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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Navy SEAL's deny golfer Tiger Woods trained with them...

Navy SEALs: Tiger did not train with us
Robert Lusetich
Updated Feb 29, 2012 4:23 PM ET

The Navy SEALs deny that Tiger Woods trained with them, and had no indication that he wanted to quit golf to join the elite fighting unit.

SEALs spokesman Capt. William Fenick told FOXSports.com that Woods had visited the Naval Special Warfare Center on Coronado Island, off the coast of San Diego, "on a couple of occasions" but not since 2006.

Woods' former coach, Hank Haney, says in an upcoming book, "The Big Miss," that the golfer was obsessed with becoming a SEAL and undertook "a program that approximated the training for a Navy SEAL candidate."

"The purpose was a sort of 'dry run' to determine whether he could physically and mentally handle the demands, and if so, whether he wanted to go forward with actually becoming a Navy SEAL," Haney writes.

"To my knowledge, he did training in parachuting, self-defense, urban-warfare simulations and shooting."

Capt. Fenick characterized Woods' visits to the SEALs base as "a walk and talk."

"We did give him the opportunity to shoot a couple of guns at our range but as for the reports that he was doing SEALs training, he didn't do that with us," he said.

Haney writes that when he told Woods — whose father was a special forces soldier in Vietnam — that SEALs can't be older than 28, Woods responded: "It's not a problem. They're making a special age exemption for me."

"We never understood his visits to mean he was interested in becoming a SEAL," said Capt. Fenick.

"He was interested in the SEALs and when a high visibility person like him wants to know what it is that we do, we're happy to show them.

"This wasn't unique. We've hosted CEOs, sports figures, entertainment industry folks. But that doesn't mean they're going to be training with SEALs."

Capt. Fenick said there were private companies run by ex-SEALs which could've been training Woods.

Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, meanwhile has hit back at Haney for twisting the golfer's admiration for the military into "something negative."

Turkey will have it's own Gaza Strip...

Turkey Will Have Its Own Gaza Strip
Wayne MADSEN | 29.02.2012 | 00:00

There is no question that after Western- and Gulf Arab-backed Sunni Salafist radicals take complete control of Syria or become a significant part of a post-Bashar al-Assad Syrian government, Syria’s minority Alawite community will seek refuge in a contested strip of Turkey that extends from Anatolia along the Mediterranean coast along the northwest border with Syria. The strip already has a significant Alawite community.

That strip is Turkey’s Hatay province, a former Ottoman territory that became a French-ruled territory after the signing of the Treaty of Sevres of 1920 between the World War I Allied nations and the Ottoman Empire.

There are already indications that Hatay could become a second Gaza Strip, a cramped refugee sanctuary for Alawites and other religious minorities fleeing a Salafist-dominated regime in Damascus bent on the same level of retribution against supporters of the ousted regime as that meted out against Qaddafi loyalists by the Salafist-dominated regime in Libya.

Hatay may even become a separate Alawite-ruled state dedicated to waging constant retaliatory warfare against a Salafist regime in Damascus.

There is a historical precedent for an independent Alawite-dominated Hatay. The Treaty of Sevres, which awarded Hatay, also known as the Sanjak of Alexandretta, to the French mandate of Syria under the League of Nations, was neither ratified by the Ottoman Sultan or his successor, President Kemal Ataturk of the Republic of Turkey.

A Franco-Turkish treaty of 1921 recognized Alexandretta as autonomous, but under de facto French suzerainty. In 1923, Alexandretta became part of the French state of Aleppo and in 1925, as a result of the Treaty of Lausanne, Alexandretta was integrated into the French mandate of Syria but with a continued degree of autonomy.

Despite the Franco-Turkish treaty, Ataturk considered Alexandretta, which had a majority Alawite population, to be an integral part of Turkey. The Alawites, known by the Turkish name “Alevis” in Turkey proper, are a sect of the Shi’a branch of Islam. Ataturk reasoned that the name “Hatay” was derived from the name for the one-time Anatolian Hittite Empire and, thus, Hatay was historically Turkish.

The Alawites, never comfortable about being ruled by the Sunni Muslim Ottomans, were anywhere from ambivalent to supportive of being ruled by the strongly secularist Ataturk regime and its like-minded successors. Along with the Syriac Christians, Druze, Armenians, and Circassians, the Alawites, continued to account for a majority of Alexandretta’s population. Alexandretta began to advocate for the independence of Syria from France – a Syria that would include Alexandretta. Ataturk began arguing that Alexandretta’s Turkish minority was being mistreated by Alexandretta’s Alawite-dominated administration.

In 1936, Turkey complained to the League of Nations and demanded that Alexandretta become a Turkish province because the area had a majority Turkish Sunni population. Claims of Turkish majority status in Alexandretta were dubious since there were no reliable census statistics upon which Turkey could stake its claim. In fact, Alawites Armenian Christians, Druze, and Circassians, as a bloc, far outnumbered Sunni Turks in the territory.

In 1937, the League of Nations awarded Alexandretta its autonomy as a distinct but not a separate part of French Syria. It was agreed that France and Turkey would share defense responsibilities in the contested territory. However, Turkey took full advantage of the defense-sharing pact and in 1938 Turkish troops invaded Alexandretta and expelled most of the Alawite and Armenian communities. That same year, France conducted a census that allotted seats in the Sanjak of Alexandretta assembly with Turks receiving 22 seats, Alawites 9, Armenians 5, Sunni Arabs 2, and Syriac Christians 2. With a majority of Turks in the legislature, the Sanjak assembly on September 2, 1938 proclaimed the Republic of Hatay under joint Turkish and French co-dominion status.

Before he died in 1938, Ataturk was insistent on Turkey furthering its claims to Hatay. France, fearing the threat from Nazi Germany, was in no position to fend of Turkey’s irredentist desires for the former Alexandretta. Hatay was gradually absorbed into Turkey. The Republic of Hatay’s “President” and “Prime Minister” were members of the Turkish parliament. In 1939, in a dubiously-administered referendum, Hatay voted to join Turkey. The French did not intervene because they hoped that Turkey would join the Allies against Hitler. However, Turkey remained neutral in the Second World War.

Turkey co-opted some of Hatay’s remaining Alawites in the referendum by pointing out the success and freedom of the Alawites (Alevis) inside Turkey. However, Turkey sent thousands of Turks into Hatay to vote in the referendum and ensure the outcome.

Present-day Syria, ruled by the Alawite Assad family and a largely Alawite oligarchy, never recognized Alexandretta’s incorporation into Turkey. Syrian maps still call Hatay “Liwa’ Aliskenderun,” Arabic for Alexandretta area. Beginning in 2003, Syrian Alawites and Christians began buying property in Hatay, perhaps concerned about a future change of government in Syria that would force them to flee. Due to the lifting of visa requirements between Turkey and Syria in 2009, more Syrian Alawites and Christians, especially those living in Latakia, began traveling to Hatay. With the assistance of their Alawite and Christian cousins in Hatay, the Syrians began investing in more real estate.

One thing that the Alawites of Syria and Hatay and the Alevis of Turkey share in common is their belief that Sunni Muslims, particularly the Wahhabi and Salafist strains, are intolerant extremists. Sunni radicals see Alawites and their Shi’a brethren as heretics and apostates.

What lies at the heart of the Western-inspired revolt against Assad in Syria is that Syria’s colonial ruler, France, and its NATO allies and Wahhabi friends in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates have taken sides in a religious civil war between Syrian Sunnis – who are, by no means, united – and “all the rest” in Syria: Alawites, Syriac Christians, Maronites, Armenians, Druze, and Circassians.

Syria’s Kurds have largely thrown in their lot with Sunni Arabs, obviously hoping for a deal like the autonomy achieved by their Kurdish kin in northern Iraq after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein by the United States and its allies.

Although the Sunni-dominated Justice and Development Party (AKP) government of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has painted itself as a moderate Islamist party, it has come to the defense of the Salafist Sunni elements trying to overthrow Assad. There are multiple news reports of massive amounts of weapons being supplied to the Islamist radicals in Syria by Turkey.

Hatay Alawites and Turkish Alevis are generally pro-Assad, as can be expected, since Assad and his family and supporters are also primarily Alawite. Of course, that puts the Alawites of Turkey at loggerheads with Erdogan’s AKP government. Hatay Alawites and Turkish Alevis have held pro-Assad demonstrations in Turkey. The break between the AKP and the Alawites/Alevis may be manageable by Erdogan, except for one major problem. The opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), which calls itself center-leftist but represents the secular Kemalist doctrine of Turkish politics, is led by Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who, like Assad, is an Alawite.

The CHP and Kilicdaroglu have been outwardly sympathetic to Assad and have criticized Erdogan for not giving Assad enough time to institute reforms in Syria. The CHP has even moved to a position that, in some respects, is more critical of Israel’s machinations in Middle East affairs, than the anti-Israel position of the AKP. The CHP’s policymakers have referred to Israel, the United States, and other “imperialists” as being behind the revolutions in Syria, Libya, Egypt, and Tunisia. Deputy CHP chairman Faruk Logoglu has accused Erdogan of taking sides in Syria’s civil war. Weighing into the debate, the right-wing Turkish Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) has accused Erdogan of neglecting Syria’s minority Turkmen trapped in Syria’s civil war.

The future of Syria and Turkey is clouded as long as NATO, including Turkey, and the Salafist states of Arabia and North Africa continue to interfere in the Syrian tragedy. Hatay province will become a refuge for Syria’s Alawites and other minorities seeking protection from expected retribution from a Salafist-controlled or dominated government in Damascus. The CHP and MHP parties will protect the Alawites, Turkmen, Circassian, and other minorities in Hatay. Erdogan’s AKP will be seen as being in league with the Salafists of Syria. Such a scenario spells a potential civil war not only in Syria, but also in Turkey. In the cross-fire will be Hatay, the “new Gaza Strip” where Alawite refugees from Syria may find themselves swapped for thousands of Syrian Sunnis currently living in Hatay refugee camps. These camps are closely protected by Turkish troops from unwanted media investigators.

