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Waterboarding, prolonged stress positions, placed in a box and subjected to extreme noise: CIA's rendition of two terror suspects in Polish jail revealed Two terror suspects 'were transferred to a prison in Poland and tortured' -- Both men say they were brought to the country in December 2002 -- Allegations include being told their families would be sexually abused -- Poland has been accused of human rights abuses - Lawyers for two terror suspects currently being held by the U.S. in Guantanamo Bay have accused Poland of human rights abuses.
They say they fell victim to the CIA's program to kidnap terror suspects and transfer them to other countries as they allege that they were tortured in a remote Polish prison.
The case marks the first time Europe's role in the CIA's 'extraordinary rendition' of terror suspects has reached European Court of Human Rights.
Lawyers for two terror suspects currently being held by the U.S. in Guantanamo Bay accuse Poland of human rights abuses
Lawyers for two terror suspects currently being held by the U.S. in Guantanamo Bay accuse Poland of human rights abuses
One of the cases concerns 48-year-old Saudi national Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who currently faces terror charges in the U.S. for allegedly orchestrating the al-Qaeda attack on the USS Cole in 2000, a bombing in the Yemeni port of Aden that killed 17 sailors and wounded 37. (UK Daily Mail)
Conspiracy Theorists Aren't Really Skeptics: The fascinating psychology of people who know the real truth about JFK, UFOs, and 9/11 To believe that the U.S. government planned or deliberately allowed the 9/11 attacks, you’d have to posit that President Bush intentionally sacrificed 3,000 Americans. To believe that explosives, not planes, brought down the buildings, you’d have to imagine an operation large enough to plant the devices without anyone getting caught. To insist that the truth remains hidden, you’d have to assume that everyone who has reviewed the attacks and the events leading up to them—the CIA, the Justice Department, the Federal Aviation Administration, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, scientific organizations, peer-reviewed journals, news organizations, the airlines, and local law enforcement agencies in three states—was incompetent, deceived, or part of the cover-up.
And yet, as Slate’s Jeremy Stahl points out, millions of Americans hold these beliefs. In a Zogby poll taken six years ago, only 64 percent of U.S. adults agreed that the attacks “caught US intelligence and military forces off guard.” More than 30 percent chose a different conclusion: that “certain elements in the US government knew the attacks were coming but consciously let them proceed for various political, military, and economic motives,” or that these government elements “actively planned or assisted some aspects of the attacks.”
How can this be? How can so many people, in the name of skepticism, promote so many absurdities?
The answer is that people who suspect conspiracies aren’t really skeptics. Like the rest of us, they’re selective doubters. They favor a worldview, which they uncritically defend. But their worldview isn’t about God, values, freedom, or equality. It’s about the omnipotence of elites.
Conspiracy chatter was once dismissed as mental illness. But the prevalence of such belief, documented in surveys, has forced scholars to take it more seriously. Conspiracy theory psychology is becoming an empirical field with a broader mission: to understand why so many people embrace this way of interpreting history. As you’d expect, distrust turns out to be an important factor. But it’s not the kind of distrust that cultivates critical thinking. (Slate)
N.S.A. Gathers Data on Social Connections of U.S. Citizens N.S.A. Gathers Data on Social Connections of U.S. Citizens - Since 2010, the National Security Agency has been exploiting its huge collections of data to create sophisticated graphs of some Americans’ social connections that can identify their associates, their locations at certain times, their traveling companions and other personal information, according to newly disclosed documents and interviews with officials.
The spy agency began allowing the analysis of phone call and e-mail logs in November 2010 to examine Americans’ networks of associations for foreign intelligence purposes after N.S.A. officials lifted restrictions on the practice, according to documents provided by Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor.
The policy shift was intended to help the agency “discover and track” connections between intelligence targets overseas and people in the United States, according to an N.S.A. memorandum from January 2011. The agency was authorized to conduct “large-scale graph analysis on very large sets of communications metadata without having to check foreignness” of every e-mail address, phone number or other identifier, the document said. Because of concerns about infringing on the privacy of American citizens, the computer analysis of such data had previously been permitted only for foreigners.
The agency can augment the communications data with material from public, commercial and other sources, including bank codes, insurance information, Facebook profiles, passenger manifests, voter registration rolls and GPS location information, as well as property records and unspecified tax data, according to the documents. They do not indicate any restrictions on the use of such “enrichment” data, and several former senior Obama administration officials said the agency drew on it for both Americans and foreigners.
N.S.A. officials declined to say how many Americans have been caught up in the effort, including people involved in no wrongdoing. The documents do not describe what has resulted from the scrutiny, which links phone numbers and e-mails in a “contact chain” tied directly or indirectly to a person or organization overseas that is of foreign intelligence interest. (New York Times)
Electronic Dance Music’s Love Affair With Ecstasy: A History -- The drug and the music evolved together over years, making EDM a radically different culture today than it was when it started. We don't know much about Meredith Hunter other than that he killed the American Hippie. We know that his friends called him Murdock, and that he was 18, and that there were three weeks until the last day of the 1960s. 300,000 people had gathered at the Altamont Raceway Park near San Francisco for Woodstock’s Pacific reincarnation, but of the increasingly violent masses, he was the only one who stormed the stage with a gun, and the only one who was stabbed to death by a Hell’s Angel.
Today, we know Hunter mostly in the context of his death, but even there he’s just a metaphor. In the rise-and-fall narrative of hippie culture, he is simply the Altamont tragedy, and Altamont is known as the day the music died.
In his reflections on the recent anniversary of the September 11th attacks, John Cassidy discusses the human “saliency bias”—our habit of forming memories around jarring events rather than, say, a series of minor incidents whose impact nets about equal. This mechanism explains how and why history can link a generation’s implosion to one day at the end of the decade. For both sides of the culture, the tragedy’s gruesome rawness gave legitimacy to the concern that peace and love were quite literally killing the country.
Consider Olivia Rotondo, whose by-all-accounts-normal life suggests that her death could have happened to anyone. Four hours after tweeting her excitement about the Electric Zoo Festival on New York City’s Randall’s Island, she collapsed in front of a paramedic, saying the seven words that in the weeks since have become a macabre Exhibit A in the campaign against the drug that is said to have killed her.
“I just took six hits of Molly.”
She died that night. Jeffrey Russ, a 23-year old also believed to have taken MDMA (the drug’s proper name) had passed away 18 hours earlier. The following day—what would have been the grand finale to the three-day gyration of 100,000 neon-clad ravers—Randall’s Island was deserted and silent.
“If you look at electronic dance music culture, it seems to be more diverse, more accepting of the 'other', more welcoming of gay people—a counter-ethos of 'we’re in it together.' There’s a spiritual aspect to it.”
Since it first plugged in its equipment five summers ago, Electric Zoo has marked the end of the annual electronic festival season in the United States, the centerpiece each year of one of the country’s most mainstream and lucrative new artistic industries. In 2012, electronic dance music (EDM) spawned eleven platinum hits and increased the population of Miami by one quarter for one of the biggest American musical events since Woodstock. It has repackaged and commoditized the two-decade-old EDM mantra of “Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect” (usually abbreviated to “PLUR”) that apparently captures what this whole vision, with its bass drops and Day-Glo campiness, and a certain synthetic chemical stimulant, has always been about. (The Atlantic)
The rush to judgment on Syria is a catastrophic and deadly error -- Britain and America show contempt for the lessons of the past in pressing for action It is more than 10 years since Parliament last voted on whether or not to go to war. This was on March 18 2003, when a stirring speech by Tony Blair convinced many sceptical MPs of the case for military action against Iraq.
