BY JOHN TOSCANO
February 6, 2008
New York lawmakers in Washington who have been persistently pressing the White
House for increased funding for healthcare programs for ailing 9/11 World Trade
Center workers were jolted last week when President George W. Bush’s proposed
budget slashed those programs by 77 percent.
Only last Wednesday, they pointed out, a White House spokesman had issued a
statement that the president’s 2009 budget would "reflect his continued
commitment" to WTC workers. In reality, the budget issued appropriated
a paltry $25 million, down from $108 million in the present spending plan.
"This dramatic and unwarranted cut flies in the face of common sense,
compassion and just plain fairness," Senator Charles Schumer declared as
he promised to "fight these cuts tooth and nail to ensure these heroes
receive the health care they need and clearly deserve".
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton stated she was "disappointed and saddened
to see that the president chose not to acknowledge the clear healthcare needs
of these heroes", and Congressmember Carolyn Maloney said it was "shocking
that the president would use his final budget to take an axe to the 9/11 healthcare
Maloney (D- Queens/Manhattan) noted: "Just a few weeks ago, the administration
canceled a program for 9/11 responders from around the country because they
said it lacked funding, and now they release a budget that doesn’t even ask
for the money they said they needed.
"The administration has failed in every single one of its budget proposals
to deliver adequate help… Continue reading
by Glenn Greenwald
Published on Sunday, February 3, 2008 by Salon.com
Ever since the President’s illegal warrantless eavesdropping program was revealed by the New York Times’ Jim Risen and Eric Lichtblau back in December, 2005, there has been a faction of neoconservatives and other extremists on the Right calling for the NYT reporters and editors to be criminally prosecuted — led by the likes of Bill Kristol (now of the NYT), Bill Bennett (of CNN), Commentary Magazine and many others. In May, 2006, Alberto Gonzales went on ABC News and revealed that the DOJ had commenced a criminal investigation into the leak, and then “raised the possibility  that New York Times journalists could be prosecuted for publishing classified information.”
That was one of the more revealing steps ever taken by Bush’s DOJ under Gonzales: the administration violated multiple federal laws for years in spying on Americans, blocked all efforts to investigate what they did or subject it to the rule of law, but then decided that the only real criminals were those who alerted the nation to their lawbreaking — whistleblowers and journalists alike. Even Gonzales’ public musing about criminal prosecutions could have had a devastating effect — if you’re a whistleblower or journalist who uncovers secret government lawbreaking, you’re obviously going to think twice (at least) before bringing it to light, given the public threats by the Attorney General to criminally prosecute those who do.
Eighteen months have passed since Gonzales’ threats, and while there have been… Continue reading
Rudy Giuliani and Air Quality After 9/11
by Andrea Bernstein
NEW YORK, NY January 23, 2008 —In his run for President, Mayor Rudy
Giuliani has showcased his leadership on 9/11 and in the days, weeks, and months
that followed. His actions in those days have been widely hailed. But far less
understood is how he responded to early concerns about the air quality in Lower
Manhattan. WNYC’s Andrea Bernstein has the first of two reports.
REPORTER: After the initial shock of the attacks, it took less than 24 hours
for reporters to start raising questions.
REPORTER: How about asbestos, because the buildings had a lot of asbestos?
GIULIANI: There are concerns about asbestos and at this point it does not appear
as if there is an undue amount of asbestos in the atmosphere but those are very
REPORTER: Very early on, both the city and the federal environmental protection
agency had data that showed spikes in the levels of asbestos in Lower Manhattan.
The official interpretation was that those levels were anomalies. All information
was coming through daily briefings held by Mayor Giuliani.
That week, the pressure to reopen Wall Street was immense. Kathryn Wylde, head
of the New York City partnership, was in on early meetings.
WYLDE: There was talk by the banking regulators of having business and financial
services institutions moving their operations 300 miles outside New York so
they would be a quote nuclear distance away.
REPORTER: By September 17 the New York Stock… Continue reading
A city councilman and the cops don’t want you to have that Geiger counter without their permission
by Chris Thompson
Damn you, Osama bin Laden! Here’s another rotten thing you’ve done to us: After 9/11, untold thousands of New Yorkers bought machines that detect traces of biological, chemical, and radiological weapons. But a lot of these machines didn’t work right, and when they registered false alarms, the police had to spend millions of dollars chasing bad leads and throwing the public into a state of raw panic.
