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Archive for the ‘Blackwater’ Category

By Anthony Fenton

VANCOUVER, Canada, Feb 19, 2010 (IPS) – Critics are concerned that private military contractors are positioning themselves at the centre of an emerging “shock doctrine” for earthquake-ravaged Haiti.

Next month, a prominent umbrella organisation for private military and logistic corporations, the International Peace Operations Association (IPOA), is co-organising a “Haiti summit” which aims to bring together “leading officials” for “private consultations with attending contractors and investors” in Miami, Florida.

HAITI: Private Contractors ‘Like Vultures Coming to Grab the Loot’ – IPS ipsnews.net

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I was watching the DVD this afternoon and thought I’d share… I know you can find it on the Internet (I pulled this one from Googlevideo), but another copy will not hurt.

It always makes me wonder why G. W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, and Dick Cheney are not in court and/or prison. For years I was proud of being an American. In less than four years, these men made me ashamed. They have disgraced and disfigured our country and we will feel the reprecussions for many, many years to come.

Isn’t it true that a captain is responsible for the actions that happen when he is in control of the ship? If so, then these “gentlemen” are responsible for the unfettered “theft” of American money, the deaths and murders of hundreds of Americans and Iraqi people, the torture and maiming of individuals for unspecified and highly questionable “crimes,” disregard for the needs of the American and Iraqi countries, mistreatment and disrespect for American soldiers, and numerous other crimes. What a black mark on the history of America.

But, as you know, the Bush’s and his like do not care what we really think; they made BILLIONS from the war. They just insulate themselves and plead ignorance…

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from the Project Syndicate

by Naomi Wolf

Is it possible to fall out of love with your own country? For two years, I, like many Americans, have been focused intently on documenting, exposing, and alerting the nation to the Bush administration’s criminality and its assault on the Constitution and the rule of law – a story often marginalized at home. I was certain that when Americans knew what was being done in their name, they would react with horror and outrage.

Three months ago, the Bush administration still clung to its devil’s sound bite, “We don’t torture.” Now, Physicians for Human Rights has issued its report documenting American-held detainees’ traumas, and even lie detector tests confirm they have been tortured. The Red Cross report has leaked: torture and war crimes. Jane Mayer’s impeccably researched exposé The Dark Side just hit the stores: torture, crafted and directed from the top. The Washington Post gave readers actual video footage of the abusive interrogation of a Canadian minor, Omar Khadr, who was seen showing his still-bleeding abdominal wounds, weeping and pleading with his captors.

So the truth is out and freely available. And America is still napping, worrying about its weight, and hanging out at the mall.

I had thought that after so much exposure, thousands of Americans would be holding vigils on Capitol Hill, that religious leaders would be asking God’s forgiveness, and that a popular groundswell of revulsion, similar to the nineteenth-century anti-slavery movement, would emerge. To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, if torture is not wrong, nothing is wrong.

And yet no such thing has occurred. There is no crisis in America’s churches and synagogues, no Christian and Jewish leaders crying out for justice in the name of Jesus, a tortured political prisoner, or of Yahweh, who demands righteousness. I asked a contact in the interfaith world why. He replied, “The mainstream churches don’t care, because they are Republican. And the synagogues don’t care, because the prisoners are Arabs.”

It was then that I realized that I could not be in love with my country right now. How can I care about the fate of people like that? If this is what Americans are feeling, if that is who we are, we don’t deserve our Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Even America’s vaunted judicial system has failed to constrain obvious abuses. A Federal court has ruled that the military tribunals system – Star Chambers where evidence derived from torture is used against the accused – can proceed. Another recently ruled that the president may call anyone anywhere an “enemy combatant” and detain him or her indefinitely.

So Americans are colluding with a criminal regime. We have become an outlaw nation – a clear and present danger to international law and global stability – among civilized countries that have been our allies. We are – rightly – on Canada’s list of rogue nations that torture.

