New Civilization News: "Black Waters, Black Waters Run Down Through The Land"    
  "Black Waters, Black Waters Run Down Through The Land" 51 comments
picture29 Sep 2007 @ 12:38, by Richard Carlson

Nobody sees a flower---really---it is so small it takes time---we haven't time---and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.

---Georgia O'Keeffe

Let us be moral. Let us contemplate existence.

---Charles Dickens

We learn something by doing it. There is no other way.

---John Holt

Many of us here in the coal mining regions of Appalachia can hear Jean Ritchie's sweet voice in our imaginations by just reading her lyric in the title up there. Black water refers to the toxic sludge that kills all life in the creeks and streams near mining operations, particularly what's called mountaintop removal. Sometimes whole hillsides of the stuff falls down on top of properties owned by people for generations. Folks have been killed in those landslides, but there's little recourse since Bush made the previously banned practice legal 5 years ago.

So when I learn a good Republican Christian boy decided to name his private security company Blackwater, and stick it in North Carolina, I thought there must be some kind of---er---black humor involved. Maybe there is. Erik Prince was making the Navy Seals his career until his mother died and left him the family fortune. His sister was the chairperson of the Republican Party in Michigan, and wife to gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos. Erik moved South, set up Blackwater, and also sits on the board of Christian Freedom International, a group helping "Christians who are persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ". [link]

This was 10 years ago, when Erik was 27. Now, we learn, "Blackwater is currently the biggest of the US State Department's three private security contractors. At least 90% of its revenue comes from government contracts, two-thirds of which are no-bid contracts." [link] To be well connected thus seems the best way...and maybe the only really get in to the true American liberty we call global capitalism. Papa Bush introduced it as The New World Order, but wasn't that a mite Roman Empire? So the following presidents just talk about the freedom and democracy of globalization. We know quite a few families have gotten very rich from all this, but many of the rest of us look at our tax bill and feel we're financing the whole thing. Are the returns worth it?

Economist Paul Krugman yesterday called global capitalism's need for companies like Blackwater a "Hired Gun Fetish."

The New York Times
September 28, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
Hired Gun Fetish

Sometimes it seems that the only way to make sense of the Bush administration is to imagine that it’s a vast experiment concocted by mad political scientists who want to see what happens if a nation systematically ignores everything we’ve learned over the past few centuries about how to make a modern government work.

Thus, the administration has abandoned the principle of a professional, nonpolitical civil service, stuffing agencies from FEMA to the Justice Department with unqualified cronies. Tax farming — giving individuals the right to collect taxes, in return for a share of the take — went out with the French Revolution; now the tax farmers are back.

And so are mercenaries, whom Machiavelli described as “useless and dangerous” more than four centuries ago.

As far as I can tell, America has never fought a war in which mercenaries made up a large part of the armed force. But in Iraq, they are so central to the effort that, as Peter W. Singer of the Brookings Institution points out in a new report, “the private military industry has suffered more losses in Iraq than the rest of the coalition of allied nations combined.”

And, yes, the so-called private security contractors are mercenaries. They’re heavily armed. They carry out military missions, but they’re private employees who don’t answer to military discipline. On the other hand, they don’t seem to be accountable to Iraqi or U.S. law, either. And they behave accordingly.

We may never know what really happened in a crowded Baghdad square two weeks ago. Employees of Blackwater USA claim that they were attacked by gunmen. Iraqi police and witnesses say that the contractors began firing randomly at a car that didn’t get out of their way.

What we do know is that more than 20 civilians were killed, including the couple and child in the car. And the Iraqi version of events is entirely consistent with many other documented incidents involving security contractors.

For example, Mr. Singer reminds us that in 2005 “armed contractors from the Zapata firm were detained by U.S. forces, who claimed they saw the private soldiers indiscriminately firing not only at Iraqi civilians, but also U.S. Marines.” The contractors were not charged. In 2006, employees of Aegis, another security firm, posted a “trophy video” on the Internet that showed them shooting civilians, and employees of Triple Canopy, yet another contractor, were fired after alleging that a supervisor engaged in “joy-ride shooting” of Iraqi civilians.

Yet even among the contractors, Blackwater has the worst reputation. On Christmas Eve 2006, a drunken Blackwater employee reportedly shot and killed a guard of the Iraqi vice president. (The employee was flown out of the country, and has not been charged.) In May 2007, Blackwater employees reportedly shot an employee of Iraq’s Interior Ministry, leading to an armed standoff between the firm and Iraqi police.
Iraqis aren’t the only victims of this behavior. Of the nearly 4,000 American service members who have died in Iraq, scores if not hundreds would surely still be alive if it weren’t for the hatred such incidents engender.

