Archive for the ‘empire’ Category

freemason hacking and Rupert Murdoch’s News International

July 23, 2011

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/jun/08/phone-hacking-scandal-jonathan-rees/print

Years ago, Jonathan Rees became a freemason. According to journalists and investigators who worked with him, he then exploited his link with the lodges to meet masonic police officers who illegally sold him information which he peddled to Fleet Street.

As one of Britain’s most prolific merchants of secrets, Rees expanded his network of sources by recruiting as his business partner Sid Fillery, a detective sergeant from the Metropolitan Police. Fillery added more officers to their network. Rees also boasted of recruiting corrupt Customs officers, a corrupt VAT inspector and two corrupt bank employees.

Other police contacts are said to have been blackmailed into providing confidential information. One of Rees’s former associates claims that Rees had compromising photographs of serving officers, including one who was caught in a drunken state with a couple of prostitutes and with a toilet seat around his neck.

It is this network of corruption which lies at the heart of yesterday’s claim in the House of Commons by Labour MP Tom Watson that Rees was targeting politicians, members of the royal family and even terrorist informers on behalf of Rupert Murdoch’s News International. The Guardian’s own inquiries suggest that Watson knows what he is talking about.

Much of what the police sources were able to sell to Rees was directly related to crime. But Rees also bought and sold confidential data on anybody who was of interest to his Fleet Street clients, to which the police often had special access. The Guardian has confirmed that Rees reinforced his official contacts with two specialist ‘blaggers’ who would telephone the Inland Revenue, the DVLA, banks and phone companies and trick them into handing over private data.

One of the blaggers who regularly worked for him, John Gunning, was responsible for obtaining details of bank accounts belonging to Prince Edward and the Countess of Wessex, which were then sold to the Sunday Mirror. Gunning was later convicted of illegally obtaining confidential data from British Telecom. Rees also obtained details of accounts at Coutts Bank belonging to the Duke and Duchess of Kent. The bank accounts of Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, are also thought to have been compromised.

Confidential data

The Guardian has been told that Rees spoke openly about obtaining confidential data belonging to senior politicians and recorded their names in his paperwork. One source close to Rees claims that apart from Tony Blair, Jack Straw, Peter Mandelson and Alastair Campbell, he also targeted Gaynor Regan, who became the second wife of the former foreign secretary Robin Cook; the former shadow home secretary Sir Gerald Kaufman; and the former Tory cabinet minister David Mellor.

It is not yet known precisely what Rees was doing to obtain information on these political targets, although in the case of Mandelson it appears that Rees acquired confidential details of two bank accounts he held at Coutts, and his building society account at Britannia. Rees is also said to have targeted the bank accounts of members of Mandelson’s family.

An investigator who worked for Rees claims he was also occasionally commissioning burglaries of public figures to steal material for newspapers. Southern Investigations has previously been implicated in handling paperwork that was stolen by a professional burglar from the safe of Paddy Ashdown’s lawyer, when Ashdown was leader of the Liberal Democrats. The paperwork, which was eventually obtained by the News of the World, recorded Ashdown discussing his fears that newspapers might expose an affair with his secretary.

Computer hacking

The successful hacking of a computer belonging to the former British intelligence officer Ian Hurst was achieved in July 2006 by sending Hurst an email containing a Trojan programme which copied Hurst’s emails and relayed them back to the hacker. This included messages he had exchanged with at least two agents who informed on the Provisional IRA — Freddie Scappaticci, codenamed Stakeknife; and a second informant known as Kevin Fulton. Both men were regarded as high-risk targets for assassination. Hurst was one of the very few people who knew their whereabouts. The hacker cannot be named for legal reasons.

There would be further security concern if evidence finally confirms strong claims by those close to Rees that he claimed to have targeted the then Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir John [now Lord] Stevens, who would have had regular access to highly sensitive intelligence. Sir John’s successor, Sir Ian Blair, is believed to have been targeted by the News of the World’s full-time investigator, Glenn Mulcaire. Assistant commissioner John Yates was targeted by Rees when Yates was running inquiries into police corruption in the late 1990s. It appears that Yates did not realise that he himself had been a target when he was responsible for the policing of the phone-hacking affair between July 2009 and January 2011.

Targeting the Bank of England, Rees is believed to have earned thousands of pounds by penetrating the past or present mortgage accounts of the then governor, Eddie George; his deputy, Mervyn King, who is now governor; and half-a-dozen other members of the Monetary Policy Committee.

Rees carried out his trade for years. His career as a pedlar of privacy stretches back into the 1990s, when he worked assiduously for the Daily Mirror, the Sunday Mirror and the News of the World.

Rees and Fillery had three key media contacts, some of whose conversations with them were recorded by a police bug in their south London office: Doug Kempster from the Sunday Mirror, who was recorded suggesting that “Asians look better dead”; Gary Jones from the Daily Mirror, who was recorded as Rees told him that some of what he was doing for the Mirror was illegal; and Alex Marunchak, the executive editor of the News of the World.

This lucrative career was crudely interrupted in September 1999 when Rees was arrested and then jailed for plotting to plant cocaine on a woman so that her ex-husband would get custody of her children. Sid Fillery similarly ran into trouble with the long of the arm of the law which he was so keen to twist. He was arrested, convicted for possession of indecent images of children and retreated to Norfolk to run a pub. Rees, however, emerged from prison in May 2004 and proceeded to carry on trading, this time exclusively for the News of the World, then being edited by Andy Coulson, who went on to become David Cameron’s media adviser.

The scale and seriousness of Rees’s activities have worrying implications for Operation Weeting, the Scotland Yard inquiry which finally — unlike its two predecessors — is making a robust attempt to get to the truth of the scandal. Weeting has been told to focus on one private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire; on one illegal technique, phone-hacking; which he deployed for the one newspaper which paid him on a full-time contract, the News of the World. That alone is consuming the full-time efforts of 45 officers.

The truth is that Mulcaire was only one of a dozen different investigators, many of whom used other illegal techniques. And the News of the World, as journalists all over Fleet Street know, was not the only enthusiastic employer of these dark arts. Mulcaire and his phone-hacking became the single focus through the simple fluke that he was clumsy enough to get caught interfering with the voicemail of the royal household — the one target which would finally move the police into taking on a Fleet Street paper. The police famously failed to look beyond him, and it is only now that the rest of the truth is beginning to emerge.

With the new disclosures of Rees’s operation there will be pressure on Weeting to expand its inquiry, which would involve recruiting still more officers. And, in the background, there is a small queue of other investigators waiting to have their names — along with their Fleet Street clients — added to Weeting’s list of suspects. High among them will be a former Metropolitan police detective who was accused of corruption in the early 1980s and forced out of his job after a disciplinary hearing.

