by Eric Black
March 11 2009
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.”
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 get intoxicated by executive power, frustrated by the limitations on that power from Congress and the public, drawn into improper covert actions that exceed their constitutional powers, in the belief that they can get results and will never be found out.…Continue reading
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;
And the following report in the mainstream Canadian press: The Toronto Sun;
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
By Chris Hedges
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 doppelgnger 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,
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 United States that
received… Continue reading
Human Rights Watch Mourns Loss of Alison Des Forges
Alison’s loss is a devastating blow not only to Human Rights Watch but also
to the people of Rwanda and the Great Lakes region.
Kenneth Roth, executive director
Leading Rwanda Expert Killed in Plane Crash
February 13, 2009
(New York) – It is with enormous sadness that Human Rights Watch announces
the death of our beloved colleague Dr. Alison Des Forges, who was killed in
the crash of Flight 3407 from Newark to Buffalo on February 12, 2009. Des Forges,
senior adviser to Human Rights Watch’s Africa division for almost two decades,
dedicated her life to working on Rwanda and was the world’s leading expert on
the 1994 Rwanda genocide and its aftermath.
“Alison’s loss is a devastating blow not only to Human Rights Watch but
also to the people of Rwanda and the Great Lakes region,” said Kenneth
Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “She was truly wonderful,
the epitome of the human rights activist – principled, dispassionate, committed
to the truth and to using that truth to protect ordinary people. She was among
the first to highlight the ethnic tensions that led to the genocide, and when
it happened and the world stood by and watched, Alison did everything humanly
possible to save people. Then she wrote the definitive account. There was no
one who knew more and did more to document the genocide and to help bring the
perpetrators to justice.”
Des Forges, born in Schenectady, New… Continue reading
By Paul Craig Roberts
February 04, 2009
According to US government propaganda, terrorist cells are spread throughout America, making it necessary for the government to spy on all Americans and violate most other constitutional protections. Among President Bush’s last words as he left office was the warning that America would soon be struck again by Muslim terrorists.
If America were infected with terrorists, we would not need the government to tell us. We would know it from events. As there are no events, the US government substitutes warnings in order to keep alive the fear that causes the public to accept pointless wars, the infringement of civil liberty, national ID cards, and inconveniences and harrassments when they fly.
The most obvious indication that there are no terrorist cells is that not a single neocon has been assassinated.
I do not approve of assassinations, and am ashamed of my country’s government for engaging in political assassination. The US and Israel have set a very bad example for al Qaeda to follow.
The US deals with al Qaeda and Taliban by assassinating their leaders, and Israel deals with Hamas by assassinating its leaders. It is reasonable to assume that al Qaeda would deal with the instigators and leaders of America’s wars in the Middle East in the same way.
Today every al Qaeda member is aware of the complicity of neoconservatives in the death and devastation inflicted on Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Gaza. Moreover, neocons are highly visible… Continue reading
February 2, 2009
by Chris Hedges
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 and charlatans who rise… Continue reading
By Joshua Holland
February 3, 2009
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 marched in Zaragoza, as Spanish unemployment heads towards 20 percent. There have been riots and bloodshed in Greece, protests in Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary and Bulgaria. The police have suppressed public discontent… Continue reading
by Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed
January 26, 2009
The arrival of the Obama administration will not fundamentally alter the course of military expansion accelerated during the Bush era. The origins of these policies do not lie uniquely in neoconservative ideology. While the election of President Obama may offer new opportunities for progressive forces to delimit the damage, their space for movement will ultimately be constrained by deep-seated structural pressures that will attempt to exploit Obama to rehabilitate American imperial hegemony, rather than transform it.
Indeed, the radicalization of Anglo-American political ideology represented by the rise of neoconservative principles and the militarization processes of the ‘War on Terror’, constituted a strategic response to global systemic crises supported by the American business classes. The same classes, recognizing the extent to which the Bush era has discredited this response, have rallied around Obama. Therefore, as global crises intensify, this militarization response is likely to undergo further radicalization, rather than a meaningful change in course. The key differences will be in language and method, not substance.
Obama and National Security: “It’s the Oil, Stupid!”
This became increasingly clear as Barack Obama’s administration appointees became known — individuals whose political and ideological positions are largely commensurate with neoconservative ideals particularly on security matters, and whose social and intellectual connections link them to neo-conservative think-tanks and policy-makers.
A glance through Obama’s national security team also raises eyebrows, but we should focus on his selection of former Marine General Jim Jones as his National Security Advisor. Jones… Continue reading
By Greg Miller, Washington Bureau
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
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 underscores the fact that… Continue reading
David Edwards and Stephen C. Webster
January 30, 2009
If you’re poor and the bank is coming for your home, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur
has a plan for you.
Just squat, she says.
Yes, this Ohio Democrat is actually encouraging her financially distressed
constituents whose homes have been foreclosed upon, to simply stay put.
In a Friday report, CNN’s Drew Griffin explored the case of Ohioan Andrea Geiss,
whose home was foreclosed upon in April.
“Behind in payments, out of work, a husband sick, she had nowhere to go,”
said Griffin. “So, she decided to follow the advice of her Congresswoman
and go nowhere.”
In Lucas County, Ohio, over 4,000 properties were foreclosed upon in 2008,
“So I say to the American people, you be squatters in your own homes,”
said Congresswoman Kaptur before the House of Representatives. “Don’t you
She’s called on all of her foreclosed-upon constituents to stay in their homes
and refuse to leave without “an attorney and a fight,” said CNN.
“If they’ve had no legal representation of a high quality, I tell them
stay in their homes,” Kaptur told Griffin.
