Archive for the ‘facism’ Category

Michael Parenti — Functions of Fascism (Real History)

December 2, 2008




Michael Parenti, Ph.D. in political science from Yale University
has taught at several universities, colleges, and other institutions.
He is the author of twenty books and many more articles.
His works have been translated into at least seventeen languages.

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thanks for hanging in there for the last 8 years

November 8, 2008

stevens

Bush v Gore (2000) Dissenting Opinion On Stolen Election

“Time will one day heal the wound to that confidence that will be inflicted by today’s decision. One thing, however, is certain. Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year’s Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the Nation’s confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law.”

What happens to the Republican Party after the election?

November 2, 2008

What happens to the Republican Party after the election?

A vital opposition party being essential in a two-party system, the fate of the Republican Party will deserve almost as much attention as the activities of the newly dominant Democratic Party.

  1. Collapse of the Republican Party
  2. Defectors from the Party
  3. Door #1:  Purge the Party’s membership, keeping only the faithful
  4. Door #2:  reflection and rebuilding
  5. A historical note on the two Party system

1.  Collapse of the Republican Party

After a quarter-century in power, to varying degrees, the Republican Party not only faces defeat but disintegration, political and intellectual.  The Administrations of the two Bushes have ripped the Party from its modern foundation forged by Barry Goldwater and William Buckley in the 1960’s.  A massive tax increase and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 under Bush Sr., the latter of the largest expansions of Federal power for decades — until Bush Jr.  Bush Jr’s contempt for civil liberties (other than gun control), massive spending and deficits (a Republican tradition since Reagan), massive expansion of government power, pro-open borders, and enthusiasm for foreign wars. 

McCain’s erratic political history — spun as being a “maverick” — gave few signs of change to this mess, other than his steadfast enthusiasm for foreign wars.

As a result the party has almost no doctrinal coherence — what does it stand for?  The only strong, consistent policy is opposition to abortion — a long-term aspect of its platform that has over decades has had little impact on public policy.  Probably because of the strong public consensus for a position between the extreme views held by the two major parties.

Politically the party has alienated many of its core constituencies.  McCain’s long-held contempt for the “religious right”.  Bush Jr’s and McCain’s strong support for open borders –opposing one of the most strongly held beliefs of the party core.  Most of all, Bush Jr’s disastrous management of the domestic economy and our foreign wars.

 

Note:  before commenting that we have won in Iraq, please explain what we have “won” — in terms of American national objectives.

2.  Defectors from the Party

A tangible indication of the Party’s internal weakness is the defection of so many conservatives from McCain-Palin ticket.  This has few parallels in American history.  Here is a partial list of well-known conseratives or Republicans (distinct but overlapping categories) who have expressed serious concerns about Gov Palin’s fitness as a potential President — some to the point of outright support for Obama.

  1. Christopher Buckley (source)
  2. David Frum and Kathleen Parkerat National Review Online.
  3. Peggy Noonan (President Reagan’s speechwriter) at the Wall Street Journal.
  4. Colin Powell.
  5. Kenneth Adelman, long-time diplomat under several Republican administrations (source; bio).
  6. Former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill and former Securities and Exchange Commissioner William Donaldson (source).
  7. Douglas Kmiec, diplomat, long-time conservative (source; bio).
  8. Lawrence Eagleburger, Sec of State under Bush Sr. and whose endorsement is often cited by McCain, speaking on NPR (AP story, recording) (bio).  Later, his walkback (quote here; video here).
  9. Ken Duberstein, President Reagan’s Chief of Staff, on CNN (bio).

How will the Republican Party’s core react?

3.  Door #1:  Purge the Party’s membership, keeping only the faithful

Door #1 is to purge all but the faithful remnant.  Key Republicans are already digging holes for the stakes and gathering firewood.  Two examples follow.

Sarah Palin’s Future“, Fred Barnes (Executive Editor), Weekly Standard, 27 October 2008 — “Alaska’s most valuable resource.”  Excerpt:

Palin, by the way, is unsure about her ultimate role in national politics even if McCain wins, but it’s bound to be more complicated if he loses.

“I don’t know what kind of role the Republican party would want me to play,” she told me. “In the past, I have not been one to be considered for anything by the hierarchy of the party. Certainly not in my state. In some sense, I ran against my party.”

