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In This Edition

Gary Kamiya says, "John Yoo Is Sorry For Nothing."

Uri Avnery asks, "Remember Ophira?"

Victoria Stewart is, "Standing With Gaza."

Jim Hightower finds, "GOP Leaders Move From Opposition To Obstinacy To Hypocrisy."

Chris Hedges concludes that, "We Are Breeding Ourselves To Extinction."

Captain Eric H. May warns, "Ghost Troop: USA WMD Likely, 3/11/09 - 9/9/09."

Paul Krugman considers, "The Big Dither."

Chris Floyd hears, "Killing The Song."

Case Wagenvoord explains, "This Is Why It's So Easy."

Mike Folkerth says if you're, "Waiting for Others to Make Things Better? Find a Comfortable Seat!"

Greg Palast gives us the blow-by-blow account of, "Barbie Dollie Versus Dalai Lama."

Christopher Ketcham with an absolute must read, "Breaking The Taboo On Israel's Spying Efforts On The United States."

Con-gressman John Spratt wins the coveted "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Glenn Greenwald reports on, "Britain's Bizarre Reaction To War Crimes Allegations."

Joel S. Hirschhorn has, "Four Integrity Tests For President Obama."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department 'The Landover Baptist Church' returns with the, "Christian Girls' Guide To Spring Break Abstinence" but first Uncle Ernie studies, "Imperial America."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of John Trever with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Ruben Bolling, Mike Konopacki, Obamicon.ME, Daryl Cagle, Metro.Co.UK, The Lone Star Iconoclast, Universal Pictures, Issues & Alibis.Org and Pink & Blue Films.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

The Quotable Quote...
The Dead Letter Office...
The Cartoon Corner...
To End On A Happy Note...
Have You Seen This...
Parting Shots...
Zeitgeist The Movie...

Welcome one and all to "Uncle Ernie's Issues & Alibis."









Imperial America
By Ernest Stewart

"Not since the 1846 attack on Mexico in order to seize California has an American government been so nakedly predatory." ~~~ Gore Vidal ~ Imperial America

"The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him." ~~~ Nuremberg Principle IV

"An act of the legislature repugnant to the Constitution is void" ~~~ Marbury v. Madison, Feb 1803.

The Pentagoons recently announced that Obama is pulling 12,000 troops out of Iraq during the next six months, leaving somewhere beyond 130,000 troops' behinds, behind. Meanwhile we'll be sending 17,000 plus troops to be wasted in Afghanistan. The remaining 130,000 Iraqi troops are to be pared down to about 50,000 by the 2012 elections but we won't be going below that. We're in Iraq to stay, no matter what their parliament says. In fact, if they don't like it their parliament will be replaced with a new one that thinks it's just peachy keen for us to hang out there, just you wait and see.

Of course, Imperial America has been doing this since we hit the international stage back in 1588 and proceeded to remove the Indians from their lands from sea to shining sea! In 1846, we turned our attention south with our little incursion into Mexico where we relieved her of California and bits of Arizona and New Mexico. Of course, we didn't really become a worldly pest until we had made war upon ourselves and developed things like the machine gun and our "Great White Fleet," so that in 1898 we relieved Spain of most of it's "white man's burden" and made it our own.

Consider 110 years down the road we have over 1000 bases with over 1,000,000 American boys and girls suppressing the freedom of peoples from Europe to Asia and everywhere in between! Of course, the Pentagoons say we just have 761 bases but then again, they're not counting our bases in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan! In Germany alone, these 64 years after WWII, we have 268 bases manned by 70,000 troops. In Japan there are currently about 50,000 US personnel on 124 bases. In Korea, we have 30,000 personnel on 87 bases. Etc., etc., etc.!

Consider that at the height of the Roman Empire they controlled most of the known world with just 36 military bases. Et tu, Barry?

Needless to say, we don't need any of these bases at all. If we closed them up and brought our kids back home we could solve the current economic crises in a couple of years with the trillions saved and be every bit as secure as we are now. We still have more nuclear weapons than the rest of the world combined so no nation in its right mind, or otherwise, will attack us. Had the Bush Junta gone after the 911 attackers instead of helping them out, all of Al Qaeda would have been rounded up and imprisoned or executed as the original attackers of the WTC were. Didn't need any armies, didn't have to bomb anyone anywhere, the police had them all behind bars in a couple of months and most in a couple of days. Of course, Clinton wasn't helping them as Bush and the CIA was helping Osama!

Not to mention that bringing the troops home would cool off a lot of hatred that their presence in other countries spawns. 911 was a direct result of building bases in Saudi Arabia after the first Bush oil war in 1991. If Obama wasn't owned and operated by the military/industrial complex he would close up the bases, stop the useless, costly, wars and bring the kids home, but he is and he won't! We're still hooked on "Manifest Destiny" and we will be until it brings about the fall of the American Empire!

In Other News

As of late we've been getting a peak inside Obama's "Just Us" Department under Eric Holder and it's a pretty scary vision. In fact, Barry's been going out of his way to keep things exactly as they were under Bush, which should raise the hairs on the back of your neck!

Lawyers from Justice have been using the old Nuremberg Defense in various torture cases in front of the courts. You may recall that the Nuremberg Defense is a legal defense that essentially states that the defendant was "only following orders" or in German "Befehl ist Befehl," literally "order is order" and is therefore not responsible for his crimes. Some Germans kept repeating that chant right up until the trap door opened underneath them!

The American jurists in charge at Nuremberg didn't buy that defense saying, "The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him." Since we were using the same arguments in our services, the United States military adjusted the Uniform Code of Military Justice after World War II. They included a rule nullifying this defense, essentially stating that American military personnel are allowed to refuse unlawful orders. While you may have that right and duty, I wouldn't advise you to try it from a practical point of view unless you like being inside a military prison!

Of course, whenever we violated this rule it was generally overlooked as in the My Lai massacre and in the Bush and now Obama Justice Department. Not only at Justice but over at the CIA, Leon Panetta has stated categorically that there will be no prosecutions for torturers. Asked by The Associated Press if that was official policy, Panetta said, "That is the case." So much for change, eh?

Of course, the reason for all of this is so Barry can do the same as Smirky did, hence his various votes in the Senate that I warned you about back then. In addition, he'll continue to tap your phone, email, snail mail etc, which is why he voted for that FISA Bill Act Of Treason, etc. He'll continue to kidnap, disappear and torture which is why his lawyers are currently defending the Bush acts of treason. Not to mention the Bush Junta will never be brought to trial under Barry as to indict Bush will be to indict most of Con-gress including Barry, Biden, Clinton and the rest!

And Finally

I've been getting a lot of mail as of late warning of this or that bill before Congress that steals our rights to own and keep various types of guns and ammo for this reason or that. Bullshit!

As it says in the Bill of Rights:

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed. ~~~ Amendment II to the Constitution Of The United States.

I'm going to repeat that again for those of you on drugs, "the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

You'll notice that there are no asterisks there. There are no stipulations that this can be changed under certain circumstances. Con-gress, short of a Constitutional Convention, cannot in anyway change that and to do so would be an obvious act of TREASON! And yet, in every session of Con-gress there are some who do their very best to do so.

Oh, they do it for good sounding reasons. It's always for our own protection, for our own good. Just like the Nazi's in Germany and every other fascist state, they're always taking away the common man's ability for self defense just before they open up the ovens. Imagine what would have happened had the Jews been fully armed when the Gestapo showed up on their doorsteps. Sure, a few thousand Jews would have been killed but certainly not 6 million. After a few thousand Gestapo goons had been blown away that sh*t would have stopped.

The founding fathers knew full well why it was necessary for each person to have a means of self-defense, not just against robbers and such but against their own government. They had just escaped a similar fate from England. We had no standing army at the time but volunteer citizens signed up for a designated period of time, generally between harvest and planting, and ergo, we have the militia statement. One doesn't take on the capital by oneself but with his or her neighbors in a people's militia. In the beginning, there were no plans to fight external wars, so there was no need for an army. The Militia was a defense against the government!

Trouble is and was, we had a corpo-rat not a people's revolution and in a short time, the corpo-rats took control of our politicians. Ever since, they've been trying to strip us of our Second Amendment rights. They can pass their laws against guns but they are all really illegal. The law is on our side but only we the people can make them enforce the laws. Remember, America, "An act of the legislature repugnant to the Constitution is void." They cannot take away our rights to keep and bear arms, PERIOD! Unless, of course, we let them!

*****

We don't sell our readers new cars, fancy homes or designer clothes. We don't advocate consumerism nor do we offer facile solutions to serious problems. We do, however, bring together every week writers and activists who are not afraid to speak the truth about our country and our world. The articles we print are not for the faint of heart.

As access to accurate information becomes more difficult and free speech and the exchange of ideas becomes more restricted and controlled, small publications and alternative presses disappear. Issues and Alibis may soon join that list.

We aren't asking for much-not thousands of dollars a month, not tens of thousands a year. What we need is simply enough money to cover expenses for the magazine. A few thousand dollars a year. A few hundred dollars a month. We cannot continue to go into debt to publish Issues and Alibis but at the same time we cannot, in good conscience, go quietly about our daily lives, remaining silent in face of the injustices perpetrated by our leaders and our government. So we need your help. We need your spare change. A dollar, five dollars, whatever you can contribute. Every penny makes a difference.

Ernest & Victoria Stewart

*****


01-09-1939 ~ 03-07-2009
That wasn't Santa Mommy was kissing!




*****

The "W" theatre trailers are up along with the new movie poster and screen shots from the film. They are all available at the all-new "W" movie site: http://wthemovie.com. Both trailers are on site and may be downloaded; the new trailer can be seen with Flash on site. You can download in either PC or Mac formats. I'm in the new trailer as myself but don't blink or you'll miss me! The trailers are also available on YouTube along with a short scene from the film.

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So how do you like the 2nd coup d'etat so far?
And more importantly, what are you planning on doing about it?

Until the next time, Peace!
(c) 2009 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for the last 8 years managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. In his spare time he is an actor, writer and an associate producer for the new motion picture "W The Movie."











John Yoo in gayer days



John Yoo Is Sorry For Nothing
Sneering with contempt, the unrepentant Bush attorney has challenged "Obama's antiwar base" to read his infamous memos closely. So I did.
By Gary Kamiya

You have to give John Yoo credit for chutzpah. The disgraced author of the so-called torture memo was back in the news last week, when the Obama administration released seven more secret opinions, all but one written in whole or in part by Yoo and fellow Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) lawyer Jay Bybee, arguing that the Bush administration had the right to override the Constitution as long as it claimed to be fighting a "war on terror." Professor Yoo, who I am embarrassed to say holds a tenured position at the law school of my alma mater, the University of California at Berkeley, was already known as the official who provided a legal fig leaf behind which the Bush administration tortured inmates at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. His legal misdeeds are widely known, but now they have been exposed chapter and verse. Among the new memos is one written in 2001, in which Yoo and co-author Robert J. Delahunty advised the U.S. that the Posse Comitatus Act, which forbids the Army to be used for law enforcement, and the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures, do not apply to domestic military operations undertaken during a "war on terror."

In other words, bye-bye, Bill of Rights. This is a prescription for a police state, where not just the police but the Army can kick your door down without a warrant or probable cause, as long as the president says he's fighting "terror." If Barack Obama had solicited such an opinion from an obliging Justice Department lawyer because he wanted to sic the U.S. Army on a group of domestic terrorists, the right would be screaming about jackbooted federal thugs descending from black helicopters to haul off American citizens. Strangely, no conservatives have taken to the streets to warn us of the Big Government danger posed by this radical doctrine. Perhaps they are too busy mobilizing against the unspeakable socialist menace represented by Obama's 3 percent increase in taxes on millionaires.

But if professor Yoo has so far mysteriously escaped the wrath of the right, he has more pressing problems. The Justice Department's ethics office is finishing a report that reportedly harshly criticizes him and other Bush administration attorneys. The department's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) is investigating whether the advice given in the interrogation memos "was consistent with the professional standards that apply to Department of Justice attorneys." At issue is whether Yoo and other DOJ lawyers improperly told the Bush administration what it wanted to hear, instead of rendering an objective professional judgment. According to Newsweek, one former Bush lawyer "said he was stunned to discover how much material the investigators had gathered, including internal e-mails and multiple drafts that allowed OPR to reconstruct how the memos were crafted."

Yoo has also been sued by convicted al-Qaida conspirator Jose Padilla. The suit, brought by Yale Law School's human rights clinic, claims that Yoo's memos helped set the Bush administration's abusive policies toward "war on terror" detainees in motion. Padilla, an American citizen, was held for more than three years in a Navy brig as an "enemy combatant" without charges being brought against him. Padilla's lawsuit, which also targets top Bush officials including Donald Rumsfeld and John Ashcroft, seeks only $1 in damages, but its discovery request resulted in the disclosure of the just-released memos.

So you'd think that Yoo would be keeping his head down these days, even expressing some contrition for his part in shredding the Constitution, undermining the rule of law and justifying torture. But being the primary legal enabler of the Bush administration's misdeeds means never having to say you're sorry. And last week, the unrepentant Yoo popped up in that impregnable redoubt of right-wing rogues, the Wall Street Journal's Op-Ed page, to defend himself and pour contempt on his opponents.

Portraying himself as a dedicated public servant whose legal opinions were simply part of a "prudent and responsible ... careful contingency planning" for "a worst-case scenario," Yoo sarcastically writes that to judge from the media coverage of the memos, "this careful contingency planning amounted to a secret plot to overthrow the Constitution and strip Americans of their rights ... According to these critics, the overthrow of constitutional government in the United States began with a 37-page memo, confidentially issued on Oct. 23, 2001." Yoo warns that if the Obama administration fails to do the same kind of "planning" -- more to the point, if it continues to "seriously pursue" officials like him who did that "planning" -- it will endanger America. Melodramatically conjuring up a Mumbai-like urban massacre, Yoo says that holding him and other Bush administration officials accountable will "restore risk aversion as the guiding principle of our counterterrorism strategy."