But Mr Blair’s claim that Britain possessed “extensive, detailed and authoritative” evidence concerning Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction turned out to be nonsense, and we invaded the country on the back of a false prospectus. The consequences were terrible: countless Iraqis were killed in the civil war that followed, along with 179 British soldiers.
The similarities with today’s Commons vote are haunting. The Prime Minister is contemplating an attack on Iraq’s near neighbour Syria, also ruled by a Baathist regime. At the heart of the issue are allegations about weapons of mass destruction. Once again, Britain finds herself in alliance with the United States, and without the authority of the United Nations.
Many of the same voices are cheering us on. Most zealous of all is Tony Blair, while Alastair Campbell, the New Labour propagandist who spread the stories about WMD in Iraq, said yesterday that it would be “irresponsible and incredibly dangerous” not to intervene in Syria. (London Telegraph)
Taken -- Under civil forfeiture, Americans who haven’t been charged with wrongdoing can be stripped of their cash, cars, and even homes. Is that all we’re losing? On a bright Thursday afternoon in 2007, Jennifer Boatright, a waitress at a Houston bar-and-grill, drove with her two young sons and her boyfriend, Ron Henderson, on U.S. 59 toward Linden, Henderson’s home town, near the Texas-Louisiana border. They made the trip every April, at the first signs of spring, to walk the local wildflower trails and spend time with Henderson’s father. This year, they’d decided to buy a used car in Linden, which had plenty for sale, and so they bundled their cash savings in their car’s center console. Just after dusk, they passed a sign that read “Welcome to Tenaha: A little town with BIG Potential!”
They pulled into a mini-mart for snacks. When they returned to the highway ten minutes later, Boatright, a honey-blond “Texas redneck from Lubbock,” by her own reckoning, and Henderson, who is Latino, noticed something strange. The same police car that their eleven-year-old had admired in the mini-mart parking lot was trailing them. Near the city limits, a tall, bull-shouldered officer named Barry Washington pulled them over.
He asked if Henderson knew that he’d been driving in the left lane for more than half a mile without passing.
No, Henderson replied. He said he’d moved into the left lane so that the police car could make its way onto the highway.
Were there any drugs in the car? When Henderson and Boatright said no, the officer asked if he and his partner could search the car.
The officers found the couple’s cash and a marbled-glass pipe that Boatright said was a gift for her sister-in-law, and escorted them across town to the police station. In a corner there, two tables were heaped with jewelry, DVD players, cell phones, and the like. According to the police report, Boatright and Henderson fit the profile of drug couriers: they were driving from Houston, “a known point for distribution of illegal narcotics,” to Linden, “a known place to receive illegal narcotics.” The report describes their children as possible decoys, meant to distract police as the couple breezed down the road, smoking marijuana. (None was found in the car, although Washington claimed to have smelled it.)
The county’s district attorney, a fifty-seven-year-old woman with feathered Charlie’s Angels hair named Lynda K. Russell, arrived an hour later. Russell, who moonlighted locally as a country singer, told Henderson and Boatright that they had two options. They could face felony charges for “money laundering” and “child endangerment,” in which case they would go to jail and their children would be handed over to foster care. Or they could sign over their cash to the city of Tenaha, and get back on the road. “No criminal charges shall be filed,” a waiver she drafted read, “and our children shall not be turned over to CPS,” or Child Protective Services. (The New Yorker)
Soldier Writes Suicide Letter About Pain And Being Forced To Commit War Crimes In Iraq Daniel Somers was a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and served with Task Force Lightning, an intelligence unit. He ran more than 400 combat missions as a machine gunner in the turret of a Humvee and interviewed Iraqis and insurgents alike. When he returned, he had PTSD as well as traumatic brain injury and several other war-related conditions.
On June 10, 2013, he wrote the letter below to his family. A heartfelt and heart-breaking account of pain and memories that he could not overcome. He tells his family that “I was made to participate in things, the enormity of which is hard to describe. War crimes, crimes against humanity.” The letter is reproduced in full, below…
I am sorry that it has come to this.
The fact is, for as long as I can remember my motivation for getting up every day has been so that you would not have to bury me. As things have continued to get worse, it has become clear that this alone is not a sufficient reason to carry on. The fact is, I am not getting better, I am not going to get better, and I will most certainly deteriorate further as time goes on. From a logical standpoint, it is better to simply end things quickly and let any repercussions from that play out in the short term than to drag things out into the long term. (Political Blindspot)
Snowden's surveillance leaks open way for challenges to programs' constitutionality The recent disclosure of U.S. surveillance methods is providing opponents of classified programs with new openings to challenge their constitutionality, according to civil libertarians and some legal experts.
At least five cases have been filed in federal courts since the government’s widespread collection of telephone and Internet records was revealed last month. The lawsuits primarily target a program that scoops up the telephone records of millions of Americans from U.S. telecommunications companies.
Such cases face formidable obstacles. The government tends to fiercely resist them on national security grounds, and the surveillance is so secret that it’s hard to prove who was targeted. Nearly all of the roughly 70 suits filed after the George W. Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping was disclosed in 2005 have been dismissed.
But the legal landscape may be shifting, lawyers say, because the revelations by Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor and the principal source of the leaks, forced the government to acknowledge the programs and discuss them. That, they say, could help plaintiffs overcome government arguments that they lack the legal standing to sue or that cases should be thrown out because the programs are state secrets. A federal judge in California last week rejected the government’s argument that an earlier lawsuit over NSA surveillance should be dismissed on secrecy grounds. (Washington Post)
7 Ways The Obama Administration Has Accelerated Police Militarization There were signs that President Barack Obama might rein in the mass militarization of America's police forces after he won the White House. Policing is primarily a local issue, overseen by local authorities. But beginning in the late 1960s with President Richard Nixon, the federal government began instituting policies that gave federal authorities more power to fight the drug trade, and to lure state and local policymakers into the anti-crime agenda of the administration in charge. These policies got a boost during Ronald Reagan's presidency, and then another during President Bill Clinton's years. Under President George W. Bush, all of those anti-drug policies continued, but were supplemented by new war on terrorism endeavors -- yet more efforts to make America's cops look, act and fight like soldiers.
But Obama might have been different. This, after all, was the man who, as a candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2004, declared the war on drugs an utter failure. As Reason magazine's Jacob Sullum wrote in a 2011 critique of Obama's drug policy:
Obama stood apart from hard-line prohibitionists even when he began running for president. In 2007 and 2008, he bemoaned America’s high incarceration rate, warned that the racially disproportionate impact of drug prohibition undermines legal equality, advocated a “public health” approach to drugs emphasizing treatment and training instead of prison, repeatedly indicated that he would take a more tolerant position regarding medical marijuana than George W. Bush, and criticized the Bush administration for twisting science to support policy -- a tendency that is nowhere more blatant than in the government’s arbitrary distinctions among psychoactive substances.
Indeed, in his first interview after taking office, Obama's drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, said that the administration would be toning down the martial rhetoric that had dominated federal drug policy since the Nixon years. "Regardless of how you try to explain to people it's a 'war on drugs' or a 'war on a product,' people see a war as a war on them," Kerlikowske told The Wall Street Journal. "We're not at war with people in this country."
This was an notable break from previous administrations. Rhetoric does matter, and for a generation in the U.S., cops had incessantly been told that they were in a war with drug offenders -- this, in a country where about half the adult population admits to having smoked marijuana.
