by Glenn Greenwald
Saturday, June 27, 2009
When Obama first unveiled his “preventive detention” policy, many defenders praised him (and claimed he was different than Bush) because of his vow that — as he put it — “my Administration will work with Congress to develop an appropriate legal regime.” But now, relying exclusively on three Obama officials speaking behind a veil of anonymity, Peter Finn and Dafner Linza of The Washington Post and ProPublica report that the White House is “crafting language for an executive order that would reassert presidential authority to incarcerate terrorism suspects indefinitely.” TPM calls this “the latest installment in the Obama administration’s tendency to mimic the Bushies on war on terror tactics.” And the article itself points out the obvious: “Such an order would embrace claims by former president George W. Bush that certain people can be detained without trial for long periods under the laws of war.” Revealingly, the article quotes two Bush national security officials justifying the need for detention without charges.
Anonymous trial balloon articles like this one are difficult to comment on because it’s obviously designed to announce that a certain policy is being considered before it’s actually written, and so none of the key details is known. Would Obama’s new detention powers apply only to current “War on Terror” prisoners at places like Guantánamo and Bagram, or would they also apply to future, not-yet-abducted detainees as well? Would these powers apply to detainees picked up anywhere in the… Continue reading
June 8, 2009
FAS Project on Government Secrecy s Secrecy News
An Inspector General review (pdf) of the State Department Office of the Historian (HO) last month confirmed that there were serious management defects in the Office and recommended reassignment of its Director as well as other changes.
The Office of the Historian is responsible for production of the Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series, which is the official documentary history of U.S. foreign policy and one of the most important vehicles for declassification of historical records.
Allegations of mismanagement and declining performance had surrounded the Office for years until the Chairman of the State Department Historical Advisory Committee, Prof. Wm. Roger Louis, resigned last December to dramatize his concerns that the FRUS series was “at risk.” (See “State Dept: Crisis in the Foreign Relations Series,” Secrecy News, December 11, 2008).
“In varying degrees, nearly 75 percent of the present HO employees interviewed … were critical of the way the office is run,” the IG reported. “They alleged favoritism, cronyism, a lack of transparency, lack of interest in the FRUS, disparagement of the staff, suspicion, an absence of leadership, and, in general, the creation of an unhappy workplace.”
With plummeting employee morale and departures of experienced staff historians, “something in HO is very wrong,” the Inspector General concluded. “HO is suffering from, and has for some time been handicapped by, serious mismanagement for which the director must be held accountable…. Despite any mitigating factors that may exist in favor of the director, this situation cannot be allowed to continue.”
“It is a devastating indictment,” said Prof.…Continue reading
By James Ridgeway
Sun May 24, 2009
Say what you will about Dick Cheney, at least he’s consistent. While he was in office, the Vice President made a practice of exploiting the fear and loss wrought by the 9/11 attacks to advance his own political agenda–and he’s still doing it now. During his speech at the American Enterprise Institute on Thursday, according to Dana Milbank’s calculations in the Washington Post, “Cheney used the word ‘attack’ 19 times, ‘danger’ and ‘threat’ six times apiece, and 9/11 an impressive 27 times.”
In this putative rebuttal to Obama speech on national security, Cheney described how he spent the morning of 9/11 “in a fortified White House command post,” receiving “the reports and images that so many Americans remember from that day,” and then declared:
In the years since, I’ve heard occasional speculation that I’m a different man after 9/11. I wouldn’t say that. But I’ll freely admit that watching a coordinated, devastating attack on our country from an underground bunker at the White House can affect how you view your responsibilities.
Since he’s evoking his experience as a rationalization for torture, this might be a good time to review exactly what it was that Cheney was doing in the bunker on that terrible day. Here again, consistency is the rule: A preponderance of evidence points to the fact that Dick Cheney spent the morning of September 11, 2001, violating the Constitution of the United States.
Continued at the source: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2009/05/cheneys-bunker-mentality…Continue reading
By Thomas C. Fletcher
Review of new book by David Ray Griffin, Osama Bin Laden: Dead or Alive?
