by Bill Van Auken
World Socialist Web Site
With his choice of Admiral Dennis Blair as director of national intelligence, President-elect Barack Obama has now named three recently retired four-star military officers to serve in his cabinet. This unprecedented representation of the senior officer corps within the incoming Democratic administration is indicative of a growth in the political power of the US military that poses a serious threat to basic democratic rights.
As head of the US military’s Pacific command in 1999-2000, Blair was distinguished by his efforts to solidarize the Pentagon with the military of Indonesia as it carried out butchery in East Timor, effectively vetoing the half-hearted human rights concerns voiced by the Clinton administration.
Before tapping Blair, Obama named former Marine Gen. James Jones as his national security adviser and former Army chief of staff Gen. Erik Shinseki as secretary of veterans affairs. It is also reported that the incoming administration may ask retired Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden to stay on as director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
The Washington Post last Saturday described this concentration of former senior officers in the administration as “an unusual trend for a Democratic administration and one that has surprised both political camps.”
The appointments follow the announcement that Robert Gates, Bush’s defense secretary, will stay on at the Pentagon, where multiple “transition teams” are at work to assure that continuity is maintained in America’s ongoing wars of aggression and that the immense power of the military remains unchecked.
Earlier… Continue reading
TSA Head Disputes Claim, Tells 60 Minutes Measures Are Necessary Because "This
Is A War"
Dec. 21, 2008
(CBS) If you’re one of the millions heading home for the holidays by airplane,
you may be dreading the long lines and intrusive searches that a trip through
an airport checkpoint can mean these days.
Since 9/11, $40 billion has been spent to beef up airport security, with most
of it going to hire 50,000 screeners who enforce rules often considered annoying
Travelers feel so hassled by the screeners that their bosses at TSA, the Transportation
Security Administration, have launched an image makeover and a public relations
campaign to convince the public that there’s a good reason for the inconveniences
Go to a checkpoint and you’ll find passengers bellyaching about the undressing,
the unbuckling, and the taking off of their shoes – which they don’t have to
do in Europe or even Israel, where airline security is especially tight.
There’s a lot of stress, and griping about having to pack their little liquids
into baggies. They resent that each and every traveler is treated like a possible
terrorist, even little old ladies.
When correspondent Lesley Stahl asked Kip Hawley, the outgoing head of TSA,
if all this is really necessary, he wanted us to know that the terrorist threat
has not gone away.
“This is war. These people are trying to kill us. They got on the planes
in September 11th, 2001, killed 3,000 people. And… Continue reading
Stephen C. Webster
A career Army officer who survived the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, claims that no evacuation was ordered inside the Pentagon, despite flight controllers calling in warnings of approaching hijacked aircraft nearly 20 minutes before the building was struck.
According to a time-line of the attacks, the Federal Aviation Administration notified NORAD that American Airlines Flight 77 had been hijacked at 9:24 a.m. The Pentagon was not struck until 9:43 a.m.
On behalf of retired Army officer April Gallop, California attorney William Veale has filed a civil suit against former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney and former US Air Force General Richard Myers, who was acting chairman of the joint chiefs on 9/11. It alleges they engaged in conspiracy to facilitate the terrorist attacks and purposefully failed to warn those inside the Pentagon, contributing to injuries she and her two-month-old son incurred.
“The ex-G.I. plaintiff alleges she has been denied government support since then, because she raised ‘painful questions’ about the inexplicable failure of military defenses at the Pentagon that day, and especially the failure of officials to warn and evacuate the occupants of the building when they knew the attack was imminent” said Veale in a media advisory.
Gallop also says she heard two loud explosions, and does not believe that a Boeing 757 hit the building. Her son sustained a serious brain injury, and Gallop herself was knocked unconscious after the roof collapsed onto her office.
The suit also named… Continue reading
By Joe Dwinell
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Three families who have vowed to hold the airlines and Massport responsible for failing to stop the Sept. 11 terrorists have to wait until March to find whether they’ll get their day in court.
Manhattan federal Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein yesterday delayed his decision on setting a trial date, saying he must decide first on a defendant motion to have FBI and CIA agents testify about the increased terror threat in the weeks before the attacks.
Plaintiff attorney Donald A. Migliori called the motion a ploy to “politicize” the case.
Migliori is representing the families of terror victims Sara Low, 28, a resident of Arkansas who was a Boston-based airline attendant; Mark Bavis, 31, of West Newton, a pro hockey scout; and Barbara Keating, 72, of Palm Springs, Fla., a native of Framingham.