Unfortunately, while not insignificant, the change in rhetoric has largely been only that. The Obama administration may no longer call it a "war," but there's no question that the White House is continuing to fight one. Here's a quick rundown of where and how Obama's policies have perpetuated the garrison state: (Huffington Post)
Majority Views NSA Phone Tracking as Acceptable Anti-terror Tactic -- Public Says Investigate Terrorism, Even If It Intrudes on Privacy
Overview A majority of Americans -- 56% -- say the National Security Agency’s (NSA) program tracking the telephone records of millions of Americans is an acceptable way for the government to investigate terrorism, though a substantial minority -- 41% -- say it is unacceptable. And while the public is more evenly divided over the government’s monitoring of email and other online activities to prevent possible terrorism, these views are largely unchanged since 2002, shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center and The Washington Post, conducted June 6-9 among 1,004 adults, finds no indications that last week’s revelations of the government’s collection of phone records and internet data have altered fundamental public views about the tradeoff between investigating possible terrorism and protecting personal privacy.
Currently 62% say it is more important for the federal government to investigate possible terrorist threats, even if that intrudes on personal privacy. Just 34% say it is more important for the government not to intrude on personal privacy, even if that limits its ability to investigate possible terrorist threats.
These opinions have changed little since an ABC News/Washington Post survey in January 2006. Currently, there are only modest partisan differences in these opinions: 69% of Democrats say it is more important for the government to investigate terrorist threats, even at the expense of personal privacy, as do 62% of Republicans and 59% of independents. (Pew Research Center)
Michael Hastings Rips Obama Drone Speech Journalist Michael Hastings had very harsh words for President Barack Obama on Saturday morning.
Appearing on MSNBC's "Up with Steve Kornacki," Hastings ripped Obama's recent foreign policy comments, saying the president had bought into the Bush administration's neoconservative worldview.
On Thursday, Obama gave a major national security speech in which he defended the use of drone strikes as a key counterterrorism tool. Hastings said the speech marked a reversal in Obama's thinking.
"If you compare this speech to the speech he gave in Cairo, in 2009 or his Nobel Prize speech, you see almost a total rejection of the civil rights tradition that President Obama supposedly came out of... and just an embrace of total militarism," Hastings said.
"That speech to me was essentially agreeing with President Bush and Vice President Cheney that we're in this neo-conservative paradigm, that we're at war with a jihadist threat that actually is not a nuisance but the most important threat we're facing today," Hastings continued.
You can read the full text of Obama's speech here, and watch a video of Hastings' remarks above. (MSNBC)
World Unites Against the Illuminati: Professor Griff on Fire! Infowars.com presents our groundbreaking interview with rap artist Professor Griff of Public Enemy.
Professor Griff lists Obama's lies, describes why hip hop stars are in the White House and breaks down some of the world's deadliest corporations.
Griff has always been an outspoken voice in the hip hop community and by combining forces with Alex Jones and Infowars, he attempts to break the public's mass-media induced coma. (Prison Planet)
Chechen Terrorists and the Neocons I almost choked on my coffee listening to neoconservative Rudy Giuliani pompously claim on national TV that he was surprised about any Chechens being responsible for the Boston Marathon bombings because he’s never seen any indication that Chechen extremists harbored animosity toward the U.S.; Guiliani thought they were only focused on Russia.
Giuliani knows full well how the Chechen “terrorists” proved useful to the U.S. in keeping pressure on the Russians, much as the Afghan mujahedeen were used in the anti-Soviet war in Afghanistan from 1980 to 1989. In fact, many neocons signed up as Chechnya’s “friends,” including former CIA Director James Woolsey.
For instance, see this 2004 article in the UK Guardian, entitled, “The Chechens’ American friends: The Washington neocons’ commitment to the war on terror evaporates in Chechnya, whose cause they have made their own.”
Author John Laughland wrote: “the leading group which pleads the Chechen cause is the American Committee for Peace in Chechnya (ACPC). The list of the self-styled ‘distinguished Americans’ who are its members is a roll call of the most prominent neoconservatives who so enthusiastically support the ‘war on terror.’ (Consortium News)
USA: The Creator & Sustainer of Chechen Terrorism ~ Boston Terror: Don’t Let the Media Fool You … Again- Climb Up the Chain and Meet the Real Masterminds of Global Terror. Here we go again- Déjà vu. Out of the blue we have a ‘terror event,’ a couple of pop-terrorists, and a new buzz-word nation-Chechnya. There they go again: USA Media tales made-in-government: Muslims, terrorists, fanatics, freedom-haters … this time from another exotic-sounding land-Chechnya.
They are going to tell you about the new frontiers in the so-called Islamic Terror Cells: The Caucasus and Central Asia. They’ve been planning this for a long time. In fact, the plans were in motion as early as the mid-1990s. Since 2002, despite the gag orders and attacks, I have been talking about: Central Asia & the Caucasus. I have been talking about our operations-grooming our very own terrorists in that region. I have been talking about Chechnya. In fact, just recently, I talked and talked and talked about it on record:
Sibel Edmonds on Operation Gladio Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V.
The government and its media will give you the tales. They will give you the roller-coaster-like spins. They will not give you what you need to know. Two years ago, we, at Boiling Frogs Post, provided you with the following article-analysis. Please read it: with the recent home-made terror incident and the new media buzz-word ‘Chechnya’, you need to arm yourself with facts. (Boiling Frogs Post)
Indisputable Torture (By The Editorial Board) A dozen years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, an independent, nonpartisan panel’s examination of the interrogation and detention programs carried out in their aftermath by the Bush administration may seem to be musty old business. But the sweeping report issued on Tuesday by an 11-member task force convened by the Constitution Project, a legal research and advocacy group, provides a valuable, even necessary reckoning.
The work of the task force, led by two former congressmen — Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, who served in the Bush administration as under secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, and James Jones, a Democrat, who was an ambassador to Mexico during the Clinton years — is informed by interviews with dozens of former American and foreign officials, as well as with former prisoners.
It is the fullest independent effort so far to assess the treatment of detainees at Guantánamo Bay, in Afghanistan and Iraq, and at the C.I.A.’s secret prisons. Those who sanctioned the use of brutal methods, like former Vice President Dick Cheney, will continue to defend their use. But the report’s authoritative conclusion that “the United States engaged in the practice of torture” is impossible to dismiss by a public that needs to know what was committed in the nation’s name. (New York Times)
"Innocent" Saudi has ties to several Al-Qaeda Terrorists A couple of weeks ago we warned America about the very serious problem of Saudi infiltration; many of these Saudi nationals are criminals and terrorists.
After the bombings, a Saudi by the name of Abdul Rahman Ali Al-Harbi was hospitalized and became a ‘suspect’, then a ‘person of interest’. His apartment was searched by federal and local authorities. No confirmation has been given so far to his involvement. The Media were quick to claim his innocence, of course.
This brings us to the Boston marathon bombings. Foreign Policy is reporting that he’s ‘no longer a person of interest’, which means he’s “innocent”, right?