OSAMA BIN LADEN: DEAD OR ALIVE? by David Ray Griffin is a crucially important and timely examination of the whole range of evidence bearing on the question, is Osama bin Laden still alive? The importance of this question for the present comes from the fact that the United States under its new president is escalating its offensive in Afghanistan and expanding the war into Pakistan, and has claimed that the “hunt for bin Laden” is one of its principal motivations for doing so. Either explicitly or implicitly, the US government and major media outlets such as the New York Times and Washington Post continue to assert that bin Laden is alive, hiding in the tribal territories on the “AfPak” border, posing an undiminished threat to US security.
In his gripping new book, Griffin strikes at the root of this pretext for war by closely examining all the evidence that has come out since September 11, 2001, either indicating that bin Laden is still alive or that he is in fact dead. His conclusion is that bin Laden is certainly dead, and that in all likelihood he died in very late 2001. Griffin shows that many US experts in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency came to this very same conclusion long ago, but their views, which do not support the continuation of what President Obama, borrowing the term from Dick Cheney, calls “the long… Continue reading
May 20, 2009
INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATION: Islamist dies in Tripoli shortly after human
rights group visit from Fred Bridgland in Libya
THE ISLAMIST terrorist who was the key source of the false intelligence used
to trigger the US and UK 2003 military invasion of Iraq has been found dead
in a Libyan prison cell.t
Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi allegedly committed suicide by hanging in the prison where
he was being held in the Libyan capital, Tripoli. His death followed a visit
by a team from Human Rights Watch, one of the world’s leading independent organisations
dedicated to defending and protecting human rights.
The al-Libi affair opens a window on an extraordinarily close espionage link
that existed between the government of the former US president, George Bush,
and the authoritarian Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi.
Al-Libi was the unnamed source that Bush, his former secretary of state, Colin
Powell, and other administration officials relied upon prior to the Iraq invasion
to assert that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was helping a terrorist organisation
run by al-Qaeda. Al-Libi was known to Powell and Bush by the codename “Curveball”.
Powell’s speech to the United Nations Security Council on February 5, 2003
was largely based on al-Libi’s coerced testimony – which was extracted from
him in Egyptian torture chambers – even though many US intelligence officials
questioned it at the time and later dismissed it completely. In his address,
aimed at drumming up support for the invasion, Powell said he could “trace
the story of a senior terrorist operative telling how Iraq provided training
in these chemical and biological weapons to al-Qaeda”.…
by Prof. Peter Dale Scott
May 8, 2009
One of the most frustrating features of observing American foreign policy is to see the gap between the encapsulated thinking of the national security bureaucracy and the sensible unfettered observations of the experts outside. In the case of Afghanistan, outside commentators have called for terminating current specific American policies and tactics — many reminiscent of the US in Vietnam.
Observers decry the use of air strikes to decapitate the Taliban and al Qaeda, usually resulting in the death of other civilians. They counsel against is the insertion of more and more US and other foreign troops, in an effort to secure the safety and allegiance of the population. And they regret the on-going interference in the fragile Afghan political process, in order to secure outcomes desired in Washington.1
One root source for this gap between official and outside opinion will not be addressed soon — the conduct of crucial decision-making in secrecy, not by those who know the area, but by those skilled enough in bureaucratic politics to have earned the highest security clearances. However it may be more productive to criticize the mindset shared by the decision-makers, and to point out elements of the false consciousness which frames it, and which should be corrigible by common sense.
Why One Should Think of So-Called “Failed States” as “Ravaged States”
I have in mind the bureaucratically convenient concept of Afghanistan as a failed or failing state. This epithet has been… Continue reading
April 23, 2009
Let Sibel Edmonds Speak
Sibel gave a 75-min interview to Electric Politics on April 10. You can listen
to it here.
Mizgin has an overview of the interview here.
