a delusional megalomaniac”. The explosive fertilizer material the terrorist cell apparently planned to use was in fact purchased by an informant working for the RCMP who had radicalized the group.

In the media-lauded Miami terror case in 2007, the supposed ringleader Narseal “Prince Marina” Batiste “had heard of Al-Qaeda, but wasn’t sure what it stood for. The FBI instigators made Batiste swear loyalty to al-Qaida; then had him call on his local buddies to form an ‘Islamic army’ in Miami. None had military training. Some could barely read. But Batiste assured the group in the midst of its collective marijuana buzz of greatness ahead,” wrote Saul Landau.

These were the men who comedian John Stewart referred to as “seven dipshits in a warehouse” after Attorney General Alberto Gonzales had ludicrously told the press that the group of semi-retarded gang-bangers had planned to “wage a ground war against America”.

One of the more recent examples was the case of the so-called Muslim terrorists busted in New York, who supposedly wanted to blow up synagogues in the Bronx and shoot down military airplanes flying out of the New York Air National Guard base. The men were provided with fake explosives and inactive missiles by an FBI informant, reported the Christian Science Monitor. Two of the ringleaders of the “deadly” plot which was endlessly hyped by the media turned out to be semi-retarded potheads, exactly as we had predicted would be the case due to the innumerable past cases with the exact same modus operandi.

Then we have the most deadly and contrived “christian-patriot” terror plot – the OKC bombing of 1995. While the SPLC, the ADL and similar organizations are happy to play the Timothy McVeigh card over and over again, to back up the notion that hate-filled right wing extremists are taking over the country, they are less enthusiastic to mention the fact that McVeigh planned his deadly assault on the Alfred P. Murrah building under the intimate direction of a high-level FBI official. This according to McVeigh’s co-conspirator Terry Nichols, a claim voluminously backed up by a plethora of evidence that has been presented in court on several occasions.

Time and time again it is revealed that the only prominent people who call for violence in the patriot movement turn out to be working for the feds.

Radio talk show host and racist firebrand Hal Turner recently admitted in federal court that he worked for the FBI as a “National Security Intelligence” asset. “Turner also claims the FBI coached him to make racist, anti-Semitic and other threatening statements on his radio show, but the newspaper also found many federal officials were concerned that his audience might follow up on his violence rhetoric,” the Associated Press reported in November, 2009.

Turner’s code name was “Valhalla” and “he received thousands of dollars from the FBI to report on such groups as the Aryan Nations and the white supremacist National Alliance.

The FBI, under its long-running COINTELPRO, subsidized, armed, directed and protected the Klu Klux Klan and other racist groups.

In light of all these cases, and the ongoing effort to re-direct the focus of the war on terror away from foreign muslim terrorists to “home grown” American “extremists”, the question must be explored – were the FBI actively involved in radicalizing the “Hutaree” militia? Were any of the militia members FBI informants?

Count the hours until the links emerge.

Pope faces fresh wave of child abuse scandals in Italy...

Pope faces fresh wave of child abuse scandals in Italy
The head of the Catholic church is bracing himself for a new round of allegations by victims of paedophile priests — in Italy
Tom Kington in Rome and Henry McDonald in Dublin
The Observer, Sunday 28 March 2010

Pope Benedict XVI is facing growing pressure over his handling of paedophile priests as new cover-ups come to light in Italy, the country with the greatest concentration of Roman Catholic clerics.

After the latest allegations – that Benedict took no action in the US when he was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican's enforcer – the church is now "terrified" as more victims stand up to be counted in Italy, according to Roberto Mirabile, head of La Caramella Buona, an Italian anti-abuse group. "With the scandals erupting abroad, we will see a huge growth in victims' groups in Italy in coming weeks," said Mirabile yesterday. As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Benedict handled abuse cases at the Vatican for 24 years before he became pope in 2005.

"We are likely to discover that the Vatican worked even harder in Italy with bishops than elsewhere to hide cases, simply because the contact was closer and the church is so powerful in Italy," Mirabile added.

Sergio Cavaliere, an Italian lawyer who has documented 130 cases of clerical paedophilia, also believes that the Vatican's backyard could follow Ireland, the United States and Germany in producing a wave of abuse revelations. "The cases I have found are just the tip of the iceberg given the reluctance of many victims to come forward until now," said Cavaliere. "And in no single case did the local bishop alert police to the suspected abuse."