Palin remains skeptical of Republicans. “I would love to promote the party ideals if we’re going to live out the ideals and maybe allow other American voters to understand what the principles of the party are,” she says. “We’ve got to be assured we have enough people in the party who will live out those ideals and it’s not just rhetoric. Otherwise, I’d be wasting my time. There are a lot of things I would and should be doing.”

Rush Limbaugh spoke more explicitly during his 24 October show: ”Good Riddance, GOP Moderates.”  Excerpt:

This is Sarah Palin to Fred Barnes; and that, ladies and gentlemen, is why the rebuilding of the conservative movement — even if there is no direct leader in charge of making it happen, it will happen by default because it’s going to have to. Even if McCain wins, Colin Powell going to come running back? Is Bill Weld going to come running back? Hell, yes, they will! Hell, yes, they’ll come running back. They’ll do everything they can to stay in the circle of power. Of course they’ll come running back. All these people are out for self-interest. That’s what Sarah Palin is saying. She’s not in it for self-interest. The party had better be what the party is or I don’t have any future in it.

We’re going to rebuild it even if McCain wins. We’re going to have to. These people, these moderates who wanted the big tent, they have taken the party exactly where they said they wanted it to be — and when it got there, these little cowards jumped the ship! I have lost all respect for these people.

And, folks, when I said at the beginning of this that I wanted to turn around and pat myself on the back, it’s because I (and so many like me) knew this exact thing was going to happen and tried to warn people about it during the primaries and so forth. I am not happy it’s happened except for one reason. We flushed ‘em out. We found out they’re not really Republicans and they’re by no means conservatives, and now they’re gone. Now the trick is to keep ‘em out.

What might be the results of this course:

(1)  Becoming irrelevant extremists, like the Green and Socialist parties, as both membership and (equally or more important) funding dwindle. Few Americans, and even fewer in our ruling elites, have much interest in losers.  No matter how pure their ideology.

(2)  The center of gravity to America’s political ideological spectrum shifts left.  In most of America the primaries become the key contests in local, State, and national elections, are they are in so many areas today (due to both local political dominance plus gerrymandering).

4.  Door #2:  reflection and rebuilding

The second option would be far more difficult.  What did the Party do wrong?  How should its platform change to better express its beliefs for the 21st century?  How can it offer something to America that is more than a weak echo of the Democratic Party’s solutions, but not policies attractive only to a small extreme? 

5.  A historical note on the two Party system

For most of American history the two Party’s were divided by cross-cutting fractures, as a result of the Civil War making the South solidly Democratic terrain.  Many of the most conservative factions were in the Democratic Party.

After Johnson’s “New Society” much of the South changed affiliation, but this gave a racist tinge to the Republicans.  This weakened or even polluted the foundation laid by Goldwater and Buckley.

Now Obama gives new life to the Democratic Party, but also an opportunity for a fresh start to the Republican Party.  America needs a strong second party to provide not just alternative policies, but an alternative view of what America should be.  Are the Republicans up to this challenge?

Afterword

If you are new to this site, please glance at the archives below.  You may find answers to your questions in these.

Please share your comments by posting below.  Please make them brief (250 words max), civil, and relevant to this post.  Or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).

For more information from the FM site

To read other articles about these things, see the FM reference page on the right side menu bar.  Of esp relevance to this topic:

Some solutions, ways to reform America:

  1. Diagnosing the Eagle, Chapter III – reclaiming the Constitution, 3 January 2008
  2. Obama might be the shaman that America needs, 17 July 2008
  3. Obama describes the first step to America’s renewal, 8 August 2008
  4. Let’s look at America in the mirror, the first step to reform, 14 August 2008  
  5. Fixing America: elections, revolt, or passivity?, 16 August 2008
  6. Fixing American: taking responsibility is the first step, 17 August 2008
  7. Fixing America: solutions — elections, revolt, passivity, 18 August 2008

Mutant Seeds for Mesopotamia

October 22, 2008

Mutant Seeds for Mesopotamia
by Andrew Bosworth, Ph.D.

www.uruknet.info/

October 15, 2008

One would think that Iraqi farmers, now prospering under “freedom” and “democracy,” would be able to plant the seeds of their choosing, but that choice, under little-known Order 81, would be illegal.