There is also the question as to what side thousands of Afghan-Uzbeks who were settled in Hatay thirty years ago during the Soviet-mujaheddin war in Afghanistan will take. Afghans have been used by Salafists in the past as willing mercenaries. Salafist Afghans were spotted among rebels in Libya and have surfaced among the rebels in Syria.

Of course, such details are immaterial to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her “Friends of Syria” contrivance. Clinton’s ignorance of the geo-political ramifications of unwise and unwarranted actions is only matched by Condoleezza Rice among recent U.S. Secretaries of State.

The Gaza Strip, which is 140 square miles and has been turned into a virtual ghetto by Israel for Palestinian refugees, will pale in comparison to the burgeoning refugee-swollen Hatay Strip, which is 1815 square miles in area. Gaza’s beleaguered population stands at 1.5 million, the same as the current population of Hatay. However, at almost four times the size of Gaza, Hatay could become a major refuge for Syria’s minorities escaping from Salafist brutality. Demands for the restoration of an Alawite-dominated independent Alexandretta/Hatay will ultimately follow and the Hatay Strip will have one major goal: revenge against the Salafists in Damascus.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

US draws up secret charges against WikiLeaks founder, according to Stratfor email...

US draws up secret charges against Assange: media
(AFP) – 3 hours ago

SYDNEY — US prosecutors have drawn up secret charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Australian media reported Wednesday, citing a confidential email.

The email is one of a huge number from the US-based global intelligence company Stratfor that the whistleblowing organisation began publishing Monday.

Internal correspondence to Stratfor analysts from vice-president of intelligence Fred Burton said: "We have a sealed indictment on Assange," according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

The newspaper, which has access to the emails through an investigative partnership with Wikileaks, said the comment on January 26 last year was made in response to a media report about US investigations targeting WikiLeaks.

The information comes with the request to protect the information and not to publish, it said.

The Herald said Burton was well known as an expert on security and counterterrorism with close ties to the US intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

Assange, an Australian citizen, is awaiting a British Supreme Court decision on his appeal against extradition to Sweden on sexual assault allegations.

He strongly denies the claims, saying they are politically motivated and linked to the activities of WikiLeaks.

Assange fears being sent to Stockholm would open the way for his extradition to the US to face charges of spying linked to the leaking of classified military documents by US soldier Bradley Manning.

Manning was formally charged last week for allegedly turning over a trove of classified US documents to WikiLeaks in one of the most serious intelligence breaches in US history.

Australian Greens Senator Scott Ludlum Wednesday demanded to know whether Canberra knew about any secret US charges.

"What we need to know is whether the Australian government was tipped off, or whether the prime minister read about this in The Sydney Morning Herald this morning," he told reporters.

The Australian government needed to take "a very straight line" with the US on the issue, he added.

"That we will not permit, and we will not tolerate his transfer to the US, to face charges that could potentially land him in prison, potentially for decades."

Monday, February 27, 2012

Sean Combs's new channel: Comcast's crumb?

Sean Combs's New Channel: Comcast's Crumb?
Friday 24 February 2012
by: Laura Flanders, The Nation | Report

The new “minority” channels from Comcast are well and good, but where are the women’s channels? This week’s news from Comcast reveals the saggy soft underbelly of our movements, the sad state of civil rights law and the weakness of our women’s organizations. Score one for Sean Combs but not much for the public interest.

The announcement came on Tuesday. Cable giant Comcast is to launch four new minority-owned channels; one channel each for rapper Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, retired NBA star Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Spy Kids director Robert Rodriguez. A fourth channel will go to toddlers. (BabyFirst Americas, owned and operated by Hispanic-Americans, will include brightly colored content for children under age 3.)

The new channels are the direct result of a private deal cut with civil rights organizations in exchange for those groups’ support of Comcast’s takeover of majority control over NBC Universal from General Electric last year.

The latest and most insidious of a string of same-sort media marriages, the Comcast/NBC merger had activists particularly riled up because it married a content producer (NBC) with a content distributor (Comcast), threatening not just the public interest but other media businesses’ ability to compete. The New York Observer estimated that the new media dynasty would control almost a quarter of all cable subscribers in the country and 12 percent of all television content.

More chilling for people concerned about the public interest is the track record after decades of media mergers like this. As far as diversity is concerned, media consolidation breeds contempt. Corie Wright, a lawyer with Free Press, put it to me this way: “Media consolidation is the number-one obstacle to women and minority ownership, as well as diverse viewpoints in the media.”

Its no accident Wright links gender and race. When they were handing out the first broadcast licenses, in the 1930s for example, neither women nor minorities were in that receiving line. As with many federal agencies, the Federal Communications Commission has been charged with righting that imbalance. Deep in the bowels of its bureaucracy is a commitment to ensuring diversity, including minority and female ownership of broadcast stations. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 mandated the Commission distribute “licenses among a wide variety of applicants, including small businesses, rural telephone companies, and businesses owned by members of minority groups and women.”

It hasn’t happened. To the contrary, as the FCC has relaxed its ownership regulations, ownership by women and people of color has shrunk. In February 2010, Congressman Maurice Hinchey testified against the Comcast merger, arguing that media consolidation over the past twenty years had diminished independent and diverse ownership:

Today, five companies own the broadcast networks, 90 percent of the top 50 cable networks, produce three-quarters of all prime time programming, and control 70 percent of the prime time television market share. These same companies own the nation’s most popular newspapers and networks also own over 85 percent of the top 20 Internet news sites. There has also been a severe decline in the number of minority-owned broadcast stations. In 2007, minorities owned just 3.2 percent of the U.S. television stations and 7 percent of the nation’s full power radio stations, despite making up more than 34 percent of the population.”

According to a 2007 Free Press Study, women, who comprise 51 percent of the US population, own a total of only sixty-seven stations, or 4.97 percent.

So why did civil rights groups support a big bad leap in the wrong direction? As I mentioned, they cut a deal. Or rather, some of them did. Reported saltily by Eric Deggens at the Tampa Bay Times, the NAACP, the National Urban League and Al Sharpton’s National Action Network supported the Comcast/NBC Universal merger in return for corporate “diversity-boosting” measures, among them, eight new independently owned and operated networks offering substantial participation by minorities, a $20 million venture capital fund for minority entrepreneurs in digital media, the creation of Diversity Advisory Councils and the increase of minority participation in news and public affairs programming.

Just in case you were wondering, Al Sharpton’s gig on MSNBC as host of his own nightly show has absolutely nothing to do with this. Nothing. Not a thing. (Neither did the award the National Action Network gave to Phil Griffin, the president of MSNBC, shortly before he was hired.)

Did women’s groups even try for such a deal? As far as I can uncover, they did not. Carol Jenkins, former director of the Women’s Media Center, doubts there was any comparable negotiation between Comcast and the heads of women’s groups. The current director of the Center, Julie Burton, knows of none. Gloria Steinem doesn’t know about it. Sadly it’s simply the case that, Planned Parenthood aside, there’s no women’s organization with the heft of the NAACP, and none that makes media power through ownership its issue. (There are plenty that deal with sexism, bigotry and lack of representation—but without power, you’re left with pleading.)

That’s why we need government. Oh I forgot. Affirmative Action is unconstitutional. (Even if the Fourteenth Amendment does mention a little something about “equal protection.”) If it wasn’t on the rocks already, the Supreme Court may be about to drive a stake through it.

What we’re left with is a win courtesy of corporate concession. To their credit, winning concessions from those in power is part of what civil rights groups are supposed to do. In a time of tight credit, there will be new venture capital money for minority media entrepreneurs and for a while there will be jobs at those new channels, including jobs for “minorities.” That’s all good. On the other hand, Coombs is already a music mogul; Johnson already owns a radio network. As Deggens wrote this week, Will channels for non-celebrities come next? There’s no guarantee of that. Worse, with this one corporate crumb, Comcast bought off a whole lot of public pressure that could have burnt beneath the FCC until they did what they’re supposed to which is regulate—not in Puffy’s but in the public interest.

It’s a huge blow to women’s rights and the broad tent of civil rights that—if the coverage of this deal is any indication—“diversity” as a concept has been shrunken to refer only to race. Carol Jenkins, who broke into TV thanks to movement pressure and lawsuits brought by the government against the networks, says, “It’s as true as it ever was, people have to be reminded that women are underrepresented and underserved.”

The majority of the population with nothing like a majority of media power, women do have a special page on the Comcast site—and to show how much they care, it’s pink. And it’s not impossible for women to find well paying jobs in the company. Take former FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker. Just four months after she voted, along with three of the agency’s other FCC commissioners, to approve Comcast’s acquisition of NBC, Comcast hired her. That puts a whole new spin on affirmative action. And a channel that glues toddlers to TV sets? Women—and child minders everywhere—have got to be happy about that, right?


White House helped pay for NYPD's spying on entire Muslim neighborhoods...

WH money helps pay for NYPD Muslim surveillance

(AP) WASHINGTON - Millions of dollars in White House money has helped pay for New York Police Department programs that put entire American Muslim neighborhoods under surveillance.

The money is part of a little-known grant intended to help law enforcement fight drug crimes. Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Bush and Obama administrations have provided $135 million to the New York and New Jersey region through the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program, known as HIDTA.

Some of that money — it's unclear exactly how much because the program has little oversight — has paid for the cars that plainclothes NYPD officers used to conduct surveillance on Muslim neighborhoods. It also paid for computers that store even innocuous information about Muslim college students, mosque sermons and social events.

When NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly was filled in on these efforts, his briefings were prepared on HIDTA computers.

The AP confirmed the use of White House money through secret police documents and interviews with current and former city and federal officials. The AP also obtained electronic documents with digital signatures indicating they were created and saved on HIDTA computers. The HIDTA grant program is overseen by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

The disclosure that the White House is at least partially paying for the NYPD's wholesale surveillance of places where Muslims eat, shop, work and pray complicates efforts by the Obama administration to stay out of the fray over New York's controversial counterterrorism programs. The administration has championed outreach to American Muslims and has said law enforcement should not put entire communities under suspicion.

The Obama administration, however, has pointedly refused to endorse or repudiate the NYPD programs it helps pay for. The White House last week declined to comment on its grant payments.

John Brennan, Obama's top counterterrorism adviser, last year called the NYPD's efforts "heroic" but would not elaborate. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, whose department also gives grant money to the NYPD and is one of the lead federal agencies helping police build relationships with Muslims, has refused in recent months to discuss the police tactics. Tom Perez, the Justice Department's top civil rights lawyer, has repeatedly refused to answer questions about the NYPD.

Outside Washington, the NYPD's efforts drew increased criticism last week. College administrators at Yale, Columbia and elsewhere issued harsh rebukes for NYPD's infiltration of Muslim student groups and its monitoring of school websites. New Jersey's governor and the mayor of its largest city have complained about the NYPD's widespread surveillance there, outside New York's police jurisdiction.

The White House HIDTA grant program was established at the height of the drug war to help police fight drug gangs and unravel supply routes. It has provided about $2.3 billion to local authorities in the past decade.

After the terror attacks, law enforcement was allowed to use some of that money to fight terrorism. It's unclear how much HIDTA money has been used to pay for the intelligence division, in part because NYPD intelligence operations receive scant oversight in New York.

Congress, which approves the money for the program, is not provided with a detailed breakdown of activities. None of the NYPD's clandestine programs is cited in the New York-New Jersey region's annual reports to Congress between 2006 and 2010.

NYPD spokesman Paul Browne did not respond to questions the AP sent to him in two emails about the White House money and the department's intelligence division.

Most of the money from the White House grants in New York and New Jersey has been spent fighting drugs, said Chauncey Parker, director of the program there. He said less than $1.3 million was spent on vehicles used by the NYPD intelligence unit.

"Those cars are used to collect and analyze counterterrorism information with the goal of preventing a terrorist attack in New York City or anywhere else," Parker said. "If it's been used for specific counterterrorism effort, then it's been used to pay for those cars."

Former police officials told the AP those vehicles have been used to photograph mosques and record the license plates of worshippers.

In addition to paying for the cars, the White House money pays for part of the office space the intelligence division shares with other agencies in Manhattan.

When police compiled lists of Muslims who took new, Americanized names, they kept those records on HIDTA computer servers. That was ongoing as recently as October, city officials said.

Many NYPD intelligence officers, including those that conducted surveillance of Muslim neighborhoods, had HIDTA email addresses. Briefing documents for Kelly, the police commissioner, were compiled on HIDTA computers. Those documents described what police informants were hearing inside mosques and which academic conferences Muslim scholars attended.

When police wanted to pay a confidential informant, they were told to sign onto the HIDTA website to file the paperwork, according to a 2007 internal document obtained by the AP.

Parker said the White House grant money was never used to pay any of the NYPD intelligence division's confidential informants. The HIDTA computer systems, he said, are platforms that allow different law enforcement agencies to share information and work.

"I am shocked to hear that federal dollars may have helped finance the NYPD's misguided efforts to spy on Muslims in America," said Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., one of 34 members of Congress who have asked the Justice Department and House Judiciary Committee to investigate the NYPD.

The connection between NYPD and the White House anti-drug grant program surfaced years ago, during a long-running civil rights lawsuit against police. Civil rights attorneys asked in court about a "demonstration debriefing form" that police used whenever they arrested people for civil disobedience. The form carried the seal of both the NYPD Intelligence Division and HIDTA.

A city lawyer downplayed any connection. She said the NYPD and HIDTA not only shared office space, they also shared office supplies like paper. The NYPD form with the seal of a White House anti-drug program was "a recycled piece of paper that got picked up and modified," attorney Gail Donoghue told a federal judge in 2003.

The issue died in court and was never pursued further.

Last week, the controversy over NYPD's programs drew one former Obama administration official into the discussion.

After the AP revealed an extensive program to monitor Muslims in Newark, N.J., police there denied knowing anything about it. The Newark police director at the time, Garry McCarthy, has since moved on to lead Chicago's police department where President Barack Obama's first chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, is now the mayor.

"We don't do that in Chicago and we're not going to do that," Emanuel said last week.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said the NYPD surveillance in his state was "disturbing" and has asked the attorney general to investigate. Christie was New Jersey's top federal prosecutor and sat on the HIDTA executive board during 2006 and 2007 when the NYPD was conducting surveillance in New Jersey cities. Christie said he didn't know that, in 2007, the NYPD catalogued every mosque and Muslim business in Newark, the state's largest city.

"I kind of think I would have remembered that," he said on Fox Business News last week.

"We have to also ask the question who benefits by these repeated acts of desecration against the Qur’an and other incidents? There would be those who are not interested in any sort of negotiated settlement in Afghanistan and I think those people exist in the US government as well as probably in the Karzai government as well"

'US forces repeatedly desecrated Qur'an in various regions'
Sun Feb 26, 2012 6:21PM GMT

The US claim that they were unaware of the sacredness and importance of the Qur’an defies logic as Americans have repeatedly desecrated Islam’s holy book, a political analyst tells Press TV.

The comment comes as the US has asked the Afghan government to protect the foreign troops in the war-ravaged country from public outrage over the recent desecration of the Holy Qur'an by US-led forces.

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, in a telephone conversation with his Afghan counterpart Abdul Rahim Wardak on Saturday, urged the Afghan government to take decisive action to protect foreign forces after two American military officers were killed during anti-US protests.

The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the two deaths, saying it was in revenge for the burning of the Qur’an at a US military base -- an incident that forced US President Barack Obama to apologize to the Afghan people.

President Hamid Karzai issued a statement urging the demonstrators and Afghan security forces to exercise restraint, saying the government was pressing Washington "on the need to bring to justice the perpetrators of the crime".

Press TV has conducted an interview with Wayne Madsen, investigative journalist from Washington to further discuss the issue. The following is a transcription of the interview.

Press TV: Mr. Madsen, it’s interesting, the US is calling on Afghanistan to protect NATO forces in the country but why should they, many ask, when instances of desecration of |Muslim sanctities by US led forces have occurred frequently and of course the drone strikes are repeatedly causing civilian casualties?

Madsen: Well, yes these policies from the United states are common and that’s a fact that these are not isolated incidents, they have happened over and over again and not just in Afghanistan, we know that the Qur’an was urinated upon and flushed into a toilet in Guantanamo.

We also know that there was a situation where there were there were US troops that urinated on the bodies of Afghans, we were told they were Taliban and so you know there is this back and forth of apologies right now but you know the problem still exists that we don’t know what kind of training our troops are receiving.

We know that New York police department for example was being trained by looking at videos trying to say that all Muslims were terrorists and we know that there was this surveillance program directed against mosques within a 300 mile radius of New York City.

So this is an ongoing problem as I say and the question is what kind of doctrine is Pentagon teaching our troops in the field and that’s where we have to start asking the question, not this back and forth of apologies cause these incidents keep occurring over and over again.

Press TV: So with all these discussed what do you think the faith of US forces will be in Afghanistan in the foreseeable future especially with regards to the fact that its election year in America?

Madsen: Yeah, this is now a political debate where Newt Gingrich one of the Republican candidates said why are we apologizing to Afghanistan they should apologize to us for the fact that some of our troops have been killed in retaliation.

But its in retaliation for the incident involving the Qur’an, now the US is saying well we didn’t know what the Qur’an was, you know, that defies logic because this is happening over and over again.

How many incidents does it take for the Pentagon to put the word out to its people in Afghanistan and elsewhere that this not acceptable behavior and of course it’s now an election year political weapon being used by the Republicans and we’re going to see this rhetoric unfortunately continue.

But I also want to point out that we know that the US and the Taliban have been engaged in negotiations in Qatar, there are obviously circles that would like to see those negotiations fail.

We have to also ask the question who benefits by these repeated acts of desecration against the Qur’an and other incidents? There would be those who are not interested in any sort of negotiated settlement in Afghanistan and I think those people exist in the US government as well as probably in the Karzai government as well

Press TV: We’ll leave you there for the time being, many thanks to Wayne Madison investigative journalist from Washington.

CNN silences war-skeptical soldier...

CNN Silences War-Skeptical Soldier
By obsessing over Iran gaining a nuclear weapon “capability” – even with no actual bomb – while ignoring Israel’s undeclared nuclear arsenal, the U.S. news media proves the point of its own bias. There’s also the usual hostility toward dissenting voices, as ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern notes.
By Ray McGovern
February 27, 2012

When CNN interviews a U.S. Army corporal preparing for his third deployment to Afghanistan, should TV viewers be permitted to hear him out on a front-burner issue like Iran’s alleged threat to Israel? For those who might think so, watch what happens when 28-year-old Cpl. Jesse Thorsen touches a neuralgic nerve by suggesting that Israel can take care of itself.

It’s impossible to say exactly what happened to the remote feed that suddenly got lost in transmission back to CNN Central, but the minute-long video is truly worth a thousand words.

The interview, which dates back to Jan. 3 when the Iowa caucuses were the evening’s big news, is at least symbolic of how our Fawning Corporate Media treats dissident voices that clash with the prevailing pro-war-on-Iran bias. I missed the segment when it aired, but I think it still merits comment today as war clouds thicken, again.