Gosh, how could anyone think that an opinion voiding the Fourth Amendment might endanger the Constitution? How could anyone worry that legalizing torture might endanger human rights? Strip away Yoo's sophomoric sarcasm and his "argument" is that his legal opinions, which gave the Bush administration license to undercut some of the cornerstones of American law -- separation of powers, the forbidding of unreasonable searches and seizures, habeas corpus, the right to a fair, speedy trial, and the prohibition against using the military to enforce the law -- were merely "contingency planning."

That argument is absurd. As my Salon colleague Glenn Greenwald has pointed out, Yoo's Oct. 23 memo "was the official and formal position of the U.S. Government -- at least of the omnipotent executive branch -- from the time it was issued until just several months before George W. Bush left office." To accept Yoo's soothing bromides that all he was doing was "planning," we are somehow supposed to ignore the fact that his opinions had real consequences. Under cover of those opinions, the Bush administration, without consulting with Congress, took illegal actions, including torture, warrantless wiretapping and detention without trial. Murat Kurnaz, an innocent man,who told "60 Minutes" that during his detention at Afghanistan and Guantanamo he was strung up by his arms, given electric shocks, and waterboarded, will surely be glad to hear that his legally sanctioned torture was merely part of professor Yoo's "prudent and responsible" "planning."

Yoo derides critics for citing one passage in his Oct. 23 memo. In the passage, he notes that the Supreme Court, in Near v. Minnesota, held that even free speech and press freedoms can be curtailed in wartime. "Our memo had nothing to do with the First Amendment," Yoo writes. "It only referred to the case to show that constitutional rights apply differently during the exigencies of warfare than during peacetime." Then, in a Rush Limbaugh-like excursus that ill befits a former high official charged with advising the United States government on momentous legal issues, Yoo sneers that by releasing the memos, the Obama administration "may be attempting to appease its antiwar base -- which won't bother to read the memos in full -- or trying to look good for the chattering classes."

As a card-carrying member of both the antiwar and chattering classes, I take this double slap in the face personally. Yoo has thrown down a challenge, a legal version of Bush's "bring it on." If you chattering antiwar lefties read my memos, he is saying, you will be forced to recant your criticisms.

This is a peculiar challenge, considering that Yoo's memos have been completely discredited. Even the Bush administration's Office of Legal Counsel eventually repudiated all of Yoo's opinions (a fact that he somehow omitted in his Journal piece), and the legal community has overwhelmingly rejected his arguments. But to be fair to Yoo, I decided to read not just the newly released memos, but his 2003 torture memo. What I discovered is that Yoo is an even more contemptible hack than I had ever imagined. As a government lawyer, Yoo was the equivalent of one of those doctors who did "research" for Hitler.

It isn't necessary to spend much time eviscerating Yoo's outrageous Oct. 23 memo authorizing military force, because the Bush administration already did that. In an Oct. 6, 2008, memo, Principal Deputy Attorney General Steven Bradbury disposed of it like a man holding his nose while dropping a doggie-doo bag in the trash. "We also judge it necessary to point out that the 10/23/01 memo states several propositions that are either incorrect or highly questionable," Bradbury writes. Those "incorrect or highly questionable" propositions are pretty much Yoo's entire argument.

In his Wall Street Journal piece, Yoo attacks his critics for taking his statement that free speech rights can be abrogated in wartime out of context. But nothing in Yoo's Oct. 23 memo, or his other memos, inspires confidence that he would not be prepared come up with tortured legal arguments to abrogate free speech. The case Yoo cites, Near v. Minnesota, was cited by the justices who tried to prevent the release of the Pentagon Papers on "national security" grounds. When one looks at the quality of Yoo's legal reasoning in the 2003 torture memo, it becomes obvious that no fundamental American right would be safe in his hands.

In that infamous memo, Yoo legally redefined torture in a way that allowed the Bush administration to torture prisoners without consequences. His arguments for this redefinition are truly remarkable. They are a case study in intellectual bad faith.

The U.N. Convention Against Torture, to which the U.S. is a signatory, defines torture as the infliction of "severe pain." The U.N. Convention is implemented in U.S. law (18 U.S.C. 2340). Yoo's legal task was to find legal grounds to define "severe" in such a diminished way as to allow the Bush administration to torture without fear of punishment. This was no easy task: There simply is nothing on the books to support such a redefinition. But when there's a war on terror to be fought, creative minds find a way.

Yoo came up with one of the most bizarre, illogical and specious arguments in the history of law. He dug up a federal statute that had absolutely nothing to do with the issue he was examining, seized upon a passing reference in that statute to "severe pain" that was not and could not possibly be interpreted to be a definition of that state, and then asserted with a straight face that this reference supported a radical redefinition of "severe pain." To compound this, he then lied about what the statute actually said.

In short, he simply made up a torture-friendly definition of "severe pain," and then found a way to justify it.

The statute Yoo cited, 42 U.S.C. 1395, regulates insurance benefits under the "Medicare and Choice" plan. It defines an emergency medical condition as one "manifesting itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity (including severe pain) that a prudent layman" could reasonably expect that without immediate medical treatment, the individual displaying those symptoms would be at serious risk of losing their health, suffering serious impairment to bodily functions, or suffering serious dysfunction of any bodily organ or part. From this bureaucratic definition of "emergency medical condition," Yoo magically derived a new, torture-friendly definition of "severe pain."

"Although these statutes address a substantially different subject from section 2340," Yoo blandly notes in a world-class understatement, "they are nonetheless helpful for understanding what constitutes severe physical pain. They treat severe pain as an indicator of ailments that are likely to result in permanent and serious physical damage in the absence of immediate medical treatment. Such damage must rise to the level of death, organ failure, or the permanent impairment of a significant body function. These statutes suggest that to constitute torture 'severe pain' must rise to a similarly high level -- the level that would ordinarily be associated with a physical condition or injury sufficiently serious that it would result in death, organ failure, or serious impairment of body functions."

Unfortunately, logic was not among the philosophy classes I took at Berkeley, so I do not know the technical term to describe this kind of spectacularly specious reasoning. It may be too absurd for even the most hairsplitting ancient Greeks, medieval schoolmen or logical positivists to have come up with a name for it. Suffice it to say that the completely irrelevant statute that Yoo found does not define "severe pain"; it defines "emergency medical condition," and merely lists severe pain as one of the possible symptoms of that condition. It therefore makes no sense to seize upon the possible negative outcomes of the emergency condition (which Yoo completely misrepresents, as the statute says nothing about death, organ failure or permanent impairment) as offering a definition of a condition that is one of its possible symptoms. As W. Bradley Wendel of Cornell Law School noted in a Northwestern University Law Review article, aptly comparing Yoo's behavior to that of the corrupt lawyers who smoothed the way for the corporate crimes of Enron and its ilk, "Imagine a definition of 'winter' as 'a season whose manifestations include snow, ice, and cold weather.' It does not follow from that definition that cold weather is weather in which there is snow -- obviously enough it can be cold outside and not snowing."

Not only was Yoo's argument about torture utterly absurd, he also ignored the single most important ruling about expansive presidential power in foreign affairs, the Supreme Court's landmark "steel seizure" case. As legal analyst Stephen Gillers wrote, this is like "advising a client on school desegregation law and ignoring Brown v. Board of Education."

After reading the torture memo, it is simply incontestable that Yoo was either grossly incompetent, or that it was his intention to twist the law to tell the Bush administration what it wanted to hear. Most legal commentators take the latter position, noting that "OLC lawyers are considered to be among the nation's best educated and smartest." Some might say that it is a distinction without a difference, arguing that intentionally twisting the law to achieve a desired outcome is prima facie evidence of incompetence. But that position exonerates compliant lawyers too easily. If ethical lapses are merely incompetence, ethics itself loses its meaning. This is the same distinction enshrined in a bedrock principle of Western law, the notion that to be guilty you must understand the difference between right and wrong.

Yoo acted throughout as a Bush team player supporting the "war on terror," not as a disinterested legal analyst. This is not entirely surprising, since he himself shared the Bush administration's worldview, in particular its adherence to the radical doctrine of the "unitary executive." Yoo expressed strong opinions on policy in both his expansive memos for the Bush administration and his other published work. As Robert Parry has noted, in Yoo's 2006 book "War by Other Means," Yoo described discussions with Bush officials in which he opined on policy matters. For example, addressing Pentagon concerns that dismissing the Geneva Conventions would put U.S. troops at risk, Yoo wrote, "It was far from obvious that following the Geneva Conventions in the war against al-Qaeda would be wise. Our policy makers had to ask whether [compliance] would yield any benefit or act as a hindrance."

Yoo's ideological predisposition toward Bush administration positions may render moot the other key ethics question raised by the memos: Did the Bush administration pressure the OLC to tell it what it wanted to hear? A year ago, two congressional Democrats, Dick Durbin and Sheldon Whitehouse, called for an investigation into possible wrongdoing by the Bush Justice Department, asking whether Yoo and other lawyers were "insulated from outside pressure to reach a particular conclusion," and whether the Bush administration played any role in influencing "deliberations about the lawfulness of waterboarding." The Justice Department ethics investigation may shed more light on that. But if, as is likely, the Bush administration took care not to leave any fingerprints, that still does not exonerate Yoo or his fellow legal enablers.

Yoo's corrupt opinions are a black mark on the history of American law. They are certain to take their place with the rulings generally considered to be the worst in U.S. history: Dred Scott v. Sandford (which found slavery constitutional), Plessy v. Ferguson (which upheld racial segregation and the "separate but equal" doctrine), Korematsu v. United States (which upheld the incarceration of 110,000 innocent Japanese-Americans during WWII) and Bush v. Gore (in which right-wing justices used an absurd equal-protection argument to hand the presidency to their favored candidate).

In the end, what condemns Yoo most is his arrogant and dismissive attitude toward the law itself -- its logic, its precedents, its purpose. For Yoo, the law is simply a tool to be used to hand power to an omnipotent executive branch, and we must trust in the good faith of that executive branch to use its extra-legal powers properly. This view is the antithesis of both jurisprudence and the American system of government. The law is the last majestic bulwark against the tyranny of men. But in the hands of debased functionaries like Yoo, that great bulwark was eroded.

And yet the wreckage wrought by the Bush administration goes beyond Yoo. The just-released memos remind us of just how radical, secretive and destructive that administration was. Its misdeeds are so grave and far-reaching that they must be thoroughly investigated, and the perpetrators punished. Whether by a truth commission or criminal investigations, the dark history of the last eight years must be told.

So far, President Obama has been reluctant to call for such an investigation, saying he wants to focus on the future, not the past. But he's wrong. This is not about politics. This is about our American laws and values -- about our very identity. It would be easy to turn the page on the Bush administration, or to claim, as Yoo and his defenders try to do, that its sins should be forgiven because of 9/11. But it is precisely in a crisis when a nation shows its true mettle -- or lack thereof. To pretend that the last eight years never happened -- or to continue some of Bush's disastrous legal policies, as Obama shamefully appears to be doing -- would be to betray our nation's ideals, leave the door open to future misdeeds, and ultimately endanger our democracy itself.

We don't need revenge. We need truth.
(c) 2009 Gary Kamiya is Salon's Executive Editor.





Remember Ophira?
By Uri Avnery

THIS WEEK I had a nostalgic experience. I met a parliamentary delegation from one of the European countries. What turned this meeting into a special occasion for me was its location.

The "Pasha Room" of the "American Colony" Hotel in East Jerusalem is a beautiful square hall, decorated in traditional Arab style. I was in this hall at the moment Yitzhak Rabin held out his hand to Yasser Arafat on the White House lawn at the Oslo agreement signing ceremony.

We gathered there spontaneously, Israeli peace activists and Fatah leaders, to celebrate the event together. We watched the proceedings on TV and cracked bottles of champagne. I still have one of the corks.

Just an hour before, I had witnessed a no less exciting meeting. A group of young Palestinians, delirious with joy, marched through the streets, olive branches in their hands and a large Palestinian flag fluttering over their heads. At the street corner, a unit of the Border Police - the most aggressive anti-Arab force in Israel - was waiting. At the time, even the simple possession of a Palestinian flag was a crime.

For a moment, we held our breath. What is going to happen? The Palestinians ran towards the policemen and thrust olive branches into their hands. The policemen did not know what to do. They were obviously in a state of total disorientation and did not react at all. The enthusiastic youngsters continued on their way through the streets of East Jerusalem, singing and rejoicing.

Today, 15 and a half years later, one can only look back with longing at the passion for peace that possessed all of us then. Nothing has remained of that fervor, that hope, that zeal for reconciliation.

All these have now been replaced by a poisonous mix of hopelessness and dejection.

IF YOU stop any ten random passers-by in a Tel Aviv street and ask them what they think about the chances of peace, nine of them will shrug their shoulders and answer: It won't happen. No chance. The conflict will just go on forever.

They will not say: We don't want peace, the price of peace is too high. On the contrary, many will declare that for peace they are ready to give back the occupied territories, even East Jerusalem, and let the Palestinians have a state of their own. Sure. Why not? But, they will add: No chance. There will be no peace.

Some will say: The Arabs don't want it. Others will say: Our leaders can't do it. But the conclusion is the same: It just won't happen.

A similar poll of Palestinians would probably yield the same results: We want peace. Peace would be wonderful. But there's no chance. It won't happen.

This mood has produced the same political situation on both sides. In the Palestinian elections, Hamas won, not because of its ideology but because it expresses the despair of peace with Israel. In the Israeli elections, there was a general move to the Right: Leftists voted for Kadima, Kadima people voted for Likud, Likud people voted for the fascist factions.

Without hope there is no Left. The Left is by nature optimistic, it believes in a better future, in the chance of changing everything for the better. The Right is by nature pessimistic. It does not believe in the possibility of changing human nature and society for the better, it is convinced that war is a law of nature.

But among the despairing there are still those who hope that an intervention by foreigners - Americans, Europeans, even Arabs - will impose peace on us.

This week, that hope was severely shaken.

ON TV we were shown a uniquely impressive conference, a huge assembly of world leaders, who all came to Sharm-el-Sheikh. (Remember that during our occupation of Sinai it was called Ophira? Remember Moshe Dayan saying that he preferred Sharm-el-Sheikh without peace to peace without Sharm-el-Sheikh?)