Which raises the question, why are Blackwater and other mercenary outfits still playing such a big role in Iraq?

Don’t tell me that they are irreplaceable. The Iraq war has now gone on for four and a half years — longer than American participation in World War II. There has been plenty of time for the Bush administration to find a way to do without mercenaries, if it wanted to.

And the danger out-of-control military contractors pose to American forces has been obvious at least since March 2004, when four armed Blackwater employees blundered into Fallujah in the middle of a delicate military operation, getting themselves killed and precipitating a crisis that probably ended any chance of an acceptable outcome in Iraq.

Yet Blackwater is still there. In fact, last year the State Department gave Blackwater the lead role in diplomatic security in Iraq.

Mr. Singer argues that reliance on private military contractors has let the administration avoid making hard political choices, such as admitting that it didn’t send enough troops in the first place. Contractors, he writes, “offered the potential backstop of additional forces, but with no one having to lose any political capital.” That’s undoubtedly part of the story.

But it’s also worth noting that the Bush administration has tried to privatize every aspect of the U.S. government it can, using taxpayers’ money to give lucrative contracts to its friends — people like Erik Prince, the owner of Blackwater, who has strong Republican connections. You might think that national security would take precedence over the fetish for privatization — but remember, President Bush tried to keep airport security in private hands, even after 9/11.

So the privatization of war — no matter how badly it works — is just part of the pattern.

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

Tomorrow The New York Times Book Review section will offer up opinion on Naomi Klein's view of global capitalism. The work is called "The Shock Doctrine," referring specifically to CIA interrogation techniques, and is reviewed by Joseph E. Stiglitz, a university professor at Columbia, who was awarded the Nobel in economic science in 2001. His latest book is “Making Globalization Work.”

The New York Times
September 30, 2007

The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.
By Naomi Klein.
558 pp. Metropolitan Books. $28.

There are no accidents in the world as seen by Naomi Klein. The destruction of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina expelled many poor black residents and allowed most of the city’s public schools to be replaced by privately run charter schools. The torture and killings under Gen. Augusto Pinochet in Chile and during Argentina’s military dictatorship were a way of breaking down resistance to the free market. The instability in Poland and Russia after the collapse of Communism and in Bolivia after the hyperinflation of the 1980s allowed the governments there to foist unpopular economic “shock therapy” on a resistant population. And then there is “Washington’s game plan for Iraq”: “Shock and terrorize the entire country, deliberately ruin its infrastructure, do nothing while its culture and history are ransacked, then make it all O.K. with an unlimited supply of cheap household appliances and imported junk food,” not to mention a strong stock market and private sector.

“The Shock Doctrine” is Klein’s ambitious look at the economic history of the last 50 years and the rise of free-market fundamentalism around the world. “Disaster capitalism,” as she calls it, is a violent system that sometimes requires terror to do its job. Like Pol Pot proclaiming that Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge was in Year Zero, extreme capitalism loves a blank slate, often finding its opening after crises or “shocks.” For example, Klein argues, the Asian crisis of 1997 paved the way for the International Monetary Fund to establish programs in the region and for a sell-off of many state-owned enterprises to Western banks and multinationals. The 2004 tsunami enabled the government of Sri Lanka to force the fishermen off beachfront property so it could be sold to hotel developers. The destruction of 9/11 allowed George W. Bush to launch a war aimed at producing a free-market Iraq.

In an early chapter, Klein compares radical capitalist economic policy to shock therapy administered by psychiatrists. She interviews Gail Kastner, a victim of covert C.I.A. experiments in interrogation techniques that were carried out by the scientist Ewen Cameron in the 1950s. His idea was to use electroshock therapy to break down patients. Once “complete depatterning” had been achieved, the patients could be reprogrammed. But after breaking down his “patients,” Cameron was never able to build them back up again. The connection with a rogue C.I.A. scientist is overdramatic and unconvincing, but for Klein the larger lessons are clear: “Countries are shocked — by wars, terror attacks, coups d’état and natural disasters.” Then “they are shocked again — by corporations and politicians who exploit the fear and disorientation of this first shock to push through economic shock therapy.” People who “dare to resist” are shocked for a third time, “by police, soldiers and prison interrogators.”

