By Cain Burdeau (AP)
November 18, 2009
NEW ORLEANS — A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the Army Corps of Engineers’ failure to properly maintain a navigation channel led to massive flooding in Hurricane Katrina.
U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval sided with five residents and one business who argued the Army Corps’ shoddy oversight of the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet led to the flooding of New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward and neighboring St. Bernard Parish. He said, however, the corps couldn’t be held liable for the flooding of eastern New Orleans, where one of the plaintiffs lived.
Duval awarded the plaintiffs $720,000, or about $170,000 each, but the decision could eventually make the government vulnerable to a much larger payout. The ruling should give more than 100,000 other individuals, businesses and government entities a better shot at claiming billions of dollars in damages.
Joe Bruno, one of the lead plaintiffs lawyer, said the ruling underscored the Army Corps’ long history of failure to properly protect the New Orleans region.
“It’s high time we look at the way these guys do business and do a full re-evaluation of the way it does business,” Bruno said.
The corps referred calls seeking comment to the Justice Department. The corps had argued that it is immune from liability because the channel is part of New Orleans’ flood control system, but the judge allowed the case to go forward.
Many in New Orleans have argued that Katrina, which struck the region Aug. 29, 2005,… Continue reading
by Chris Hedges
Syed Fahad Hashmi can tell you about the dark heart of America. He knows that our First Amendment rights have become a joke, that habeas corpus no longer exists and that we torture, not only in black sites such as those at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan or at Guantánamo Bay, but also at the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in Lower Manhattan. Hashmi is a U.S. citizen of Muslim descent imprisoned on two counts of providing and conspiring to provide material support and two counts of making and conspiring to make a contribution of goods or services to al-Qaida. As his case prepares for trial, his plight illustrates that the gravest threat we face is not from Islamic extremists, but the codification of draconian procedures that deny Americans basic civil liberties and due process. Hashmi would be a better person to tell you this, but he is not allowed to speak.
This corruption of our legal system, if history is any guide, will not be reserved by the state for suspected terrorists, or even Muslim Americans. In the coming turmoil and economic collapse, it will be used to silence all who are branded as disruptive or subversive. Hashmi endures what many others, who are not Muslim, will endure later. Radical activists in the environmental, globalization, anti-nuclear, sustainable agriculture and anarchist movements–who are already being placed by the state in special detention facilities with Muslims charged with terrorism–have discovered that his fate is their fate. Courageous… Continue reading
The new decade finds the US working class suffering a level of social misery not seen since the Great Depression. Unemployment, poverty, hunger, utility cutoffs, homelessness, foreclosures and bankruptcies have become common experiences for millions.
But unlike in the Great Depression, when limited reforms were put in place in response to the crisis, the Obama administration, Congress, and state and local governments are taking no serious measures to provide relief. On the contrary, the two parties of big business are exacerbating the crisis through budget cuts at the state and local level and the federal government is preparing new austerity measures.
Unemployment: At over 10 percent, the official US jobless rate reached in October and November was the highest since June of 1983. A broader measure of unemployment, taking into account those who have fallen out of the official workforce, reveals that something approaching one in five workers is unemployed or underemployed.
The economy has not added jobs since December 2007, and in that same time span has lost 7.2 million jobs overall. Coupling these losses with population growth–the economy must add about 150,000 jobs per month to break even–the net jobs deficit in the period is well over 10.5 million.
It is widely acknowledged that most of the jobs lost will not return for years, if ever. Even by the optimistic forecast of the Federal Reserve Board, the jobless rate will remain above 7 percent through 2011.…Continue reading
February 19, 2010
By DEVLIN BARRETT and PETE YOST
WASHINGTON — After seven frustrating years probing the deadly 2001 anthrax
mailings, the FBI closed the case Friday, concluding a mentally unhinged government
researcher acted alone in the attacks that killed five people and unnerved Americans
Many details of the case have been known, but newly released FBI documents
paint a fuller portrait of Dr. Bruce Ivins as a troubled scientist whose career
was teetering toward failure at the time the letters were sent. As the U.S.
responded to the mailings, his work was given new importance by the government
and he was even honored for his efforts on anthrax.
The documents also describe what investigators say was Ivins’ bizarre, decades-long
obsession with a sorority. The letters were mailed from a mailbox near the sorority’s
office in Princeton, N.J.