Who was not there? Chinese and Japanese rubbed shoulders with Saudis and Qataris. Nicholas Sarkozy was everywhere (Indeed, it was well-nigh impossible to take a photo without the hyper-active French president appearing in it somewhere.) Hillary Clinton was the star. Hosni Mubarak celebrated his achievement in getting them all together on Egyptian soil..

And for what? For little, poor Gaza. It has to be rebuilt.

It was a celebration of sanctimonious hypocrisy, in the very best tradition of international diplomacy.

First of all, nobody from Gaza was there. As in the heyday of European imperialism, 150 years ago, the fate of the Natives was decided without the Natives themselves being present. Who needs them? After all, they are Primitives. Better without them.

Not only Hamas was absent. A delegation of Gaza businessmen and civil society activists could not come either. Mubarak just did not allow them to pass the Rafah crossing. The gate of the prison called Gaza was barred by the Egyptian jailers.

The absence of delegates from Gaza, and especially from Hamas, turned the conference into a farce. Hamas rules Gaza. It won the elections there, as in all the Palestinian territories, and continues to govern it even after one of the mightiest armies in the world spent 22 days trying to dislodge it. Nothing will happen in the Gaza Strip without the consent of Hamas. The world-wide decision to rebuild Gaza without the participation of Hamas is sheer foolishness.

The war ended with a fragile cease-fire that is collapsing before our very eyes. In his opening speech to the conference, Mubarak hinted that it is Ehud Olmert who is now preventing an armistice (called Tadyah or calm in Arabic). Nobody at the conference reacted. But when there is no cease-fire, another even more destructive war is looming. It's just a matter of time - months, weeks, perhaps days. What has not yet been destroyed, will be destroyed then. So what is the good in investing billions to rebuild schools, hospitals, government buildings and ordinary homes, all of which will be demolished again anyhow?

Mubarak spoke about the exchange of prisoners. Sarkozy spoke with much pathos about the soldier "Jilad Shalit," a French citizen who all French people want to be freed. Interesting. There are 11 thousand Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. How many of them also hold French citizenship? Sarkozy did not say. It doesn't interest him. Even in this bunch of hypocrites, he strives for championship.

The participants of the conference promised Mahmoud Abbas fabulous sums of money. Nearly five billion dollars. How much will actually be paid? How much of this will actually pass through the sieve of the high-flying set in Ramallah and reach Gaza? According to a Gaza woman who appeared on television, a homeless mother who lives in a small tent in the middle of a huge mud puddle: Not a cent.

Was the political part of the performance more serious? Hillary spoke about "Two States for Two Peoples." Others talked about "the Political Process" and "Peace Negotiations." And all, all of them knew that these are nothing but hollow words.

IN HIS poem "If," Rudyard Kipling asked whether "you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken / Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools." This is now a test for all those who stood at the cradle of the "Two State" idea some 60 years ago.

This vision was - and remains - the only viable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The sole realistic alternative is the continuation of the present situation - occupation, oppression, Apartheid, war. But the enemies of this vision have smartened up and pretend to support it on every occasion.

Avigdor Liberman is in favor of "Two States." Absolutely. He spells it out: several Palestinian enclaves, each of them surrounded by the Israeli military and by settlers like himself. These Bantustans will be called "a Palestinian state." An ideal solution, indeed: the State of Israel will be cleansed of Arabs, but will continue to rule over all of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Binyamin Netanyahu has a similar vision, but differently worded: the Arabs will "govern themselves." They will govern their towns and villages, but not the territory, neither the West Bank nor the Gaza Strip. They will have no army, of course, and no control of the airspace over their heads, neither will they have any physical contact with neighboring countries. Menachem Begin used to call this "autonomy." But there will be "economic peace." The Palestinian economy will "flourish." Even Hillary Clinton ridiculed this idea publicly before meeting with Netanyahu.

Tzipi Livni wants "Two Nation-States." Yes' Ma'm. When? Well... First of all there have to be negotiations, unlimited in time. They did not come to fruition during the years she has been conducting them, nor have they got anywhere at all. Ehud Olmert speaks about the "Political Process" - why did he not bring it to a successful conclusion during the years of his stewardship? How long must the "Process" go on? Five years? Fifty? Five hundred?

So Hillary speaks about "Two States." Speaks with great vigor. Is ready to speak about it with any Israeli government that will be set up, even if inspired by the ideas of Meir Kahane. The main thing is that they talk with Mahmoud Abbas, and that Abbas in the meantime receives money, a lot of money.

An EXTREME right-wing government is about to be set up. Kadima has laudably decided not to join. On the other hand, Ehud Barak, the father of "We Have No Partner For Peace," is looking desperately for a way in.

And why not? He won't be the first political prostitute from his party.

In 1977, Moshe Dayan deserted the Labor Party in order to serve as Foreign Minister and fig-leaf for Menachem Begin, who forcibly prevented the establishment of a Palestinian state. In 2001, Shimon Peres got the Labor Party to join the government of Ariel Sharon, in order to serve as Foreign Minister and fig-leaf to the man whose very name made all the world shudder after the Sabra and Shatila massacre. So why should Ehud Barak not become a fig-leaf for a government that includes outright fascists?

Who knows, perhaps he will even represent us at the next conference in Ophira - sorry, Sharm-el-Sheikh - the one that will be convened after the next war, in which Gaza will be razed to the ground. After all, a lot of money will be needed to build it up again.
(c) 2009 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom






Standing With Gaza
By Victoria Stewart

"Activism is the rent I pay for living on this planet." ~~~ Alice Walker

Those 22 days in December and January when Israel was killing more than 1,300 Palestinians were some of the darkest I have experienced. Somehow, the bombardment and invasion of Gaza was a final, horrific testament to a political corruption that had spread throughout our country. My heart broke again and again as Israel, pounding away at civilians, at women and children, at schools and hospitals, was cosseted in its depravity by the one country that could stop them. Us. Aided by us. And I, along with the millions of people around the world who marched to protest the slaughter, was helpless. It seemed too much to bear.

Gaza haunted me.

In the weeks since Israel dialed back its war on the residents of Gaza, we have heard precious little about the plight of the people still sealed in that narrow slice of land. The thousands dead, the bombed out homes and neighborhoods, the maimed and injured, the orphaned, the lost and hurting citizens of Gaza have been supplanted in the news by glittering inaugurals, teetering banks and ballooning unemployment. While throwing a nine-hundred million dollar sop to the Palestinian victims of the Israeli's latest assault, our Congress, venal to its core, continues to support Israel's war machine. Even as Palestinians are imprisoned in a starving ghetto and Israeli nationals illegally occupy more Palestinian land, Americans remain appallingly silent.

But

On Monday March 8 about 60 people crossed into Gaza through the Rafah Gate. Organized by Code Pink in response to an invitation from the UN Relief and Works Agency for its Gaza Gender initiative, the delegation included representatives from eight countries, including Code Pink cofounder Medea Benjamin, former US diplomat Ann Wright and writer Alice Walker.

As important as the mission was and is, I suspect it would have been largely ignored had it not been for Walker's presence. It was Walker who garnered international headlines and MSM coverage, as is evidenced by the following AP article:

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker says a catastrophe has befallen the Gaza Strip and that she hopes she and others can help President Barack Obama "see what we see."

Walker, the U.S. author best known for her novel "The Color Purple," toured Gaza this week, including an area destroyed in Israel's recent war on the territory's Islamic militant Hamas rulers.

Several neighborhoods along Gaza's border with Israel were leveled by Israeli forces during the three-week offensive, which ended Jan. 18. Israel says Hamas is to blame for the destruction because its fighters used civilians as shields and operated from crowded areas. About 15,000 houses were destroyed or damaged, displacing thousands of Gazans.

Walker, 65, said in an interview Tuesday that she saw widespread devastation.

"Lots and lots and lots of houses of just ordinary people have been completely and utterly destroyed, and people are living in the rubble," she said, speaking in the garden cafe of her Gaza City hotel. "Some of them are struggling in tents, and some are just sitting in what remains of their homes."

Walker said her decision to visit Gaza, along with members of the U.S. anti-war group Code Pink, was spurred by the recent death of an older sister. She said she felt a connection to Gazans who lost loved ones in the war.

"I wanted very much to be with them and to bear witness to what is happening to them, this horrible, catastrophic, terrible thing," she said.

Israel says it launched the Gaza offensive to halt rocket fire from Gaza at Israeli border towns. Some 1,300 Gazans were killed in the war, according to Gaza human rights groups and medics. Thirteen Israelis also were killed.

Walker said she believes Americans have mostly been exposed to the Israeli narrative since the establishment of the Jewish state in 1948 and know little about the plight of the Palestinians. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were expelled their homes at the time.

"We were indoctrinated to the song in that film Exodus, you know, 'This land belongs to us, this land is our land,' meaning the Israelis, the Jews, and for so long, we were told that nobody lived here, that it was a land without people, for a people without land," she said.

Walker said she hopes she and others can make Obama more aware of the plight of Gaza.

"Believing that he (Obama) is a decent person, and I do believe this, our job then is to help him see what we see, and then he can decide how he will behave and it's on his soul, it's not on my soul."

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited Israel and the West Bank last week. Clinton said she would work vigorously for a peace agreement that includes the formation of an independent Palestinian state, but gave no indications she would try a new approach. Many Palestinians and other Arabs view U.S. policy as lopsided in Israel's favor.

Walker did not respond directly when asked whether Hamas - classified as a terrorist group by the U.S. and Israel - should be held responsible for Gaza's hardships.

"I think all of us have an opportunity here to just say what we believe, which is we think killing is wrong, we think stealing land is wrong, we think abusing people is wrong," she said.

Gaza's borders have largely been sealed by Israel and Egypt since June 2007, when Hamas seized control of the territory by force, ousting troops loyal to moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Walker, who is black, grew up in segregated Georgia, an experience reflected in some of her work. She won a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award for her 1982 novel "The Color Purple," which was later turned into a movie and a musical.

I don't have much faith in politicians and I am not at all sure Barack Obama is a decent and strong leader but I do have faith in the ability of women to unite and change the world. And there is no better place to begin than Gaza.
(c) 2008 Victoria Stewart is the editor of Issues & Alibis magazine.







GOP Leaders Move From Opposition To Obstinacy To Hypocrisy

"No" can be a very good word. Whether dealing with children or with Congress, a firm "uh-uh" can set the boundaries of acceptable behavior.

But the negative can pretty quickly turn you from a positive force into an obstinate grump - and no one likes those. Yet, this is the persona adopted by Republican Party leaders who're throwing up a "Stone Wall of No" to President Barack Obama's economic recovery efforts. Not a single GOP house member, for example, voted for Obama's $790 billion stimulus package, petulantly dismissing it as "larded with wasteful spending."

Like what, you might ask? Well, the Republicans issued a list of what irked them in the bill. It included improved sewer systems, flood reduction projects, retrofitting federal buildings for energy conservation, and - gosh their hit list was filled with exactly the kind of job-creating, infrastructure-building, energy-saving work that America needs.

But, wait, once the bill passed anyway, hoards of the GOP's congress critters suddenly turned from grumps to cheerleaders for such projects, claiming credit back in their districts for bringing home the bacon. Only hours after voting against the bill, for example, Rep. John Mica was bragging to his home folks in Florida that - hallelujah - they'd now be getting stimulus money for a local commuter train.

Even Gov. Bobby Jindal, The Louisiana Republican who had denounced Obama's plan as an "eruption of spending," was grasping for $6 billion in federal recovery money as he spoke. On national TV, Jindal praised himself for cutting taxes in Louisiana, rather than increasing spending. He didn't mention that he now hopes to grab $2 billion from Obama's fund to cover a state budget shortfall that his tax cuts helped create.

"No" is not an economic plan. Neither is hypocrisy.
(c) 2009 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition.







We Are Breeding Ourselves To Extinction
By Chris Hedges

All measures to thwart the degradation and destruction of our ecosystem will be useless if we do not cut population growth. By 2050, if we continue to reproduce at the current rate, the planet will have between 8 billion and 10 billion people, according to a recent U.N. forecast. This is a 50 percent increase. And yet government-commissioned reviews, such as the Stern report in Britain, do not mention the word population. Books and documentaries that deal with the climate crisis, including Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth," fail to discuss the danger of population growth. This omission is odd, given that a doubling in population, even if we cut back on the use of fossil fuels, shut down all our coal-burning power plants and build seas of wind turbines, will plunge us into an age of extinction and desolation unseen since the end of the Mesozoic era, 65 million years ago, when the dinosaurs disappeared.

We are experiencing an accelerated obliteration of the planet's life-forms-an estimated 8,760 species die off per year-because, simply put, there are too many people. Most of these extinctions are the direct result of the expanding need for energy, housing, food and other resources. The Yangtze River dolphin, Atlantic gray whale, West African black rhino, Merriam's elk, California grizzly bear, silver trout, blue pike and dusky seaside sparrow are all victims of human overpopulation. Population growth, as E.O. Wilson says, is "the monster on the land." Species are vanishing at a rate of a hundred to a thousand times faster than they did before the arrival of humans. If the current rate of extinction continues, Homo sapiens will be one of the few life-forms left on the planet, its members scrambling violently among themselves for water, food, fossil fuels and perhaps air until they too disappear. Humanity, Wilson says, is leaving the Cenozoic, the age of mammals, and entering the Eremozoic-the era of solitude. As long as the Earth is viewed as the personal property of the human race, a belief embraced by everyone from born-again Christians to Marxists to free-market economists, we are destined to soon inhabit a biological wasteland.

The populations in industrialized nations maintain their lifestyles because they have the military and economic power to consume a disproportionate share of the world's resources. The United States alone gobbles up about 25 percent of the oil produced in the world each year. These nations view their stable or even zero growth birthrates as sufficient. It has been left to developing countries to cope with the emergent population crisis. India, Egypt, South Africa, Iran, Indonesia, Cuba and China, whose one-child policy has prevented the addition of 400 million people, have all tried to institute population control measures. But on most of the planet, population growth is exploding. The U.N. estimates that 200 million women worldwide do not have access to contraception. The population of the Persian Gulf states, along with the Israeli-occupied territories, will double in two decades, a rise that will ominously coincide with precipitous peak oil declines.