In the aborted one-minute segment, Cpl. Thorsen is interviewed by CNN’s Dana Bash, who presumably picked him out for the live interview because he had a large tattoo on his neck about never forgetting 9/11. The tattoo – plus two tours in Afghanistan behind him (and yet another in front of him) – may have suggested to Bash and her CNN producers that Thorsen was unlikely to say anything to muddle or muffle the new drumbeat for war.

Based on Thorsen’s military appearance alone, the typical CNN viewer could almost settle back in an easy chair and anticipate some stirring patriotic bathos about America standing tall – and the interview ending with the obligatory “thank you for your service,” which any right-thinking journalist utters to show that he or she is part of Team America.

But Bash got more than she bargained for when Thorsen turned out to be a well-informed and articulate young man who began endorsing Ron Paul’s non-interventionist views on U.S. foreign policy, i.e. that the United States should go to war only when absolutely necessary to defend its vital national interests and shouldn’t be picking a fight with Iran on behalf of Israel.

Such comments, of course, are almost literally heretical at places like CNN, which accepts unquestioningly the idea of “American exceptionalism” and abides by the neoconservative dogma that U.S. and Israeli security interests are one and the same.

That’s why CNN and the rest of the FCM typically dismiss Ron Paul’s views on foreign policy as dangerously “isolationist,” if not laughably loony. “Can you believe it? He doesn’t want to station American troops all around the world! He doesn’t believe in preemptive wars to disarm our enemies of weapons that they may not have now but might someday in the future have the capability of building! Ha! Ha! What a nut!”

The FCM’s dismissal of Paul’s foreign-policy views was a key reason why comedian Jon Stewart once compared Paul to “the 13th floor” of a hotel, the level that often doesn’t exist because customers consider the number unlucky. So, when the FCM would lavish attention on other Republican candidates, who finished both above and below Paul in some poll or in early balloting, the pundits would pass over Paul as if he didn’t exist.

Going ‘Off-Script’

So, what happened when Cpl. Thorsen veered “off script” – so to speak – and began reprising Ron Paulish views on the appropriate use of soldiers like himself? Well, CNN suddenly lost the feed. As Thorsen disappeared from the screen, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer explained, “Sorry, we just lost our tech connection, unfortunately.”

It’s true that connections can be lost for any number of reasons – and I can’t say for sure that some alert CNN producer hit the “kill” switch as one might if Cpl. Thorsen had begun cursing uncontrollably – but Blitzer and other CNN honchos didn’t seem very eager to resume the interview, just as they generally don’t book anti-war activists who disagree with the imperial orthodoxy.

You might remember, for instance, how CNN, like the other networks, stocked its pre-Iraq War “debates” with hawkish retired generals and admirals who would face only the mildest and most respectful questioning from Blitzer or some other anchor. In the rare moment when some war skeptic got on the air, he or she was treated with disdain, if not outright hostility, all the better for the network to demonstrate its “patriotism.”

Some cable networks devoted more time to American restaurants that were renaming French fries into “Freedom fries” than to the millions of people who took to the streets to protest the looming invasion of Iraq. After all, what could those “activists” know about Iraq hiding all those stockpiles of WMDs?

But why mention the case of Cpl. Thorsen now? Because this one-minute video-that-is-better-than-a-thousand-words could come in handy as at least a symbolic reminder of the bias at CNN and other parts of the FCM when it comes to allowing a full and fair discussion about going to war against some “designated enemy.”

This reality is bound to assume increased importance next week when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu touches down in Washington to press his case for a preemptive war against Iran’s nuclear program – which has yet to produce a single nuclear bomb (and Iranian leaders say they don’t intend to build one) – while Israel has an undeclared nuclear arsenal of an estimated 200 to 300 bombs.

Just for fun, keep track of how many times Netanyahu and other war advocates get to weigh in on the unacceptable danger of an Iranian nuclear weapon “capability” compared to how many times they are asked why Israel has not signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and why it won’t let inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency into Israeli secret bases to examine Israel’s actual nuclear weapons.

The FCM’s latest drumming for war is likely to reach a crescendo during the first days of March, with Netanyahu crashing the cymbals loudly and the propaganda orchestra swelling in a martial symphony designed to stir the American people into another standing ovation for another preemptive war.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

DemocracyNow program hosts a non-debate on Syria...

Progressives Embrace Humanitarian Imperialism – Again
DemocracyNow! Hosts a Non-debate on Syria
By John V. Walsh
February 25 2012

"Foreign Intervention in Syria? A Debate with Joshua Landis and Karam Nachar." promised the headline on DemocracyNow! of 2/22. Eagerly I tuned in, hoping to hear a thorough exposé of the machinations of the US Empire in Syria on its march to Iran.

But this was neither exposé nor debate. Both sides, Landis and Nachar, were pro-intervention for "humanitarian" reasons. Nor did the host Amy Goodman or her co-host take these worthies to task for their retrograde views on imperial military action against a sovereign nation that had made no attack on the US. It was yet one more sign that the "progressive" movement in the West has largely abandoned its antiwar, anti-intervention stance.

The segment began with a clip of John McCain advocating yet another war, for the good of the Syrians of course, bombing them to save them. The first guest was Joshua Landis, a prof in Oklahoma whose bio tells us that he "regularly travels to Washington DC to consult with the State Department and other government agencies." The other agencies are not specified, but he speaks at the Council on Foreign Relations and similar venues. Professor Landis represents the anti-intervention voice in the universe of Amy Goodman, but his opening words manifested the limits of that universe: "Well, I’m not opposed to helping the (Syrian) opposition." He continued, "The problem right now, the dangers right now with arming the opposition, is that we’re not sure who to arm."

Confused, I thought surely the next guest would be the anti-interventionist. He was Karam Nachar "cyber-activist" and Princeton Ph.D. candidate, working with Syrian "protesters" via "social media platforms." That means he is safely ensconced in New Jersey far from where U.S. bombs would fall. Perhaps this fellow would say loud and clear the Syrians did not need the interference of the West, did not need sanctions to starve them nor bombs to pulverize their cities. Perhaps he would laud the Chinese/Russian proposal for both sides to stop firing and to negotiate a solution.

But he did not. He also was for intervention by the West. And he did not think the disorganization of the opposition, cited by Landis, justified hesitation or delay in arming that opposition. That and not any principled anti-interventionism distinguished the two sides in this "debate." Said the cyber-activist: "Well, to start with, I disagree with Professor Landis’s portrayal of the situation with the Syrian opposition. It is true that, for instance, in the Syrian National Council, there are a lot of disagreements. But (the opposition is) still frustrated with the leadership of the Syrian National Council because of its inability to solicit more international support…. And I believe that the State Department, Secretary Clinton and the American administration is heading towards that. … It’s going to require a lot of money and a lot of courage and a lot of involvement on the part of the international community. (Emphasis, JW)

And then the boy cyber-activist got nasty: "I am just a little wary that this overemphasis on how leaderless the Syrian opposition is actually a tactic being used of people who actually do not want the regime to be overthrown and who have always actually defended the legitimacy of the Syrian regime, and especially of Bashar al-Assad." There it is. Even if one is for intervention in principle, no delay is to be countenanced. Such people are surely on the side of Bashar Al-Assad.

This is the kind of "debate" we get on "progressive" media outlets. It is not even a debate about whether there should be imperial intervention, once completely verboten on the Left, but when and under what circumstances military intervention should occur. This phony debate should simply be ignored whether it appears on DemocracyNow! or on NPR, increasingly indistinguishable in content and outlook or anywhere else. For a principled explanation of anti-interventionism one can look to Jean Bricmont on the Left or Ron Paul and Justin Raimondo on the libertarian side.

In fairness to Amy Goodman, just a few weeks back on February 7, she hosted the British writer and long time student of Syria, Patrick Seale. Said Seale: "I believe dialogue is the only way out of this. And indeed, the Russians have suggested to both sides to come to Moscow and start a dialogue. But the opposition says, ‘No, we can’t dialogue with Bashar al-Assad. He must be toppled first.’ Well, that’s a dangerous — a dangerous position to adopt." That interview is well worth reading. And Goodman would do well to stick with that instead of shifting over to empty debates between interventionism now versus interventionism later. After repeatedly hosting the CIA consultant Juan Cole to cheer the cruel war on Libya, Goodman now seems to be going down the same path with Syria. It is a sad spectacle and one more indication of how little the "progressives" in the West understand the nature of Humanitarian Imperialism which uses human rights to sell war. It looks like it’s time to abandon Goodman and switch to Alyona.

CIA infiltration of US news media (Video)


"They sell us the president the same way they sell us our clothes and our cars.They sell us every thing from youth to religion, the same time they sell us our wars" (Video)


I've been waiting for something to happen
For a week or a month or a year
With the blood in the ink of the headlines
And the sound of the crowd in my ear
You might ask what it takes to remember
When you know that you've seen it before
Where a government lies to a people
And a country is drifting to war

And there's a shadow on the faces
Of the men who send the guns
To the wars that are fought in places
Where their business interest runs
On the radio talk shows and the t.v.
You hear one thing again and again
How the u.s.a. stands for freedom
And we come to the aid of a friend
But who are the ones that we call our friends--
These governments killing their own?
Or the people who finally can't take any more
And they pick up a gun or a brick or a stone
There are lives in the balance
There are people under fire
There are children at the cannons
And there is blood on the wire

There's a shadow on the faces
Of the men who fan the flames
Of the wars that are fought in places
Where we can't even say the names

They sell us the president the same way
They sell us our clothes and our cars
They sell us every thing from youth to religion
The same time they sell us our wars
I want to know who the men in the shadows are
I want to hear somebody asking them why
They can be counted on to tell us who our enemies are
But they're never the ones to fight or to die
And there are lives in the balance
There are people under fire
There are children at the cannons
And there is blood on the wire

'US to announce aerial blockade on Syria'...

