October 1, 2010
By Michael Calderone
Publishers know that controversy fuels book sales. Apparently, so does burning them.
The Pentagon has only helped build buzz around “Operation Dark Heart,” a firsthand account of special operations in Afghanistan, by burning 9,500 copies — nearly all the first run. (Some review copies, released before publication, have filtered out and sold for more than $2,000 on eBay, according to Time magazine.)
Destroying books isn’t an everyday occurrence. In fact, the Pentagon says it has never destroyed copies of a book before. But in this case, the Pentagon contends that Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer’s work includes classified information that shouldn’t have been published and therefore it was the only option.
On Sept. 24, four days after the burning, publisher St. Martin’s Press printed 50,000 copies of the book with supposedly classified information now blacked out. Even with redactions, the second run — five times larger than the first — is selling well. Time magazine noted that “Operation Dark Heart” hit No. 1 on Amazon’s biography list and No. 2 on Barnes & Noble’s political list.
The Pentagon may have succeeded in keeping thousands of unredacted copies from hitting the shelves, but it cannot be certain that the book’s contents won’t ever reach readers. In the digital age, it’s nearly impossible to completely destroy anything. WikiLeaks, the secretive whistleblower site, called the Pentagon “Nazi punks” for burning the books and has already threatened to post an unredacted copy on the Internet.… Continue reading
By John Albanese
On September 10, 2001, Donald Rumsfeld announced that an estimated $2.3 Trillion in Pentagon spending was missing — and unaccounted for — from the Pentagon. One day later, on 9/11, the story also disappeared, along with any semblances of governmental accountability and journalistic integrity.
In the wake of 9/11 America was a traumatized nation where asking difficult questions was often perceived as unpatriotic and equated with disloyalty.
Forget the fact that $2.3 Trillion equals the GDP of Italy. Forget that the military only spent an estimated $311 billion in the year 2000 – and that approximately 7.5 times that amount had disappeared. We were at war the very next day on 9/11 — and that was all that mattered. Forget that Italy had just disappeared from the map.
That was the power of 9/11.
And in the years that followed it appeared that no lie was too big, no claim too outrageous, no initiative too insane, to trigger an appropriate response from either the media or the public. Accountability was replaced with blind nationalism and comforting platitudes.
“United We Stand.”
“We Will Never Forget.”
Sadly, nine years after 9/11, we neither stand united nor care enough to remember.
Nine years after 9/11 our 9/11 first responders are still denied the critical medical care they need — in plain sight — with nary a peep from a war-weary populace still sporting their fading 9/11 “We Will Never Forget” car magnets on their SUVs.
And nine years after 9/11… Continue reading
June 10, 2010
By Michael Doyle
WASHINGTON — A federal judge has forcefully put Yemeni citizen Mohammed Mohammed Hassan Odaini on the path to freedom after eight years of incarceration at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
In a 36-page opinion formally released Thursday, U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr. called Odaini’s continued detention “unlawful” and said he’d “emphatically” grant Odaini’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus.
The ruling issued secretly last month but published Thursday sets the 26-year-old Odaini up for potential release, though when and where he’ll go remains unclear. The ruling also represents the latest defeat for U.S. officials in their efforts to keep Guantánamo detainees behind bars.
“(U.S.) officials kept a young man from Yemen in detention in Cuba from age eighteen to age twenty-six,” Kennedy wrote. “They have prevented him from seeing his family and denied him the opportunity to complete his studies and embark on a career.”
Pointedly, Kennedy added that “the evidence before the court shows that holding Odaini in custody at such great cost to him has done nothing to make the United States more secure.”
Kennedy’s ruling brings to 36 the number of Guantánamo Bay detainees who have successfully challenged their detentions through U.S. court proceedings. Over the Bush administration’s objections, a divided Supreme Court two years granted the Guantánamo detainees the right to file habeas corpus challenges.
In a decision striking both for its extensive redactions and its occasionally passionate language, Kennedy noted that Odaini’s story has remained consistent… Continue reading
by Philip Shenon
June 10, 2010
The Daily Beast – Blogs & Stories
Anxious that Wikileaks may be on the verge of publishing a batch of secret State Department cables, investigators are desperately searching for founder Julian Assange. Philip Shenon reports. Plus, Daniel Ellsberg tells The Daily Beast: “Assange is in Some Danger.”
(This story has been updated to reflect new developments on Assange’s whereabouts, including the cancelation of a scheduled appearance in Las Vegas.)
Pentagon investigators are trying to determine the whereabouts of the Australian-born founder of the secretive website Wikileaks for fear that he may be about to publish a huge cache of classified State Department cables that, if made public, could do serious damage to national security, government officials tell The Daily Beast.