The anthrax letters were sent to lawmakers and news organizations as the nation
reeled in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Postal facilities,
Capitol buildings and private offices were shut down for inspection and cleaning
by workers in hazardous materials "space suits" from Florida to Washington
to New York and beyond.
The FBI and Justice Department announced the decision closing the case while
disclosing reams of evidence collected in the case. Officials also released
a nearly 100-page summary of their findings.
The document said Ivins made comments to a former colleague that showed "immediately
prior to the anthrax letter attacks, his life’s work was in jeopardy."
Ivins… Continue reading
March 5, 2010
By MIKE ROBINSON
AP Legal Affairs Writer
The Daily Journal
CHICAGO (AP) — A federal judge refused Friday to dismiss a civil lawsuit accusing former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld of responsibility for the alleged torture by U.S. forces of two Americans who worked for an Iraqi contracting firm.
U.S. District Judge Wayne R. Andersen’s ruling did not say the two contractors had proven any of their claims. But it did say they had alleged enough specific mistreatment to warrant hearing evidence of exactly what happened.
Andersen said his decision “represents a recognition that federal officials may not strip citizens of well settled constitutional protections against mistreatment simply because they are located in a tumultuous foreign setting.”
Andersen did throw out two of the lawsuit’s three counts but gave former contractors Donald Vance and Nathan Ertel the green light to go forward with a third count alleging they were unconstitutionally tortured under procedures personally approved by Rumsfeld.
In Washington, Justice Department spokesman Charles Miller said by telephone only that the department, which is representing Rumsfeld in the suit, “is reviewing the court’s decision.”
Vance and Ertel were described by their attorney, Mike Kanovitz of Chicago, as being in their early thirties. He said the two Americans went to Iraq in the fall of 2005 to work for the Iraqi-owned contracting firm of Shield Group Security.
The suit filed in 2006 alleges that while working for the company they saw fellow employees making payments to “certain Iraqi sheikhs” and… Continue reading
by James Corbett The Corbett Report
FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds joined The Corbett Report last Friday to discuss the deplorable state of whistleblower “protections” in the United States, including S.372 , a bill making its way through the Senate that would allow the FBI and other “national security” agencies to dismiss whistleblowers’ claims without any form of oversight.
The details of Edmonds’ experience blowing the whistle on the FBI–where, in the wake of 9/11, she worked in the Turkish language division of the Washington field office’s translation department–are by now fairly well known amongst followers of the alternative media. The revelations that have emerged from her case have been explosive: that foreign operatives working within the translation department tried to recruit her for their operations; that there exists a nuclear spy ring aided and abetted by high ranking U.S. government officials selling America’s nuclear secrets on the black market; that foreign language intelligence directly pertaining to 9/11 was deliberately withheld from FBI agents in the field; that Osama Bin Laden had an ‘intimate relationship’ with the United States government right up until 9/11. Perhaps the only thing more remarkable than the information she has revealed is that she ever got to reveal it at all.
The route by which Sibel Edmonds became the silent, gagged star of the 9/11 Truth movement and the poster child of the national security whistleblowers club is a… Continue reading
by Jason Leopold
The Justice Department has quietly recanted nearly every major claim the Bush administration had made about “high-value” detainee Abu Zubaydah, a Guantánamo prisoner who at one time was said to have planned the 9/11 attacks and was the No. 2 and 3 person in al-Qaeda.
Additionally, Justice has backed away from claims intelligence officials working in the Clinton administration had also leveled against Zubaydah, specifically, that he was directly involved in the planning of the 1998 embassy bombings in East Africa.
Zubaydah’s name is redacted throughout the 109-page court document, but he is identified on the first page of the filing by his real name, Zayn Al Abidin Muhammad Husayn. He was the first detainee captured after 9/11 who was subjected to nearly a dozen brutal torture techniques, which included waterboarding, and was the catalyst, the public has been told, behind the Bush administration’s “enhanced interrogation” program. Former Vice President Dick Cheney has publicly admitted that personally approved of Zubaydah’s waterboarding.
His torture was videotaped and the tapes later destroyed. The destruction of 90 videotapes of his interrogations is the focus of a high-level criminal investigation being conducted by John Durham, a federal prosecutor appointed special counsel in 2008 by then-Attorney General Michael Mukasey.
