Friday, December 28, 2007

A Requiem for Ms. Benazir Bhutto

Your fate was sealed before you were born. You have been murdered by the psychopaths who have carefully nurtured their power around the globe. May your courage in facing them down for the sake of your people inspire them to see the reality of pathocracy.

Blue Ibis

Benazir Bhutto - A Warning To Us All

Joe Quinn
Thu, 27 Dec 2007 09:34 EST
Benazir Bhutto - Murdered by the Pathocrats

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was murdered Thursday December 27th, 2007 in Rawalpindi, a city near Pakistan's capital Islamabad. Having survived an attempted assassination in October, under the cover of a "suicide bombing" Ms. Bhutto was shot in the neck and head from close range.

Coincidentally (or not) almost 29 years ago her father, Zulfikar Bhutto, also a former PM of Pakistan, was hung in the very same city by then Pakistan dictator General Zia Ul-Haq. In 2003, alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was arrested in Rawalpindi. The evidence for Khalid's involvement came largely from the now destroyed CIA torture tapes. Small world. It should come as no surprise therefore that, while separated by decades, the untimely deaths of Ms. Bhutto and her father are, in the context of the American-led war on terror, inextricably linked. Suffice to say, the fingerprints of the Pathocrats are everywhere.

The Arrogant Empire

To fully understand the forces that have shaped our modern world and brought it to the socio-political precipice upon which it now sits, we cannot speak of "America" or even "the US government" in terms of a single isolated nation and group of political leaders. America today is a long and well-established empire whose seat of power extends far beyond Washington D.C. With military bases in at least 121 of 187 world countries and an economic footprint that is global in scope, "America" today is a world-wide phenomenon rather than a single Western nation.

Zulfikar Bhutto

Like dozens of similar cases around the world over the past 100 years, the ousting in 1977, and murder 18 months later, of the democratically elected Zulfikar Bhutto could not have happened without the support of the then US government and CIA. Former US attorney general and outspoken critic of US foreign policy Ramsey Clark was directly involved in attempting to have Zulfikar Bhutto's sentence commuted, although he was ultimately prevented from representing him at trial by General Zia. Clark has pointed directly at CIA involvement:

"the similarities in the staging of riots in Chile (where the CIA helped overthrow President Salvador Allende in 1973) and in Pakistan [in 1977] are just too close."


Up until 1989 and the "fall" of Soviet Russia, Pakistan sat on Russia's southern border and represented Russia's only access to the warm trading waters of the Persian Gulf. From a strategic point of view and in the context of the "cold war", it made perfect sense for the empire to attempt to expand its global influence and at the same time deal a significant economic blow to the Russians. Both Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan were therefore firmly in the empire's sights.

The empire's problem with Zulfikar Bhutto was an ideological one. He, like all truly humane political leaders was not inclined to allow the Pakistani people to become fodder for the relentless march of the American empire. In a speech in October 1966 Bhutto proclaimed: "Islam is our faith, democracy is our policy, socialism is our economy. All power to the people."

In terms of the empire's designs on South Asia, (which included the longer term goal of setting up a future phony "clash of civilisations" between Islam and the "Christian West") Bhutto could not be allowed to establish a largely secular, socialist Pakistan and simply had to go. Indeed, over the past 60 years, no quarter has been given to any leader of a Muslim nation who was not either naturally fascistically-inclined or prepared to bow down before the empire.


General Zia then was given the necessary support and assurances by the representatives of the US empire in order to feel confident to force Bhutto from office and later hang him on trumped-up charges of corruption. He then went about establishing strict Islamic law and a brutal penal code. Zia changed the punishment for damage against property from a fine or imprisonment (or both) to the amputation of the right hand of the offender. For robbery, the right hand and left foot of the offender was the price. For adultery the new punishment was flogging (100 lashes) for both men and women, if unmarried and, if married, the culprit was stoned to death. Zia also promoted military officers on the basis of religious devotion. The Koran and other religious material becomes compulsory reading material in army training courses and according to journalist Kathy Gannon "Radical Islamist ideology began to permeate the military and the influence of the most extreme groups crept into the army." The BBC also acknowledged that Zia's self-declared "Islamization" policies created a "culture of jihad" within Pakistan that continues until present day. And all of it rubber-stamped by the "greatest democracy on earth".

General Zia

General Zia also created tens of thousands of madrassas, or religious boarding schools, the very same madrasses referred to by Donald Rumsfeld when he said:

"Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us?"

Soon thereafter, (1979-80) large quantities of American dollars began flowing into the good general's coffers, and Zia was clearly well aware of his commanding position. What price would the empire pay for his geo-strategically positioned nation? When offered a $400 million "aid" package by US President Jimmy Carter, Zia sneered and said "peanuts". (Carter used to be a peanut farmer).

Overthrowing Democracy

In the end, the empire funneled $billions to Zia, on the proviso that he used most of it to fund a bunch of fuedal warlords known as the Taleban over the border in Afghanistan. Afghanistan you see, had recently taken a turn for the worse in much the same way that Pakistan had under Bhutto. In 1973 Dr. Mohammad Daoud had declared a new Republic of Afghanistan, ousting the monarch government of Mohammed Zaher Shah in a bloodless coup d'etat. Daoud was an extreme conservative and ruled as absolute dictator. In response to the oppressive policy of the new regime the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan, PDPA, was formed, but in 1978 Daoud's ordered the arrest of almost the entire leadership of the PDPA.

The progressive masses in Kabul saw the arrests as an attempt to annihilate the PDPA, just as the military junta had done to the workers' parties in Chile in 1973 (with US backing). An uprising by the lower ranks of the military freed the popular party leader, Nur Mohammad Taraki. Within a day, Daoud was overthrown and a revolutionary government proclaimed, headed by Taraki.

According to the CIA's own casebook in Afghanistan:

Before the revolution, 5 percent of Afghanistan's rural landowners owned more than 45 percent of the arable land. A third of the rural people were landless laborers, sharecroppers or tenants.

Debts to the landlords and to money lenders "were a regular feature of rural life". An indebted farmer turned over half his crop each year to the money lender.

"When the PDPA took power, it quickly moved to remove both landownership inequalities and usury." Decree number six of the revolution canceled mortgage debts of agricultural laborers, tenants and small landowners.

The revolutionary regime set up extensive literacy programs, especially for women. It printed textbooks in many languages-Dari, Pashtu, Uzbek, Turkic and Baluchi. "The government trained many more teachers, built additional schools and kindergartens, and instituted nurseries for orphans", says the country study.

Before the revolution, female illiteracy had been 96.3 percent in Afghanistan. Rural illiteracy of both sexes was 90.5 percent.

By 1985 there had been an 80-percent increase in hospital beds. The government initiated mobile medical units and brigades of women and young people to go to the undeveloped countryside and provide medical services to the peasants for the first time.

Among the very first decrees of the revolutionary regime were to prohibit bride-price and give women freedom of choice in marriage. "Historically, gender roles and women's status have been tied to property relations. Women and children tend to be assimilated into the concept of property and to belong to a male."

Before the revolution, a bride who did not exhibit signs of virginity on the wedding night could be murdered by her father and/or brothers.

After the revolution, young women in the cities, where the new government's authority was strong, could tear off the veil, freely go out in public, attend school and get a job. They were organized in the Democratic Women's Organization of Afghanistan, founded in 1965 by Dr. Anahita Ratebzada.

The revolution and the establishment of the social government under Taraki challenged the old fundamentalist Islamic order. Afghanistan was slowly being turned into a progressive and libertarian country with a somewhat secular government providing equal rights for all.

