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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Western companies see prospects for business in Libya...

Western Companies See Prospects for Business in Libya
By SCOTT SHANE
Published: October 28, 2011

Via
WASHINGTON — The guns in Libya have barely quieted, and NATO’s military assistance to the rebellion that toppled Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi will not end officially until Monday. But a new invasion force is already plotting its own landing on the shores of Tripoli.

Western security, construction and infrastructure companies that see profit-making opportunities receding in Iraq and Afghanistan have turned their sights on Libya, now free of four decades of dictatorship. Entrepreneurs are abuzz about the business potential of a country with huge needs and the oil to pay for them, plus the competitive advantage of Libyan gratitude toward the United States and its NATO partners.

A week before Colonel Qaddafi’s death on Oct. 20, a delegation from 80 French companies arrived in Tripoli to meet officials of the Transitional National Council, the interim government. Last week, the new British defense minister, Philip Hammond, urged British companies to “pack their suitcases” and head to Tripoli.

When Colonel Qaddafi’s body was still on public display, a British venture, Trango Special Projects, pitched its support services to companies looking to cash in. “Whilst speculation continues regarding Qaddafi’s killing,” Trango said on its Web site, “are you and your business ready to return to Libya?”

The company offered rooms at its Tripoli villa and transport “by our discreet mixed British and Libyan security team.” Its discretion does not come cheaply. The price for a 10-minute ride from the airport, for which the ordinary cab fare is about $5, is listed at 500 British pounds, or about $800.

“There is a gold rush of sorts taking place right now,” said David Hamod, president and chief executive officer of the National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce. “And the Europeans and Asians are way ahead of us. I’m getting calls daily from members of the business community in Libya. They say, ‘Come back, we don’t want the Americans to lose out.’ ”

Yet there is hesitancy on both sides, and so far the talk greatly exceeds the action. The Transitional National Council, hoping to avoid any echo of the rank corruption of the Qaddafi era, has said no long-term contracts will be signed until an elected government is in place. And with cities still bristling with arms and jobless young men, Libya does not offer anything like a safe business environment — hence the pitches from security providers.

Like France and Britain, the United States may benefit from the Libyan authorities’ appreciation of NATO’s critical air support for the revolution. Whatever the rigor of new rules governing contracts, Western companies hope to have some advantage over, say, China, which was offering to sell arms to Colonel Qaddafi as recently as July.

“Revenge may be too strong a word,” said Phil Dwyer, director of SCN Resources Group, a Virginia contracting company that opened an office in Tripoli two weeks ago to offer “risk management” advice and services to a company he would not name. “But my feeling is those who are in favor” with the transitional council “are going to get the nod from a business point of view.”

The Security Contracting Network, a job service run by Mr. Dwyer’s company, posted on its blog two days after Colonel Qaddafi’s death that there would be plenty of work opening up in Libya.

“There will be an uptick of activity as foreign oil companies scramble to get back to Libya,” the company said, along with a need for logistics and security personnel as the State Department and nonprofit organizations expand operations. “Keep an eye on who wins related contracts, follow the money, and find your next job,” the post advised.

In Tripoli, there is a wait-and-see atmosphere. At breakfast on Friday in a downtown hotel, a British security contractor pointed out the tables of burly men — hired guns like himself. “Look at it,” he said. “Full of ’em.”

US planning troop buildup in Gulf after "exit" from Iraq...

U.S. Planning Troop Buildup in Gulf After Exit From Iraq
By THOM SHANKER and STEVEN LEE MYERS
Published: October 29, 2011

Via
MacDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. — The Obama administration plans to bolster the American military presence in the Persian Gulf after it withdraws the remaining troops from Iraq this year, according to officials and diplomats. That repositioning could include new combat forces in Kuwait able to respond to a collapse of security in Iraq or a military confrontation with Iran.

The plans, under discussion for months, gained new urgency after President Obama’s announcement this month that the last American soldiers would be brought home from Iraq by the end of December. Ending the eight-year war was a central pledge of his presidential campaign, but American military officers and diplomats, as well as officials of several countries in the region, worry that the withdrawal could leave instability or worse in its wake.

After unsuccessfully pressing both the Obama administration and the Iraqi government to permit as many as 20,000 American troops to remain in Iraq beyond 2011, the Pentagon is now drawing up an alternative.

In addition to negotiations over maintaining a ground combat presence in Kuwait, the United States is considering sending more naval warships through international waters in the region.

With an eye on the threat of a belligerent Iran, the administration is also seeking to expand military ties with the six nations in the Gulf Cooperation Council — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman. While the United States has close bilateral military relationships with each, the administration and the military are trying to foster a new “security architecture” for the Persian Gulf that would integrate air and naval patrols and missile defense.

The size of the standby American combat force to be based in Kuwait remains the subject of negotiations, with an answer expected in coming days. Officers at the Central Command headquarters here declined to discuss specifics of the proposals, but it was clear that successful deployment plans from past decades could be incorporated into plans for a post-Iraq footprint in the region.

For example, in the time between the Persian Gulf war in 1991 and the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the United States Army kept at least a combat battalion — and sometimes a full combat brigade — in Kuwait year-round, along with an enormous arsenal ready to be unpacked should even more troops have been called to the region.

“Back to the future” is how Maj. Gen. Karl R. Horst, Central Command’s chief of staff, described planning for a new posture in the Gulf. He said the command was focusing on smaller but highly capable deployments and training partnerships with regional militaries. “We are kind of thinking of going back to the way it was before we had a big ‘boots on the ground’ presence,” General Horst said. “I think it is healthy. I think it is efficient. I think it is practical.”

Mr. Obama and his senior national security advisers have sought to reassure allies and answer critics, including many Republicans, that the United States will not abandon its commitments in the Persian Gulf even as it winds down the war in Iraq and looks ahead to doing the same in Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

“We will have a robust continuing presence throughout the region, which is proof of our ongoing commitment to Iraq and to the future of that region, which holds such promise and should be freed from outside interference to continue on a pathway to democracy,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in Tajikistan after the president’s announcement.

During town-hall-style meetings with military personnel in Asia last week, the secretary of defense, Leon E. Panetta, noted that the United States had 40,000 troops in the region, including 23,000 in Kuwait, though the bulk of those serve as logistical support for the forces in Iraq.

As they undertake this effort, the Pentagon and its Central Command, which oversees operations in the region, have begun a significant rearrangement of American forces, acutely aware of the political and budgetary constraints facing the United States, including at least $450 billion of cuts in military spending over the next decade as part of the agreement to reduce the budget deficit.

Officers at Central Command said that the post-Iraq era required them to seek more efficient ways to deploy forces and maximize cooperation with regional partners. One significant outcome of the coming cuts, officials said, could be a steep decrease in the number of intelligence analysts assigned to the region. At the same time, officers hope to expand security relationships in the region. General Horst said that training exercises were “a sign of commitment to presence, a sign of commitment of resources, and a sign of commitment in building partner capability and partner capacity.”

CIA criminal revolving door...

CIA Criminal Revolving Door
CIA Criminal Revolving Door: CIA Officer "Albert" Involved in False Intelligence Linking Al-Qaeda to Iran, Iraq.
by Kevin Fenton
25 October 2011
BoilingFrogsPost.com

Via
A recent book by former FBI agent Ali Soufan shows that the same CIA officer was involved in generating intelligence that falsely linked al-Qaeda to first Iran and then Iraq. The officer was also involved in a notorious torture episode and was reprimanded by the Agency's inspector general.

The officer, who Soufan refers to as "Fred," but whose real first name is "Albert" according to a February 2011 Associated Press article, served at the CIA station in Jordan in 1999. During that time, al-Qaeda, aided by a collection of freelance terrorists headed by Abu Zubaidah, attempted to commit a series of attacks in the country, known as the Millennium Plot. However, the attacks were foiled by the local Jordanian intelligence service, working with the CIA and FBI.

During the investigations of the plotters, Albert drafted a series of official cables that were later withdrawn. Although the withdrawing of the cables was first mentioned in a July 2006 article by Lawrence Wright for the New Yorker, Wright did not mention what was in the cables or by whom they were drafted. The content of one of them and the drafter were first revealed upon the publication of Soufan's book in mid-September 2011.

According to Soufan, one of the twelve withdrawn cables falsely stated that the group of terrorists later arrested for the Millennium Plot in Jordan was linked to Iran. Albert's reasoning for this was that the group had trained in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, an area of high activity by the Iranian-backed militant group Hezbollah. Therefore, the group in Jordan had to be working with Hezbollah and be backed by Iran.

Soufan was also sending reports to Washington, and someone in DC noticed that Albert claimed a link to Iran while Soufan did not. An investigation followed and Soufan was proved right -- the Millennium Plot had nothing to do with Iran -- leading to the withdrawal of Albert's cables. In his book, Soufan attributes Albert's error to "a tendency to jump to conclusions without facts."

Albert had previously worked with the FBI as a translator, but had failed to make agent status, and Soufan says he was reputed to bear a grudge against the Bureau for this slight.

The contents of the other eleven cables that had to be withdrawn are unknown.

The second episode, where Albert played a part in the generation of false information that helped justify the invasion of Iraq, is notorious. Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, a senior militant training camp commander in Afghanistan, was captured by US forces and turned over to the FBI towards the end of 2001. Al-Libi was being interrogated by George Crouch and Russell Fincher, an FBI agent a group of CIA officers had withheld information from in the run-up to 9/11. Al-Libi was co-operating with Crouch and Fincher, and had even provided information about an ongoing plot in Yemen.

Albert burst into the interrogation room, told al-Libi that information about plots in Yemen was meaningless, and made threats against him. As a result of this, al-Libi clammed up and refused to provide more information that day. Albert was subsequently banned from Bagram air base, where the interrogation was being conducted.