The officials acknowledge that even if they found the website founder, Julian Assange, it is not clear what they could do to block publication of the cables on Wikileaks, which is nominally based on a server in Sweden and bills itself as a champion of whistleblowers.
“We’d like to know where he is; we’d like his cooperation in this,” one U.S. official said of Assange.
American officials said Pentagon investigators are convinced that Assange is in possession of at least some classified State Department cables leaked by a 22-year-old Army intelligence specialist, Bradley Manning of Potomac, Maryland, who is now in custody in Kuwait.
And given the contents of the cables, the feds have good reason to be concerned.
As The Daily… Continue reading
(AFP) — May 21, 2010
LONDON — Inquests into the deaths of 56 people in London’s July 2005 suicide bombings will probe alleged failings by police and MI5 intelligence before the attacks, the coroner conducting the hearings said Friday.
Judge Heather Hallett also ruled that inquests into four suicide bombers will be held separately from those of the 52 victims, a relief to families who had protested plans to hold the inquests together.
The suicide bombers set off near-simultaneous explosions on three London Underground trains and a double-decker bus on the morning of July 7, 2005, in what has become known as 7/7, nearly four years after the 9/11 attacks in the United States.
Hallett, giving details of arrangements for the inquests due to start in October, said they would probe what police and MI5 officers knew ahead of the shock attacks.
“The scope of the inquest into the 52 deaths will include the alleged intelligence failings and the immediate aftermath of the bombings,” she said.
“To my mind it is not too remote to investigate what was known in the year or two before the alleged bombings. Plots of this kind are not developed overnight,” she added.
Janine Mitchell, whose husband Paul survived the King’s Cross explosion, welcomed the decision to probe MI5’s role.
“We have been very concerned that there were serious failings and it seems that this is the case… We are relieved that someone independent of Government is going to examine what happened.
“We put… Continue reading
By Scott Shane
April 6, 2010
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration has taken the extraordinary step of authorizing the targeted killing of an American citizen, the radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who is believed to have shifted from encouraging attacks on the United States to directly participating in them, intelligence and counterterrorism officials said Tuesday.
Mr. Awlaki, who was born in New Mexico and spent years in the United States as an imam, is in hiding in Yemen. He has been the focus of intense scrutiny since he was linked to Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the Army psychiatrist accused of killing 13 people at Fort Hood, Tex., in November, and then to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian man charged with trying to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Dec. 25.
American counterterrorism officials say Mr. Awlaki is an operative of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the affiliate of the terror network in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. They say they believe that he has become a recruiter for the terrorist network, feeding prospects into plots aimed at the United States and at Americans abroad, the officials said.
It is extremely rare, if not unprecedented, for an American to be approved for targeted killing, officials said. A former senior legal official in the administration of George W. Bush said he did not know of any American who was approved for targeted killing under the former president.
But the director of national intelligence, Dennis C. Blair, told a House hearing in… Continue reading
April 5, 2010
The death of a whistleblower who said the UK government had “sexed up” a dossier on Saddam Hussein’s military capabilities in order to sell the Iraq war has been one of the most intriguing and confusing elements of the war’s history.
Now the UK’s Conservative Party is signaling that it plans to reopen the inquiry into the death of Dr. David Kelly if it wins the next election. The move could potentially harm the ruling Labour Party, which championed the Iraq war effort and is now trailing in the polls for this spring’s election.
On Sunday, Dominic Grieve, the Conservative Party’s “shadow” justice minister, said members of the public “have not been reassured” that Kelly’s death was a suicide, and if his government wins the election, he would want to reopen the case, reports the UK’s Daily Mail.
Kelly, a weapons expert with Britain’s Ministry of Defence, was found dead in a forest near his home in Oxfordshire in 2003, shortly after he gave an interview to the BBC in which he said that the British government was lying about its claim that Saddam Hussein could launch biological and chemical weapons within 45 minutes of giving the order.
Kelly’s death sparked suspicions that he may have been killed for undermining the government of then-Prime Minister Tony Blair as the British leader stood with US President George W. Bush in pushing for an invasion of Iraq.
A former British ambassador quoted Kelly as having… Continue reading
By Sahil Kapur
Senior Bush administration officials sternly cautioned the 9/11 Commission against probing too deeply into the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, according to a document recently obtained by the ACLU.
The notification came in a letter dated January 6, 2004 , addressed by Attorney General John Ashcroft, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and CIA Director George J. Tenet. The ACLU described it as a fax sent by David Addington, then-counsel to former vice president Dick Cheney.