But first, it is important to set the context. Most people have never heard of the infamous “100 Orders,” but they help explain why the majority of Iraqis remain opposed to foreign occupation. The 100 Orders allow multinational corporations to basically privatize an entire nation, and this degree of foreign and private control has not been witnessed since the days of the British East India Company and its extraterritoriality treaties.

A few examples of the 100 Orders are illuminating:

* Order 39 allows for the tax-free remittance of all corporate profits.
*
Order 17 grants foreign contractors, including private security firms, immunity from Iraq’s laws.
*
Orders 57 and 77 ensure the implementation of the orders by placing U.S.-appointed auditors and inspector general in every government ministry, with five-year terms and with sweeping authority over contracts, programs, employees and regulations. (1)

Back to one of the most blatant orders of all: Order 81. Under this mandate, Iraq’s commercial farmers must now buy “registered seeds.” These are normally imported by Monsanto, Cargill and the World Wide Wheat Company. Unfortunately, these registered seeds are “terminator” seeds, meaning “sterile.” Imagine if all human men were infertile, and in order to reproduce women needed to buy sperm cells at a sperm bank. In agricultural terms, terminator seeds represent the same kind of sterility.

Terminator seeds have no agricultural value other than creating corporate monopolies. The Sierra Club, more of a mainstream “conservation” organization than a radical “environmentalist” one, makes the exact same case:

“This technology would protect the intellectual property interests of the seed company by making the seeds from a genetically engineered crop plant sterile, unable to germinate. Terminator would make it impossible for farmers to save seed from a crop for planting the next year, and would force them to buy seed from the supplier. In the third world, this inability to save seed could be a major, perhaps fatal, burden on poor farmers.” (2)

What makes this Order 81 even more outrageous is that Iraqi farmers have been saving wheat and barley seeds since at least 4000 BC, when irrigated agriculture first emerged, and probably even to about 8000 BC, when wheat was first domesticated. Mesopotamia’s farmers have now been trumped by white-smocked, corporate bio-engineers from Florida who strive to replace hundreds of natural varieties with a handful of genetically scrambled hybrids.

Where does such hubris come from? It comes from the entire mission surrounding the invasion of Iraq, which, upon closer inspection, had been planned years in advance by a faction of “neo-cons” who adopted Leon Trotsky’s glorification of the state, his theory “permanent revolution,” and his goal of exporting revolution worldwide. The neo-con revolution aims to alter the economic, political and cultural foundations of nations on the other side of the planet (rejecting old-fashioned notions of self-determination, popular sovereignty and even the nation-state system). This mission includes the transformation of agriculture and the establishment of “food control” over local populations.

Order 81 fits into this revolutionary program, and it is quite diabolical upon closer inspection. First, it forces Iraq’s commercial farmers to use registered terminator seeds (the “protected variety”). Then it defines natural seeds as illegal (the “infringing variety”), in a classic Orwellian turn of language.

This is so incredible that it must be re-stated: the exotic genetically scrambled seeds are the “protected variety” and the indigenous seeds are the “infringing variety.”

As Jeffrey Smith explains, author of Order 81: Re-Engineering Iraqi Agriculture:

“To qualify for PVP [Plant Variety Protection], seeds have to meet the following criteria: they must be ‘new, distinct, uniform and stable’… it is impossible for the seeds developed by the people of Iraq to meet these criteria. Their seeds are not ‘new’ as they are the product of millennia of development. Nor are they ‘distinct’. The free exchange of seeds practiced for centuries ensures that characteristics are spread and shared across local varieties. And they are the opposite of ‘uniform’ and ‘stable’ by the very nature of their biodiversity.” (3)

Order 81 comes with the Orwellian title of “Plant Variety Protection.” Any self-respecting scientist knows, however, that imposing biological standardization accomplishes the exact opposite: It reduces biodiversity and threatens species. So Order 81 comes with an Orwellian title and consists of Orwellian provisions.

Jeffrey Smith peels away the layers of mischief behind Order 81, finding it nonsensical that six varieties of wheat have been developed for Iraq:

“Three will be used for farmers to grow wheat that is made into pasta; three seed strains will be for ‘breadmaking.’