So, like I said, Afghanistan had taken a 'turn for the worse' from the point of view of the empire, and was now being led by a socialist, secular (read 'Communist') government. Something had to be done. So, the CIA began building a mercenary army, recruiting feudal Afghan warlords and their servants for a "holy war" against the "communists", who had liberated "their" women and "their" peasants.

Baiting The "Commies"

But the empire has always been eager to maximise its gains, and along with correcting the growing political 'aberration' in Afghanistan, there was the chance to 'stick it' to the Commies.

Zbigniew Brzezinski served as US National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1981. In an interview in "Le Nouvel Observateur" Jan 15-21, 1998, p.76, he tells us:

Brzezinski: According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, closely guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.

The "pro-Soviet regime" mentioned here was the socialist government of Tariki that was advocating women's rights and education for all.

Question: Despite this risk, you were an advocate of this covert action. But perhaps you yourself desired this Soviet entry into war and looked to provoke it?

Brzezinski: It isn't quite that. We didn't push the Russians to
intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.

The fact is that the Russians were enticed to intervene in Afghanistan because of the aforementioned aid and weaponry that the US was supplying to the Feudal warlords who were seeking to overthrow the socialist government of Taraki - the one that had begun to reform and open up Afghan society.

Question: When the Soviets justified their intervention by asserting that they intended to fight against secret involvement of the United States in Afghanistan, people didn't believe them. However, there was a basis of truth. You don't regret anything today?

Brzezinski: Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter, in substance: We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.

Question: And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic fundamentalists, having given arms and advice to future terrorists?

Brzezinski: What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?

So, there you have it. The American empire is currently engaged in an unending "war on terror" with "some stirred up Moslems" as the opposition, which the empire themselves "stirred up".

Drugs For The World

But there were also the spoils of empire to be considered. With the help of President Zia, Afghanistan was deemed a country perfectly suited for the production of vast quantities of opium, the proceeds from which the empire would use to fuel its progress and at the same time flood certain population centers with narcotics and engage in a little "social engineering" (the black neigborhoods of America being a case in point).

CIA covert weapons shipments were sent by the Pakistani army and the ISI to rebel camps in the North West Frontier province near the Afghanistan border. The governor of the province, Lieutenant General Fazle Haq, who author Alfred McCoy calls Pakistani President Muhammad Zia ul-Haq's "closest confidant and the de facto overlord of the mujaheddin guerrillas" allowed hundreds of heroin refineries to set up in his province. Beginning around 1982, Pakistani army trucks carrying CIA weapons from Karachi (Pakistan) would arrive in Haq's province and return loaded with heroin, protected from police search by Pakistani intelligence (ISI) papers. By 1982, Haq was listed with Interpol as an international drug trafficker, not to mention a CIA asset. Despite his worsening reputation, visiting US politicians such as CIA Director William Casey and Vice President George H. W. Bush continued to meet with him when they visited Pakistan. Haq then moved his heroin money through the criminal Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI). A highly placed US official later stated that Haq "was our man... everybody knew that Haq was also running the drug trade" and that "BCCI was completely involved".

Both European and Pakistani police complained that investigations of heroin trafficking in the province were "aborted at the highest level". In 1989, shortly after Benazir Bhutto took over as the new ruler of Pakistan, Pakistani police arrested Haq and charged him with murder. He was considered a multi-billionaire by this time was gunned down and killed in 1991 before he could be tried. Even President Zia was implicated in the drug trade. In 1985, a Norwegian government investigation led to the arrest of a Pakistani drug dealer who just happened to be President Zia's personal finance manager. When arrested, his briefcase contained Zia's personal banking records.

Echos Of 9/11

Washington spent billions of dollars every year in funding their proxy Russian war, with the son of a prestigious and wealthy Saudi family with close ties to the Saudi royals, Osama bin Laden, serving as the figurehead for the warlords (and Western public). During it all, the empire's man, General Zia was tasked with overseeing the disbursement of the money, weapons and the manufacturing of heroin. With the Soviets defeated, Afghanistan in the grip of the ultra-conservative Taleban war-lords and Pakistan economically and politically impoverished under US-backed military dictators, the American empire had provided itself with both a laboratory from which to stage-manage an "Islamic terror threat" and a theatre in which to wage war upon that threat.

Interestingly, Zia died in a mysterious plane crash in August 1988. Shortly after a smooth take-off, the control tower lost contact with the aircraft with witnesses reporting that it was flying erratically. The aircraft then nosedived before exploding on impact, killing General Zia and several other senior army generals, as well as American Ambassador to Pakistan Arnold Raphel and General Herbert Wassom, head of the American military attaché in Islamabad. For many reasons, not least of which is that there were many people who wanted Zia dead, it is highly unlikely that Zia's the crash was an accident. Several conspiracy theories have been proposed with the most interesting being that the Israeli Mossad brought down the plane. Barbara Crossette who was the New York Times bureau chief in South Asia from 1988 to 1991 interviewed the American ambassador to India in 1988, John Gunther Dean.

Dean alleges that Israel wanted to prevent Pakistan from acquiring nuclear weapons and urged the US congress to investigate the Israeli-Indian axis. As a reward for speaking his mind Dean was accused of mental imbalance and sent to Switzerland for 6 weeks to "rest" before being asked to resign. Most interesting of all however is the method used to bring down Zia's plane. Pakistan's official report on the crash found traces of chemicals in the wreckage of the plane, a lot of which was buried in the sandy earth or scattered around the site by the impact of the crash. Those chemicals, the Pakistanis said, were phosphorous, chlorine, potassium, antimony, and pentaaerythritol tetranitrate. Specifically, phosphorous was found on mango seeds and skins in the wreckage. Several crates of mangos had been loaded onto the plane before take off and that the fruit had been laced instead with a debilitating, possibly fatal gas. Khalid Hasan a Pakistani analyst writing in the independent Pakistani newspaper "Friday Times" in 2004, said that it was VX gas. Ambassador Dean claims that he was also told in New Delhi that there was VX gas on the plane. Those that have read our book 911: The Ultimate Truth will immediately understand why the suggestion that Israel was involved in using fatal gas to bring down passenger aircraft is particularly intriguing.


At the tender age of 24 Benazir Bhutto found herself under house arrest in the wake of her father's imprisonment by General Zia in 1977. She was allowed to leave Pakistan for the UK in 1984 leading her father's Socialist Pakistan People's Party (PPP) in exile. She would later become the first and youngest female prime minister of Pakistan and of any Islamic nation when she led the government from 1988-1990 and again from 1993-1996. In both cases she was ousted by false charges fabricated by the same Punjab elites and powerful landlord families that had opposed her father and prevented both from implementing the reformist, secular policies so desired by the Pakistani people.

Throughout her career the young and glamorous Benazir successfully and accurately portrayed herself as a refreshing contrast to the overwhelmingly male-dominated political establishment. In 1998 Benazir went into self-imposed exile in Dubai where she remained until she returned to Pakistan on 18 October 2007 after reaching an understanding with CIA-asset President Musharraf who took power in a military coup in 1999. Under the terms of the agreement with Musharraf she was granted amnesty and all (trumped-up) corruption charges were withdrawn. Since the expulsion order on her was lifted, Benazir had been campaigning fiercely for the PPP and was widely expected to present a serious challenge to CIA-installed dictator Musharraf in the upcoming general elections.

