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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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Lies and Spies

By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS

February 20, 2008

from Freedom’s Phoenix

President George W. Bush and his director of National Intelligence, Mike McConnell, are telling the American people that an unaccountable executive branch is necessary for their protection. Without the Protect America Act, Bush and McConnell claim, the executive branch will not be able to spy on terrorists, and we will all be blown up. Terrorists can only be stopped, Bush says, if Bush has the right to spy on everyone without any oversight by courts.

The fight over the Protect America Act has everything to do with our safety, only not in the way that Bush and McConnell assert.

Bush says the Democrats have put “our country more in danger of an attack” by letting the Protect America Act lapse. This claim is nonsense. The 30 year old Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act gives the executive branch all the power it needs to spy on terrorists.

The choice between FISA and the Protect America Act has nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism, at least not from foreign terrorists. Bush and his brownshirts object to FISA, because the law requires Bush to obtain warrants from a FISA court. Warrants mean that Bush is accountable. Bush and his brownshirts argue that accountability is an infringement on the power of the president.

To escape accountability, the Brownshirt Party came up with the Protect America Act. This act eliminates Bush’s accountability to judges and gives the telecom companies immunity from the felonies they committed by acquiescing in Bush’s illegal spying.

Bush began violating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in October 2001 when he spied on Americans without obtaining warrants from the FISA court.

Bush pressured telecom companies to break the law in order to enable his illegal spying. In court documents, Joseph P. Nacchio, former CEO of Qwest Communications International, states that his firm was approached more than six months before the September 11, 2001, attacks and asked to participate in a spying operation that Qwest believed to be illegal. When Qwest refused, the Bush administration withdrew opportunities for contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Nacchio himself was subsequently indicted for insider trading, sending the message to all telecom companies to cooperate with the Bush regime or else.

Bush has not been held accountable for the felonies he committed and for leading telecom companies into a life of crime.

As the lawmakers who gave us FISA understood, spying on people without warrants lets a political party collect dirt on its adversaries with which to blackmail them. As Bush illegally spied a long time before word of it got out, blackmail might be the reason the Democrats have ignored their congressional election mandate and have not put a stop to Bush’s illegal wars and unconstitutional police state measures.

Perhaps the Democrats have finally caught on that they cannot function as a political party as long as they continue to permit Bush to spy on them. For one reason or another, they have let the Orwellian-named Protect America Act expire.

With the Protect America Act, Bush and his brownshirts are trying to establish the independence of the executive branch from statutory law and the Constitution. The FISA law means that the president is accountable to federal judges for warrants. Bush and the brownshirt Republicans are striving to make the president independent of all accountability. The brownshirts insist that the leader knows best and can tolerate no interference from the law, the judiciary, the Congress, or the Constitution, and certainly not from the American people who, the brownshirts tell us, won’t be safe unless Bush is very powerful.

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison saw it differently. The American people cannot be safe unless the president is accountable and under many restraints.

Pray that the Democrats have caught on that they cannot give the executive branch unaccountable powers to spy and still have grounds on which to refuse the executive branch unaccountable powers elsewhere.

Republicans have used the “war on terror” to create an unaccountable executive. To prevent the presidency from becoming a dictatorial office, it is crucial that Congress cease acquiescing in Bush’s grab for powers. As the Founding Fathers warned us, the terrorists we have to fear are the ones in power in Washington.

The al Qaeda terrorists, with whom Bush has been frightening us, have no power to destroy our liberties. Compared to the loss of liberty, a terrorist attack is nothing.