Another startling development is how recent most of the allegations are, unlike the decades-old cases in Munich and Milwaukee that Benedict was last week accused of failing to act on.

Monsignor Charles Scicluna, who investigates abuse accusations passed on to the Vatican, denied this month that abuse had reached "dramatic proportions" in Italy, but he was concerned about "a certain culture of silence" among Italy's 50,000 priests.

In February, the Vatican opened an investigation into allegations by 67 former pupils at a school for the deaf in Verona that 24 priests, brothers and lay religious men abused pupils from the 1950s to the 1980s. Three of the accusers repeated their claims on Italian prime-time television on Friday.

In a case recalling the accusations against Father Lawrence Murphy in Milwaukee, who was claimed to have abused up to 200 deaf children, one Italian former pupil claimed that priests had sodomised him so relentlessly that he came to feel "as if I were dead".

A second pupil has accused Verona's late bishop, Monsignor Giuseppe Carraro, who is being considered for beatification, of molesting him.

In Ireland, the leader of the Catholic church has been named in more than 200 civil actions by victims of alleged clerical abuse, putting him under further pressure to resign. The victims claim that Cardinal Seán Brady failed in his duties by neglecting to protect them from paedophile priests and other sex abusers. There is no suggestion that he took part in any abuse.

Legal sources in the republic confirmed that 230 separate victims of alleged clerical abuse are taking the church to court. They said these include five victims of Father Brendan Smyth, one of Ireland's most notorious paedophiles.

Smyth's arrest and conviction opened the floodgates for dozens of cases concerning priests abusing children in dioceses all over Ireland, alongside widespread and systemic abuse in church-run orphanages and industrial schools.

Brady has confirmed that he was present at a closed canonical tribunal into the activities of Smyth, who died in jail 13 years ago while serving 12 years for 74 sexual assaults on children.

"Smyth's victims will argue that the church knew as far back as 1975 that he was abusing children. But the hierarchy's secret deal with two of his young victims that year left Smyth free to abuse others many years afterwards," one senior legal source told the Observer.

"The cardinal now faces being named in hundreds of cases, some of which will go through the courts."

Asked if the church was aware that Brady had been named in so many civil actions through the Irish courts, a spokesman for the Catholic Press Office in Ireland said: "The bishop who occupies the position of primate of all Ireland [Brady] is often named as co-defendant in judicial proceedings by people who mistakenly presume him to be the 'CEO' for the Catholic church in Ireland. In answer to your query, I do not know the exact number of cases taken by alleged victims of clerical sex abuse who have named Cardinal Seán Brady in their actions."

Voice of the Faithful, an international lay Catholic organisation campaigning for reforms in the church, said it was "deeply significant" that Brady has said he is spending the run-up to Easter reflecting on his position.

Seán O'Connaill, the group's Irish co-ordinator, said: "The situation regarding the church in Ireland and Cardinal Brady's position is very confused and fluid.

"The problems facing the Catholic church, however, will not be resolved alone by heads rolling. Both the people and the leadership have to realise that there has to be a major reform programme within the church to turn this around."

Former Australian PM calls for expulsion of Israeli diplomats over Dubai assassination...

Fraser calls for expulsion of Israeli diplomats
Updated Mon Mar 29, 2010 12:04pm AEDT

Former prime minister Malcolm Fraser has called on the Federal Government to expel Israeli diplomats from Australia.

Four Australians apparently had their passports forged and used as part of the assassination of a Hamas leader in Dubai.

It is believed the Israeli spy agency, Mossad, is responsible for the murder.

Mr Fraser says the Government must protect the rights and identities of Australians overseas and take action against the Israeli government.

Mr Fraser says Australia must follow Britain's lead and expel diplomats.

"I believe that is totally and absolutely unforgivable and Australia's disapproval should be registered by an action not less than that which the British took," he said.

"I think there's been a long history, if you like, of double standards. People will not do, in relation to Israel, what they would do if the same action was conducted by some other country," he told ABC Radio's Jon Faine.

The Zionist Council of Victoria says the Government needs to wait for the results of an inquiry into the passport scandal before taking action.

Council president Danny Lamm says Mr Fraser has overreacted.

"I think Malcolm Fraser has shown an unhealthy obsession with attacking Israel," he said.

"It's got worse and worse and worse. And at the same time he wants to indicate that Hamas is almost pure."

Cloud seeding brings rainfall to drought-hit SW China province...