In another introductory chapter, Klein offers an account of Milton Friedman — she calls him “the other doctor shock” — and his battle for the hearts and minds of Latin American economists and economies. In the 1950s, as Cameron was conducting his experiments, the Chicago School was developing the ideas that would eclipse the theories of Raul Prebisch, an advocate of what today would be called the third way, and of other economists fashionable in Latin America at the time. She quotes the Chilean economist Orlando Letelier on the “inner harmony” between the terror of the Pinochet regime and its free-market policies. Letelier said that Milton Friedman shared responsibility for the regime’s crimes, rejecting his argument that he was only offering “technical” advice. Letelier was killed in 1976 by a car bomb planted in Washington by Pinochet’s secret police. For Klein, he was another victim of the “Chicago Boys” who wanted to impose free-market capitalism on the region. “In the Southern Cone, where contemporary capitalism was born, the ‘war on terror’ was a war against all obstacles to the new order,” she writes.

One of the world’s most famous antiglobalization activists and the author of the best seller “No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies,” Klein provides a rich description of the political machinations required to force unsavory economic policies on resisting countries, and of the human toll. She paints a disturbing portrait of hubris, not only on the part of Friedman but also of those who adopted his doctrines, sometimes to pursue more corporatist objectives. It is striking to be reminded how many of the people involved in the Iraq war were involved earlier in other shameful episodes in United States foreign policy history. She draws a clear line from the torture in Latin America in the 1970s to that at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay.

Klein is not an academic and cannot be judged as one. There are many places in her book where she oversimplifies. But Friedman and the other shock therapists were also guilty of oversimplification, basing their belief in the perfection of market economies on models that assumed perfect information, perfect competition, perfect risk markets. Indeed, the case against these policies is even stronger than the one Klein makes. They were never based on solid empirical and theoretical foundations, and even as many of these policies were being pushed, academic economists were explaining the limitations of markets — for instance, whenever information is imperfect, which is to say always.

Klein isn’t an economist but a journalist, and she travels the world to find out firsthand what really happened on the ground during the privatization of Iraq, the aftermath of the Asian tsunami, the continuing Polish transition to capitalism and the years after the African National Congress took power in South Africa, when it failed to pursue the redistributionist policies enshrined in the Freedom Charter, its statement of core principles. These chapters are the least exciting parts of the book, but they are also the most convincing. In the case of South Africa, she interviews activists and others, only to find there is no one answer. Busy trying to stave off civil war in the early years after the end of apartheid, the A.N.C. didn’t fully understand how important economic policy was. Afraid of scaring off foreign investors, it took the advice of the I.M.F. and the World Bank and instituted a policy of privatization, spending cutbacks, labor flexibility and so on. This didn’t stop two of South Africa’s own major companies, South African Breweries and Anglo-American, from relocating their global headquarters to London. The average growth rate has been a disappointing 5 percent (much lower than in countries in East Asia, which followed a different route); unemployment for the black majority is 48 percent; and the number of people living on less than $1 a day has doubled to four million from two million since 1994, the year the A.N.C. took over.

Some readers may see Klein’s findings as evidence of a giant conspiracy, a conclusion she explicitly disavows. It’s not the conspiracies that wreck the world but the series of wrong turns, failed policies, and little and big unfairnesses that add up. Still, those decisions are guided by larger mind-sets. Market fundamentalists never really appreciated the institutions required to make an economy function well, let alone the broader social fabric that civilizations require to prosper and flourish. Klein ends on a hopeful note, describing nongovernmental organizations and activists around the world who are trying to make a difference. After 500 pages of “The Shock Doctrine,” it’s clear they have their work cut out for them.

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

As a sort of footnote to how well the United States is managing its liberation of the globe, Jane Goodall this week warned of what many saw as the problem with alternate fuels based on corn crops and such. You want corn? Developers in Brazil will just plow down what remains of the rain forest and plant it for you.

Jane Goodall Says Biofuel Crops Hurt Rain Forests

NEW YORK - Primate scientist Jane Goodall said on Wednesday the race to grow crops for vehicle fuels is damaging rain forests in Asia, Africa and South America and adding to the emissions blamed for global warming.

"We're cutting down forests now to grow sugarcane and palm oil for biofuels and our forests are being hacked into by so many interests that it makes them more and more important to save now," Goodall said on the sidelines of the Clinton Global Initiative, former US President Bill Clinton's annual philanthropic meeting.

As new oil supplies become harder to find, many countries such as Brazil and Indonesia are racing to grow domestic sources of vehicle fuels, such as ethanol from sugarcane and biodiesel from palm nuts.

The United Nations' climate program considers the fuels to be low in carbon because growing the crops takes in heat-trapping gas carbon dioxide.

But critics say demand for the fuels has led companies to cut down and burn forests in order to grow the crops, adding to heat-trapping emissions and leading to erosion and stress on ecosystems.

"Biofuel isn't the answer to everything; it depends where it comes from," she said. "All of this means better education on where fuels are coming from are needed."