Meanwhile, Bush, the beneficiary of two stolen elections, has urged Zimbabwe to hold a fair election. America gets away with its hypocrisy because no one in our government has enough shame to blush.

~~~~

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury during President Reagan’s first term. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal. He has held numerous academic appointments, including the William E. Simon Chair, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, and Senior Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He was awarded the Legion of Honor by French President Francois Mitterrand. He can be reached at: PaulCraigRoberts@yahoo.com

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In his controversial new book, Nick Davies argues that shadowy intelligence agencies are pumping out black propaganda to manipulate public opinion – and that the media simply swallow it wholesale

The letter argued that al-Qa’ida, which is a Sunni network, should attack the Shia population of Iraq: “It is the only way to prolong the duration of the fight between the infidels and us. If we succeed in dragging them into a sectarian war, this will awaken the sleepy Sunnis.”

Later that day, at a regular US press briefing in Baghdad, US General Mark Kimmitt dealt with a string of questions about The New York Times report: “We believe the report and the document is credible, and we take the report seriously… It is clearly a plan on the part of outsiders to come in to this country and spark civil war, create sectarian violence, try to expose fissures in this society.” The story went on to news agency wires and, within 24 hours, it was running around the world.

There is very good reason to believe that that letter was a fake – and a significant one because there is equally good reason to believe that it was one product among many from a new machinery of propaganda which has been created by the United States and its allies since the terrorist attacks of September 2001.

For the first time in human history, there is a concerted strategy to manipulate global perception. And the mass media are operating as its compliant assistants, failing both to resist it and to expose it.

The sheer ease with which this machinery has been able to do its work reflects a creeping structural weakness which now afflicts the production of our news. I’ve spent the last two years researching a book about falsehood, distortion and propaganda in the global media.

The “Zarqawi letter” which made it on to the front page of The New York Times in February 2004 was one of a sequence of highly suspect documents which were said to have been written either by or to Zarqawi and which were fed into news media.

This material is being generated, in part, by intelligence agencies who continue to work without effective oversight; and also by a new and essentially benign structure of “strategic communications” which was originally designed by doves in the Pentagon and Nato who wanted to use subtle and non-violent tactics to deal with Islamist terrorism but whose efforts are poorly regulated and badly supervised with the result that some of its practitioners are breaking loose and engaging in the black arts of propaganda.

Like the new propaganda machine as a whole, the Zarqawi story was born in the high tension after the attacks of September 2001. At that time, he was a painful thorn in the side of the Jordanian authorities, an Islamist radical who was determined to overthrow the royal family. But he was nothing to do with al-Q’aida. Indeed, he had specifically rejected attempts by Bin Laden to recruit him, because he was not interested in targeting the West.

Nevertheless, when US intelligence battered on the doors of allied governments in search of information about al-Q’aida, the Jordanian authorities – anxious to please the Americans and perhaps keen to make life more difficult for their native enemy – threw up his name along with other suspects. Soon he started to show up as a minor figure in US news stories – stories which were factually weak, often contradictory and already using the Jordanians as a tool of political convenience.

Then, on 7 October 2002, for the first time, somebody referred to him on the record. In a nationally televised speech in Cincinnati, President George Bush spoke of “high-level contacts” between al-Q’aida and Iraq and said: “Some al-Q’aida leaders who fled Afghanistan, went to Iraq. These include one very senior al-Q’aida leader who received medical treatment in Baghdad this year, and who has been associated with planning for chemical and biological attacks.”

This coincided with a crucial vote in Congress in which the president was seeking authority to use military force against Iraq. Bush never named the man he was referring to but, as the Los Angeles Times among many others soon reported: “In a speech [on] Monday, Bush referred to a senior member of al-Q’aida who received medical treatment in Iraq. US officials said yesterday that was Abu al Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian, who lost a leg during the US war in Afghanistan.”

Even now, Zarqawi was a footnote, not a headline, but the flow of stories about him finally broke through and flooded the global media on 5 February 2003, when the Secretary of State, Colin Powell, addressed the UN Security Council, arguing that Iraq must be invaded: first, to stop its development of weapons of mass destruction; and second, to break its ties with al-Q’aida.

Powell claimed that “Iraq today harbours a deadly terrorist network headed by Abu Musab al Zarqawi”; that Zarqawi’s base in Iraq was a camp for “poison and explosive training”; that he was “an associate and collaborator of Osama bin Laden and his al-Q’aida lieutenants”; that he “fought in the Afghan war more than a decade ago”; that “Zarqawi and his network have plotted terrorist actions against countries, including France, Britain, Spain, Italy, Germany and Russia”.