Pasta? According to the 2001 World Food Programme report on Iraq, ‘Dietary habits and preferences included consumption of large quantities and varieties of meat, as well as chicken, pulses, grains, vegetables, fruits and dairy products.’ No mention of lasagna. Likewise, a quick check of the Middle Eastern cookbook on my kitchen shelves, while not exclusively Iraqi, reveals a grand total of no pasta dishes listed within it.

There can be only two reasons why 50 per cent of the grains being developed are for pasta. One, the US intends to have so many American soldiers and businessmen in Iraq that it is orienting the country’s agriculture around feeding not ‘Starving Iraqis’ but ‘Overfed Americans’. Or, and more likely, because the food was never meant to be eaten inside Iraq at all…” (4)

Just in case Iraqi farmer can’t read, Order 81 enforces the new monopoly on seeds with the jackboot. Order 81 makes this clear in its own text, buried at the bottom of the document, as is most screw-you fine print:

“The court may order the confiscation of the infringing variety as well as the materials and tools substantially used in the infringement of the protected variety. The court may also decide to destroy the infringing variety as well as the materials and tools or to dispose of them in any noncommercial purpose.” (5)

Order 81 is about power and profit, but it disguises itself as humanitarian legislation.

Topping it all off, the entire document puts on rather magisterial airs. It was signed by L. Paul Bremer himself, with his own hand, and presumably with his own pen:

“Pursuant to my authority as Administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority…”

Like the Roman Proconsuls, Paul Bremer also spent a year in the provinces, governing the so-called barbarians…

-The above is an excerpt from Andrew Bosworth’s new book: Biotech Empire: The Untold Future of Food, Pills, and Sex, available at Amazon.

-Andrew Bosworth, Ph.D. is an assistant professor of Government at the University of Texas at Brownsville.

Notes

1. Uruknet Report, “Have You Ever Heard of Bremer’s 100 Orders?” 11 April 2008.

2. Institutional Report, Genetic Engineering at a Historic Crossroads,” The Sierra Club Genetic Engineering Committee Report, March 2001.

3. Jeffrey Smith. “ORDER 81: Re-Engineering Iraqi Agriculture – The Ultimate War Crime: Breaking the Agricultural Cycle.” Global Research and The Ecologist, 27 August 2005, Vol 35, No. 1.

4. Jeffrey Smith. “ORDER 81: Re-Engineering Iraqi Agriculture – The Ultimate War Crime: Breaking the Agricultural Cycle.” Global Research and The Ecologist, 27 August 2005, Vol 35, No. 1.

5 CPA/ORD/26 April 2004/81, p. 27.

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

Questions for Republicans, Democrats, and Others

June 11, 2008

By David Swanson

http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/node/33999

A question for Republicans: Do you want to hand a President Barack Obama the right and power to spy on any American citizens he chooses, including his political opponents, without any court-ordered warrant, in blatant violation of the law and the Fourth Amendment?

A question for Democrats: Do you want to hand a President John McCain, who has already openly said he will use it, the right and power to spy on any American citizens he chooses, including his political opponents, without any court-ordered warrant, in blatant violation of the law and the Fourth Amendment?

A question for everyone: Do you want to give any president, and the presidents after him, this power and all the other powers that have been seized by President George W. Bush? Do you want to have to bet your safety, security, prosperity, and liberty on the chance that each successive president will turn out to be the sort of person able to exercise remarkable resistance to abusing available powers, even though the American colonists fought a revolution so that you wouldn’t have to?

Exactly what illegal power to spy has Bush seized for himself and all future presidents? The ones laid out in the 24th article of impeachment introduced by Congressman Dennis Kucinich on Monday night:

Article XXIV

SPYING ON AMERICAN CITIZENS, WITHOUT A COURT-ORDERED WARRANT, IN VIOLATION OF THE LAW AND THE FOURTH AMENDMENT

In his conduct while President of the United States, George W. Bush, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed”, has both personally and acting through his agents and subordinates, knowingly violated the fourth Amendment to the Constitution and the Foreign Intelligence Service Act of 1978 (FISA) by authorizing warrantless electronic surveillance of American citizens to wit:

(1) The President was aware of the FISA Law requiring a court order for any wiretap as evidenced by the following:

(A)”Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires — a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we’re talking about chasing down terrorists, we’re talking about getting a court order before we do so.” White House Press conference on April 20, 2004 [White House Transcript]