The overpopulated regions of the globe will ravage their local environments, cutting down rainforests and the few remaining wilderness areas, in a desperate bid to grow food. And the depletion and destruction of resources will eventually create an overpopulation problem in industrialized nations as well. The resources that industrialized nations consider their birthright will become harder and more expensive to obtain. Rising water levels on coastlines, which may submerge coastal nations such as Bangladesh, will disrupt agriculture and displace millions, who will attempt to flee to areas on the planet where life is still possible. The rising temperatures and droughts have already begun to destroy crop lands in Africa, Australia, Texas and California. The effects of this devastation will first be felt in places like Bangladesh, but will soon spread within our borders. Footprint data suggests that, based on current lifestyles, the sustainable population of the United Kingdom-the number of people the country could feed, fuel and support from its own biological capacity-is about 18 million. This means that in an age of extreme scarcity, some 43 million people in Great Britain would not be able to survive. Overpopulation will become a serious threat to the viability of many industrialized states the instant the cheap consumption of the world's resources can no longer be maintained. This moment may be closer than we think.

A world where 8 billion to 10 billion people are competing for diminishing resources will not be peaceful. The industrialized nations will, as we have done in Iraq, turn to their militaries to ensure a steady supply of fossil fuels, minerals and other nonrenewable resources in the vain effort to sustain a lifestyle that will, in the end, be unsustainable. The collapse of industrial farming, which is made possible only with cheap oil, will lead to an increase in famine, disease and starvation. And the reaction of those on the bottom will be the low-tech tactic of terrorism and war. Perhaps the chaos and bloodshed will be so massive that overpopulation will be solved through violence, but this is hardly a comfort.

James Lovelock, an independent British scientist who has spent most of his career locked out of the mainstream, warned several decades ago that disrupting the delicate balance of the Earth, which he refers to as a living body, would be a form of collective suicide. The atmosphere on Earth-21 percent oxygen and 79 percent nitrogen-is not common among planets, he notes. These gases are generated, and maintained at an equable level for life's processes, by living organisms themselves. Oxygen and nitrogen would disappear if the biosphere was destroyed. The result would be a greenhouse atmosphere similar to that of Venus, a planet that is consequently hundreds of degrees hotter than Earth. Lovelock argues that the atmosphere, oceans, rocks and soil are living entities. They constitute, he says, a self-regulating system. Lovelock, in support of this thesis, looked at the cycle in which algae in the oceans produce volatile sulfur compounds. These compounds act as seeds to form oceanic clouds. Without these dimethyl sulfide "seeds" the cooling oceanic clouds would be lost. This self-regulating system is remarkable because it maintains favorable conditions for human life. Its destruction would not mean the death of the planet. It would not mean the death of life-forms. But it would mean the death of Homo sapiens.

Lovelock advocates nuclear power and thermal solar power; the latter, he says, can be produced by huge mirrors mounted in deserts such as those in Arizona and the Sahara. He proposes reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide with large plastic cylinders thrust vertically into the ocean. These, he says, could bring nutrient-rich lower waters to the surface, producing an algal bloom that would increase the cloud cover. But he warns that these steps will be ineffective if we do not first control population growth. He believes the Earth is overpopulated by a factor of about seven. As the planet overheats-and he believes we can do nothing to halt this process-overpopulation will make all efforts to save the ecosystem futile.

Lovelock, in "The Revenge of Gaia," said that if we do not radically and immediately cut greenhouse gas emissions, the human race might not die out but it would be reduced to "a few breeding pairs." "The Vanishing Face of Gaia," his latest book, which has for its subtitle "The Final Warning," paints an even grimmer picture. Lovelock says a continued population boom will make the reduction of fossil fuel use impossible. If we do not reduce our emissions by 60 percent, something that can be achieved only by walking away from fossil fuels, the human race is doomed, he argues. Time is running out. This reduction will never take place, he says, unless we can dramatically reduce our birthrate.

All efforts to stanch the effects of climate change are not going to work if we do not practice vigorous population control. Overpopulation, in times of hardship, will create as much havoc in industrialized nations as in the impoverished slums around the globe where people struggle on less than two dollars a day. Population growth is often overlooked, or at best considered a secondary issue, by many environmentalists, but it is as fundamental to our survival as reducing the emissions that are melting the polar ice caps.
(c) 2009 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. He is the author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning. His latest book is American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.







Ghost Troop: USA WMD Likely, 3/11/09 - 9/9/09 _
An Advisory to the FBI and Police
By Captain Eric H. May

Intelligence Editor

"We have a responsibility to share intelligence and coordinate the efforts of law enforcement. You know something, tell us. If we know something, we will tell you. And when we find the terrorists, let's work together to bring them to justice." - GWB at UN, 11/10/01

Bona Fides

I served in the US Army from 1977 - 1998 with specialties in WMD defense, military intelligence and public affairs. Afterwards, I became the editorial writer for Houston NBC TV affiliate KPRC, as well as a contributing writer for the Wall Street Journal and the Houston Chronicle. My prior counter-terror activities have been with:

… US State Department: Ambassador Chase Untermeyer (Qatar), a former Assistant Secretary of the Navy. A longtime friend and the best man at my wedding, Chase joined my cyber-intelligence unit, Ghost Troop, in 2003. He was one of my officers until May 2006.

… Houston Police Department, Criminal Intelligence Division: Sgt. John Karshner. John and I were in regular contact after the Madrid terror attack.

… Houston Police Department, Internal Affairs: Lt. Felix Garcia. As fellow martial arts instructors in the same school, Felix and I were in regular contact after Madrid.

… Houston FBI: Agents Robert Stult, Skip Midcap and Shauna Dunlap. Through these agents, the FBI was in regular contact with me after the Madrid and London terror attacks.

Any of these agencies and associates can reach me. I can also be reached through my executive officer, Major William Fox (USMCR); or through my flagship newspaper, The Lone Star Iconoclast. The Iconoclast endorsed Ghost Troop's efforts to defend Texas petrochemical terror targets with its editorial, "Time to Investigate Houston Is Now."

Tower Terror

4/19/04 - UK authorities prevented a Sears Tower terror attack, as reported by WorldNetDaily in "Dirty Bomb Plot on Sears Tower." The WorldNetDaily report confirmed the code-breaking work of Irish journalist Fintan Dunne, which anticipated the attempt by over a month in "Tears for Sears, 4/19 - Portents of a New 9/11."

5/3/06 - Ghost Troop led military and police to prevent a Sears Tower terror attack, as reported in The Price of Liberty in "Chicago Cops Dodge Blagojevich/Sears Tower Investigation."

"Former Army intelligence officer, newspaper editor Captain Eric H. May, charged a May 2-4, 2006 attempt to sabotage Chicago's Sears Tower. The former NBC editorial writer's allegations would seem outlandish - were they not backed up by a document trail connecting everyone from top government officials to media mainstays and even active-duty military intelligence."

KBOO (Portland) Presswatch host Teresa Mitchell commented on the 2006 Mayday mission:

"Captain May: Well, I know I said it before, but I think you saved our asses (at least for a while) against a Sears Tower demolition. I have little doubt ... factions are plotting Plan B. And there's no way Obama has the wherewithal or even the foreknowledge to stop it..."

Date-Code Decrypt

ABC news quoted former FBI agent and counter-terror expert Jack Cloonan in its story about terror date codes, "New York, 9/ll; Madrid, 3/11; Mumbai, 7/ll."

"There's a lot of symbolism involved when terrorists choose their targets and the dates of their attacks."

The same date-coding was unmistakable in both the 4/19/04 and 5/3/06 terror attempts, and their decryption was crucial.

4/19/04:

Dunne examined the then-recent Madrid 3/11/04 terror attack. Mainstream media was reporting that another US attack might occur soon. He speculated that 4/19/04 was the likely date code, since it was the 9th anniversary of Oklahoma City and the 11th anniversary of Waco. He noted that:

… There had been 911 days between 9/11/01 and 3/11/04.

… There would be 911 hours between 3/11/04 and 4/19/04.

… There would be 777 days between 4/19/04 and 6/6/06.

… 6/6/06 represented "666," as did 60606, the Sears Tower ZIP code.

5/3/06:

Ghost Troop discovered that:

… There would be 33 days between 5/3/06 and 6/6/06.

… 5/3/06 would be the 33rd anniversary of the Sears Tower.

… Governor Rod Blagojevich had ordered WMD exercises for 5/3/06 in Chicago.

… Mayor Richard M. Daley would be abroad in Israel on 5/3/06.

American Advisory

Ghost Troop issues this advisory to all US constitutional guardians, including police and military:

A terror attack in the first year of the Obama administration is likely:

… Three of the previous four presidencies began with a terror attack.

… There was a 3/30/81 assassination attempt against Reagan.

… There was a 2/26/93 Twin Towers terror attack under Clinton.

… There was a 9/11/01 Twin Towers terror attack under Bush 43.

The Sears Tower is the most likely target:

… The Sears Tower, like the Twin Towers, is 110 stories tall.

… The Sears Tower, destroyed, would mean 3 towers and 330 stories.

… The Sears Tower had a pre-9/11 valuation of $911 million.

… The Twin Towers owners purchased the Sears Tower on 3/11/04, the same day as Madrid.

3/11/09 - 9/9/09 is the most dangerous period:

… 3/11/09, the start date, will be the anniversary of Madrid.

… 9/9/09, the end date, is an inversion of 6/6/06.

… Between 6/6/06 and 9/9/09 there are 1191 days (119 is 911 reversed).

… 11/9 has already been used in the Amman, Jordan 11/9/05 terror attack.

The rest of March has several dangerous date-codes:

3/13/09, Friday the 13th 3/22/09, Skull and Bones 322 3/23/09, 4th anniversary of the BP terror attack in Texas City, Texas* 3/30/09, 5th anniversary of the BP terror attack in Texas City, Texas*

*The Texas City Texas attempts were name-coded follow-ups to Oklahoma City Oklahoma and New York City New York. (See Texas article in references below.)

Published comments and codes corroborate our advisory:

… U.S. salmonella outbreak count hits 666 people sickened_

… John Bolton at CPAC: The Benefits of Nuking Chicago

… Sears Tower may receive silver paint job

… Wash. Post's Weisman: "How about Obama blowing up the Sears Tower! ... (Just kidding, folks.)"

Lotto Luck

A regular number publication is an ideal place to embed code. The Illinois Lottery's "pick-3," under Governor Blagojevich, was used to embed the 666 signal. From 1980 to 2007, 666 occurred 17 times, or every 18 months. In 2008, 666 occurred four times, or every three months, a 600% increase from previous years.

All four dates on which 666 was the winning number are noteworthy:

… 11/5, the day after the Obama election

… 10/23, a sequence, 123 … 6/11, 9/11 inverted

… 3/22, Skull and Bones cult number

666 occurred four times between 9/11/01 and 2008. Two of the dates are noteworthy:

… 12/25/04, Christmas

… 5/3/03, Sears Tower 30th anniversary

"We'll speak the truth about terror. Let us never tolerate outrageous conspiracy theories concerning the attacks of September 11th - malicious lies that attempt to shift blame away from the terrorists themselves, away from the guilty." - GWB at UN, 11/10/01

(c) 2009 Captain Eric H. May is a graduate of the Houston Honors College, a former U.S. Army intelligence officer, and is currently the political-military special correspondent for the Lone Star Iconoclast, archived at www.lonestaricon.com.







The Big Dither
By Paul Krugman

Last month, in his big speech to Congress, President Obama argued for bold steps to fix America's dysfunctional banks. "While the cost of action will be great," he declared, "I can assure you that the cost of inaction will be far greater, for it could result in an economy that sputters along for not months or years, but perhaps a decade."

Many analysts agree. But among people I talk to there's a growing sense of frustration, even panic, over Mr. Obama's failure to match his words with deeds. The reality is that when it comes to dealing with the banks, the Obama administration is dithering. Policy is stuck in a holding pattern.

Here's how the pattern works: first, administration officials, usually speaking off the record, float a plan for rescuing the banks in the press. This trial balloon is quickly shot down by informed commentators.

Then, a few weeks later, the administration floats a new plan. This plan is, however, just a thinly disguised version of the previous plan, a fact quickly realized by all concerned. And the cycle starts again.

Why do officials keep offering plans that nobody else finds credible? Because somehow, top officials in the Obama administration and at the Federal Reserve have convinced themselves that troubled assets, often referred to these days as "toxic waste," are really worth much more than anyone is actually willing to pay for them - and that if these assets were properly priced, all our troubles would go away.

Thus, in a recent interview Tim Geithner, the Treasury secretary, tried to make a distinction between the "basic inherent economic value" of troubled assets and the "artificially depressed value" that those assets command right now. In recent transactions, even AAA-rated mortgage-backed securities have sold for less than 40 cents on the dollar, but Mr. Geithner seems to think they're worth much, much more.

And the government's job, he declared, is to "provide the financing to help get those markets working," pushing the price of toxic waste up to where it ought to be.

What's more, officials seem to believe that getting toxic waste properly priced would cure the ills of all our major financial institutions. Earlier this week, Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman, was asked about the problem of "zombies" - financial institutions that are effectively bankrupt but are being kept alive by government aid. "I don't know of any large zombie institutions in the U.S. financial system," he declared, and went on to specifically deny that A.I.G. - A.I.G.! - is a zombie.

This is the same A.I.G. that, unable to honor its promises to pay off other financial institutions when bonds default, has already received $150 billion in aid and just got a commitment for $30 billion more.

The truth is that the Bernanke-Geithner plan - the plan the administration keeps floating, in slightly different versions - isn't going to fly.

Take the plan's latest incarnation: a proposal to make low-interest loans to private investors willing to buy up troubled assets. This would certainly drive up the price of toxic waste because it would offer a heads-you-win, tails-we-lose proposition. As described, the plan would let investors profit if asset prices went up but just walk away if prices fell substantially.

But would it be enough to make the banking system healthy? No.

Think of it this way: by using taxpayer funds to subsidize the prices of toxic waste, the administration would shower benefits on everyone who made the mistake of buying the stuff. Some of those benefits would trickle down to where they're needed, shoring up the balance sheets of key financial institutions. But most of the benefit would go to people who don't need or deserve to be rescued.

And this means that the government would have to lay out trillions of dollars to bring the financial system back to health, which would, in turn, both ensure a fierce public outcry and add to already serious concerns about the deficit. (Yes, even strong advocates of fiscal stimulus like yours truly worry about red ink.) Realistically, it's just not going to happen.