A partial transcript follows:
Heroin, money-laundering and terrorism
Sibel Edmonds: First of all, it has been documented in the past several decades, the importance of narcotics in the Turkish economy, but also the role of Turkish MIT – that is Turkish Intelligence – and the military having an active role. But you’re also looking at the increased role of certain Central Asian countries and the Caucuses, and if you look at some of these regimes, these are the regimes that we have been supporting. Their economies also have become dependent on narcotics, because they have become a major transit – and in some places, for certain countries such as Azerbaijan, they have become major production centers.
After they shut down the casinos in Turkey – around 1998 – many of the large casinos in Turkey which were used to launder a lot of money, that also had to do with the narcotics, they actually moved and relocated to Azerbaijan, and there were several that went to Kazakhstan. So if you go through some of those Central Asian countries and you look at the list of the casinos, and you look at the ownership, you will see mainly Turkish ownership, and these are Turkish holding companies that relocated in 1998 to those countries.
George Kenney:… Continue reading
By Ray McGovern
April 5, 2009
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
It’s not the bonuses. It’s that AIG’s counterparties are getting paid back in
By Eliot Spitzer
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Everybody is rushing to condemn AIG’s bonuses, but this simple scandal is obscuring
the real disgrace at the insurance giant: Why are AIG’s counterparties getting
paid back in full, to the tune of tens of billions of taxpayer dollars?
For the answer to this question, we need to go back to the very first decision
to bail out AIG, made, we are told, by then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson,
then-New York Fed official Timothy Geithner, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein,
and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke last fall. Post-Lehman’s collapse, they feared
a systemic failure could be triggered by AIG’s inability to pay the counterparties
to all the sophisticated instruments AIG had sold. And who were AIG’s trading
partners? No shock here: Goldman, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, UBS, JPMorgan
Chase, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank, Barclays, and on it goes. So now we know
for sure what we already surmised: The AIG bailout has been a way to hide an
enormous second round of cash to the same group that had received TARP money
It all appears, once again, to be the same insiders protecting themselves against
sharing the pain and risk of their own bad adventure. The payments to AIG’s
counterparties are justified with an appeal to the sanctity of contract. If
AIG’s contracts turned out to be shaky, the theory goes, then the whole edifice
of the financial system would collapse.…
Vic Sadot’s latest CD, 9/11 Truth & Justice Songs is now available at the 911TruthStore! Last year Vic traveled from his home in Delaware to Berkeley, and has been singing at peace and justice festivals, participating in TruthAction events with San Francisco truth advocates, and sang Cheney’s in the Bunker last year at a rally for Green Party Presidential candidate, Cynthia McKinney.
Have a listen to a sample of Vic’s work at Last FM and you’ll want a copy of this CD — Please support this talented, dedicated truth musician.
Blowback or Bloody Treason
Well, the day was nine-eleven in the year two thousand-one
That’s the day the “war on terror” was officially begun
When 2 planes took down 3 buildings in a scene of “Shock & Awe”
Before they hauled away the rubble, it was a crime scene for the law!
Who had the means? Who had the motive?
Who could do this crime and live?
Who had the opportunity?
Who benefits to what degree?
We need a great detective’s logic!
Forensic facts and laws of physics…
Not “leaps of faith”… Just “steps to reason”
Was it blowback or bloody treason?
Was it blowback or bloody treason?
1 The Ballad of William Rodriguez - The story the World Trade Center janitor of 20 years who suddenly became a Ground Zero rescue hero as he responded… Continue reading
This week, newspapers across the country will once again sponsor panel discussions, Webcasts and op-eds pushing the American ideals of a free press and citizen access to the inner workings of government.
In recognition of Sunshine Week, News graphic artist Daniel Zakroczemski has created a poster celebrating freedom of information. To download a copy of the poster, click here .
Survey Of State Government Information Online
Most Americans can easily find videos of water skiing squirrels on the Internet but they’ll have less luck finding out whether their children’s school buses and classrooms are safe, or if neighborhood gas stations are overcharging. The Sunshine Week 2009 Survey of State Government Information online found that while more and more government records are being posted online, some of the most important information is being left offline. And in some cases governments are charging taxpayers to access records that they already paid for, such as death certificates. Read the report… .