'US to announce aerial blockade on Syria'
US readies for possibility of intervention without UN resolution, Asharq Al-Awsat reports, citing US military official; plan to include humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees on Turkey's border
Roi Kais Published: 02.25.12

The Pentagon is readying for the possibility of intervention in Syria, aiming to halt Syrian President Bashsar Assad's violent crackdown on protesters, the newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reported Saturday, citing a US military offical.

According to the official, the intervention scenario calls for the establishment of a buffer zone on the Turkish border, in order to receive Syrian refugees. The Red Cross would then provide the civilians humanitarian aid, before NATO crews would arrive from Turkey and join the efforts.

The measure would pave the way for the US to declare an aerial blockade on Syria.

The intercession is to be modeled after NATO's efforts in Kosovo, which brought an end to the Serbian control of the region. NATO's plan of action included prolonged aerial shelling.

The US' diplomatic efforts have yet to yield an effective international resolution that would stop the bloodshed. More than 100 protesters have died over the weekend alone, human rights activists said.

Russia, China to join aid efforts?

According to Asharq Al-Awsat, the Pentagon does not anticipate a change of heart on the part of China or Russia, who have opposed foreign intervention or sanctions against Syria. But the US expects the two nations to join the humanitarian aid efforts, support a ceasefire between the Syrian regime and rebels and send special UN envoys to investigate the developments in the country.

The next step in the reported US Department of Defense plan would be to appoint a team of UN observers to monitor the humanitarian aid, and enter Syria. They would need aerial protection, which would eventually lead to an aerial blockade.

The military official said in the interview that the plan is a cautious one, and takes into account the Syrian air force's advanced capabilities.

In his most forceful words to date on the Syrian crisis, US President Barack Obama said Friday the US and its allies would use "every tool available" to end the bloodshed by Assad's government.

"It is time to stop the killing of Syrian citizens by their own government," Obama said in Washington, adding that it "absolutely imperative for the international community to rally and send a clear message to President Assad that it is time for a transition. It is time for that regime to move on."

As government troops relentlessly shelled rebel-held neighborhoods in the besieged city of Homs, thousands of people in dozens of towns staged anti-regime protests under the slogan: "We will revolt for your sake, Baba Amr," referring to the Homs neighborhood that has become the center of the Syrian revolt.

Opposition groups reported that 103 people were killed on Friday by the regime's forces.

"WikiLeaks began publishing The Global Intelligence Files – more than five million emails from the Texas-headquartered "global intelligence" company Stratfor. The emails date from between July 2004 and late December 2011. They reveal the inner workings of a company that fronts as an intelligence publisher, but provides confidential intelligence services to large corporations, such as Bhopal's Dow Chemical Co., Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and government agencies, including the US Department of Homeland Security, the US Marines and the US Defense Intelligence Agency. Stratfor... emails reveal private intelligence staff who align themselves closely with US government policies and channel tips to the Mossad – including through an information mule in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Yossi Melman, who conspired with Guardian journalist David Leigh to secretly, and in violation of WikiLeaks' contract with the Guardian, move WikiLeaks US diplomatic cables to Israel"...


LONDON--Today WikiLeaks began publishing The Global Intelligence Files – more than five million emails from the Texas-headquartered "global intelligence" company Stratfor. The emails date from between July 2004 and late December 2011. They reveal the inner workings of a company that fronts as an intelligence publisher, but provides confidential intelligence services to large corporations, such as Bhopal's Dow Chemical Co., Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and government agencies, including the US Department of Homeland Security, the US Marines and the US Defense Intelligence Agency. The emails show Stratfor's web of informers, pay-off structure, payment-laundering techniques and psychological methods, for example:

"[Y]ou have to take control of him. Control means financial, sexual or psychological control... This is intended to start our conversation on your next phase" – CEO George Friedman to Stratfor analyst Reva Bhalla on 6 December 2011, on how to exploit an Israeli intelligence informant providing information on the medical condition of the President of Venezuala, Hugo Chavez.

The material contains privileged information about the US government's attacks against Julian Assange and WikiLeaks and Stratfor's own attempts to subvert WikiLeaks. There are more than 4,000 emails mentioning WikiLeaks or Julian Assange. The emails also expose the revolving door that operates in private intelligence companies in the United States. Government and diplomatic sources from around the world give Stratfor advance knowledge of global politics and events in exchange for money. The Global Intelligence Files exposes how Stratfor has recruited a global network of informants who are paid via Swiss banks accounts and pre-paid credit cards. Stratfor has a mix of covert and overt informants, which includes government employees, embassy staff and journalists around the world.

The material shows how a private intelligence agency works, and how they target individuals for their corporate and government clients. For example, Stratfor monitored and analysed the online activities of Bhopal activists, including the "Yes Men", for the US chemical giant Dow Chemical. The activists seek redress for the 1984 Dow Chemical/Union Carbide gas disaster in Bhopal, India. The disaster led to thousands of deaths, injuries in more than half a million people, and lasting environmental damage.

Stratfor has realised that its routine use of secret cash bribes to get information from insiders is risky. In August 2011, Stratfor CEO George Friedman confidentially told his employees: "We are retaining a law firm to create a policy for Stratfor on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. I don't plan to do the perp walk and I don't want anyone here doing it either."

Stratfor's use of insiders for intelligence soon turned into a money-making scheme of questionable legality. The emails show that in 2009 then-Goldman Sachs Managing Director Shea Morenz and Stratfor CEO George Friedman hatched an idea to "utilise the intelligence" it was pulling in from its insider network to start up a captive strategic investment fund. CEO George Friedman explained in a confidential August 2011 document, marked DO NOT SHARE OR DISCUSS: "What StratCap will do is use our Stratfor's intelligence and analysis to trade in a range of geopolitical instruments, particularly government bonds, currencies and the like". The emails show that in 2011 Goldman Sach's Morenz invested "substantially" more than $4million and joined Stratfor's board of directors. Throughout 2011, a complex offshore share structure extending as far as South Africa was erected, designed to make StratCap appear to be legally independent. But, confidentially, Friedman told StratFor staff: "Do not think of StratCap as an outside organisation. It will be integral... It will be useful to you if, for the sake of convenience, you think of it as another aspect of Stratfor and Shea as another executive in Stratfor... we are already working on mock portfolios and trades". StratCap is due to launch in 2012.

The Stratfor emails reveal a company that cultivates close ties with US government agencies and employs former US government staff. It is preparing the 3-year Forecast for the Commandant of the US Marine Corps, and it trains US marines and "other government intelligence agencies" in "becoming government Stratfors". Stratfor's Vice-President for Intelligence, Fred Burton, was formerly a special agent with the US State Department's Diplomatic Security Service and was their Deputy Chief of the counterterrorism division. Despite the governmental ties, Stratfor and similar companies operate in complete secrecy with no political oversight or accountability. Stratfor claims that it operates "without ideology, agenda or national bias", yet the emails reveal private intelligence staff who align themselves closely with US government policies and channel tips to the Mossad – including through an information mule in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Yossi Melman, who conspired with Guardian journalist David Leigh to secretly, and in violation of WikiLeaks' contract with the Guardian, move WikiLeaks US diplomatic cables to Israel.

Ironically, considering the present circumstances, Stratfor was trying to get into what it called the leak-focused "gravy train" that sprung up after WikiLeaks’ Afghanistan disclosures:

"[Is it] possible for us to get some of that 'leak-focused' gravy train? This is an obvious fear sale, so that's a good thing. And we have something to offer that the IT security companies don't, mainly our focus on counter-intelligence and surveillance that Fred and Stick know better than anyone on the planet... Could we develop some ideas and procedures on the idea of ´leak-focused' network security that focuses on preventing one's own employees from leaking sensitive information... In fact, I'm not so sure this is an IT problem that requires an IT solution."

Like WikiLeaks’ diplomatic cables, much of the significance of the emails will be revealed over the coming weeks, as our coalition and the public search through them and discover connections. Readers will find that whereas large numbers of Stratfor's subscribers and clients work in the US military and intelligence agencies, Stratfor gave a complimentary membership to the controversial Pakistan general Hamid Gul, former head of Pakistan's ISI intelligence service, who, according to US diplomatic cables, planned an IED attack on international forces in Afghanistan in 2006. Readers will discover Stratfor's internal email classification system that codes correspondence according to categories such as 'alpha', 'tactical' and 'secure'. The correspondence also contains code names for people of particular interest such as 'Izzies' (members of Hezbollah), or 'Adogg' (Mahmoud Ahmedinejad).

Stratfor did secret deals with dozens of media organisations and journalists – from Reuters to the Kiev Post. The list of Stratfor’s "Confederation Partners", whom Stratfor internally referred to as its "Confed Fuck House" are included in the release. While it is acceptable for journalists to swap information or be paid by other media organisations, because Stratfor is a private intelligence organisation that services governments and private clients these relationships are corrupt or corrupting.

WikiLeaks has also obtained Stratfor's list of informants and, in many cases, records of its payoffs, including $1,200 a month paid to the informant "Geronimo" , handled by Stratfor's Former State Department agent Fred Burton.

WikiLeaks has built an investigative partnership with more than 25 media organisations and activists to inform the public about this huge body of documents. The organisations were provided access to a sophisticated investigative database developed by WikiLeaks and together with WikiLeaks are conducting journalistic evaluations of these emails. Important revelations discovered using this system will appear in the media in the coming weeks, together with the gradual release of the source documents.

Germany may send tax collectors to Greece...