Perhaps a quick look at the Arabic sources should raise the eyebrows of every American relative to the extent of the problem at hand. Many from Al-Harbi’s clan are steeped in terrorism and are members of Al-Qaeda. Out of a list of 85 terrorists listed by the Saudi government shows several of Al-Harbi clan to have been active fighters in Al-Qaeda:
#15 Badr Saud Uwaid Al-Awufi Al-Harbi
#73 Muhammad Atiq Uwaid Al-Awufi Al-Harbi
#26 Khalid Salim Uwaid Al-Lahibi Al-Harbi
#29 Raed Abdullah Salem Al-Thahiri Al-Harbi
#43 Abdullah Abdul Rahman Muhammad Al-Harbi (leader)
#60 Fayez Ghuneim Humeid Al-Hijri Al-Harbi (Walid Shoebat)
Conspiracy Theory Poll Results On our national poll this week we took the opportunity to poll 20 widespread and/or infamous conspiracy theories. Many of these theories are well known to the public, others perhaps to just the darker corners of the internet. Here’s what we found:
- 37% of voters believe global warming is a hoax, 51% do not. Republicans say global warming is a hoax by a 58-25 margin, Democrats disagree 11-77, and Independents are more split at 41-51. 61% of Romney voters believe global warming is a hoax
- 6% of voters believe Osama bin Laden is still alive
- 21% of voters say a UFO crashed in Roswell, NM in 1947 and the US government covered it up. More Romney voters (27%) than Obama voters (16%) believe in a UFO coverup
- 28% of voters believe secretive power elite with a globalist agenda is conspiring to eventually rule the world through an authoritarian world government, or New World Order. A plurality of Romney voters (38%) believe in the New World Order compared to 35% who don’t
- 28% of voters believe Saddam Hussein was involved in the 9/11 attacks. 36% of Romney voters believe Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11, 41% do not (Public Policy Polling)
More Than 30 Top U.S. Officials Guilty of War Crimes More than 30 top U.S. officials, including presidents G.W. Bush and Obama, are guilty of war crimes or crimes against peace and humanity “legally akin to those perpetrated by the former Nazi regime in Germany,” the distinguished American international law authority Francis Boyle charges.
U.S. officials involved in an “ongoing criminal conspiracy” in the Middle East and Africa who either participated in the commission of the crimes under their jurisdiction or failed to take action against them included both presidents since 2001 and their vice-presidents, the secretaries of State and Defense, the directors of the CIA and National Intelligence and the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff and heads of the Central Command, among others, Boyle said.
“In international legal terms, the U.S. government itself should now be viewed as constituting an ongoing criminal conspiracy under international law,” Boyle said in an address Dec. 9th to the Puerto Rican Summit Conference on Human Rights at the University of the Sacred Heart in San Juan. Boyle is a Professor of International Law at the University of Illinois, Champaign, and the author of numerous books on the subject. (Scoop)
Obama's Pot Problem: Now that states have started legalizing recreational marijuana, will the president continue the government’s war on weed? When voters in Colorado and Washington state legalized recreational marijuana in November, they thought they were declaring a cease-fire in the War on Drugs. Thanks to ballot initiatives that passed by wide margins on Election Day, adults 21 or older in both states can now legally possess up to an ounce of marijuana. The new laws also compel Colorado and Washington to license private businesses to cultivate and sell pot, and to levy taxes on the proceeds. Together, the two states expect to reap some $600 million annually in marijuana revenues for schools, roads and other projects. The only losers, in fact, will be the Mexican drug lords, who currently supply as much as two-thirds of America's pot.
Drug reformers can scarcely believe their landslide victories at the polls. "People expected this day would come, but most didn't expect it to come this soon," says Norm Stamper, a former Seattle police chief who campaigned for legalization. "This is the beginning of the end of prohibition."
But the war over pot may be far from over. Legalization has set Colorado and Washington on a collision course with the Obama administration, which has shown no sign of backing down on its full-scale assault on pot growers and distributors. Although the president pledged to go easy on medical marijuana – now legal in 18 states – he has actually launched more raids on state-sanctioned pot dispensaries than George W. Bush, and has threatened to prosecute state officials who oversee medical marijuana as if they were drug lords. And while the administration has yet to issue a definitive response to the two new laws, the Justice Department was quick to signal that it has no plans to heed the will of voters. "Enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act," the department announced in November, "remains unchanged." (Rolling Stone)
CEO Council Demands Cuts To Poor, Elderly While Reaping Billions In Government Contracts, Tax Breaks The corporate CEOs who have made a high-profile foray into deficit negotiations have themselves been substantially responsible for the size of the deficit they now want closed.
The companies represented by executives working with the Campaign To Fix The Debt have received trillions in federal war contracts, subsidies and bailouts, as well as specialized tax breaks and loopholes that virtually eliminate the companies' tax bills.
The CEOs are part of a campaign run by the Peter Peterson-backed Center for a Responsible Federal Budget, which plans to spend at least $30 million pushing for a deficit reduction deal in the lame-duck session and beyond.
During the past few days, CEOs belonging to what the campaign calls its CEO Fiscal Leadership Council -- most visibly, Goldman Sachs' Lloyd Blankfein and Honeywell's David Cote -- have barnstormed the media, making the case that the only way to cut the deficit is to severely scale back social safety-net programs -- Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security -- which would disproportionately impact the poor and the elderly. (The Huffington Post)
Obama's Second Term Foreign Policy Will Bring New Challenges Over Drone Strikes On Wednesday morning, as many Americans sifted through the voter data and exit poll numbers of President Barack Obama's reelection the night before, the Twitter feeds of close watchers of Yemen lit up with reports of another sort of presidential event: an apparent U.S. drone strike had killed several individuals in that country.
There was no way of being certain if the strike was indeed American, or for that matter if it was a drone strike at all, although it had all the markings of one.
"All signs (after dark, suspicions of locals, target) point to Sanhan strike being a US drone," Yemen-based freelance journalist Adam Baron wrote on Twitter.
Several other analysts concurred.
A White House spokesman did not respond to a request for comment. If it were a American strike, of course, it would have to have been authorized by Obama.
Whatever its provenance, the strike served as a macabre reminder of the burdens that Obama faces as he turns his attention away from the campaign and back to the business of being commander in chief. (Huffington Post)
FEMA wins praise, responds to anger about gas supply Seven years after a disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is winning praise for how it's dealing with Superstorm Sandy.
"This is the all-new FEMA, and the leadership is very, very good, very focused," said Dr. Irwin Redlener, a pediatrician and director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. "They're doing an excellent job."
Score one for FEMA's attempts to come back from its infamous failure after Katrina struck the Gulf Coast in August 2005.
But the post-Sandy reviews for FEMA aren't all moonlight and roses.
Photos: New York recovers from Sandy Photos: New York recovers from Sandy
As Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano -- whose department oversees FEMA -- is expected to visit the region Friday, many survivors in hard-hit places are angry. (CNN)
Looking back on the troubled wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, many observers are content to lay blame on the Bush administration. But inept leadership by American generals was also responsible for the failure of those wars. A culture of mediocrity has taken hold within the Army’s leadership rank—if it is not uprooted, the country’s next war is unlikely to unfold any better than the last two. - On June 13, 1944, a few days after the 90th Infantry Division went into action against the Germans in Normandy under the command of Brigadier General Jay MacKelvie, MacKelvie’s superior officer, Major General J. Lawton Collins, went on foot to check on his men. “We could locate no regimental or battalion headquarters,” he recalled with dismay. “No shelling was going on, nor any fighting that we could observe.” This was an ominous sign, as the Battle of Normandy was far from decided, and the Wehrmacht was still trying to push the Americans, British, and Canadians, who had landed a week earlier, back into the sea.