However, Albert's superior, CIA Chief of Station in Afghanistan Richard Blee, complained to Washington about the alleged lack of information from the interrogation of al-Libi and initiated a turf war between the Bureau and the Agency. The CIA won and Albert returned to Bagram, taking control of al-Libi.

At one point, Albert threatened to rape al-Libi's mother. According to Jane Mayer's The Dark Side, Albert screamed, "You're going to Egypt! And while you're there I'm going to find your mother, and fuck her." Soufan's book contains a slightly different quote: "If you don't tell me about what you are planning [redacted, evidently "in Egypt"], I'm going to bring your mother here and fuck her in front of you."

Al-Libi was shipped to Egypt, where, under torture, he invented all kinds of information linking al-Qaeda to Iraq. The information later formed a key segment of Colin Powell's infamous presentation to the UN justifying the Iraq invasion.

Analysis shows that Albert was also the CIA officer who used a handgun and electric drill in an attempt to scare another detainee, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. These events became the centre of media attention when the CIA inspector general's report into the agency's torture program was released.

Finally, Soufan places Albert at the initial interrogation of 9/11 coordinator Ramzi bin al-Shibh and an unnamed high-value associate in September 2002, although he does not say that Albert played any specific role in their interrogation.

According to the Associated Press, Albert was reprimanded by the Agency for the "mock execution" of al-Nashiri. He later retired from the CIA, but then returned as a contractor.

(UK's) Met Police spends millions of pounds on secret aircraft...

Met Police spends millions of pounds on secret aircraft
The Metropolitan Police has secret spy planes capable of eavesdropping on mobile phone calls from the sky.
By Jason Lewis, Investigations Editor, and Andy Blackmore
9:00PM BST 29 Oct 2011

Via
The existence of the fleet of planes - each costing at least £3 million to purchase and hundreds of thousands more to operate - has never been publicly disclosed.

The police have being using the planes since at least 1997.

The disclosure of the spending, which is not detailed in official accounts, comes as the police face 20 per cent cuts in their budget, creating fears that hundreds of support staff will lose their jobs and the number of officers reduced.

Despite the cuts the Met's secret fixed wing aircraft fleet is still flying regular sorties over London from a base at Farnborough airfield, in Hampshire.

The planes have apparently been fitted with secret surveillance equipment capable of intercepting mobile phone calls or eavesdropping on conversations.

They are understood to be similar to surveillance planes available to MI5 which have been used in anti-terrorism operations and were used to help West Midlands Police track suspects connected to a plot to kidnap and behead a British Muslim soldier.

One of the planes is a Cessna F04, which can carry up to 14 passengers or be fitted with specially integrated patrol mission packs. We have been asked not to disclose full details of the aircraft on security grounds.

The twin engine craft are operated separately from the Met's Air Support Unit which has three helicopters and flies hundreds of hours a month in support of police operations around the capital at a cost of £3 million a year.

Last week a Metropolitan Police spokesman refused to discuss its use of the fixed wing aircraft but insisted it has gone through a "full" procurement process.

However members of the Metropolitan Police Authority, which scrutinises the force's spending said they had never been told of the existence of the aircraft.

According to Civil Aviation Authority records, the aircraft is registered to a firm called Nor Leasing.

There is no trace of the firm on any other official record and its business address registered with the CAA is actually a branch of Mail Boxes Etc, which offers a virtual office services and mail forwarding, in Surbiton, south-west London.

Another Cessna was also previously registered to Nor Leasing at the same address and at another service address in Kensington, west London.

In 1997 one of the original individuals listed as "trading as" Nor Leasing was John Carnt who at the time was a senior Metropolitan Police detective.

Superintendent Carnt was the then head of the Serious and Economic Crime Group, which was set up to combat major fraud, money laundering and art and antiques thefts.

The pattern of hidden spending is believed to have been established by Tony Williams, a former assistant finance director at Scotland Yard, who established a secret web of companies for use in specialist undercover operations.

But Mr Williams also used the same techniques to steal millions of pounds from the force to set himself up as a bogus Scottish "laird". Williams was accused of stealing more than £4 million from Scotland Yard. He was jailed for seven years in 1995.

Metropolitan Police Authority member James Cleverly last night said he was totally unaware that the Met had any fixed wing aircraft.

Mr Cleverly, who also sits on the authority's counter terrorism and protective services committee, which examines the force's covert work, said: "This is not something that I have been made aware of or have had the opportunity to scrutinise.

"In the light of the tight financial situation we are facing and the cuts being imposed on the police service it is imperative that we examine any assets that could be construed as a 'luxury'.

"I would expect full disclosure of details of this to the MPA to enable us to examine whether it represents good value for money for the police service."

" (Daniel) Sieberg is hardly a guy stuck in some dust-covered, pre-technology past: He has always been among the first to own each new portable device, and he likes the many good things the digital experience can provide. But he realized -- when his wife would wake up in the middle of the night to see him, in bed, illuminated by the glow of one screen or another that he had decided to check one more time before he fell back asleep -- that something might need remedying.There is, he said, a feeling common among people who are digitally hooked that, when it's just them and the real world and no screen, they are somehow cast adrift, cut off: "It's a sense of, 'What am I missing?'" But in truth, a strong case can be made that when a person lives too many hours a day in the digital universe, that is when he or she is really missing something -- missing the things that are taking place in the flesh-and-blood world"...

Don't sleep with your smart phone nearby
By Bob Greene, CNN Contributor.
updated 9:28 AM EST, Sun October 30, 2011

(CNN) -- "I won't even sleep in the same room with them."

A fellow named Daniel Sieberg was telling me his hard-and-fast rule for getting through the night.

He takes all of his digital devices -- laptops, tablets, cellphones, anything portable that has a screen -- to another room before he turns off the light. He has come to terms with the fact that the technological gadgets that have so thoroughly insinuated themselves into our lives can become addictive.

So, when it's time for slumber, he locks them out. He won't even let his cellphone charge overnight in the bedroom:

"If it's there, I would have the temptation to turn it on and check it."

We have learned to celebrate, even revere, the wireless gadgets we carry around and the inventors who bring them to us; the response to the death of Steve Jobs this month was emblematic of how important our do-it-all phones, our computers, our tablets and related digital devices have become. We say that the technology has changed life as we used to know it.

But how much is too much?

And, more to the point: How many of us have the nagging feeling that we are somehow unable to disconnect -- that the electronic devices we own have begun to own us?

There is an instinct to treat the subject whimsically: "Land o'Goshen, Ma, those kids are walking down the street staring at their cellphone screens." It's as if any criticism of what the digital age has done to society brands the person raising the questions as backward, afraid of change, irrationally wedded to outmoded ways.

So the addiction question is often one that people silently ask themselves. Shouldn't we be spending less time checking and rechecking our many screens, large and small, and more time taking part in what used to be regarded as real life? Is there something inherently wrong when people being separated from their phones, computers and tablets makes them feel nervous, irritable, tense -- in other words, when they begin to exhibit classic withdrawal symptoms?

For guidance on this, I got in touch with Sieberg, who has given as much thought to the subject as anyone of whom I'm aware. A former CNN correspondent, he is a lecturer, writer and broadcaster on technology issues who, in his own life, became increasingly conscious of the unhealthy hold that digital devices can have. He wrote a book called "The Digital Diet" that argues persuasively that there can come a time in a person's life when he or she is a good candidate for technology detox.

I asked him if "addiction" is too strong a word to use in relation to devices that seem to hook their users emotionally, but not chemically.

"Unfortunately, the word 'addiction' has become overused," he said, and should not be trivialized. Addictions to illegal drugs, alcohol and prescription medication are grimly somber matters. But, he said, the idea of an addiction to digital devices is genuine, and is not something that should be greeted with a sardonic wink.

"One definition of 'addiction' is when other people and other activities in your life begin to suffer because of something you know you should cut back on, but don't," he said.

Some of his examples are things that many people will instantly recognize:

-- The urge to pull out a cellphone even when someone you're with in person is in the midst of a conversation with you.

-- Texting even while your child is telling you about his or her day at school, and realizing later that you can't remember the details of what your son or daughter has said to you.

-- Having the vague feeling that something hasn't really happened until you post it to Facebook or Twitter.

-- Feeling isolated and anxious if you are offline for an extended period of time.

-- Noticing that even when your family is all together in one room at home, each person is gazing at his or her own screen and tapping at a miniature keyboard.

"There are people who, even when they aren't using their digital devices, find themselves creating status updates or Twitter feeds in their heads while they are experiencing things," he said. "It's as if they have lost the ability to live in the moment, and have become conditioned to feeling that they have to instantly share it electronically while it is still going on."

Sieberg is hardly a guy stuck in some dust-covered, pre-technology past: He has always been among the first to own each new portable device, and he likes the many good things the digital experience can provide. But he realized -- when his wife would wake up in the middle of the night to see him, in bed, illuminated by the glow of one screen or another that he had decided to check one more time before he fell back asleep -- that something might need remedying.

There is, he said, a feeling common among people who are digitally hooked that, when it's just them and the real world and no screen, they are somehow cast adrift, cut off: "It's a sense of, 'What am I missing?'" But in truth, a strong case can be made that when a person lives too many hours a day in the digital universe, that is when he or she is really missing something -- missing the things that are taking place in the flesh-and-blood world.

Sieberg has a phrase for it: You know you're in trouble when "your footing in technology feels increasingly like quicksand."

And he has a piece of advice for all of us, regardless of how deep we feel we're sinking into that digital quicksand:

Like him, we should consider locking all of those devices in another room at night. He promises that it makes a difference:

"You sleep better."

Saturday, October 29, 2011

"When the United States of America killed Anwar Awlaki, an American citizen living in Yemen, using a drone which found him far from any battlefield, no one was concerned about justice or even any process of justice. Now the greatest military power on earth has done the same to Abdul Rahman al-Awlaki, the 16-year-old son of Anwar Awlaki. When death came, he was at a barbecue, preparing to eat. Not many in America or elsewhere have shown interest in these two cases of illegal murder of its citizens by a state gone mad. Awlaki’s cousin and several other young people at the barbecue were also killed in the attack"...