Courtesy of post-war Senate intelligence inquiries; evidence disclosed in several European trials; and the courageous work of a handful of journalists who broke away from the pack, we now know that every single one of those statements was entirely false. But that didn’t matter: it was a big story. News organisations sucked it in and regurgitated it for their trusting consumers.

So, who exactly is producing fiction for the media? Who wrote the Zarqawi letters? Who created the fantasy story about Osama bin Laden using a network of subterranean bases in Afghanistan, complete with offices, dormitories, arms depots, electricity and ventilation systems? Who fed the media with tales of the Taliban leader, Mullah Omar, suffering brain seizures and sitting in stationery cars turning the wheel and making a noise like an engine? Who came up with the idea that Iranian ayatollahs have been encouraging sex with animals and girls of only nine?

Some of this comes from freelance political agitators. It was an Iranian opposition group, for example, which was behind the story that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was jailing people for texting each other jokes about him. And notoriously it was Iraqi exiles who supplied the global media with a dirty stream of disinformation about Saddam Hussein.

But clearly a great deal of this carries the fingerprints of officialdom. The Pentagon has now designated “information operations” as its fifth “core competency” alongside land, sea, air and special forces. Since October 2006, every brigade, division and corps in the US military has had its own “psyop” element producing output for local media. This military activity is linked to the State Department’s campaign of “public diplomacy” which includes funding radio stations and news websites. In Britain, the Directorate of Targeting and Information Operations in the Ministry of Defence works with specialists from 15 UK psyops, based at the Defence Intelligence and Security School at Chicksands in Bedfordshire.

In the case of British intelligence, you can see this combination of reckless propaganda and failure of oversight at work in the case of Operation Mass Appeal. This was exposed by the former UN arms inspector Scott Ritter, who describes in his book, Iraq Confidential, how, in London in June 1998, he was introduced to two “black propaganda specialists” from MI6 who wanted him to give them material which they could spread through “editors and writers who work with us from time to time”.

In interviews for Flat Earth News, Ritter described how, between December 1997 and June 1998, he had three meetings with MI6 officers who wanted him to give them raw intelligence reports on Iraqi arms procurement. The significance of these reports was that they were all unconfirmed and so none was being used in assessing Iraqi activity. Yet MI6 was happy to use them to plant stories in the media. Beyond that, there is worrying evidence that, when Lord Butler asked MI6 about this during his inquiry into intelligence around the invasion of Iraq, MI6 lied to him.

Ultimately, the US has run into trouble with its propaganda in Iraq, particularly with its use of the Zarqawi story. In May 2006, when yet another of his alleged letters was handed out to reporters in the Combined Press Information Centre in Baghdad, finally it was widely regarded as suspect and ignored by just about every single media outlet.

Arguably, even worse than this loss of credibility, according to British defence sources, the US campaign on Zarqawi eventually succeeded in creating its own reality. By elevating him from his position as one fighter among a mass of conflicting groups, the US campaign to “villainise Zarqawi” glamorised him with its enemy audience, making it easier for him to raise funds, to attract “unsponsored” foreign fighters, to make alliances with Sunni Iraqis and to score huge impact with his own media manoeuvres. Finally, in December 2004, Osama bin Laden gave in to this constructed reality, buried his differences with the Jordanian and declared him the leader of al-Q’aida’s resistance to the American occupation.

JONATHAN GRUN, EDITOR,PRESS ASSOCIATION

The Press Association’s wire service has a long-standing reputation for its integrity and fast, fair and accurate reporting. Much of his criticism is anonymously sourced – which is something we strive to avoid.

ANDREW MARR, BROADCASTER AND JOURNALIST

Thanks to the internet there’s a constant source of news stories pumping into newsrooms. Stories are simply rewritten. It produces an airless cycle of information. Papers too rarely have news stories of their own.

IAN MONK, PR

The media has ceded a lot of the power of setting the agenda; the definition of news has broadened to include celebrities and new products (the iPhone is a big story). But I don’t join in the hand-wringing or say it’s desperate that people outside newspapers have got a say.

JOHN KAMPFNER, EDITOR, NEW STATESMAN

Davies is right to point to the lack of investigative rigour: the primary purpose of journalism is to rattle cages. I was always struck at the extent to which political journalists yearned to be spoon fed. Having said that, I think he uses too broad a brush.

DOMINIC LAWSON, FORMER EDITOR SUNDAY TELEGRAPH

I’m not saying this is a golden age, but there’s a strong investigative drive in the British press. A lot of papers put a strong value on such stories. I suspect we’re about the most invigilated establishment in Europe.

CHRIS BLACKHURST, CITY EDITOR, EVENING STANDARD

I’m disappointed that a book which has as its premise the dictation of the news agenda by PRs should contain in it an anonymous quote from a PR criticising theStandard’s coverage of the Natwest Three.

HEATHER BROOKE, JOURNALIST

It’s not entirely true what Davies is saying. In the past, we just got scrutiny from newspapers and now think tanks publish results of investigations. But there’s an assumption that the public aren’t interested in government, just Amy Winehouse.