While en route to a rally in Karachi on 18 October 2007, two explosions occurred shortly after Bhutto had landed and left Jinnah International Airport. She was not injured but the explosions, later alleged to be a suicide-bomb attack, killed 136 people and injured at least 450. Despite the obvious threat to her life from those who had most to gain from death, including but not limited to Pakistani dictator and CIA asset Musharraf, Benazir remained true to her belief that political leadership is defined by service to the ordinary people of this world. As such she insisted on continuing to travel to public rallies around the country. She stated recently:

"I decided not to be holed up in my home, a virtual prisoner," she wrote. "I went to my ancestral village of Larkana to pray at my father's grave. Everywhere, the people rallied around me in a frenzy of joy. I feel humbled by their love and trust."

But in a world such as ours, love and trust are increasingly assailed on all sides by a darkness that seeks to violently extinguish all noble ideals, and from one perspective we could say that Benazir's bravery was foolhardy. From another perspective however, it is possible that her sacrifice will ignite in millions of others a righteous anger that may yet thwart the darkness that threatens to engulf us all. There is one thing we can say for sure, and that is that Benazir faced the psychopathic threat to her own future and that of all humanity with open eyes. In the aftermath of the first attempt on her life in October she stated:

"Soon thereafter, I was asked by authorities not to travel in cars with tinted windows - which protected me from identification by terrorists - or travel with privately armed guards. I began to feel the net was being tightened around me when police security outside my home in Karachi was reduced, even as I was told that other assassination plots were in the offing."[See here for a message she sent to CNN's Wolf Blitzer regarding her security]

As the PPP party leader announced her death, the Pakistani knew instantly where to look for the culprits as they erupted into shouts of "Musharraf is a dog". Let's not forget who his masters are.

Benazir Bhutto, died a sacrificial lamb but also a stark warning of what our leaders have in store for us all. The bottom line is: wake up, before it's too late.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Equal Opportunity Oppression - "Tis the Season"

The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Michel Sabbah arrives at the IOF checkpoint outside Bethlehem

From Khalid Amayreh in Bethlehem

Christmas is a season of good will. However, for Israel and its notoriously mendacious propaganda machine, Christmas is also a hasbara opportunity for spreading lies and disseminating disinformation and half truths about Christians in the Holy Land.

The usual seasonal dosage of lies includes such claims that Christians in the Holy Land suffer more from Muslim persecution than from the Israeli and apartheid, and that Christian emigration is not really attributed to Israel's Nazi-like repression of the Palestinian people but rather to Palestinian "Muslim" intolerance and violence.

Well, such lies are not new. Israel itself is a state based on lies and lying has always been and continues to be Israel's policy and modus operandi. In fact, it is very hard for one to be Zionist and not to be a liar. In truth, Zionism and mendacity are two sides of the same coin.

Didn't Zionism claim that Palestine was a land without a people for a people without a land?

Didn't Zionism claim that Palestinian refugees fled their homes and towns willingly and that Israel was in no way responsible for their flight?

Didn't Israel tell the world that the Israeli occupation army was the most moral army in the world, and that Israeli soldiers didn't knowingly and deliberately kill Palestinian children and civilians, and that the numerous acts of murder and maiming by the Israeli army were merely regrettable accidents?

And even now, and despite Israel's nakedness before the peoples of the world, this shameless state and its professional liars and spin doctors continue to claim ad nauseam that Israel is a democratic state where the rule of law is supreme.

Well, do democratic states act and behave the way Israel is acting and behaving? Do democratic states classify citizens and subjects into Ubermensch and untermensch?

I know for sure that our Christian-Palestinian brothers and sisters shall never allow Israel to use them as hasbara pawns in the service of oppression, racism and ethnic cleansing.

The Christians of Palestine, who have received their share of suffering and oppression at the hands of Zionism know more than anybody else that the wickedness of the occupation doesn't distinguish between them and their Muslim compatriots.

In November, 1948, the Hagana terrorists overran the two Christian villages of Ikrit and Birim in the upper Galilee, expelling inhabitants at gunpoint. The pogrom-like expulsion was carried out without the Israeli government approval. However, the democratic Israeli state never allowed the Christian inhabitants to return, despite several rulings to the contrary by the Israeli High Court.

Since 1967, Israel, has been trying to play all kinds of dirty tactics to tamper with Palestinian national unity, especially by playing Muslim against Christian and vice versa.

A few years ago, the Israeli Intelligence instructed its agents to throw stones and Molotov cocktails on several churches in the northern and central parts of the West Bank, apparently in order to use the incidents as hasbara ammunition in North America where public opinion was already overcharged against anything Arab or Islamic.

Meanwhile, the Israeli media, especially right-wing newspapers such as the Jerusalem Post, was concocting and inventing stories about Christian girls being raped and murdered by Palestinians in Bethlehem.

Such fabrications would be readily inflated, spun out of proportions and then widely disseminated especially among evangelical fundamentalists. Eventually, this would be translated into political support for Israeli colonialism and ethnic cleansing against both Muslims and Christians in the Holy Land.

Of course, many innocent and often naïve Americans and Canadians have no idea what kind of treatment is being meted out to Christians in the West Bank at the hands of Israeli occupiers.

They don't know that Israel is systematically stealing, at gunpoint, Church property and real estate in Bethlehem, Beit Jala, Beit Sahur and Jerusalem.

They don't know that Israel routinely bars Christians, laymen and clergy, from accessing their holy places in Jerusalem, e.g. the Church of the Sepulcher.

They don't know that Israeli Jewish youths routinely harass, even spit on clergymen in the streets of Jerusalem, often in full view of policemen who in most cases remain passive.

They don't know that Christian commuters are routinely humiliated at roadblocks manned by trigger-happy soldiers, which make their daily lives an unending nightmare?

They don't know that Israel has already morphed Bethlehem into a ghetto thanks to this Wall of Shame which Israel calls "separation wall" when in reality it is designed to grab and steal as much Palestinian land as possible.

Well, just come to Bethlehem and see for yourself. It is a nightmare, it is hell on earth, and it is done by a people who claim to be a light upon the nations.

If Christians in North America knew how Israel is acting and behaving toward their fellow Christian coreligionists and, of course, toward other Palestinians, they probably would start to change their views.

That is why it is imperative that Christians, especially in North America, make some serious efforts to know the truth about Israel and its crimes.

This can be done through third-party sources such as human rights organizations and western groups operating in the West Bank such as the Christian Peace Making Team and the International Solidarity Movement.

In short, Israeli and pro-Israeli media wouldn't tell the truth about Israeli crimes against Palestinians, Muslim and Christian alike. So try to find alternative sources of news to know the truth about what is really happening in the Holy Land.

Don't allow yourself to be duped and enslaved by Zionist lies.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Home-grown Ethnic Cleansing - Not Just for the 'Stans

Naomi Klein
The Huffington Post
Fri, 21 Dec 2007 13:36 EST

Readers of The Shock Doctrine know that one of the most shameless examples of disaster capitalism has been the attempt to exploit the disastrous flooding of New Orleans to close down that city's public housing projects, some of the only affordable units in the city. Most of the buildings sustained minimal flood damage, but they happen to occupy valuable land that make for perfect condo developments and hotels.

The final showdown over New Orleans public housing is playing out in dramatic fashion right now. The conflict is a classic example of the "triple shock" formula at the core of the doctrine.

- First came the shock of the original disaster: the flood and the traumatic evacuation.

- Next came the "economic shock therapy": using the window of opportunity opened up by the first shock to push through a rapid-fire attack on the city's public services and spaces, most notably it's homes, schools and hospitals.