Just a day earlier, the 90th’s assistant division commander, Brigadier General “Hanging Sam” Williams, had also been looking for the leader of his green division. He’d found MacKelvie sheltering from enemy fire, huddled in a drainage ditch along the base of a hedgerow. “Goddamn it, General, you can’t lead this division hiding in that goddamn hole,” Williams shouted. “Go back to the [command post]. Get the hell out of that hole and go to your vehicle. Walk to it, or you’ll have this goddamn division wading in the English Channel.” The message did not take. The division remained bogged down, veering close to passivity.
American troops were fighting to stay alive—no small feat in that summer’s bloody combat. One infantry company in the 90th began a day in July with 142 men and finished it with 32. Its battalion commander walked around babbling “I killed K Company, I killed K Company.” Later that summer, one of the 90th’s battalions, with 265 soldiers, surrendered to a German patrol of 50 men and two tanks. In six weeks of small advances, the division would use up all its infantrymen, requesting replacements of more than 100 percent. (The Atlantic)
High-Ranking Mexican Drug Cartel Member Makes Explosive Allegation: 'Fast and Furious' Is Not What You Think It Is A high-ranking Mexican drug cartel operative currently in U.S. custody is making startling allegations that the failed federal gun-walking operation known as “Fast and Furious” isn’t what you think it is.
It wasn’t about tracking guns, it was about supplying them — all part of an elaborate agreement between the U.S. government and Mexico’s powerful Sinaloa Cartel to take down rival cartels.
The explosive allegations are being made by Jesus Vicente Zambada-Niebla, known as the Sinaloa Cartel’s “logistics coordinator.” He was extradited to the Chicago last year to face federal drug charges. (The Blaze)
The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say) The spring air in the small, sand-dusted town has a soft haze to it, and clumps of green-gray sagebrush rustle in the breeze. Bluffdale sits in a bowl-shaped valley in the shadow of Utah’s Wasatch Range to the east and the Oquirrh Mountains to the west. It’s the heart of Mormon country, where religious pioneers first arrived more than 160 years ago. They came to escape the rest of the world, to understand the mysterious words sent down from their god as revealed on buried golden plates, and to practice what has become known as “the principle,” marriage to multiple wives.
Today Bluffdale is home to one of the nation’s largest sects of polygamists, the Apostolic United Brethren, with upwards of 9,000 members. The brethren’s complex includes a chapel, a school, a sports field, and an archive. Membership has doubled since 1978—and the number of plural marriages has tripled—so the sect has recently been looking for ways to purchase more land and expand throughout the town.
But new pioneers have quietly begun moving into the area, secretive outsiders who say little and keep to themselves. Like the pious polygamists, they are focused on deciphering cryptic messages that only they have the power to understand. Just off Beef Hollow Road, less than a mile from brethren headquarters, thousands of hard-hatted construction workers in sweat-soaked T-shirts are laying the groundwork for the newcomers’ own temple and archive, a massive complex so large that it necessitated expanding the town’s boundaries. Once built, it will be more than five times the size of the US Capitol.
Rather than Bibles, prophets, and worshippers, this temple will be filled with servers, computer intelligence experts, and armed guards. And instead of listening for words flowing down from heaven, these newcomers will be secretly capturing, storing, and analyzing vast quantities of words and images hurtling through the world’s telecommunications networks. In the little town of Bluffdale, Big Love and Big Brother have become uneasy neighbors.
The NSA has become the largest, most covert, and potentially most intrusive intelligence agency ever. (Wired)
Tony Bennett Is Right That Legalizing Drugs Would Save Lives "First it was Michael Jackson, then it was Amy Winehouse and now the magnificent Whitney Houston. I'd like to have every gentleman and lady in this room commit themselves to get our government to legalize drugs. So they have to get it through a doctor, not just some gangsters that sell it under the table."
That's what Tony Bennett said at a pre-Grammy Awards party on Saturday night, shortly after learning of the tragic death of Whitney Houston, and he's exactly right. One of us (Neill) is a former police officer who fought -- and lost friends -- on the front lines of the failed "war on drugs." One of us (Katharine) learned about the commonality of human pain in another difficult way, spending two years in a residential facility ("rehab"). She wasn't there for drugs, but many of those struggling alongside her were.
There has been some confusion and criticism over Bennett's remarks and, because of our experience dealing with the pain and heartbreak of drug abuse and harmful drug laws, we feel compelled to expand upon his heartfelt remarks in the hopes that we can help break through some of the misunderstanding underlying the reaction to what Bennett said. (Huffington Post)
2012 GOP caucus count unresolved THE RESULTS: Santorum finished ahead by 34 votes
MISSING DATA: 8 precincts’ numbers will never be certified
PARTY VERDICT: GOP official says, ‘It’s a split decision’
Rick Santorum – Final total: 29,839 Change: -168
Mitt Romney – Final total: 29,805 Change: -210
It’s a tie for the ages.
There are too many holes in the certified totals from the Iowa caucuses to know for certain who won, but Rick Santorum wound up with a 34-vote advantage.
Results from eight precincts are missing — any of which could hold an advantage for Mitt Romney — and will never be recovered and certified, Republican Party of Iowa officials told The Des Moines Register on Wednesday.
GOP officials discovered inaccuracies in 131 precincts, although not all the changes affected the two leaders. Changes in one precinct alone shifted the vote by 50 — a margin greater than the certified tally. (Desmoines Register)
ACLU report card finds fault with Obama, rivals The American Civil Liberties Union has issued "Liberty Watch 2012," its report card for presidential candidates on issues like surveillance, torture, gay rights and immigration. No one gets an A, including President Obama.
Obama, the only Democrat among the 10 candidates rated, got a perfect score - four "torches" - on only one issue, allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military, for his backing of the December 2010 law that repealed "don't ask, don't tell."
But he received lower marks on immigration, abortion rights and "closing Guantanamo Bay and indefinite detention," where his one-torch rating was attributed to backtracking on a promise to shut the prison for suspected terrorists and his support for holding their trials in military commissions. - The highest overall rating went to former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, a Republican-turned-Libertarian, who opposes the Patriot Act and - unlike Obama - supports the right of gays and lesbians to marry. Among the leading Republican candidates, libertarian-leaning Rep. Ron Paul also got a higher score than Obama despite low ratings in several categories.
The ACLU gave the Texas congressman high marks for opposing the Patriot Act and indefinite detention of suspected terrorists, condemning waterboarding and voting to repeal "don't ask, don't tell." But it criticized Paul's call for an end to "birthright citizenship" for children of illegal immigrants, his support of the law that denies federal marriage benefits to same-sex couples and his opposition to abortion. (San Francisco Chronicle)
Secret Fed Loans Gave Banks $13 Billion Banks worldwide earned an estimated $13 billion by taking advantage of below-market rates on emergency U.S. Federal Reserve loans from August 2007 through April 2010. Roll over the bars below to explore details for each. To compare results with banks' net income or losses for the same timeframes, click the corresponding button. Worldwide total is the sum for 190 firms with available data; those banks lost a combined $21.6 billion.
The Federal Reserve and the big banks fought for more than two years to keep details of the largest bailout in U.S. history a secret. Now, the rest of the world can see what it was missing.