Quantum Note: Under the Shadow of a Deadly State
Dr. Muzaffar Iqbal
Opinion Maker
October 28, 2011

Via
When the United States of American killed Anwar Awlaki, an American citizen living in Yemen, using a drone which found him far from any battlefield, no one was concerned about justice or even any process of justice. Now the greatest military power on earth has done the same to Abdul Rahman al-Awlaki, the 16-year-old son of Anwar Awlaki. When death came, he was at a barbecue, preparing to eat. Not many in America or elsewhere have shown interest in these two cases of illegal murder of its citizens by a state gone mad. Awlaki’s cousin and several other young people at the barbecue were also killed in the attack.

The Obama administration has not even called this loss of life a “collateral damage”; it has simply swept the entire episode under the carpet. It now seems that the US administration has unilaterally decided that it has authority to kill anyone anywhere in the world, without any due process, and without informing anyone, unless the news is leaked. This is not only the continuation of the worst strategies used during the Bush era; it is a much darker version of those policies.

One cannot even denounce these policies because there is no point left in doing so. There is now only one conclusion which can be drawn: the United States of America is the epic center of global terror; its “democracy” is an illusion, a sham. Most of its citizens are not even concerned about what their government does elsewhere in the world, and there is no hope left of any change in the present situation, because no matter which of the two parties wins the next election, the same darkness will continue to spread.

The U.S. government is literally on a rampage, continuously killing people in multiple countries around the world. What’s most striking about this is how America’s political and media elites have acquiesced to these illegal actions of their government. The government only needs to say, so and so is an al-Qaeda fighter or a terrorist and no one is bothered about what happens next. There may still be some Americans who find it abhorrent, but they do not count. If the American media announces similar stories from other countries, most Americans would feel outrageously self-righteous and condemn those governments, but when it comes to their own government routinely zapping innocent teenagers, children, women and men out of existence, using sky robots, one never hears a public outcry. The U.S. has done this so often and for so long that most of the citizenry has learned to pretend that this does not happen or is justified.

Thus, we now live under the shadow of a deadly state which has technological capability to extinguish any life anywhere in the world. It has no qualms about legality of such killings and there is not a single state, organization, or institution that can stop this state from committing these crimes against humanity. Such is the global horror and darkness of the shadow that extends from Washington DC all the way to the deserts of Yemen. This is the real heart of darkness, the ultimate horror, the complete descent of humanity into inhumanity—a unipolar world in which the distinction between justice and injustice has disappeared.

The descent of this deadly state has been gradual. Of course, 9/11 remains a watershed, but one must not forget the long history of this terror prior to this date: the banana republics of South America, the economic strangulation of communities by the American corporations, and the well-documented war crimes in Vietnam. All of this is a testimony to the growth of a deadly state that has now turned its attention toward Muslims around the world. What lies ahead is not difficult to predict: the law of jungle dictates that wolfs will remain wolfs and the goats will never find a respite. The laws of history, however, foretell a different future.

There is always a day of reckoning for terrorists, whether they are individuals or states. Human beings can descent into inhumanity, but they cannot extinguish the light of truth and justice, no matter how dark their crimes become. This law of history has been operational ever since the dawn of humanity and there is no reason to believe that American technological power has any way to alter it. There has been no individual or state on earth which has been allowed to transgress against the sanctity of life for an indefinite period.

In the short term, however, there is no respite from the terrors of this deadly state which has taken on the habit of killing its own teenage citizens in distant lands. Seen from this short-term perspective, there is no reason to believe that Pakistan’s northwest will remain immune to this terror for long. All signs point to a long-term presence of drones over Pakistan’s skies. The United States of America has no way out of the Afghan quagmire and as long as its soldiers remain on rampage on the Afghan soil, it will have drones in the area and as long as these deadly weapons are present, lives of teen age boys, innocent babies and old women will remain under the shadow of death.

There might not be any solace for those whose beloved sons and grandsons have been killed by drones except in the grand scheme of things. In the long run, however, there is no doubt that justice will prevail, here and in the Hereafter. One can at least draw solace in this pitch darkness from this time-tested, ever-present decree of the One who gives life and Who takes it away.

Hypothesis (Video trailer)

Via
From the film website, hypothesis.com: hy.poth.e.sis' is a documentary film that follows physics professor Steven E. Jones during a pivotal point in his life. In 2005, Steven went public with a controversial theory regarding the collapse of the World Trade Center on 9/11. His assertion that the collapse was likely the result of pre-positioned explosives rather than the hijacked planes resulted in a backlash from the community and even threatened his standing as a professor at BYU. Despite hate mail, threats, and even bribery to end his research, Steven refused to give in to overwhelming pressure and continued his pursuit of the truth.

America's death pornography culture: Celebrating brutal deaths of Qaddafi and Saddam

America’s Death Pornography Culture: Celebrating brutal deaths of Qaddafi and Saddam
Wayne MADSEN (USA) | 29.10.2011 | 00:00

Via
The United States government and military revels in death and pornographic intimidation. The videos and photographs of howling Iraqis celebrating the hanging of Iraqi president Saddam Hussein after his U.S.-administered kangaroo court trial in Iraq and the physical abuse, alleged sodomizing, and execution of Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi by NATO-armed and directed rebels after his convoy in Sirte was reportedly struck by a U.S. drone-launched missile, exemplify America’s fixation with pornographic death scenes…

The George Walker Bush and Barack Hussein Obama administrations share a fascination for displaying the dead bodies of their vanquished enemies. For Bush, it was the gruesome stone-slabbed corpses of Qusay and Uday Hussein, Saddam’s sons, after they were killed in a firefight with U.S. troops in. That was followed by the body of Sadaam after his hanging in.

Of course, it did not suit President Obama to broadcast a photograph of Osama Bin Laden, allegedly killed while resisting arrest in Abbotabad, Pakistan. In the case of Bin Laden, there is a strong reason to believe that Osama’s body could not be shown because there was no body of Osama. Whether an Osama Bin Laden look-a-like was killed or not may never be known, but what is certain is that the Obama administration’s explanation for ”Osama’s” burial at sea from a U.S. aircraft carrier appears dubious.

There was also the curious designation of the operation to kill Bin Laden as “Geronimo.” President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates were in the White House Situation Room when they heard the news from the strike team: “We’ve ID’d Geronimo,” followed by “Geronimo EKIA” or “Geronimo enemy killed in action.”

There was outrage among Native Americans over the designation of Bin Laden as Geronimo. But the code name has its own ghastly history. In 1918, in another macabre display of ghoulishness by America’s political elite, Prescott Bush, the future U.S. senator and father and grandfather of two future presidents, allegedly dug up the grave of the famed Apache leader Geronimo and stole his skull and some bones. The remains are said to be among the prized possession of Yale’s elite and secretive Skull and Bones society, along with the skull of former President Martin van Buren, the only president of the United States who was not in the blood line, close or distant, of the British royal family.

As Qaddafi’s body, along with those of his son, Mo’tassim, and the former Libyan army commander, Abu Bakr Yunis, rotted in a meat freezer in Misrata – for the whole world to see -- more details emerged about Qaddafi’s last hours in Sirte. On October 19, at around 8:00 am in Sirte, a convoy of 70 vehicles departed the heavily-bombed out city, heading west. There were also Twitter messages coming out of Sirte reporting that several white flags of surrender were seen in the city at day break. However, a CIA Predator drone tracking the convoy passed its coordinates on to NATO. French and other NATO jets pounded the convoy, incinerating many of the drivers and passengers. Many of those killed were black Libyans. There are now reports of mass graves in Sirte containing the bodies of scores of Qaddafi supporters and fellow tribal members.

There have been some reports that a truce and a surrender by Qaddafi and his forces was worked out between some rebel leaders and Qaddafi’s entourage through the auspices of the Qaddadfa (the tribe to which Qaddafi belonged) tribal leaders in Sirte. After the convoy was on the highway heading west, with reported white flags from some of the vehicles, the motorcade, which was not engaging in fire with rebel or NATO forces, was set upon by NATO forces. Witnesses to the surrender and/or safe passage negotiations will be hard to come by, since one of those murdered in his home in Sirte by Libyan rebels was reportedly the chief of the Qaddadfa tribe who was part of the negotiations for surrender and safe passage.

Reports that Qaddafi and his group were trying to make a dash through the offensive lines around Sirte make no sense since the convoy left after sun up and in broad daylight, when white flags could clearly be seen by the belligerents, and the Twitter messages out of Sirte indicated that rebels, pro-Qaddafi forces, and neutral observers could all see the white flags. If Qaddafi wanted to make a break for it, he would have done so at night with headlights out.

One of the last things Qaddafi is heard asking his captors is “Do you know right from wrong?” If the rebels or NATO reneged on a promise of safe passage and ignored the universally-recognized white flag signifying truce and surrender, it would constitute a gross violation of the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907, and would, therefore, be a war crime. Under the conventions, the white flag is protected as a sign that an approaching party intends to surrender or negotiate the terms of surrender. Those displaying a white flag may not fire or be fired upon.

If NATO and the rebels violated the white flag in Sirte, it would represent one of the first major violations of a practice that began with the Eastern Han dynasty in China in the year 25, and was recognized by the Roman Empire, armies during the Middle Ages, and every major and minor nation since. A violation by NATO of the flag of truce would represent a flagrant return to barbarism by the “collective defensive” organization.

Hillary Clinton reacted to news of Qaddafi’s death by chortling like a school girl. Preparing for an interview with CBS News, Clinton, who had just paid a visit to Libya, joked, “We came, we saw, he died.” Other NATO leaders, including Obama, David Cameron, Nicolas Sarkozy, and Anders Fogh Rasmussen, as well as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who all self-identify themselves as Christians, expressed relief and joy at the news of Qaddafi’s death, a very “un-Christian” trait.