He said the families are blaming Massport, American Airlines [AMR], United Airlines and security companies who allowed terrorists onboard Flight 11 and Flight 175 on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, armed with box cutters and pepper spray.
“My clients are adamant it will go to trial,” said Migliori. He said these last three plaintiffs have kept up the fight fora public trial and an open archive for all to study the national nightmare, as 3,000 other victims’ cases have been settled.
The lead attorney for the airlines could not be reached yesterday.
Hellerstein said he will set a trial date March 2, once he rules on if the CIA and FBI should be called into the case.…Continue reading
December 10, 2008
By AMY WESTFELDT, Associated Press Writer
NEW YORK — Two dozen family members of Sept. 11 victims signed a letter
Wednesday saying they don’t believe in the fairness of the military trials of
five men charged with orchestrating the terrorist attacks, and some suggested
their opinions cost them attendance at the proceedings.
While the family members who attended this week’s proceedings at Guantánamo
Bay Naval Base in Cuba expressed support for the tribunals, they also said "that
many of us do not believe these military commissions to be fair, in accordance
with American values, or capable of achieving the justice that 9/11 family members
and all Americans deserve," according to the letter released by the American
Civil Liberties Union.
Robin Theurkauf, whose husband was killed at the World Trade Center, said she
wanted to attend the proceedings but was denied a spot in a lottery for family
"I testified for the defense in the (Zacarias) Moussaoui trial,"
Theurkauf said, referring to the convicted Sept. 11 conspirator. "I think
I was skipped over because of that."
Lorie Van Auken, whose husband Kenneth was killed at the trade center, also
wanted to attend the hearings. She has been a prominent critic of the Guantánamo
proceedings, accusing the government of using torture to coerce confessions.
"It could be that they didn’t want the critical voices to be heard,"
Van Auken said.
Navy Cmdr. Jeffrey Gordon, a Pentagon spokesman, said Wednedsay that five family
members from a pool of 113… Continue reading
By Paul Craig Roberts
December 05, 2008
The US government
does not have a monopoly on hypocrisy, but no other government can match the
hypocrisy of the US government.
It is now well documented and known all over the world that the US government
tortured detainees at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo and that the US government has
had people kidnaped and “rendentioned,” that is, transported to
third world countries, such as Egypt, to be tortured.
Also documented and well known is the fact that the US Department of Justice
provided written memos justifying the torture of detainees. One torture advocate
who wrote the DOJ memos that gave the green light to the Bush regime’s
use of torture is John Yoo, a Vietnamese immigrant who somehow secured a US
Justice Department appointment and a tenured professorship at the University
of California, Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law. John Yoo is the best case
against immigration that I know.
Members of Berkeley’s city council believe that Yoo should be charged
with war crimes. The US government has charged lesser offenders than Yoo with
war crimes. Yoo helped the DOJ achieve the Bush regime’s goal of finding
a way around the torture prohibitions of both US statutory law and the Geneva
The way around the law that Yoo provided for the sadistic Bush regime was closed
down by the US Supreme Court, which voided Yoo’s arguments, and Yoo’s
torture memo was rescinded by the Department of Justice. Nevertheless, Yoo’s
obvious… Continue reading
by Michael Parenti
December 7, 2008
Author’s website: www.michaelparenti.org.
Barack Obama is on record as advocating a military escalation in Afghanistan.
Before sinking any deeper into that quagmire, we might do well to learn something
about recent Afghan history and the role played by the United States.
Less than a month after the 11 September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center
and the Pentagon, US leaders began an all-out aerial assault upon Afghanistan,
the country purportedly harboring Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda terrorist
organization. More than twenty years earlier, in 1980, the United States intervened
to stop a Soviet “invasion” of that country. Even some leading progressive
writers, who normally take a more critical view of US policy abroad, treated
the US intervention against the Soviet-supported government as “a good
thing.” The actual story is not such a good thing.
Some Real History
Since feudal times the landholding system in Afghanistan had remained unchanged,
with more than 75 percent of the land owned by big landlords who comprised only
3 percent of the rural population. In the mid-1960s, democratic revolutionary
elements coalesced to form the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). In 1973,
the king was deposed, but the government that replaced him proved to be autocratic,
corrupt, and unpopular. It in turn was forced out in 1978 after a massive demonstration
in front of the presidential palace, and after the army intervened on the side
of the demonstrators.
The military officers who took charge invited the… Continue reading
December 1, 2008
Reporting by Zaa Nkweta
Bruce Fein: Army to deal with potential domestic "civil unrest
and crowd control"
Watch this brief news video at TheRealNews.com.