The Fed didn’t tell anyone which banks were in trouble so deep they required a combined $1.2 trillion on Dec. 5, 2008, their single neediest day. Bankers didn’t mention that they took tens of billions of dollars in emergency loans at the same time they were assuring investors their firms were healthy. And no one calculated until now that banks reaped an estimated $13 billion of income by taking advantage of the Fed’s below-market rates, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its January issue. (Bloomberg)
Is the SEC Covering Up Wall Street Crimes? Matt Taibbi: A whistle blower says the agency has illegally destroyed thousands of documents, letting financial crooks off the hook. - Imagine a world in which a man who is repeatedly investigated for a string of serious crimes, but never prosecuted, has his slate wiped clean every time the cops fail to make a case. No more Lifetime channel specials where the murderer is unveiled after police stumble upon past intrigues in some old file – "Hey, chief, didja know this guy had two wives die falling down the stairs?" No more burglary sprees cracked when some sharp cop sees the same name pop up in one too many witness statements. This is a different world, one far friendlier to lawbreakers, where even the suspicion of wrongdoing gets wiped from the record.
That, it now appears, is exactly how the Securities and Exchange Commission has been treating the Wall Street criminals who cratered the global economy a few years back. For the past two decades, according to a whistle-blower at the SEC who recently came forward to Congress, the agency has been systematically destroying records of its preliminary investigations once they are closed. By whitewashing the files of some of the nation's worst financial criminals, the SEC has kept an entire generation of federal investigators in the dark about past inquiries into insider trading, fraud and market manipulation against companies like Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and AIG. With a few strokes of the keyboard, the evidence gathered during thousands of investigations – "18,000 ... including Madoff," as one high-ranking SEC official put it during a panicked meeting about the destruction – has apparently disappeared forever into the wormhole of history.
Under a deal the SEC worked out with the National Archives and Records Administration, all of the agency's records – "including case files relating to preliminary investigations" – are supposed to be maintained for at least 25 years. But the SEC, using history-altering practices that for once actually deserve the overused and usually hysterical term "Orwellian," devised an elaborate and possibly illegal system under which staffers were directed to dispose of the documents from any preliminary inquiry that did not receive approval from senior staff to become a full-blown, formal investigation. Amazingly, the wholesale destruction of the cases – known as MUIs, or "Matters Under Inquiry" – was not something done on the sly, in secret. The enforcement division of the SEC even spelled out the procedure in writing, on the commission's internal website. "After you have closed a MUI that has not become an investigation," the site advised staffers, "you should dispose of any documents obtained in connection with the MUI." (Rolling Stone)
Rick Perry Running for U.S. President of Chinese Cyber Espionage Narcissistic bozo drag queen Rick Perry is officially running for President of Are You Fucking Serious? here in this great nation of ours that has been “out of ideas” about who to put in the White House since 1980, an exciting decision that gives the green light to media outlets everywhere to examine just how grotesquely incompetent this pandering idiot really is before declaring him the only “viable” candidate in the GOP presidential race. What have we learned about Rick Perry so far this morning? As governor of Texas, Rick Perry invited Chinese telecom giant Huawei to do business in his state after national security experts from both the Obama and W. administrations told everyone, “do not even open these guys’ emails because they are spies.” Perry not only opened, but he clicked 86 times, forwarded it to his entire contact list and then traveled to China with taxpayer money to personally tell Huawei, “come stay at my house if you need to send out a few more of these.” Hey guys, at least China writes back and offers some money once in a while, unlike God, said Rick Perry. (Wonkette)
168 children killed in drone strikes in Pakistan since start of campaign As many as 168 children have been killed in drone strikes in Pakistan during the past seven years as the CIA has intensified its secret programme against militants along the Afghan border. - In an extensive analysis of open-source documents, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that 2,292 people had been killed by US missiles, including as many as 775 civilians.
The strikes, which began under President George W Bush but have since accelerated during the presidency of Barack Obama, are hated in Pakistan, where families live in fear of the bright specks that appear to hover in the sky overhead.
In just a single attack on a madrassah in 2006 up to 69 children lost their lives.
Chris Woods, who led the research, said the detailed database of deaths would send shockwaves through Pakistan, where political and military leaders repeatedly denounce the strikes in public, while privately allowing the US to continue. (London Telegraph)
10 Facts That Prove The Bin Laden Fable Is a Contrived Hoax Every indication clearly points to last Sunday’s raid being a manufactured ploy to return Americans to a state of post-9/11 intellectual castration - Merely a week after President Obama announced the death of Osama Bin Laden, there is literally a deluge of evidence that clearly indicates the whole episode has been manufactured for political gain and to return Americans to a state of post-9/11 intellectual castration so that they can be easily manipulated in the run up to the 2012 election. Here are ten facts that prove the Bin Laden fable is a contrived hoax….
1) Before last Sunday’s raid, every intelligence analyst, geopolitical commentator or head of state worth their salt was on record as stating that Osama Bin Laden was already dead, and that he probably died many years ago, from veteran CIA officer Robert Baer, to former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, to former FBI head of counterterrorism Dale Watson. In addition, back in 2002 Alex Jones was told directly by two separate high level sources that Bin Laden was already dead and that his death would be announced at the most politically opportune moment. Top US government insider Dr. Steve R. Pieczenik, a man who held numerous different influential positions under five different Presidents, serving as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State under the Nixon, Ford and Carter, told the Alex Jones Show last week that Bin Laden died of marfan syndrome shortly after he was visited by CIA physicians at the American Hospital in Dubai in July 2001.
2) The official narrative of how the raid unfolded completely collapsed within days of its announcement. First there had been a 40 minute shootout, then there was no shootout and just one man was armed, first Bin Laden was armed then he was not, first Bin Laden used his wife as a human shield and then he did not. First the compound was described as a “$1 million dollar mansion” then it turned out to be a rubbish-strewn dilapidated compound that was worth less than a quarter of that. Almost every single aspect of the official narrative has changed since Obama first described the raid last Sunday as the White House struggles to keep its story straight. (Prison Planet)
'Nuclear hellstorm' if bin Laden caught: 9/11 mastermind The mastermind of the 9/11 attacks warned that Al-Qaeda has hidden a nuclear bomb in Europe which will unleash a "nuclear hellstorm" if Osama bin Laden is captured, leaked files revealed Monday.
The terror group also planned to make a 9/11 style attack on London's Heathrow airport by crashing a hijacked airliner into one of the terminals, the files showed.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed told Guantanamo Bay interrogators the terror group would detonate the nuclear device if the Al-Qaeda chief was captured or killed, according to the classified files released by the WikiLeaks website.
Sheikh Mohammed, the self-professed mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, has been held at Guantanamo since 2006 and is to be tried in a military court at the US naval base on Cuba over the attacks. (Agence France-Presse)
WikiLeaks releasing documents on Guantanamo Thousands of pages outline the U.S. prison operation at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, with details on the self-proclaimed Sept. 11 mastermind and others. The White House condemns the leak. - Most of those remaining at the Guantanamo Bay military prison are considered "high-risk" detainees who if released would pose grave threats to the U.S. and its allies, as did a third of those set free earlier, according to thousands of pages of classified documents being made public by WikiLeaks.
Release of the more than 700 separate documents dealing with the prison, opened under the George W. Bush administration to house detainees in the war on terrorism, drew a sharp rebuke Sunday evening from the White House, which said the documents were obtained illegally.
"We strongly condemn the leaking of this sensitive information," the White House said.
The materials were obtained and released by WikiLeaks as part of its ongoing publication of classified documents dealing with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as secret State Department cables and other material. (Los Angeles Times)
WikiLeaks: Guantanamo Bay terrorist secrets revealed Guantanamo Bay has been used to incarcerate dozens of terrorists who have admitted plotting terrifying attacks against the West – while imprisoning more than 150 totally innocent people, top-secret files disclose. - Al-Qaeda terrorists have threatened to unleash a “nuclear hellstorm” on the West if Osama Bin Laden is caught or assassinated, according to documents to be released by the WikiLeaks website, which contain details of the interrogations of more than 700 Guantanamo detainees.