FRANCIS WHEEN, JOURNALIST/ AUTHOR

Davies is spot on. It’s reasonable that newspapers carry PA accounts of court hearings, but he’s right that there’s more “churn” now. Reporters don’t get out of the office the way they did once – partly a reflection of reduced budgets.

This is an edited extract from “Flat Earth News: an award-winning reporter exposes falsehood, distortion and propaganda in the global media”, published by Chatto & Windus, price £17.99. To order this title for the special price of £16, including postage and packaging, call Independent Books Direct: 08700 798 897

Independent.co.uk

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What should we make of this folks? I, personally, don’t like the sound of this at all and DHS is right in the thick of things!

Armed officials on flights into the U.S.? Non-U.S. citizens having to apply for permission to come to the U.S.? Our economy will grind to a slow and deadly halt and die.

Bush orders clampdown on flights to US

EU officials furious as Washington says it wants extra data on all air passengers

Ian Traynor in Brussels The Guardian, Monday February 11 2008

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Bush administration is calling for armed air marshals on transatlantic flights. Photograph: Eric Meola/Getty Images

The US administration is pressing the 27 governments of the European Union to sign up for a range of new security measures for transatlantic travel, including allowing armed guards on all flights from Europe to America by US airlines.

The demand to put armed air marshals on to the flights is part of a travel clampdown by the Bush administration that officials in Brussels described as “blackmail” and “troublesome”, and could see west Europeans and Britons required to have US visas if their governments balk at Washington’s requirements.

According to a US document being circulated for signature in European capitals, EU states would also need to supply personal data on all air passengers overflying but not landing in the US in order to gain or retain visa-free travel to America, senior EU officials said.

And within months the US department of homeland security is to impose a new permit system for Europeans flying to the US, compelling all travellers to apply online for permission to enter the country before booking or buying a ticket, a procedure that will take several days.

The data from the US’s new electronic transport authorisation system is to be combined with extensive personal passenger details already being provided by EU countries to the US for the “profiling” of potential terrorists and assessment of other security risks.

Washington is also asking European airlines to provide personal data on non-travellers – for example family members – who are allowed beyond departure barriers to help elderly, young or ill passengers to board aircraft flying to America, a demand the airlines reject as “absurd”.

Seven demands tabled by Washington are contained in a 10-page “memorandum of understanding” (MOU) that the US authorities are negotiating or planning to negotiate with all EU governments, according to ministers and diplomats from EU member states and senior officials in Brussels. The Americans have launched their security drive with some of the 12 mainly east European EU countries whose citizens still need visas to enter the US.

“The Americans are trying to get a beefing up of their visa-waiver programmes. It’s all contained in the MOU they want to put to all EU member states,” said a diplomat from a west European country. “It’s a very delicate problem.”

As part of a controversial passenger data exchange programme allegedly aimed at combating terrorism, the EU has for the past few months been supplying the American authorities with 19 items of information on every traveller flying from the EU to the US.

The new American demands go well beyond what was agreed under that passenger name record (PNR) system and look certain to cause disputes within Europe and between Europe and the US.

Brussels is pressing European governments not to sign the bilateral deals with the Americans to avoid weakening the EU bargaining position. But Washington appears close to striking accords on the new travel regime with Greece and the Czech Republic. Both countries have sizeable diaspora communities in America, while their citizens need visas to enter the US. Visa-free travel would be popular in both countries.

A senior EU official said the Americans could get “a gung-ho frontrunner” to sign up to the new regime and then use that agreement “as a rod to beat the other member states with”. The frontrunner appears to be the Czech Republic. On Wednesday, Richard Barth of the department of homeland security was in Prague to negotiate with the Czech deputy prime minister, Alexandr Vondra,

Prague hoped to sign the US memorandum “in the spring”, Vondra said. “The EU has done nothing for us on visas,” he said. “There was no help, no solidarity in the past. It’s in our interest to move ahead. We can’t just wait and do nothing. We have to act in the interest of our citizens.”

While the Czechs are in a hurry to sign up, Brussels is urging delay in order to try to reach a common European position.

“There is a process of consultation and coordination under way,” said Jonathan Faull, a senior European commission official involved in the negotiations with the Americans.

To European ears, the US demands sound draconian. “This would oblige the European countries to allow US air marshals on US flights. It’s controversial and difficult,” an EU official said. At the moment the use of air marshals is discretionary for European states and airlines.

While armed American guards would be entitled to sit on the European flights to the US, the Americans also want the PNR data transfers extended from travellers from Europe to the US to include the details of those whose flights are not to America, but which overfly US territory, say to central America or the Caribbean.