In recent months, former Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen has been on a public relations campaign promoting his book, “Courting Disaster,” in which he defended the torture of Zubaydah, claiming, among other things, that he reviewed classified intelligence that revealed Zubaydah’s torture produced actionable intelligence… 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 Scott Shane
Published: February 15, 2011 at
WASHINGTON — A review of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s scientific
work on the investigation of the anthrax letters of 2001 concludes that the
bureau overstated the strength of genetic analysis linking the mailed anthrax
to a supply kept by Bruce E. Ivins, the Army microbiologist whom the investigators
blamed for the attacks.
The review, by a panel convened by the National Academy of Sciences, says the
genetic analysis “did not definitively demonstrate” that the mailed anthrax
spores were grown from a sample taken from Dr. Ivins’s laboratory at Fort Detrick
in Frederick, Md. It does add, however, that the evidence is “consistent with
and supports an association” between Dr. Ivins’s flask and the attack anthrax.
The academy’s report faults the F.B.I. as failing to take advantage of
scientific methods developed between the mailings in 2001 and its conclusion
after Dr. Ivins’s suicide in 2008 that he was the sole perpetrator.
“In subsequent years, the investigators did not fully exploit molecular
methods to identify and characterize” anthrax samples, the report said.
Nothing in the 170-page academy report directly refutes the conclusion of what
was by most estimates the most expensive and manpower-intensive criminal investigation
in American history. The academy panel, which was paid $1.1 million by the F.B.I.
for its review, assessed only the scientific aspects of the investigation and
not the traditional detective work.
Alice P. Gast, chairwoman of the 16-member scientific panel and president of
Lehigh University, said Tuesday… Continue reading
Was David Williams IV a terrorist? Or was he just out to make an easy score by scamming the government’s informant?
By Graham RaymanMarch 2 2011 VillageVoice.com
On March 24, David Williams IV and three other Newburgh, New York, men face possible life prison sentences for plotting to blow up two synagogues in the Riverdale section of the Bronx and to shoot down military airplanes at Stewart Airport.
The Newburgh 4–ringleader James Cromitie, David Williams, Onta Williams, and Laguerre Payen–were found guilty in a six-week trial based largely on the work of an FBI informant, Shahed Hussain, who posed as a wealthy Pakistani businessman with ties to an overseas terror group as part of an elaborate government sting operation.
The trial showed that Cromitie had made anti-Semitic and anti-American statements, that he concocted attack plans with Hussain, that the four defendants met to view an anti-aircraft missile, and that they planted what they had been told were bombs at two Riverdale synagogues on May 20, 2009.
The evidence, which included secretly taped conversations, painted a picture of four men who wanted to strike a blow for radical Islam. After the verdict, one juror told reporters, “We considered what they did a serious crime.”
Defense lawyers tried unsuccessfully to convince the jury that the government had actually entrapped the four, but none of the defendants testified on their own or gave interviews.
Photographs by J.B. Nicholas, Christopher Sadowski Splash news/News.com From left: James Cromitie, David Williams, Laguerre Payen, and Onta Williams.… Continue reading
March 25, 2011
By EVAN PEREZ
Wall Street Jounal.com
New rules allow investigators to hold domestic-terror suspects longer than
others without giving them a Miranda warning, significantly expanding exceptions
to the instructions that have governed the handling of criminal suspects for
more than four decades.
The move is one of the Obama administration’s most significant revisions to
rules governing the investigation of terror suspects in the U.S. And it potentially
opens a new political tussle over national security policy, as the administration
marks another step back from pre-election criticism of unorthodox counterterror
The Supreme Court’s 1966 Miranda ruling obligates law-enforcement
officials to advise suspects of their rights to remain silent and to have an
attorney present for questioning. A 1984 decision amended that by allowing the
questioning of suspects for a limited time before issuing the warning in cases
where public safety was at issue.
That exception was seen as a limited device to be used only in cases of an
imminent safety threat, but the new rules give interrogators more latitude and
flexibility to define what counts as an appropriate circumstance to waive Miranda
A Federal Bureau of Investigation memorandum reviewed by The Wall Street Journal
says the policy applies to “exceptional cases” where investigators
“conclude that continued unwarned interrogation is necessary to collect
valuable and timely intelligence not related to any immediate threat.”