The brutal treatment of Qaddafi and his forces matches the treatment meted out by American forces to detainees in Iraq, including the pornographic abuse of prisoners, including minors, at Abu Ghraib and other prisons. In the report by U.S. Army General Antonio Taguba, there are instances of U.S. guards forcing male and female prisoners into naked and explicit positions, including human piles, and taking photographs and video shots, forcing male prisoners to wear women’s underwear, forcing male prisoners to masturbate while being photographed and videotaped, and sodomizing detainees with broom sticks and chemical lights. One prisoner murdered by U.S. forces, Manadel al-Jamadi, was kept on ice to prevent decomposition and spirited away from investigators to cover up his suffocation by U.S. prison guards.

The abuse at Abu Ghraib continues to have ramifications and has resulted in a lawsuit in California, Ford v. CAARNG (California Army Reserve National Guard). The suit charges that “retired Sergeant Frank G. Ford who, in 2003, was assigned to Iraq with the 223 Military Intelligence Unit under the 205 Military Intelligence Brigade as a Counter Intelligence Agent and Medic, was strapped to a gurney against his will and kidnapped. He was then sent from a war zone [Iraq] to Germany . . . because he reported the torture going on at Abu Ghraib prison as well as the death by torture of a prisoner while in custody.” The suit also alleges that “Ford cared for and treated, as an onsite medic, numerous victims of torture.”

A video currently circulating of a Libyan rebel sodomizing Qaddafi with what appears to be a rifle barrel brings back the scenes of the U.S. house of horrors at Abu Ghraib. Obama’s decision to become judge, jury, and executioner in the death sentences (“targeted killings”) carried out by a CIA drone flying over Yemen on September 30, on U.S. citizens Anwar al Awalaki (a former Islamic confidante of the Pentagon), and Samir Khan, and an additional October 14 drone strike in Yemen that killed Awlaki’s teenage son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, also a U.S. citizen, reinforces a growing belief that Obama lords over a voodoo-like death cult that has taken over U.S. military and foreign policy.

By word and action, the U.S. military and its NATO underlings have discarded thousands of years of chivalric military tradition, common practices, and law against a backdrop of ghoulish and pornographic behavior.

A message to the puppets and pawns in blue called the 'police' (Video)

Via

" (The Archbishop of Canterbury) Dr Williams has been criticised for not intervening as questions are asked about the conduct of the cathedral and the role played by the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, in antagonising protesters.Dr Williams's natural sympathies lie with the protesters but because of Church of England politics he does not want to be seen to interfere. His silence, and that of high-ranking bishops, has left the Church's leadership accused of not practising what Jesus preached – caution against greed and furtherance of a distribution of wealth"...

God vs Mammon: Britain takes sides
As St Paul's reopens its doors, the City of London and the cathedral launch legal actions to evict demonstrators, another clergyman resigns in dismay, David Cameron threatens legislation to ban protest camps – and the Archbishop of Canterbury...says nothing
Paul Cahalan and Jerome Taylor
Saturday, 29 October 2011

Via
The decision by St Paul's Cathedral to drive protesters from its steps using force threatens to further divide the Church of England – and has prompted the Prime Minister to look at measures to curb protest camps.

The cathedral, which reopened its doors at lunchtime yesterday after closing the previous Friday on health and safety grounds, will go to the High Court next week seeking to evict the demonstrators. The legal action has isolated it from many Christians.

The hundreds of protesters camped on church land, who want to draw attention to the role the City has played in the financial crisis, as well as its continued high pay and bonuses, also face a separate challenge from the City of London Corporation, which acts for the interests of businesses in the Square Mile. City firms will argue that the camp breaches highway regulations. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, privately despairs of the cathedral's handling of the financial protest, The Independent understands.

Dr Williams has been criticised for not intervening as questions are asked about the conduct of the cathedral and the role played by the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, in antagonising protesters.

Dr Williams's natural sympathies lie with the protesters but because of Church of England politics he does not want to be seen to interfere. His silence, and that of high-ranking bishops, has left the Church's leadership accused of not practising what Jesus preached – caution against greed and furtherance of a distribution of wealth.

The former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, described the situation as a "debacle" which threatened to damage the reputation of Christianity.

David Cameron threatened to clamp down on the "broader issue" of demonstrators pitching tents "almost anywhere". Likening the St Paul's camp to the tents in Parliament Square, which for nearly 10 years were subject to efforts to remove them, he said: "I'm all in favour of the freedom to demonstrate, but I don't quite see why the freedom to demonstrate has to include the freedom to pitch a tent almost anywhere you want to in London. Of course we need the right to protest but these tents – whether in Parliament Square or whether in St Paul's – I don't think is the right way forward, and I do think we need to look at this whole area and I'm very keen that we do."

Stuart Fraser, the City of London Corporation's chairman of policy and resources, said: "We have no problem with a demonstration but the camp constitutes an obstruction of a public highway affecting people and businesses."

While the Corporation's decision was widely expected, the thought of the Church evicting protesters from its grounds is unpalatable for many Christians. The decision to seek a legal injunction against the protesters yesterday immediately prompted the resignation of a junior chaplain, the Rev Fraser Dyer. Compared with Giles Fraser, the former Canon Chancellor of St Paul's who resigned on Thursday, Mr Dyer is a minor figure, but his departure will cause consternation among the lower ranking clergy at St Paul's, some of whom are less than happy with the route their leadership is pursuing.

Mr Dyer's resignation letter articulated the crux of the problem. "I appreciate that St Paul's has its own means of speaking to the issue of corporate and financial conduct in the City," he said, "but am sorry that a way could not be found of – at the very least – continuing to [support] the occupation of the precinct by those with a genuine and prophetic complaint that has much in keeping with the values of the gospel."

Canon Michael Hampel, a member of the cathedral's chapter, defended the legal decision but said he was opposed to a forced eviction. He added the cathedral felt the protesters' message was now being lost.

"The central message is how do you share the God-given resources that earth affords more justly and more equitably. This lies at the heart of the gospel and is a message that St Paul's Cathedral shares," he said.

"But we believe that message has been lost in the camp. What we are committed to is how the camp can move on peacefully and that message can continue at St Paul's."

A coalition of eight Christian groups, including the Student Christian Movement, Christianity Uncut and the Fellowship of Reconciliation, published a joint statement yesterday supporting the protests.

Christian activists have already said they would form a protective ring of prayer around protesters if police try to evict them.

"(Ellen Johnson) Sirleaf's interest in hosting an AFRICOM base in Liberia appears to have had more to do with protecting the (George) Soros and Rothschild mining operations in West Africa than in championing stability and human rights. For that, Sirleaf and her friend (Leymah) Gbowe received two Nobel gold medals to help the Rothschild/Soros team control all the gold metal"

A little gold for all the gold
publication date: Oct 10, 2011
Wayne Madsen

URL LINK N/A

As with so many international constructs that started out with good intentions, the Norwegian Nobel Committee, like the International Olympic Committee, have become contrivances for global corporations. It is now clear that the decision by the Nobel committee to award the Nobel Peace Prize to two Liberian women, along with a female Yemeni human rights campaigner, was to engage in a bit of influence-peddling in mineral resource-rich West Africa while also attempting to recognize the "Arab Spring" democracy movement.

While the awarding of the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize to Yemeni human rights activist seems appropriate, considering the work she has done to oust Yemen's brutal dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh from power, the awarding of the Peace Prize gold medals to Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Liberian human rights activist Leymah Gbowe, just before the Liberian presidential election, appears to be a blatant act of trying to influence the outcome of the election and rewarding Sirleaf for her support for the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). In addition to being Africa's first elected female head of state, Sirleaf also has the distinction of being the only African head of state to offer AFRICOM a base of operations and headquarters in Africa - Liberia.

Sirleaf's invitation to AFRICOM was unsettling to many Liberians who are cognizant of Liberia's past as a colony founded by freed slaves from the United States and run for decades by a series of American-Liberian dictators who acted as virtual proxies for Washington and the Firestone Rubber Corporation.

Sirleaf was implicated in supporting Liberia's brutal dictator, Charles Taylor, in a report issued in 2009 by the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Sirleaf rejected the report and she also reneged on her promise to serve only one term as president. Winston Tubman, the nephew of Liberia's long-serving president William Tubman and who is running against Sirleaf, has questioned the timing of the Nobel Committee's awarding of the peace prize to his opponent, only a few days before the October 11 election. It is also noteworthy that after the announcement of this year's Nobel awards, Gbowe, the other Liberian peace prize awardee, endorsed Sirleaf's re-election.

Sirleaf, a Harvard graduate, has long been a darling of George Soros's "human rights" and "civil society" contrivances, including the Open Society Institute and Foundation. On September 9, 2008, WMR reported: "Soros is a close friend of Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a former Vice President of Equator Bank in Washington, DC. Equator was later bought by HSBC, which, not surprisingly is a financial partner of Soros."

Soros has much more of an interest in Liberia and surrounding countries -- including Ivory Coast, which saw French troops fight troops loyal to ousted president Laurent Gbagbo to install a Rothschild/Soros-run World Bank veteran, Alassane Ouattara and his French Zionist wife, into power -- than promoting "civil society." Liberia is a nexus for gold mining and Soros's senior partner, Nathaniel Rothschild, is, according to WMR's sources, buying up all the world's gold mines in anticipation of the collapse of several world currencies, including the euro and the dollar.

Rothschild and Soros, through Rothschild-controlled Newmont Mining Corporation, along with other Rothschild-controlled companies like Vallar and Glencore, are currently moving in to buy up gold mining companies and mining operations in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea,the United States, Peru, Ghana, Guinea, Canada, Namibia, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Ivory Coast, Mexico, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.