So why has this zombie idea - it keeps being killed, but it keeps coming back - taken such a powerful grip? The answer, I fear, is that officials still aren't willing to face the facts. They don't want to face up to the dire state of major financial institutions because it's very hard to rescue an essentially insolvent bank without, at least temporarily, taking it over. And temporary nationalization is still, apparently, considered unthinkable.

But this refusal to face the facts means, in practice, an absence of action. And I share the president's fears: inaction could result in an economy that sputters along, not for months or years, but for a decade or more.
(c) 2009 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times







Killing The Song
Unholy Alliances and Hate-Spawning Surges in the Terror War
By Chris Floyd

William Dalrymple has been one of the more insightful Western historians of South Asia -- especially when it comes to the region's centuries-long encounter and enmeshing with Islam. In the light of the recent terror attack in Pakistan, Dalrymple has penned two articles in the UK press which draw attention to one of the most neglected aspects of the rise of Islamic extremism in the modern era: the vast resources and ceaseless energy applied by the Saudi royals to propagate the harsh, unbending sect of Wahhabi Islam around the world.

The high-living plutocrats and playboys of the Saudi ruling clan long ago made a deal with the obscurantist Wahhabi clerics of Arabia. The plutocratic playboys would get the religious cred needed to "justify" their repressive, corrupt rule, while the Wahhabis would see their narrow-minded zealotry protected and promoted by state -- and, in the last few decades, transformed into a global movement by the endless supply of petrodollars pouring into Saudi coffers from the West. As the Western-backed dictatorships and kleptocracies of Muslim lands increasingly failed to provide a decent life and basic freedoms for their peoples, the flood of Saudi oil money stepped in to fill the social and educational breach with Wahhabi schools, Wahhabi mosques, and Wahhabi doctrines.

It is all very reminiscent of the deal struck between the old-line plutocrats of the Republican Party and the extremist Christian nationalists in the United States. The plutocrats get "God's" blessing -- and "God's" political shock troops and fundraising prowess - for their rapacious economic and militarist agenda, while the Christian nationalists get a slice of earthly power to help push and promote their own narrow-minded zealotry.

These two unholy alliances made a most monstrous beast with two backs when they came together to fight the Great Satan of Communism in Afghanistan. The Plutocrat-Christianist alliance in Washington vastly expanded the relationship with Saudi-backed jihadis in Afghanistan that had begun under Democrat Jimmy Carter. The rest, as they say, is history: the history of our Age of Terror, where the "civilized" world inflicts state terror on a scale unseen since World War II, while "asymmetrical" groups -- most with ever-murky, impossibly tangled, volatile links with various states at various times -- go about their bloody business on a much smaller scale.

[There is yet another aspect of these interlocking dirty deals: the American plutocratic elite has long been in bed with the Saudi royals. This is perhaps best exemplified by the close personal and business relationship between the Saudi elite and the Bush family -- close ties that encompassed the Bin Laden clan as well as the Saudi royals -- but America's eternal coddling of the Saudi tyrants is of course a thoroughly bipartisan affair.]

In his most recent piece, in the Observer, Dalrymple notes how Saudi-sponsored Wahhabi extremism is undermining the traditional religious, social and cultural structures of Pakistan:

Rahman Baba, "the Nightingale of Peshawar," was an 18th-century poet and mystic, a sort of North West Frontier version of Julian of Norwich.

He withdrew from the world and promised his followers that if they also loosened their ties with the world, they could purge their souls of worries and move towards direct experience of God. Rituals and fasting were for the pious, said the saint. What was important was to understand that divinity can best be reached through the gateway of the human heart - that we all have paradise within us, if we know where to look.

For centuries, Rahman Baba's shrine at the foot of the Khyber Pass has been a place where musicians and poets have gathered, and his Sufi verses in the Pukhtun language made him the national poet of the Pathans. As a young journalist covering the Soviet-mujahideen conflict I used to visit the shrine to watch Afghan refugee musicians sing their songs to their saint by the light of the moon.

Then, about 10 years ago, a Saudi-funded Wahhabi madrasa was built at the end of the track leading to the shrine. Soon its students took it on themselves to halt what they saw as unIslamic practices. On my last visit, I talked about the situation with the shrine keeper, Tila Mohammed. He described how young Islamists now came and complained that his shrine was a centre of idolatry and superstition:

"My family have been singing here for generations," said Tila. "But now these Arab madrasa students come here and create trouble....Before the Afghan war, there was nothing like this. But then the Saudis came, with their propaganda, to stop us visiting the saints, and to stop us preaching 'ishq [love]. Now this trouble happens more and more frequently."

...This sort of madrasa-driven change in attitudes is being reproduced across Pakistan. There are now 27 times as many madrasas in the country as there were in 1947: from 245 at independence, the number has shot up to 6870 in 2001. Across Pakistan, the religious tenor has been correspondingly radicalised: the tolerant, Sufi-minded Barelvi form of Islam is now out of fashion in northern Pakistan, especially in the NWFP, overtaken by the rise of the more hardline and politicised Wahhabism.

Later, I returned to the shrine and found Tila Mahommed tending the grave. Making sure no one was listening, he whispered: "We pray that right will overpower wrong, that good will overcome evil. But our way is pacifist," he said." As Baba put it,

I am a lover, and I deal in love. Sow flowers,
So your surroundings become a garden
Don't sow thorns; for they will prick your feet.
We are all one body,
Whoever tortures another, wounds himself.

I thought of this conversation, when I heard that the shrine of Rahman Baba had finally been blown up on Thursday, a few hours after the Sri Lankan cricketers were ambushed in Lahore. The rise of Islamic radicalism is often presented in starkly political terms, but what happened in Peshawar this week is a reminder that, at the heart of the current conflict, lie two very different understandings of Islam. Wahhabi fundamentalism has advanced so quickly in Pakistan partly because the Saudis have financed the building of so many madrasas, which have filled the vacuum left by the collapse of state education. These have taught an entire generation to abhor the gentle, syncretic Sufi Islam that has dominated south Asia for centuries, and to embrace instead an imported form of Saudi Wahhabism.

Sufism is an entirely indigenous Islamic resistance movement to fundamentalism, with its deep roots in South Asian soil. The Pakistani government could finance schools that taught Pakistanis to respect their own religious traditions, rather than buying fleets of American F-16 fighters and handing over education to the Saudis. Instead, every day, it increasingly resembles a tragic clone of Taliban Afghanistan.

But of course we will only see more American military materiel pouring into Pakistan: some of it given to Pakistan's draconian military-security elite -- but more and more of it being operated by U.S. forces themselves: more drone missile attacks, more covert Special Forces units, and, as seems increasingly likely, more regular troops and planes in "hot pursuit" of Pakistan-based Afghan insurgents.

The further radicalization and destabilization of Pakistan is virtually guaranteed if Barack Obama continues on his announced path of military escalation in Afghanistan, egged on by such hawkish courtiers as Richard "L'il Kissinger" Holbrooke, Joe "Bankruptcy Bill" Biden and Hillary "The Obliterator" Clinton. Obama has embraced both the Terror War rhetoric and most of the Terror War policies of his murderous predecessor; he has also retained the Terror War's military leadership as well. In the Guardian last week, Dalrymple described the past fruits of this approach:

Eight years of neocon foreign policies have been a spectacular disaster for American interests in the Islamic world, leading to the advance of Hamas and Hezbollah, the wreckage of Iraq, with more than two million external refugees and the ethnic cleansing of its Christian population, the rise of Iran as a major regional power, and now the implosion of Afghanistan and Pakistan, probably the most dangerous development of all.

And here he details this most dangerous development, where, once again, playboys and plutocrats combine with religious extremists to breed a hell on earth:

Few had very high expectations of [Pakistan President Asif Ali] Zardari, the notorious playboy widower of Benazir Bhutto. Nevertheless, the speed of the collapse that has taken place on his watch has amazed almost all observers. Across much of the North-West Frontier Province - around a fifth of Pakistan - women have now been forced to wear the burka, music has been silenced, barbershops are forbidden to shave beards and more than 140 girls' schools have been blown up or burned down. From the provincial capital of Peshawar, a significant proportion of the city's elite, along with its musicians, have decamped to what had, until yesterday's attack, been regarded as the relatively safe and tolerant confines of Lahore and Karachi.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of ordinary people from the surrounding hills of the semi-autonomous tribal belt - the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) that run along the Afghan border - have fled from the conflict zones, blasted by missiles from unmanned American Predator drones and strafed by Pakistani helicopter gunships, to the tent camps now ringing Peshawar.

The tribal areas have never been fully under the control of any Pakistani government, and have always been unruly, but they have now been radicalised as never before. The rain of armaments from US drones and Pakistani ground forces, which have caused extensive civilian casualties, daily add a steady stream of angry foot soldiers to the insurgency. Elsewhere in Pakistan, anti-western religious and political extremism continues to flourish, and there are increasing signs that the instability is now spreading from the Frontier Province to the relatively settled confines of Lahore and the Punjab.

Dalrymple also points out the dangers of the plutocratic strategy of setting extremist forces in motion to advance your own agenda. Like the German conservatives in the early 1930s who thought they could control and manipulate the jumped-up little corporal, Adolf Hitler, elites ultimately find that the extremists they nurture not only end up biting the hand that feeds them -- they often chop off the head of their benefactors as well. For example, Dalrymple says that a "large share of responsibility that must be put at the door of Pakistan's army and its Inter-Services Intelligence Agency, or ISI:"

For more than 20 years, the ISI has, for its own purposes, deliberately and consistently funded and incubated a variety of Islamist groups, including in particular Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba. Since the days of the anti-Soviet mujahideen, the Pakistani army saw the jihadis as an ingenious and cost-effective means of both dominating Afghanistan - something they finally achieved with the Soviet retreat in 1987 - and bogging down the Indian army in Kashmir, something they succeeded in achieving from 1990 onward.

The army's top brass were convinced until recently that they could control the militants whom they had fostered. In a taped conversation between then-General Musharraf and Muhammad Aziz Khan, his chief of general staff, which India released in 1999, Aziz said that the army had the jihadis by their tooti (their privates).

Yet while some in the ISI may still believe that they can use jihadis for their own ends, the Islamists have increasingly followed their own agendas, sending suicide bombers to attack not just members of Pakistan's religious minorities and political leaders, but even the ISI's headquarters at Camp Hamza itself, in apparent revenge for the army's declared support for America's war on terror and attacks made by the Pakistani military on Taliban strongholds in Fata. Ironically, as [Ahmed] Rashid makes clear, it was exactly groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, which were originally created by the ISI, that have now turned their guns on their creators, as well as brazenly launching well-equipped and well-trained teams of jihadis into Indian territory.

When you follow the sword, and stop listening to the singer, when you worship power -- whether it be derived from your understanding of God or from your identification with empire and domination -- then you sow thorns that will make the whole world bleed. As I said in a column I wrote the day after 9/11:

Blood will have blood; that's certain. But blood will not end it. For murder is fertile: it breeds more death, like a spider laden with a thousand eggs. And who now can break this cycle, which has been going on for generations?

A song might do it. But a "surge" sure as hell will not.
(c) 2009 Chris Floyd







This Is Why It's So Easy
By Case Wagenvoord

Dear George,

Listen up; I want to let you in on a little secret. The reason Wall Street is having such an easy time looting the U.S. Treasury has nothing to do with corruption or lobbyist or campaign payoffs to their congressional employees.

It all has to do with rhymes, as in nursery rhymes.

Millions, billions, trillions-they sound the same, so in the public's eye they are pretty much the same.

Right?

Not necessarily.

There's a handy little trick that puts the difference between the three into perspective. If you substitute seconds for dollars, you get the following relationship:

… A million seconds equals 11.7 days

… A billion seconds equals 32 years

… A trillion seconds equals 32000 years[1]

The following paragraph gives of summary of some of the looted funds that have found their way to Wall Street. After each figure, I have inserted the equivalent time in parenthesis:

The U.S. government has pledged more than $11.6 trillion (371,200 years) on behalf of the American taxpayers over the past 19 months, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Changes from the previous table, published Feb. 9, include a $787 billion (25,184 years) economic stimulus package. The Federal Reserve has new lending commitments totaling $1.8 trillion (57,600 years)...The U.S. Treasury also added $200 billion (6,400 years) to its support commitment for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac...

Anyhow, you get the idea.

With a rhyming game like that it's as easy as taking candy from a baby.

No wonder nobody pays attention.

Your admirer,
Belacqua Jones
(c) 2009 Case Wagenvoord. Some years ago, Case Wagenvoord turned off the tube and picked up a book. He's been trouble ever since. His articles have been posted at The Smirking Chimp, Countercurrents and Dissident Voice. When he's not writing or brooding, he is carving hardwood bowls that have been displayed in galleries and shows across the country. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and two cats. His book, Open Letters to George W. Bush is available at Amazon.com.







Waiting for Others to Make Things Better? Find a Comfortable Seat!
By Mike Folkerth

Good Morning all of you independent thinkers, your King of Simple News is on the air.

I'm going to start with the bad news and end with the good news and a belly laugh video produced by some of my readers.

The bad news is that if we turned around tomorrow and the banks were back in shape and there were no further job losses, it would take a minimum of two years of uninterrupted growth to return to a quasi-normal situation.

The really bad news is that the banks aren't in good shape, the job losses are predicted to extend into 2010, and the recovery will thus be even longer. Let me explain why.

As the number of folks on the sideline grows in ever increasing numbers, the time required to put them back to work also grows. Job losses have continued now for 14 consecutive months and the "official" unemployment number over that period is 4.4 million. It gets worse.

In the U.S. approximately 125,000 people per month must be absorbed into the job market to pace the birth rate and legal immigration. We have had job losses for 14 months, meaning that 1,750,000 have failed to find first time work and are not represented in the unemployment figures.

There are also millions represented in the underemployment category such as the Harvard graduate who was recently interviewed working at Starbucks after being fired from AIG.

At such point that the economy starts to hire, most economists believe that unemployment will continue to rise for some time as new jobs will fail to pace the millions who need to return to work while at the same time dealing with the first time job seekers who continually flow into the mix.