However, the shocking human cost of obtaining this intelligence is also exposed with dozens of innocent people sent to Guantanamo – and hundreds of low-level foot-soldiers being held for years and probably tortured before being assessed as of little significance.
The Daily Telegraph, along with other newspapers including The Washington Post, today exposes America’s own analysis of almost ten years of controversial interrogations on the world’s most dangerous terrorists. This newspaper has been shown thousands of pages of top-secret files obtained by the WikiLeaks website.
The disclosures are set to spark intense debate around the world about the establishment of Guantanamo Bay in the months after 9/11 – which has enabled the US to collect vital intelligence from senior Al Qaeda commanders but sparked fury in the middle east and Europe over the treatment of detainees. (London Telegraph)
Secret memos expose link between oil firms and invasion of Iraq Plans to exploit Iraq's oil reserves were discussed by government ministers and the world's largest oil companies the year before Britain took a leading role in invading Iraq, government documents show.
The papers, revealed here for the first time, raise new questions over Britain's involvement in the war, which had divided Tony Blair's cabinet and was voted through only after his claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
The minutes of a series of meetings between ministers and senior oil executives are at odds with the public denials of self-interest from oil companies and Western governments at the time.
The documents were not offered as evidence in the ongoing Chilcot Inquiry into the UK's involvement in the Iraq war. In March 2003, just before Britain went to war, Shell denounced reports that it had held talks with Downing Street about Iraqi oil as "highly inaccurate". BP denied that it had any "strategic interest" in Iraq, while Tony Blair described "the oil conspiracy theory" as "the most absurd". (The Independent)
Boehner seeks to divert funds for gay marriage fight House Speaker John Boehner said he intends to divert funding from the Justice Department to the U.S. House so Congress can defend the federal law that bars recognition of same-sex marriage.
The Ohio Republican disclosed this in a letter to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who is strongly opposed to Congress going to court to defend the 1996 law. An estimate on court costs was not given.
Pelosi shot back, saying Boehner has not answered her central question about the costs to mounting a defense to the law. "The House of Representatives need not enter into this lengthy and costly litigation," she responded.
Earlier this year, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that Obama administration would no longer defend the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, a Clinton-era law that defines marriage as between a man and a woman. The law also says that states cannot be forced to recognize same-sex marriages from other states. (USA Today)
U.S. secretly backed Syrian opposition: report The State Department has secretly funded Syrian opposition groups, according to diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks, The Washington Post reported on Monday.
The cables show that the State Department has funneled as much as $6 million since 2006 to a group of Syrian exiles to operate a London-based satellite channel, Barada TV, and finance activities inside Syria, the Post said.
Barada TV began broadcasting in April 2009 but has ramped up operations to cover the mass protests in Syria that began last month as part of a long-standing campaign to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad the Post said.
The U.S. money for Syrian opposition figures began flowing under President George W. Bush after political ties with Damascus were frozen in 2005, the newspaper said.
The financial backing has continued under President Barack Obama, even as his administration sought to rebuild relations with Assad, the Post said. In January, the White House posted an ambassador to Damascus for the first time in six years. (Reuters)
CIA officer: US depended on tyrannies The United State’s intervention in Libya has been called a humanitarian effort by officials, but the true intentions of the American government can be not-so-easily explained by examining the country’s actions overseas.
“The best thing for the United States is to back away and let the cards fall where they may,” says Michael Scheuer. "If Israel disappears, if Palestine disappears…who cares?" A former intelligence officer with the CIA who, like many, insists that the US’ intervention in Libya isn’t doing any good for anyone. Despite America’s insistence that their involvement in the Middle East is for the better of the citizen’s of Libya, the United States is only accentuating its reputation as the bad guy, says Scheuer.
“We’re just trying to fool the Muslim world…but the Muslim world is much smarter than that,” says Scheuer, who has written extensively on Islam and America’s relation with Muslim countries. Scheuer says that the United States is known for attacking countries that have oil and that their involvement in Libya is being enacted to serve America, not the Middle East. This, the author says, only confirms what Osama Bin Laden has always inferred about America. (Russia Today)
Libya army transport deal frozen after US approval In the months before Libyans revolted and President Barack Obama told leader Moammar Gadhafi to go, the U.S. government was moving to do business with his regime on an increasing scale by quietly approving a $77 million dollar deal to deliver at least 50 refurbished armored troop carriers to the dictator's military.
Congress balked, concerned the deal would improve Libyan army mobility and questioning the Obama administration's support for the agreement, which would have benefited British defense company BAE. The congressional concerns effectively stalled the deal until the turmoil in the country scuttled the sale. Earlier last week, after all military exports to the Gadhafi regime were suspended, the State Department's Directorate of Defense Trade Controls informed Capitol Hill that the deal had been returned without action — effectively off the table, according to U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the deal's sensitive details.
State Department spokesman Mark C. Toner said the proposed license was suspended along with the rest of "what limited defense trade we had with Libya."
The Gadhafi regime's desire to upgrade its troop carriers was so intense that a Libyan official told U.S. diplomats in Tripoli in 2009 that the dictator's sons, Khamis and Saif, both were demanding swift action. Khamis, a commander whose army brigade reportedly attacked the opposition-held town of Zawiya with armored units and pickup trucks, expressed a "personal interest" in modernizing the armored transports, according to a December 2009 diplomatic message disclosed by WikiLeaks, the whistleblower website. (Associated Press)
Taking the fat out of the fat bin Laden confession video For millions of people seeking the truth about September 11,2001, the videotape released by the Department of Defense on December 13, 2001 in which Osama bin Laden confesses to prior knowledge of 9/11 has been a powerful talking point when making the case that the government is covering up what actually happened on that notorious day.
Many in the global movement to discover the truth about 9/ 11 have referred to this video as the fat bin Laden video, including yours truly. When we see frames from the video such as in Figure 1, any person with eyes can look and see that the bin Laden in
the video appears much fatter than any other known image of Osama.
However, when one or even a few frames are taken from a 35-minute segment of video, and those selected frames exploit t he least recognizable images of bin Laden while hundreds of other frames resemble him more closely, it is a misrepresentation of the truth. Clearly,the center frame above is one of those frames in the video that least resembles Osama bin Laden - yet has been picked and published as if the entire video reveals bin Laden in this distorted image, when it does not. - While reading some of the coverage and investigation done by Maher Osseiran on the bin Laden confession tape, and his assertion that the tape is likely actually a tape of bin Laden himself, it occurred to me that since the tape was recorded in the Pakistan region, it was likely recorded in PAL video format. In the United States, we use the NTSC format. The difference is primarily that the standard PAL format has the same spatial resolution horizontally, but vertically it has a higher spatial resolution (720 x 576 for PAL – 720 x 480 for NTSC) than doe NTSC. Many PAL and NTSC converters simply eliminate the extra horizontal lines from the PAL format in order to conform to the NTSC format. This results in an image that appears to be ‘squashed’ along the vertical axis...making people and objects look fatter after the conversion. (Muckraker Report)
Sen. Leahy on anthrax case: 'It's not closed' After the deadly shooting rampage in Tucson, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) was asked to reflect on his own experience as the would-be target of an assassin. That's when he let slip something that he rarely talks about publicly: He has never accepted the FBI's decision to close the case in the series of anthrax-laced letters mailed to public officials in fall 2001.