For release: March 13, 2009
Federal Govt. Still Viewed as Secretive; President’s FOI Orders Get High Marks
Washington, D.C. — For the first time in four years, public opinion about government secrecy has leveled off, although more than seven in 10 adults still consider the federal government to… Continue reading
by Mickey S. Huff and Paul W. Rea
They say goldfish have no memory
I guess their lives are much like mine
and the little plastic castle
is a surprise every time
and it’s hard to say if they’re happy
but they don’t seem much to mind.
–Ani DiFranco, Little Plastic Castles
For the past eight years, American culture has seen an outburst of media-driven mythmaking. Corporate mainstream media organizations, the pundits they sponsor, and politicians from both major parties have formed a new contextual chorus singing the same refrain: “On September 11th, 2001, everything changed.” From cable TV to AM radio, from the blogosphere to the town-hall meeting, Americans repeatedly hear that “this is a post-9/11 world.”
Although there is some truth to this platitude of pivotal change, independently minded citizens may also wonder whether such mass media messages have become self-fulfilling prophecies. This provides an interesting point of debate about what has or has not changed in America since 9/11.
This chapter concerns itself with the ongoing phenomena of media mythmaking and how, like many Americans surmised just after 9/11, everything has not changed. 1 Corporate mainstream media have resurrected powerful myths from America’s past to shape public perception in the present. Through the prism of 9/11, one can see how the corporate mass media are in fact doing more mythmaking than news reporting. Here, the authors will examine central historic American myths the corporate media and even much of the alternative independent media have extended into the… Continue reading
February 10, 2009
On 9/11, the FBI believed that bombs were involved in the attacks.
How do I know that?
Because, according to the FBI’s website:
Following the massive terrorist attacks against New York and Washington, the FBI dedicated 7,000 of its 11,000 Special Agents and thousands of FBI support personnel to the PENTTBOM investigation. “PENTTBOM” is short for Pentagon, Twin Towers Bombing.
Indeed, the FBI told a reporter for USA Today that FBI agents believed there were bombs in the Twin Towers.
Similarly, the Washington Post believed that bombs were involved, as reflected in a September 21, 2001 article containing the following phrase:
In the hours after Tuesday’s bombings . . . .
Many firefighters and policemen also said
there were bombs in the Twin Towers.
And perhaps “the premiere collapse expert in the country”, who 9/11 Commissioner Timothy Roemer referred to as a “very, very respected expert on building collapse”, the head of the New York Fire Department’s Special Operations Command and the most highly decorated firefighter in its NYFD history, who had previously “commanded rescue operations at many difficult and complex disasters, including the Oklahoma City Bombing, the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing, and many natural disasters worldwide” thought that the collapse of the South Tower was caused by bombs, because the collapse of the building was too even to have been caused by anything else (pages 5-6).
But surely experts have since proven… Continue reading
Terrell (Terry) E. Arnold was the number 2 counter-terrorism official at the U.S. State Department, and is one of the world’s leading experts on terror.
Arnold served as the Deputy Director, Office of Counter-Terrorism and Emergency Planning, at the U.S. State Department. He is also the former Chairman of the Department of International Studies at the National War College.
Arnold has worked as a crisis management consultant for several Federal agencies, including The State Department, the Department of Defense, the U.S. Customs Service and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He is the author of numerous books on terror*. Arnold is a U.S. Navy veteran of World War II and the Korean war.
I spoke with Arnold by phone.
GW: Your essay It is Vital to Move Beyond 9/11 is insightful and hard-hitting, and I agree with virtually everything you say. I have previously written on many of the topics you touch on, such as false pretenses for war , torture and illegal spying .
Initially, you write:
“As an alleged post 9/11 defense, the War on Terrorism is a gigantic fraud.”
As a leading counter-terrorism expert, I am curious to hear why you believe this.