I have reported that Julian Robertson, considered one of the greatest financial minds in the world, predicts that the period necessary to stabilize will be somewhere between 10 and 15 years. Yikes! When you consider all of the facts, Robertson's conclusion only makes sense.

Now for the really, really bad news. The circumstances of our underlying economy have not changed one bit! In fact, government's response to the failure of our ill conceived borrow and spend economy, is to borrow and spend more. And in the words of the King of Simple, "It really is that simple."

We've hit the wall folks; that's what I've been trying to tell you. Exponential growth of consumption and debt in a finite world is mathematically impossible.

We all want things to get better. We want to wake up tomorrow and hear the talking heads say it's all over; the recession is gone and the car makers are having a banner day. And that tax collection has quadrupled and home values are skyrocketing. But that is simply not the case and therefore we have to add some sugar to this lemon and make lemonade.

Making big changes in our lives is not easy, it requires a paradigm shift; a change in our core beliefs and thought process. All actions, good or bad, right or wrong, are preceded by thought, and that thought is influenced by our core beliefs.

In the instance of a accepting a permanent life changing event, and more particularly, an event that is initially perceived as being negative, acceptance becomes even more difficult. This does not however change the reality of the situation that I described above. The great question may be, how long are you prepared to wait before taking personal action; 10 to 15 years?

Changing one's life to the reality of our circumstances is not a negative move. We have become so wrapped up in this impossible borrow and spend lifestyle of accumulating material wealth through long and stressful work hours and the associated debt, that we are willing to devote our entire lives to that lost cause without questioning whether it is correct or even possible! It should have become evident in recent months that it is neither correct nor possible.

I promised to add some good news to help you enjoy your weekend. Please take time to view this great video clip that was produced by some of my wonderful long time Iowa readers. I hope that you enjoy it as much as I have. These are some of the folks who bring food to our tables.

You can also view their website Thanks to the whole Behn brothers production crew, great job!!
(c) 2009 Mike Folkerth is not your run-of-the-mill author of economics. Nor does he write in boring lecture style. Not even close. The former real estate broker, developer, private real estate fund manager, auctioneer, Alaskan bush pilot, restaurateur, U.S. Navy veteran, heavy equipment operator, taxi cab driver, fishing guide, horse packer...(I won't go on, it's embarrassing) writes from experience and plain common sense. He is the author of "The Biggest Lie Ever Believed."





The Quotable Quote...