-Now we see that as residents of New Orleans try to resist these attacks, they are being met with a third shock: the shock of the police baton and the Taser gun, used on the bodies of protestors outside New Orleans City Hall yesterday.

Democracy Now! has been covering this fight all week, with amazing reports from filmmakers Jacquie Soohen and Rick Rowley (Rick was arrested in the crackdown). Watch residents react to the bulldozing of their homes here

And footage from yesterday's police crackdown and Tasering of protestors inside and outside city hall here.

That last segment contains a terrific interview with Kali Akuno, executive director of the People's Hurricane Relief Fund. Akuno puts the demolitions in the big picture, telling Amy Goodman:

This is just one particular piece of this whole program. Public hospitals are also being shut down and set to be demolished and destroyed in New Orleans. And they've systematically dismantled the public education system and beginning demolition on many of the schools in New Orleans--that's on the agenda right now--and trying to totally turn that system over to a charter and a voucher system, to privatize and just really go forward with a major experiment, which was initially laid out by the Heritage Foundation and other neoconservative think tanks shortly after the storm. So this is just really the fulfillment of this program.

Akuno is referring to the Heritage Foundation's infamous post-Katrina meeting with the Republican Study Group in which participants laid out their plans to turn New Orleans into a Petri dish for every policy they can't ram through without a disaster. Read the minutes on my website:

For more context, here are couple of related excerpts from The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism:

The news racing around the shelter [in Baton Rouge] that day was that Richard Baker, a prominent Republican Congressman from this city, had told a group of lobbyists, "We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did." Joseph Canizaro, one of New Orleans' wealthiest developers, had just expressed a similar sentiment: "I think we have a clean sheet to start again. And with that clean sheet we have some very big opportunities." All that week the Louisiana State Legislature in Baton Rouge had been crawling with corporate lobbyists helping to lock in those big opportunities: lower taxes, fewer regulations, cheaper workers and a "smaller, safer city"--which in practice meant plans to level the public housing projects and replace them with condos. Hearing all the talk of "fresh starts" and "clean sheets," you could almost forget the toxic stew of rubble, chemical outflows and human remains just a few miles down the highway.

Over at the shelter, Jamar Perry, a young resident of New Orleans, could think of nothing else. "I really don't see it as cleaning up the city. What I see is that a lot of people got killed uptown. People who shouldn't have died."

He was speaking quietly, but an older man in line in front of us in the food line overheard and whipped around. "What is wrong with these people in Baton Rouge? This isn't an opportunity. It's a goddamned tragedy. Are they blind?"

A mother with two kids chimed in. "No, they're not blind, they're evil. They see just fine."
At first I thought the Green Zone phenomenon was unique to the war in Iraq. Now, after years spent in other disaster zones, I realize that the Green Zone emerges everywhere that the disaster capitalism complex descends, with the same stark partitions between the included and the excluded, the protected and the damned.

It happened in New Orleans. After the flood, an already divided city turned into a battleground between gated green zones and raging red zones--the result not of water damage but of the "free-market solutions" embraced by the president. The Bush administration refused to allow emergency funds to pay public sector salaries, and the City of New Orleans, which lost its tax base, had to fire three thousand workers in the months after Katrina. Among them were sixteen of the city's planning staff--with shades of "de Baathification," laid off at the precise moment when New Orleans was in desperate need of planners. Instead, millions of public dollars went to outside consultants, many of whom were powerful real estate developers. And of course thousands of teachers were also fired, paving the way for the conversion of dozens of public schools into charter schools, just as Friedman had called for.

Almost two years after the storm, Charity Hospital was still closed. The court system was barely functioning, and the privatized electricity company, Entergy, had failed to get the whole city back online. After threatening to raise rates dramatically, the company managed to extract a controversial $200 million bailout from the federal government. The public transit system was gutted and lost almost half its workers. The vast majority of publicly owned housing projects stood boarded up and empty, with five thousand units slotted for demolition by the federal housing authority. Much as the tourism lobby in Asia had longed to be rid of the beachfront fishing villages, New Orleans' powerful tourism lobby had been eyeing the housing projects, several of them on prime land close to the French Quarter, the city's tourism magnet.

Endesha Juakali helped set up a protest camp outside one of the boarded-up projects, St. Bernard Public Housing, explaining that "they've had an agenda for St. Bernard a long time, but as long as people lived here, they couldn't do it. So they used the disaster as a way of cleansing the neighbourhood when the neighbourhood is weakest. ... This is a great location for bigger houses and condos. The only problem is you got all these poor black people sitting on it!"

Amid the schools, the homes, the hospitals, the transit system and the lack of clean water in many parts of town, New Orleans' public sphere was not being rebuilt, it was being erased, with the storm used as the excuse. At an earlier stage of capitalist "creative destruction," large swaths of the United States lost their manufacturing bases and degenerated into rust belts of shuttered factories and neglected neighbourhoods. Post-Katrina New Orleans may be providing the first Western-world image of a new kind of wasted urban landscape: the mould belt, destroyed by the deadly combination of weathered public infrastructure and extreme weather.

Since the publication of The Shock Doctrine, my research team has been putting dozens of original source documents online for readers to explore subjects in greater depth. The resource page on New Orleans has some real gems.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Les Visible Nails It Again

Les Visible
Smoking Mirrors
Fri, 14 Dec 2007 15:18 EST

In a meeting with Khomenei Putin stated that an attack on Iran should be viewed as an attack on Russia. No wonder then that Zionista shill Amanpour did her little sleaze piece on him...Putin...dark Czar...fixed election....whispers of murder....Putin this... Putin that. Good thing they don't get up to that sort of thing in the USA. We be squeaky clean.

See, this is what happens when you play the game of Risk on the big board. This is what happens when you try to take over the world. The other players move accordingly. Russia moves. China moves. No one ever takes over the world. They just ruin other people's lives trying. Sometimes I think Diderot was right - "There won't be any peace until the last politician is strangled with the entrails of the last priest." Close enough to what he said... I think.

It's all coming clear now; the footsie with North Korea... we'll be heading for Taiwan directly... bombs in Lebanon... bombs in Algeria... Al Qaeda this... Al Qaeda that. Someone want to tell me how this global terror network operates? Someone want to tell me how Bin Laden, who's been dead for years, manages to orchestrate all this surgical mayhem with no evidence of anything except some extremely suspect phone call from somewhere, "Yeah, we did it." from our plush caves in Pakistan. Someone want to tell me why people who know better keep talking about Bin Laden? Al Qaeda sounds like Starbucks. They're a lot more effective and organized than they can possibly be.

Bin Laden never said he did 9/11, in fact, he said he didn't do it. FACT; ...go to the videotape. No... not those videotapes, long proven to be frauds. There isn't any Al Qaeda in the way it's presented but... you know that. It's impressive how someone gets the whole world to believe this bullshit.

Oh, but are they angry out there in fascist land. The Likudniks are frothing at the mouth because they haven't quite been able to elbow the Americans into attacking Iran for them. You get a little cocky after you've pulled off sucking America into all those bogus wars and then find out the horse got hobbled by some honest people at the NIE. It sure is convenient about that assassination in Lebanon. Cut to: sold out mouthpieces sticking microphones in front of everyone they can find and asking, "Do you think Syria was behind this?" Of course, what they mean is Iran.

Here are some things we know - and if we don't know them then we are, stupid, don't want to know, don't care or are involved; 911 was an inside job. Both of the last two presidential elections were fixed. Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 and neither did Bin Laden. Iran has nothing to do with nuclear weapons. A small group of powerful individuals is behind the surgical use of terrorism that is designed for the purpose of social control. Organized religion is in on the scam. Corporations are backing the efforts with their front men in various world governments. The media reports what they tell them to.