Cloud seeding brings rainfall to drought-hit SW China province
English.news.cn 2010-03-28 12:09:11

KUNMING, March 28 (Xinhua) -- Artificial rainfall brought some relief to parched Yunnan Province on Saturday as a severe drought ravages southwest China, local authorities said.

Induced by cloud seeding, drizzles, moderate rain, and downpours helped alleviate the drought in 11 cities, prefectures and counties, including Kunming, Chuxiong and Xishuangbanna between 8 a.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. Sunday, Ma Lianxiang, chief weather forecaster of the provincial meteorological bureau, said.

Part of Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture received up to 32.9 mm of precipitation, giving respite from the drought, according to the prefecture's drought relief headquarters.

Meteorological authorities fired 135 cloud-seeding bombs from 2:43 a.m. Sunday. Many other regions in Yunnan also used the method on Saturday and Sunday to give the best results of recent cloud-seeding efforts, Ma said.

Ma added that more cloud seeding is planned as the weather will be suitable for the method from Monday.

"I was woken up at midnight by powerful thunder. It was to my surprise that heavy rains had arrived," said Liu Yu, a native of Jinghong City, Xishuangbanna.

But in Chuxiong Yi Autonomous Prefecture, the area hit hardest by the drought, firings by 112 cloud-seeding cannons induced little rainfall on Saturday, frustrating local residents.

"The rain lasted just a couple of minutes. It only added moisture to my hair. The earth quickly turned dry again," said Li Mingshun, a villager in Dayao County, Chuxiong.

"Although the rain may not contribute to increased water supply, it may at least reduce the fire risks in the forests," said Li Hongbo, director of Chuxiong's meteorological bureau.

The latest weather forecast predicts rain over the next ten days for the drought-hit regions in southwest China, with up to 30 mm of precipitation for Yunnan and Guizhou provinces.

British MP's call for rethink on "special relationship" with US...

British MPs call for rethink on "special relationship" with U.S.
English.news.cn 2010-03-29 05:16:30

LONDON, March 28 (Xinhua) -- An influential group of British members of Parliament (MPs) on Sunday called for a rethink of the so-called "special relationship" Britain has with the United States.

"The UK needs to adopt a more hard-headed political approach towards our relationship with the U.S. with a realistic sense of our own limits and our national interests," said Chairman of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee Mike Gapes.

Gapes was speaking as his committee unveiled its report "Global Security: UK-US Relations."

Britain was too deferential and needed to learn to say "no" to the United States more often, he warned.

He went on to criticize the constant use of the phrase "special relationship" to describe UK-U.S. relations.

"The use of the phrase 'special relationship' in its historical sense, to describe the totality of the ever-evolving UK-U.S. relationship, is potentially misleading, and we recommend that its use should be avoided," he said.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Mutations of imperial destabilization: The return of Nicaragua's old acquaintance, Dyncorp

Mutations of imperial destabilization : the return of Nicaragua's old aquaintance, DynCorp
By Jorge Capelán
Translated from Spanish by Karla Jacobs,
Tortilla con Sal

There are no excuses for playing the innocent about the motives behind US funding of "civil society" in Nicaragua. In the last analysis, this sort of funding is part of the political-military plan to destabilize and dominate the country, in exactly the same way as in other ALBA countries like Bolivia and Venezuela. The nationals implicated in the administration of these funds should jump ship as soon as possible if they want to avoid going down in history as traitors to their country.

The destabilization strategy in Venezuela, based on the in-country installation of a US Agency for Development (USAID) Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) by the subcontractor DAI, is documented by Eva Golinger in her book, "The Chávez Code". (1) This same strategy is being applied to Nicaragua with USAID's CamTransparency Program managed by a branch of the paramilitary multinational DynCorp. The names are different, the scheme is the same.

As is well known, USAID, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the International Republican Institute (IRI), etc., have channelled millions of dollars of "aid" to "civil society" organizations which, in turn, function as an informal political party to destabilize the Government of Reconciliation and National Unity. It's difficult to keep track of all of this "aid," but on occasion the US Embassy itself publishes relevant information.

This was the case for the disbursement of some US$320,000 to "small projects" carried out by 15 Nicaraguan NGOs by the then US Ambassador in Managua Paul Trivelli and the then interim head of USAID in Managua, Carol Horning at the end of May 2008. (2) These projects were part of a plan to sabotage the municipal elections of the same year and, at the same time, to isolate Nicaragua by the subsequent suspension of a certain amount of international aid.