Sirleaf's interest in hosting an AFRICOM base in Liberia appears to have had more to do with protecting the Soros and Rothschild mining operations in West Africa than in championing stability and human rights. For that, Sirleaf and her friend Gbowe received two Nobel gold medals to help the Rothschild/Soros team control all the gold metal.

Libya's African migrants face harder life post-Kadhafi...

Libya's African migrants face harder life post-Kadhafi
By Simon Martelli (AFP) – 1 day ago

Via
TRIPOLI — On the coast outside Tripoli, a squalid refugee camp shelters hundreds of African migrants who found work under Libya's former regime, but are now jobless, discriminated against and unable to return home.

Squatting in the derelict buildings of what was once a training centre for the ousted Libyan leader's special forces, they face racist abuse, attacks and robberies as they wait each day, hoping someone will offer them work or bring emergency food handouts.

Clothes hang on makeshift washing lines. Piles of rubbish lie everywhere.

"Since we came here... we've been hoping, praying to God, believing one day maybe help will come from somewhere, because all we had has been taken," said Anthony, who worked on a building site before the conflict forced him to seek refuge in Sidi Bilal.

"I've been beaten and robbed several times, even in the camp here... Sometimes, when we go out onto the streets, people start throwing stones at us because we're black," he added.

The camp's 700 residents are mostly young Nigerian men who fled the capital two months ago when it fell to the revolutionary forces that last week crushed the final pockets of resistance by Moamer Kadhafi loyalists.

They are a tiny fraction of the number of people displaced by the conflict.

Over 700,000 migrant workers have left Libya since February, according to the International Organisation for Migration, but tens of thousands remain.

The Nigerians, the largest migrant community in Tripoli, found casual work before the city fell, washing cars or labouring on farms and building sites, jobs shunned by most Libyans.

But with many locals angered by claims that sub-Saharan mercenaries supported Kadhafi's regime, they now face hostility in their host nation.

"It is a problem having the Africans here," said Adil, one of the camp's security guards.

"It's not healthy. They don't eat good food, they fight each other, and some of them came without passports, bringing diseases with them, only to cross into Europe."

"The best solution is to send them back to their country," added the former fighter from Zawiyah.

Most of the camp's residents say they plan to return home following Kadhafi's ouster, because they no longer feel safe.

But without cash or passports -- Nigeria does not have a consular representative in Tripoli -- they are currently unable to do so, stuck in a limbo with no way forward or backwards.

"Some of them don't want to go back. They've risked everything to make it this far," said Jeremy Haslam, the IOM's chief of mission in Libya.

"But there are others who are eager to return, and they are desperately hoping that their temporary travels permits will be issued soon."

There are growing concerns among the humanitarian community that Libya's immigration policy will be tightened by the National Transitional Council.

The new regime is already believed to be restricting aid to the camp, fearing that it may become a permanent settlement.

"We believe that since Libya is free from the past government, it should be a free Libya for everyone," said Anthony, one of the few residents who plans to tough it out.

"Going back to my family empty handed would not be a good idea for me. So I think I prefer to stay here, to try to make some money to take care of them," he said.

But most in the camp see no future for themselves in the new Libya.

"I came here to work and make money for my family. But when the crisis started everything changed. Now I just want to go home and start my life afresh," said Larry, a 33-year-old father of three.

US Army sends 'Switchblade' drone to Afghanistan for secret field testing...

Switchblade Secretly Sent To Afghanistan

Via
October 28, 2011: The U.S. Army recently revealed that it sent some Switchblade UAV systems to Afghanistan last year, for secret field testing. This was apparently successful. It appears that Switchblade is currently used largely by Special Forces and other special operations troops. In September, it was announced that, after a year of successful testing, the army was ordering over a hundred Switchblade UAVs for troop use.

The Switchblade is a one kilogram (2.2 pound) expendable (used only once) UAV that can be equipped with explosives. The Switchblade is launched from its shipping and storage tube, at which point wings flip out, a battery powered propeller starts spinning and a vidcam begins broadcasting images to the controller. The Switchblade is operated using the same gear the larger (two kg/4.4 pound) Raven UAV employs.

Switchblade can also be launched from the 70mm rocket tubes used on army helicopters. Moving at up to a kilometer a minute, the Switchblade can stay in the air for 20-40 minutes (depending on whether or not it is armed with explosives.) The armed version can be flown to a target and detonated, having about the same explosive effect as a hand grenade. Thus the Switchblade could be useful for ground troops, to get at an enemy taking cover in a hard to see location. Switchblade completed development two years ago. Technically a guided missile, the use of Switchblade as a reconnaissance tool encouraged developers to refer to it as a UAV.

Syria slips towards sectarian war...

Syria Slips Towards Sectarian War
Stories of killings in Homs are reinforcing support for Assad in Damascus.
By Robert Fisk

October 28, 2011 "The Independent" - -So there was the reporter from Syrian television asking what I thought of the situation in Syria, and there was I saying that you can no longer infantilise Arabs, that the uprisings/revolts/revolutions/unrest in the Arab world were all different; but that dictatorship didn't work, that if there were – if – a serious new constitution, pluralist political parties and real and genuine free elections, Syria might just climb out of its tragedy but that the government was running out of time, fast.

We shall see if this gets on air on Saturday (readers will be kept informed) but outside in the street another pro-Assad demonstration was starting, 10,000 then 50,000 – it might have reached 200,000 by midday – and there was no Saddam-style trucking of the people to the Omayad Square, no mukhabarat intelligence presence and the only soldiers were standing with their families. How does one report a pro-government demo during the Arab Awakening? There were veiled women, old men, thousands of children with "Syria" written on their faces. Most held Syrian flags, some held the flags of Russia and China.

Were they coerced? I don't think so – not by the Assad government, at least. Some played football games in the parks round the square. Others signed their names – Muslim and Christian – on a banner decorated with the branches of a massive Syrian tree. But if they were coerced, it was by stories from further north.I spoke to 12 men and women. Five spoke of relatives in the army killed in Homs. And the news from Homs was very bad. I had dinner on Tuesday night with an old friend. His 62-year-old cousin, a retired engineer, had given water to some soldiers in Homs. Next morning, armed men knocked at his front door and shot him dead. He was a Christian.

Of course, the Assad government had been warning of a sectarian war. Of course, the Assad government has set itself up as the only sure protector of minorities. Of course, the Assad government had claimed that Islamists and "terrorists" were behind the street opposition to the regime. It's also clear that the brutality of the Syrian security forces in Deraa and Homs and other cities against unarmed protesters has been a scandal, which those in the government privately acknowledge.

But it's also transparent that the struggle in Syria now cuts through the centre of the country and that many armed men now oppose the army. Indeed, I have been told that Homs slips – for hours at a time – out of government control. Damascenes travelling to the northern city of Aleppo can take the bus. But now more than ever, they are flying to avoid the dangerous road between Hama and Aleppo. These are the reasons, I suspect, why so many thousands came to demonstrate in Damascus yesterday. They are frightened.

Foreign journalists are not allowed to travel to Homs – a serious error by the regime – where Sunnis, Alawites and Christians live close together amid Armenians, Circassians and other groups. A sectarian war may well be in the cynical interests of any regime fighting for its life. But unless everyone I've met is lying (which I don't believe), this is now a growing reality in central Syria. Against this, no Russian or Chinese vetoes in the United Nations are of any use.

A delegation from the Arab League – that pathetic and most useless of Arab institutions – was due to arrive in Damascus yesterday afternoon. To what effect? Are they supposed to send a "peace" force? Two days ago, Mohamed Kadour, the Dean of the Petrochemicals Faculty at Homs University, was kidnapped in return for the freeing of detainees. He was released a day later. Whether imprisoned men were released, we don't know. But it has happened before. In Idlib, so they say, everyone is armed. And the weapons – so they say – are coming from Lebanon.

Ask who the armed men are in central Syria and you receive a spread of replies: Bedouin who smuggle drugs to Saudi Arabia, army defectors, "Islamists" from Iraq, "people who just think there is no other way to get rid of the regime". Damascus is safe; bright lights and late-night shopping and restaurants and thousands wandering the streets. But Damascus is not the rest of Syria. It lives in a kind of bubble.

I got up yesterday after only an hour and a half of sleep – because outside my hotel, government workers were testing the deafening sound system for the demonstration. All night there were bursts of taped cheering and drums and cheers and trumpets. But did those crowds yesterday really need this false applause and fraudulent additions to their own demonstration? Officially, things are getting better in Syria. I doubt it.

If the UN figure of more than 3,000 civilian dead is correct and if the Syrian statistic of 1,150 military deaths are correct and if the deaths of the last three days – perhaps another 50 – are true, then up to 4,200 Syrians have been killed in seven months. And that's enough to frighten anyone.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Iraq war vet/OccupyOakland protester was "provoking no one" when police fired tear gas canisters...

Hurt protester Scott Olsen was 'provoking no one'
by Justin Berton,Will Kane, Chronicle Staff Writers
October 28, 2011
SFGate.com

Via
OAKLAND -- Scott Olsen, a 24-year-old Marine who served two tours of duty in Iraq, stood calmly in front of a police line as tear gas canisters that officers shot into the Occupy Oakland protest Tuesday night whizzed past his head.

"He was standing perfectly still, provoking no one," said Raleigh Latham, an Oakland filmmaker shooting footage of the confrontation between police and hundreds of protesters at 14th Street and Broadway. "If something didn't hit him directly in the face, then it went off close to his head and knocked him down."

The something was a projectile that apparently came from police lines, fractured Olsen's skull and put him in Highland General Hospital. Doctors upgraded his condition Thursday from critical to fair, and said they expect him to make a full recovery.

His parents flew in from Wisconsin and spent Thursday at his bedside. When they arrived, Olsen "just blossomed," said Highland's chief of surgery, Dr. Alden Harken.