I could add to this. I could dissect it... so could you. There is also a small group of individuals that know what this other small group is up to. We are all over the world. We all know the same things. When we speak about them, other people in our group of 'the informed' all know what each other are talking about.

Meanwhile... there is something that worries me. It doesn't worry me the way you might be concerned about something bad happening - sure, there's some of that, but I know the difference between what I can affect and what I have no control over. No... it worries me the way a tongue worries a troubled tooth. It pulls at my attention in the back of my mind and I try to grasp what it is but I haven't been able to. What it is, is... how come people can't see what's happening? It's right there. It keeps happening. Surely by now the public should know that they are being lied to. Surely the fantastic inconsistencies of 9/11 should have a place in the human mind right next to the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. Surely we should all be seeing that every time some newscaster's lips are moving that they are lying. You can see the news being shaped; Syria this, Iran that... Putin bad... Chavez... bad. Surely you should be able to see. I can clearly see that American leaders are slandering, stealing and killing to support a lifestyle that is over the border of sense and reason, while actively reducing that lifestyle for everyone but the wealthy, and that it's going to break down.

It's not just America, it is in many places. But America is the most defiant about their privilege to have more than anyone at everyone's expense, including their own, and America has the guns. We have become the bad guys. We torture and engineer terror attacks in order to react against them and set policies that guarantee our right to protect ourselves against enemies we have created for this purpose.

So... here's the thing. We know that they put things in the soft drinks that make you fat and rot your teeth and god knows what else. We know that really strange things are going on at every level. We know there are all these experiments... all these new crowd control weapons... all these studies and tell me... is it something in the water? Are they doing subliminal work on TV... in the movies... on the radio? It's a simple procedure. Is it some kind of a ray that operates through cellphones? Is it microwave?

Let's use Global Warming as an example. Everybody has a theory. Forget all that... it's happening - that we know. It's happening. Maybe it's a natural cycle. So maybe it's a natural cycle that people are turning into quivering Jello Pudding-bots and religious hystericals. Maybe it's natural that people are getting much stupider than they were a few years ago. Maybe it's natural that they don't react and protest as you might expect them to and on and on... or maybe it's 'enemy action'.

Look... everything didn't get this frightening, dangerous, tacky and banal all on its own. This is intentional. The (some call it) music and all the ridiculous entertainments didn't just happen. Someone made them happen. Why make it happen that way? Why is there a common moral code that most people tried to live by, and most agree upon, that now comes up against an FDA approved cultural trend which wars against everything that is commonly acceptable? The result is schizophrenia on a national scale. There must be some reason for this. We're not being improved by it.

Sane and intelligent discourse has disappeared from the airwaves. It is acceptable to shout down and mock everyone who disagrees with the madness. Forget about telling the truth. It's acceptable to do anything and to such a degree that even a rube should see after awhile that something is rotting in the sun.

Is it just a natural de-evolution as the culture declines? Billions of people can't be united in agreement that what is happening is good. There are definite solutions to many problems. Even I know what a lot of these solutions are and that's not my field. Common sense tells me how things should be. Surely millions can see as well. So, tell me... is there some kind of 'stupid ray'? How come the education system stopped teaching people how to think? I see all of these connections. It's like when you keep finding clues everywhere you look. There's a whole effort afoot to deceive and manipulate the public so, logically, aren't they doing other things too?

I keep trying to find the answer but the answer isn't there. These collective pathologies must have a source. How can people be so stupid? How can they swallow unbelievable lies?

I'm saying these things because I want people to think about them. I know it's fuel for my small cadre of detractors but I enjoy the way it sets flames shooting off of their heads when I force them to think about this. I must admit to some satisfaction when the spittle and invective fly; not here but in other locations. Think of it as tough love. Sure, I'm crazy but I know for a fact that I'm not as crazy as most everyone else. I know better than to step in or buy into what is definitely shit, mixed with lies and mystery meat. I know better than to eat it just because somebody served it to me warm. I guess what I want to know is, "Do you want flies with that?"

Even a five year old 'used to' know enough to say, "yuck, that's gross..."

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Apparently We Are NOT . . . . . .

Ray McGovern
Consortium News
Thu, 13 Dec 2007 18:14 EST

A boyish, inquisitive face with an innocent look peered out from the Washington Post's lead story on torture. It was well groomed, pink-shirted John Kiriakou, a CIA interrogator who could just as easily pass for the local youth minister.

The Dec. 11 report by the Post's Joby Warrick and Dan Eggen, which describes Kiriakou's experience in interrogating suspected terrorists, raises in an unusually direct way an abiding question: Should the United States of America be using forms of torture dating back to the Spanish Inquisition?

Nowhere is the mood of that infamous period better portrayed than in the famous Grand Inquisitor chapter of Dostoyevsky's Brothers Karamazov. Dostoevsky was unusually gifted at plumbing the human heart.

While it has been 127 years since he wrote Brothers Karamazov, he nonetheless captures the trap into which so many Americans have fallen in forfeiting freedom through fear.

His portrayal of Inquisition reality brings us to the brink of the moral precipice on which our country teeters today. It is as though he knew what would be in store for us as fear was artificially stoked after the attacks of 9/11.

In the story, Dostoevsky's Grand Inquisitor (the Cardinal of Seville) ridicules Christ for imposing on humans the heavy burden of freedom of conscience, and explains how it is far better, for all concerned, to dull that conscience and to rule by deceit, violence, and fear:

"Didst thou forget that man prefers peace, and even death, to freedom of choice in the knowledge of good and evil?...We teach them that it's not the free judgment of their hearts, but mystery which they must follow blindly, even against their conscience.... In the end they will lay their freedom at our feet [and] become obedient...We shall tell them that we are Thy servants and rule them in Thy name.... we shall be forced to lie.... We shall tell them that every sin will be expiated if it is done with our permission."

--The Grand Inquisitor, in Brothers Karamazov

Abu Zubayda: Poster Child

Kiriakou was one of the first interrogators to interview suspected terrorist Abu Zubayda in a Pakistani military hospital, where Zubayda was recovering from wounds suffered during his capture in early 2002.

When he refused to provide information about al-Qaeda's infrastructure, he was flown to a secret CIA prison where, according to Kiriakou, the interrogation team strapped Abu Zubayda to a board, wrapped his nose and mouth in cellophane, and forced water into his throat.

In just 35 seconds, viola! Abu Zubayda starting talking. That is called waterboarding.

The 15th & 16th century Spanish inquisitors were not squeamish, and had little need for circumlocutions or euphemisms like "alternative set of procedures" that are part of President George W. Bush's lexicon.

The Spanish called this procedure, quite plainly, "tortura del agua."

Lacking cellophane, they inserted a cloth into the victim's mouth, forcing the victim to ingest water spilled from a jar starting the drowning process. Four centuries later, the Gestapo put out several technically improved releases of this operating system of torture, so to speak.

Quick; someone please tell newly confirmed Attorney General Michael Mukasey, who told reporters on Dec. 11 that he still cannot decide whether waterboarding is torture.

The information from John Kiriakou confirms what has long been a no-brainer but not definitively established before; namely, that President George W. Bush's "alternative set of procedures" for interrogation by C.I.A. includes waterboarding.

Zubayda was given pride of place in George W. Bush's remarkable speech of Sept. 6, 2006, in which he bragged about the effectiveness of such procedures and appealed successfully for passage of the Military Commissions Act.