Senior Yard sources say this detective then came up with a novel form of revenge. He acquired a press card and proceeded to act as a link between Fleet Street crime correspondents and the network of corrupt detectives he knew so well.

Former crime reporters from several national newspapers have told the Guardian that they used this detective to carry cash bribes — thousands of pounds in brown envelopes — to serving officers. Scotland Yard for years has been aware of his activity and has attempted but failed to catch him and stop him.

The crime reporters say that one reason for the Yard’s failure is that, when the Yard tried to stop the corruption, serving officers tipped them off so they could evade detection.

And there is more. The Guardian has identified a total of eleven specialist ‘blaggers’ who were paid by wealthy clients, including Fleet Street newspapers, to steal medical records, bank statements, itemised phone bills, tax files and anything else that was both confidential and newsworthy.

• This article was amended on 9 June 2011. The original referred to the then Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir John Stephens. This has been corrected.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2011

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conquer your fear

October 25, 2009

2006_06_10_APTOPIX-CAT-SCAR

Mahatma Gandhi said: ‘The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but, it is fear.’

Slay this enemy.

http://www.odemagazine.com/blogs/readers_blog/11162/three_ways_to_conquer_your_fear

TAKING CONTROL OF YOUR FUTURE

June 29, 2009

One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. “Which road do I take?” she asked. “Where do you want to go?” was his response. “I don’t know,” Alice answered. “Then,” said the cat, “it doesn’t matter.” -Lewis Carroll

Either you’re an agent of change, or you’re destined to become a victim of change. You simply can’t survive over the long term if you insist on standing still.-Norm Brodsky, entrepreneur, “Street Smarts,” INC, February 2002, 44.

We are continually faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems.-John W. Gardner

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man. -George Bernard Shaw

You can analyze the past, but you need to design the future. That is the difference between suffering the future and enjoying it.-Edward de Bono

If you don’t have a hook in the water, you’re not fishing.-Old fishing saying, John McPhee, Founding Fish

Somebody has to do something, and it’s just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us.-Jerry Garcia

John Stockwell

June 20, 2009

aliceinwonderland

from http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=4073
I have been reading two books by John Stockwell: In Search of Enemies (1978) and The Praetorian Guard: The U.S. Role in the New World Order (1991). Stockwell, the Director of the CIA’s Angola Task Force, is the highest-ranking CIA officer ever to quit the agency. This is part what he has to say about the assassination of JFK.

The President was perfunctorily warned of the threats against him, but the usual vigilant efforts to protect him were not taken. The Secret Service, FBI, and local police certainly can protect presidents. They do it continuously not only inside the United States but in foreign capitals around the world. Numerous, almost routine, techniques are involved, like bringing extra security forces to blanket problem areas, moving in caravans of cars at a brisk 45 miles an hour, and using, whenever possible, unannounced routes that do not include sharp, slow turns.

When President Kennedy and his wife visited Dallas on November 22, 1963, nearly all of the protections were lifted. Available Texas Guard units were not called into the city and available Dallas policemen were temporarily released from duty. The result? A team of CIA, Cuban exile, and Mafia-related renegades organized a simple military ambush in Dallas and successfully gunned him down. The ambush and its coverup were brazen and astonishingly open. In fact several plots, in Chicago, Miami, and Houston, to kill Kennedy had misfired or been thwarted. The plot that succeeded in Dealey Plaza was so open that various people were reported prior to the event to have said that Kennedy would be killed with a rifle and a patsy would be blamed for the crime. Individuals like Joseph Milteer, the “umbrella man,” and a CIA pilot Robert Plumlee went to Dealey Plaza on the 22nd of November to watch.

Obviously, most CIA personnel were not involved and did not know of the plot since sensitive operations are compartmentalized in order to protect their security. Moreover, the great majority of the coat-and-tie people inside CIA headquarters would never have put up with a hit on the President. A great deal of the success of the CIA is due to its ability to attract patriotic, good soldiers who believe in the general rightness of what they do, and then insulate them through compartmentalization from the heavier activities.

The OPMONGOOSE renegades, however, included assassins, terrorists, and people who had been involved in the drug traffic from Cuba into the United States. The team set up a military-style ambush in Dealey Plaza, with shooters on the tops of buildings and the famous grassy knoll. The route of the President’s convoy included a 120-degree turn which slowed the car to a near stop. There was cooperation of elements of the Secret Service, of the Dallas Police, and of other law enforcement agencies.

When the shooting began, the Secret Service driver put on – the brakes (home movies of the scene show the brake lights on). Anyone who has been through that kind of training-and I have been through their “bang and burn” courses-is drilled to react. When the bullets start flying in such a situation, you mash down on the gas and you get the hell out of the area; you do not slow down and look around as the seasoned Secret Service driver in fact did. In ten seconds of rifle fire, only one of the Secret Service agents in the trail car moved to the President’s aid. The one agent who did move was Jackie Kennedy’s personal guard, in Dallas at her request, not part of the team that was there to protect the President.

Kennedy was shot at very close range from firing stations, probably four of them, where the assassins fired eight to ten shots. He was hit in the back, throat, and twice in the head, two bullets each from the front and from the back. Texas Governor John Connally was hit twice. Two bullets were fired into the concrete, one on each side of the convoy. After the shooting stopped, the convoy raced away. The FBI and other branches of the government immediately launched the coverup. The new President, Lyndon Johnson, ordered the limousine in which Kennedy was killed be flown to Chicago and destroyed. The announced goal of President Johnson was to “reassure” the nation by proving that the killing was the work of lone assassin Lee Harvey Oswald. It was variously suggested that an investigation that turned up Soviet involvement might lead to nuclear war; it might embarrass the Kennedy widow; it might lead to domestic unrest. In fact; it might have led to a sizeable number of very important people and organizations being implicated in a presidential assassination. That might very well have exercised the population sufficiently to provoke a serious investigation of CIA, FBI, and Mafia activities in the country, and to demand some changes.

The evidence was extensively tampered with. The President’s body was altered; the photographs of the autopsy were altered; and over 100 witnesses were killed or died mysterious and violent deaths. To this day, despite the House Committee’s 1979 conclusion that there was a conspiracy, there has been no formal, official investigation. Neither have all the documents been released.

Even among the majority that acknowledge that there was abroad conspiracy, many find it difficult to believe that the CIA itself could have been involved. Perhaps, they reluctantly concede, “renegades” might have had something to do with it.