(B) “Law enforcement officers need a federal judge’s permission to wiretap a foreign terrorist’s phone, or to track his calls, or to search his property. Officers must meet strict standards to use any of the tools we’re talking about.” President Bush’s speech in Baltimore Maryland on July 20th 2005 [White House Transcript]

(2) The President repeatedly ordered the NSA to place wiretaps on American citizens without requesting a warrant from FISA as evidenced by the following:

(A) “Months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials.” New York Times article by James Risen and Eric Lichtblau on December 12, 2005. [NYTimes]

(B) The President admits to authorizing the program by stating “I have reauthorized this program more than 30 times since the September the 11th attacks, and I intend to do so for as long as our nation faces a continuing threat from al Qaeda and related groups. The NSA’s activities under this authorization are thoroughly reviewed by the Justice Department and NSA’s top legal officials, including NSA’s general counsel and inspector general. Leaders in Congress have been briefed more than a dozen times on this authorization and the activities conducted under it.” Radio Address from the White House on December 17, 2005 [White House Transcript]

(C) In a December 19th 2005 press conference the President publicly admitted to using a combination of surveillance techniques including some with permission from the FISA courts and some without permission from FISA.

Reporter: It was, why did you skip the basic safeguards of asking courts for permission for the intercepts?

THE PRESIDENT: … We use FISA still — you’re referring to the FISA court in your question — of course, we use FISAs. But FISA is for long-term monitoring. What is needed in order to protect the American people is the ability to move quickly to detect. Now, having suggested this idea, I then, obviously, went to the question, is it legal to do so? I am — I swore to uphold the laws. Do I have the legal authority to do this? And the answer is, absolutely. As I mentioned in my remarks, the legal authority is derived from the Constitution, as well as the authorization of force by the United States Congress.” [White House Transcript]

(D) Mike McConnel, the Director of National Intelligence, in a letter to to Senator Arlen Specter, acknowledged that Bush’s Executive Order in 2001 authorized a series of secret surveillance activities and included undisclosed activities beyond the warrantless surveillance of e-mails and phone calls that Bush confirmed in December 2005. “NSA Spying Part of Broader Effort” by Dan Eggen, Washington Post, 8/1/07

(3) The President ordered the surveillance to be conducted in a way that would spy upon private communications between American citizens located within the United States borders as evidenced by the following:

(A) Mark Klein, a retired AT&T communications technician, submitted an affidavit in support of the Electronic Fronteir Foundation’s FF’s lawsuit against AT&T. He testified that in 2003 he connected a “splitter” that sent a copy of Internet traffic and phone calls to a secure room that was operated by the NSA in the San Francisco office of AT&T. He heard from a co-worker that similar rooms were being constructed in other cities, including Seattle, San Jose, Los Angeles and San Diego. From “Whistle-Blower Outs NSA Spy Room”, Wired News, 4/7/06 [Wired] [EFF Case]

(4) The President asserted an inherent authority to conduct electronic surveillance based on the Constitution and the “Authorization to use Military Force in Iraq” (AUMF) that was not legally valid as evidenced by the following:

(A) In a December 19th, 2005 Press Briefing General Alberto Gonzales admitted that the surveillance authorized by the President was not only done without FISA warrants, but that the nature of the surveillance was so far removed from what FISA can approve that FISA could not even be amended to allow it. Gonzales stated “We have had discussions with Congress in the past — certain members of Congress — as to whether or not FISA could be amended to allow us to adequately deal with this kind of threat, and we were advised that that would be difficult, if not impossible.”.

(B) The fourth amendment to the United States Constitution states “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

(C) “The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 unambiguously limits warrantless domestic electronic surveillance, even in a congressionally declared war, to the first 15 days of that war; criminalizes any such electronic surveillance not authorized by statute; and expressly establishes FISA and two chapters of the federal criminal code, governing wiretaps for intelligence purposes and for criminal investigation, respectively, as the “exclusive means by which electronic surveillance . . . and the interception of domestic wire, oral, and electronic communications may be conducted.” 50 U.S.C. §§ 1811, 1809, 18 U.S.C. § 2511(2)(f).” Letter from Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Tribe to John Conyers on 1/6/06

(D) In a December 19th, 2005 Press Briefing Attorney General Alberto Gonzales stated “Our position is, is that the authorization to use force, which was passed by the Congress in the days following September 11th, constitutes that other authorization, that other statute by Congress, to engage in this kind of signals intelligence.”

