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Fear Factors

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The Pentagon is muscling in everywhere. It’s time to stop the mission creep.

By Thomas A. Schweich
Sunday, December 21, 2008

We no longer have a civilian-led government. It is hard for a lifelong Republican and son of a retired Air Force colonel to say this, but the most unnerving legacy of the Bush administration is the encroachment of the Department of Defense into a striking number of aspects of civilian government. Our Constitution is at risk.

President-elect Barack Obama’s selections of James L. Jones, a retired four-star Marine general, to be his national security adviser and, it appears, retired Navy Adm. Dennis C. Blair to be his director of national intelligence present the incoming administration with an important opportunity — and a major risk. These appointments could pave the way for these respected military officers to reverse the current trend of Pentagon encroachment upon civilian government functions, or they could complete the silent military coup d’etat that has been steadily gaining ground below the radar screen of most Americans and the media.

While serving the State Department in several senior capacities over the past four years, I witnessed firsthand the quiet, de facto military takeover of much of the U.S. government. The first assault on civilian government occurred in faraway places — Iraq and Afghanistan — and was, in theory, justified by the exigencies of war.

The White House, which basically let the Defense Department call the budgetary shots, vastly underfunded efforts by the State Department, the Justice Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development to train civilian police forces, build… 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

Cold War vets sue over alleged germ experiments

By Paul Elias
Associated Press
January 7, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO — Six veterans who claim they were exposed to dangerous chemicals, germs and mind-altering drugs during Cold War experiments sued the CIA, Department of Defense and other agencies today.

The vets volunteered for military experiments they say were part of a wide-ranging program started in the 1950s to test nerve agents, biological weapons and mind-control techniques.

They allege in their lawsuit filed in San Francisco federal court that they were never properly informed of the nature of the experiments and are in poor health because of their exposure. They are demanding health care and a court ruling that the program was illegal because it failed to obtain their consent.

Marie Harf, a CIA spokeswoman, declined to comment on the lawsuit, which seeks class action status on behalf of all participants allegedly exposed to harmful experiments without their knowledge.

At least 7,800 U.S. military personnel served as volunteers to test experimental drugs such as LSD at the Edgewood Arsenal near Baltimore, Md., during a program that lasted into the 1970s, the lawsuit said. Many others volunteered for similar experiments at other locations,  according to the lawsuit.

“In virtually all cases, troops served in the same capacity as laboratory rats or guinea pigs,” the lawsuit said.

One notorious CIA project from the 1950s and 1960s, code-named MK-ULTRA, involved brainwashing and administering experimental drugs like LSD to unsuspecting individuals. The project was the target of at least three Congressional inquiries in the 1970s,… Continue reading

Obama lets CIA keep controversial renditions tool

Originally published at ChicagoTribune.com By Greg Miller, Washington Bureau on January 31, 2009

WASHINGTON — The CIA’s secret prisons are being shuttered. Harsh interrogation techniques are off-limits. And Guantánamo Bay will eventually go back to being a wind-swept naval base on the southeastern corner of Cuba.

But even while dismantling these discredited programs, President Barack Obama left an equally controversial counterterrorism tool intact.

Under executive orders issued by Obama last week, the CIA still has authority to carry out what are known as renditions, or the secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the U.S.

Current and former U.S. intelligence officials said the rendition program is poised to play an expanded role because it is the main remaining mechanism–aside from Predator missile strikes–for taking suspected terrorists off the street.

The rendition program became a source of embarrassment for the CIA, and a target of international scorn, as details emerged in recent years of botched captures, mistaken identities and allegations that prisoners were turned over to countries where they were tortured.

The European Parliament condemned renditions as an “illegal instrument used by the United States.” Prisoners swept up in the program have sued the CIA as well as a subsidiary of Boeing Corp., which is accused of working with the agency on dozens of rendition flights.

But the Obama administration appears to have determined that the rendition program was one component of the Bush administration’s war on terrorism that it could not afford to discard.

The decision… Continue reading

The Whole World Is Rioting as the Economic Crisis Worsens — Why Aren’t We?

Originally published at AlterNet By Joshua Holland on February 3, 2009

Photo of May Day rioting and demonstration in Marseille. Workers of ArcelorMittal hold Bengal fires during the annual May Day demonstration in Marseille, France, 01 May 2009.