The projects, which had a value of between US$13,000 and US$15,000 each, were carried out by a heterogeneous group of NGOs ranging from Duo Guardabarranco to Radio 15th of September, from individuals like Fernando Avellán and Enrique Quiñónez to Carlos Chamorro's CINCO Group as well as local US organizations like Ética y Transparencia.

It is essential to emphasize that none of this financial "aid" is innocent, none of it is provided for mere ideological motives - the motives are geopolitical and military. The members of the US team that manages these funds in Managua are military politicians:


•The current US Ambassador in Managua, Robert J. Callahan, (3) was John Dimitri Negroponte's public relations secretary when, from the US Embassy in Tegucigalpa, Negroponte converted Honduras into a sanctuary for the Contra fighters in the '80s. Twenty years later Callahan worked again with Negroponte as head of public relations in occupied Iraq. At one point during his time in Iraq, Callahan's convoy, contracted from the mercenary company Blackwater, shot at a taxi carrying a number of civilians, killing 19 year old Iraqi Yas Ali Mohammed Yassiri and injuring the driver Mohammed Nouri Hattab (4). Before the end of his mission in Iraq, Callahan gave a series of lectures in the National War Academy in Washington DC. During the two years prior to his appointment as US Ambassador in Managua in July 2008 Callahan was the Public Affairs Officer for the Director of National Intelligence in Washington DC. After Callahan's appointment as Ambassador in Managua was announced, New York Times journalist Stephen Kinzer commented: "... it is a strange choice (...) considering that Callahan helped to inflict on Nicaragua one of the bloodiest wars in the country's history."

•Callahan's predecessor, Paul Trivelli, also has links to the US military (5): after leaving the Embassy in Managua in August 2008 his was named Civilian Deputy and Foreign Policy Adviser to the US Southern Command in Miami. The Southern Command itself explains that, as Civilian Deputy, Trivelli is responsible for permanently developing and refining the Southern Command's regional strategy - it's Theatre of War Plan - and the strategy of Security Cooperation for that same theatre. He also has a key role in terms of coordination between US agencies working towards the practical implementation of those plans. As Foreign Policy Adviser he advises the head of the Southern Command and other commanders in charge of foreign policy affairs relevant to National Security. As for Trivelli's academic formation - he received a Masters in National Security Studies from the Naval War Academy in 1996.

•The former Director of USAID in Nicaragua during the Trivelli era, Carol Horning, also has a past involving military formation having carried out studies about the National Security Strategy in the US War Academy between 2004 and 2005. (6)

Offices of Transition Initiatives (OTIs) (7) began to be installed by USAID around the world in 1994. The objective of the first OTIs was to support the transition towards capitalism in Eastern European countries. Soon their field of action expanded to places like Kosovo, Haiti, Indonesia, the Philippines, Colombia and wherever else the US needed to "resolve" situations in which its domination was being threatened.

Instructed by USAID, the OTIs install networks of political parties, media outlets and NGOs in the countries in which they operate, providing the funding and training those organizations need to implement, on the ground, policies obeying US objectives for the country in questions, objectives which vary from Coup d'Etats to insurgent struggles or military interventions.

In the case of Venezuela, the OTI in Caracas was created in July 2002, shortly after the failed coup against Hugo Chávez. In order to develop it's work in Venezuela, the OTI contracted a multinational linked to the US industrial military complex, Development Alternatives, Inc (DAI), which initially administered a fund of US$10 million for a project entitled "Venezuela: Trust Building Initiatives." That money was used to fund the organizations that promoted and carried out the oil strike of the same year as well as the right wing parties and organizations opposed to the Bolivarian process.

The OTI in Bolivia was opened towards the end of 2005 in an attempt to impede Evo Morales' rise to power. This time the company Casals & Associates (8), an affiliate of the paramilitary multinational DynCorp, was contracted. The initial budget of the OTI in La Paz was US$13.6 million. Calculations suggest that since then, the local OTI together with USAID have channelled some US$120 million to diverse opposition groups including the fascist groups from the so-called "Media Luna" region which promoted secession from the country - groups who are also responsible for uncountable acts of terror and even massacres against the civilian population. These facts led the Bolivian government to declare the US Ambassador Phillip Goldberg persona non-grata and to warn USAID that, should they continue funding similar activities, the organization would be expelled from the country.