(E) The “Authorization to use Military Force in Iraq” does not give any explicit authorization related to electronic surveillance. [HJRes114]

(F) “From the foregoing analysis, it appears unlikely that a court would hold that Congress has expressly or impliedly authorized the NSA electronic surveillance operations here under discussion, and it would likewise appear that, to the extent that those surveillances fall within the definition of “electronic surveillance” within the meaning of FISA or any activity regulated under Title III, Congress intended to cover the entire field with these statutes.” From the “Presidential Authority to Conduct Warrantless Electronic Surveillance to Gather Foreign Intelligence Information” by the Congressional Research Service on January 5, 2006.

(G) “The inescapable conclusion is that the AUMF did not implicitly authorize what the FISA expressly prohibited. It follows that the presidential program of surveillance at issue here is a violation of the separation of powers — as grave an abuse of executive authority as I can recall ever having studied.” Letter from Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Tribe to John Conyers on 1/6/06

(H) On August 17, 2006 Judge Anna Diggs Taylor of the United States District Court in Detroit, in ACLU v. NSA, ruled that the “NSA program to wiretap the international communications of some Americans without a court warrant violated the Constitution. … Judge Taylor ruled that the program violated both the Fourth Amendment and a 1978 law that requires warrants from a secret court for intelligence wiretaps involving people in the United States. She rejected the administration’s repeated assertions that a 2001 Congressional authorization and the president’s constitutional authority allowed the program.” From a New York Times article “Judge Finds Wiretap Actions Violate the Law” 8/18/06 and the Memorandum Opinion

(I) In July 2007, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the case, ruling the plaintiffs had no standing to sue because, given the secretive nature of the surveillance, they could not state with certainty that they have been wiretapped by the NSA. This ruling did not address the legality of the surveillance so Judge Taylor’s decision is the only ruling on that issue. [ACLU Legal Documents]

In all of these actions and decisions, President George W. Bush has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States. Wherefore, President George W. Bush, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office.

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The US-Iran sound bite showdown

May 20, 2008

By Pepe Escobar

They just can’t keep from going at each other’s throats.

Just in time for President George W Bush’s special guest appearance at the 60th anniversary of the founding of Israel, his ultimate nemesis, Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, unleashed another rhetorical shot across the bow as his own way of “celebrating” the anniversary.

And once again the substance of what Ahmadinejad actually said risks being lost in (mis)translation.

According to Agence France Presse (AFP), quoting the Fars news agency, Ahmadinejad, speaking in the Iranian northern province of Golestan in one of his popular provincial tours, said, “They [Israel] must know that the nations of the region hate this

counterfeit regime. And if there is the slightest chance, they will uproot this counterfeit regime.”

Reuters had a much more bellicose take. According to its translation, “They [Israel] should know that regional nations hate this fake and criminal regime and if the smallest and briefest chance is given to regional nations they will destroy it.”

It is hardly a secret that for a substantial majority of Arab populations in the Middle East – but not for their unrepresentative regimes – an Israel driven by Zionism should not have a place in the region. Thus Israel would qualify as a “counterfeit” regime that should be “uprooted”. But this does not mean that Arabs – or Persians – are in favor of the actual physical destruction of Israel.

The Associated Press’s (AP) version of the quote is even more apocalyptic. It reads: “The criminals assume that by holding celebrations … they can save the sinister Zionist regime from death and destruction.” The AP copy notes, “Ahmadinejad used an Arabic word, ismihlal, than can also be translated as destruction, death and collapse.” An Arabic expert contacted by Asia Times Online said ismihlal means basically “to break down in smaller parts”. That’s not exactly nuclear annihilation.

We are back to the situation of Ahmadinejad’s 2005 alleged threat to “wipe Israel off the map”. What he actually said then, quoting his personal icon, the leader of the Islamic revolution in 1979, ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, was that the “regime occupying Jerusalem should vanish from the pages of time”. Yes, this means regime change – as much as the Bush administration always wanted regime change in Tehran. It does not mean a call for a nuclear holocaust.