May Day rioting and demonstration in Marseille. Workers of ArcelorMittal hold Bengal fires during the annual May Day demonstration in Marseille, France, 01 May 2009. EPA/GUILLAUME HORCAJUELO

Explosive anger is spilling out onto the streets of Europe. The meltdown of the global economy is igniting massive social unrest in a region that has long been a symbol of political stability and social cohesion.

It’s not a new trend: A wave of upheaval is spreading from the poorer countries on the periphery of the global economy to the prosperous core.

Over the past few years, a series of riots spread across what is patronizingly known as the Third World. Furious mobs have raged against skyrocketing food and energy prices, stagnating wages and unemployment in India, Senegal, Yemen, Indonesia, Morocco, Cameroon, Brazil, Panama, the Philippines, Egypt, Mexico and elsewhere.

For the most part, those living in wealthier countries took little notice. But now, with the global economy crashing down around us, people in even the wealthiest nations are mad as hell and reacting violently to what they view as an inadequate response to their tumbling economies.

The Telegraph (UK) warned last month that protests over governments’ handling of the crisis “are widespread and gathering pace,” and “may spark a new revolution”:

A depression triggered in America is being played out in Europe with increasing violence, and other forms of social unrest are spreading. In Iceland, a government has fallen. Workers have… Continue reading

It’s Not Going to Be OK

Originally published at TruthDig.com by Chris Hedges on February 2, 2009

The daily bleeding of thousands of jobs will soon turn our economic crisis into a political crisis. The street protests, strikes and riots that have rattled France, Turkey, Greece, Ukraine, Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Iceland will descend on us. It is only a matter of time. And not much time. When things start to go sour, when Barack Obama is exposed as a mortal waving a sword at a tidal wave, the United States could plunge into a long period of precarious social instability.

At no period in American history has our democracy been in such peril or has the possibility of totalitarianism been as real. Our way of life is over. Our profligate consumption is finished. Our children will never have the standard of living we had. And poverty and despair will sweep across the landscape like a plague. This is the bleak future. There is nothing President Obama can do to stop it. It has been decades in the making. It cannot be undone with a trillion or two trillion dollars in bailout money. Our empire is dying. Our economy has collapsed.

How will we cope with our decline? Will we cling to the absurd dreams of a superpower and a glorious tomorrow or will we responsibly face our stark new limitations? Will we heed those who are sober and rational, those who speak of a new simplicity and humility, or will we follow the demagogues… Continue reading

Bad News From America’s Top Spy

Originally published at  Truthdig By Chris Hedges on February 17, 2009.

The Director of National Intelligence argued that Wall Street, rather than Islamic jihad, has produced our most dangerous terrorists.

We have a remarkable ability to create our own monsters. A few decades of meddling in the Middle East with our Israeli doppelganger and we get Hezbollah, Hamas, al-Qaida, the Iraqi resistance movement and a resurgent Taliban. Now we trash the world economy and destroy the ecosystem and sit back to watch our handiwork. Hints of our brave new world seeped out Thursday when Washington’s new director of national intelligence, retired Adm. Dennis Blair, testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee. He warned that the deepening economic crisis posed perhaps our gravest threat to stability and national security. It could trigger, he said, a return to the “violent extremism” of the 1920s and 1930s.

It turns out that Wall Street, rather than Islamic jihad, has produced our most dangerous terrorists. We will see accelerated plant and retail closures, inflation, an epidemic of bankruptcies, new rounds of foreclosures, bread lines, unemployment surpassing the levels of the Great Depression and, as Blair fears, social upheaval.

The United Nations’ International Labor Organization estimates that some 50 million workers will lose their jobs worldwide this year. The collapse has already seen 3.6 million lost jobs in the United States. The International Monetary Fund’s prediction for global economic growth in 2009 is 0.5 percent–the worst since World War II. There are 2.3 million properties in the… Continue reading

‘Product contained live bird flu virus’ … accidentally

Intro from 911blogger.com:
“Experimental Virus Material” – Live Avian Flu & Human Flu Viruses “Accidentally” mixed, then sent to several Euro facilities

The Czech press is all over this story, but not much so far in the US. A quick search shows this blog entry;

Baxter bird flu botch

And the following report in the mainstream Canadian press: The Toronto Sun;

Baxter: Product contained live bird flu virus

By Helen Branswell, THE CANADIAN PRESS
Last Updated: 27th February 2009, 3:26pm

The company that released contaminated flu virus material from a plant in Austria confirmed Friday that the experimental product contained live H5N1 avian flu viruses.

