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Accountability

PBS: NSA could have prevented 9/11 hijackings

Muriel Kane

RawStory.com

The super-secretive National Security Agency has been quietly monitoring, decrypting, and interpreting foreign communications for decades, starting long before it came under criticism as a result of recent revelations about the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program. Now a forthcoming PBS documentary asks whether the NSA could have prevented 9/11 if it had been more willing to share its data with other agencies.

Author James Bamford looked into the performance of the NSA in his 2008 book, The Shadow Factory, and found that it had been closely monitoring the 9/11 hijackers as they moved freely around the United States and communicated with Osama bin Laden’s operations center in Yemen. The NSA had even tapped bin Laden’s satellite phone, starting in 1996.

“The NSA never alerted any other agency that the terrorists were in the United States and moving across the country towards Washington,” Bamford told PBS.

PBS also found that “the 9/11 Commission never looked closely into NSA’s role in the broad intelligence breakdown behind the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks. If they had, they would have understood the full extent to which the agency had major pieces of the puzzle but never put them together or disclosed their entire body of knowledge to the CIA and the FBI.”

In a review of Bamford’s book, former senator and 9/11 Commission member Bob Kerrey wrote, “As the 9/11 Commission later established, U.S. intelligence officials knew that al-Qaeda had held a planning meeting in Malaysia, found out the names of two recruits who had been present — Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi — and suspected that one and maybe both of them had flown to Los Angeles.…

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Obama order could present problems for Rove

John Byrne
January 27, 2009
RawStory.com

A little-noticed twist in an order issued by President Barack Obama the day
after his inauguration may present problems for former White House Deputy Chief
of Staff Karl Rove and other Bush Administration officials that have been targeted
for their alleged role in various scandals.

Rove was subpoenaed Monday afternoon by House Judiciary Committee Chairman
John Conyers (D-MI). When the dogged Democrat subpoenaed him last year, Bush
Administration lawyers invoked “executive immunity” to prevent Rove
from testifying.

This year, however, George W. Bush is no longer in the president’s chair. Determination
of executive privilege must now also be examined by President Obama’s lawyers.
In fact, Rove’s lawyer made direct reference to Obama’s role in any future decision
to enjoin Rove’s appearance on the congressional witness stand Monday night.

“It’s generally agreed that former presidents retain executive privilege
as to matters occurring during their term,” Rove’s lawyer, Robert Luskin,
told The Washington Post. “We’ll solicit the views of the new White House
counsel and, if there is a disagreement, assume that the matter will be resolved
among the courts, the president and the former president.”

Luskin doesn’t concede that Rove isn’t covered by Bush’s blanket immunity,
but appears to acknowledge that the question of keeping Rove off the witness
stand has become more complex.

“The Attorney General and the Counsel to the President, in the exercise
of their discretion and after appropriate review and consultation under subsection
(a) of this section, may jointly determine that… Continue reading

September 11th Advocates Statement Re. Gitmo Closing

For immediate release
January 23, 2009

The Guantánamo Bay Detention Center continues to be an enormous stain on America’s
reputation. Newly elected President Obama has taken the first step in removing
this stain by keeping his campaign promise to the American people.

The temporary halting of proceedings at Gitmo gives us the “audacity
to hope” that President Obama will be able to restore America’s good name,
which has been repeatedly tarnished during the past eight years.

We appreciate the tough decisions that President Obama has been forced to make
and admire him for taking these difficult tasks on. We look forward to hearing
his plan for closing Guantánamo Bay forever, finding a just way to try the detainees
and putting an end to this horrific chapter in America’s history.

# # #

Patty Casazza
Monica Gabrielle
Mindy Kleinberg
Lorie Van Auken

Additonally, please see earlier statement below, which further explains our
position.

September 11th Advocates Statement

April 3, 2008

As women whose husbands were killed on September 11 2001, we feel strongly
that the perpetrators of that horrific crime should be brought to justice. But
first it is imperative to prove that these six detainees are indeed the guilty
parties.