"Liberty without learning is always in peril and
learning without liberty is always in vain."
~~~ John F. Kennedy ~~~









Barbie Dollie Versus Dalai Lama
By Greg Palast

March 9, 2009 Barbie's 50 years old today - so I thought I'd share with you one of the weirdest memos I've unearthed in my years of investigating corporate maledictions. Passed to me from inside Mattel, the toy company, with an August 12, 1997 time stamp. "TAR" stands for Tibet Autonomous Region.

Proprietary Content Confidential - Mktng only

To: Jongyol Rimpoche, JRimp@BarbieMttl.cn.TAR_From: BRab@M.IntlMkt.MttlCrp.com

Barbie Doll v Dalai Lama

JR, Marketing greenlights your conclusion: Barbie can't play Tibet until she replaces current culture idol. Research Div did tab on competitor; looks like he's history:

Barbie: Over 2,000 outfits

The Dalai Lama: One outfit (orange bathrobe!)

Barbie: Sixteen hair-dos, including "growing ponytail"

The Dalai Lama: Shaved head (Yuck!)

Barbie: Two dozen pre-programmed and market-tested phrases. Changed annually.

The Dalai Lama: "Om Mane Padme Om" ("Hail the Fire in the Lotus" -- whatever that means.) Never changes.

Barbie: Worshiped by 600 million Barbie owners.

The Dalai Lama: Worshipped by only 6 million Tibetans.

Barbie: Creator of cultural revolution.

The Dalai Lama: Victim of cultural revolution.

Barbie: Accessories- Shoes, handbags, battery-operated cars -- you name it!

The Dalai Lama: Accessories- ZEE-RO!

Barbie: Lives in Dream House.

The Dalai Lama: Lives in a refugee camp.

Barbie: Position-Permanently on tippy-toes, firming thighs and derriere, pre-molded for high heels.

The Dalai Lama: Position-"Lotus." (That means he squats on the floor -- How attractive!)

Barbie: Ambitious, gregarious, perky, everybody's friend. And the 21st Century Barbie is a career girl!

The Dalai Lama: Seeks to "transcend" ambition and career; troublemaker. (Put that in a Christmas gift-box!)

Barbie: Immortal.

The Dalai Lama: Just a guy.

The D.L. may be this year's icon out there with the yak-milk set, but, when it comes to market share, BARBIE TAKES NO PRISONERS! Barbie Doll v. Dalai Lama - like, who are they kidding??

And, JR, no more of your "endless-cycles-of-pain-and-laughter" memos.
(c) 2009 Greg Palast is a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow for Investigative Reporting at the Nation Institute, New York. Read the rest of this story by picking up his New York Times bestseller, Armed Madhouse Join Palast's Network on MySpace, on FaceBook or on YouTube.








Breaking The Taboo On Israel's Spying Efforts On The United States
By Christopher Ketcham

Scratch a counterintelligence officer in the U.S. government and they'll tell you that Israel is not a friend to the United States.

This is because Israel runs one of the most aggressive and damaging espionage networks targeting the U.S.. The fact of Israeli penetration into the country is not a subject oft-discussed in the media or in the circles of governance, due to the extreme sensitivity of the U.S.-Israel relationship coupled with the burden of the Israel lobby, which punishes legislators who dare to criticize the Jewish state. The void where the facts should sit is filled instead with the hallucinations of conspiracy theory -- the kind in which, for example, agents of the Mossad, Israel's top intelligence agency, engineer the 9/11 attacks, while 4,000 Israelis in the Twin Towers somehow all get word to escape before the planes hit. The effect, as disturbing as it is ironic, is that the less the truth is addressed, the more noxious the falsity that spreads.

Israel's spying on the U.S., however, is a matter of public record, and neither conspiracy nor theory is needed to present the evidence. When the FBI produces its annual report to Congress concerning "Foreign Economic Collection and Industrial Espionage," Israel and its intelligence services often feature prominently as a threat second only to China. In 2005 the FBI noted, for example, that Israel maintains "an active program to gather proprietary information within the United States." A key Israeli method, said the FBI report, is computer intrusion. In 1996, the Defense Intelligence Service, a branch of the Pentagon, issued a warning that "the collection of scientific intelligence in the United States [is] the third highest priority of Israeli Intelligence after information on its Arab neighbors and information on secret U.S. policies or decisions relating to Israel." In 1979, the Central Intelligence Agency produced a scathing survey of Israeli intelligence activities that targeted the U.S. government. Like any worthy spy service, Israeli intelligence early on employed wiretaps as an effective tool, according to the CIA report. In 1954, the U.S. Ambassador in Tel Aviv discovered in his office a hidden microphone "planted by the Israelis," and two years later telephone taps were found in the residence of the U.S. military attachΘ. In a telegram to Washington, the ambassador at the time cabled a warning: "Department must assume that all conversations [in] my office are known to the Israelis." The former ambassador to Qatar, Andrew Killgore, who also served as a foreign officer in Jerusalem and Beirut, told me Israeli taps of U.S. missions and embassies in the Middle East were part of a "standard operating procedure."

According to the 1979 CIA report, the Israelis, while targeting political secrets, also devote "a considerable portion of their covert operations to obtaining scientific and technical intelligence." These operations involved, among other machinations, "attempts to penetrate certain classified defense projects in the United States." The penetrations, according to the CIA report, were effected using "deep cover enterprises," which the report described as "firms and organizations, some specifically created for, or adaptable to, a specific objective." At the time, the CIA singled out government-subsidized companies such as El Al airlines and Zim, the Israeli shipping firm, as deep cover enterprises. Other deep cover operations included the penetration of a U.S. company that provided weapons-grade uranium to the Department of Defense during the 1960s; Israeli agents eventually spirited home an estimated 200 pounds of uranium as the bulwark in Israel's secret nuclear weapons program. Moles have burrowed on Israel's behalf throughout the U.S. intelligence services. Perhaps most infamous was the case of Jonathan Pollard, a Jewish-American employed as a civilian analyst with the U.S. Navy who purloined an estimated 800,000 code-word protected documents from inside the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and numerous other U.S. agencies. While Pollard was sentenced to life in prison, counterintelligence investigators at the FBI suspected he was linked to a mole far higher in the food chain, ensconced somewhere in the DIA, but this suspected Israeli operative, nicknamed "Mr. X," was never found. Following the embarrassment of the Pollard affair -- and its devastating effects on U.S. national security, as testified by then Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger (who allegedly stated that Pollard "should have been shot") -- the Israeli government vowed never again to pursue espionage against its ally and chief benefactor.

Fast-forward a quarter century, and the vow has proven empty. In 2004, the authoritative Jane's Intelligence Group noted that Israel's intelligence organizations "have been spying on the U.S. and running clandestine operations since Israel was established." The former deputy director of counterintelligence at FBI, Harry B. Brandon, last year told Congressional Quarterly magazine that "the Israelis are interested in commercial as much as military secrets. They have a muscular technology sector themselves." According to CQ, "One effective espionage tool is forming joint partnerships with U.S. companies to supply software and other technology products to U.S. government agencies."

Best-selling author James Bamford now adds another twist in this history of infiltration in a book published last October, "The Shadow Factory," which forms the latest installment in his trilogy of investigations into the super-secret National Security Agency. Bamford is regarded among journalists and intelligence officers as the nation's expert on the workings of the NSA, whose inner sanctums he first exposed to the public in 1982. (So precise is his reporting that NSA officers once threw him a book party, despite the fact that he continually reveals their secrets.) The agency has come a long way in the half-century since its founding in 1952. Armed with digital technology and handed vast new funding and an almost limitless mandate in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, Bamford writes, the NSA has today "become the largest, most costly, and most technologically sophisticated spy organization the world has ever known." "millions of phone calls and e-mails" every hour of operation. For those who have followed the revelations of the NSA's "warrantless wiretapping" program in the New York Times in 2005 and the Wall Street Journal last year, what Bamford unveils in "The Shadow Factory" is only confirmation of the worst fears: "There is now the capacity," he writes of the NSA's tentacular reach into the private lives of Americans, "to make tyranny total."

Much less has been reported about the high-tech Israeli wiretapping firms that service U.S. telecommunications companies, primarily AT&T and Verizon, whose networks serve as the chief conduits for NSA surveillance. Even less is known about the links between those Israeli companies and the Israeli intelligence services. But what Bamford suggests in his book accords with the history of Israeli spying in the U.S.: Through joint partnerships with U.S. telecoms, Israel may be a shadow arm of surveillance among the tentacles of the NSA. In other words, when the NSA violates constitutional protections against unlawful search and seizure to vacuum up the contents of your telephone conversations and e-mail traffic, the Israeli intelligence services may be gathering it up too -- a kind of mirror tap that is effectively a two-government-in-one violation.

***

On its face, the overseas outsourcing of high-tech services would seem de rigueur in a competitive globalized marketplace. Equipment and services from Israel's telecom sector are among the country's prime exports, courtesy of Israeli entrepreneurs who have helped pioneer wireless telephony, voicemail and voice recognition software, instant messaging, phone billing software, and, not least, "communications interception solutions." Israeli telecom interception hardware and software is appraised as some of the best in the world.

By the mid-1990s, Israeli wiretap firms would arrive in the U.S. in a big way. The key to the kingdom was the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), which was Congress' solution for wiretapping in the digital age. Gone are the days when wiretaps were conducted through on-site tinkering with copper switches. CALEA mandated that telephonic surveillance operate through computers linked directly into the routers and hubs of telecom companies -- a spyware apparatus matched in real-time, all the time, to American telephones and modems. CALEA effectively made spy equipment an inextricable ligature in telephonic life. Without CALEA, the NSA in its spectacular surveillance exploits could not have succeeded.

AT&T and Verizon, which together manage as much as 90 percent of the nation's communications traffic, contracted with Israeli firms in order to comply with CALEA. AT&T employed the services of Narus Inc., which was founded in Israel in 1997. It was Narus technology that AT&T whistleblower Mark Klein, a 22-year technician with the company, famously unveiled in a 2006 affidavit that described the operations in AT&T's secret tapping room at its San Francisco facilities. (Klein's affidavit formed the gravamen of a lawsuit against AT&T mounted by the Electronic Freedom Foundation, but the lawsuit died when Congress passed the telecom immunity bill last year.) According to Klein, the Narus supercomputer, the STA 6400, was "known to be used particularly by government intelligence agencies because of its ability to sift through large amounts of data looking for preprogrammed targets." The Narus system, which was maintained by Narus technicans, also provided a real-time mirror image of all data streaming through AT&T routers, an image to be rerouted into the computers of the NSA.

According to Jim Bamford, who cites knowledgeable sources, Verizon's eavesdropping program is run by a competing Israeli firm called Verint, a subsidiary of Comverse Technology, which was founded by a former Israeli intelligence officer in 1984. Incorporated in New York and Tel Aviv, Comverse is effectively an arm of the Israeli government: 50 percent of its R&D costs are reimbursed by the Israeli Ministry of Industry and Trade. The Verint technology deployed throughout Verizon's network, known as STAR-GATE, boasts an array of Orwellian capabilities. "With STAR-GATE, service providers can access communications on virtually any type of network," according to the company's literature. "Designed to manage vast numbers of targets, concurrent sessions, call data records, and communications, STAR-GATE transparently accesses targeted communications without alerting subscribers or disrupting service." As with the Narus system, the point is to be able to tap into communications unobtrusively, in real time, all the time. A Verint spinoff firm, PerSay, takes the tap to the next stage, deploying "advanced voice mining," which singles out "a target's voice within a large volume of intercepted calls, regardless of the conversation content or method of communication." Verint's interception systems have gone global since the late 1990s, and sales in 2006 reached $374 million (a doubling of its revenues over 2003). More than 5,000 organizations -- mostly intelligence services and police units -- in at least 100 countries today use Verint technology.

What troubles Bamford is that executives and directors at companies like Narus and Verint formerly worked at or maintain close connections with the Israeli intelligence services, including Mossad; the internal security agency Shin Bet; and the Israeli version of the NSA, Unit 8200, an arm of the Israeli Defense Forces Intelligence Corps. Unit 8200, which Bamford describes as "hypersecret," is a key player in the eavesdropping industrial complex in Israel, its retired personnel dispersed throughout dozens of companies. According to Ha'aretz, the Israeli daily, "Many of the [eavesdropping] technologies in use around the world and developed in Israel were originally military technologies and were developed and improved by [Unit 8200] veterans." A former commander of Unit 8200, cited by Bamford, states that Verint technology was "directly influenced by 8200 technology....[Verint parent company] Comverse's main product, the Logger, is based on the Unit's technology." The implications for U.S. national security, writes Bamford, are "unnerving." "Virtually the entire American telecommunications system," he avers, "is bugged by [Israeli-formed] companies with possible ties to Israel's eavesdropping agency." Congress, he says, maintains no oversight of these companies' operations, and even their contracts with U.S. telecoms -- contracts pivotal to NSA surveillance -- are considered trade secrets and go undisclosed in company statements.

U.S. intelligence officers have not been quiet in their concerns about Verint (I reported on this matter in CounterPunch.org last September). "Phone calls are intercepted, recorded, and transmitted to U.S. investigators by Verint, which claims that it has to be 'hands on' with its equipment to maintain the system," says former CIA counterterrorism officer Philip Giraldi. The "hands on" factor is what bothers Giraldi, specifically because of the possibility of a "trojan" embedded in Verint wiretap software. A trojan in information security hardware/software is a backdoor that can be accessed remotely by parties who normally would not have access to the secure system. Allegations of widespread trojan spying have rocked the Israeli business community in recent years. "Top Israeli blue chip companies," reported the AP in 2005, "are suspected of using illicit surveillance software to steal information from their rivals and enemies." Over 40 companies have come under scrutiny. "It is the largest cybercrime case in Israeli history," Boaz Guttmann, a veteran cybercrimes investigator with the Israeli national police, told me. "Trojan horse espionage is part of the way of life of companies in Israel. It's a culture of spying."

In a wide-ranging four-part investigation into Israel-linked espionage that aired in December 2001, Carl Cameron, a correspondent at Fox News Channel, reported the distress among U.S. intelligence officials warning about possible trojans cached in Verint technology. Sources told Cameron that "while various FBI inquiries into [Verint] have been conducted over the years," the inquiries had "been halted before the actual equipment has ever been thoroughly tested for leaks." Cameron also cited a 1999 internal FCC document indicating that "several government agencies expressed deep concerns that too many unauthorized non-law enforcement personnel can access the wiretap system." Much of this access was facilitated through "remote maintenance."

The Fox News report reverberated throughout U.S. law enforcement, particularly at the Drug Enforcement Agency, which makes extensive use of wiretaps for narcotics interdiction. Security officers at DEA, an adjunct of the Justice Department, began examining the agency's own relationship with Comverse/Verint. In 1997, DEA had transformed its wiretap infrastructure with the $25 million procurement from Comverse/Verint of a technology called "T2S2" -- "translation and transcription support services" -- with Comverse/Verint contracted to provide the hardware and software. The company was also tasked with "support services, training, upgrades, enhancements and options throughout the life of the contract," according to the DEA's "contracts and acquisitions" notice. In the wake of the Fox News investigation, however, the director of security programs at DEA, Heidi Raffanello, was rattled enough to issue an internal communiquΘ on the matter, dated Dec. 18, 2001. Directly referencing Fox News, she worried that "Comverse remote maintenance" was "not addressed in the C&A [contracts and acquisitions] process....It remains unclear if Comverse personnel are security cleared, and if so, who are they and what type of clearances are on record....Bottom line we should have caught it." It is not known what resulted from DEA's review of the issue of remote maintenance and access by Comverse/Verint.

Bamford devotes a portion of his argument to the detailing of the operations of a third Israeli wiretap company, NICE Systems, which he describes as "a major eavesdropper in the U.S." that "keeps its government and commercial client list very secret." Formed in 1986 by seven veterans of Unit 8200, NICE software "captures voice, email, chat, screen activity, and essential call details," while offering "audio compression technology that performs continuous recordings of up to thousands of analog and digital telephone lines and radio channels." NICE Systems has on at least one occasion shown up on the radar of U.S. counterintelligence. During 2000-2001, when agents at the FBI and the CIA began investigating allegations that Israeli nationals posing as "art students" were in fact conducting espionage on U.S. soil, one of the Israeli "art students" was discovered to be an employee with NICE Systems. Among the targets of the art students were facilities and offices of the Drug Enforcement Agency nationwide. The same Israeli employee of NICE Systems, who was identified as a former operative in the Israeli intelligence services, was carrying a disk that contained a file labeled "DEA Groups." U.S. counterintelligence officers concluded it was a highly suspicious nexus: An Israeli national and alleged spy was working for an Israeli wiretap company while carrying in his possession computer information regarding the Drug Enforcement Agency -- at the same time this Israeli was conducting what the DEA described as "intelligence gathering" about DEA facilities.

***

A former senior counterintelligence official in the Bush administration told me that as early as 1999, "CIA was very concerned about [Israeli wiretapping companies]" -- Verint in particular. "I know that CIA has tried to monitor what the Israelis were doing -- technically watch what they were doing on the networks in terms of remote access. Other countries were concerned as well," said the intelligence official. Jim Bamford, who notes that Verint "can automatically access the mega-terabytes of stored and real-time data secretly and remotely from anywhere," reports that Australian lawmakers in 2004 held hearings on this remote monitoring capability. "[Y]ou can access data from overseas," the lawmakers told a Verint representative during the hearings, "but [the legislature] seems restricted to access data within that system." The Australians found this astonishing. In 2000, the Canadian intelligence service, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, conducted "a probe related to allegations that [Israeli] spies used rigged software to hack into Canada's top secret intelligence files," according to an article in the Toronto Star. Several sources in the U.S. intelligence community told me the Canadians liaised with their American counterparts to try to understand the problem. According to the Bush administration official who spoke with me, "the Dutch also had come to the CIA very concerned about what the Israelis were doing with this." The Dutch intelligence service, under contract with Verint, "had discovered strange things were going on -- there was activity on the network, the Israelis uploading and downloading stuff out of the switches, remotely, and apparently using it for their own wiretap purposes. The CIA was very embarrassed to say, 'We have the same problem.' But the CIA didn't have an answer for them. 'We hear you, we're surprised, and we understand your concern.'" Indeed, sources in the Dutch counterintelligence community in 2002 claimed there was "strong evidence that the Israeli secret service has uncontrolled access to confidential tapping data collected by the Dutch police and intelligence services," according to the Dutch broadcast radio station Evangelische Omroep (EO). In January 2003, the respected Dutch technology and computing magazine, C'T, ran a follow-up to the EO story, headlined "Dutch Tapping Room not Kosher." The article states: "All tapping equipment of the Dutch intelligence services and half the tapping equipment of the national police force [is] insecure and is leaking information to Israel."

"The key to this whole thing is that Australian meeting," Bamford told me in a recent interview. "They accused Verint of remote access and Verint said they won't do it again -- which implies they were doing it in the past. It's a matter of a backdoor into the system, and those backdoors should not be allowed to exist. You can tell by the Australian example that it was certainly a concern of Australian lawmakers."

Congress doesn't seem to share the concern. "Part of the responsibility of Congress," says Bamford, "is not just to oversee the intelligence community but to look into the companies with which the intelligence community contracts. They're just very sloppy about this." According to the Bush administration intelligence official who spoke with me, "Frustratingly, I did not get the sense that our government was stepping up to this and grasping the bull by the horns." Another former high level U.S. intelligence official told me, "The fact of the vulnerability of our telecom backbone is indisputable. How it came to pass, why nothing has been done, who has done what -- these are the incendiary questions." There is also the fundamental fact that the wiretap technologies implemented by Verint, Narus and other Israeli companies are fully in place and no alternative is on the horizon. "There is a technical path dependence problem," says the Bush administration official. "I have been told nobody else makes software like this for the big digital switches, so that is part of the problem. Other issues," he adds, "compound the problem" -- referring to the sensitivity of the U.S.-Israel relationship.

And that, of course, is the elephant in the room. "Whether it's a Democratic or Republican administration, you don't bad-mouth Israel if you want to get ahead," says former CIA counterterrorism officer Philip Giraldi. "Most of the people in the agency were very concerned about Israeli espionage and Israeli actions against U.S. interests. Everybody was aware of it. Everybody hated it. But they wouldn't get promoted if they spoke out. Israel has a privileged position and that's the way things are. It's crazy. And everybody knows it's crazy."