And an official of the World Health Organization’s European operation said the body is closely monitoring the investigation into the events that took place at Baxter International’s research facility in Orth-Donau, Austria.

“At this juncture we are confident in saying that public health and occupational risk is minimal at present,” medical officer Roberta Andraghetti said from Copenhagen, Denmark.

“But what remains unanswered are the circumstances surrounding the incident in the Baxter facility in Orth-Donau.”

The contaminated product, a mix of H3N2 seasonal flu viruses and unlabelled H5N1 viruses, was supplied to an Austrian research company. The Austrian firm, Avir Green Hills Biotechnology, then sent portions of it to sub-contractors in the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Germany.

The contamination incident, which is being investigated by the four European countries, came to light when the subcontractor in the Czech Republic inoculated ferrets with the product… Continue reading

Former Accused Iraqi Agent Susan Lindauer, Secret Charges and The Patriot Act in Action

by Michael Collins

‘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.” — Herman Goering, Interview at Nuremburg Trials, April 14, 1946

“The Patriot Act was used against me in total contradiction to its stated purpose. Or perhaps it was the most logical use of the law, since it establishes a legal framework to crush free thinking and interrupt individual questioning of the government. It is the beginning of all dictatorship in America .” –Susan Lindauer, March 9, 2009

March 10, 2009 — Washington, DC ( electionfraudnews.com ) — In March, 2004 Susan Lindauer was arrested for allegedly acting as an “unregistered agent” for prewar Iraq.  She challenged the government’s assertion and sought the right to prove at Trial that she’d been a United States intelligence asset covering Iraq and Libya from the early 1990’s through 2003 (see articles).

In an unprecedented judicial ploy that lasted five years, federal prosecutors blocked Ms. Lindauer’s rights to trial or any other sort of evidentiary hearings that would test her story. For 11 months, she was confined at Carswell federal prison on a Texas military base and at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan, without a conviction or plea bargain.

During the indictment, she was conveniently gagged from sharing… Continue reading

We are being spoon-fed stupid again…

Larisa Alexandrovna
March 11, 2009
atlargely.com

Can someone explain to me how 5 suspected members of Al Qaeda (although there is no question regarding KSM) suddenly got their own PR machine from inside Gitmo and at the hands of a military judge, not to mention getting  a world stage through which to frighten Americans some more? And the media? Well, they are too well versed in stupid to ask any sensible questions:

“Five Guantánamo prisoners accused in the September 11, 2001, terror attacks on the U.S. staunchly defended their actions, calling the operation “blessed” and “great” and the accusations against them “badges of honor.”

“You are the last nation that has the right to speak about civilians and killing civilians,” the five said in a response this month to the U.S. government’s war crimes charges.

“You are professional criminals, with all the meaning the words carry,” the response said. “Therefore, we will treat you the same. We will attack you, just like you have attacked us, and whomever initiated the attacks is the guilty party.”

The six-page response from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who plotted the attacks, and four others castigates the actions of the United States and its allies in the Middle East and calls the United States “the terrorist country number one in the world.”‘

Okay, now someone explain the following to me:

1. How did 5 alleged Al Qaeda members come together to form this statement, given that they are being held each in isolation at Gitmo?…

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Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh describes ‘executive assassination ring’

by Eric Black
March 11 2009
MinnPost.com

At a “Great Conversations” event at the University of Minnesota last night, legendary investigative reporter Seymour Hersh may have made a little more news than he intended by talking about new alleged instances of domestic spying by the CIA, and about an ongoing covert military operation that he called an “executive assassination ring.”

Hersh spoke with great confidence about these findings from his current reporting, which he hasn’t written about yet.

In an email exchange afterward, Hersh said that his statements were “an honest response to a question” from the event’s moderator, U of M Political Scientist Larry Jacobs and “not something I wanted to dwell about in public.”

Update: Eric Black received and published a response from a CIA agent on this… posted at end.

Hersh didn’t take back the statements, which he said arise from reporting he is doing for a book, but that it might be a year or two before he has what he needs on the topic to be “effective…that is, empirical, for even the most skeptical.”

The evening of great conversation, featuring Walter Mondale and Hersh, moderated by Jacobs and titled “America’s Constitutional Crisis,” looked to be a mostly historical review of events that have tested our Constitution, by a journalist and a high government officials who had experience with many of the crises.