"I still wonder who sent it and why they sent it," the Judiciary Committee chairman told a crowd gathered last month at the Newseum in Northwest Washington to hear his 2011 legislative agenda.
More than a month later, Leahy was given fresh evidence this week that the science in the case was not airtight, reopening emotional wounds 91/2 years after letters sent to him and then-Senate Majority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) helped cause the deaths of five people and sickened 17 others. On Tuesday, the National Research Council questioned the efficacy of the genetic testing used by the FBI to allege that a Fort Detrick scientist had acted alone in mailing the deadly letters to Capitol Hill and media outlets. (Washington Post)
Why Isn't Wall Street in Jail? Financial crooks brought down the world's economy -- but the feds are doing more to protect them than to prosecute them By Matt Taibbi. Over drinks at a bar on a dreary, snowy night in Washington this past month, a former Senate investigator laughed as he polished off his beer.
"Everything's fucked up, and nobody goes to jail," he said. "That's your whole story right there. Hell, you don't even have to write the rest of it. Just write that."
I put down my notebook. "Just that?"
"That's right," he said, signaling to the waitress for the check. "Everything's fucked up, and nobody goes to jail. You can end the piece right there."
Nobody goes to jail. This is the mantra of the financial-crisis era, one that saw virtually every major bank and financial company on Wall Street embroiled in obscene criminal scandals that impoverished millions and collectively destroyed hundreds of billions, in fact, trillions of dollars of the world's wealth — and nobody went to jail. Nobody, that is, except Bernie Madoff, a flamboyant and pathological celebrity con artist, whose victims happened to be other rich and famous people.
This article appears in the March 3, 2011 issue of Rolling Stone. The issue is available now on newsstands and will appear in the online archive February 18.
The rest of them, all of them, got off. Not a single executive who ran the companies that cooked up and cashed in on the phony financial boom — an industrywide scam that involved the mass sale of mismarked, fraudulent mortgage-backed securities — has ever been convicted. Their names by now are familiar to even the most casual Middle American news consumer: companies like AIG, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley. Most of these firms were directly involved in elaborate fraud and theft. Lehman Brothers hid billions in loans from its investors. Bank of America lied about billions in bonuses. Goldman Sachs failed to tell clients how it put together the born-to-lose toxic mortgage deals it was selling. What's more, many of these companies had corporate chieftains whose actions cost investors billions — from AIG derivatives chief Joe Cassano, who assured investors they would not lose even "one dollar" just months before his unit imploded, to the $263 million in compensation that former Lehman chief Dick "The Gorilla" Fuld conveniently failed to disclose. Yet not one of them has faced time behind bars. - "You put Lloyd Blankfein in pound-me-in-the-ass prison for one six-month term, and all this bullshit would stop, all over Wall Street," says a former congressional aide. "That's all it would take. Just once." (Rolling Stone)
Patriot Act Extension Fails, Splitting Tea Party Republicans The Patriot Act took a temporary hit Tuesday night when the House failed to muster a two-thirds majority to extend three provisions of the law under special fast-track rules. It’s a temporary setback for the bill, which is expected to easily pass in a few days under regular rules. And it’s a kick in the teeth to the newly-minted GOP leadership, which missed what should have been a lay-up.
Most Democrats voted against the extension (which the White House supports) and were joined by 26 Republicans. What I find interesting is the fault line this vote reveals among Tea Party GOPers.
Slate’s Dave Weigel breaks out the list of GOP defectors, which includes eight freshmen elected under the Tea Party banner and three more veteran lawmakers who were inaugural members of the Tea Party caucus last year. But, he notes, high profile Tea Partyers like Michele Bachmann (who founded the Tea Party caucus after all), Kristi Noem, and Allen West all voted for the extension. “I break this out because there'll be a temptation to say ‘the Tea Party and its isolationist elements beat the reauthorization,’ and that's not quite it,” he writes. (US News & World Report)
Patriot Act extension fails in the House by seven votes House Republicans suffered an embarrassing setback Tuesday when they fell seven votes short of extending provisions of the Patriot Act, a vote that served as the first small uprising of the party's tea-party bloc.
The bill to reauthorize key parts of the counter-terrorism surveillance law, which expire at the end of the month, required a super-majority to pass under special rules reserved for non-controversial measures.
But it fell short of the required two-thirds after 26 Republicans bucked their leadership, eight of them freshman lawmakers elected in November's midterm elections. With most Democrats opposing the extension, the final tally was 277 members in favor of extension, and 148 opposed. (Washington Post)
EXPOSED: Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Political Syndicate (w/ Wayne Madsen) Who is Rahm Emanuel? How did he get into politics? The Emanuel family; just how powerful are they? What influence do they have on lobbying, and power politics? His workings with the Chicago Democratic Machine, how did he get started, is there a shady past he is trying to hide? Is Rahm being blackmailed because of his past with Obama on Chicago's North Side? The Blago trial; why was he and others never questioned about Obama, Valerie Jarret, and Jesse Jackson Jr. What role did he play in the attempt to bring the Olympics to Chicago? What is the connection to key players in Chicago and Washington DC winding up dead? Are there secret video tapes waiting to surface? If he is Mayor, what will the city of Chicago look like? Could he become another Rudy Giuliani? In this exclusive Special Investigation the Reality Report begin_of_the_skype_highlighting end_of_the_skype_highlighting goes deep and digs up the dirt that no Chicago media outlet would dare to report. This is a must see expose for anyone who has questions about Rahm Emanuel but just didn't know who to ask. (Reality Report)
Rep. Ron Paul, G.O.P. Loner, Comes In From Cold As virtually all of Washington was declaring WikiLeaks’s disclosures of secret diplomatic cables an act of treason, Representative Ron Paul was applauding the organization for exposing the United States’ “delusional foreign policy.”
For this, the conservative blog RedState dubbed him “Al Qaeda’s favorite member of Congress.”
It was hardly the first time that Mr. Paul had marched to his own beat. During his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, he was best remembered for declaring in a debate that the 9/11 attacks were the Muslim world’s response to American military intervention around the globe. A fellow candidate, former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York, interrupted and demanded that he take back the words — a request that Mr. Paul refused.
During his 20 years in Congress, Mr. Paul has staked out the lonely end of 434-to-1 votes against legislation that he considers unconstitutional, even on issues as ceremonial as granting Mother Teresa a Congressional Gold Medal. His colleagues have dubbed him “Dr. No,” but his wife will insist that they have the spelling wrong: he is really Dr. Know.
Now it appears others are beginning to credit him with some wisdom — or at least acknowledging his passionate following. (New York Times)
The Citizens United Effect: 40 percent of outside money made possible by Supreme Court ruling In 2002 former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld once flippantly described connections between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda terrorists by saying, "There are known knowns; there are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns; that is to say, there are things that we now know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns; there are things we do not know we don’t know." Little did Rumsfeld know that his remark would be the most accurate description for a murky midterm election eight years down the road.
The 2010 midterm election is filled with both "known unknowns," outside groups raised and spent $126 million on elections without disclosing the source, and "unknown unknowns," we don't know what those undisclosed donors want. We do know one thing: the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling allowed this election to be the costliest and least transparent midterm in recent history.
The impact of Citizens United can be judged by simply following the money. The $126 million in undisclosed money represents more than a quarter of the total $450 million spent by outside groups. Add the $60 million spent by groups that were allowed to raise unlimited money, but still had to disclose, to the undisclosed money and the total amount of outside money made possible by the Citizens United ruling reaches $186 million or 40 percent of the total spent by outside groups. (Sunlight Foundation)
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