Olsen's injury added to the national attention focused on Occupy Oakland in the aftermath of the repeated police tear-gassing of protesters Tuesday. In Las Vegas, protesters projected a photo of the Marine in uniform onto the corrugated-metal side of a building at their camp, the Associated Press reported. Vigils for Olsen were planned at Occupy sites in other cities.

Mayor's visit

Mayor Jean Quan visited Olsen in the hospital, told him she was sorry for what happened and promised an investigation, said Highland spokesman Vintage Foster.

Olsen, a Daly City resident and member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, fell to the ground after police lobbed or fired an object - possibly a tear gas canister - at a group of protesters.

While Olsen lay wounded in the street, other protesters rushed to his aid. Video footage appears to show an officer tossing another canister toward the group helping him.

One protester can be heard screaming "What the f-" at police as the device emits a loud bang, while a demonstrator angrily pounds his sign on the street. The group eventually carried Olsen away.

Interim Police Chief Howard Jordan called the incident "unfortunate."

"I wish that it didn't happen," Jordan said. "Our goal, obviously, is not to cause injury to anyone. ... We regret that this injury happened."

Officers from 18 law enforcement agencies were on the streets of Oakland Tuesday night, and authorities said they are trying to determine which officers were involved in Olsen's injury. Quan said officers from outside agencies had been told they had to abide by Oakland police procedures.

Olsen joined the Marines in 2006, served two tours in Iraq and was discharged in 2010, according to Iraq Veterans Against the War. Now a systems administrator at San Francisco software firm OPSWAT Inc., he had spent most nights during the last few weeks at the Occupy SF camp, said his roommate, Keith Shannon.

"He'd leave work, head there, sleep there and go to work the next day," Shannon said. "We were really against the fact that the banks and corporations were not held accountable for what they did."

BART to Oakland

When Olsen heard that protesters at Occupy Oakland were asking for support, he took BART to Oakland and joined in the protest, Shannon said.

Olsen knew he might be arrested, but didn't have any idea the demonstration would get as violent as it did, Shannon said.

Harken said Olsen had suffered a 2- to 3-inch fracture on the left side of his skull. He is able to write and move, but is having trouble speaking, Harken said.

Olsen has a bruise on his brain that is causing swelling, but he should recover fully without needing surgery, Harken said.

Olsen was dropped off at the hospital by people in a private car and was unconscious for 12 hours, Harken said. He is unaware of the global interest in his condition.

"He wouldn't be able to comprehend it," the doctor said.


Chronicle staff writer Henry K. Lee contributed to this report.

"If (Muammar) Gaddafi wanted to escape Sirte, why didn’t he do it under the cover of darkness? It makes little sense to attempt an escape convoy in broad daylight in rebel territory with U.S. predator drones likely on constant patrol. (Wayne) Madsen’s information reveals that Gaddafi was set-up for a double-cross and execution. Dead men, as they say, tell no tales"

Gaddafi was set-up in an assassination plot: a double-cross-execution set-up
Fri, 2011-10-28
Daya Gamage – Asian Tribune Foreign News Desk presentation

Appearing on the Alex Jones Show October 24, investigative journalist Wayne Madsen said his sources in Libya provided information revealing Moammar Gaddafi was set-up in an assassination plot. Madsen’s information reveals that Gaddafi was set-up for a double-cross and execution. It also appears likely the arrival of Secretary of State Clinton in Libya may have played into the plot and convinced Gaddafi to surrender.

Early on October 19, Twitter messages from Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirte reported the presence of white flags across the devastated town. Flags were reported at multiple locations in the town, leaving some to believe the rebels were surrendering.

The use of white flags to signal surrender is an ancient tradition going back to the Eastern Han dynasty in China and the Roman Empire. Violating the widely accept convention is considered an act of extreme treachery.

Under both the Geneva and Hague protocols of international humanitarian law (IHL), it is forbidden to kill or injure persons hors de combat (outside of combat) and doing so constitutes a major war crime.

With the adoption of the 1977 Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions, the two strains of law began to converge, although provisions focusing on humanity could already be found in the Hague law (i.e. the protection of certain prisoners of war and civilians in occupied territories). However the 1977 Additional Protocols relating to the protection of victims in both international and internal conflict not only incorporated aspects of both the Law of The Hague and the Law of Geneva, but also important human rights provisions.

Basic rules of International Humanitarian Law (IHL)

1. Persons hors de combat (outside of combat) and those not taking part in hostilities shall be protected and treated humanely.

2. It is forbidden to kill or injure an enemy who surrenders or who is hors de combat.

3. The wounded and sick shall be cared for and protected by the party to the conflict which has them in its power. The emblem of the "Red Cross," or of the "Red Crescent," shall be required to be respected as the sign of protection.

4. Captured combatants and civilians must be protected against acts of violence and reprisals. They shall have the right to correspond with their families and to receive relief.

5. No one shall be subjected to torture, corporal punishment or cruel or degrading treatment.

6. Parties to a conflict and members of their armed forces do not have an unlimited choice of methods and means of warfare.

7. Parties to a conflict shall at all times distinguish between the civilian population and combatants. Attacks shall be directed solely against military objectives.

Investigative journalist Wayne Madsen’s sources said Gaddafi was told to surrender to the al-Qaeda rebels besieging Sirte before morning prayers at 5 am, but that it was decided to surrender after the sun was well up in the sky so the white flags would be clearly visible.

According to official accounts, however, Gaddafi was attempting to flee Sirte and avoid surrender.

He was wounded in a Predator drone attack and subsequently killed by crossfire, either from the rebels or Gaddafi supporters. Video footage released hours after the attack, however, clearly reveals a seriously wounded Gaddafi abused by a crowd of rebels. A choppy cell phone video then shows the body of the deposed leader.

A NATO rebel fighter later bragged that he had killed Gaddafi.

Both Madsen and Jones said the official cover story does not make sense. If Gaddafi wanted to escape Sirte, why didn’t he do it under the cover of darkness? It makes little sense to attempt an escape convoy in broad daylight in rebel territory with U.S. predator drones likely on constant patrol.

Madsen’s information reveals that Gaddafi was set-up for a double-cross and execution. Dead men, as they say, tell no tales.

"The reconstruction of Iraq was the largest nation-building program in US history. The cost to the US taxpayer is more than $63 billion and counting. Even after troops leave, the US will be paying excessive amounts to shape the country for a geopolitical advantage.The details on how much money may have been gone missing may never REALLY be known. Some of the records have been sealed for decades"...

'Billions of US taxpayers dollars tainted in Iraq'
Fri Oct 28, 2011 7:25AM GMT
Colin Campbell, Press TV, Washington

The US' reconstruction project in Iraq could be described as a giant money pit. Tens of billions of US dollars have been invested in rebuilding the country and from what experts say, with loose accountability.

This week about 7 billion dollars that was once feared lost was supposedly found in Iraq's Central Bank. Iraq and the US pointed fingers at each other.

Wayne Madsen who has been following the Coalition Provisional Authority and its role in Iraq development says even though an amount of money may have been found--it's paltry by comparison.

The massive amount of taxpayer dollars spent in Iraq indicates money was stolen, misappropriated, or simply lost.

The reconstruction of Iraq was the largest nation-building program in US history. The cost to the US taxpayer is more than $63 billion and counting. Even after troops leave, the US will be paying excessive amounts to shape the country for a geopolitical advantage.

The details on how much money may have been gone missing may never REALLY be known. Some of the records have been sealed for decades.

Thousands of instances of waste and hundreds of mistakes in US overseas funding are fueling anger in the US.

A report scheduled for release in January will account for some of the money that has been lost, but experts say it's nowhere close to the actual amount that's unaccounted for.

US begins operating drones from Ethiopia...

US flies drones from Ethiopia to fight Somali militants
28 October 2011

Via
The US military has begun flying drone aircraft from a base in Ethiopia, as part of its fight against Islamist militants in neighbouring Somalia.

US officials have confirmed to the BBC that the base, in the southern city of Arba Minch, is now operational.

But they stressed that the remotely-piloted drones were being used only for surveillance, and not for air strikes.

It is part of a growing counter-terrorism presence in the region as the US pursues groups with al-Qaeda links.

The US military has reportedly spent millions of dollars upgrading the remote, civilian airport - from which Reaper drones are now being flown.

The remotely-piloted aircraft can be equipped with missiles and satellite guided bombs.

News of the drone deployment was first reported by the Washington Post late on Thursday. US officials confirmed to the BBC that aircraft were now in Ethiopia.

However, the officials added that the drones were flying unarmed because their use is considered sensitive by Ethiopia's government.

The Ethio­pian foreign ministry has previously denied the presence of US drones in the country. On Thursday, a spokesman for the Ethio­pian embassy in the US told the Washington Post that remained Addis Ababa's position.

"We don't entertain foreign military bases in Ethi­o­pia," Tesfaye Yilma, the head of public diplomacy for the embassy, told the Post.

The drones are used in a surveillance role against the al-Shabab militant group - based in Somalia, and already the focus of drone missions flown from other bases in the region.

Business as usual: Top UK directors get 49 per cent pay raise

Business as usual: top directors get 49 per cent pay rise
Stephen Foley
Friday, 28 October 2011

Via
The directors of Britain's largest companies were last night condemned as "elite greedy pigs" for pocketing a 49 per cent pay rise in the past year, while average workers failed even to keep up with inflation.

Unions exploded with fury after the publication of figures that showed how boardroom pay soared in the last financial year, thanks to rising salaries, bonuses and in particular the swelling value of directors' long-term share plans. The statistics, compiled by Incomes Data Services, provide an annual snapshot of executive remuneration, as reported in companies' most recent reports to shareholders, and show that the chief executives of the FTSE 100 largest companies earned an average of £3,855,172 last year. That is an average 43 per cent rise and, adding in other directors, total earnings rose by an average 49 per cent.

According to the report, the FTSE 100 chief executive with the highest earnings last year was Michael Davis of the mining conglomerate Xstrata, who pocketed £18.4m, closely followed by Bart Becht of Reckitt Benckiser, which makes Nurofen, Calgon dishwasher powder and Durex condoms.