In fact, there is strong evidence that both the FBI and the CIA high commands had prior knowledge of and direct involvement in the conspiracy. After the Dallas Police had arrested Lee Harvey Oswald, but before they could have positively identified him (he had false identification papers in his wallet) much less interrogate him and reasonably confirm his (alleged) guilt, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover telephoned Bobby Kennedy in Washington to tell him that the assassin had been caught. Hoover gave Kennedy biographic information that he could only have had prior to the assassination. Clearly he was waiting with information about Lee Harvey Oswald, to blame him for the killing.

Similarly, CIA operatives far from Dallas were waiting with biographic information about Oswald to feed to the media. Some time after the Warren Committee hearings, journalist Seth Kantor found himself broadly suspected of being somehow a secret agent because, researchers found, the Warren Commission had classified part of his testimony. Puzzled, he checked and found that the Commission had in fact classified telephone calls he made during the afternoon of the killing. In addition to checking his own notes, he succeeded in forcing the Warren Commission to return his testimony to him, and identified the calls. One was to the managing editor of the Scripps-Howard news service bureau in Washington. Mid-afternoon, again long before the police could have interrogated Oswald, made a positive identification, concluded what had happened, and eliminated the possibility of accomplices in a conspiracy to kill the President, the editor told Kantor that Oswald had been identified as the assassin and instructed him to call Hal Hendricks, a journalist who gave Kantor detailed biographic information about Oswald. Years later, in the CIA-engineered coup in Chile, Hendricks was positively identified as a CIA operative working under journalistic cover. Moreover, the Warren Commission’s move to classify the phone calls is proof positive that it knew there was an intelligence connection with Hendricks and strongly suggests that it was willfully covering up the assassination conspiracy.

In sum, the FBI Director and CIA media operatives were waiting, primed, before the assassination to launch the coverup and pin the blame on the pre-selected patsy, Oswald.

The Cause of the Financial Crisis

May 3, 2009

01 May 2009

The Cause of the Financial Crisis

From Jesses’s Cafe America

Jamie Galbraith leaves out a couple of key component of the ramp up to this crisis.

The corruption of the political process, increasingly dependent on large campaign contributions, by the large corporate interests set the stage for the erosion of public regulation of markets and the rule of the law.

And of course, Alan Greenspan, without whom this disaster would almost certainly have not been possible.

Dr. Greenspan, at the Federal Reserve, with a bully pulpit and a printing press.

Texas Observer
Causes of the Crisis
James K. Galbraith
May 01, 2009

…This is a panel on the crisis. Mr. Moderator, you ask what is the root cause? My reply is in three parts.

First, an idea.

The idea that capitalism, for all its considerable virtues, is inherently self-stabilizing, that government and private business are adversaries rather than partners…; the idea that regulation, in financial matters especially, can be dispensed with. We tried it, and we see the result.

Second, a person.

It would not be right to blame any single person for these events, but if I had to choose one to name it would be… former Senator Phil Gramm. I’d cite specifically the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act—the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act—in 1999, after which it took less than a decade to reproduce all the pathologies that Glass-Steagall had been enacted to deal with in 1933.

I’d also cite the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, slipped into an 11,000-page appropriations bill in December 2000 as Congress was adjourning following Bush v. Gore. This measure deregulated energy futures trading, enabling Enron and legitimating credit-default swaps, and creating a massive vector for the transmission of financial risk throughout the global system. …

Third, a policy.

This was the abandonment of state responsibility for financial regulation… This abandonment was not subtle: The first head of the Office of Thrift Supervision in the George W. Bush administration came to a press conference on one occasion with a stack of copies of the Federal Register and a chainsaw. A chainsaw. The message was clear. And it led to the explosion of liars’ loans, neutron loans (which destroy people but leave buildings intact), and toxic waste. That these were terms of art in finance tells you what you need to know. …

The consequence … is a collapse of trust, a collapse of asset values, and a collapse of the financial system. That is what has happened, and what we have to deal with now.

Can “stimulus” get us out?

As a matter of economics, public spending substitutes for private spending. … But it is not self-sustaining in the absence of a viable private credit system. The idea that we will be on the road to full recovery and returning to high employment in a year or so therefore seems to me to be an illusion.

And for this reason, the emphasis on short-term, “shovel-ready” projects in the expansion package, while understandable, was a mistake. As in the New Deal, we need both the Works Progress Administration … to provide employment, and the Public Works Administration … to rebuild the country. …

The risk we run, in public policy, is not inflation. It is lack of persistence, a premature reversal of direction, and of course the fear of large numbers. If deficits in the trillions and public debt in the tens of trillions scare you, this is not a line of work you should be in.

The ultimate goals of policy are not measured by deficits or debt. They are measured by the performance of the economy itself. Here Leader Armey and I agree. He spoke with approval, in his remarks, of the goals of 3 percent unemployment and 4 percent inflation embodied in the Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment and Balanced Growth Act of 1978. Which, as a 24-year-old member of the staff of the House Banking Committee in 1976, I drafted.

The 60s: Assassinations, a School Shooting, and Nazi Gun Contro

April 27, 2009

kitten-shooterl

by Michael Gaddy
http://www.lewrockwell.com/gaddy/gaddy56.html

The 60s were
a tumultuous time in America. There were the Vietnam War and its
subsequent peace movement; the Kennedy assassinations; the Martin
Luther King assassination, and the mass shooting at the University
of Texas by Charles Whitman. The high-profile assassinations and
the mass shooting prompted the government to lobby for stronger
gun control, leading to the passage of the unconstitutional,
NRA
supported
, 1968 Gun Control Act.

With the exception
of the Vietnam War and its protest activity, all of the above events
played into the hands of the state and its never-ending efforts
to disarm private citizens. While the only common denominator in
the University of Texas shooting involved the use of mind altering
drugs by the shooter, the three assassinations were similar in accusations
of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) involvement was alleged in
each of them.

It was reported
that President Lyndon Johnson was moved by the University shooting
to move for stronger gun control; the facts of the case supported
just the opposite. After Whitman killed his mother and wife by stabbing
them to death, he went to the University Tower where his next victim,
Edna Townsley, a receptionist, was butt-stroked with a rifle, which
led to her death. Whitman had in essence killed three people before
he pulled the trigger the first time.

When victims
began to fall from shots fired by Whitman from the University Tower,
several civilians secured weapons from their cars and began to return
fire at Whitman along with police on the scene. The combined efforts
of these civilians and the police forced Whitman to shoot from waterspouts,
greatly limiting his ability to acquire additional targets. Had
it not been for the deployment of private arms by civilians, the
toll of lives lost and those wounded would have been much larger.
Yet, the state used this tragedy to move for more draconian firearms
possession limitations on private citizens.