(c) 2009 Christopher Ketcham writes for Vanity Fair, Harper's, GQ and many other magazines. He is working on a book about the history of Israeli espionage in the United States.





The Dead Letter Office...




Heil Obama,

Dear Unterfuhrer Spratt,

Congratulations, you have just been awarded the "Vidkun Quisling Award!" Your name will now live throughout history with such past award winners as Marcus Junius Brutus, Judas Iscariot, Benedict Arnold, George Stephanopoulos, Ralph Nader, George W. Bush, Vidkun Quisling and last year's winner Volksjudge Clarence (slappy) Thomas.

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution, your sponsorship of NAIS HR 1105, a bill to destroy the family farm thus allow big agra-business to poison the world for mega bucks, Iraq and these many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Demoncratic Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Iron Cross, first class, with diamond clusters presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 05-23-2009. We salute you Herr Spratt, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama





Britain's Bizarre Reaction To War Crimes Allegations
Investigations needed
By Glenn Greenwald

Binyam Mohamed is the British resident who, two weeks ago, was released from Guantanamo and returned to Britain after seven years of detention, often in brutal conditions. Since his return, compelling evidence has been steadily emerging that British agents were knowingly complicit in Mohamed's torture while in U.S. custody -- including the discovery of telegrams sent by British intelligence officers to the CIA asking the CIA to extract information from him. How does a country with a minimally healthy political class and a pretense to the rule of law react to such allegations of criminality? From the BBC:

MPs have demanded a judicial inquiry into a Guantanamo Bay prisoner's claims that MI5 was complicit in his torture. . . .

[Mohamed's] allegations are being investigated by the government, but the Foreign Office said it did not condone torture.

Shadow justice secretary Dominic Grieve said the "extremely serious" claims should also be referred to the police. . . .

Daniel Sandford, BBC Home Affairs correspondent, said Mr Mohamed's claims would be relatively simple to substantiate.

"As time progresses it will probably become quite apparent whether indeed these are true telegrams and I think it's unlikely they'd be put into the public domain if they couldn't eventually be checked back."

The Conservatives have called for a police inquiry into his allegations of British collusion.

Mr Grieve called for a judicial inquiry into the allegations.

"And if the evidence is sufficient to bring a prosecution then the police ought to investigate it," he added.

Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Ed Davey said there was a "rock solid" case for an independent judicial inquiry. . . .

Shami Chakrabati, director of campaign group Liberty said: "These are more than allegations - these are pieces of a puzzle that are being put together.

"It makes an immediate criminal investigation absolutely inescapable."

The Guardian adds:

New revelations by Guant·namo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed, claiming that British intelligence played a central role in his torture and interrogation, must be answered by the government, the former shadow home secretary David Davis said last night. . . .

[Mohamed's] allegations appear to contradict assertions by foreign secretary David Miliband and home secretary Jacqui Smith that the British government would never "authorise or condone" torture.

Davis said Mohamed's testimony demanded a response from these ministers. "His revelations show that the government's claims about its involvement in the interrogation of Mohamed are completely untenable," Davis said. "Either Miliband or Smith should come to the House of Commons and reveal exactly what the government knew."

Last night other public figures said there should be wider efforts to look into the allegations that the British government had colluded in Mohamed's torture.

Notice what is missing from these accounts. There is nobody arguing that the dreary past should simply be forgotten in order to focus on the important and challenging future. There's no snide suggestion that demands to investigate serious allegations of criminality are driven by petty vengeance or partisan score-settling. Nobody suggests that it's perfectly permissible for government officials to commit serious crimes -- including war crimes -- as long as they had nice motives or were told that it was OK to do these things by their underlings, or that the financial crisis (which Britain has, too) precludes any investigations, or that whether to torture is a mere "policy dispute." Also missing is any claim that these crimes are State Secrets that must be kept concealed in order to protect British national security.

Instead, the tacit premise of the discussion is that credible allegations of criminality -- even if committed by high government officials, perhaps especially then -- compel serious criminal investigations. Imagine that. How shrill and radical.

If one stays immersed in American domestic political debates, it's easy to lose sight of just how corrupted and rotted our political and media class is, because the most twisted ideas become enshrined as elite orthodoxies. Britain is hardly the paragon of transparency and adherence to international conventions; to the contrary, they've been with the U.S. every step of the way over the last eight years, enabling and partaking in many of the worst abuses. Yet this one single case of documented complicity in torture -- mere complicity with, not actual commission of, the torture -- is generating extreme political controversy and widespread demands across the political spectrum for judicial and criminal investigations. The British political class may not have wanted to see it, but when compelling evidence of criminality is rubbed in their faces, they at least pay lip service to the idea that crimes by government officials must be investigated and subjected to accountability.

By stark and depressing contrast, America's political class and even most of its "journalists" -- in the face of far, far greater, more heinous and more direct war criminality by their highest political leaders -- are explicitly demanding that nothing be done and that it all be kept concealed. They're surveying undeniable evidence of grotesque war crimes committed over many years by our government -- including enabling legal theories that even Fred Hiatt described as "scary," "lawless" and "disgraceful" -- and are literally saying: "just forget about that; it doesn't matter." Our country is plagued by "journalists" like The Washington Post's Dana Milbank, giggling with smug derision over the very few efforts to investigate these massive crimes -- and then even lying on NPR by claiming that support for investigations is confined to "a small but very vocal minority within the Party - these are the same folks who were pushing for the impeachment of the President and the Vice President right up [dismissive chuckling] basically to the time of the Inauguration" (to see how flagrantly false is Milbank's statement about support within the Party for investigations, see here and here and here; the NPR host, needless to say, said nothing to correct him).

The accountability-free, self-loving mentality that demands that nothing be done about America's war crimes over the last eight years is hardly confined to America's detention, surveillance and interrogation policies. This is exactly the same bloated, insular corruption that allows multi-billion-dollar insider frauds like this one not only to go unexamined but also to result in those responsible being further empowered with high government positions. It's what lets someone like Tom Friedman think he can lecture us all with a straight face on the evils of overconsumption, the ravaging effects of our "growth model," and the environment-destroying impact of consumerism as he lives in this house, financed by his heiress-wife's shopping-center-developing company, his books urging unfettered globalization, and his columns urging various wars.

In sum, we have the only country, and the only results, that it's possible to have given who has been wielding influence. And nothing expresses more vividly what they are than their explicit insistence that systematic war crimes committed by their own Government be immunized and forgotten, underscored by their bizarre feelings of "centrism"-smugness and Seriousness-superiority for expressing that definitively lawless and amoral view.

* * * * *

One other point about Mohamed: Last month,the Obama DOD claimed that it conducted an investigation and concluded that Guantanamo now fully comports with all Geneva standards. In a New York Times interview yesterday, President Obama claimed (for the first time, to my knowledge) that most of the problems with Bush's detention policies were confined to what he called "the steps that were taken immediately after 9/11," and that most of those problems were fixed by CIA Director Michael Hayden and DNI Michael McConnell "by the time [Obama] took office" because Hayden and McConnell "were mindful of American values and ideals."

Compare all of that to Binyam Mohamed's post-release statements -- supported by other corroborating evidence -- that "conditions at the US detention camp in Cuba have worsened since President Barack Obama was elected. . . . "'Since the election it's got harsher,' Mohamed told the newspaper." Isn't this something that the U.S. Government should be called upon to address?

UPDATE: Slate's Dahlia Lithwick reviews, and dismantles, each of the justifications being offered by the Obama administration for keeping Bush crimes concealed and shielding them from investigations and prosecutions (h/t Bystander). It's quite concise and well worth reading in its entirety (as is Digby's discussion of that article).

UPDATE II: In comments, Cocktailhag writes:

It is something of an upside down world wherein journalists, as a class, comfort the comfortable and afflict the afflicted, and see nothing odd about this.

At times I've wondered whether Watergate would have even been discovered by the mindless media we have today, but even worse, whether they all would have just explained it away.

It's difficult to select what one thinks is the single most illustrative symbol of how our country now functions, but if I were forced to do so, I would choose the fact that it is America's journalists -- who claim to be devoted to serving as a check on Government and exposing its secrets -- who are, instead, leading the way in demanding that the Government's actions of the last eight years be concealed; in trying to quash efforts to investigate and expose those actions; and in demanding immunity for government lawbreakers. What kind of country does one expect to have where (with some noble exceptions) it is journalists, of all people, who take the lead in concealing, protecting and justifying government wrongdoing, and whose overriding purpose is to serve, rather than check, political power? "Upside down world," indeed.
(c) 2009 Glenn Greenwald. was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book "How Would a Patriot Act?," a critique of the Bush administration's use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, "A Tragic Legacy," examines the Bush legacy.







Four Integrity Tests For President Obama
By Joel S. Hirschhorn

A great smile does not make a truth teller. A talker of change does not define a reformer. Make no mistake, for the good of the nation I want President Obama to succeed in getting us out of the scandalous economic meltdown we are immersed in. But I do not like many of his actions, policies and strategies for accomplishing this, nor does the stock market.

I always had my doubts that he was a true agent of change and reformer when it came to the structure of the political and government system. He took an awful lot of money from the very rich and powerful in his campaign. Sure, with his superb speaking skills he has the capacity to win public approval, but most Americans are not deep, critical thinkers, nor do most have the best detailed information. What if he is just another untrustworthy politician? What if he does not keep his promises? With these questions in mind, I have examined four areas where I find President Obama's behavior disappointing.

Most distressing is that he put people in power who failed to prevent the economic disaster, notably the Treasury Secretary. As someone with significant experience in government, I was appalled that President Obama has selected so many experienced people for his cabinet and high level White House positions who previously had powerful positions in government or the financial sector but failed to prevent the economic meltdown that is still worsening. Or even sound loud alarms about what was profoundly wrong with economic system. Why not look hard for people that had been criticizing various aspects of the mortgage and financial areas? People from the academic world, watch dog groups and public interest organizations that might have worked previously in government could bring more creativity to the problems. For someone who made a big campaign deal of being against politics as usual, Obama has shown precious little evidence that he wants true outsiders to steer his administration. His chief of staff Rahm Emanuel is the epitome of a protector of the status quo political system. Rather than selecting many big name Democrats and a few Republicans, why not seek out independents, whistle blowers and reformers to fix the economic meltdown?

Accepting a huge spending bill loaded with pork earmarks it starkly contradictory to what Obama promised during the campaign. During the campaign this is what candidate Obama said: "We need earmark reform. And when I'm president, I will go line by line to make sure we're not spending money unwisely." He has talked repeatedly about fiscal responsibility and real change in politics. Talk is cheap. This spending bill is not. Not with over 9,000 earmarks totaling some $12 billion. It is sheer nonsense for him and his supporters to say shamelessly that the spending bill is something left over from the Bush administration. Well, so is the Iraq war, but Obama certainly was ready to make changes with it. Why not have the integrity and courage to veto this spending bill and send it back to Congress with the mandate to cut out the pork? Why should we believe promises to wait until he cuts earmarks from future spending bills when clearly Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, are not willing to give up earmarks. And why won't they? Simple, they create earmarks as part of the legal corruption that allows campaign contributors to get the earmarks they want.

Consider this example. Representative Anthony Weiner, Democrat, New York, received more than $160,000 in campaign contributions from for the Sephardic Addiction and Family Education (SAFE) Foundation in Brooklyn, New York, which has an earmark from him for $238,000. He was also sole sponsor on a $300,000 earmark for Brooklyn's Ohel Children's Home and Family Services, whose board members and employees have also given him money; its director has personally given $6,240. And the bill includes 14 earmarks requested by lawmakers for projects sought by PMA Group, a lobbying company used by all sorts of entities to get earmarks, which is at the center of a federal corruption investigation.

And consider this: Not supporting congressional efforts to form a truth commission to look into Bush administration misdeeds, such as allowing torture of supposed terrorists, secret detention, and domestic spying, is also hard to fathom. Obama keeps up the malarkey about wanting to look forward, not backward. But the pursuit of justice and discovering how our Constitution has been flagrantly violated by President George W. Bush and others are imperative tasks for a real democracy. "Nothing has done more damage to America's place in the world than the revelation that this nation stretched the law and the bounds of executive power to authorize torture and cruel treatment. Such a commission of inquiry would shed light on what mistakes were made so that we can learn from those errors and not repeat them," said Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the chief advocate for a commission.

Significantly, a USA Today/Gallup poll in February found that 62 percent of Americans favor a criminal investigation or an independent panel to look into the use of torture, illegal wiretapping, and other alleged abuses of power by the Bush administration. So how can we understand why Obama does not passionately support doing this? I like what Georgetown University professor David Cole said: "in the face of credible evidence that high-level Bush administration officials authorized torture, a crime against humanity, the least we should do is undertake a serious, independent investigation." What is scary is that perhaps Obama fears one day facing something similar for his misdeeds as president. It all comes down to this simple but profoundly important idea that Americans are supposed to embrace: absolutely no one should be above the law.

That President Obama has expressed no interest in a new 9/11 investigation reveals a lack of truth-seeking by someone who surely knows just how corrupt, unethical and dishonest the Bush administration was. The nationwide 9/11 truth movement is alive and well, because the vast majority of Americans still have many doubts about the official stories of what happened on 9/11, especially when it comes to the sudden collapse of three World Trade Center buildings, one of which was not even hit by an airplane. Countless scientists, engineers and architects have seriously examined mountains of data and evidence and come to the disheartening conclusion that something besides the official story must explain what happened. We are still paying an insane price in money and blood for the unjustified Iraq war that was largely justified by Bush because of 9/11. Searching for the truth about 9/11 is not about conspiracy theories; it is all about discovering if our government somehow had a hand in causing 9/11 in a so-called false flag operation. If it did, then the way to prevent any future such government action requires discovering the truth about 9/11. Why wouldn't President Obama support this?
(c) 2009 Joel S. Hirschhorn observed our corrupt federal government firsthand as a senior official with the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the National Governors Association and is the author of Delusional Democracy - Fixing the Republic Without Overthrowing the Government. To discuss issues write the author.



The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ John Trever ~~~







W the Movie Music Video DJ Monkey's 3rd World War





To End On A Happy Note...



Smak Dem Christians Down
By Jay Spears

Oh save us from your people Lord
Oh save us Lord we pray
Oh save us from your people Lord
And make then go away

My mammy baptized me you bet
I'm washed in the Blood of the Lamb
But here's one thing I just don't get
Who baptized Uncle Sam?
Some folks say the USA was Christian from the start.
But was George Washington a Christian?... NO!
Was Thomas Jefferson a Christian?... NO!
John Adams?... NO!
Ben Franklin?... NO!
Was Abe Lincoln a Christian?... NO! NO! NO!

They separated Church and State which makes dem Christians frown,
And on that day I'm glad to say they smaked dem Christians down!
We gotta smak dem Christians down,
Smack dem Christians down,
On that day I'm glad to say they
Smaked dem Christians smaked dem Christians
Smaked dem Christians down.

My daddy hails from Alabam' so the South is in my soul
I know firsthand about Dixieland and one Christian judge's role. He said
"God made different races and gave them homes in separate places...."
So Black folk can't marry white folk, NO!
Black folk can't marry white folk!
Colored can't marry white folk, NO!
Colored can't marry white folk!
Nigras can't marry white folk, NO!
Nigras can't marry white folk! NO!
The Supreme Court heard it all and to their great renown,
On that day I'm glad to say they smaked dem krackers down!

We gotta smack dem Christians down,
Smack dem Christians down,
On that day I'm glad to say they
Smaked dem Christians smaked dem Christians
Smaked dem Christians down.

Roll up the Bill of Rights and wap! wap! wap! 'em on the head.
Keep your radical Christian agenda away from my gonadicals and my pudenda!

I wish dem whacked-out Christian fools would learn from history
Instead of tryin' to foist their bonehead rules on 'mos like me.
If you wanna live in a theocracy maybe ya oughta move to Saudi Arabia.
Is the U.S. Government Islamic?... NO!
Is it Buddhist?... NO!
Hindu?... NO!
Jewish?... NO!
Catholic?... NO!
Is the U.S. Government Christian?... NO! NO! NO!
So if dem Christians don't back off we'll run 'em outta town
And on that day I'm glad to say we'll smak dem Christians down!

We gotta Smak dem Christians down,
Smak dem Christians down,
On that day I'm glad to say we'll
Smak dem Christians Smak dem Christians
Smak, Smak, Smak, Smak, Smak, Smak, Smak, Smak,
Smak dem Christians down.

Amen.
(c) 2006/2009 Jay Spears

"Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix." Virginia trial judge, 1959, ruling against interracial marriage.



Have You Seen This...



Closed Zone


Parting Shots...




Christian Girls' Guide To Spring Break Abstinence

During Spring Break, the number one priority for unsaved boys (especially lustful colored and avaricious Jewish ones) is to take home the trophy prized by pagans the world over: the sweet, warm blood of a virgin. Every March in Daytona Beach, that prize is attained by spilling the sacred hymen blood of a lily-white Christian girl. Here at Landover Baptist, as our college students make their way toward the godless, gibberish-mumbling shores of Mexico and Florida this Spring, they understand that whether they are a boy slipping on a pair of enormous crotch concealing surfer shorts or a girl covered from knee to chin in a modest one-piece swimsuit, their conservative swimwear is going on the body of the Lord Jesus Christ. And He doesn't like to flop about, displaying His enormous dangling holy parts in public. Yes, Christian youngsters know that the most important thing to remember when they are at the ocean (after the importance of using a 120 SPF so they don't wind up so dark folks think you're about to knock over a Cancun liquor store) is that mixed-faith beaches are mission fields to share the Good News.

Listen to Spring Break Warning to Girls!

As members of the inferior sex, Christian girls are more easily swayed toward the lures of Satan and anything drunk out of a pineapple. A young lady might have made a commitment to save herself for Jesus and abstain from the filthy, repulsive act from which the beauty of life springs, but it is often times more difficult for them to understand which parts of their body are off limits to the superior sex.

Saving Yourself For Jesus!

In general, Christian boys are more successful in resisting demonic influences. Indeed, we've heard countless tales of Spring Break sacrifice from our Godly gentlemen, who've sacrificed their pride by resorting to mouth, hiney, and even boy-on-boy canoodling in order to protect their virginity. These are lessons many Baptists boys picked up from Mormon missionaries and can provide a reputation-saving technique for Christian girls hoping to save their precious lady business until after an expensive, catered wedding.

Of course, Christian females have a hard time understanding the different parts of the slimy abyss between their legs -- in part, because they have been forbidden to look. Most Christian ladies don't even realize they have six holes (the number of the beast) through which the devil tries to enter. There is only one however, that upon entry, will destroy an angelic little girlie's virginity and turn her into a debauched, fornicating Devil's slut who must be drop-kicked out the back door of our church and sent to the Landover Baptist Home for Wayward Girls and Pastors' Comfort Retreat.

As any Roman Catholic priest who has spent countless hours eying the crotches of buff, young men in swim trunks can tell you, the Lord Jesus isn't the only thing that rises in the Spring. Danger of vaginal penetration lurks on every beach blanket. In preparation for the lurid temptations of Spring Break, our team of Creation Scientists has been kind enough to prepare the chart below. All female church members are required to carry a laminated copy it in their purses at all times as a "map" to guide them safely across the treacherous minefield of teen almost-sex, which is pitted with many a dark and sticky sinkhole intent on sucking young souls into their fetid vortex of sin. Choose the wrong hole and you will have chosen a whole lot of damnation, my teenage friend!


(c) 2009 The Landover Baptist Church



Email:issues@issuesandalibis.org



The Gross National Debt





Zeitgeist The Movie...









Issues & Alibis Vol 9 # 11 (c) 03/13/2009


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