In the message, the officials denied the bipartisan commission’s request to question terrorist detainees, informing its two senior-most members that doing so would “cross” a “line” and obstruct the administration’s ability to protect the nation.
“In response to the Commission’s expansive requests for access to secrets, the executive branch has provided such access in full cooperation,” the letter read. “There is, however, a line that the Commission should not cross — the line separating the Commission’s proper inquiry into the September 11, 2001 attacks from interference with the Government’s ability to safeguard the national security, including protection of Americans from future terrorist attacks.”
The 9/11 Commission, officially called the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States , was formed by President Bush in November of 2002 “to prepare a full and complete account of the circumstances surrounding the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks” and to offer recommendations for preventing future attacks.
“The Commission staff’s proposed participation in questioning of detainees would cross that line,” the letter continued. “As… Continue reading
In a bizarre, Soviet-style move, the White House has threatened to veto the intelligence budget unless everyone accepts the FBI frame up of Dr. Bruce Ivins.
As Bloomberg writes :
President Barack Obama probably would veto legislation authorizing the next budget for U.S. intelligence agencies if it calls for a new investigation into the 2001 anthrax attacks, an administration official said.
A proposed probe by the intelligence agencies’ inspector general “would undermine public confidence” in an FBI probe of the attacks “and unfairly cast doubt on its conclusions,” Peter Orszag, director of the Office of Management and Budget, wrote in a letter to leaders of the House and Senate Intelligence committees.
Given that an FBI investigation into a specific crime has nothing to do with the budget or any of OMB’s other core responsibilities, it seems that Orszag simply drew the short straw for this little assignment.
As I wrote Thursday:
The FBI says that the anthrax case is closed, and that they have proved that Dr. Bruce Ivins did it.
But Congress is not convinced.
On March 3, 2010, Representative Holt called for a new investigation:
Last week, [Congressman Holt] succeeded in including language in the 2010 Intelligence Authorization Bill that would require the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community to examine the possibility of a foreign connection to the 2001 anthrax attacks.
“The American people need credible answers to all of these and many other questions. Only a comprehensive investigation–either by the Congress, or through the… Continue reading
By Philip Messing
New York Post
On Nov. 28, 1953, Frank Olson, a bland, seemingly innocuous 42-year-old government scientist, plunged to his death from room 1018A in New York’s Statler Hotel, landing on a Seventh Avenue sidewalk just opposite Penn Station.
Olson’s ignominious end was written off as an unremarkable suicide of a depressed government bureaucrat who came to New York City seeking psychiatric treatment, so it attracted scant attention at the time.
But 22 years later, the Rockefeller Commission report was released, detailing a litany of domestic abuses committed by the CIA. The ugly truth emerged: Olson’s death was the result of his having been surreptitiously dosed with LSD days earlier by his colleagues.
The shocking disclosure led to President Gerald Ford’s apology to Olson’s widow and his three children, who accepted a $750,000 civil payment for his wrongful death.
But the belated 1975 mea culpa failed to close a tawdry chapter of our nation’s past. Instead it generated more interest into a series of wildly implausible “mind control” experiments on an unsuspecting populace over three decades.
Much of this plot unfolded here, in New York, according to H.P. Albarelli Jr., author of “A Terrible Mistake: The Murder of Frank Olson and the CIA’s Secret Cold War Experiments.”
“For me, in countless ways the Olson story is a New York City story,” said Albarelli, a former lawyer in the Carter White House, who has written extensively about biological warfare and intelligence matters. “The CIA itself was created and initially… Continue reading
A 50-year mystery over the ‘cursed bread’ of Pont-Saint-Esprit, which left residents suffering hallucinations, has been solved after a writer discovered the US had spiked the bread with LSD as part of an experiment.
Henry Samuel in Paris
11 March 2010
French bread spiked with LSD in CIA experiment: An American investigative journalist has uncovered evidence suggesting the CIA peppered local food with the hallucinogenic drug LSD
In 1951, a quiet, picturesque village in southern France was suddenly and mysteriously struck down with mass insanity and hallucinations. At least five people died, dozens were interned in asylums and hundreds afflicted.
For decades it was assumed that the local bread had been unwittingly poisoned with a psychedelic mould. Now, however, an American investigative journalist has uncovered evidence suggesting the CIA peppered local food with the hallucinogenic drug LSD as part of a mind control experiment at the height of the Cold War.
The mystery of Le Pain Maudit (Cursed Bread) still haunts the inhabitants of Pont-Saint-Esprit, in the Gard, southeast France.