Conspiracy
theories abound concerning the assassinations of president John
F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King. As mentioned
above, the CIA is mentioned as possibly being involved in all three.
We do know the CIA
lied
about aspects of the JFK assassination. Lies are usually
told to hide the truth; what truth was the CIA covering up for 40
years, and why? Why did the CIA withhold evidence from the Warren
Commission and defy court orders?

Did the CIA
use their "controlled" sources in the media to demonize
and ridicule any who found irregularities in the "Pablum"
force-fed to the masses concerning the assassination? An April 1st
1967, CIA dispatch, declassified through the Freedom Of Information
Act (FOIA) in 1976, advised the CIA’s "assets" in the
media on "Countering criticism of the Warren Report."
These "assets" were instructed features and book revues
to be "particularly appropriate" for this purpose. These
controlled media sources were to "answer and refute" those
critical of the state’s explanation of events by claiming "financial
interests" and to allege they were "hasty and inaccurate
in their research" and "infatuated with their own theories."
These CIA stooges in the media were instructed to emphasize in their
reporting, "no new significant evidence has emerged,"
and there was no consistency of thought among the critics. Critics
were to be discredited by claiming they were "wedded to theories
before all the evidence was in." Also used was the claim consistently
heard about all possible conspiracies involving the state: "Conspiracy
on such a large scale would be impossible to conceal."

The FBI, Secret
Service, and the Dallas Police Department withheld
evidence
from the Warren Commission. As the commission had no
investigators of its own, and depended entirely on the above-mentioned
agencies for evidence, the credibility of the report must be questioned.

If questioning
the veracity of the state’s official report on the JFK assassination
and the withholding and suppression of evidence by those tasked
with pursuing the truth makes me a "conspiracy nut," pass
the tinfoil.

Credible allegations
of CIA involvement in the Robert Kennedy assassination can be found
here.
Please note CIA Agent George Joannides’s alleged involvement in
both the Kennedy’s assassinations.

Allegations
of CIA and other state agency’s involvement in the assassination
of Martin Luther King Jr. have been made by aides and members of
the King family. Coretta Scott King said, “There is abundant
evidence of a major high level conspiracy in the assassination of
my husband…" Dexter King, son of Martin Luther King Jr., who
met with James Earl Ray before his death and stated he believed
Ray did not kill his father, also stated his father was assassinated
“because he challenged the establishment.” Dexter King also
referred to the official investigation and findings as “the most
incredible cover-up of the century.”

Martin Luther
King Jr. had been under surveillance by the FBI, CIA and Army Intelligence
for an extended period of time before his assassination because
he supposedly represented a threat to national security. His phones
were tapped, he was under continual surveillance, his rooms were
bugged and his followers infiltrated. Yet, he was assassinated in
plain sight and none of the above agencies had a clue as to the
plans or movements of the assassin.

The FBI was
assigned the task of investigating the assassination of the man
they considered a threat to national security and a subject of their
"dirty tricks" associated with COINTEL-PRO
activities.

Author Alex
Constantine, in his work, Virtual
Government: CIA Mind Control Operations in America
,
has exhaustively documented the CIA’s influence in the media through
Operation Mockingbird. When a government agency has the ability
to control the content of information disseminated to the masses,
is that not a form of mind control?

The state used
all of the above highly questionable events to propose and pass
the 1968 Gun Control Act. The wording of this piece of legislation
was taken almost word for word from the 1938
Nazi Gun Control Act
. The 1968 GCA is not the state’s only connection
with Nazi programs. How many are familiar with the CIA’s
connection
with Nazi war criminals?

Let me see
now; The 1968 Gun Control Act is a re-do of the 1938 Nazi Gun Control
Act; The CIA had a Nazi war criminal connection from its very inception;
The CIA is alleged to have involvement in several high-profile assassinations
in America; The CIA uses its rented mules (Operation
Mockingbird
) in the mainstream media (MSM) to demonize and marginalize
anyone who seeks to investigate the irregularities in the state-issued
reports of these assassinations and other possible covert actions;
Our form of government has morphed from a republic to in-your-face
fascism, and anyone who believes there is a connection between the
state and mass shootings is a conspiracy nut!

When the only
alternative Boobus utilizes in his search for truth is text messaging,
a six-pack and American Idol, what chance is there he would even
recognize the truth, or for that matter, even care?

10 days That Changed Capitalism

March 30, 2008

071008_r16665_p233.jpg

By Rob Johnson and Robert Borosage

http://www.ourfuture.org/blog-entry/10-days-changed-capitalism

The world has changed. The market fundamentalism that has dominated our economics over last three decades has been unmasked as a sham, deemed useless by the guardian of the integrity of finance itself, the Federal Reserve.

Without a vote of the Congress or a public debate, the Bush administration and the Federal Reserve have made government the guarantor of the shadow banking system – the unregulated, unhinged hedge funds and investment houses whose compulsive excesses now threaten the global economy. They say necessity is the mother of invention, but we seen only a part of the new machine, not surprisingly, the part that buttresses Wall Street. They have scrambled to put this together in an emergency, behind closed doors, without a hint of the necessary regulatory changes that must rationally accompany such guarantees. That is what the fight in the coming months will surely be about.

As the article below by David Wessel of the Wall Street Journal summarizes, the intervention puts at risk hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars.

It also transforms the economic debate. It is inconceivable that taxpayers should be asked to bail out private buccaneer speculators without enforcing limits on their speculation – capital reserves, limits on what gambles they can take, oversight, transparency, new restrictions on their pay packages to remove the current multi-million dollar personal incentives to invent new Penza schemes and scams.

The shadow banking system now must be brought out of the shadows. After all we are constantly told that finance serves the economy, and the market system is the best means to solve our social goals. It feels very uncomfortable when our servant’s servant becomes our master’s master as Wall Street has been permitted to become in America in recent years by contribution- hungry elected officials.

As Barack Obama noted in his speech yesterday, the deregulation that fostered this folly was supported by both parties. It began under Jimmy Carter, accelerated under Ronald Reagan, went into hyper speed under Bill Clinton, and spiraled into catastrophe under George Bush. The freedom to gamble with other peoples’ money has been protected by lavish campaign contributions and powerful lobbies. These financial buccaneers have treated the laws and rules that govern our financial markets like just one more asset to be bought and sold. They have been unabashed in their arrogant abuse of power, rigging the rules and daring the world to stop them. A particularly audacious example occurred only last year when a concerted lobby campaign convinced the Democratic majority in the Senate to sustain the tax dodge that enables billionaire hedge fund operators to pay a lower tax rate than their secretaries.