Europe is still high from Barack Obama’s recent visit. Many Americans, too, hope that an Obama victory in November will roll back this nightmare. But this is no time to yield to delusions. Even if Obama wins, he may well be a radically weakened president. The Bush administration has created a transnational apparatus of lawlessness that he alone, without global intervention, can neither roll back nor control.

Private security firms – for example, Blackwater – will still be operating, accountable neither to him nor to Congress, and not bound, they have argued, by international treaties. Weapons manufacturers and the telecommunications industry, with billions at stake in maintaining a hyped “war on terror” and their new global surveillance market, will deploy a lavishly financed army of lobbyists to defend their interests.

Moreover, if elected, Obama will be constrained by his own Democratic Party. America’s political parties bear little resemblance to the disciplined organizations familiar in parliamentary democracies in Europe and elsewhere. And Democrats in Congress will be even more divided after November if, as many expect, conservative members defeat Republican incumbents damaged by their association with Bush.

To be sure, some Democrats have recently launched Congressional hearings into the Bush administration’s abuses of power. Unfortunately, with virtually no media coverage, there is little pressure to broaden official investigations and ensure genuine accountability.

But, while grassroots pressure has not worked, money still talks. We need targeted government-led sanctions against the US by civilized countries, including international divestment of capital. Many studies have shown that tying investment to democracy and human rights reform is effective in the developing world. There is no reason why it can’t be effective against the world’s superpower.

We also need an internationally coordinated strategy for prosecuting war criminals at the top and further down the chain of command – individual countries pressing charges, as Italy and France have done. Although the United States is not a signatory to the statute that established the International Criminal Court, violations of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions are war crimes for which anyone – potentially even the US president – may be tried in any of the other 193 countries that are parties to the conventions. The whole world can hunt these criminals down.

An outlaw America is a global problem that threatens the rest of the international community. If this regime gets away with flouting international law, what is to prevent the next administration – or this administration, continuing under its secret succession plan in the event of an emergency – from going further and targeting its political opponents at home and abroad?

We Americans are either too incapable, or too dysfunctional, to help ourselves right now. Like drug addicts or the mentally ill who refuse treatment, we need our friends to intervene. So remember us as we were in our better moments, and take action to save us – and the world – from ourselves.

Maybe then I can fall in love with my country again.

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From Global Research

by Stephen Lendman

May 27, 2008

It’s called “Plan Mexico,” or more formally the “Merida Initiative,” and here’s the scheme. It’s to do for Mexicans what Plan Colombia has done to that nation since 1999, and, in fact, much earlier. Since then, billions have gone for the following:

— to establish a US military foothold in the country;

— mostly to fund US weapons, chemical and other corporate profiteers; it’s a long-standing practice; in fact, a 1997 Pentagon document affirms that America’s military will “protect US interests and investments;” in Colombia, it’s to control its valuable resources; most importantly oil and natural gas but also coal, iron ore, nickel, gold, silver, emeralds, copper and more; it’s also to crush worker resistance, eliminate unions, target human rights and peasant opposition groups, and make the country a “free market” paradise inhospitable to people;

— it funds a brutish military as well; already, over 10,000 of its soldiers have been trained at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) – aka the School of the Americas (SOA) at Fort Benning, Georgia; its graduates are infamous as human rights abusers, drugs traffickers, and death squad practitioners; they were well schooled in their “arts” by the nation most skilled in them;

— it lets Colombia arm and support paramilitary death squads; they’re known as the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC); for more than a decade, they’ve terrorized Colombians and are responsible for most killings and massacres in support of powerful western and local business interests;

— it funds drug eradication efforts, but only in FARC-EP and ELN areas; government-controlled ones are exempt; trafficking is big business; laundering drugs money reaps huge profits for major US and regional banks; the CIA has also been linked to the trade for decades, especially since the 1980s; after Afghanistan’s invasion and occupation, opium harvests set records – mostly from areas controlled by US-allied “warlords;” the Taliban’s drug eradication program was one reason it was targeted; Colombia’s drug eradication is horrific; it causes ecological devastation; crop and forest destruction; lives and livelihoods lost; large areas chemically contaminated; bottom line of the program – record amounts of Colombian cocaine reach US and world markets; trafficking is more profitable than ever; so is big business thanks to paramilitary terror;