Unfortunately, the Administration insists on trying the suspects in the broken
military commissions system. Prosecuting these men within a system that is secretive
in nature and lacking in due process, and which uses evidence tainted by questionable
interrogation methods and possibly even torture, is a dangerous endeavor. All
Americans, and… Continue reading

Letter from Open Government Groups to Senate Armed Services Committee re. Nomination of William J. Lynn III

January 23, 2009
Project on Government Oversight

Honorable Carl Levin, Chairman
U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services
228 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Honorable John McCain, Ranking Member
U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services
228 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Levin and Senator McCain,

The undersigned groups commends you, Chairman Levin, for your decision to wait to evaluate the impact of President Obama’s new revolving door restrictions requiring appointees to recuse themselves from work related to their former employer or clients, as well as from matters or issues for which he lobbied. Proceeding with the nomination of William J. Lynn III, a former Raytheon Company lobbyist, to the position of Deputy Secretary of Defense clearly violates President Obama’s Executive Order (EO). We believe your cautious approach is an important exercise of congressional oversight. Upon reviewing the President’s just released EO and its waiver provisions we urge you to go one step further and reject the nomination of Mr. Lynn.

This letter is not to suggest that Mr. Lynn is not qualified for the position. Before the President issued his Ethics Commitment by Executive Branch Personnel Executive Order, there would have been little ground for questioning the proposed nomination of Mr. Lynn. However, given that the new pledge required by President Obama is written to preclude any appointee from participating “in any particular matter on which I lobbied within the 2 years before the date of my appointment,” or accepting “employment with any executive agency… Continue reading

UN Rapporteur: Initiate criminal proceedings against Bush and Rumsfeld now

By Scott Horton
January 22, 2009
Harper’s

In an interview on Tuesday evening with the German television program “Frontal 21,” on channel ZDF Professor Manfred Nowak, the United Nations Rapporteur responsible for torture, stated that with George W. Bush’s head of state immunity now terminated, the new government of Barack Obama was obligated by international law to commence a criminal investigation into Bush’s torture practices.

“The evidence is sitting on the table,” he stated. “There is no avoiding the fact that this was torture.” He pointed to the U.S. undertakings under the Convention Against Torture in which the country committed that it would criminally prosecute anyone who tortured, or extradite the person to a state that would prosecute him. “The government of the United States is required to take all necessary steps to bring George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld before a court,” Nowak said.

Manfred Nowak, an internationally renowned law professor at the University of Vienna, currently serves as an independent expert for the United Nations looking at allegations of torture affecting member states. In 2006, he undertook a special investigation of conditions at the U.S. detention facilities at Guantánamo in which he concluded that practices approved by the Bush Administration violated human rights norms, including the prohibition against torture.

The ZDF piece also includes an interview with attorney Wolfgang Kaleck, who brought charges against Rumsfeld before German prosecutors. He states that the Obama administration is “off to a good beginning” with its explicit renunciation of torture,… Continue reading

Detainee Tortured, Says U.S. Official–Trial Overseer Cites ‘Abusive’ Methods Against 9/11 Suspect

By Bob Woodward
Washington Post Staff Writer
Page A01

The top Bush administration official in charge of deciding whether to bring Guantánamo Bay detainees to trial has concluded that the U.S. military tortured a Saudi national who allegedly planned to participate in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, interrogating him with techniques that included sustained isolation, sleep deprivation, nudity and prolonged exposure to cold, leaving him in a “life-threatening condition.”

“We tortured [Mohammed al-]Qahtani,” said Susan J. Crawford, in her first interview since being named convening authority of military commissions by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates in February 2007. “His treatment met the legal definition of torture. And that’s why I did not refer the case” for prosecution.

Crawford, a retired judge who served as general counsel for the Army during the Reagan administration and as Pentagon inspector general when Dick Cheney was secretary of defense, is the first senior Bush administration official responsible for reviewing practices at Guantánamo to publicly state that a detainee was tortured.