OK, none of that has actually happened. But Richard Falkenrath, the NYPD’s deputy commissioner for counterterrorism, knows that it’s just a matter of time. That’s why he and Mayor Michael Bloomberg have asked the City Council to pass a law requiring anyone who wants to own such detectors to get a permit from the police first. And it’s not just devices to detect weaponized anthrax that they want the power to control, but those that detect everything from industrial pollutants to asbestos in shoddy apartments. Want to test for pollution in low-income neighborhoods with high rates of childhood asthma? Gotta ask the cops for permission. Why? So you “will not lead to excessive false alarms and unwarranted anxiety,” the first draft of the law states.
Last week, Falkenrath made his case for the new law before the City Council’s Public Safety Committee, where Councilman Peter Vallone introduced the bill and chaired the hearing. Dozens of university researchers, public-health professionals, and environmental lawyers sat… Continue reading
By Paul Craig Roberts
01/04/08 “ICH ” — – What was the greatest failure of 2007? President Bush’s “surge” in Iraq? The decline in the value of the US dollar? Subprime mortgages? No. The greatest failure of 2007 was the newly sworn in Democratic Congress.
The American people’s attempt in November 2006 to rein in a rogue government, which has committed the US to costly military adventures while running roughshod over the US Constitution, failed. Replacing Republicans with Democrats in the House and Senate has made no difference.
The assault on the US Constitution by the Democratic Party is as determined as the assault by the Republicans. On October 23, 2007, the House passed a bill sponsored by California Democratic congresswoman Jane Harman, chairwoman of a Homeland Security subcommittee, that overturns the constitutionally guaranteed rights to free expression, association, and assembly.
The bill passed the House on a vote of 404-6. In the Senate the bill is sponsored by Maine Republican Susan Collins and apparently faces no meaningful opposition.
Harman’s bill is called the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act. When HR 1955 becomes law, it will create a commission tasked with identifying extremist people, groups, and ideas. The commission will hold hearings around the country, taking testimony and compiling a list of dangerous people and beliefs. The bill will, in short, create massive terrorism in the United States. But the perpetrators of terrorism will not be Muslim terrorists; they will be government agents and fellow citizens.
We are beginning to see who will be the inmates of the detention centers being built in the US by Halliburton under government contract.…Continue reading
By Ray McGovern
December 27, 2007
“There are few things as odd as the calm, superior indifference with which I and those like me watched the beginnings of the Nazi revolution in Germany, as if from a box at the theater. … Perhaps the only comparably odd thing is the way that now, years later….”
These are the words of Sebastian Haffner (pen name for Raimund Pretzel), who as a young lawyer in Berlin during the 1930s experienced the Nazi takeover and wrote a first-hand account. His children found the manuscript when he died in 1999 and published it the following year as “Geschichte eines Deutschen” (The Story of a German).
The book became an immediate bestseller and has been translated into 20 languages–in English as “Defying Hitler.”
I recently learned from his daughter Sarah, an artist in Berlin, that today is the 100th anniversary of Haffner’s birth. She had seen an earlier article in which I quoted her father and e-mailed to ask me to “write some more about the book and the comparison to Bush’s America. … This is almost unbelievable.”
More about Haffner below. Let’s set the stage first by recapping some of what has been going on that may have resonance for readers familiar with the Nazi ascendancy, noting how “odd” it is that the frontal attack on our Constitutional rights is met with such “calm, superior indifference.”
Goebbels Would be Proud
It has been two years since top New York Times officials decided to let the rest of us in on the fact that the George W.…Continue reading
December 27, 2007
By Paul Craig Roberts
"They’re locking them up today
They’re throwing away the key
I wonder who it’ll be tomorrow, you or me?"
The Red Telephone (LOVE, 1967)
At Christmas time it has been my habit to write a column in remembrance of
the many innocent people in prisons whose lives have been stolen by the US criminal
justice (sic) system that is as inhumane as it is indifferent to justice. Usually
I retell the cases of William Strong and Christophe Gaynor, two men framed in
the state of Virginia by prosecutors and judges as wicked and corrupt as any
who served Hitler or Stalin.
This year is different. All Americans are now imprisoned in a world of lies
and deception created by the Bush Regime and the two complicit parties of Congress,
by federal judges too timid or ignorant to recognize a rogue regime running
roughshod over the Constitution, by a bought and paid for media that serves
as propagandists for a regime of war criminals, and by a public who have forsaken
their Founding Fathers.