— it’s to topple the FARC-EP and ELN resistance groups; Latin American expert James Petras calls the former the “longest standing (since 1964), largest peasant-based guerrilla (resistance) movement in the world;” it’s also to weaken Hugo Chavez, other regional populist leaders and groups, and destabilize their countries; and

— it supports the “Uribe doctrine;” it’s in lockstep with Washington; its policies are hard right, corporate-friendly and militarized for enforcement.

Plan Colombia turned the country into a dependable, profitable narco-state. Business is better than ever. Violence is out of control and human rights abuses are appalling.

It gets worse. Two-thirds of Columbians are impoverished. Over 2.5 million peasant and urban slum dwellers have been displaced. Thousands of trade unionists have been murdered (more than anywhere else in the world), and many more thousands of peasants, rural teachers, and peasant and indigenous leaders have as well. Paramilitary land seizures are commonplace. Colombian latifundistas profit hugely. Wealth concentration is extreme and growing. Corruption infests the government. Many thousands in desperation are leaving. Colombia’s “democracy” is a sham. So is Mexico’s. Plan Mexico will make it worse. That’s the whole idea, and it’s part of the secretive Security and Prosperity Partnership – aka the North American Union.

It’s planned behind closed doors – to militarize and annex the continent. Corporate giants are in charge, mostly US ones. The idea is for an unregulated open field for profit. The Bush administration, Canada and Mexico support it. Things are moving toward implementation. Three nations will become one. National sovereignty eliminated. Worker rights as well. Opposition is building, but moves are planned to quash it. That’s the militarization part.

Business intends to win this one. People are to be exploited, not helped. That’s why it’s kept secret. The idea is to agree on plans, inform legislatures minimally about them, get SPP passed, then implement it with as few of its disturbing details known in hopes once they are they’ll be too late to reverse.

SPP is ugly, ominous and hugely people destructive. Hundreds of millions in three countries will be affected. Others in the region as well. Plan Mexico is a contribution to the scheme. Below is what we know about it.

Plan Mexico – Exploitation Writ Large

The plan was first announced in October 2007 as a “regional security cooperation initiative.” It’s to provide $1.4 billion in aid (over three years) for Mexico and Central America on the pretext of fighting drugs trafficking and organized crime linked to it. FY 2008 calls for $550 million for starters with about 10% of it for Central America.

In fact, Plan Mexico is part of SPP’s grand scheme to militarize the continent, let corporate predators exploit it, and keep people from three countries none the wiser. Most aid will go to Mexico’s military and police forces with its major portion earmarked back to US defense contractors for equipment, training and maintenance. It’s how these schemes always work.

This one includes a menu of security allocations, administrative functions, and special needs like software, forensics equipment, database compilations, plus plenty more for friendly pockets to keep our Mexican cohorts on board.

After failing on May 15, House passage will likely follow the Senate’s approval on May 22 – below the radar. It’s one of many appropriations tucked into the latest Iraq/Afghanistan supplemental funding request, and its purpose is just as outlandish. It will militarize Mexico without deploying US troops. It will also open the country for plunder, privatize everything including state-owned oil company PEMEX, give Washington a greater foothold there, and get around the touchy military issue by allowing in Blackwater paramilitaries instead to work with Mexican security forces.

Only privatizing PEMEX is in doubt thanks to immense citizen opposition. Thousands of “brigadistas” were in the streets, protesting outside the Senate and Chamber of Deputies, as lawmakers considered ending PEMEX state-control. They paralyzed debate and brought it to a halt – temporarily putting off a final resolution of this very contentious issue. Big Oil wants it. Most Mexicans don’t. The battle continues. Mexico’s military may get involved.