Crawford, 61, said the combination of the interrogation techniques, their duration and the impact on Qahtani’s health led to her conclusion. “The techniques they used were all authorized, but the manner in which they applied them was overly aggressive and too persistent. . . . You think of torture, you think of some horrendous physical act done to an individual. This was not any one particular act; this was just a combination of things that had a medical impact on him, that hurt his… Continue reading

Will We Get Accountability? Obama’s Reply to Blogger Bob Fertik’s Special Prosecutor Question

A BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White

As Bush gives his final press conference today, lamenting the “mistakes” of his presidency, some are wondering if he and other members of his administration will get a chance to tell such tales to a special prosecutor.

“History will look back,” he told reporters, most likely hoping the next administration’s Justice Department will solely look forward. Judging from the most recent comments from his successor, that may very well be the case.

It all started when Bob Fertik, progressive writer and co-founder of Democrats.com, posed this question to President-elect Barack Obama:

“Will you appoint a special prosecutor — ideally Patrick Fitzgerald — to independently investigate the gravest crimes of the Bush Administration, including torture and warrantless wiretapping?”

Fertik submitted the question to Change.gov, the official transition Web site for the incoming Obama Administration. The site has a forum called “Open for Questions” where people can post items of particular concern for the Obama team to review. Fertik’s question got so much attention and approval from other users on the site that it made its way to the top of the Change.gov list and onto the Sunday talk shows, finally garnering this response from Obama when George Stephanopoulos asked the question directly:

“We’re still evaluating how we’re going to approach the whole issue of interrogations, detentions and so forth. And obviously we’re going to be looking at past practices and I don’t believe that anybody is above the… Continue reading

Will Defense Run the ‘Real’ Stimulus Package?

Originally published at Solari.com/blog by Catherine Austin Fitts on January 9, 2009

Image of the Pentagon

In fiscal 1999, the Department of Defense was “missing” $2.3 trillion dollars. To put that amount of money in perspective, it is approximately 3X what President-elect Obama is proposing to spend to revitalize America.

In fiscal 2000, the Department of Defense was “missing” $1.1 trillion, about 1.5X what President-elect Obama wants to invest in America.

So between October 1998 and September 2000, the Department of Defense was “missing” $3.3 trillion. Because the amount of money disappearing is so enormous, years ago we started a archive of articles on the “missing money” to try to keep up with the trillions sliding out of the federal accounts.

From 1997 to March 2001, the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) who served as the chief financial officer for the Department of Defense was William J. Lynn III. In that position, he was the chief financial officer for the Department of Defense and was the principal advisor to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense for all budgetary and fiscal matters. That means he was the person responsible to make sure no money went missing and that the Department of Defense published audited financial statements — which it failed to do in those years and every year since.

When Mr. Lynn left Defense in 2001, he joined DFI International and then in 2005 became the chief lobbyist for Raytheon. He was replaced at Defense by Dov Zakheim.

Image of William J. Lynn III, Dov Zakheim, Robert Hale

William J. Lynn… Continue reading

Our Broken Government – A Center for Public Integrity Investigation

by Josh Israel
January 7, 2009
A Center for Public Integrity Investigation

Image of broken government: an assessment of 128 executive branch failures since 2000

Broken government: an assessment of 128 executive branch failures since 2000

 

As America approaches a historic transfer of power, it is becoming ever-clearer what a daunting set of tasks awaits the new administration.  When Barack Obama takes the oath of office at noon on January 20 he will inherit an economy collapsing before our eyes and a pair of ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. But he will also inherit a federal government whose machinery should bear an “out of order” sign.

Obama has often stated his desire to have a more efficient government — one that is open, transparent, and accountable. “We are not going to be hampered by ideology in trying to get this country back on track,” he said in December. “We want to figure out what works.”

The Center for Public Integrity’s Broken Government project makes clear what an imposing assignment that will be by cataloging what hasn’t worked. In a comprehensive assessment of systematic failures over the past eight years, the Center found more than 125 examples of government breakdown. The failures occurred in areas as diverse as education, energy, the environment, justice and security, the military and veterans’ affairs, health care, transportation, financial management, consumer and worker safety, and more. While some of the failures are, by now, depressingly familiar, many are less well-known but equally distressing.