That law allows a president to define what set of interrogation procedures can be used by the C.I.A. This is Bush on Sept. 6, 2006:

"We believe that Zubayda was a senior terrorist leader and a trusted associate of Osama bin Laden...[and that] he had run a terrorist camp in Afghanistan where some of the 9/11 hijackers trained...

"We knew that Zubayda had more information that could save innocent lives, but he stopped talking...And so the CIA used an alternative set of procedures...The Department of Justice reviewed the authorized methods extensively and determined them to be lawful.... But I can say the procedures were tough, and they were safe, and lawful, and necessary.

"Zubayda was questioned using these procedures, and soon he began to provide information on key al-Qaeda operatives, including information that helped us find and capture more of those responsible for the attacks on September the 11th.

"For example, Zubayda identified one of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's accomplices in the 9/11 attacks -- a terrorist named Ramzi bin al Shibh. The information Zubayda provided helped lead to the capture of bin al Shibh. And together these two terrorists provided information that helped in the planning and execution of the operation that captured Khalid Sheikh Mohammed."

Saving Lives?

Bush claimed that his interrogation program had saved lives, and Kiriakou says the use of waterboarding "probably saved lives." We cannot know for sure if this is true.

Off-the-record interviews with intelligence officials strongly suggest that there is much prevarication and exaggeration in the president's claims about lives saved and operations disrupted, and that his assertions merit no more credulity than other claims - for example, that Iran's nuclear weapons program poses a threat to the U.S., even though it has been stopped for four years.

Other U.S. intelligence officials take issue with the C.I.A.'s version of the questioning of Zubayda. Some say that initially he was cooperating with F.B.I. interrogators using a non-confrontational approach, when C.I.A. assumed control and opted for more aggressive tactics.

After that experience, the F.B.I. reportedly warned its agents to avoid interrogation sessions at which harsh methods were used.

As for credibility, never has a U.S. president's word been so cheapened as it is today.

In late July 2007, we Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity joined with Justin Frank, MD, psychiatrist, professor at George Washington University Hospital, and author of "Bush on the Couch," to search for insight on how President Bush thinks. See "Dangers of a Cornered Bush," from which we excerpt the following:

"His pathology is a patchwork of false beliefs and incomplete information woven into what he asserts is the whole truth...He lies - not just to us, but to himself as well...What makes lying so easy for Bush is his contempt - for language, for law, and for anybody who dares question him.... So his words mean nothing. That is very important for people to understand."

This Is Oversight?

The past few weeks have witnessed an unseemly square dance in Congress, highlighting conflicting claims about what those who are supposed to be overseeing the intelligence community knew and when they knew it - about torture, about Iran, about many things.

It is nothing short of an insult to the Founders that members of the House and Senate can find nothing more useful to do than wring their hands over their largely self-inflicted powerlessness.

Lawmakers have been so thoroughly intimidated by the White House that I get physically ill watching the likes of Nancy Pelosi, Jane Harman, Bob Graham and Jay Rockefeller moan about how secretive and nasty the Bush administration has been.

Harman complained recently that when she was ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, some of the material (on interrogations) was so highly classified that she had to take a "second oath" to protect it.

What about the solemn oath they all take to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic? Should not that oath transcend and govern others that an administration might require for access to secret materials?

Senator Dick Durbin of the Senate Intelligence Committee has complained that he was aware that classified information did not justify the conclusion in 2002 that Iraq had unconventional weapons, but he could not say anything because it was classified! Durbin explained:

"We're duty-bound once we enter that room to respect classified information. Everything you hear is supposed to stay in the room...I certainly had enough to know that the statements that were made about mushroom clouds were not the conclusions of someone in the administration who was really being honest about the full debate. But you really know, walking in the room, what the rules of the game will be."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has admitted knowing for several years about the Bush administration's eavesdropping on Americans without a court warrant. She was briefed on it when she was ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee when Bush and Cheney took office.

One key unanswered question is this: Was she told that within days of their taking office - that is, seven months before 9/11, the National Security Agency's electronic vacuum cleaner had already begun to suck up information on Americans - the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, not to mention the Constitution, be damned?

In a Washington Post op-ed of Jan. 15, 2006, Pelosi proudly advertised her uniquely long tenure on the Intelligence Committee and acknowledged that she was one of the privileged handful of lawmakers who were briefed.

"This is how I came to be informed of President Bush's authorization for the NSA to conduct certain types of surveillance," she wrote. Pelosi then proceeded to demonstrate the bowing and scraping characteristic of her subservient attitude toward the Executive Branch:

"But when the administration notifies Congress in this manner, it is not seeking approval. There is a clear expectation that the information will be shared by no one, including other members of the intelligence committees. As a result, only a few members of Congress were aware of the president's surveillance program, and they were constrained from discussing it more widely."

And so too, may we assume, with respect to torture? This is oversight?

Neutered Watchdogs

What can we expect from the current Senate and House oversight chairmen regarding the recently disclosed, deliberate destruction of two tapes of harsh interrogations of Abu Zubayda and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri? (Al-Nashiri is thought to have played a role in the attack on the USS Cole.)

On the Senate side, expect nothing of Mr. Milquetoast Jay Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, who, it is said, is so afraid of his own shadow that he only ventures outdoors at night or in bad weather.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes has a different kind of problem, and should recuse himself. He has been fawning all over José Rodriguez, the former CIA Deputy Director of Operations who ordered the tapes destroyed.

On August 16, 2007, Congressman Reyes told a conference in El Paso he considered Rodriguez "an American hero," proudly adding that, "with a few liberties that Hollywood takes, the exploits of José Rodriguez are documented in the FOX TV series '24.'"

I am told that almost every episode of "24" includes at least one scene glorifying torture, usually with lead man Jack Bauer playing a main role. Reyes made it clear he is a big fan of Bauer and "24."

Were that not enough, after Rodriguez's role in destroying the interrogation tapes became public, Reyes immediately cautioned against allowing investigations to find just one "scapegoat" (no secret to whom he was referring).

And so, unless Reyes does recuse himself, look for a "complete and thorough" investigation of the kind favored by the Nixon White House. (Just when you may have thought it could not get any worse!)

On Sept. 6, 2006, the very day Bush bragged about his "alternative set of procedures for interrogation" and appealed for legislation allowing the C.I.A. to continue using them, the head of Army intelligence, Lt. Gen. John Kimmons, took a very different tack.

Conducting a Pentagon briefing shortly before the president gave his own speech, Kimmons underscored the fact that the revised Army manual for interrogation is in sync with the Geneva treaties. Then, conceding past "transgressions and mistakes," Kimmons updated something I learned 45 years ago as a second lieutenant in Army intelligence:

"No good intelligence is going to come from abusive practices. I think history tells us that. I think the empirical evidence of the last five years, hard years, tells us that."

Grabbing the headlines the following day was Bush's admission that the CIA has taken "high-value" captives to prisons abroad for interrogation using "tough" techniques prohibited by the revised Army field manual - and by Geneva, for that matter.

Gen. Kimmons displayed uncommon courage in facing into that wind.

Because It's Wrong?

Have you noticed the shameful silence of our institutional churches, synagogues, and mosques?

True, on occasion a professor of moral theology will speak out.

Professor William Schweiker of the Chicago Divinity School, for example, has heaped scorn on the scenario of the lone knower of the facts whose torture is thought to be able to save millions of lives. He notes that such is "the stuff of bad spy movies and bad exam questions in ethics courses." Schweiker warns Christians, in particular:

"Not to fall prey to fear and questionable reasoning and thus continue to support an unjust and vile practice that demeans the nation's highest political and moral ideals, even as it desecrates one of the most important practices and symbols (Baptism) of the Christian faith."