On August 16, 1951, the inhabitants were suddenly racked with frightful hallucinations of terrifying beasts and fire.
One man tried to drown himself, screaming that his belly was being eaten by snakes. An 11-year-old tried to strangle his grandmother. Another man shouted: “I am a plane”, before jumping out of a second-floor window, breaking his legs. He then got up and carried on for 50 yards. Another saw his heart escaping through his feet and begged a doctor to… Continue reading
February 17, 2010
Contact: press [at] ccrjustice.org
New York — Yesterday evening, the district court in Washington, D.C. ruled against two men who died in Guantánamo in June 2006 and their families in a case seeking to hold federal officials and the United States responsible for the men’s torture, arbitrary detention and ultimate deaths at Guantánamo.
Following a two-year investigation, the military concluded that the men had committed suicide. Recent first-hand accounts by four soldiers stationed at the base at the time of the deaths, however, raise serious questions about the cause and circumstances of the deaths, including the possibility that the men died as the result of torture.
In dismissing the case, the district court ruled that the deceased’s constitutional claims that it was a violation of due process and cruel treatment to detain them for four years without charge while subjecting them to inhumane and degrading conditions of confinement and violent acts of torture and abuse, could not be heard in federal court. The men were held on the basis of an “enemy combatant” finding by a Combatant Status Review Tribunal later found by the Supreme Court itself to be inadequate.
The district court held that the claims were barred by a jurisdiction-stripping provision of the 2006 Military Commissions Act that bars any challenge by a Guantánamo detainee to their treatment, conditions, or any other aspect of their detention, while failing to address the plaintiffs’ arguments about the unconstitutionality of the provision itself. The court also dismissed the deceased’s claims under the Alien Tort Claims Act, following a holding by the D.C.…Continue reading
– Emirate ‘99% sure’ Israeli spies were behind Mabhouh death – Israeli ambassador told to explain use of fake British passports
February 18, 2010
by Julian Borger and Mark Tran
Interpol should help arrest the head of Mossad if Israel’s spy agency was responsible for the killing of a Hamas commander in Dubai, the emirate’s police chief said today.
In comments to be aired on Dubai TV, Lieutenant General Dahi Khalfan Tamim called for Interpol to issue “a red notice against the head of Mossad … as a killer in case Mossad is proved to be behind the crime, which is likely
International pressure intensified against Israel’s spy service as official “wanted” notices were released for the suspected team of Israeli secret agents accused of participating in the assassination. The faces of an 11-strong alleged hit squad appeared on the Interpol website this morning, 48 hours after authorities in the United Arab Emirates issued arrest warrants for the killing last month of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.
Their offences are listed as “crimes against life and health”. The group stands accused of entering the emirate state using forged or stolen European identities, murdering the militant in his hotel and then fleeing the country on 19 January. The red wanted notices are not international arrest warrants, but allow details of fugitives to be released worldwide with the request that the wanted person be arrested and extradited.
Tamim said that the Dubai authorities were virtually certain that Mossad was behind the assassination of… Continue reading
By Glenn Greenwald
January 27, 2010
(updated below – Update II)
The Washington Post‘s Dana Priest today reports that “U.S. military teams and intelligence agencies are deeply involved in secret joint operations with Yemeni troops who in the past six weeks have killed scores of people.” That’s no surprise, of course, as Yemen is now another predominantly Muslim country (along with Somalia and Pakistan) in which our military is secretly involved to some unknown degree in combat operations without any declaration of war, without any public debate, and arguably (though not clearly) without any Congressional authorization. The exact role played by the U.S. in the late-December missile attacks in Yemen, which killed numerous civilians, is still unknown.
But buried in Priest’s article is her revelation that American citizens are now being placed on a secret “hit list” of people whom the President has personally authorized to be killed:
After the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush gave the CIA, and later the military, authority to kill U.S. citizens abroad if strong evidence existed that an American was involved in organizing or carrying out terrorist actions against the United States or U.S. interests, military and intelligence officials said. . . .
The Obama administration has adopted the same stance. If a U.S. citizen joins al-Qaeda, “it doesn’t really change anything from the standpoint of whether we can target them,” a senior administration official said. “They are then part of the enemy.”
Both the CIA and the JSOC maintain lists… Continue reading
Justice department to accuse FBI of invoking crises to obtain details of more than 2,000 calls, Washington Post reports
by Chris McGreal in Washington
19 January 2010
The US justice department is preparing a report which concludes that the FBI repeatedly broke the law by invoking terrorism emergencies that did not exist to obtain more than 2,000 telephone call records over four years from 2002, including those of journalists on US newspapers, according to emails obtained by the Washington Post.