The US federal government has made strong preparations for "continuity
of government" in the event of a national catastrophe. A full army brigade
is now on active duty within domestic borders, and the Bush administration has
issued a directive which allows the president to coordinate all three branches
of the federal government in such an event. The Real News spoke to Bruce Fein.
Bruce Fein is the founder of the American Freedom Agenda, that works to restore
constitutional checks and balances. He served in the US Justice Department under
President Reagan and has been an adjunct scholar with the American Enterprise
Institute, a resident scholar at the Heritage Foundation, a lecturer at the
Brookings Institute, and an adjunct professor at George Washington University.
He is an adviser to Ron Paul.
U.S. Army prepares to invade U.S. corbettreport.
Context of ’1992-2000: Secret Continuity of Government Exercises Prepare for
Terrorist Threat’ – HistoryCommons.org
BACK TO THE BUNKER – washingtonpost.com
TRANSCRIPT: US prepares for "continuity of government"
ZAA NKWETA, TRNN: With recent warnings of potential terrorist attacks coming
from US authorities, civil liberty proponents are growing increasingly concerned
about preparations the federal government is making for a potential emergency
situation. As of October, a full army brigade is on active duty within the United
States to deal… Continue reading
INTRODUCTION UPDATE, continued:
Furthermore, a House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Press Release states:
In February 2008, Dr. Katz sent an e-mail stating “Shh! — Our suicide prevention coordinators are identifying about 1000 suicide attempts per month among the veterans we see in our medical facilities. Is this something we should (carefully) address ourselves in some sort of release before someone stumbles on it?”
[911truth.org Ed.: Note that Katz says here, "...among the veterans we see in our facilities..." This does not count the veterans who couldn't get appointments, whose families tried to commit them before they killed themselves but were turned away, or who were too mentally ill to even seek help...]
See also, “Committee chairman accuses VA of criminal negligence,” in USAToday, May 6, 2008. And from the Rand Corporation, “One In Five Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Suffer from PTSD or Major Depression: Nearly 20 percent of military service members who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan — 300,000 in all — report symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder or major depression, yet only slightly more than half have sought treatment, according to a new RAND Corporation study.” Or this excellent article at The Nation, “On Veterans Day, Don’t Forget About the War” by independent journalist and author, Aaron Glantz, editor of www.warcomeshome.org. Or this new article from the San Francisco Chronicle, “Bases brace for surge in stress-related disorders,” which states: “Some 15,000 soldiers are heading home to this sprawling base after spending more than a year at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and military health officials are bracing for a surge in brain injuries and psychological problems among those troops.…Continue reading
JURIST Contributing Editor Mary Ellen O’Connell of Notre Dame Law School and panel colleagues at a recent Washburn University School of Law symposium on “The Rule of Law and the Global War on Terrorism” offer their consensus on the appropriate way forward on critical issues in international law and policy that will confront President Barack Obama’s Administration when it takes office on January 20, 2009…
Within hours of the attacks of 9/11 the Bush Administration decided to treat the attacks as part of a worldwide war–a new kind of war that would free the Administration to re-write the rules. A “global war on terrorism” was declared and new rules for the targeting, detention and trials of persons suspected of acts of terrorism or membership in terrorist organizations were created. Seven years later, upon the election of a new president, there is an intense debate under way in the United States as to what to do about the “global war” and the laws and institutions resulting from it.
Attorney General Michael Mukasey expressed his views at a meeting of the Federalist Society November 20 and had this to say about the future:
The next Administration will have the opportunity to review the institutions and the legal structures that this Administration has relied upon in keeping the nation safe over the past seven years. I am neither so proud as to think that the next Administration will be unable to make improvements, nor so naÃ¯ve as to think that the policy choices,… Continue reading
November 21, 2008
By William Glaberson
New York Times
A federal judge issued the Bush administration a sharp setback on Thursday, ruling that five Algerian men have been held unlawfully at the Guantánamo Bay detention camp for nearly seven years and ordering their release.
It was the first hearing on the government’s evidence for holding detainees at Guantánamo. The judge, Richard J. Leon of Federal District Court in Washington, said the government’s secret evidence in the case had been weak: what he described as “a classified document from an unnamed source” for its central claim against the men, with little way to measure credibility.
“To rest on so thin a reed would be inconsistent with this court’s obligation,” Judge Leon said. He urged the government not to appeal and said the men should be released “forthwith.”