Read the report, and much more, at the Center for Public Integerity

By the… Continue reading

Martial Law, the Financial Bailout, and War

by Peter Dale Scott
January 7, 2009

Paulson’s Financial Bailout

It is becoming clear that the bailout measures of late 2008 may have consequences at least as grave for an open society as the response to 9/11 in 2001. Many members of Congress felt coerced into voting against their inclinations, and the normal procedures for orderly consideration of a bill were dispensed with.

The excuse for bypassing normal legislative procedures was the existence of an emergency. But one of the most reprehensible features of the legislation, that it allowed Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to permit bailed-out institutions to use public money for exorbitant salaries and bonuses, was inserted by Paulson after the immediate crisis had passed.

According to Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vermont) the bailout bill originally called for a cap on executive salaries, but Paulson changed the requirement at the last minute. Welch and other members of Congress were enraged by “news that banks getting taxpayer-funded bailouts are still paying exorbitant salaries, bonuses, and other benefits.”1 In addition, as AP reported in October, “Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. questioned allowing banks that accept bailout bucks to continue paying dividends on their common stock. `There are far better uses of taxpayer dollars than continuing dividend payments to shareholders,” he said.”2

Even more reprehensible is the fact that since the bailouts, Paulson and the Treasury Department have refused to provide details of the Troubled Assets Relief Program spending of hundreds of billions of dollars, while the New York Federal Reserve has… Continue reading

Utah lawyer says Obama’s A.G. pick behind cover-up

Originally published at  The Salt Lake Tribune by Pamela Manson on December 25, 2008

Accusation–Attorney general-nominee led effort to kill investigation into prisoner’s death.

A Salt Lake City lawyer who claims his brother was tortured and murdered in a federal prison is alleging that Attorney General nominee Eric Holder played a role in covering up the crime.

In a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee members, lawyer Jesse Trentadue acknowledges the paper trail on Holder’s actions “is scant,” but claims he was the “point man” in an effort to persuade Congress to not investigate his brother’s death. He is asking that Holder be questioned at his confirmation hearing next year about his alleged attempt to block efforts “to obtain a certain measure of justice for my brother’s murder.”

The Department of Justice, where Holder served as deputy attorney general under President Bill Clinton, referred a request for comment to the Presidential Transition Team (PTT). A statement issued by an Obama transition aide denied Trentadue’s allegations.

“Multiple independent investigations have found that Kenneth Trentadue’s death was a suicide,” the statement said. “There is simply no  evidence to support the claims in this letter.”

The body of Kenneth Trentadue, who had served time for bank robbery and was being held on an alleged parole violation, was found hanging in his cell at the Federal Transfer Center in Oklahoma City on Aug. 21, 1995.

Several investigations by state and federal agencies ruled the death a suicide, but his survivors believe Kenneth Trentadue was strangled… Continue reading

With economy in shambles, Congress gets a raise

By Jordy Yager
December 17, 2008

A crumbling economy, more than 2 million constituents who have lost their jobs this year, and congressional demands of CEOs to work for free did not convince lawmakers to freeze their own pay.

Instead, they will get a $4,700 pay increase, amounting to an additional $2.5 million that taxpayers will spend on congressional salaries, and watchdog groups are not happy about it.

“As lawmakers make a big show of forcing auto executives to accept just $1 a year in salary, they are quietly raiding the vault for their own personal gain,” said Daniel O’Connell, chairman of The Senior Citizens League (TSCL), a non-partisan group. “This money would be much better spent helping the millions of seniors who are living below the poverty line and struggling to keep their heat on this winter.”

However, at 2.8 percent, the automatic raise that lawmakers receive is only half as large as the 2009 cost of living adjustment of Social Security recipients.

Still, Steve Ellis, vice president of the budget watchdog Taxpayers for Common Sense, said Congress should have taken the rare step of freezing its pay, as lawmakers did in 2000.