In Nicaragua there is no Office of Transition Initiatives (which USAID itself translates incorrectly to Spanish as "Office of Democratic Initiatives"). In any case, the name is not important, because the contractor is the same as in Bolivia - DynCorp.

Dyncorp is a private US military defence company that has been contracted to participate in diverse conflicts where US hegemony is in question, the most notorious being Iraq and Colombia. It is well known and documented that the mercenaries contracted by DynCorp have a vast record of human rights violations in many parts of the world to the extent that they were even accused of terrorism in the US in 2002 for fumigations carried out against Ecuadorian campesinos near the border with Colombia. (10)

In Bosnia DynCorp organized a network of adolescent prostitution. In Iraq and Afghanistan the company has been accused of committing massacres, it was also accused of corruption. In Colombia, DynCorp trains the army and the paramilitaries and is responsible for the fumigation operations as part of Plan Colombia. DynCorp operated from the US Military Base in Manta, Ecuador, until the base was closed recently. Now thanks to an initial contract worth US$21 millions, DynCorp operates in Central America. (11)

The Program "Transparency, Anti corruption and Responsibility in Central America and Mexico" (CamTransparencia) is active in Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Panama. The reason Honduras has been eliminated from the list is probably to do with the coup d'état against President Manuel Zelaya, but there is reason to believe that the program is still active. It is revealing that neither Costa Rica nor Mexico are on the list which is made up of countries where US hegemony is, or has until recently been, threatened.

The general objective of the program is described as being "to support governmental and non governmental initiatives towards greater transparency and less corruption in all participating countries and to promote sustainable reform of public policies."

In Nicaragua CamTransparencua has organized discussion forums and other similar activities, but among its efforts emphasis is placed on attempts to influence European donor country policies, to favour the US' agenda of political funding by the NED, IRI, IDI, as well as the funding of local "civil society" organizations according to US priorities and above all for propaganda purposes.

The list of "partners" of CamTransparencia / DynCorp in Nicaragua is the following:

• Grupo Fundemos

• Hagamos Democracia

• Grupo Cívico Ética y Transparencia

• Centro para Programas de Comunicación (CPC)

• Red Nicaragüense Por la Democracia y el Desarrollo Local

• Centro de Análisis Sociocultural – Universidad Centroamericana (CAS – UCA)

• Instituto de Estudios Estratégicos y Políticas Públicas (IEEPP)

• Instituto para el Desarrollo de la Democracia (IPADE)

• Juventud por la Democracia de Nicaragua (JUDENIC)

• Fundación Violeta Barrios de Chamorro (FVBCH)

• Centro Ecuménico Antonio Valdivieso

• Red PROBIDAD

• IFES (Washington, D.C.)

• Center for Internacional Journalists (Washington D.C.)

Apart from these "partners," CamTransparencia has financed other groups including the following:

• Asociación Religiosa de la Iglesia Pentecostés del Nombre de Jesucristo de Nicaragua

• Grupo Radial Romance

• Asociación para la Sobrevivencia y el Desarrollo Local (ASODEL)

• Red de Jóvenes Nicaragüita (RJN)

• Centro de Investigaciones de la Comunicación (CINCO)

• Movimiento por Nicaragua

• Comisión Permanente de Derechos Humanos (CPDH)

• Comisiones de Justicia y Paz, Diócesis de Estelí (CJPE)

• Radio 15 de Septiembre

• Fundación DESAFIOS

• Dúo Guardabarranco

• Fundación Jinotegana para el Desarrollo Sostenible (FUNJIDES)

• Fundación Nakawé

• Fundación Nicaragua Nuestra (FNN)

• Fundación Rubén Darío para el Desarrollo Humano (FUPADE)

• Instituto de Administracion y Políticas Públicas de la Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería (UNI)

• Fundación de Jóvenes para el Desarrollo Socioeconómico Nueva Generación (FNG)

• Universidad de las Regiones Autónomas de la Costa Caribe de Nicaragua (URRACAN)

The current head of the CamTransparencia Project in Nicaragua is Mary Hogan who studied US National Security strategy. Hogan's past involves work with USAID's Peace Corps and with ARD, Inc. a consulting agency specializing in "governance processes." In the recent past, Hogan was head of OIT programs in Zimbabwe and Uganda and advisor for a similar program in Paraguay. (12)

USAID's CamTransparencia program is managed by the Casals & Associates, an affiliate of the paramilitary multinational DynCorp. It is important to point out that both DynCorp and Casals & Associates have a long history in Nicaragua.