And it was mostly historical, and a great conversation, in which Hersh and Mondale talked about the patterns by which presidents seem to… Continue reading

Radio: Seymour Hersh on US Death Squads

Listen to Seymour Hersh’s entire speech regarding US Death Squads.

NoLiesRadio.org broadcast Saturday, March 14th at 9am Pacific – 12 Noon Eastern – 16:00 GMT
Will be archived HERE after the broadcasts.

In a “Great Conversations” event this week at the University of Minnesota, legendary investigative reporter Seymour Hersh may have made a little more news than he intended by talking about new alleged instances of domestic spying by the CIA, and about an ongoing covert military operation that he called an “executive assassination ring.” He went on to say: “Yuh. After 9/11, I haven’t written about this yet, but the Central Intelligence Agency was very deeply involved in domestic activities against people they thought to be enemies of the state. Without any legal authority for it. They haven’t been called on it yet. That does happen. … Right now, today, there was a story in the New York Times that if you read it carefully mentioned something known as the Joint Special Operations Command — JSOC it’s called. It is a special wing of our special operations community that is set up independently. They do not report to anybody, except in the Bush-Cheney days, they reported directly to the Cheney office. They did not report to the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff or to Mr. [Robert] Gates, the secretary of defense. They reported directly to him. … “Congress has no oversight of it. It’s an executive assassination ring essentially, and it’s been going on and on and… Continue reading

Historical Archives Lead to Arrest of Police Officers in Guatemalan Disappearance

Declassified documents show U.S. Embassy knew that Guatemalan security forces were behind wave of abductions of students and labor leaders.

National Security Archive calls for release of military files and investigation into intellectual authors of the 1984 abduction of Fernando García and other disappearances
National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 273
By Kate Doyle and Jesse Franzblau
English / Español

(Guatemala Documentation Project Home)

(See many significant related postings at the source.)

Washington, DC, March 17, 2009 — Following a stunning breakthrough in a 25-year-old case of political terror in Guatemala, the National Security Archive today is posting declassified U.S. documents about the disappearance of Edgar Fernando García, a student leader and trade union activist captured by Guatemalan security forces in 1984. The documents show that García’s capture was an organized political abduction orchestrated at the highest levels of the Guatemalan government.

Guatemalan authorities made the first arrest ever in the long-dormant kidnapping case when they detained Héctor Roderico Ramírez Ríos, a senior police officer in Quezaltenango, on March 5th and retired policeman Abraham Lancerio Gómez on March 6th as a result of an investigation into García’s abduction by Guatemala’s Human Rights Prosecutor (Procurador de Derechos Humanos–PDH). Arrest warrants have been issued for two more suspects, Hugo Rolando Gómez Osorio and Alfonso Guillermo de León Marroquín. The two are former officers with the notorious Special Operations Brigade (BROE) of the National Police, a unit linked to death squad activities during the 1980s by… Continue reading

CBC to Premiere ‘Anthrax War’ Sunday night

Sunday March 29, 2009 at 10 pm ET/PT on CBC Newsworld’s Passionate Eye Showcase

An investigation into the deadly world of germ weapons, Anthrax War begins in New York in the days following 9/11. Anthrax-laced letters, mailed to media and U.S. senators, killed five people and spread fear and panic throughout the nation.

For filmmaker Bob Coen, who was raised in Zimbabwe where the former white regime has been accused of unleashing anthrax against the black population, biological weapons have a deep personal meaning. He embarks on a journey that raises troubling questions about the FBI’s investigation of the 21st century’s first act of biological terrorism.

Coen’s investigation takes him from the U.S. to the U.K. and from the edge of Siberia to the tip of Africa. In a rare interview, Coen confronts “Doctor Death” Wouter Basson, who headed Project Coast, the South African apartheid-era bio-warfare program. Project Coast used germ warfare against select targets within the country’s black population.

Anthrax War also investigates the mysterious deaths of some of the world’s leading anthrax scientists, including Dr. David Kelly, the UK’s top military microbiologist, the Soviet defector Dr. Vladimir Pasechnik, and Dr. Bruce Ivins. The FBI claims – despite the doubts of highly ranked U.S. officials – that Ivins was the only person behind the U.S. anthrax murders.

In tracing the 2001 bio-terror attacks in the U.S. to the heart of the U.S. bio-defense program, this film raises an alarm. These attacks that helped prepare a country for war have… Continue reading

This pattern’s becoming quite clear …

Wednesday – Britain warns of growing terrorism threat
March 25, 2009
Reuters

Britain warned of a growing terrorist risk from chemical,
biological and radiological weapons and pinpointed al Qaeda in Pakistan
as a key threat
as it revamped its national security strategy.