Such action would need prior approval from FBI supervisors and Justice Department
lawyers, according to the memo, which was issued in December but… Continue reading
By Ray McGovern
April 6, 2011
The Obama administration’s decision to use a military tribunal rather than a federal criminal court to try alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others means the real motives behind the 9/11 attacks may remain obscure.
The Likud Lobby and their allied U.S. legislators can chalk up a significant victory for substantially shrinking any opportunity for the accused planners of 9/11 to tell their side of the story.
What? I sense some bristling. “Their side of the story?” Indeed! We’ve been told there is no “their side of the story.”
For years, President George W. Bush got away with offering up the risible explanation that they “hate our freedoms.” The stenographers of the White House press corps may have had to suppress smiles but silently swallowed the “they-hate-us-for-our-freedoms” rationale.
The only journalist I can recall stepping up and asking, in effect, “Come on; now really; it’s important; why do the really hate us” was the indomitable Helen Thomas.
In January 2010, just weeks after the “underpants bomber” tried to down an airliner over Detroit, President Barack Obama asked White House counter-terrorism guru, John Brennan, to field questions from the White House press.
Helen Thomas took the opportunity to ask why the would-be bomber did what he did. The exchange with Brennan is, hopefully, more instructive than it is depressing — highlighting a limited mindset still stuck in bromides.
Thomas: “Why do they want to do us harm? And what is the motivation?… Continue reading
Lessons the 9/11 Truth Movement Needs to Consider With New Urgency
by John Parulis
The talk, linked to here, given by the late Utah Phillips in the summer of 2004 in Berkeley, California, sets a pathway for a new direction for activism centered on creating world wide worker unions established in non-violence and wide scale organizing.
Utah Phillips is right. The progressive left needs to change tactics. The 9/11 Truth Movement can learn from the left’s failures. Street marches achieve little or nothing. Look at the global anti-war marches of 2003 to stop the Iraq Invasion. Millions flooded the streets around the world in days of historic popular uprisings and demonstrations, yet the war proceeded and ever expanding wars metastasized in Afghanistan, Pakistan and now Libya. Nearly a million people have died. People continue to die from the so called 9/11 wars and billions continue to be misspent on these failings.
At home, bankers engineered the worst financial collapse since the Great Depression. For this they were rewarded with bailouts and no regulatory reform to speak of. They, along with their giant corporate cousins are making record profits while states and cities are chipping away and hacking to death vital services, jobs and job protections for workers, the poor and students and record numbers of people are losing their homes. Legislative efforts to strengthen our democratic institutions, like expanded whistleblower protections and corporate oversight, die on the table or in committee under the nasty anti-environmental and anti-worker agendas of… Continue reading
May 20, 2011
By Greg Gordon
WASHINGTON — Buried in FBI laboratory reports about the anthrax mail attacks that killed five people in 2001 is data suggesting that a chemical may have been added to try to heighten the powder’s potency, a move that some experts say exceeded the expertise of the presumed killer.
The lab data, contained in more than 9,000 pages of files that emerged a year after the Justice Department closed its inquiry and condemned the late Army microbiologist Bruce Ivins as the perpetrator, shows unusual levels of silicon and tin in anthrax powder from two of the five letters.
Those elements are found in compounds that could be used to weaponize the anthrax, enabling the lethal spores to float easily so they could be readily inhaled by the intended victims, scientists say.
The existence of the silicon-tin chemical signature offered investigators the possibility of tracing purchases of the more than 100 such chemical products available before the attacks, which might have produced hard evidence against Ivins or led the agency to the real culprit.
But the FBI lab reports released in late February give no hint that bureau agents tried to find the buyers of additives such as tin-catalyzed silicone polymers.
The apparent failure of the FBI to pursue this avenue of investigation raises the ominous possibility that the killer is still on the loose.
A McClatchy analysis of the records also shows that other key scientific questions were… Continue reading
Not All Sources and Experts Are Equal–Here Are some Real Ones!
There are ‘experts’ views,’ and then there are experts’ views. There are ‘government sources,’ and then there are government sources. Not all experts are equal. And, not all sources are reliable. Am I talking in riddles? Of course not; give me a chance and I’ll explain.