On January 25th this year, the Casals & Associates website announced that DynCorp had bought 100% of the company's shares (13). Details of the value of the purchase were not made available.

"the acquisition brings together the complementary skills, experience and capacity of Casals and DynCorp International to strengthen the strategic expansion of DynCorp International into the international development field," reads the communiqué announcing the move. "Together they offer a best in class combination of competencies to provide services supporting U.S. defence, diplomacy and international development initiatives and objectives."

Casals & Associates has much experience in terms of "supporting the democratic transition" [SIC!] in Nicaragua. According to the US Agency for International Development (USAID) Website (14), in 1995 USAID awarded its first bilateral anti-corruption contract to Casals & Associates specifically to advise the Nicaragua government, which at that point was confronted with a national economy in ruins after years of war. The objective of the project was to improve the government's capacity to reduce the potential of waste, fraud and other forms of abuse of resources by establishing an integrated auditing system and an integrated financial administration system.

What happened next is well known in Managua - a gory electoral fraud against the FSLN in the national elections of the following year and two neo liberal governments whose officials stole the chilling sum of C$18,000 million (some US$900 million) of public funds.

But the union between Casals & Associates and DynCorp becomes even more significant taking into account the country's history.

In February of 2007, the Colombian Branch of the Permanent People's Tribunal presented an accusation against DynCorp for its direct participation in human rights violations in the South American country. The report (15), prepared by the Lawyers Collective "José Alvear Restrepo," quotes abundant information about DynCorp's activities as part of the US' dirty war against Nicaragua in the 80s including the following:

A DynCorp subcontractor involved itself directly in Nicaragua's internal conflict - "the company Eagle Aviation Services and Technology, Inc. (EAST), subcontracted by DynCorp, helped Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North, as part of the Iran-Contra scandal in the 80s, to transport arms and munitions for the Nicaraguan insurgents in their struggle against the Sandinista government [i]."

According to more detailed information [ii] "during the 80s, EAST and its founder Richard Gadd, helped North, then an official on the National Security Council, with the clandestine supply of arms and munitions to the Nicaraguan Contras after the US Congress had prohibited US government supply of lethal arms [to the Contras]".

North also arranged for other of Gadd's companies to be awarded State Department contracts involving the provision of above board humanitarian aid. This gave rise to what the independent counsel for the Iran-Contra scandal, Lawrence Walsh, described as "a rare occasion [in which] a U.S. government program unwittingly provided cover to a private covert operation."

The revelation of the arms operation in favour of the Contra, which was partially funded with the sale of arms to Iran, led to the conviction that top functionaries from the Reagan administration were involved. Gadd testified in the Iran-Contra case evoking an immunity clause which freed both himself and EAST from criminal conviction.

In his testimony about the Iran-Contra scandal Gadd explained that EAST was one of many companies he formed after retiring in 1982 as a Lieutenant Colonel specializing in undercover operations in the US Air Force.

During the 80s, the Contra rebels tried to overthrow the left-wing Sandinista government in Nicaragua. The Reagan administration, which perceived the Sandinistas as a Marxist threat in Central America, supported the Contra. The Democrats, which controlled the US Congress at the time, believed that the US government should stay out of the conflict and should not permit US officials to provide lethal support to the Contras.

As a result North was forced to look to General (RE) Richard Secord for support in creating a private link that would permit a supply of arms to the Contra. In 1985 Secord contracted Gadd to oversee the provision of arms. It was through EAST that Gadd facilitated the acquisition of planes which carried arms and munitions from Portugal to Central America where they were dropped from the air into the Contra camps. EAST also constructed a runway in Costa Rica near the border with Nicaragua. According to Walsh's final report [iii], EAST received a total of US$550,000 for its undercover work in relation to the Contra insurgency.

As stated previously, Nicaragua is subjected to a destabilization strategy similar to the ones being forged in other ALBA countries like Venezuela and Bolivia. Here there is no Office of Transition Initiatives but a program to promote "transparency." And the senior members of the team in charge of that program have vast experience in "regime change" operations.

In truth, there is a long history behind "the US' commitment to democracy in Nicaragua." And from the moment DynCorp got involved again, the historic continuity of that "commitment" was taken up again in a very direct and palpable way. The ones financing "transparency" and "democracy" in Nicaragua today are the same people and institutions that provoked bloodshed in the country two decades ago. And they will do it again - if they get the chance.

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