This cannot continue. They ask to pocket their profits and have taxpayers protect them from their losses. That offends the principles of both democracy and the market. If they are too big to fail – if their failure will bring down the entire economy – then they are also too big to gamble on their own. They must be regulated – or perhaps nationalized, as the British have just done with one of their leading banks. After all they are asking to nationalize their losses. Why not some of their profits too?

This debate must be accessible to, and reflect the concerns of, citizens. It cannot be the exclusive province of so-called experts, Wall Street operators, economists and legislators. Too often, Wall Street manages to profit having the party and then make a bundle from the government in cleaning up the mess as they socialize the losses that they created.

It is important to understand how reckless Wall Street has been. They have not only victimized the American people through recession and bailouts. Their recklessness threatens to blow up their own cherished role as well. They have damaged the international reputation of the U.S. dollar, turning the world’s reserve currency into the equivalent of a junk bond. The excesses of their hubris-driven repackaging of assets has muddied the U.S. credit allocation process and accelerated the US decline as the financial center of world commerce. Their sacred cow of “free trade” is unlikely to withstand the pressure of a prolonged slump. Wall Street is compulsively consuming itself.

We are going to follow this debate closely at CAF. It will be a constant feature of this blog. We’ll call on the best progressive economists and analysts to break it down. We’ll collect the best documents so you can follow the debate. And we’ll be driving campaigns to make certain that the public doesn’t once more get stuck with the bill for the bankers’ party, with no assurances that the reckless structure of finance has been repaired.

David Wessel provides good summary of where we are below.


http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120657397294066915.htmlTen Days That Changed Capitalism
Officials Improvised
To Rescue Markets;
Will It Be Enough?
March 27, 2008; Page A1

David Wessel

The past 10 days will be remembered as the time the U.S. government discarded a half-century of rules to save American financial capitalism from collapse.

On the Richter scale of government activism, the government’s recent actions don’t (yet) register at FDR levels. They are shrouded in technicalities and buried in a pile of new acronyms.

But something big just happened. It happened without an explicit vote by Congress. And, though the Treasury hasn’t cut any checks for housing or Wall Street rescues, billions of dollars of taxpayer money were put at risk. A Republican administration, not eager to be viewed as the second coming of the Hoover administration, showed it no longer believes the market can sort out the mess.

“The Government of Last Resort is working with the Lender of Last Resort to shore up the housing and credit markets to avoid Great Depression II,” economist Ed Yardeni wrote to clients.

First, over St. Patrick’s Day weekend, the Fed (aka the Lender of Last Resort) and the Treasury forced the sale of Bear Stearns, the fifth-largest U.S. investment bank, to J.P. Morgan Chase at a price so low that a shareholder rebellion prompted J.P. Morgan to raise the price. To induce J.P. Morgan to do the deal, the Fed agreed to take losses or gains, if any, on up to $29 billion of securities in Bear Stearns’s portfolio. The outcome will influence the sum the Fed turns over to the Treasury, so this is taxpayer money; that’s why the Fed sought Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s OK.

Then the Fed lent directly to Wall Street securities firms for the first time. Until now, the Fed has lent directly only to Main Street banks, those that take deposits from ordinary folks. That’s because banks were viewed as playing a unique economic role and, supposedly, were more closely regulated than other types of lenders. In the first three days of this new era, securities firms borrowed an average of $31.3 billion a day from the Fed. That’s not small change, and it’s why Mr. Paulson, after the fact, is endorsing changes to give the Fed more access to these firms’ books.

Increased Leverage

In the days that followed, the Republican Treasury secretary leaned on two shareholder-owned, though government-chartered, companies — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — to raise capital that their boards didn’t want to raise. In exchange, their government regulator allowed them to increase their leverage so they can buy about $200 billion more in mortgage-backed securities.

So Fannie and Freddie will get bigger, a welcome development when mortgage markets are in trouble. Already, they have regained lost market share. They accounted for 76% of new mortgages in the fourth quarter of last year, up from 46% in the second quarter, Mr. Paulson said Wednesday. But everyone knows that if Fannie or Freddie stumble, taxpayers will get stuck with the tab.

And then, the federal regulator of the low-profile Federal Home Loan Banks, which are even less well capitalized than Fannie and Freddie, said they could buy twice as many Fannie and Freddie-blessed mortgage-backed securities as previously permitted — more than $100 billion worth.

Was this necessary? It’s messy, uncomfortable and undoubtedly flawed in many details. Like firefighters rushing to a five-alarm fire, policy makers are making mistakes that will be apparent only in retrospect.

Too Great to Ignore
But, regardless of how we got here, the clear and present danger that the virus in the housing, mortgage and credit markets is infecting the overall economy is too great to ignore. The Great Depression was worsened because the initial government reaction was wrong-headed. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke spent an academic career learning how to avoid repeating those mistakes.

Is it working? It is helping. One key measure is the gap between interest rates on mortgages and safe Treasury securities. A wide gap means high mortgage rates, which hurt an already sickly housing market. A lot of recent activity, including Wednesday’s previously planned auction in which the Fed is trading Treasurys for mortgage-backed securities, is aimed at increasing demand for those securities to drive down mortgage rates.

The gap remains enormous by historical standards, but has narrowed. On March 6, according to FTN Financial, 30-year fixed-rate mortgages were trading at 2.92 percentage points above the relevant Treasury rates; Wednesday the gap was down to 2.22. Normal is about 1.5 percentage points. Money markets are still under stress, as banks and others hoard cash and super-safe short-term Treasurys.

Is it enough? Probably not. Although it’s hard to know, the downward tug on the overall economy from falling house prices persists. The next step, if one proves necessary, is almost sure to require the explicit use of taxpayer money.

Cushion the Blow

The case for doing more is twofold. One is to cushion the blow to families and communities, even if some are culpable. The other is to disrupt a dangerous downward spiral in which falling prices of houses and mortgage-backed securities lead lenders to pull back, hurting the economy and dragging asset prices down further, and so on.

In ordinary times, a capitalist economy lets prices — such as those of homes, mortgage-backed securities and stocks — fall to the point where the big-bucks crowd rushes in, hoping to make a killing. But if the big money remains on the sidelines, unpersuaded that a bottom is near, the wait for bargain hunters to take the plunge could be very long and very painful.
So the next step, no matter how it is dressed up, is likely to involve the government’s moving in ways that put a floor under prices, hoping that will limit the downside risks enough so more Americans are willing to buy homes and deeper-pocketed investors are willing, in effect, to lend them the money to do so.http://www.ourfuture.org/blog-entry/10-days-changed-capitalism

above the Law ‘Denied in Full’: Federal Judges Grill CIA Lawyers on JFK Secrets

March 27, 2008

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Lawyers for the Central Intelligence Agency faced pointed questions in a federal court hearing Monday morning about the agency’s efforts to block disclosure of long-secret records about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Three appellate judges probed for explanations of the agency’s rationale for withholding records concerning a deceased undercover CIA officer named George Joannides whose role in the events of 1963 remains unexplained.