Brussels has told Washington that its demands raise legal problems in Europe over data protection, over guarantees on how the information is handled, over which US agencies have access to it or with whom it might be shared, and over issues of redress if the data is misused.

The Association of European Airlines, representing 31 airlines, including all the big west European national carriers, has told the US authorities that there is “no international legal foundation” for supplying them with data about passengers on flights overflying US territory.

The US Transport Security Administration has also asked the European airlines to supply personal data on “certain non-travelling members of the public requesting access to areas beyond the screening checkpoint”.

The AEA said this was “absurd” because the airlines neither obtain nor can obtain such information. The request was “fully unjustified”.

If the Americans persevere in the proposed security crackdown, Brussels is likely to respond with tit-for-tat action, such as calling for visas for some Americans.

European governments, however, would probably veto such action, one official said, not least for fear of the “massive disruption given the huge volume of transatlantic traffic”.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2008

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Sarah Meyer’s blog site has a wealth of information – from the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) to Security Companies, i.e. Blackwater – well researched and time-lined. I suggest that you bookmark her site as you will find that you will be referring to it often.

This time line covers only two months – from September to November 2007 – and the amount of information is astounding. There is too much information to copy here so please be sure to continue reading the information at her site. Her index is set-up so that you can click on the title that you want to read next and it will take you right to that section.

NUCLEAR USA: SEPTEMBER – NOVEMBER 2007

An overview of policies at home and abroad

by Sarah Meyer
Index Research

radiation_warning_symbol_rusty_450.jpg

NUCLEAR-armed states are criminal states. They have a legal obligation, confirmed by the World Court, to live up to Article 6 of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which calls on them to carry out good-faith negotiations to eliminate nuclear weapons entirely. None of the nuclear states has lived up to it. Noam Chomsky (10.08.07. khaleej times / ICH.)

The United States has irrational, hypocritical nuclear policies abroad. The foreign ‘enemies’ are those countries, like Iraq, with lots of oil and gas. America is its own worst ‘enemy;’ and appears, to the rest of the world, as the principal ‘terrorist.’

This research covers approximately two months in 2007 of American nuclear policies abroad, as well as those at home. Both are terrifying.

Index

1. US Arms Exports After 9/11

2. Who Is Pushing the Terror Button? Nuclear Egypt, India, (?) Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, (?) Syria, United Kingdom. Added Update: Turkey.

3. Nuclear U.S.A.: Reports; Trident; Missiles; Articles; Ooops: Dangerous Mishaps 1 – 10; Three Non-nuclear Ooopsies; Homeland Security; Blackwater; War ‘Games’; ‘Terrorism’ Drills’; Martial Law?

1. US ARMS EXPORTS AFTER 9/11

U.S. Arms Exports and Military Assistance in the “Global War on Terror”
06.09.07. Center for Defense Information. CDI’s ongoing research continues to document some troubling trends. Using U.S. government data, CDI has documented that, in the five years after Sept. 11, total U.S. arms sales (Foreign Military Sales and Direct Commercial Sales ) to these 25 countries were worth four times more than those concluded in the five years prior to Sept. 11, and these countries received 18 times more total U.S. military assistance (Foreign Military Financing and International Military Education and Training) after Sept. 11 than before. Furthermore, 72 percent of the countries in this series received more military assistance and 64 percent conducted more arms sales with the United States during the five years after Sept. 11 than during the entire period between the end of the Cold War and Sept. 11 (FY 90-01). .. the United States has increased sales to new post Sept. 11 allies and has made several large and potentially troublesome arms deals, including a multi-billion dollar sale of F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan.. Total Direct Commercial Sales in the five years after Sept. 11 totaled roughly $66 billion more than in the five years prior, an 11-fold increase. .. Just as the United States is using arms sales as a reward to its allies in the “war on terror,” military assistance programs have also increased since Sept. 11. Includes pdf report on case studies for following countries: South CaucasusArmeniaAzerbaijanGeorgiaSouth Asia: IndiaNepalPakistanSoutheast Asia: IndonesiaPhilippinesThailandMiddle East: BahrainOmanYemen Central Asia: KazakhstanKyrgyzstanTajikistanTurkmenistanUzbekistanAfrica: AlgeriaChadMaliMauritaniaNigerDjiboutiEthiopiaKenya

2. WHO IS PUSHING THE TERROR BUTTON?
NUCLEAR EGYPT

Egypt to Build Nuclear Plants
29.10.07. Washington Post. Egypt’s president announced plans Monday to build several nuclear power plants _ the latest in a string of ambitious such proposals from moderate Arab countries. The United States immediately welcomed the plan, in a sharp contrast to what it called nuclear “cheating” by Iran.

NUCLEAR INDIA

Nuclear Agreement With US Rips India Apart
27.09.07. Pierre Prakkash, Liberation / Truthout. how the civilian nuclear agreement the Indian government has negotiated with the US may bring about the government’s dissolution.

Nuclear Deal With India May Be Near Collapse