Americans are also imprisoned by fear, a false fear created by the hoax of
"terrorism." It has turned out that headline terrorist events since
9/11 have been orchestrated by the US government. For example, the alleged terrorist
plot to blow up Chicago’s Sears Tower was the brainchild of a FBI agent who
searched out a few disaffected people to give lip service to the plot devised
by the FBI agent.… Continue reading
According to Jessica Lee of Indypendent and Kamau Karl Franklin of the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act was penned with plenty of help from the RAND Corporation.
“Rep. Jane Harman, Democrat from California, has had a lengthy relationship with the Rand Corporation,” Lee tells Democracy Now, although she was unable to determine if RAND wrote the bill. On the 12th anniversary of the OKC bombing, Rep. Harman, as chair of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment, introduced the bill in the House of Representatives.
“The ‘Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007′ seeks to address the roots causes of radicalization, and would establish a grant program to provide funds to States to foster badly needed vertical information sharing from the Intelligence Community to the local level and from local sources to state and federal agencies,” explains Harman’s website. “It also creates a Center of Excellence for the Prevention of Radicalization and Home Grown Terrorism to examine the social, criminal, political, psychological and economic roots of domestic terrorism and to propose solutions, and promotes international collaboration on strategies to combat radicalization.”
Franklin mentions Brian Michael Jenkins, an “expert” on “terrorism, counterinsurgency, and homeland security,” according to RAND. Jenkins is “someone who helped the United States in counterinsurgency measures in Vietnam,” states Franklin. “In addition to that, he wrote a book, and in his own book” Jenkins declared that “in their international campaign, the jihadists will seek common ground… Continue reading
Ministry of Mythinformation Blog
Concerning the graduated repression of the Nazi regime, the Reverend Martin Niemoller, in 1945, stated, to the effect:
First they came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up, because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me.
Though this quote has taken on many forms and endured several disputes, the ultimate interpretation stands. That silence about liberty infractions equals civil death.
Further, on the notion of leading the public headstrong into oblivion, the Nazis said it best:
“Naturally the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia , nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany . That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.” Hermann Goering, 1946… Continue reading
By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS
October 27, 2007
Americans had best rethink the “war on terror” while they still have
the liberty to do so. For all of President Bush’s blah-blah talk about bringing
democracy to the world, the Bush administration has proved that it is no friend
of liberty at home.
The Bush administration has violated constitutional principles, US law, and
the Geneva Conventions as no previous administration has done. Here is a short
list of the Bush administration’s crimes:
Spying without court warrants on Americans in violation of both the US Constitution
and the FISA statute.
The denial of habeas corpus, attorney-client privilege, due process, and Geneva
Conventions protections to those, American or foreign, designated without evidence
as terrorists or enemy combatants.
The justification and use of torture to coerce confessions and the kidnapping
of foreign nationals who are sent to be tortured in foreign prisons.
The initiation of military aggression against states based on intentional deception
by the Bush administration of the US public and the United Nations, and the
intentional fabrication of “evidence” to justify unprovoked aggression
against sovereign states, which is a war crime under the Nuremberg standard
established by the US.
Violation of the oath of office to defend the US Constitution by practically
every member of the Bush administration and Congress.
Bush has assaulted the separation of powers and the rule of law with “signing
statements” and “executive orders” that President Nixon’s White
House Counsel John Dean says are commands that treat the co-equal… Continue reading
by Naomi Wolf
November 4, 2007
I have argued that in the closing stages of a `fascist shift’, events cascade.
I am hearing about them, even across the globe. Here in Australia I hear from
the nation’s best-know feminist activist, and former adviser to Paul Keating,
Anne Summers, who was also at the time this took place Chair of the Board of
Greenpeace International. Summers was detained by armed agents for FIVE HOURS
each way in LAX on her way to and from the annual meeting of the board of Greenpeace
International in Mexico, and her green card was taken away from her. `I want
to call a lawyer’, she told TSA agents. `Ma’am, you do not have a right to call
an attorney,’ they replied. `You have not entered the United States.’
Apparently a section of LAX just beyond the security line is asserted to be
`not in the United States’ — though it is squarely inside the airport — so
the laws of the US do not apply. (This assertion, by the way, should alarm any
US citizen who is aware of how the White House argued that Guantánamo is not
`in the United States’ – is a legal no-man’s land — so the laws of the US do
not apply.) Toward the end of her second five-hour detention she asked, `Why
am I being detained?’ `Lady, this is not detention,’ the TSA agent told her.