Steve Tatton, the report's editor, said the large increases represented the rising value of long-term share incentive plans, which were accumulated over time. "Britain's economy may be struggling to return to pre-recession levels of output, but the same cannot be said of FTSE 100 directors' remuneration. The generous remuneration packages that FTSE 100 directors now receive indicate a marked improvement in boardroom fortunes," he said.

Union leaders' outrage was only stoked by a second IDS report, also released yesterday, showing that the average private-sector pay award this summer gave workers a raise of just 2.6 per cent – half the most recent annual inflation figure.

"This is another shining example of how the elite greedy pigs who run our top companies behave," said Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB, which recently published a survey of 294 occupations covering 90 per cent of the British workers that showed they had seen drops in living standards of up to 20 per cent in some sectors.

"Apart from these FTSE directors and chief executives, everyone from plasterers to IT specialists, from travel agents to midwives, and hairdressers to police inspectors has seen the value of their earnings drop. It has got a lot worse in the past year as the recovery stalled," he added.

The IDS report is set to reignite demands for the Government to curb executive pay, and the Unite union last night called for shareholders to be given more power to hold directors accountable. "The Government should strongly consider giving shareholders greater legal powers to question and curb these excessive remuneration packages," said the union's general secretary Len McCluskey. "Institutional shareholders need to exercise much greater scrutiny and control of directors' pay and bonuses. It's obscene and it shows that the City has learnt nothing during the financial troubles of the last four years."

The TUC called for worker representation on company boards as a way of trying to narrow the gap between boardroom and shop-floor pay.

"Boardroom pay rewards are a brazen stitch-up," said Brendan Barber, the TUC's general secretary. "Top directors have used tough business conditions to impose real wage cuts, which have hit people's living standards and the wider economy, but have shown no such restraint with their own pay. Reform should start with employee representation on remuneration committees, which would give directors a much-needed sense of reality."

FTSE 100 directors' salaries rose by little more than 3 per cent, but the mean bonus was £906,044, up an average 23 per cent on 2010. Long-term incentive plan values made up the bulk of their earnings increase.

Mr Tatton said companies might find it "hard to justify" the rises at a time of falling living standards for many employees. "With closer scrutiny of boardroom pay expected in the future, remuneration committees will have to make sure that they are able to provide full justifications for the bonuses awarded," he said. "This means that they will have to be much more transparent about how total benefits packages are structured and how performance is measured."

Pay day: Top earning chief executives

Mick Davis (Xstrata) £18,426,105

Bart Becht (Reckitt Benkiser) £17,879,000

Michael Spencer (ICAP) £13,419,619

Sir Terry Leahy(Tesco) £12,038,303

Tom Albanese (Rio Tinto) £11,623,162

Sir Martin Sorrell (WPP Group) £8,949,985

Todd Kozel (Gulf Keystone Petroleum) £8,913,223

Don Robert (Experian) £8,601,984

Edward Bonham Carter (Jupiter Fund Management) £8,003,641

Dame Marjorie Scardino (Pearson) £8,003,641

"In more on the mainstream media’s bizarre coverage of Tuesday night’s police brutality in Oakland, both ABC and CBS local affiliates had helicopters providing live feeds as events unfolded in front of Oakland’s City Hall. Allegedly, both television channels cut their transmissions when the police began attacking protesters, and both said it was due to their helicopters’ needing refueling. That’s right — both the ABC and CBS helicopters ran out of fuel at the same moment"...

ABC And CBS News Both Cut Away Due To Technical Difficulties At Onset Of Oakland Police Violence
Posted by Jacob Sloan on October 27, 2011

Via
In more on the mainstream media’s bizarre coverage of Tuesday night’s police brutality in Oakland, a number of blogs have commented on this — both ABC and CBS local affiliates had helicopters providing live feeds as events unfolded in front of Oakland’s City Hall. Allegedly, both television channels cut their transmissions when the police began attacking protesters, and both said it was due to their helicopters’ needing refueling. That’s right — both the ABC and CBS helicopters ran out of fuel at the same moment. The moment when the newsworthy events began to occur. One can only say, wow. Oakland Local writes:

OPD gave us 5 minutes to disperse, and then attacked the crowd with tear gas, flash grenades, and rubber bullets. I was there until that point, and I can testify that it was a peaceful march until the police attacked it.

Moreover, they just happened to begin firing tear gas into the crowd right after the two major media outlets that were covering it with live feeds turned off their cameras. That coincidence was quite a coincidence. ABC and CBS later claimed their helicopters had to refuel, and they did show footage from later. But what a coincidence that they turned off their cameras just before the police attacked? And that their helicopters ran out of gas at precisely the same time, that time?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Oakland police use rubber bullets, flash grenades and smoke bombs to evict 'Occupy Oakland'...

Oakland Police Use Rubber Bullets, Flash Grenades and Smoke Bombs to Evict Occupy Oakland
Tuesday 25 October 2011
by: Zaid Jilani, ThinkProgress | Report

Via
Late last night, Oakland police, under orders from the city, began surrounding the Occupy Oakland encampment in preparation to oust the protesters from Frank Ogawa Plaza.

Approximately an hour ago, hundreds of Oakland police officers raided the camp. Dressed in riot gear, the police used rubber bullets, flash grenades, and gas canisters to forcibly evict and/or arrest the demonstrators who remained in the plaza. The Occupy Oakland Twitter account live-tweeted the raid.

One protester at the scene captured an image of the riot police using smoke bombs:

If you have any video of the raid on Occupy Oakland, feel free to send it to ThinkProgress.

UPDATE

One protester interviewed by the San Francisco Chronicle remained upbeat. “People are going to keep coming back. What are they going to do, send cops in every night and waste taxpayer dollars?” asked Gabe Meyers. “The cops are the 99 percent, but they’re doing the work of the 1 percent. Wall Street is proud of them every time they clear out an encampment.”

UPDATE

One protester captured video under the punkboyinsf UStream account. At 11:40, protesters began chanting, “You are the 99 percent!” to police moving in on the camp. At 17:30 in the following video you can see the police utilizing gas weapons. As the camp is raided, the protester says into the camera, “Sorry guys I can’t be any closer this stuff is going to make me sick,” referring to tear gas. The videographer also claims to have seen a sound cannon being used by the police:


Video streaming by Ustream

Occupy Maine camp attacked with chemical bomb...

Occupy Maine camp attacked with chemical bomb
3:48 PM, Oct 24, 2011

Via
PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Occupy Maine protesters camped out in Portland's Lincoln Park were attacked early Sunday morning when someone lobbed a chemical bomb at them. No one was seriously injured when the small, homemade bomb exploded near the camp's main meeting area around 4am.

Witnesses say they saw a small, silver sedan circle the park several times with the occupants yelling obscenities before the bomb exploded with a loud bang, followed by a thick cloud of smoke and foul smell.

"We had a car go by a couple times, honk at us, yell at us, tell us to go get jobs and call us evil names," said Stephanie Wilburn, describing what she and other members of the overnight guard detail in the camp saw and heard. "It came back around, it slowed down and then sped up."

They heard a loud clanging sound and went to check it out, but found nothing. After roughly 45 seconds had passed, the bomb exploded.

"It was like a 12-gauge shotgun boom with no reverberation, lots of smoke," described Wilburn. "It smelled really bad."

Portland Police were called to the scene and recovered evidence they hope will lead to the person responsible for the attack.

The bomb cause little damage, and besides a sore throat and minor hearing loss to Wilburn and another member of the security team, caused no injuries.

Members of Occupy Maine say they will not let the incident, or other threats they've received stop them from having their voices heard.

"We are prepared for the worst, hoping that we don't get the worst," she said. "We are stocked for the long haul. I have like 12 blankets on my bed for the winter, so we are ready for this. We are prepared. We are willing to stay here until something happens and changes, so a little bomb isn't going to scare us away."

Portland Police say the explosion in Lincoln Park may not have been the only one in the city Sunday morning. Acting Police Chief Michael Sauschuck says officers responding to another complaint around 3am heard a loud explosion in the vicinity of Monument Square. He says police so far have been unable to determine if it was another chemical bomb.

Portland Police have contacted the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the District Attorney's Office to see if the penalties for the crime could be elevated due to civil rights violations. Currently, the person responsible faces at least a charge of Criminal Use of Explosives, a Class C felony.

Portland Police ask that anyone with information about the incident contact them at 874-8533.

Goldman Sachs vs. Occupy Wall Street: A Greg Palast investigation (Video)

Via

Monday, October 24, 2011

(US Senator John) McCain raises prospect of military option in Syria...

McCain raises prospect of military option in Syria
(AFP) – 1 day ago

Via
DEAD SEA, Jordan — US Senator John McCain raised the prospect Sunday of possible armed intervention to protect civilians in Syria where a crackdown on pro-democracy protests has killed more than 3,000 people.

"Now that military operations in Libya are ending, there will be renewed focus on what practical military operations might be considered to protect civilian lives in Syria," McCain told a World Economic Forum meeting in Jordan.

McCain, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's "regime should not consider that it can get away with mass murder.

Libya's ousted leader Moamer Kadhafi, who was captured and killed on Thursday, "made that mistake and it cost him everything," he said.

"There are even growing calls among the opposition for some foreign military intervention. We hear these pleas for assistance. We are listening to and engaging with the (opposition) National Council," he added.

The United Nations has said more than 3,000 people, including 187 children, have been killed in a fierce crackdown on dissent since mid-March.

"The Syrian revolution may now be entering a new phase. The opposition has formed the Syrian National Council seeking to better organise itself. There are increasing reports of defections from the army," said McCain.

"More Syrians appear to be taking up arms against the regime."

McCain charged that "dark forces in this region, especially in Iran, are working harder than ever to hijack the promise of what many are calling the Arab Spring.