For the past three and a half years, CIA has blocked the release of the Joannides files, denying my Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and spurning scholarly appeals for full disclosure. At stake is the viability of the 1992 JFK Assassination Records Act, which mandates the immediate review, and release of all government records related to Kennedy’s murder in Dallas on November 22, 1963. One of the strongest open government measures ever enacted, the future of the JFK Act is now in question as the CIA seeks judicial permission to defy its provisions.

The three-judge panel, chaired by Judge Karen Henderson, heard oral arguments in the federal courthouse here about whether the FOIA requires release of the records, most of which are more than 40 years old. These records were never shared with any JFK assassination investigation.

“Do you know where the records are located?” Henderson asked CIA lawyer John Truong in reference to a series of monthly reports that the Joannides was supposed to file in 1963. Truong said he did not know. Judge David Tatel questioned Truong’s contention that Joannides was not the subject of congressional investigation in the late 1970s. “Aren’t these key records?” asked Judge Judith Rogers.

Joannides served as the chief of psychological warfare operations in the Agency’s Miami station at the time of Kennedy’s assassination. Using the alias “Howard,” he was the case officer for a Cuban exile group whose members had repeated contact with accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald in August 1963 — rendering any records of Joannides’ secret operations at that time potentially relevant to the JFK assassination story.

The JFK Records Act of 1992 was supposed to spur full disclosure on the much-debated subject. Approved unanimously by Congress and signed into law by President George H.W. Bush, the law sought to quell public doubt and confusion raised by Oliver Stone’s JFK.

“All Government records concerning the assassination of President John F. Kennedy should carry a presumption of immediate disclosure,” the Act declared, “and all records should be eventually disclosed to enable the public to become fully informed about the history surrounding the assassination.”

To insure compliance, Congress created an independent civilian review panel, the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) to determine what documents would be made public and to oversee the public release those records. The five-member board — not federal agencies — were given final say over what should be declassified. Between 1994 and 1998, the ARRB, chaired by federal judge John Tunheim, oversaw the release of four million pages of once-secret JFK records.

These new JFK files not only illuminate the events that led to the gunshots that took Kennedy’s life; they also provide an unprecedented glimpse of U.S. covert operations against Cuba, CIA propaganda and surveillance techniques, U.S. law enforcement action against organized crime figures, and efforts to assassinate Fidel Castro. The JFK Records Act, according to the watchdog group OMB Watch, “is the best example in existence of a successful targeted declassification effort.”

The CIA, however, now appears to be evading a signed memorandum of understanding that it gave to the ARRB about the release of JFK records. On September 30, 1998 the Agency committed itself to releasing any newly discovered JFK records under the criteria established by the board. Today the Agency is ignoring the ARRB criteria and blocking the disclosure of records that meet the legal definition of “assassination related” records.

The National Archives and Records Administration has responsibility for maintaining the JFK Records Collection but limited ability to compel the Agency to turn over sensitive documents. Even though the JFK Act states that all assassination records must be made public by 2017, a top CIA official noted in a court filing that the Agency has the right to keep as many as 1,100 still-secret JFK records out of public view beyond that date.

In my admittedly subjective view, the JFK Records Act is being slowly repealed by CIA fiat. In defiance of the law and common sense, the Agency continues to spend taxpayers’ money for the suppression of history around JFK’s assassination. In the post-9/11 era, you would think U.S. intelligence budget could be better spent.

The ARRB established George Joannides’ relevance to the JFK historical record in 1998 when it discovered and declassified five fitness reports from his personnel file. Those records revealed for the first time that Joannides had served as the chief of Psychological Warfare branch in the CIA’s Miami station in 1963. He arrived in Miami in 1962 under U.S. Army cover, according to recently declassified records.

At the time of Kennedy’s assassination his duties included handling the CIA’s contacts with a militant Cuban exile group called the Cuban Student Directorate, known by its Spanish acronym, DRE. In CIA cables, the group was known by the codename AMSPELL.

JFK scholars consider documents relating to the DRE to be relevant to the history of events in Dallas. A series of encounters between DRE members and Lee Harvey Oswald in August 1963 have long provoked investigative interest and debate.

Oswald approached the DRE’s delegation in New Orleans and offered to train guerrillas to fight the Castro government. He was rebuffed. When DRE members saw Oswald handing out pro-Castro leaflets a few days later an altercation ensued that ended with the arrest of all the participants. A week after that, the DRE’s spokesman in New Orleans debated the Cuba issue with Oswald on a radio program. After these encounters, the DRE issued a press release calling for a congressional investigation of the pro-Castro activities of the then-obscure Oswald.

The CIA was passing money to the DRE leaders at the time, according to an agency memo dated April 1963, found in the JFK Library in Boston. The document shows that the Agency gave the Miami-based group $250,000 a year — the equivalent of about $1.5 million annually in 2007 dollars.

The secret CIA files on Joannides may shed new light on what, if anything, Joannides and other CIA officers in anti-Castro operations knew about Oswald’s activities and contacts before Kennedy was killed.

In a July 2003 FOIA request, I asked for all records on Joannides’ contacts with and responsibilities for the DRE in 1962-64, as well as records on his stint as liaison to the congressional investigation in 1978. In the course of the lawsuit, the CIA admitted the existence of 33 still-secret documents in Joannides’ administrative file. The CIA refuses to release them in any form, claiming that the release of even a single word would harm national security or violate someone’s privacy. Those records have been “denied in full.”

The CIA denies any obligation to release JFK-related documents in the Joannides files. “The JFK Assassination Records Act has no applicability” to a FOIA request, according to a brief filed by the agency this summer.

The agency also asserts that its operational files are exempt from being searched under the terms of the 1984 CIA Information Act — even though the JFK Records Act supersedes that law and contains no exemption for the searching of operational files.

“The JFK statute is quite clear,” stated Anna Nelson, a former ARRB member and a professor at American University. “Every agency had to search every file system for records relating to the JFK assassination. Nothing in the statute excludes operational files. Furthermore, the board guidelines are clear that files like the Joannides file are a part of the assassination record. So the CIA is legally bound to search those files and to report on what they found, even if the documents aren’t released.”

In affidavits filed in support of the lawsuit, Nelson and John Tunheim, federal judge and former ARRB chair, called on the CIA to release the withheld documents. Former ARRB general counsel Jeremy Gunn stated that the Joannides’ material meets the ARRB’s definition of “assassination-related.”