Kaptur is a high-profile advocate of an increasingly popular mode of fighting
foreclosures best known for it’s key phrase: “Produce the note.”
By telling a bank to “produce the note,” a homeowner can delay foreclosure
by forcing the lender to prove the suing institution is actually the same which
owns the debt.
“During the lending boom, most mortgages were flipped and sold… Continue reading
Imagine yourself within the mind of Barack Obama, the first African American president of the United States of America. You are a man who knows how “the system” works.
This knowledge has been accrued at hard struggle, and by a remarkable and unique ability to adapt to any environment because you spent a lifetime as an exotic specimen in every environment, from Kansas to Kenya–both African and American, Muslim and Christian, black and white. But you always displayed your native nobility–tribal nobility on your father’s side; nobility of spirit on your mother’s–and you were, with rare exceptions, accepted on your own terms. You were born under the sign of Leo, the lion, the natural leader; and your intelligence was honed with great discipline, under the influence of strong women.
Because your upbringing instilled in you a generosity of spirit that is natural to liberalism, and firsthand understanding from your grandfather of what motivates a man to risk his life for his country and an African father’s sense of freedom, unencumbered by Jim Crow oppression, you are a natural idealist who believes in the promise of America.
But you are also–with laser-focused intensity–a realist. A “pragmatist,” as they say. And no one knows better than you how much danger you are in.
It’s not just the racist crazies, one of whom could always, unexpectedly pop up through some weird quirk in the security system. But that’s only a distant possibility. You know, better than anyone, I suspect, that your greatest danger is what “the system” will do to protect itself, to what lengths it will go to protect itself, if certain lines are crossed.…Continue reading
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
Sat Jan 17, 2009
By Louis Charbonneau
BEIRUT, Jan 17 (Reuters) – U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Saturday
he was relieved about an Israeli ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and urged the Jewish
state to withdraw all of its troops as soon as possible.
"I am relieved that the Israeli government has decided to cease hostilities
as of midnight GMT," Ban told reporters. "This should be the first
step leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza," he said,
adding that he wanted the withdrawal "as soon as possible".
He said that Hamas militants also needed to do their part to bring an end to
the violence by halting their rocket attacks against southern Israel.
"Hamas militants must stop firing rockets now," he said.
Ban said that humanitarian access for the people of the Gaza Strip was the
top priority and the United Nations was ready to act immediately.
"Any durable solution must include the reopening of the (Gaza border)
crossings and the prevention of illicit trafficking in arms," he said.
Ban flies to Damascus on Sunday to meet with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
before heading to the Egyptian Red Sea city of Sharm el-Sheikh for a summit
meeting on aid and reconstruction efforts for Gaza hosted by Egypt’s President
Israel accuses Syria and Iran of supporting and arming Hamas, an accusation
Ban said he and European leaders including French President Nicolas Sarkozy,
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and German Chancellor Angela… Continue reading
“The Government has determined that continued prosecution of this case
as to LINDAUER would not be in the interests of justice.”*
(Jan. 16, Wash. DC) The Department of
Justice entered a motion to drop all charges against Susan
Lindauer yesterday morning, Jan. 15, 2009. The filing (see
below) at the federal district court in lower Manhattan ends
the government’s attempt to prosecute her for allegedly
acting as an “unregistered agent” for Iraq. Since her
arrest in early 2004, she has repeatedly asked for a trial
to present evidence that she had been a United States
intelligence asset since the early 1990′s.
By filing this order, the government surrendered forever its ability to prosecute
Lindauer as an “Iraqi foreign agent” and for lesser charges contained in the
indictment, including a one week trip to Baghdad in March, 2002.
Lindauer made the
following statement today, Jan 16, 2009: “I am disgusted by
this case. They think that they have defeated me by denying
my day in court. It could not be more wrong. If we can’t
have a criminal trial, we’re going to have a civil trial for
Lindauer was arrested in March, 2004 shortly
after offering to testify before a Bush appointed href="http://edition.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOLITICS/03/15/iraq.tm/"
target="_blank">blue ribbon commission evaluating U.S.
pre-war intelligence on Iraq. In late February, she
informed the offices of two commission members, Sen. McCain
(R-AZ) and Trent Lott (R-MS), that she could testify that
U.S. pre-war intelligence was proactive and effective, not a… Continue reading
January 13, 2009
by Larisa Alexandrovna
New information surrounding the December plane crash which killed GOP internet
consultant Michael Connell casts doubt on some of the rumors and speculation
surrounding his death but doesn’t close the books on the circumstances surrounding
the Republican technology star’s tragic end.
Michael Connell, a high-level IT guru for the Republican National Committee
and the US Chamber of Commerce, died Dec. 19, 2008 at 5:53 PM ET when his airplane
crashed near Ohio’s Akron-Canton airport.
Although there has been speculation in the media about the possibility of sabotage in Connell death, authorities do not suspect foul play. The official investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has not yet determined the cause of the crash; their final report is required to be produced within a year.
Connell’s ten year-old, seven-passenger, single engine Piper Saratoga II crashed into an empty house on Charolais Street in Lake Township, Ohio. The plane’s right wing clipped a flagpole in the front yard before it broke up, set fire to the garage, and tumbled some 50–60 feet along the ground toward the back yard of a neighboring home.
Connell was thrown from the burning plane and killed instantaneously by massive blunt force trauma, according to the Stark County coroner’s report. Although the body was not burned, fingerprints were required to confirm identity, according to Captain Lorin Geisner of the Greentown Fire Department.
According to Geisner, Connell’s personal items recovered from the crash site included a passport, a driver’s… Continue reading
Catherine Austin Fitts
January 9, 2009
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.
by Josh Israel
January 7, 2009
A Center for Public Integrity Investigation
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