"These concerns are real and legitimate and merit our vigilance."

US-Iran tensions have been running high since Washington accused Tehran of being behind an alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington. Iran has denied any involvement.

McCain held talks with key US ally King Abdullah II on Middle East issues, Jordan's state-run Petra news agency reported.

The United States and Jordan on Sunday signed a $250-million agreement under a "small and medium enterprise loan guarantee programme" to support the cash-strapped kingdom's economy.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The official US government retirement program (Pic)

Via

Defense contractors get rewarded with $1.1 trillion after being convicted of fraud...

Defense Dept. Gave $431 Billion to Contractors After They were Convicted of Fraud
October 22, 2011
Noel Brinkerhoff

Via
In the nation’s capital, crime does pay for defense contractors.

The Department of Defense has admitted that it has rewarded hundreds of companies convicted of fraud with new deals that totaled more than $1.1 trillion.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), who requested the information from the Pentagon, said,“The ugly truth is that virtually all of the major defense contractors in this country for years have been engaged in systemic fraudulent behavior, while receiving hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money.”

Examples include Lockheed Martin, which in 2008 paid $10.5 million to settle charges that it defrauded the government by submitting false invoices related to the Titan IV space launch vehicle program. The following year Lockheed pulled in $30.2 billion from the Defense Department.

Northrop Grumman paid $62 million in 2005 to settle fraud charges, but by the next year, received nearly $13 billion in contracts, which amounted to a 16% increase over the previous year. In 2009, they were hit with a $325 million bill for malfeasance.

Boeing has paid more than $600 million in civil settlements, and TRW $436 million.

Occupy Melbourne calls for inquiry into police violence...

Occupy Melbourne calls for inquiry into police violence
Saturday, October 22, 2011

Via
Occupy Melbourne released the statement below on October 21 following a brutal police attack on protesters earlier that day.

* * *

Occupy Melbourne have called for a full inquiry into unlawful police behaviour amid scenes of police violence on the streets of Melbourne today. The call comes after riot police disrupted a peaceful demonstration in Melbourne’s CBD.

“We call on Premier Ted Ballieu and Lord Mayor Robert Doyle to back a full and independent investigation into the use of unlawful and excessive force by Victoria Police and the Melbourne City Council,” said Occupy Melbourne spokesperson Erin Buckley.

“More than 20 statements have been taken from individuals who have experienced police violence including eye gouging, kicks to the groin, punches to the face, knees to the face and arbitrary pepper spraying, including of minors. One incident involved an elderly woman with a walking stick who was pushed to the ground by riot police,” she said.

Occupy Melbourne’s legal support team also say they have evidence of dozens of Police on duty without name tags or badges, in breach of police regulations and previous assurances from Victoria Police that all officers would be identifiable as required by law.

“It is unacceptable that the kind of violence we have witnessed today can occur in our city without any accountability. That means a full independent investigation is required,” she said.

17 truck loads of personal property were also forcefully removed from Melbourne’s City Square.

13 of these truckloads were instantly crushed. Property included; generators, cooking equipment, backpacks, tents, bicycles, computers, cameras, marquees and other personal items.

“Melbourne City Council should compensate people for the illegal destruction of their property.”

Occupy Melbourne is part of a worldwide movement against the growing disparity between rich and poor, austerity measures and corporate greed. It is a movement for economic and social justice and real democracy.

“The richest 20% of households in Australia have 60 times the wealth of the poorest 20% of Australians. CEOs are getting huge pay increases and banks are posting record profits. We want a fair share for all Australians.”

“The camp where Occupy Melbourne has been for the past week has been dispersed, but the movement against inequality will continue tomorrow.”

Occupy Melbourne will convene tomorrow at 12 noon at Federation Square. Organisers are calling on supporters of equality and peace to join the occupation.

International bankers wasted billions invested by Gaddafi (Video)

Via

Underground Connects (DJ Blendz Mix)

THE FIRST OF WHAT IS (HOPEFULLY) ONCE-A-MONTH MIXES FROM YOURS TRULY. FOR THIS MONTH I'LL KICK IT OFF WITH SOME OF THAT 'UNDERGROUND' HIP HOP,WHICH I'D REALLY JUST LIKE TO CALL GOOD MUSIC..HOPE YA'LL ENJOY IT!




..IF ANYONE WANTS A TRACKLIST OF THE RECORDS PLAYED JUST DROP ME A COMMENT.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Chris Hedges on the OWS movement: "This one could take them all down" (Video)

Via

"First it was airports. Then it was bus and train stations. Now, under the Transportation Security Administration’s Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) program, even the highways aren’t safe from the TSA’s prying eyes and probing fingers"...

TSA Stages Highway Searches to Show Its Tennessee Valley Authority
Written by Michael Tennant
Friday, 21 October 2011 09:27

Via
First it was airports. Then it was bus and train stations. Now, under the Transportation Security Administration’s Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) program, even the highways aren’t safe from the TSA’s prying eyes and probing fingers.

“Tennessee is now the first state ever to work with the TSA to deploy a simultaneous counterterrorism operation statewide,” according to Nashville’s WTVF-TV. That operation, which involved the TSA along with the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security (TDSHS) and state and local police, was deployed at “five weigh stations and two bus stations across the state,” the station reports.

It was a two-pronged approach, the report adds. Government agents were “recruiting truck drivers … into the First Observer Highway Security Program to say something if they see something.” At the same time, “the Tennessee Highway Patrol checked trucks with drug and bomb sniffing dogs during random inspections.”

One might expect the searches to make recruiting more difficult; but at least one truck driver, Rudy Gonzales, seemed willing to assist the TSA just the same. He told WTVF reporter Adam Ghassemi: “Not only truck drivers, but cars, everybody should be aware of what’s going on, on the road.”

The searches, of course, are a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment, which requires government agents to obtain a warrant based “upon probable cause” prior to searching a person’s “houses, papers, and effects.” No warrants had been issued; and none of the trucks, buses, drivers, or passengers was suspected of any wrongdoing. In fact, TDSHS Deputy Commissioner Larry Godwin specifically stated that the VIPR operations were “not based on any particular threat,” according to the Jackson Sun.

What, then, was the purpose of the searches? Godwin “said the checks at the weigh stations were about showing the people of Tennessee the government is serious about transportation safety, and to make sure the state is ready in case something were to happen,” wrote the Sun. (He also warned that “later this week similar inspections will be done at airports across the state,” the paper reports.)

Randomly searching passing trucks when there is no specific threat in view hardly seems like a “serious” approach to protecting the traveling public. Rather, it seems more like another attempt “to subjugate, control, and intimidate citizens until they degenerate into docile dependents of the police-state,” as Becky Akers described earlier TSA “security theater” presentations. She elaborated:

Governments benefit enormously from searching their subjects — especially when those searches can ensnare anyone at any time in any place. Such random rubbings guarantee that almost everybody will obey his rulers’ decrees. What American pothead will stuff a baggie of weed in his pocket before leaving home if he knows cops will probably frisk him on the street? Likewise, what Chinese Christian totes a Bible with him? Will a Moslem in Saudi Arabia carry a bottle of wine to his friend’s home when invited to dinner?

Then there is the matter of recruiting truck drivers — and, says WTVF, “every driver” — to act as snitches for the state.

“Somebody sees something somewhere and we want them to be responsible citizens, report that and let us work it through our processes to abet the concern that they had when they saw something suspicious,” Paul Armes, TSA Federal Security Director for Nashville International Airport, told the station.

Those familiar with the Stasi, the secret police of East Germany, will recognize this modus operandi all too well. The Stasi, under the leadership of Erich Mielke, maintained an extensive network of informants — potentially as many as one out of every seven East Germans — to keep the state up to date on the thoughts and movements of everyone in the country. Says Wikipedia: “A large number of Stasi informants were trolley conductors, janitors, doctors, nurses and teachers; Mielke believed the best informants were those whose jobs entailed frequent contact with the public.” Truck drivers surely fall into this category.

Undoubtedly many Stasi informants thought they were doing their patriotic duty by snitching on their friends, neighbors, and relatives. Some may even have helped prevent genuine crimes. Likewise, many Americans who find something suspicious — a Bible, a turban, or even a Ron Paul bumper sticker — about their neighbors may believe they are doing the right thing by reporting their suspicions to the police when, in fact, they are helping to destroy everyone’s God-given, constitutionally protected rights. The TSA’s informant program has a long way to go to reach the size or depravity of the Stasi’s; but its very existence is a significant and dangerous step in that direction.

That VIPR — pronounced, appropriately, “viper” — is not merely, or even primarily, about combating terrorism but about establishing government control is made clear by a statement from Godwin. Noting that western Tennessee is a heavily traveled area, Godwin said, “Everything from Wal-Mart merchandise to illegal drugs and illegal immigrants are transported through this area. Current interdiction units are doing a good job, but further coordinated inspections will only strengthen their efforts. If we prepare for the worst, then we are ready for almost anything.”

One doubts that those Congressmen and Senators who voted to establish the TSA intended for it to be used to fight the (unconstitutional) War on Drugs or to stop illegal immigration. But mission creep is a problem in any bureaucracy, and more so in one given such a wide berth as the TSA. Few legislators dare criticize the TSA lest they be accused of siding with terrorists, and so the agency’s ongoing violations of the Constitution and basic human decency continue apace.

State and local police departments, unfortunately, cannot be counted on to defend their citizens against federal overreach, either. Besides the Tennessee Highway Patrol, notes the Sun, “various police departments across the state, including large departments such as those in cities like Knoxville, Chattanooga, Nashville and Memphis were involved in the checks at the weigh stations.”

“Where is a terrorist most apt to be found?” asked TDSHS Commissioner Bill Gibbons. “Not these days on an airplane; more likely on the interstate.” Gibbons was correct. But the people terrorizing Americans on the interstate are not swarthy foreigners; they’re government agents.

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