Last year, federal judge Richard Leon upheld the CIA’s decision to withhold the records. In a September 2006 decision, Leon declared there was “not one scintilla of evidence” that the information in Joannides’ files is related to Kennedy’s assassination. Attorney Truong urged the appellate court to uphold Leon’s decision, saying the agency’s record search was “reasonable and responsive.”

In March 2007, twenty-two authors published an open letter in the New York Review of Books, calling on National Archivist Allen Weinstein to take possession of the Joannides files from the CIA, review them for genuinely sensitive and private information, and release them to the public. Echoing similar open letters in 2003 and 2005, the JFK writers declared that Joannides’ role in the assassination story required full disclosure of his files.

The signatories included novelists Norman Mailer and Don DeLillo, filmmaker Stone, anti-conspiratorial authors Vincent Bugliosi and Gerald Posner and pro-conspiracy journalists Anthony Summers and David Talbot — an unusual display of consensus in such a hotly contested subject.

In response, Weinstein said that the Archives staff has met with the CIA and discussed concerns related to the Joannides files that remain at the agency. “We expect to receive a response from the CIA in the near future,” he wrote in August. Two months later, the request is still pending. When it comes to obeying the law on JFK records, the CIA is still considering its options.

A decision in Morley v. CIA is expected before the end of the year.

Jefferson Morley| BIO | I’M A FAN OF THIS BLOGGER

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jefferson-morley/denied-in-full-federal_b_69414.html

CIA role claim in Kennedy killing

March 27, 2008
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New video and photographic evidence that puts three senior CIA operatives at the scene of Robert Kennedy’s assassination has been brought to light.
The evidence was shown in a report by Shane O’Sullivan, broadcast on BBC Newsnight.

It reveals that the operatives and four unidentified associates were at the Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles in the moments before and after the shooting on 5 June, 1968.

The CIA had no domestic jurisdiction and some of the officers were based in South-East Asia at the time, with no reason to be in Los Angeles.

‘Decoy’

Kennedy had just won the California Democratic primary on an anti-War ticket and was set to challenge Nixon for the White House when he was shot in a kitchen pantry.

 
THE CIA CONNECTION


A 24-year-old Palestinian, Sirhan Sirhan, was arrested as the lone assassin and notebooks at his house seemed to incriminate him. However, even under hypnosis, he has never been able to remember the shooting and defence psychiatrists concluded he was in a trance at the time.

Witnesses placed Sirhan’s gun several feet in front of Kennedy but the autopsy showed the fatal shot came from one inch behind.

Dr Herbert Spiegel, a world authority on hypnosis at Columbia University, believes Sirhan may have been hypnotically programmed to act as a decoy for the real assassin.

Evidence

The report is the result of a three-year investigation by filmmaker Shane O’Sullivan. He reveals new video and photographs showing three senior CIA operatives at the hotel.

  What were they doing there? It’s our obligation as friends of Bob Kennedy to investigate this
Paul Schrade
Three of these men have been positively identified as senior officers who worked together in 1963 at JMWAVE, the CIA’s Miami base for its Secret War on Castro. David Morales was Chief of Operations and once told friends:

“I was in Dallas when we got the son of a bitch and I was in Los Angeles when we got the little bastard.”

Gordon Campbell was Chief of Maritime Operations and George Joannides was Chief of Psychological Warfare Operations.

Joannides was called out of retirement in 1978 to act as the CIA liaison to the Congressional investigation into the JFK assassination. Now, we see him at the Ambassador Hotel the night a second Kennedy is assassinated.

Memory

Monday, 20 November would have been Bobby Kennedy’s 81st birthday. In Los Angeles, his son Max has just broken ground on a new high-school project in memory of his father on the old Ambassador Hotel site. Paul Schrade, a key figure behind the school project, was walking behind Robert Kennedy that night and was shot in the head. He believes this new evidence merits fresh investigation:

“It seems very strange to me that these guys would be at a Kennedy celebration. What were they doing there? And why were they there? It’s our obligation as friends of Bob Kennedy to investigate this.”

Ed Lopez, a former Congressional investigator who worked with Joannides in 1978, says:

“I think the key people at the CIA need to go back to anybody who might have been around back then, bring them in and interview them, and ask – is this Gordon Campbell? Is this George Joannides?”

This report was shown on Newsnight on Monday, 20 November, 2006.

Families Torn by Citizenship for Fallen

March 24, 2008

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A young, ambitious immigrant from Guatemala who dreamed of becoming an architect. A Nigerian medic. A soldier from China who boasted he would one day become an American general. An Indian native whose headstone displays the first Khanda, emblem of the Sikh faith, to appear in Arlington National Cemetery.

These were among more than 100 foreign-born members of the U.S. military who earned American citizenship by dying in Iraq.

Jose Gutierrez was one of the first to fall, killed by friendly fire in the dust of Umm Qasr in the opening hours of the invasion.

In death, the young Marine was showered with honors his family could only have dreamed of in life. His sister was flown in from Guatemala for his memorial service, where a Roman Catholic cardinal presided and top military officials saluted his flag-draped coffin.

And yet, his foster mother agonized as she accompanied his body back for burial in Guatemala City: Why did Jose have to die for America in order to truly belong?

Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles, who oversaw Gutierrez’s service, put it differently.

“There is something terribly wrong with our immigration policies if it takes death on the battlefield in order to earn citizenship,” Mahony wrote to President Bush in April 2003. He urged the president to grant immediate citizenship to all immigrants who sign up for military service in wartime.

“They should not have to wait until they are brought home in a casket,” Mahony said.

But as the war continues, more and more immigrants are becoming citizens in death — and more and more families are grappling with deeply conflicting feelings about exactly what the honor means.

Gutierrez’s citizenship certificate — dated to his death on March 21, 2003, — was presented during a memorial service in Lomita, Calif., to Nora Mosquera, who took in the orphaned teen after he had trekked through Central America, hopping freight trains through Mexico before illegally sneaking into the U.S.

“On the one hand I felt that citizenship was too late for him,” Mosquera said. “But I also felt grateful and very proud of him. I knew it would open doors for us as a family.”

“What use is a piece of paper?” cried Fredelinda Pena after another emotional naturalization ceremony, this one in New York City where her brother’s framed citizenship certificate was handed to his distraught mother. Next to her, the infant daughter he had never met dozed in his fiancee’s arms.

Cpl. Juan Alcantara, 22, a native of the Dominican Republic, was killed Aug. 6, 2007, by an explosive in Baqouba. He was buried by a cardinal and eulogized by a congressman but to his sister, those tributes seemed as hollow as citizenship.