Terry Arnold: The military approach doesn’t cover all of the elements of the problem. We need to capture and confine the individuals who are up to… Continue reading
By Paul Craig Roberts
January 08, 2009
The American print
and TV media has never been very good. These days it is horrible. If a person
intends to be informed, he must turn to foreign news broadcasts, to Internet
sites, to foreign newspapers available on the Internet, or to alternative newspapers
that are springing up in various cities. A person who sits in front of Murdoch’s
Fox “News” or CNN or who reads the New York Times is simply being
brainwashed with propaganda.
Before conservatives nod their heads in agreement, I’m not referring
to “the liberal media.” I mean the propaganda that issues from the
US government and the Israel Lobby.
It was neoconservative Bush regime propaganda fed to America through Judith
Miller and the New York Times and through Murdoch’s Fox “News”
that convinced Americans that they were in danger from a small secular Arab
country half way around the globe called Iraq. It was the American media that
convinced Americans that getting rid of dangerous “weapons of mass destruction,”
weapons that did not exist in Iraq, would be a cakewalk paid for by Iraqi oil
It is the same propagandistic American print and TV media that has rationalized
Bush’s illegal invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan based on seven years of
lies and deception.
It is the same media that today provides only Israeli propaganda as “coverage”
of the Israeli war crimes in Gaza.
It was the New York Times that spiked for one year the leaked information
from the National Security Agency that the Bush regime, in violation of US law,
was illegally spying on Americans without warrants.…
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
FAMILY OF SECRETS: The Bush Dynasty, the Powerful Forces That Put It in the White House, and What Their Influence Means for America
By award-winning investigative journalist Russ Baker
ISBN: 1-59691-557-9; $30.00; Pub January 2009, familyofsecrets.com
Contact: Gene Taft, GeneTaftPR@aol.com, m: 917/701-4072, p: 301/593-0766 Peter Miller, Peter.Miller@bloomsburyusa.com, 646-307-5579
Revelatory new book on Bush family
publishing January 2009
How did Bush happen? How did George W. Bush, of all people, rise to the most powerful position in the world? This simple question sparked a five-year investigative odyssey by Russ Baker. What he found will force us to rethink virtually everything we thought we knew about the Bush family and its role in shaping recent American history.
In FAMILY OF SECRETS, Baker reveals that Bush, the people around him, and his policies are but an extreme, very public manifestation of what his family and its circle have always been about: an interlocking web of covert and overt machinations on behalf of a small cluster of elites-social, financial, industrial, military, intelligence-that enabled the Bush dynasty and propelled George W. Bush to the top.
Russ Baker’s deep background profile of the Bushes reveals a family with ongoing connections to the shadow world of intelligence, utilizing the dark arts of the trade to achieve their positions at the pinnacle of America’s political elite. Baker lays bare the stealth substructure that created the Bush dynasty, powered its rise, and brought America to its current state of crisis. Given the disastrous results of the last… Continue reading
by Bill Van Auken
World Socialist Web Site
With his choice of Admiral Dennis Blair as director of national intelligence, President-elect Barack Obama has now named three recently retired four-star military officers to serve in his cabinet. This unprecedented representation of the senior officer corps within the incoming Democratic administration is indicative of a growth in the political power of the US military that poses a serious threat to basic democratic rights.
As head of the US military’s Pacific command in 1999-2000, Blair was distinguished by his efforts to solidarize the Pentagon with the military of Indonesia as it carried out butchery in East Timor, effectively vetoing the half-hearted human rights concerns voiced by the Clinton administration.
Before tapping Blair, Obama named former Marine Gen. James Jones as his national security adviser and former Army chief of staff Gen. Erik Shinseki as secretary of veterans affairs. It is also reported that the incoming administration may ask retired Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden to stay on as director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
The Washington Post last Saturday described this concentration of former senior officers in the administration as “an unusual trend for a Democratic administration and one that has surprised both political camps.”
The appointments follow the announcement that Robert Gates, Bush’s defense secretary, will stay on at the Pentagon, where multiple “transition teams” are at work to assure that continuity is maintained in America’s ongoing wars of aggression and that the immense power of the military remains unchecked.
Earlier… Continue reading