“Look at the way the economy is and how most people aren’t counting on a holiday bonus or a pay raise — they’re just happy to have gainful
employment,” said Ellis. “But you have the lawmakers who are set up and ready to get their next installment of a pay raise and go happily along their… Continue reading

Why we must prosecute Bush and his administration for war crimes

It’s not about them–it’s about us

December 15, 2008
by Mike Ferner
MikeFerner.org

During the rush to get the Nuremberg Tribunals underway, the Soviet delegation wanted the tribunal’s historic decisions to have legitimacy only for the Nazis. U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Robert Jackson, serving as the chief prosecutor for the Allies, strong-armed the Soviets until the very beginning of the tribunal before changing their minds.

In his opening statement Jackson very purposely stipulated, “…Let me make clear that while this law is first applied against German aggressors, the law includes, and if it is to serve a useful purpose it must condemn aggression by any other nations, including those which sit here now in judgment.”

Can there be a better reason for prosecuting George Bush and his administration for war crimes than those words from the chief prosecutor of the Nazis, a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, with the full support of the U.S. government? Robert Jackson’s words and the values this nation claims to stand for provide sufficient moral basis for putting Bush and Cheney, their underlings who implemented their policies and the perverted legal minds who justified them all in the dock. If those are not sufficient reasons, there is a long list of binding law and treaties — written in black and white in surprisingly plain English.

Bush imagined, and his attorneys advised, that he could simply wave aside these laws with “they don’t apply.” Imagine how a judge would treat even a simple traffic court defendant who… Continue reading

Seeking Integrity at the CIA

By Ray McGovern

The Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) must be a person whose previous professional performance has been distinguished by unimpeachable integrity and independence. The director must have the courage of his or her own convictions.

Without integrity and courage, all virtue is specious, and no amount of structural or organizational reform will make any difference.

Though a 2004 law gave most of the DCI’s intelligence community-wide authority to the new position of Director of National Intelligence — after the failure to prevent the 9/11 attacks and after the false intelligence analysis on Iraq’s WMDs — the same principles regarding integrity and courage apply to the DNI.

Instructive lessons can be drawn from the performance of George Tenet, the sixteenth CIA director since the establishment of the Central Intelligence Agency in 1947, and from his predecessors regarding what attributes a director needs to discharge the duties of the office as the National Security Act of 1947 intended.

Show Editor’s Notes »

Consortiumnews.com Editor’s Note:
An underlying factor in the national security crises confronting the United States has been the corruption of the U.S. intelligence process, with analyses tailored to fit the desires of the policymakers and with laws bent to permit torture and other abuses.In this guest essay, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern reflects on what went wrong and what now needs to go right.


911truth.org Editor’s Note:
Ray McGovern is now a regular guest on “Tell Somebody,” hosted by Tom Klammer, broadcasting Tuesday evenings from 6-7pm CENTRAL time.… Continue reading

The NIST WTC 7 Report: Bush Science reaches its peak

by Cover image of the NIST Final Report - WTC7Kevin R. Ryan

In a famous book by Antoine de Saint Exupery, a little prince from another planet asks the narrator to draw a sheep. After several unsatisfactory attempts, the narrator simply draws a box and tells the little prince that the sheep is in the box. The little prince then exclaims — “That is exactly the way I wanted it!” 1

Just so, the Bush Administration asked its scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for an explanation as to what happened at the World Trade Center (WTC) on 9/11. In response to this request, NIST drew up a series of fanciful stories over a period of years, each story differing from the previous one. Finally, after seven long years, NIST published its last story for WTC 7 by simply saying, in effect: “The explanation is in our computer.” 2

As expected, however, this explanation in a box leaves much to be desired for those of us who prefer to live in reality, instead of in a fictional world. On the other hand, we are learning something from NIST with this new report, and that is that when government scientists begin working for a political agenda above all else, there is no limit to the extent of deception that they will engage in. We also know that those who have produced the NIST WTC reports must now assume personal responsibility for the ongoing 9/11 Wars, and the millions of deaths that will result from those wars.…

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9/11 Victims Target Saudis With Deep State Ties

by P. Devlin Buckley
September 5, 2008
The American Monitor

Law firms representing victims of the 9/11 attacks in an ongoing legal dispute with wealthy Saudis suspected of financing al-Qaeda have recently turned their attention to two individuals with unique ties to the U.S. government.