… Britain has been a target for Islamist militants since it joined the United
States in invading Afghanistan and Iraq after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
In 2005, suicide bombings in London killed 52 people.

Between 2001 and 2008, more than 200 people were convicted of terrorism related
offences, and the national threat level remains at its second highest level
of “severe”, meaning an attack is highly likely. [Read
the rest
... ]

Darkness Renewed: Terror as a Tool of Empire

April 1, 2009
By Chris Floyd
Empire Burlesque – Chris-floyd.com

Here’s a purely hypothetical scenario. Let’s say you were a dedicated imperial militarist who believed that your country’s security, prestige and financial interests could best be served by war and the ever-present threat of war. Let’s say you had some really hot and juicy operations going on, endless deadly conflicts that were pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into your war machine and entrenching national policy even more deeply in the militarist philosophy — the machtpolitik – that you believe in.

But there’s a problem. The general public — the cow-like herd out there that doesn’t understand grand strategy the way you and your fellow elites do — is growing weary, and wary, of your Long War. The national treasury is bankrupt, the national infrastructure is rotting, the nation’s communities are dying; millions of people are out of work, losing their homes, losing their dreams, spiraling down into want, privation and despair. Yet you have big plans to escalate the war, expand your war machine, and maintain the global dominance that you believe is the right and natural role for your special nation — and its elites. What to do? How to galvanize the truculent, self-absorbed herd into enthusiastically supporting your vital agenda once more?

Well, here’s one purely hypothetical approach you might try. You goad and provoke violent extremist groups into retaliating against your attacks, your civilian-slaughtering invasions and incursions into their territory. Being unable to confront directly your… Continue reading

Cowardice in the Time of Torture

By Ray McGovern
April 5, 2009
ConsortiumNews.com

I used to take a certain pride by association with prominent Bronxites who have “made it.” Cancel that for Attorney General Eric Holder and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

You might think that as African-Americans, they would be especially outraged by torture, given what blacks have suffered at the hands of white torturers in this country and abroad.

Why is it that they seem to value more their admittance into a privileged white-dominated ruling class than doing the right thing? How else to explain their stunning reluctance to hold torturers accountable and thus remove the stain of torture from our nation’s soul and reputation?

One might say that Attorney General Holder is proving himself to be part of that “nation of cowards” that he called the United States in a different context, i.e. our unwillingness to address the issue of race. What about when the victims of torture are Muslims? Where’s Holder’s courage then?

Surely, I was not the only one stunned by former Vice President Dick Cheney’s public admission that he helped authorize waterboarding of detainees. But, on reflection, there seems to have been a method to his madness; and, so far at least, the method seems to be working.

Have Holder and Colin Powell forgotten from their days growing up in the Bronx the typical reaction of bullies when caught in the act? “Okay, so waddaya gonna do ’bout it!” It was an attempt at intimidation, and it was generally… Continue reading

Are Members of Congress (and Maybe Even the President) Being Blackmailed?

by Dave Lindorff
thiscantbehappening.net

For some time now, many Americans have wondered how Congress, the elected body that the nation’s Founding Fathers saw as the bulwark of liberty, could have been so thoroughly unwilling to, or incapable of challenging the dictatorial power-grabs and the eight-year Constitution wrecking campaign of the Bush/Cheney administration.

There has been speculation on both the far left and the far right, and even among some in the apolitical, cynical middle of the political spectrum, that somehow the Bush/Cheney administration must have been blackmailing at least the key members of the Congressional leadership, most likely through the use of electronic monitoring by the National Security Agency (NSA).

I’ll admit that I considered the idea of blackmail a bit far out. But now suddenly there is at least some evidence that such seemingly wild speculation may not have been off the mark, with reports that the NSA was indeed monitoring Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), and that the Bush Administration used the evidence it had obtained of her improper conversations with and promises to assist agents of the Israeli government and its lobby here in the US, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), to blackmail her into supporting the NSA’s warrantless spying program–the very kind of spying that led to her being caught on tape plotting with an agent of a foreign power.

At the time of the taping of Harman’s incriminating phone conversations, the administration was trying desperately (and ultimately successfully) to get the New York Times to hold off on publishing a shocking investigative report by journalist James Risen about a massive campaign of warrantless tapping of Americans’ phone and internet communications.…

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