The habeas corpus case was an important test of the administration’s detention policies, which critics have long argued swept up innocent men and low-level foot soldiers along with hardened fighters and terrorist commanders.
The judge also ruled that a sixth Algerian man was being lawfully detained because he was a facilitator for Al Qaeda, arranging travel for others to fight the United States, and planned to become a fighter himself.
The six men are among a group of Guantánamo inmates who won a 5-to-4 Supreme Court ruling in June that the detainees had a constitutional right to seek their release in federal court. The decision said a 2006 law unconstitutionally stripped them of their right to contest their imprisonment in habeas corpus lawsuits.…Continue reading
Refuse to Tolerate Torture
By Linda Rigas
November 18, 2008
Posted at FireJohnYoo.org
Excerpts from Scott Horton’s Justice
After Bush: Prosecuting An Outlaw Administration in Harper’s Magazine.
This administration did more than commit crimes. It waged war against the law
itself. It transformed the Justice Department into a vehicle for voter suppression,
and it also summarily dismissed the U.S. attorneys who attempted to investigate
its wrongdoing. It issued wartime contracts to substandard vendors with inside
connections, and it also defunded efforts to police their performance. It spied
on church groups and political protestors, and it also introduced a sweeping
surveillance program that was so clearly illegal that virtually the entire senior
echelon of the Justice Department threatened to (but did not in fact) tender
their resignations over it. It waged an illegal and disastrous war, and it did
so by falsely representing to Congress and to the American public nearly every
piece of intelligence it had on Iraq. And through it all, as if to underscore
its contempt for any authority but its own, the administration issued more than
a hundred carefully crafted “signing statements” that raised pervasive
doubt about whether the president would even accede to bills that he himself
had signed into law.
No prior administration has been so systematically or so brazenly lawless.
[...] Indeed, in weighing the enormity of the administration’s transgression
against the realistic prospect of justice, it is possible to determine not only
the crime that calls most clearly for prosecution but also the crime that is
most likely to be successfully prosecuted.…
By Randall Mikkelsen
Nov 7, 2008
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The FBI tracked about 108,000 potential terrorism threats
or suspicious incidents from mid-2004 to November 2007, but most were found
groundless, a Justice Department review found on Friday.
The department’s office of inspector general gave the figure in an audit of
the FBI’s terrorism case-tracking system, called Guardian, launched in 2002
after the September 11 attacks.
"The FBI determined that the overwhelming majority of the threat information
documented in Guardian had no nexus to terrorism. However, as a result of information
reported in Guardian the FBI initiated over 600 criminal and terrorism-related
investigations from October 2006 to December 2007," the inspector general’s
The report did not discuss the result of the investigations.
FBI policy requires that each threat or suspicious incident reported by the
public or other government agencies and law enforcement officers be reviewed
to determine whether there is a link to terrorism.
The report expressed concern over delays in the development of a related system,
called E-Guardian, for sharing terrorism-related information with local law
enforcement. It said the automated Guardian system had improved since it was
first implemented, and the number of incidents tracked had grown dramatically.
FBI spokesman John Miller said the agency had implemented steps to resolve
concerns and it accepted recommendations made by the inspector general.
(Editing by Mohammad Zargham)
West Virginia Department of Education
October 21, 2008
BUCKHANNON, W.Va. – John Feal, founding president of the FealGood Foundation and a demolition expert who worked at Ground Zero following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, will bring his message to Upshur County students and residents on Friday, Oct. 24. Feal and up to seven other first responders will meet with students at Buchannon Upshur High School beginning at 8:30 a.m. The group will meet with the community later in the day.
Feal, like 70 percent of 9/11 workers, suffers from post-9/11 illnesses. One of his feet had to be amputated after being crushed by an eight-ton steel beam. He also suffers from a respiratory syndrome called World Trade Center Cough and posttraumatic stress disorder.
Feal agreed to visit West Virginia after some Buckhannon-Upshur High School students contacted him via e-mail after watching a documentary in health educator Mateal Poling’s class. The documentary, Save the Brave, chronicles the daily struggles of 9/11 Ground Zero workers in the seven years since the attacks. Greg Quibell, one of the men featured, died of his injuries the day before the film’s premiere in New York.
“You have no idea how excited they were when Feal replied — me too,” Poling said. “It is hard to imagine that these kids were only first and second graders on 9/11, but thanks to Feal’s efforts, our students are starting to have a better understanding of the profound effects of that day.”
Feal said he is “humbled and honored to meet such amazing Americans.”