And, to its credit, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, a coalition of 130 religious organizations from left to right on the political spectrum, issued a strong call for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate the C.I.A.'s destruction of the videotapes of harsh interrogation techniques.

NRCAT's founder, Princeton Theological Seminary professor George Hunsinger told the press that "to acknowledge that waterboarding is torture is like conceding that the sun rises in the east," adding:

"All the dissembling in high places that makes these shocking abuses possible must be brought to an end. But they will undoubtedly continue unless those responsible for them are held accountable. Clearly a joint probe by the Justice Department and the CIA -- agencies that are both seriously compromised -- is not enough. A special counsel is an essential first step."

But where are the official voices of the institutional churches, synagogues, and mosques in this country. In effect, they are ordaining Jack Bauer with their silence.

This Happened Before

With very few exceptions, the institutional churches in Nazi Germany kept a shameful silence, denying believers the moral authority and leadership so needed to stand up to Gestapo torturers. Indeed, many of the bishops - like military leaders, and jurists - swore a personal oath to Hitler.

For his part, the Nazi leader moved quite quickly to ensure that there was a pastor - whether Evangelical or Catholic - in every parish in Germany. He saw this as a source of support and stability for his regime. And, sadly, it was.

While the Nazis were systematically torturing and even murdering defenseless victims, they kept repeating assurances that not a single hair of anyone's head would be harmed. (Shades of the familiar refrain "we do not torture.")

And the propaganda machine under Joseph Goebbels made a fine art of what President Bush calls the need to "catapult the propaganda."

Sebastian Haffner, a young German lawyer in Berlin during the Thirties, kept a journal that his children subsequently published in book form as "Defying Hitler." His fascinating account of Germany in the Thirties provides many thoughtful insights into prevailing attitudes and the lack of moral leadership.

Haffner's journal depicted the kind of ambiance in which the approach of the Grand Inquisitor would, and did, flourish - "in the end they will lay their freedom at our feet [and] become obedient:"

Haffner wrote:

"The weather in March 1933 was glorious. Was it not wonderful to...merge with festive crowds and listen to speeches about freedom and homeland? (It was certainly better than having one's belly pumped up with a water hose in some hidden secret police cellar.)"

Haffner closes his chapter on 1933 with observations that, in my view, apply much too aptly to America today:

"The sequence of events is, as you see, not so unnatural. It is wholly within the normal range of psychology, and it helps to explain the almost inexplicable. The only thing that is missing is what in animals is called 'breeding.'

"This is a solid inner kernel that cannot be shaken by external pressures and forces, something noble and steely, a reserve of pride, principle, and dignity to be drawn on in the hour of trial. It is missing in Germans.

"As a nation we are soft, unreliable, and without backbone. That was shown in March 1933. At the moment of truth, when other nations rise spontaneously to the occasion, the Germans collectively and limply collapsed. They yielded and capitulated, and suffered a nervous breakdown."

C.I.A.'s John Kiriakou says he is now convinced that waterboarding is torture and he is against it. He adds, "Americans are better than that."

Are We Better Than That?

Sadly, that remains to be seen. With virtually all religious institutions, politicians, and educators squandering what moral authority they have left, the Jack Bauer culture threatens to win out in the end. We cannot let that happen.

The upcoming duel on the missing interrogation tapes will again bring the issue of torture front and center. And, strangely, waterboarding and other Jack Bauer tradecraft tools still enjoy a strong constituency.

Here's where we come in; for we are the ones we've been waiting for. As one of my intelligence alumni colleagues noted recently, this is about our country losing its soul.

Let's rise to the occasion and stop unconscionable policies like torture. True patriotism goes well beyond a flag-on-the-lapel.

As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. noted, "Sometimes you have to put your body into it."

Besides, we need to keep the water hose from pumping up our bellies and those of our loved ones. I only wish that were as remote a possibility as it was before President Bush and his associates came up with their "alternative set of procedures."

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in Washington, DC. He was an Army officer and then a C.I.A. analyst for 27 years, and now serves on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Exploding Another American Myth

Monday, December 10, 2007

Your Taxes at Work: Bumper Afghan Opium Crop Saved!

Anna Bawden
The Guardian
Mon, 10 Dec 2007 11:26 EST

The US government has conceded defeat in its attempt to persuade the Afghanistan government to begin the aerial destruction of poppy fields as part of its opium eradication strategy.

©Musadeq Sadeq/Associated Press
Afghans are seen behind poppy fields during a poppy eradication campaign in the Rhodat district of Nangarhar province, east of Kabul, Afghanistan.

"We have decided to stop pursuing the aerial spraying of poppy fields in Afghanistan," said Thomas Schweich, principal deputy assistant secretary for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.

US officials have climbed down in the face of widespread criticism from the Afghan government and other coalition partners, notably the UK.

Although attempting to destroy poppy crops from the ground can be dangerous, the Afghan government is against the use of aerial spraying because of fears about the herbicide glyphosate's effect on the environment, other smaller crops and on health.

"The United States has always indicated that we would not pursue any counter-narcotics activity in Afghanistan that did not have the full support of the government of Afghanistan," said a spokeswoman in the US State Department.

Comment: Since when did the US ever need the "full support" of any government in order to implement its stated policies? Did the US "need" the support of the Afghanistan government in order to invade their country? It's a little known fact that the Taliban had effectively wiped out the poppy production in their country just prior to the US invasion:

The cultivation of opium reached its peak in 1999, when 225,000 acres - 350 square miles - of poppies were sown, with the complicity or encouragement of the Taliban, who were accused of using part of the proceeds to buy arms. The following year, the Taliban responded to international pressure to start reducing the opium harvest. It banned poppy cultivation, declaring it to be "un-Islamic" - a move which cut production by 94 per cent, although it continued to allow trading. By 2001 only 30 square miles of land were in use for growing opium poppies.

A year later, after American and British troops had removed the Taliban and installed the interim government of Hamid Karzai, the land under cultivation leapt back to 285 square miles, with Afghanistan supplanting Burma to become the world's largest opium producer once more.

"While we believe there are advantages to using aerial spray to augment existing eradication programmes, president Karzai is on record opposing the use of aerial spray and we respect his decision in this matter."

The decision was met with widespread approval. "We agree with the Afghanistan government that the best way forward is through the building up of law enforcement, treating addiction and providing alternative livelihoods," said a spokesman at the Foreign Office.

Schweich, now touring Europe to explain the change in policy and to drum up support for other counter-narcotics initiatives, wants to "dramatically expand" the so-called Good Performers Intiative, which pays communities to finance local infrastructure if they cease poppy farming.

The thirteen provinces declared poppy free in August will each receive $500,000 (£244,000) in development assistance. Next year, this is set to rise to $1m.

The US and UK governments have allocated over $25m for the initiative. The US administration wants to go further and has already asked Congress for an additional $50m.

Schweich hopes to persuade other countries, including Germany, Belgium, Denmark and Austria to support the programme. "I hope we can get to over $100m," he said.

But the US is still committed to destroying poppy fields.

"Gound-based eradication ... will continue, but the decision on whether to proceed with ground-based spraying is still under discussion with the government of Afghanistan," said the US State Department spokeswoman.