“He can’t take the oath from a coffin,” she sobbed.

There are tens of thousands of foreign-born members in the U.S. armed forces. Many have been naturalized, but more than 20,000 are not U.S. citizens.

“Green card soldiers,” they are often called, and early in the war, Bush signed an executive order making them eligible to apply for citizenship as soon as they enlist. Previously, legal residents in the military had to wait three years.

Since Bush’s order, nearly 37,000 soldiers have been naturalized. And 109 who lost their lives have been granted posthumous citizenship.

They are buried with purple hearts and other decorations, and their names are engraved on tombstones in Arlington as well as in Mexico and India and Guatemala.

Among them:

_ Marine Cpl. Armando Ariel Gonzalez, 25, who fled Cuba on a raft with his father and brother in 1995 and dreamed of becoming an American firefighter. He was crushed by a refueling tank in southern Iraq on April 14, 2003.

_ Army Spc. Justin Onwordi, a 28-year-old Nigerian medic whose heart seemed as big as his smiling 6-foot-4 frame and who left behind a wife and baby boy. He died when his vehicle was blown up in Baghdad on Aug. 2, 2004.

_ Army Pfc. Ming Sun, 20, of China who loved the U.S. military so much he planned to make a career out of it, boasting that he would rise to the rank of general. He was killed in a firefight in Ramadi on Jan. 9, 2007.

_ Army Spc. Uday Singh, 21, of India, killed when his patrol was attacked in Habbaniyah on Dec. 1, 2003. Singh was the first Sikh to die in battle as a U.S. soldier, and it is his headstone at Arlington that displays the Khanda.

_ Marine Lance Cpl. Patrick O’Day from Scotland, buried in the California rain as bagpipes played and his 19-year-old pregnant wife told mourners how honored her 20-year-old husband had felt to fight for the country he loved.

“He left us in the most honorable way a man could,” Shauna O’Day said at the March 2003 Santa Rosa service. “I’m proud to say my husband is a Marine. I’m proud to say my husband fought for our country. I’m proud to say he is a hero, my hero.”

Not all surviving family members feel so sure. Some parents blame themselves for bringing their child to the U.S. in the first place. Others face confusion and resentment when they try to bury their child back home.

At Lance Cpl. Juan Lopez’s July 4, 2004, funeral in the central Mexican town of San Luis de la Paz, Mexican soldiers demanded that the U.S. Marine honor guard surrender their arms, even though the rifles were ceremonial. Earlier, the Mexican Defense Department had denied the Marines’ request to conduct the traditional 21-gun salute, saying foreign troops were not permitted to bear arms on Mexican soil.

And so mourners, many deeply opposed to the war, witnessed an extraordinary 45-minute standoff that disrupted the funeral even as Lopez’s weeping widow was handed his posthumous citizenship by a U.S. embassy official.

The same swirl of conflicting emotions and messages often overshadows the military funerals of posthumous citizens in the U.S.

Smuggled across the Mexican border in his mother’s arms when he was 2 months old, Jose Garibay was just 21 when he died in Nasiriyah. The Costa Mesa police department made him an honorary police officer, something he had hoped one day to become. America made him a citizen.

But his mother, Simona Garibay, couldn’t conceal her bewilderment and pain. It seemed, she said in interviews after the funeral, that more value was being placed on her son’s death than on his life.

Immigrant advocates have similar mixed feelings about military service. Non-citizens cannot become officers or serve in high-security jobs, they note, and yet the benefits of citizenship are regularly pitched by recruiters, and some recruitment programs specifically target colleges and high schools with predominantly Latino students.

“Immigrants are lured into service and then used as political pawns or cannon fodder,” said Dan Kesselbrenner, executive director of the National Immigration Project, a program of the National Lawyers Guild. “It is sad thing to see people so desperate to get status in this country that they are prepared to die for it.”

Others question whether non-citizens should even be permitted to serve. Mark Krikorian of the conservative Center for Immigration Studies, argues that defending America should be the job of Americans, not non-citizens whose loyalty might be suspect. In granting special benefits, including fast-track citizenship, Krikorian says, there is a danger that soldiering will eventually become yet another job that Americans won’t do.

And yet, immigrants have always fought — and died — in America’s wars.

During the Cvil War, the Union army recruited Irish and German immigrants off the boat. Alfred Rascon, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, received the Medal of Honor for acts of bravery during the Vietnam war. In the 1990s, Gen. John Shalikashvili, born in Poland after his family fled the occupied Republic of Georgia, became chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

After the Iraq invasion, the U.S. Embassy in Mexico fielded hundreds of requests from Mexicans offering to fight in exchange for citizenship. They mistakenly believed that Bush’s order also applied to nonresidents.

The right to become an American is not automatic for those who die in combat. Families must formally apply for citizenship within two years of the soldier’s death, and not all choose to do so.

“He’s Italian, better to leave it like that,” Saveria Romeo says of her 23-year-old son, Army Staff Sgt. Vincenzo Romeo, who was born in Calabria, died in Iraq and is buried in New Jersey. A miniature Italian flag marks his grave, next to an American one.

“What good would it do?” she says. “It won’t bring back my son.”

But it would allow her to apply for citizenship for herself, a benefit only recently offered to surviving parents and spouses. Until 2003 posthumous citizenship was granted only through an act of Congress and was purely symbolic. There were no benefits for next of kin.

Romeo says she has no desire to apply. She says she couldn’t bear to benefit in any way from her son’s death. And besides, she feels Italian, not American.

Fernando Suarez del Solar just feels angry — angry at what he considers the futility of a war that claimed his only son, angry at the military recruiters he says courted young Jesus relentlessly even when the family still lived in Tijuana.

His son was just 13, Suarez del Solar said, when he was first dazzled by Marine recruiters in a California mall. For the next two years Jesus begged the family to emigrate and eventually they did, settling in Escondido, Calif., where the teen signed up for the Marines before he left high school.

Lance Cpl. Jesus Suarez Del Solar was 20 when he was killed by a bomb in the first week of the war. He left behind a wife and baby and parents so bitter about his death that they eventually divorced.

Today, his 52-year-old father has become an outspoken peace activist who travels the country organizing anti-war marches, giving speeches and working with counter-recruitment groups to dissuade young Latinos from joining the U.S. military.

“There is nothing in my life now but saving these young people,” he says. “It is just something I feel have to do.”

But first he had to journey to Iraq. He had to see for himself the dusty stretch of wasteland where his son became an American. In tears, he planted a small wooden cross. And he prayed for his son — and for all the other immigrants who became citizens in death.