The Colonization Begins: Germany May Send 160 Tax Collectors To Greece
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 02/25/2012

Since the European colonial state of southern Bavaria Sachs (formerly known as the insolvent Hellenic Republic) no longer even pretends to be anything less than a pass-thru funding colony of its creditors, said creditors (European banks and various insurance companies) are about to send out the first group of colonial scouts in the form of German tax collectors. Also, since as reported previously, Greece will literally have to collect taxes to fund the Second "bailout package", which is merely a front for on ongoing Greek bailout of European banks (recall that it is Greece who is partially funding the bailout Escrow Account), said tax collectors will assist their Greek counterparts (who will rather likely miss their quote of becoming 200% more efficient in 2012) in collecting money from Greek citizens to pay off German banks. If in the process a few (or all) bars of gold end up missing, so be it.

From Athens News:

More than 160 German financial services executives are willing to come to Greece in order to strengthen the Greek tax mechanism, according to a report to be published in the German magazine 'Wirtschafts Woche', which will be released on Monday.

The magazine cites German deputy finance minister Hans Bernhard Beus, who explains that a key factor is the knowledge of a foreign language - some of them speak Greek - while the return to active duty of retired tax collectors should not be ruled out.

Many come from the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, whose finance minister, Norbert Walter-Borjans, compares Greece's with 90s East Germany, noting that even the East Germans at the time were suspicious towards the West. "In Greece suspicion will be greater, in part because of the inappropriate language used by some in Germany," he said.

The article also refers to a confidential report from the European Commission, according to which the mechanism of tax collection in Greece is especially problematic

What "problematic"? If it is not clear by now that the Greeks will happily do nothing to change their predicament (and in fact have exhibited a soaring appreciation for their new stepmother-tongue), this will be literally easier than stealing rehypothecated candy from an insolvent baby.

Ironically, the popular German response in the form of comments at German daily Spiegel is widely adverse to this latest now blatantly open attempt at colonization by a few German "leaders", who just like in every other insolvent developed country, operate solely at the behest of their banker funders.

We fear that such incursions into national sovereignty will only accelerate... until they are finally halted, very violently, and very tragically.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Pentagon's Project Avatar...

Pentagon’s Project ‘Avatar’: Same as the Movie, but With Robots Instead of Aliens
By Katie Drummond February 16, 2012 | 4:51 pm

Soldiers practically inhabiting the mechanical bodies of androids, who will take the humans’ place on the battlefield. Or sophisticated tech that spots a powerful laser ray, then stops it from obliterating its target.

If you’ve got Danger Room’s taste in movies, you’ve probably seen both ideas on the big screen. Now Darpa, the Pentagon’s far-out research arm, wants to bring ‘em into the real world.

In the agency’s $2.8 billion budget for 2013, unveiled on Monday, they’ve allotted $7 million for a project titled “Avatar.” The project’s ultimate goal, not surprisingly, sounds a lot like the plot of the same-named (but much more expensive) flick.

According the agency, “the Avatar program will develop interfaces and algorithms to enable a soldier to effectively partner with a semi-autonomous bi-pedal machine and allow it to act as the soldier’s surrogate.”

These robots should be smart and agile enough to do the dirty work of war, Darpa notes. That includes the “room clearing, sentry control [and] combat casualty recovery.” And all at the bidding of their human partner.

Freaky? Um, yes. But the initiative does strike as the next logical step in Darpa’s robotics research. For one thing, the agency’s already been investigating increasingly autonomous, lifelike robots, including Petman (a headless humanoid), designed to mimic a soldier’s physiology, and AlphaDog (a gigantic, lumbering, four-legged beast), meant to lug gear during combat.

And just last week, when Darpa released a new video of AlphaDog cavorting through the forest, the agency noted that they wanted the ‘bot to “interact with [soldiers] in a natural way, similar to the way a trained animal and its handler interact.” AlphaDog is even being designed to follow a human commander using visual sensors, and respond to vocal commands.

Based on Darpa’s description of the “Avatar” project, which notes “key advancements in telepresence and remote operation of a ground system,” it sounds like the agency’s after an even more sophisticated robot-soldier synergy. They don’t specify the means, but Darpa’s already funded successful investigations into robots that are controlled with mind power alone. Granted, that research was performed on monkeys. But it does raise the tantalizing prospect that soldiers might one day meld minds with their very own robotic alter egos.

And the “Avatar” project isn’t Darpa’s only nod to sci-fi in their new budget plan. The agency’s “Counter Laser Technologies” project, on which they’re spending $4.1 million, seeks to develop “laser countermeasures” that’d protect the military’s weapons from high-energy lasers, and maybe even thwart potential attacks. No, Death Stars are not specifically mentioned.

Of course, such super-powerful blasters aren’t yet combat-ready. (Just ask the Army, which has a $38 million laser cannon — without a laser; it’s complicated.) But once they are, the lasers could do some serious damage to existing weapons systems, which is why the Pentagon’s already been after methods that’d safeguard its existing arsenals. In 2008, for example, the Air Force asked scientists to develop laser-proof coatings for weaponry. The Navy in 2009 also launched its own counter-laser initiative, looking for ideas to protect against myriad different blasters, high-energy lasers included.

Darpa’s project will try to accomplish some of those same goals. For example, the agency mentions an interest in “material treatments” that’d protect weaponry from a laser able to “melt through, fracture or weaken the body.” But Darpa’s also looking for a more comprehensive array of tools. It wants “warning systems” that can detect high-energy lasers, and “determine the attributes of the threat” (including wavelength and power). Plus, the agency’s after technology that can thwart a laser attack entirely, by “altering the laser’s internal optics or modifying the laser’s line of sight.”

Clearly, a leaner Pentagon budget hasn’t stopped Darpa’s dreamers from watching too much sci-fi. We’re just hoping nobody at the agency’s seen Source Code.

"Reports of atrocities committed against Syrian civilians by the military could be true, but the reports come from the rebels who desire Western intervention to put them into power. Moreover, how would these civilian casualties differ from the ones inflicted on Bahraini civilians by the US supported Bahraini government, the military of which was fortified by Saudi Arabian troops? There is no outcry in the western press about Washington’s blind eye to civilian atrocities committed by its puppet states.How do the Syrian atrocities, if they are real, differ from Washington’s atrocities in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo prison, and secret CIA prison sites? Why is the American Ministry of Truth silent about these massive, unprecedented, violations of human rights?...Whose interests are being served by Washington’s endless and multi-trillion dollar wars? Certainly not the interests of the 50 million Americans with no access to health care, nor the 1,500,000 American children who are homeless, living in cars, rundown motel rooms, tent cities, and the storm sewers under Las Vegas, while huge amounts of public funds are used to bail out banks and squandered in wars of hegemony"

Silencing The Critics
By Paul Craig Roberts
February 20, 2012
Information Clearing House

In 2010 the FBI invaded the homes of peace activists in several states and seized personal possessions in what the FBI--the lead orchestrator of fake “terrorist plots”--called an investigation of “activities concerning the material support of terrorism.”

Subpoenas were issued to compel antiwar protestors to testify before grand juries as prosecutors set about building their case that opposing Washington’s wars of aggression constitutes giving aid and comfort to terrorists. The purpose of the raids and grand jury subpoenas was to chill the anti-war movement into inaction.

Last week in one fell swoop the last two remaining critics of Washington/Tel Aviv imperialism were removed from the mainstream media. Judge Napolitano’s popular program, Freedom Watch, was cancelled by Fox TV, and Pat Buchanan was fired by MSNBC. Both pundits had wide followings and were appreciated for speaking frankly.

Many suspect that the Israel Lobby used its clout with TV advertisers to silence critics of the Israeli government’s efforts to lead Washington to war with Iran. Regardless, the point before us is that the voice of the mainstream media is now uniform. Americans hear one voice, one message, and the message is propaganda. Dissent is tolerated only on such issues as to whether employer-paid health benefits should pay for contraceptive devices. Constitutional rights have been replaced with rights to free condoms.

The western media demonizes those at whom Washington points a finger. The lies pour forth to justify Washington’s naked aggression: the Taliban are conflated with al Qaeda, Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction, Gaddafi is a terrorist and, even worse, fortified his troops with Viagra in order to commit mass rape against Libyan women.

President Obama and members of Congress along with Tel Aviv continue to assert that Iran is making a nuclear weapon despite public contradiction by the US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and the CIA’s National Intelligence Estimate. According to news reports, Pentagon chief Leon Panetta told members of the House of Representatives on February 16 that “Tehran has not made a decision to proceed with developing a nuclear weapon.” However, in Washington facts don’t count. Only the material interests of powerful interest groups matter.

At the moment the American Ministry of Truth is splitting its time between lying about Iran and lying about Syria. Recently, there were some explosions in far away Thailand, and the explosions were blamed on Iran. Last October the FBI announced that the bureau had uncovered an Iranian plot to pay a used car salesman to hire a Mexican drug gang to kill the Saudi Ambassador to the US. The White House idiot professed to believe the unbelievable plot and declared that he had “strong evidence,” but no evidence was ever released. The purpose for announcing the non-existent plot was to justify Obama’s sanctions, which amount to an embargo--an act of war--against Iran for developing nuclear energy.

As a signatory to the non-proliferation treaty, Iran has the right to develop nuclear energy. IAEA inspectors are permanently in Iran and report no diversion of nuclear material to a weapons program.

In other words, according to the reports of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the US National Intelligence Estimate, and the current Secretary of Defense, there is no evidence that Iran has nukes or is making nukes. Yet, Obama has placed illegal sanctions on Iran and continues to threaten Iran with military attack on the basis of an accusation that is contradicted by all known evidence.

How can such a thing happen? It can happen because there is no Helen Thomas, who also was eliminated by the Israel Lobby, to question, as a member of the White House press, President Obama why he placed war-like sanctions on Iran when his own CIA and his own Secretary of Defense, along with the IAEA, report that there is no basis for the sanctions.