The US State Department describes them as follows:

— ….”impunity and corruption (in Mexico’s security forces are) problems, particularly at the state and local levels. The following human rights problems were reported: unlawful killings; kidnappings; physical abuse; poor and overcrowded prison conditions; arbitrary arrests and detention; corruption, inefficiency, and lack of transparency in the judicial system; (coerced) confessions….permitted as evidence in trials; criminal intimidation of journalists leading to self-censorship; corruption at all levels of government; domestic violence against women (often with impunity); violence, including killings, against women; trafficking in persons; social and economic discrimination against indigenous people; and child labor.”

Mexico’s military fares little better with promises Plan Mexico will worsen it. President Calderon now deploys troops around the country. People fear them when they come. They’re purportedly against drugs traffickers, but that’s mostly cover. Their real purpose may be sinister – a possible dress rehearsal for martial law when SPP is implemented.

Mexican soldiers are hard line. Their reputation is unsavory. People justifiably fear them. They commit flagrant human rights abuses and get away with them. The major media even report them. The New York Times, CNN, BBC, USA Today and others cite evidence of rape, torture, killings, other human rights abuses, corruption, extortion, and ties to drugs traffickers. Little is done to stop it. Government and military spokespersons often aren’t available for comment. They’re part of the problem, not the solution. Plan Mexico promises more of the same and then some. Billions from Washington back it.

Social protests in the country already are criminalized. Hundreds are filling prisons. Many languish there for years. Labor and social activists are most vulnerable. Injustice and grinding poverty motivate them. Plan Mexico ups the ante. Things are about to get worse.

Militarizing society is toxic. Police state enforcement follows. Accountability disappears. The rule of law no longer applies. Plan Mexico assures it. So does SPP for the continent. In classic doublespeak, the White House claims it will “advance the productivity and competitiveness of our nations and help to protect our health, safety and environment.” Its real purpose is to annex a continent, destroy its democratic remnants, lock in hard line enforcement, and secure it for capital.

SPP Backdrop of Plan Mexico

A detailed SPP explanation can be found on the 2007 article link. It’s titled The Militarization and Annexation of North America – http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=6359

Plan Mexico is part of SPP. It will militarize and annex the continent. It was formerly launched at a March 23, 2005 meeting in Waco, Texas attended by George Bush, Mexico’s President Vincente Fox, and Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin. They forged a tripartite partnership for greater US, Canadian and Mexican economic, political, social and security integration. Secretive working groups were formed to accomplish it – to devise non-negotiable agreements to be binding on all three nations.

Details are hidden. No public input is permitted. Pro forma legislative voting is approaching. It will try to avoid a NAFTA-type battle. Legislatures aren’t being fully informed. The worst of SPP is secret. It’s not a treaty, and the idea is to pass it below the radar and avoid a protracted public debate.

What’s known so far is disturbing, and considerable opposition has arisen but thus far too inadequate to matter. SPP, Plan Mexico, and a final continent-wide plan amount to a corporate coup d’etat against three sovereign states and hundreds of millions of people. It’s to erase national borders, merge three nations into one under US control, and remove all barriers to trade and capital flows. It’s also to militarize the continent, create a fortress-North America security zone, and have in place police state laws for enforcement. Billions will fund it. All for corporate gain. Nothing for public welfare.

SPP takes NAFTA and the “war on terrorism” to the next level en route to extending it further for more corporate plunder. It’s based on outlandish notions – that doing business, protecting national security, and securing “public welfare” require tough new measures in a very threatening world.

SPP bolsters US control. It enhances corporate power, quashes civil liberties, erases public welfare, and creates an open field for plunder free from regulatory restraints. It’s being plotted behind closed doors. A series of summits and secret meetings continue with the latest one in New Orleans from April 22 to 24.

