Archive for July, 2008

Pakistani General Who Wired $100,000 to Mohammad Atta Met with a “Senior Representative from the Joint Chiefs of Staff” Right Before 9/11

July 19, 2008

Pakistani General Who Wired $100,000 to Mohammad Atta Met with a “Senior Representative from the Joint Chiefs of Staff” Right Before 9/11

http://georgewashington2.blogspot.com/

In response to a Freedom of Information Act Request submitted by Kevin Ryan, Mick Harrison and Paul Smith, the government has disclosed documents confirming that Pakistani ISI General Ahmed – the guy who wired $100,000 to lead hijacker Atta — met with a “Senior Representative from the Joint Chiefs of Staff”, Centcom Commander General Tommy Franks, the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Wolfowitz, Feith, other PNAC members, and probably Intelligence Committee members Graham and Goss, and others in the week before 9/11.

All credit goes to Kevin, Mick and Paul. I’m just reporting on their efforts.

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US oil firms seek drilling access, but exports soar

July 15, 2008

ANALYSIS-US oil firms seek drilling access, but exports soar
07.03.08, 2:40 PM ET

United States – By Tom DoggettWASHINGTON3 (Reuters) – While the U.S. oil industry want access to more federal lands to help reduce reliance on foreign suppliers, American-based companies are shipping record amounts of gasoline and diesel fuel to other countries.

A record 1.6 million barrels a day in U.S. refined petroleum products were exported during the first four months of this year, up 33 percent from 1.2 million barrels a day over the same period in 2007. Shipments this February topped 1.8 million barrels a day for the first time during any month, according to final numbers from the Energy Department.

The surge in exports appears to contradict the pleas from the U.S. oil industry and the Bush administration for Congress to open more offshore waters and Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling.

“We can help alleviate shortages by drilling for oil and gas in our own country,” President Bush told reporters this week. “We have got the opportunity to find more crude oil here at home.”

“As a nation, we can have more control over our energy destiny by supplying more of the oil and natural gas we’ll be consuming from resources here at home,” Red Cavaney, president of the American Petroleum (otcbb: AMPE.OB news people ) Institute, said in a letter last week to U.S. lawmakers.

But environmentalists and other opponents to expanding drilling areas could seize on the record exports to argue Congress should not open more acres if U.S. refineries are churning crude oil into petroleum products that are sent out of the American market.

“It doesn’t look good to say: ‘We need more oil.’ But then export the refined products that you’re getting. It doesn’t seem to be consistent,” said Jim Presswood, energy lobbyist for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

But many energy experts say oil and petroleum products are traded globally, and it may make economic sense to export gasoline refined along the U.S. Gulf Coast to Latin America and import European-refined gasoline to U.S. East Coast markets.

“The fact is that the (United States) participates in global markets for both crude and refined products, and there are any number of variables that impact supply and prices in those markets,” said Bill Holbrook, spokesman for the National Petrochemicals and Refiners Association.

The 1.6 million barrels a day in record petroleum exports represented 9 percent of total U.S. refining capacity of 17.6 million barrels a day.

However, with refiners operating at 85 percent of capacity during the January-April period, the shipments represented a much a larger share of total U.S. oil products produced.

The exports were also equal to half the 3.2 million barrels of gasoline, diesel fuel and other petroleum products the United States imported each day over the 4-month period.

The biggest share of U.S. oil products exported went to Mexico, Canada, Chile, Singapore and Brazil.

U.S. consumers are paying record prices for gasoline and diesel fuel, which the Bush administration blames in part on tight supplies.

While the administration argues that more supplies would help to bring down prices, U.S exports of diesel fuel in April averaged 387,000 barrels per day, up almost seven-fold from 59,000 barrels a day in the same month a year earlier.

U.S. gasoline shipments in April averaged 202,000 barrels a day, the most for the month since 1945, when America was sending fuel overseas to ease supply shortages in other countries during World War II. Gasoline exports in April 2007 were almost half at 116,000 barrels per day.

Residual fuel exports in April were 377,000 barrels per day, the fourth highest level for any month, and up 10 percent from 344,000 barrels per day a year earlier.

John Felmy, the chief economist at the American Petroleum Institute, said a portion of the oil products exported, especially diesel, was fuel that did not meet U.S. clean air requirements and therefore could not be sold in America. “You may have some that you’re not able to use,” he said.

Also, while U.S. gasoline demand is down due to high prices and a weak American economy, there is “strong economic growth outside the United States” where fuel is often subsidized and demand is high, said John Cook, director of EIA’s Petroleum Division.

However, both the EIA and API admitted they did not know why daily U.S. gasoline exports to Canada skyrocketed to 41,000 barrels in January-April this year from 9,000 barrels in 2007.

The EIA said more U.S. diesel is going to Latin American to fuel power plants because of a shortage of natural gas in the region, and China has switched to diesel from coal to run some of its generating facilities in order to reduce smog ahead of the summer Olympics next month in Beijing. (Editing by Christian Wiessner)

Copyright 2008 Reuters, Click for Restriction

Senator Demands Detail on U.S. Oil Exports

July 15, 2008

2005 and still waiting for an answer.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, is demanding that the Commerce Department release detailed reports on which companies are exporting U.S. oil, how much and where it went.