`Detention is when I take you to the cells out… Continue reading
Posted on Oct 29, 2007
By Chris Hedges
A Dallas jury, a week ago, caused a mistrial in the government case against this country’s largest Islamic charity. The action raises a defiant fist on the sinking ship of American democracy.
If we lived in a state where due process and the rule of law could curb the despotism of the Bush administration, this mistrial might be counted a victory. But we do not. The jury may have rejected the federal government’s claim that the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development funneled millions of dollars to Middle Eastern terrorists. It may have acquitted Mohammad el-Mezain, the former chairman of the foundation, of virtually all criminal charges related to funding terrorism (the jury deadlocked on one of the 32 charges against el-Mezain), and it may have deadlocked on the charges that had been lodged against four other former leaders of the charity, but don’t be fooled. This mistrial will do nothing to impede the administration’s ongoing contempt for the rule of law. It will do nothing to stop the curtailment of our civil liberties and rights. The grim march toward a police state continues.
Constitutional rights are minor inconveniences, noisome chatter, flies to be batted away on the steady road to despotism. And no one, not the courts, not the press, not the gutless Democratic opposition, not a compliant and passive citizenry hypnotized by tawdry television spectacles and celebrity gossip, seems capable of stopping the process. Those in power know this.… Continue reading
UPDATE: Since this article was written, H.R. 1955 was passed in the House, by a vote of 404-3. Roll call posted at http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2007/roll993.xml
October 25, 2007
By Col. Dan Smith
Congresswoman Jane Harman has introduced legislation–H.R. 1955: “Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism”–that is expected to be referred to the House Rules Committee for assignment of floor time for debate by the House. This is a bill that is unneeded, unwise, and unfortunately will pass and be signed into law as it purports to be part of the response to 9/11 and the global war on terror.
At base, Harman’s proposal seems to be a direct attack on First Amendment rights. No where is this more clear than in the third introductory paragraph (the “where as” section) that provides the context for the action desired. Specifically, this legislation aims at the unregulated nature of the Internet:
“The Internet has aided in facilitating violent radicalization, ideologically based violence, and the homegrown terrorism process in the United States by providing access to broad and constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda to United States citizens.”
Moreover, Harman is telling the American public, citizens and permanent residents, that they are too dumb to recognize hate speech, demonizing rhetoric, and propaganda, and are so morally immature that they are not capable of knowing when to “blow off” terrorists and their messages designed to incite large scale insurrection
One also gets the impression that Harman believes that terrorist criminality has become so wide and the number of people… Continue reading
NY Times Op-Ed Contributor
By STUDS TERKEL
Published: October 29, 2007
EARLIER this month, the Senate Intelligence Committee and the White House agreed
to allow the executive branch to conduct dragnet interceptions of the electronic
communications of people in the United States. They also agreed to “immunize”
American telephone companies from lawsuits charging that after 9/11 some companies
collaborated with the government to violate the Constitution and existing federal
law. I am a plaintiff in one of those lawsuits, and I hope Congress thinks carefully
before denying me, and millions of other Americans, our day in court.
During my lifetime, there has been a sea change in the way that politically
active Americans view their relationship with government. In 1920, during my
youth, I recall the Palmer raids in which more than 10,000 people were rounded
up, most because they were members of particular labor unions or belonged to
groups that advocated change in American domestic or foreign policy. Unrestrained
surveillance was used to further the investigations leading to these detentions,
and the Bureau of Investigation — the forerunner to the F.B.I. —
eventually created a database on the activities of individuals. This activity
continued through the Red Scare of the period.
In the 1950s, during the sad period known as the McCarthy era, one’s
political beliefs again served as a rationale for government monitoring. Individual
corporations and entire industries were coerced by government leaders into informing
on individuals and barring their ability to earn a living.
I was among… Continue reading
The Fourth Amendment
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Retroactive immunity for telecom companies who engaged in illegal spying at the behest of the NSA is at the heart of a bill currently being considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill, even before having been officially introduced, is being hotly debated by bloggers, electronic privacy groups, and civil libertarians, as well as presidential contenders (CT Senator Chris Dodd has actually posted a petition at his election website, encouraging readers to support his threatened “hold” on the bill). We should compare the issues involved here with the retroactive immunity provided CIA interrogators in the September, 2006 Military Commissions Act, who could otherwise have been accused of war crimes.