Three presidents attended and were met by vocal street protests. They convened a “People’s Summit” and also held workshops to:

— inform people how destructive SPP is;

— strengthen networking and organizational ties against it;

— maintain online information about their activities;

— promote their efforts and build added support; and

— affirm their determination to continue resisting a hugely repressive corporate-sponsored agenda. Opponents call it Nafta on steroids.

Business-friendly opposition also exists. Prominent is a “Coalition to Block the North American Union.” The Conservative Caucus backs it. It has a “NAU War Room.” It’s the “headquarters of THE national campaign to expose and halt America’s absorption into a ‘North American Union (NAU)’ with Canada and Mexico.” It opposes building “a massive, continental ‘NAFTA Superhighway.’ “

It has congressional allies, and on January 2007 Rep. Virgil Goode and six co-sponsors introduced House Concurrent Resolution 40. It expresses “the sense of Congress that the United States should not engage in (building a NAFTA) Superhighway System or enter into a North American Union with Mexico and Canada.”

The April summit reaffirmed SPP’s intentions – to create a borderless North America, dissolve national sovereignty, put corporate giants in control, and assure big US ones get most of it. Militarism is part of it. It’s the reason for fortress-North America under US command. The US Northern Command (NORTHCOM) was established in October 2002 to do it. It has air, land and sea responsibility for the continent regardless of Posse Comitatus limitations that no longer apply or sovereign borders easily erased.

Homeland Security (DHS) and its Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) also have a large role. So does the FBI, CIA, all US spy agencies, militarized state and local police, National Guard forces, and paramilitary mercenaries like Blackwater USA. They’re headed anywhere on the continent with license to operate as freely here as in Iraq and New Orleans post-Katrina. They’ll be able to turn hemispheric streets into versions of Baghdad and make them unfit to live on if things come to that.

SPP maintains a web site. It’s “key accomplishments” since August 2007 are updated on it as of April 22, 2008. Its details can be accessed from the following link:

http://www.spp.gov/pdf/key_accomplishments_since_august_2007.pdf

It lists principles agreed to; bilateral deals struck; negotiations concluded; study assessments released; agreements on the “Free Flow of Information;” law enforcement activities; efforts related to intellectual property, border and long-haul trucking enforcement; import licensing procedures; food and product safety issues; energy (with special focus on oil); water as well; infrastructure development; emergency management; and much more. It’s all laid out in deceptively understated tones to hide its continental aim – enhanced corporate exploitation with as little public knowledge as possible.

Militarization will assure it, and consider one development up North. On February 14, 2008, the US and Canada agreed to allow American troops inside Canada. Canadians were told nothing or that the agreement was reached in 2002. Neither was it discussed in Congress or the Canadian House of Commons. It’s for “bilateral integration” of military command structures in areas of immigration, law enforcement, intelligence, or whatever else the Pentagon or Washington wishes. Overall, it’s part of the “war on terror” and militarizing the continent to make it “safer” for business and be prepared for any civilian opposition.

Congress may soon pass SPP, but with no knowledge of its worst provisions kept secret. It’s to assure enough congressional support makes it law. Nonetheless, federal, state and local opposition is building. It ranges from private activism to vocal lawmakers. In 2008, a dozen or more states passed resolutions against SPP. Around 20 others did it in 2007. Congress began debating it last year with opposition raised on various grounds – open borders, unchecked immigration, a NAFTA Superhighway System, and the idea of giving unregulated Mexican trucks free access to US roads and cities.

There’s also talk of replacing three national currencies with an “Amero.” Unfortunately, little is heard about trashing the Constitution or giving corporate bosses free reign. There’s even less talk about a militarized continent against dissent. SPP is a “new world order.” Companies are plotting to get it. People better hope they don’t. Disruptive opposition might derail them. It’s building but needs more resonance to matter. Time is short and slipping away. These schemers mean business. They want our future. We can’t afford to lose it.


Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Global Research News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Mondays from 11AM to 1PM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests. All programs are archived for easy listening any time.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=9059

Stephen Lendman is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Stephen Lendman

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