16.10.07. Washington Post. Premier Cites Internal Opposition To Agreement Pushed by Bush. A controversial nuclear deal between the United States and India appears close to collapse after the Indian prime minister told President Bush yesterday that “certain difficulties” will prevent India from moving forward on the pact for the foreseeable future. … Neither government appeared eager to announce the setback to what had been billed as one of the Bush administration’s biggest foreign policy ‘achievements’. … the reluctance to admit that the deal is faltering contrasts with the fanfare when it was announced in 2005. … The agreement lays out a framework for peaceful nuclear cooperation that would eventually allow trade in nuclear reactors, technology and fuel between the two nations. It permits [permitted] India to reprocess nuclear fuel and opens the way for the United States to become a “reliable” supplier for India’s energy program.

White House Sees Life in Indian Nuclear Deal
17.10.07. NTI. The Bush administration expressed continuing hope yesterday that its nuclear trade deal with India would take effect next year, Agence France-Presse reported. The affirmation followed a Monday phone call between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President George W. Bush in which Singh acknowledged facing strong domestic opposition to the agreement. The deal would give New Delhi access to U.S. nuclear material and technology, but left- and right-wing Indian critics have complained that U.S. conditions on the pact would give Washington undue influence over Indian affairs.

VIDEO INTERVIEW and transcript with Congressman Ed Markey
23.10.07. fas.org. On October 18, FAS hosted a news briefing on the status of the nuclear technology transfer agreement between the United States and India in light of its near collapse.

US cautions India against Iran pipeline
27.10.07, peninsulaqatar. The US is hoping that India would not move forward with the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project as Washington has imposed more sanctions on Tehran citing links to terrorism and weapons proliferation. … “We think at a time when the world should be imposing greater discipline on its interactions with (Iranian) companies and financial institutions and the Iranian government more broadly, that this is not the right path forward.” David McCormick, treasury undersecretary for international affairs, said.

U.S. Continues to Press India on Nuclear Deal
31.10.07. NTI. Current and former U.S. officials met yesterday with Indian opposition leaders to promote the nuclear trade agreement that has stalled in New Delhi, the Hindustan Times reported. … The trade pact would enable India to purchase U.S. nuclear technology and material in exchange for opening its civilian nuclear activities to international monitoring.

Time Limited to Close India Deal, Experts Say
02.11.07. NTI. Analysts say time is running out for India and the United States to finalize their nuclear trade agreement, the International Herald Tribune reported Wednesday. Progress has stalled while the Singh administration attempts to overcome resistance from parties on both ends of the political spectrum to the deal. Critics say Washington would receive undue influence over Indian policies through the agreement, which would provide New Delhi with access to U.S. nuclear material and technology in exchange for allowing international monitoring of its civilian atomic complex.

Indian Opposition Party Rejects U.S. Nuclear Deal
08.11.07. NTI. India’s main political opposition party yesterday rejected a proposal to ally with the Singh administration to push a stalled nuclear trade agreement with the United States through the Indian parliament, the Indo-Asian News Service reported.

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31 – 01 – 2008

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From Uncensored Opinions

Bacchus

March 6, 2007

Joel Hirschhorn in his most recent articles on OpEdNews has encouraged the American public to petition for a constitutional convention under Article V of the constitution in order to rectify the ever-increasing creation of laws harming the interests of the working classes of the U.S. His article, “An Open Letter to John Edwards” supported Mr. Edwards’ opinion that America has become a country of two nations, the rich and the poor, which I call the Privileged and the People. Many people believe that the Constitution of the U.S. established a democracy in which all citizens had an equal say in the running of the government and in the creation of suitable laws. This is simply not true. The Constitution simply set up a republican form of government based upon a separation of powers between congress, the judiciary, and the executive. Nowhere do the words “democracy” or “democratic” appear in this document, which is the sole basis of our federal laws. The word “republican” appeared only in Article 4 in the context of state’s rights. The original drafters of the Constitution wanted a government selected and run by the landowners and other rich folks of that day. Only as an afterthought were any explicit rights of the working classes included when the Bill of Rights was added as a series of amendments to the constitution explicitly spelling out various rights for the general public. Unfortunately these “absolute” rights were limited, and excluded people of color and women from the franchise and various other civil rights. It took another 150 years or so for these groups to finally gain the franchise, after persistent demands by both groups. The amendments authorizing these rights had to be explicit because the lawmakers(and judiciary) were ignoring the constitution’s implications inherent in the word “justice” which did appear in the preamble if not in the body of the Constitution. But these new amendments simply established the right of the public to “democratic election” of their choice of candidates(put up by moneyed interests). The closest any early document came to granting equality for all people was in the Mayflower Compact which stated very concisely what the Constitution failed to do, containing the phrase “just and equal laws”. Unfortunately this phrase or anything like it did not appear in the Constitution. A major flaw was the omission prohibiting discrimination on the basis of class or occupation. This omission allowed the legislature to consistently pass laws directly favorable to the rich, and harmful to the working classes. And all this was done without violating the Constitution.

 