We have members of the popular media (mainstream and quasi-alternatives alike) ever anxious to market and disseminate government conspiracy and propaganda. They, members of the popular media, have their own rolodex of ‘experts’ and analysts, some on their payroll, to help them propagate the delivery and execution of government-given propaganda-conspiracy. The same principle applies to ‘sources.’ The popular media relies on their government sources who act as middle-men-government messengers who’ve been given a government written and approved script to be delivered; almost always anonymously. Well, this is exactly what we have been getting from our media, around the clock, since the announcement of the Bin Laden Death Operation: ever-changing government scripts, delivered mainly by anonymous government sources to the US media, and further embellished and expanded upon by government-connected experts and analysts on the payroll.
On the other hand, there are many independent real experts whose analyses and views you won’t, or rarely, get to hear or read about; at least not in the mainstream media or at quasi-alternative sites. And there are current and former government sources not tasked with messenger duties; many of whom… Continue reading
By PETE YOST
WASHINGTON — Four Democratic senators won the promise Thursday of a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing into what they say is a secret and expansive Justice Department interpretation of the information collection the Patriot Act allows.
The criticism by Intelligence Committee members Ron Wyden of Oregon and Mark Udall of Colorado came as Congress moved to extend the government’s Patriot Act powers to search records and conduct roving wiretaps.
Wyden said there is a growing gap between what the law says and what the senators call a classified interpretation of the law by the Justice Department.
Udall said his constituents “would be alarmed if they knew” how the Patriot Act was being carried out.
Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon complained that “the government won’t even tell the American people how it interprets these provisions, or whether it sees any limits on its authority at all.” Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico said almost 10 years after the Patriot Act’s passage, “we still haven’t had the debate that we need to have on this piece of legislation.” All four senators voted against the Patriot Act extension. Merkley and Tom Udall are not on the intelligence committee.
The four senators proposed an amendment that would require Attorney General Eric Holder to file a public report on the legal rationale for intelligence collection activities. Wyden vowed to offer the amendment in the fall “if we don’t get results” through the hearing process.
The wording of the amendment seemed… Continue reading
Breathlessly, six members of Congress have requested that the FBI investigate the “outrageous” allegations that News Corp might have hacked into the cell phones of 9/11 victims and their families. Lickety split, the Justice Department has done so.
First off, does it surprise me that a corporation like News Corp. might try to hack into the information of private citizens for their own financial gain? Nope.
Much like it wouldn’t surprise me if my own government hacked into the private information of its citizens for political gain or… er, I mean, “reasons of national security.” Just ask Dick Cheney and Karl Rove about that.
Of course, any such “accidental netting” on their part would be immediately explained away under the protections of FISA and the Patriot Act, because clearly it would have been necessary “in the ongoing fight against terrorism.”
Too bad, Congress doesn’t want to investigate those types of indiscretions. Sigh.
But truly, I am awestruck when people like Congressman Peter King, Chairman of the House Committee for Homeland Security is so quickly moved to demand an investigation into such vague, seemingly hollow allegations as someone hacking into the cell phones of people like me.
Is this the same Congressman King who when faced with actual hard, incontrovertible facts and figures regarding the vulnerabilities posed by dangerous chemical and water plants across the country remains disinterested? And, I might add firmly on the side of… Continue reading
A Significant Stimulus for the Reform that Never Came
10 August 2011
by Kevin Fenton
Zacarias Moussaoui, one of the numerous “20th hijackers,” was arrested ten years ago next Tuesday, outside the Residence Inn in Eagan, Minnesota. The arrest was one of the first events in a case that gave the FBI a chance to blow open the 9/11 plot, but resulted in abject humiliation for the bureau when its headquarters’ string of errors was exposed in the press.
The Moussaoui case is a poster boy for the state of our knowledge about the attacks: we have some of the details, but know some are missing. Also, two key questions remain unanswered. This despite the wealth of information that came out at the trial and the fact that Moussaoui, although largely ignored by the 9/11 Commission’s final report–partly due to the forthcoming trial–was a major topic of the Justice Department inspector general’s report into the FBI’s pre-attack failings.
These are the bare bones of the case: Moussaoui had been a known extremist for years prior to his arrest. Before the bureau first heard his name on August 15, he had been under surveillance by French and British intelligence and the CIA, although the agency would claim it only knew him under an alias. He was sent to the US for flight training by alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, possibly to participate in 9/11, possibly to participate in a follow-up operation. However, he was a poor student and… Continue reading