Below, we direct readers to an important series of programs from PBS’ Frontline to help readers investigate the background of this issue, and a deeper consideration of some of what’s at stake in continually ceding power to a rogue Executive bent on dissolving the few civil liberties which currently remain untouched.
Lest readers be swayed by the Administration’s repeated argument that “9/11 makes this necessary,” the Rocky Mountain News reported (emphasis added) on October 11, 2007 that this spying was underway well before 9/11/01:
… Continue reading
“The National Security Agency and other government agencies retaliated against Qwest because the Denver telco refused to go along with a phone spying program, documents released Wednesday suggest.
by Mitch Albom
Free Press Columnist
October 21, 2007
This should make you angrier than you have been over almost anything since
Sept. 11 — and that includes the war in Iraq.
A recent report showed that 75% of fake bombs or bomb parts got past Transportation
Security Administration security at Los Angeles International Airport and 60%
got past TSA screeners at Chicago’s O’Hare.
Those are two of the busiest airports in the world. Those are two of the juiciest
targets a terrorist could desire.
Seventy-five percent? Three out of four times? We are constantly hearing the
tired and misguided phrase “fight ‘em over there so we don’t have to fight
They needn’t bother with us over there. With a 75% chance of success, why would
they go anywhere BUT here?
The heart of the matter
Now, the reason this news should have you outraged — and more importantly,
why our president and his national security team should be outraged — is this
failure draws a straight line to the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and that
field in Pennsylvania six years ago.
Unlike Iraq, which had nothing to do with the actual explosions of Sept. 11,
airport security was at the heart of that tragedy. Tighter security, from passenger
identity to spotting box cutters, could have thwarted that day.
Can you imagine how our lives would be different if those 19 hijackers had
been stopped? Think about every security issue you now face in daily life, think
about the economic drain on this nation, think about the war, the lives lost,
the political hate, and all of it goes back to how those men got on those planes.…
‘A Coup Has Occurred’
By Daniel Ellsberg
September 26, 2007 (Text of a speech delivered September 20, 2007)
Consortium Editor’s Note: Daniel Ellsberg, the former
Defense Department analyst who leaked the secret Pentagon Papers history of
the Vietnam War, offered insights into the looming war with Iran and the loss
of liberty in the United States at an American University symposium on Sept.
Below is an edited transcript of Ellsberg’s remarkable speech:
I think nothing has higher priority than averting an attack on Iran, which
I think will be accompanied by a further change in our way of governing here
that in effect will convert us into what I would call a police state.
If there’s another 9/11 under this regime … it means that they
switch on full extent all the apparatus of a police state that has been patiently
constructed, largely secretly at first but eventually leaked out and known and
accepted by the Democratic people in Congress, by the Republicans and so forth.
Will there be anything left for NSA to increase its surveillance of us? …
They may be to the limit of their technical capability now, or they may not.
But if they’re not now they will be after another 9/11.
And I would say after the Iranian retaliation to an American attack on Iran,
you will then see an increased attack on Iran — an escalation —
which will be also accompanied by a total suppression of dissent in this country,
including… Continue reading
Astute readers have brought some virtual outrage to our attention in the last few days, which we’re passing on here, in hopes it will be of help to you in making decisions about virtual privacy and safety, and as yet more evidence that the practice of censoring ‘inconvenient’ truth is alive and well right here in the good ol’ USofA. These readers reported that an internet search for 911truth.org, using Google’s search engine, no longer finds 911truth.org in the results!
Intrepid researchers that we are, we tried this for ourselves and, indeed, they’re right! Go ahead…try it. Enter “911truth.org” in a Google search bar and you’ll find, currently, the first entry in response is some unheard of site based in the country Nauru. (Nauru?, we asked ourselves, wondering how we could possibly have missed that in geography class. Wikipedia helped with that oversight. Ah, but, of course! It’s that 8.1 square mile phosphate rock island in Micronesia, whose government “has resorted to unusual measures to obtain income.” Briefly a tax haven and money laundering center, Nauru now houses a detention center for Australian asylum seekers.) Well, then–that explains it, eh?
So then, the site with the greatest number of hits which most closely matches the search string “911truth.org” is … not … 911truth.org? In fact, the main (index) page of 911truth.org isn’t even in the list generated by a Google search for ’911truth.org’! A page from our site linking to the Chicago conference we hosted in June 2006 shows up.… Continue reading