We are now living under a plutocracy of the rich as resulting legislation have amply demonstrated. The lawmakers need not have paid any attention to the rights and interests of the working classes and have passed laws which were not at all “equal” favoring businesses and securities holders. Until the 17th amendment was passed in 1913 the general public had absolutely no control at all over any legislation(both houses must pass any proposed bill and the senate, prior to that time, was selected by state assemblies). This article will explain why the constitution should be changed to better reflect a democracy concerned with the well-being of all its citizens. I will provide some examples of legislative changes which would in my opinion further perfect our constitution. There have been only 26 amendments of the constitution over a period of over 200 years. The first ten were passed immediately after the original document was created to correct the obvious omission of explicit protection of citizen’s rights not specified in the original document. The two amendments related to prohibition canceled each other out leaving only 14 actual changes to the Constitution to this date. That averages about one every fifteen years. If the Constitution were perfect, as much literature and opinion has subsequently implied, a lack of changes would appear to affirm it. But no document,person,or institution has ever in the history of the world proved to be perfect and sufficient during an extended period of a time. The truth is that those in power, having gained the most from its opportunities, don’t want any changes. But there are serious reasons that dictate the need for change. The Constitution was established at a time when the U.S. was essential an agricultural society, with no extensive corporation interests and influences, no extensive trade, no large amount of financial capital, no cheap and efficient transport, and no sophisticated international communications(telephone,TV, or Internet). Especially significant was the shortage of resources(including especially manpower) available for an improving productive capacity, rather than the superabundance now prevalent in the world today. The under utilization of capital machinery and underemployment and unemployment of current manpower alone are causing and will cause in the future the major problems which will have to be faced by all the world economies.

 

All the fancy economic principles which the rich use against the working classes currently are no longer valid because they were all based upon suitable employment available for all persons desiring it. That is no longer the case. Working people around the world, under globalization, are competing for the same limited jobs and only the low bidders are winning, resulting in an ever-increasing exploitation of the working classes because of their dire need of adequate wages to support their families. The superabundance of financial capital allows something that was not afforded the founding fathers, the ability to apply tremendous money pressure in the political process. To deal with these entirely new institutions and circumstances the Constitution must change. The lesson learned from the necessity of including a Bill of Rights was that the constitution must explicitly spell out the basis of new laws protecting the rights of the working classes. So with that in mind I am proposing explicit changes designed to do just that.

 

1) Needless to say, money plays too big a role in the creation of new legislation. All one has to do to confirm this is to examine the laws that have been passed recently. NAFTA, CAFTAN, TWO(and GATT), Immigration Laws (applicable to both legal and illegal immigrants) and all of the laws supporting globalization, are without doubt simply for the benefit of the shareholders of multinational corporations and have directly deprived American workers of their jobs. The “story”that American workers are ill-trained, lazy, and cannot compete productively with foreign workers is simply a convenient and insulting pretext for shipping work overseas. To make matters worse, these jobs are said to be only those requiring “low skilled” workers. The workers previously employed in the steel, auto,electronic,shoe making,etc. were all skilled workers. Just because they were classified as ” blue collar” does not automatically imply low skill level. It does imply that these people were actually working and not just sitting behind a desk checking out their personal e-mail which a great part of the so-called “skilled” office and government workers are typically engaged in . And what about the hi-tech multitude who have been cheated out of their jobs by the fraudulently created and implemented Immigration laws opening the doors to foreign workers? Are they presumed to be “low-tech” as well, needing to “retrain”? In any case, the “story” the businessmen(though their supporters, the congressmen) have been promoting for both blue and while collar displaced workers is that these people must retrain themselves for more skilled jobs. Excuse me, these groups were already skilled. And what hi-tech jobs are currently available for these millions who would have to (once again) fork out thousands of bucks to qualify themselves for? The only fields I know of which are understaffed are those of various classifications of highly-paid health care related positions created as government monopolies only available to “friends-of-the-family”. All this fraud has been created by the fact that money now completely controls all legislation. Campaign finance laws and term limits are long overdue.

 