Lawyers for victims of the attacks, as well as insurance companies of property owners in New York, have filed a motion of discovery in federal district court in Manhattan targeting the Saudi-owned National Commercial Bank (NCB) and two of its former executives, Khalid bin Mahfouz and Yassin al-Qadi.

Both Mahfouz and al-Qadi have a murky history that includes alleged ties to the CIA, the White House, the Bush family, al-Qaeda, and organized crime on a global scale.

The discovery motion, if granted, would advance the case by requiring both sides to disclose and exchange all available pertinent facts regarding the defendants. The motion comes just days after a circuit court ruled members of the Saudi government are immune from terrorism lawsuits in the United States, a setback in the plaintiffs’ case against Saudis suspected of financing al-Qaeda in the years leading up to 9/11. There are some defendants, however, the ruling does not protect, including Khalid bin Mahfouz, Yassin al-Qadi, and the NCB.

Government documents, expert testimony, and media reports dating back several years suggest Mahfouz and al-Qadi have raised millions of dollars for al-Qaeda and other militant groups. Evidence indicates some of the defendants’ activities were sanctioned by the U.S. government.

During the late… Continue reading

‘Debunking NIST’s Conclusions About WTC 7 is as Easy as Shooting Fish in a Barrel’ and other Responses to 8/21/08 NIST Briefing on WTC7

Debunking NIST’s conclusions about WTC 7 is as easy as shooting fish in a barrel
By George Washington

Symmetrical Collapse

NIST lamely tried to explain the symmetrically (sic) collapse as follows:

WTC 7′s collapse, viewed from the exterior (most videos were taken from the north), did appear to fall almost uniformly as a single unit. This occurred because the interior failures that took place did not cause the exterior framing to fail until the final stages of the building collapse. The interior floor framing and columns collapsed downward and pulled away from the exterior frame. There were clues that internal damage was taking place, prior to the downward movement of the exterior frame, such as when the east penthouse fell downward into the building and windows broke out on the north face at the ends of the building core. The symmetric appearance of the downward fall of the WTC 7 was primarily due to the greater stiffness and strength of its exterior frame relative to the interior framing.

NIST can’t have it both ways. If the exterior frame was so stiff and strong, then it should have stopped the collapse, or – at the very least – we would have seen a bowing effect where tremendous opposing forces were battling each other for dominance in determining the direction of the fall. See also this .

In real life, the thick structural beams and “stiff [and strong]” exterior frame used in the building should have quickly stopped any partial collapse, unless… Continue reading

More on Impeachment today…

Email from Rep. Robert Wexler, FL

Capitol Hill is buzzing today with major developments regarding our campaign for impeachment hearings for President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. Just today, in what could be described as a perfect impeachment storm:

• Karl Rove once again thumbed his nose at Congress and the American people by brazenly ignoring a lawful congressional subpoena to testify before the House of Representatives;

• Judiciary Chairman John Conyers indicated his willingness to use the power of inherent contempt against Rove if necessary;

• Rep. Dennis Kucinich introduced another article of impeachment on Bush’s lies regarding the Iraq war; and

• Speaker Nancy Pelosi was quoted today saying that the House Judiciary Committee should address the issues that Kucinich raises in the House Judiciary Committee.

After years of work by so many of you, the time appears ripe to finally hold Bush and Cheney accountable.

Conyers Opens Door to Inherent Contempt for Rove

Karl Rove has simply refused to appear, as he is legally required to do. His actions, endorsed by the Bush/Cheney Administration, are a challenge to our system of checks and balances and Congress must respond to this type of outrageous behavior with appropriate severity.

Today, Judiciary Chairman John Conyers courageously stated today that inherent contempt will remain an option for the House of Representatives so long as Rove and this Administration refuses to abide by the law.

We must now bring Mr. Rove (and other renegade Bush officials) in compliance with… Continue reading