Now, the fact remains that the Reuters translation – distributed to countless newspapers all over the world – will inevitably be seized by the Bush administration and assorted armchair neo-conservative warriors as yet more evidence that Iran wants to “destroy” Israel – muscling up the case in Washington for a preemptive US attack on Iran.

This week, Philip Giraldi published a groundbreaking story on the American Conservative, according to which the US National Security Council (NSC) has agreed – in principle – on a cruise missile strike against an Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force training camp near Tehran. This would be a sort of “warning” to the Iranian leadership. The only NSC member to urge for a delay was allegedly Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Giraldi carefully noted that Bush “will still have to give the order to launch after all preparations are made”. But the decision to attack seems to have been made.

Annihilation a-go-go
Juicy extras are inevitable when it comes to Ahmadinejad’s runaway tongue at ease in cozy provincial settings. What AFP translates as “the Zionist regime is on the verge of dying … throwing a birthday party for this regime is like having a birthday party for a dead person”, Reuters prefers to package as “the Zionist regime is dying. The criminals imagine that by holding celebrations … they can save the Zionist regime from death”.

But in this case it was up to APTN, the video arm of AP, to provide the meatier translation: “The criminals wrongly suppose that by holding celebrations, coming to the occupied lands of Palestine and supporting these criminals, they can save the resented Zionist regime from death, annihilation and from the claws of Palestinian fighters.”

This is as contextual as what Ahmadinejad had said a day before, in a press conference in Tehran. According to the Deutsche Presse Agentur, the German news agency, he said, “This terrorist and criminal state is backed by foreign powers, but this regime would soon be swept away by the Palestinians.” And he added, “As far as the regional countries are concerned, this regime does not exist.” This is better in terms of framing the anger expressed by Ahmadinejad – as well as the theocratic leadership in Tehran, and most of the Arab world for that matter – towards Israel as a direct consequence of Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians.

It is interesting to note that for the Iranian press, the references to Israel were not even on the map. Press TV, for instance, went with the headline “Ahmadinejad: Tyranny falling from grace”, stressing other parts of the president’s speech, for instance when he said that “tyrannical powers have fallen from grace and the sound of their cracking bones can be heard”.

Whatever Ahmadinejad said, Bush, for his part, totally stuck to script. Even before his arrival in Jerusalem on Wednesday, Bush commented that “the message to Iran is that your desire to have a nuclear weapon, coupled with your statements about the destruction of our close ally, have made it abundantly clear to everybody that we have got to work together to stop you from having a nuclear weapon. To me the single-biggest threat to peace in the Middle East is the Iranian regime.” Once again, a call for regime change.

To add fuel to the fire, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal – in synch with Washington – started accusing Iran of backing a Hezbollah coup in Lebanon. That is predictable, considering that the Hariri clan in Beirut is a Saudi client. But nothing could be further from the truth. Last week, Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah was blunt: “Had we wanted a coup, they [government leaders] would have woken up to find themselves in jail, or [thrown) in the sea.”

Nasrallah was cunning enough to see it would be politically impossible for Hezbollah to control Beirut – even though they proved they could do it, on the ground with weapons, in less than 24 hours. Nasrallah also said last week, “If they told us to come and take over, we would say ‘no thank you’.”

There is no evidence the celebrity sound bite showdown will abate any time soon. Bush appears to want war – to bolster his “legacy”. Ahmadinejad, too, might want war to bolster his faltering administration. American and world public opinion can only hope the clock does not run out before a possibly upcoming changing of the guard in the White House.

Just as the rhetoric between Tehran and Washington was once again at red alert levels, former Democratic presidential candidate Senator John Edwards stepped into the ring to announce his endorsement of Democratic Senator Barack Obama in the US presidential race – sucking out the hate waves. “Walls” inside and outside the US may soon come tumbling down, as Edwards hinted in his speech. But the fact remains that the hardline faction in the Bush administration centered around Vice President Dick Cheney still has over five months to fulfill its agenda of regime change in Iran. And the danger is Ahmadinejad will do absolutely nothing to dissuade them.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com.

Where’s George?

April 23, 2008

Harvey Wasserman

http://www.freepress.org/columns/display/7/2008/1648

So what ever happened to George W. Bush, the worst chief executive this nation has ever endured?