The idea that the US is a democracy when it most definitely does not have a free watchdog press is laughable. But the media is not laughing. It is lying. Just like the government, every time the US mainstream media opens its mouth or writes one word, it is lying. Indeed, its corporate masters pay its employees to tell lies. That is their job. Tell the truth, and you are history like Buchanan and Napolitano and Helen Thomas.

What the Ministry of Truth calls “peaceful protesters brutalized by Assad’s military” are in fact rebels armed and financed by Washington. Washington has fomented a civil war. Washington claims its intention is to rescue the oppressed and abused Syrian people from Assad, just as Washington rescued the oppressed and abused Libyan people from Gaddafi. Today “liberated” Libya is a shell of its former self terrorized by clashing militias. Thanks to Obama, another country has been destroyed.

Reports of atrocities committed against Syrian civilians by the military could be true, but the reports come from the rebels who desire Western intervention to put them into power. Moreover, how would these civilian casualties differ from the ones inflicted on Bahraini civilians by the US supported Bahraini government, the military of which was fortified by Saudi Arabian troops? There is no outcry in the western press about Washington’s blind eye to civilian atrocities committed by its puppet states.

How do the Syrian atrocities, if they are real, differ from Washington’s atrocities in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo prison, and secret CIA prison sites? Why is the American Ministry of Truth silent about these massive, unprecedented, violations of human rights?

Remember also the reports of Serbian atrocities in Kosovo that Washington and Germany used to justify NATO and US bombing of Serbian civilians, including the Chinese consulate, dismissed as another collateral damage. Now 13 years later, a prominent German TV program has revealed that the photographs that ignited the atrocity campaign were grossly misrepresented and were not photographs of atrocities committed by Serbs, but of Albanian separatists killed in a firefight between armed Albanians and Serbians. Serbian casualties were not shown. (See freenations.freeuk.com.)

The problem that truth faces is that the western media continually lies. On the rare instances when the lies are corrected, it is always long after the event and, therefore, the crimes enabled by the media have been accomplished.

Washington set its puppet Arab League upon Syria in order to establish Syria’s isolation among its own kind, the better to attack Syria. Assad forestalled Washington’s set-up of Syria for destruction by calling a nationwide referendum on February 26 to establish a new constitution that would extend the prospect of rule beyond the Ba’athists (Assad’s party).

One might think that, if Washington and its Ministry of Truth really wanted democracy in Syria, Washington would get behind this gesture of good will by the ruling party and endorse the referendum. But Washington does not want a democratic Syrian government. Washington wants a puppet state. Washington’s response is that the dastardly Assad has outwitted Washington by taking steps toward Syrian democracy before Washington can obliterate Syria and install a puppet.

Here is Obama’s response to Assad’s move toward democracy: “It’s actually quite laughable--it makes a mockery of the Syrian revolution,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One.

Obama, the neoconservatives, and Tel Aviv are really pissed. If Washington and Tel Aviv can figure out how to get around Russia and China and overthrow Assad, Washington and Tel Aviv will put Assad on trial as a war criminal for proposing a democratic referendum.

Assad was an eye doctor in England until his father died, and he was called back to head the troubled government. Washington and Tel Aviv have demonized Assad for refusing to be their puppet. Another sore point is the Russian naval base at Tartus. Washington is desperate to evict the Russians from their only Mediterranean base in order to make the Mediterranean an American lake. Washington, inculcated with neocon visions of world empire, wants its own mare nostrum.

If the Soviet Union were still extant, Washington’s designs on Tartus would be suicidal. However, Russia is politically and militarily weaker than the Soviet Union. Washington has infiltrated Russia with NGOs that work against Russia’s interests and will disrupt the upcoming elections. Moreover, Washington-funded “color revolutions” have turned former constituent parts of the Soviet Union into Washington’s puppet states. Shorn of communist ideology, Washington does not expect Russia to push the nuclear button. Thus, Russia is there for the taking.

China is a more difficult problem. Washington’s plan is to cut China off from independent sources of energy. China’s oil investment in eastern Libya is the reason Gaddafi was overthrown, and oil is one of the main reasons that Washington has targeted Iran. China has large oil investments in Iran and gets 20% of its oil from Iran. Closing down Iran, or converting it into Washington’s puppet state, closes down 20% of the Chinese economy.

Russia and China are slow learners. However, when Washington and its NATO puppets abused the “no-fly” UN resolution concerning Libya and violated the UN resolution by turning it into armed military aggression against Libya’s armed forces, which had every right to put down a CIA sponsored rebellion, Russia and China finally got the message that Washington could not be trusted.

This time Russia and China did not fall into Washington’s trap. They vetoed the UN Security Council’s set-up of Syria for military attack. Now Washington and Tel Aviv (it is not always clear which is the puppet and which is the puppet master) have to decide whether to proceed in the face of Russian and Chinese opposition.

The risks for Washington have multiplied. If Washington proceeds, the information that is conveyed to Russia and China is that they are next in line after Iran. Therefore, Russia and China, both being well-armed with nuclear weapons, are likely to put their foot down more firmly at the line drawn over Iran. If the crazed warmongers in Washington and Tel Aviv, with veins running strong with hubris and arrogance, again override Russian and Chinese opposition, the risk of a dangerous confrontation rises.

Why isn’t the American media raising questions about these risks? Is it worth blowing up the world in order to stop Iran from having a nuclear energy program or even a nuclear weapon? Does Washington think China is unaware that Washington is taking aim at its energy supply? Does Washington think Russia is unaware that it is being encircled by hostile military bases?

Whose interests are being served by Washington’s endless and multi-trillion dollar wars? Certainly not the interests of the 50 million Americans with no access to health care, nor the 1,500,000 American children who are homeless, living in cars, rundown motel rooms, tent cities, and the storm sewers under Las Vegas, while huge amounts of public funds are used to bail out banks and squandered in wars of hegemony. (YouTube.com)

The US has no independent print and TV media. It has presstitutes who are paid for the lies that they tell. The US government in its pursuit of its immoral aims has attained the status of the most corrupt government in human history. Yet Obama speaks as if Washington is the font of human morality.

The US government does not represent Americans. It represents a few special interests and a foreign power. US citizens simply don’t count, and certainly Afghans, Iraqis, Libyans, Somalians, Yemenis, and Pakistanis don’t count. Washington regards truth, justice, and mercy as laughable values. Money, power, hegemony are all that count for Washington, the city upon the hill, the light unto nations, the example for the world.

N. Korea vows to launch "sacred war" in response to US-S.Korea war exercises...

North Korea vows to launch 'sacred war' over US-South naval exercises
North Korea has threatened to stage a 'sacred war' over US-South Korean annual joint military exercises next week, denouncing the drill as a 'silent declaration of war'.
9:55AM GMT 25 Feb 2012

The North's National Defence Commission (NDC) described the exercise as "unpardonable war hysteria" and said its army and people would "foil" the US and South Korean moves with "a sacred war of our own style".

The threat is the latest instance of Pyongyang taking a hostile tone towards Seoul since Kim Jong-un, the youngest son of the late leader Kim Jong-il, took over following the death of his father in December.

Last week the North vowed "merciless retaliatory strikes" if any shells landed in waters claimed by Pyongyang during a live-fire artillery exercise near the disputed Yellow Sea border.

But in the event it took no military action in response to the drill.

The United States and South Korea are to mount two major annual joint military exercises, one in the coming week and the other in March.

Key Resolve, a computerised command post exercise, will start on Monday and continue until March 9. Separately, the joint air, ground and naval field training exercise Foal Eagle will be held from March 1 to April 30.

"Key Resolve and Foal Eagle are unpardonable war hysteria kicked up by the hooligans to desecrate our mourning period and an unpardonable infringement upon our sovereignty and dignity," the NDC said in a statement.

Kim Jong-il died of a heart attack on December 17.

"Our army and people will foil the moves of the group of traitors to the nation and warmongers at home and abroad for a new war with a sacred war of our own style," the NDC said, indicating it will stage a counter exercise.

"War manoeuvres ... are, in essence, a silent declaration of a war. The declaration of the war is bound to be accompanied by a corresponding physical retaliation," it said.

"Now that a war has been declared against us, the army and people are firmly determined to counter it with a sacred war of our own style and protect the security of the nation and the peace of the country," the NDC said.

Kurt Haskell: Witness to government false flag (Video)



Friday, February 24, 2012

Obama administration defends targeted killings of Americans suspected of engaging in terrorism...

Obama admin defends killing American terrorists
By Pam Benson
February 23rd, 2012
05:18 PM ET

The targeted killing of those suspected of engaging in terrorist activities against the United States, including American citizens, is justified and legal, according to the Defense Department's chief lawyer.

Pentagon general counsel Jeh Johnson is the first government lawyer to officially weigh in on the legal justification for killing a U.S. citizen since American born Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki was killed by a CIA missile fired from an unmanned aerial vehicle last September.

In comments Wednesday night during a speech at Yale University, Johnson made no mention by name of al-Awlaki or the classified CIA drone program.

"Belligerents who also happen to be U.S. citizens do not enjoy immunity where non-citizen belligerents are valid military objectives," Johnson said.

He cited a 2004 Supreme Court decision as the justification for his comment.

"Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, stated that "[a} citizen, no less than an alien, can be 'part of or supporting forces hostile to the United States or coalition partners' and 'engaged in an armed conflict against the United States.'"

Johnson's remarks mostly mirrored what State Department counsel Harold Koh said in a speech two years ago to the American Society of International Law.

"In an armed conflict, lethal force against known, individual members of the enemy is a long-standing and long-legal practice," Johnson said. What has changed is the technology used to attack suspected terrorists.