Last year the nation exported 268 million barrels of oil. Shockingly, according to Dept. of Energy figures, that’s about equal to the amount of oil we imported from Iraq in 2001, the year before our latest war with that country began. It’s also about equal to the most optimistic guesses about production volume from ANWR, if drilling is allowed there.

In other words, if we simply held onto our own oil, the United States would have no oil interest in Iraq at all. And it would also negate any perceived need to disturb an irreplaceable wildlife refuge in the search for oil.

But the Commerce Department refused to provide the detail Wyden wants, saying it could only be released to a Congressional committee, not an individual representative. The agency also claims federal law forbids disclosure unless a finding is made that withholding the information contradicts national interests. That sounds like hogwash to me.

Wyden’s request is of significant interest for two more reasons. First, it is likely that if oil drilling is approved in ANWR, much of that oil will be exported to Asia rather than sold in the U.S. Secondly, the more obvious reason is that every motorist and politician who can warm a chair is concerned about the nation’s growing dependence on imported oil. It would seem to contradict our economic and political interests to worsen this imbalance by selling off our own supplies.

In a letter sent Monday to Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, Wyden demanded release of the information, calling it “directly relevant to the coming Congressional debate on how to address our nation’s dependence on imports of oil and other petroleum products.”

I’d call that an understatement. But Wyden faces an uphill battle to get a committee to demand the numbers. Though Wyden is a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, it and all other Congressional committees are controlled by Republicans. And as we’ve seen, Republicans these days aren’t very interested in facts, especially if those facts contradict their agenda.

Day of Reckoning? Super Rich Tax Cheats Outed by Bank Clerk

July 15, 2008

Technician in Liechtenstein Turns Over Names of Americans With Secret Bank Accounts

By BRIAN ROSS and RHONDA SCHWARTZ

July 15, 2008—

Hundreds of super-rich American tax cheats have, in effect, turned themselves in to the IRS after a bank computer technician in the tiny European country of Liechtenstein came forward with the names of US citizens who had set up secret accounts there, according to Washington lawyers investigating the scheme.

The bank clerk, Heinrich Kieber, has been branded a thief by the government of Liechtenstein for violating the country’s bank secrecy laws.

He is now in hiding but scheduled to testify to the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations Thursday via a video statement from a secret location, according to Congressional investigators.

Aides for committee chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) are scheduled to provide reporters with a background briefing later this morning in Washington on the committee’s investigation of tax haven banks in Liechtenstein and Switzerland.

Aides say the hearing will also focus on the role of the giant Swiss bank UBS and its alleged efforts to help wealthy Americans hide their money from the IRS through shell companies in Liechtenstein.

Liechtenstein’s veil of secrecy was pierced five years ago when the disgruntled technician, Kieber, downloaded the names of foreign citizens connected to the secret accounts.

Kieber reportedly sold three CD’s full of names and data to tax authorities to 12 countries including Germany, Great Britain, France, Italy and the United States.

Tax authorities in Italy published the full list of names.

In Germany, the disclosures led to the arrests of several prominent CEO’s on charges that had evaded millions of dollars in taxes.

A former UBS private banker, Bradley Birkenfeld, has agreed to a plea deal and is reported to be cooperating with US authorities in bring charges against American citizens on tax evasion charges.

The Liechtenstein bank, LGT, is owned by the tiny country’s ruling family led by Prince Hans-Adam II.

Kieber’s Washington lawyer, Jack Blum, says Kieber should be considered a whistleblower and a hero, not a thief, for revealing how the super rich hid billions of dollars using the Liechtenstein bank.

The names of the US citizens are now in the hands of the IRS and Senate investigators.

Washington lawyers say a number of prominent citizens have been subpoenaed to testify but have already indicated they will refuse to testify, asserting their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

It is not yet clear whether Senator Levin will insist they appear in front of the committee anyway.

Initiative would allow pot sales at liquor stores

July 9, 2008

By KATU Staff

SALEM, Ore. – Relax it and tax it.

That’s the motto behind a new cannabis initiative that would allow Oregon’s state-controlled liquor stores to legally sell marijuana to adults.

Initiative backers said their plan would send 90 percent of the proceeds from the state’s sale of marijuana to Oregon’s General Fund, which could lower Oregonians’ state tax burden.

Smaller percentages would go to funding drug abuse education and treatment programs.

The initiative would also legalize the growing of hemp, a non-drug variant of cannabis that can be used to make industrial-strength fibers and bio-fuels.

Supporters claim that allowing cannabis cultivation and sales through state liquor stores would add $300 million in combined tax revenues and savings to Oregon’s budget.

Paul Stanford of the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act said the measure would also put a dent in illegal dealing of the weed.

“We want to take marijuana out of the hands of children and substance abusers, who control the market today, and put it in the hands of the state’s liquor control commission and the age limit of 21 will be strictly enforced,” Stanford said at a press briefing.

Supporters have two years to collect nearly 83,000 signatures to get the measure on the November ballot in 2010.