Reducing the country's reliance on the opium trade will be difficult. Afghanistan's poppy harvest this year is expected to be 17% bigger than that recorded in 2006, according the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. The country produces 93% of world's opium supplies, worth around $4bn to the Afghan economy.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

In the Better Late Than Never Catagory:

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse
Fri, 07 Dec 2007 18:05 EST

The Bush Doctrine:

  1. "I don't have to follow my own rules, and I don't have to tell you when I'm breaking them."

  2. "I get to determine what my own powers are."

  3. "The Department of Justice doesn't tell me what the law is, I tell the Department of Justice what the law is."

U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, delivered the following remarks on the floor of the U.S. Senate today:

We will shortly consider making right the things that are wrong with the so-called Protect America Act, a second-rate piece of legislation passed in a stampede in August at the behest of the Bush Administration. It is worth for a moment considering why making this right is so important.

President Bush pressed this legislation not only to establish how our government can spy on foreign agents, but how his administration can spy on Americans. Make no mistake, the legislation we passed in August is significantly about spying on Americans - a business this administration should not be allowed to get into except under the closest supervision. We have a plain and tested device for keeping tabs on the government when it's keeping tabs on Americans. It is our Constitution.

Our Constitution has as its most elemental provision the separation of governmental powers into three separate branches. When the government feels it necessary to spy on its own citizens, each branch has a role.

The executive branch executes the laws, and conducts surveillance. The legislative branch sets the boundaries that protect Americans from improper government surveillance. The judicial branch oversees whether the government has followed the Constitution and the laws that protect U.S. citizens from violations of their privacy and their civil rights.

It sounds basic, but even an elementary understanding of this balance of powers eludes the Bush administration. So now we have to repair this flawed and shoddy "Protect America Act."

Why are we in Congress so concerned about this? Why is it so vital that we energetically assert the role of Congress and the Courts when the Bush Administration seeks to spy on Americans?

Because look what the Bush Administration does behind our backs when they think no one is looking.

For years under the Bush Administration, the Office of Legal Counsel within the Department of Justice has issued highly classified secret legal opinions related to surveillance. This is an administration that hates answering to an American court, that wants to grade its own papers, and OLC is the inside place the administration goes to get legal support for its spying program.

As a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I was given access to those opinions, and spent hours poring over them. Sitting in that secure room, as a lawyer, as a former U.S. Attorney, legal counsel to Rhode Island's Governor, and State Attorney General, I was increasingly dismayed and amazed as I read on.

To give you an example of what I read, I have gotten three legal propositions from these OLC opinions declassified. Here they are, as accurately as my note taking could reproduce them from the classified documents. Listen for yourself. I will read all three, and then discuss each one.

1. An executive order cannot limit a President. There is no constitutional requirement for a President to issue a new executive order whenever he wishes to depart from the terms of a previous executive order. Rather than violate an executive order, the President has instead modified or waived it.

2. The President, exercising his constitutional authority under Article II, can determine whether an action is a lawful exercise of the President's authority under Article II.

3. The Department of Justice is bound by the President's legal determinations.

Let's start with number one. Bear in mind that the so-called Protect America Act that was stampeded through this great body in August provides no - zero - statutory protections for Americans traveling abroad from government wiretapping. None if you're a businesswoman traveling on business overseas, none if you're a father taking the kids to the Caribbean, none if you're visiting uncles or aunts in Italy or Ireland, none even if you're a soldier in the uniform of the United States posted overseas. The Bush Administration provided in that hastily-passed law no statutory restrictions on their ability to wiretap you at will, to tap your cell phone, your e-mail, whatever.

The only restriction is an executive order called 12333, which limits executive branch surveillance to Americans who the Attorney General determines to be agents of a foreign power. That's what the executive order says.

But what does this administration say about executive orders?

An executive order cannot limit a President. There is no constitutional requirement for a President to issue a new executive order whenever he wishes to depart from the terms of a previous executive order. Rather than violate an executive order, the President has instead modified or waived it.

"Whenever (the President) wishes to depart from the terms of a previous executive order," he may do so because "an executive order cannot limit a President." And he doesn't have to change the executive order, or give notice that he's violating it, because by "depart(ing) from the executive order," the President "has instead modified or waived it."

So unless Congress acts, here is what legally prevents this President from wiretapping Americans traveling abroad at will: nothing. Nothing.

That was among the most egregious flaws in the bill passed during the August stampede they orchestrated by the Bush Administration - and this OLC opinion shows why we need to correct it.

Here's number two.

The President, exercising his constitutional authority under Article II, can determine whether an action is a lawful exercise of the President's authority under Article II.

Yes, that's right. The President, according to the George W. Bush OLC, has Article II power to determine what the scope of his Article II powers are.

Never mind a little decision called Marbury v. Madison, written by Chief Justice John Marshall in 1803, establishing the proposition that it is "emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is." Does this administration agree that it is emphatically the province and the duty of the judicial department to say what the President's authority is under Article II? No, it is the President, according to this OLC, who decides the legal limits of his own Article II power.

The question "whether an action is a lawful exercise of the President's authority under Article II," is to be determined by the President's minions, "exercising his constitutional authority under Article II."

It really makes you wonder, who are these people? They have got to be smart people to get there. How can people who are so smart be so misguided?

And then, it gets worse. Remember point three.

The Department of Justice is bound by the President's legal determinations.

Let that sink in a minute.

The Department of Justice is bound by the President's legal determinations.

We are a nation of laws, not of men. This nation was founded in rejection of the royalist principles that "l'etat c'est moi" and "The King can do no wrong." Our Attorney General swears an oath to defend the Constitution and the laws of the United States; we are not some banana republic in which the officials all have to kowtow to the "supreme leader." Imagine a general counsel to a major U.S. corporation telling his board of directors, "in this company the counsel's office is bound by the CEO's legal determinations." The board ought to throw that lawyer out - it's malpractice, probably even unethical.

Wherever you are, if you are watching this, do me a favor. The next time you are in Washington, D.C., take a taxi some evening to the Department of Justice. Stand outside, and look up at that building shining against the starry night. Look at the sign outside- "The United States Department of Justice." Think of the heroes who have served there, and the battles fought. Think of the late nights, the brave decisions, the hard work of advancing and protecting our democracy that has been done in those halls. Think about how that all makes you feel.

Then think about this statement:

The Department of Justice is bound by the President's legal determinations.

If you don't feel a difference from what you were feeling a moment ago, well, congratulations - there is probably a job for you in the Bush administration. Consider the sad irony that this theory was crafted in that very building, by the George W. Bush Office of Legal Counsel.

In a nutshell, these three Bush administration legal propositions boil down to this:
  1. "I don't have to follow my own rules, and I don't have to tell you when I'm breaking them."

  2. "I get to determine what my own powers are."

  3. "The Department of Justice doesn't tell me what the law is, I tell the Department of Justice what the law is."
When the Congress of the United States is willing to roll over for an unprincipled President, this is where you end up. We should not even be having this discussion. But here we are. I implore my colleagues: reject these feverish legal theories. I understand political loyalty, trust me, I do. But let us also be loyal to this great institution we serve in the legislative branch of our government. Let us also be loyal to the Constitution we took an oath to defend, from enemies foreign and domestic. And let us be loyal to the American people who live each day under our Constitution's principles and protections.

We simply cannot put the authority to wiretap Americans, whenever they step outside America's boundaries, under the exclusive control and supervision of the executive branch. We do not allow it when Americans are here at home; we should not allow it when they travel abroad. The principles of congressional legislation and oversight, and of judicial approval and review, are simple and longstanding. Americans deserve this protection wherever on God's green earth they may travel.