Whereas Koh specifically referred to lethal attacks by unmanned aerial vehicles as a legal method of targeting terrorists, Johnson sidestepped any direct mention of the use of armed drones.

Instead, he referred to advanced technology where "we are able to target military objectives with much more precision, to the point where we can identify, target and strike a single military objective from great distances."

Johnson reiterated Koh's assessment that targeted killing is not assassination.

"Under well-settled legal principles, lethal force against a valid military objective, in an armed conflict, is consistent with the law of war and does not, by definition, constitute an "assassination," said Johnson.

Until recently, no one in the Obama administration would talk publicly about the CIA's secret drone program. President Barack Obama broke the silence last month when he defended the program during a question and answer session on the Internet.

Al-Awlaki is not the only American who has been killed by a drone strike since the United States began its offensive against al Qaeda following the 9/11 terrorism attacks in 2001.

Ahmed Hijazi, a Lackawanna, New York native, died in 2002 when a hellfire missile destroyed a car he was traveling in with five other people in Yemen. The intended target was Abu Ali Harithi, an associate of Osama bin Laden, who allegedly was involved in the attack on the USS Cole, which killed 17 U.S. sailors. At the time, U.S. officials referred to Hijazi as collateral damage.

American Samir Khan was with al-Awlaki when the CIA destroyed their vehicle in Yemen. Khan was the editor of the al Qaeda English language magazine, "Inspire."

Al-Awlaki's son was among nine people killed by a drone attack in Yemen two weeks after his father died. U.S .officials said the teenager was not the intended target, and was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Human Rights First was not satisfied with Johnson's defense of targeted killing.

In a written statement, Raha Wala, the group's advocacy counsel, said, "The American people deserve to know who the government believes it can kill in our names. General Counsel Johnson's speech did little to help shed light on the government's approach to targeted killing. It is this unexplained secrecy that has caused so many to question this program."

A number of lawmakers and civil liberties groups have called on the administration to release more information about the legal justification for targeting Americans.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, believes al-Awlaki was "a lawful target" but called on the administration to provide details about its legal rationale in order "to maintain public support of secret operations."

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is scheduled to give a speech on March 5 in Chicago where he is expected to discuss the issue of trageting Americans.

Johnson also said the legal authority for the military's counterterrorism efforts was the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) bill passed by Congress one week after the 9/11 attacks. But he added, AUMF was not open-ended. "It does not authorize military force against anyone the executive labels a 'terrorist'", Johnson said.

"Rather, it encompasses only those groups or people with a link to the terrorist attacks on 9/11 or associated forces."

He went on to define an associated force as a group that is aligned with al Qaeda and has "entered the fight against the United States or its coalition partners."

Human Rights First welcomed Johnson's comments that the war is not open-ended, but said the administration needed to make the end point clearer. Raha Wala said, "suggesting the war extends outside Afghanistan to vaguely define associated forces is much too amorphous.

"With the end of the war in Iraq, the death of bin Laden and the decimation of al Qaeda, the end of combat operations in in Afghanistan should mark the clear end of war."

Wala said it is time for law enforcement and intelligence officers to take over response to the terrorism threat

"David Cohen, the NYPD's top intelligence officer, wanted a source inside every mosque within a 250-mile radius of New York, current and former officials said. Though the officials said they never managed to reach that goal, documents show the NYPD successfully placed informants or undercovers — sometimes both — into mosques from Westchester County, N.Y., to New Jersey...In some instances, the NYPD put cameras on light poles and trained them on mosques, documents show. Because the cameras were in public space, police didn't need a warrant to conduct the surveillance.Police also wrote down the license plates of cars in mosque parking lots, documents show. In some instances, police in unmarked cars outfitted with electronic license plate readers would drive down the street and record the plates of everyone parked near the mosque, former officials recalled"

Records detail mosque spying; NYPD defends tactics

NEW YORK (AP) – The New York Police Department targeted Muslim mosques with tactics normally reserved for criminal organizations, according to newly obtained police documents that showed police collecting the license plates of worshippers, monitoring them on surveillance cameras and cataloging sermons through a network of informants.

The documents, obtained by The Associated Press, have come to light as the NYPD fends off criticism of its monitoring of Muslim student groups and its cataloging of mosques and Muslim businesses in nearby Newark, N.J.

The NYPD's spokesman, Paul Browne, forcefully defended the legality of those efforts Thursday, telling reporters that its officers may go wherever the public goes and collect intelligence, even outside city limits.

The new documents, prepared for Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, show how the NYPD's roster of paid informants monitored conversations and sermons inside mosques. The records offer the first glimpse of what those informants, known informally as "mosque crawlers," gleaned from inside the houses of worship.

For instance, when a Danish newspaper published inflammatory cartoons of Prophet Muhammad in September 2005, Muslim communities around the world erupted in outrage. Violent mobs took to the streets in the Middle East. A Somali man even broke into the cartoonist's house in Denmark with an ax.

In New York, thousands of miles away, it was a different story. Muslim leaders preached peace and urged people to protest lawfully. Write letters to politicians, they said. Some advocated boycotting Danish products, burning flags and holding rallies.

All of that was permissible under law and protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution. All was reported to the NYPD by its mosque crawlers and made its way into police files for Kelly.

"Imam Shamsi Ali brought up the topic of the cartoon, condemning them. He announced a rally that was to take place on Sunday (02/05/06) near the United Nations. He asked that everyone to attend if possible and reminded everyone to keep their poise if they can make it," one report read.

At the Muslim Center of New York in Queens, the report said, "Mohammad Tariq Sherwani led the prayer service and urged those in attendance to participate in a demonstration at the United Nations on Sunday."

When one Muslim leader suggested planning a demonstration, one of the people involved in the discussion about how to get a permit was, in fact, working for the NYPD.

"It seems horrible to me that the NYPD is treating an entire religious community as potential terrorists," said civil rights lawyer Jethro Eisenstein, who reviewed some of the documents and is involved in a decades-old class-action lawsuit against the police department for spying on protesters and political dissidents.

The lawsuit is known as the Handschu case, and a court order in that case governs how the NYPD may collect intelligence.

Eisenstein said the documents prove the NYPD has violated those rules.

"This is a flat-out violation," Eisenstein said. "This is a smoking gun."

Browne, the NYPD spokesman, did not discuss specific investigations Thursday but told reporters that, because of the Handschu case, the NYPD operates under stricter rules than any other department in the country. He said police do not violate those rules.

His statements were intended to calm a controversy over a 2007 operation in which the NYPD mapped and photographed all of Newark's mosques and eavesdropped on Muslim businesses. Newark Mayor Cory Booker said he was never told about the surveillance, which he said offended him.

Booker and his police director accused the NYPD of misleading them by not revealing exactly what they were doing. Had they known, they said it never would have been permitted. But Browne said Newark police were told before and after the operation and knew exactly what it entailed.

Kelly, the police commissioner, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg have been emphatic that police only follow legitimate leads of criminal activity and do not conduct preventive surveillance in ethnic communities.

Former and current law enforcement officials either involved in or with direct knowledge of these programs say they did not follow leads. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the secret programs. But the documents support their claims.

The effort highlights one of the most difficult aspects of policing in the age of terrorism. Solving crimes isn't enough; police are expected to identify would-be terrorists and move in before they can attack.

There are no universally agreed upon warning signs for terrorism. Terrorists have used Internet cafes, stayed in hostels, worked out at gyms, visited travel agencies, attended student groups and prayed at mosques. So the NYPD monitored those areas. In doing so, they monitored many innocent people as they went about their daily lives.

Using plainclothes officers from the squad known as the Demographics Unit, police swept Muslim neighborhoods and catalogued the location of mosques. The ethnic makeup of each congregation was logged as police fanned out across the city and outside their jurisdiction, into suburban Long Island and areas of New Jersey.

"African American, Arab, Pakistani," police wrote beneath the photo of one mosque in Newark.

Investigators looked at mosques as the center of Muslim life. All their connections had to be known.

David Cohen, the NYPD's top intelligence officer, wanted a source inside every mosque within a 250-mile radius of New York, current and former officials said. Though the officials said they never managed to reach that goal, documents show the NYPD successfully placed informants or undercovers — sometimes both — into mosques from Westchester County, N.Y., to New Jersey.

The NYPD used these sources to get a sense of the sentiment of worshippers whenever an event generated headlines. The goal, former officials said, was to alert police to potential problems before they bubbled up.

Even when it was clear there were no links to terrorism, the mosque informants gave the NYPD the ability to "take the pulse" of the community, as Cohen and other managers put it.

When New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle and his flight instructor were killed on Oct. 11, 2006, when their small plane crashed into a Manhattan high-rise apartment, fighter planes were scrambled. Within hours the FBI and Homeland Security Department said it was an accident. Terrorism was ruled out.

Yet for days after the event, the NYPD's mosque crawlers reported to police about what they heard at sermons and among worshippers.

At the Brooklyn Islamic Center, a confidential informant "noted chatter among the regulars expressing relief and thanks to God that the crash was only an accident and not an act of terrorism," one report reads.

"The worshippers made remarks to the effect that 'it better be an accident; we don't need any more heat,'" an undercover officer reported from the Al-Tawheed Islamic Center in Jersey City, N.J.

In some instances, the NYPD put cameras on light poles and trained them on mosques, documents show. Because the cameras were in public space, police didn't need a warrant to conduct the surveillance.

Police also wrote down the license plates of cars in mosque parking lots, documents show. In some instances, police in unmarked cars outfitted with electronic license plate readers would drive down the street and record the plates of everyone parked near the mosque, former officials recalled.

"They're viewing Muslims like they're crazy. They're terrorists. They all must be fanatics," said Abdul Akbar Mohammed, the imam for the past eight years at the Masjid Imam Ali K. Muslim in Newark. "That's not right."


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