The bureau also issued authorisations for the seizure of records after the fact, in order to justify unwarranted seizures.
The Washington Post said the emails show how counter-terrorism officials inside FBI headquarters breached regulations designed to protect civil liberties.
The FBI’s general counsel, Valerie Caproni, told the Washington Post that the agency violated privacy laws by inventing non-existent terrorist threats to justify collecting the phone records. “We should have stopped those requests from being made that way,” she said.
Caproni said that FBI’s issuing of authorisations after the fact was a “good-hearted but not well thought-out” move to give the phone companies legal cover for handing over the records.
After the 9/11 attacks, the USA patriot act greatly expanded the government’s ability to monitor American citizens, including increased access to their phone calls with the approval of lower-level officials than previously allowed. But the authorisation had to be tied to an open terrorism investigation.
The Washington Post said two FBI officers had raised concerns. Special agent Bassem Youssef observed… Continue reading
January 10, 2010
by Tom Burghart
New revelations about the failed Christmas Day attack on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 continue to emerge as does evidence of a systematic cover-up.
With the White House in crisis mode since the attempted bombing, President Obama met for two hours January 5 with top security and intelligence officials. Obama said that secret state agencies “had sufficient information to uncover the terror plot … but that intelligence officials had ‘failed to connect those dots’,” The New York Times reports.
The latest iteration of the “dot theory” floated by the President, aided and abetted by a compliant media, claims “this was not a failure to collect intelligence” but rather, “a failure to integrate and understand the intelligence that we already had.”
“Mr. Obama’s stark assessment that the government failed to properly analyze and integrate intelligence served as a sharp rebuke of the country’s intelligence agencies,” declared the Times uncritically.
While the President’s remarks may have offered a “sharp [rhetorical] rebuke,” Obama’s statement suggests that no one will be held accountable. Indeed, the President “was standing by his top national security advisers, including those whose agencies failed to communicate with one another.”
While the President may be “standing by” his national security advisers, the question is, are the denizens of America’s secret state standing by him? One well-connected Washington insider, MSNBC pundit Richard Wolffe, isn’t so sure.
Wolffe, the author of a flattering portrait of Obama, Renegade: The Making of a President, when asked… Continue reading
By Stephen C. Webster
Is Rudolph Giuliani’s political career over?
The former mayor of New York City has been making his rounds in U.S. media this week, trying to explain away his false claim that there were no domestic terrorist attacks on the United States during the Bush administration.
For a man often mocked as “the mayor of 9/11,” that’s an awfully bold suggestion, and one that could spell the end of his relevance in U.S. politics, according to MSNBC host Rachel Maddow.
“The whole reason anybody ever thought of Rudy Giuliani as a potential national figure for the Republican party is because of his supposed expertise,” Maddow said during a Friday broadcast. “The supposed expertise he had with terrorism and national security because he had been the mayor of New York City when it was attacked on September 11.”
He later explained that he meant say no domestic terrorist attacks since 9/11.
However, in what Maddow called “a strange colique” with CNN host Larry King, Giuliani dug his hole deeper, suggesting that shoe bomber Richard Reid attempted his act of terrorism before Sept. 11, 2001.
It actually took place in Dec. of that year, well after the attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.
“Rudy Giuliani’s whole brand as a politician is based on 9/11, something he appears to have exploited so much that he’s lost the capacity to deal with it as a factual matter,” Maddow opined.
“Could he have meant that there were no other attacks… Continue reading
by David Edwards and John Byrne
As noted below, a Giuliani spokesman “clarified” the mayor’s statement later in the day, arguing that the mayor meant no attacks after 9/11.
“Whatever the mayor meant, it’s not what he said,” Stephanopoulos wrote on his ABC blog. “All of you who have pointed out that I should have pressed him on that misstatement in the moment are right. My mistake, my responsibility.”
Original story follows below
The former New York City mayor who has sometimes been mocked for using “a noun, a verb and 9/11″ in stump speeches appears to have forgotten — or has mentally reclassified — the worst terrorist attack on American soil. “We had no domestic attacks under Bush,” Rudy Giuliani told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos Friday.
Even if Giuliani doesn’t consider the attacks on 9/11 a “domestic” attack then surely he forgot about the anthrax attacks of 2001 or an Egyptian national who attacked the El Al ticket counter at Los Angeles International Airport in 2002.
While ABC’s George Stephanopolous let Giuliani get away with his misstatement both during the interview and on his blog, ABC’s Jake Tapper called the former mayor out.…Continue reading