2) Reform of the Supreme court is long overdue. Many laws have been created by congress which have completely exceeded their Constitutional jurisdiction(e.g.,recreational drugs use and abortion) and others directly violating legitimate state laws(i.e.,marijuana in California). The supreme court should as a matter of its Constitutional duty review all these laws without being coerced to doing so. The justices claim that they have only a limited time to review any laws because of an extensive work load. If the original supreme court had only 9 justices dealing with legal issues for a simple farm-based population of perhaps 13 million citizens, we now have a population of 300 million in a far more complicated society necessitating far more justices. Currently, out of thousands of requests for judicial review, less than 200 are determined yearly. The justices claim these cases have been chosen because they affect fundamental legal principles. This years cases included the Anna Nicole Smith case concerning the legal aspects of the marriage of a young woman to an older man and her expectation of receiving inheritance from his estate. I was shocked to learn that a young women would ever pursue an older man for his money! This is really startling news and obviously has important legal implications, but I would have thought that any issues of this matters would have been resolved when the first cases of this sort were encountered, about 3000 years ago. One has to come to the concussion that the other (not so important) lawsuits submitted for review during this period were not important enough to be considered for judgment by the court. So much for American justice! So I propose an increase in the number of justices to the extent that at least half of those cases presented to it must be reviewed. And considering the very obvious partisan politics practiced by the court(as exemplified by the 2004 presidential election in particular), it is time to make these offices subject to voter choice, and with time limits to their tenure. Surely there are more than 9 people in the entire U.S. capable enough to dispense legal judgment.

 

3) The president is hogtied in passing any legislation when his party in not in power. The opposition party doesn’t want any meaningful and important legislation passed which would cast credit on the incumbent. This results in no substantive laws being passed in the interests of the public but gives comfort to the conservative elements of both parties who want nothing to change. In Great Britain this is not the case because the prime minister is simply chosen from the party in power and, when legislation proposed by his party is rejected, the government is changed to provide another which is more in accord with the legislation deemed necessary at the moment. The most important legislation of the Clinton administration(health care reform) was stymied and will continue to be so in the future because of this disgraceful practice. Something has to be done to rectify this.

 

4) I believe no new amendments will be allowed to pass designed to correct these patent legislative abuses because, as a consequence of money pressure, both parties as well as the executive are now serving the interests of the rich. Each wants to score points by being the prime mover behind legislation solely designed to benefit this group, and have no time or interest in issues important to the working- and middle-classes . F. Lee Baily said in an interview with Newsweek in 1967 “Can any of you seriously say the Bill of Rights could get through Congress today? It wouldn’t even get out of committee”. That is doubly valid with today’s flood of capital looking for influence. Both political parties are working on the same political campaign platform, which is the “status quo” or “family values” one so dear to the people who are now prospering. And there is absolutely no doubt about who is benefiting from the laws as they now stand. All one has to do is look at the widening income gap between the rich and the poor (which increasingly include the middle class). This is the absolutely indispensable reason and justification for a Constitutional Convention. The congress has not in the past, and will not in the future, pass legislation resolving health care problems,education reform,campaign finance reform, meaningful gun control laws, laws controlling corporate management abuses, or any other laws effecting the financial interests of its patrons. All recent laws have benefited the rich to the detriment of the working classes, and the entire government has been guilty of collusion.

 

These are but of a few of the major issues which should be address in any convention. I have quite a few more issues needed to be scrutinized in the interest of better government but hope you readers will assist me in pointing out other important ones needing attention. The primary purpose in all proposed reform should be one of making the Constitution(and government) a democratic one. Abe Lincoln, in the Gettysburg address, spoke of a government “of (all) the people, by (all) the people, and for(all) the people”. Today we have a government only “of(applicable to) the common folk, by the rich(or their supporter), and for (the benefit of) the rich” and supported (legally) by laws not unlawful with respect to the current U.S. Constitution but very definitely not in the interest of the working public! It is imperative that these abuses be stopped. Only when we can wake up the general populace with concrete suggestions for changes benefiting them can we expect them to take an interest in any sort of action.

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