This is an election year. Aren’t we supposed to be evaluating the legacy of the previous administration?

In this case, we have a man whose approval ratings are subterranean. Who’s sunk us into an endless war based on impeachable lies. Who’s dragged our national honor into the toxic mud. Who’s brought us to the brink of depression. Who’s dropped the dollar into the toilet. Who wants more subsidies for terror-target nuke reactors and more tax breaks for CO2-spewing oil barons.

Who screams “Terror! Terror! Terror!” at every possible moment, but lets Osama bin Laden run free.

What would Limbaugh, O’Reilly and the rest of the corporate bloviators be screaming today if a Democrat had hosted the 9/11 attacks and then let their perpetrator roam the world without capture for more than six years?

The only thing the American people can say with pride about George W. Bush is that we never elected him president of the United States.

Is it a surprise that the corporate media has mostly removed this monster from public view? That instead it has Obama and Hillary yelling over such burning issues as flag pins, memory lapses, and the word “bitter”?

The GOP’s very own Nero is now rarely seen. And his puppeteer, Dick “Caligula” Cheney has become equally invisible. When last sighted, he was telling the world that the overwhelming anti-war sentiment of the majority of this once-proud democracy does not matter.

For the record: Nero was the deranged boy-emperor who fiddled while Rome burned. Caligula was the twisted, sadistic torturer-emperor who helped preside over the final demise of a once-great empire. (See the movie of the same name.)

While they should be the daily targets of the Clinton-Obama road show, the ghastly Bush-Cheney has become what Ross Perot said of the national deficit: the crazy aunt that’s stashed in the closet and nobody wants to talk about.

That John McCain will further their policies of endless war on Iraq, on the global environment, on working people and for shredding the Bill of Rights, is patently obvious.

How about Barack and Hillary sign a pact. They can snipe at each other all they want.

But they agree to start each public appearance by reminding everyone who’s in the White House and what he’s done to us all. No matter what moronic questions their debate “moderators” ask them, they can start by asking “Where’s George?”

And then they can say: “When George Bush first ran, you insisted he wasn’t stupid. If that’s true, given what he’s done to the country, what’s his excuse?”

Or is that too much “spin” for prime time?


Harvey Wasserman’s SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH is at http://www.solartopia.org. He is senior editor of http://freepress.org, where this article first appeared.

The 9/11 Stand Down in 2 Minutes

March 29, 2008

from http://georgewashington.blogspot.com/

NORAD, responsible for intercepting errant aircraft over the U.S., has a standard operating procedure for scrambling planes for interception which takes less than 15 minutes
They did this successfully (on time) 129 times in 2000 and and 67 times between September 2000 and June 2001.

Yet, on September 11th, they failed to do their job 4 times in a single day:

You might think that the military couldn’t find the hijacked planes because the hijackers turned off the transponders. However, a former air traffic controller, who knows the flight corridor which the two planes which hit the Twin Towers flew “like the back of my hand” and who handled two actual hijackings says that planes can be tracked on radar even when their transponders are turned off (also, listen to this interview).

As a former senior air force colonel said:

If our government had merely [done] nothing, and I say that as an old interceptor pilot—I know the drill, I know what it takes, I know how long it takes, I know what the procedures are, I know what they were, and I know what they’ve changed them to—if our government had merely done nothing, and allowed normal procedures to happen on that morning of 9/11, the Twin Towers would still be standing and thousands of dead Americans would still be alive. [T]hat is treason!

Norad’s stand down on 9/11 was so blatant that Norad has been forced to give 3 entirely different versions of what happened that day, as each previous version has been exposed as false. When someone repeatedly changes his testimony after being caught in lies, how believable is he? The falsity of Norad’s explanations were so severe that even the 9/11 Commission considered recommending criminal charges for the making of false statements.

In addition, Dick Cheney monitored flight 77 for many miles as it approached the Pentagon — one of the most heavily-defended buildings in the world — and yet ordered that the airplane not be intercepted (confirmed here). Given that Cheney was in charge of all of the war games and coordinated the government’s “response” to the attacks on 9/11 — apparently including Norad (see this Department of State announcement, this CNN article, and this essay) — Cheney’s orders regarding flight 77 seem to be part and parcel of the Norad stand down.

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

March 27, 2008

rfk.jpg

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