“They are a reflection of the teacher who has taught them well,” Feal said.…Continue reading
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 16, 2008 CONTACT: Jason Lemieux, firstname.lastname@example.org, 760-409-9403 or Kristofer Goldsmith, email@example.com, 516-457-1260
Iraq War Veterans Arrested While Attempting to Deliver Questions to Obama and McCain
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. — One hour before the final presidential debate of the 2008 campaign, fourteen members of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) marched in formation to Hofstra University to present questions to the candidates. IVAW had requested permission from debate moderator Bob Schieffer to ask their questions during the debate, but received no response.
The contingent of veterans in dress and combat uniforms attempted to enter the building where the debate was to be held in order to ask questions about poor veterans’ healthcare and supporting war resisters of the candidates, but were turned back by police. IVAW members at the front of the formation were immediately arrested, and others were pushed back into the crowd by police on horseback. Several members were injured, including former Army Sergeant Nick Morgan who suffered a broken cheekbone when he was trampled by police horses before being arrested.
“Neither of the candidates has shown real support for service members and veterans. We came here to try and have serious questions answered, questions that we as veterans of the Iraq war have a right to ask, but instead we were arrested. We will continue to ask these questions no matter who is elected. We believe that the time has come to end this war and bring our troops home, and we will be pushing for that no matter what happens in this election.” said Jason Lemieux, a former Sergeant in the US Marine Corps who served three tours in Iraq, and member of IVAW.…Continue reading
October 7, 2008
By William Glaberson
WASHINGTON — A federal judge on Tuesday ordered the Bush administration to release 17 detainees at Guantánamo Bay by the end of the week, the first such ruling in nearly seven years of legal disputes over the administration’s detention policies.
The judge, Ricardo M. Urbina of Federal District Court, ordered that the 17 men be brought to his courtroom on Friday from the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where they have been held since 2002. He indicated that he would release the men, members of the restive Uighur Muslim minority in western China, into the care of supporters in the United States, initially in the Washington area.
“I think the moment has arrived for the court to shine the light of constitutionality on the reasons for detention,” Judge Urbina said.
Saying the men had never fought the United States and were not a security threat, he tersely rejected Bush administration claims that he lacked the power to order the men set free in the United States and government requests that he stay his order to permit an immediate appeal.
The ruling was a sharp setback for the administration, which has waged a long legal battle to defend its policies of detention at the naval base at Guantánamo Bay, arguing a broad executive power in waging war. Federal courts up to the Supreme Court have waded through detention questions and in several major cases the courts have rejected administration contentions.
The government recently conceded that… Continue reading
Guidelines Released Amid Protest from Congress, Privacy Groups and American Public
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — 10/3/2008
CONTACT: (202) 675-2312 or firstname.lastname@example.org
(212) 519-7829 or 549-2666 or email@example.com
Washington, DC — New FBI guidelines governing investigations were released today after being signed by Attorney General Michael Mukasey. The American Civil Liberties Union quickly blasted the Department of Justice and FBI for ignoring calls for more stringent protections of Americans’ rights. The guidelines replace existing bureau guidelines for five types of investigations: general criminal, national security, foreign intelligence, civil disorders and demonstrations. The ACLU has been vocal in its disapproval of the overly broad guidelines, citing both the FBI’s and DOJ’s documented records of internal abuse.
The new guidelines reduce standards for beginning “assessments” (precursors to investigations), conducting surveillance and gathering evidence, meaning the threshold to beginning investigations across the board will be lowered. More troubling still, the guidelines allow a person’s race or ethnic background to be used as a factor in opening an investigation, a move the ACLU believes may institute racial profiling as a matter of policy.
“The attorney general today gave the FBI a blank check to open investigations of innocent Americans based on no meaningful suspicion of wrongdoing,” said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU. “The new guidelines provide no safeguards against the FBI’s improperly using race and religion as grounds for suspicion. They also fail to sufficiently prevent the government from infiltrating groups whose viewpoints it doesn’t like. The FBI has shown time and… Continue reading
Interview with Naomi Wolf author of “Give Me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries” given October 4, 2008 on Mind Over Matters, KEXP 90.3 FM Seattle.
10/5/08: CNN reports on the October 1st assignment of active duty army within US. Note this sentence: “The U.S. military ‘is not a Swiss Army knife,’ ready to fight the Taliban one week, respond to a hurricane the next and put down a major political protest the third week…” (emphasis added).
Excuse me? ‘Putting down’ political protest is now what our Army has been assigned to do? But, wait — I thought this was America… ?