Goodall said the problem is especially bad in the Indonesian rain forest where large amounts of palm nut oil is being made. Growers in Uganda -- where her nonprofit group works to conserve Great Apes -- are also looking to buy large parcels of rain forest and cut them down to grow sugar cane, while in Brazil, forest is cleared to grow sugar cane.

The Goodall Institute is working with a recently formed group of eight rain forest nations called the Forest Eight, or F8, led by Indonesia. The group wants to create a system where rich countries would pay them not to chop down rain forests and hopes to unveil the plan at climate talks in Bali in December.

Scientists from the forested countries are trying to nail down exactly how much carbon dioxide the ecosystems store, but the amount has been estimated to be about double that which is already in the atmosphere, Goodall said.

(Reporting by Timothy Gardner)
Story Date: 28/9/2007
© Reuters News Service 2007

Here are the full lyrics to Black Waters~~~

(Jean Ritchie)

I come from the mountains, Kentucky's my home,
Where the wild deer and black bear so lately did roam;
By cool rushing waterfalls the wildflowers dream,
And through every green valley there runs a clear stream.
Now there's scenes of destruction on every hand
And only black waters run down through my land.

Sad scenes of destruction on every hand,
Black waters, black waters, run down through my land.

O the quail, she's a pretty bird, she sings a sweet tongue;
In the roots of tall timbers she nests with her young.
But the hillside explodes with the dynamite's roar,
And the voices of the small birds will sound there no more;
And the hillsides come a—sliding so awful and grand,
And the flooding black waters rise over my land.

Sad scenes of destruction on every hand;
Black waters, black waters run down through the land.

In the rising of the springtime we planted our corn,
In the ending of the springtime we buried a son,
In summer come a nice man, said, "Everything's fine—
My employer just requires a way to his mine"—
Then they threw down my mountain and covered my corn,
And the grave on the hillside's a mile deeper down,
And the man stands and talks with his hat in his hand
As the poisonous water spreads over my land.

Sad scenes of destruction on every hand;
Black waters, black waters run down through the land.

Well, I ain't got no money and not much of a home;
I own my own land, but my land' s not my own.
But if I had ten million thereabouts—
I would buy Perry County and I'd run 'em all out!
Set down on the bank with my bait in my can,
And just watch the clear waters run down through my land!

Well, wouldn't that be like the old Promised Land?
Black waters, black waters no more in my land!

Source: Celebration of Life - Jean Ritchie, Geordie Music Publishing © 1971

YouTube has a video of her singing it, with pictures of the Appalachians~~~


[< Back] [New Civilization News]



29 Sep 2007 @ 18:16 by quinty : NY Times review
(Well, I wrote the following before seeing the review above..... )

Anyone want to bet the Times will trash Klein's book? Once upon a time they were a respectable reviewer, when the editor was Charles Poore. No more. Having acquaintances on the left whose books were hatcheted by the Times I can vow for their ferocity. Which in lack of truthfulness is really beneath the reputation of the Good Gray Lady. The New York Review of Books is probably more reliable, but we’ll see.

What struck me as odd was that Klein appeared surprised - in that piece she wrote related to the theme of her book - that Capitalism always runs like quick silver in all directions. That is what Capitalism does. It is the economic system of the lowest common denominator and goes wherever new wealth can be gained. Wherever there is an opportunity. That is its much vaunted creativity.

Capitalists are most ingenious about this, which is why some oversight and regulation is required. Of course, if everyone is in league together - the corporate press, the best government money can buy, as well as numerous corporate giants - then we are increasingly at their mercy. And, as we all know, under Bush corporate power has only gained and intensified. The press, the courts, and most people in government have no interest in standing in the way. After all, their careers, fortunes, and good names are at stake. They wouldn’t want to do anything to tarnish or endanger any of that. Better appearances than realities.

Now that the top three Democratic presidential candidates have “seen the light,” and more or less promise to stay in Iraq, the downslide has only increased. And as newborn “realists” they may only be acknowledging the Neocons’ dream of hegemony and “national security” in the Mideast. For “realists” know that we can not appear weak and tightening our hold, like Capitalism, is the approach of the least common denominator. The one most people can understand. Reminds me of the slogan: “These colors don’t run.” It is an election season, after all.

Yes, it is the practical people, all those practical people, who will destroy us after all.

"Tax farming." I had never heard of that before. Just shows that the founders were only a bump on the road so far as human greed is concerned. Like quick silver, there is always a way.

Someone commented that Blackwater mercenaries in uniform look much like American soldiers. And that Arabs, who probably know more about us than we do about them today, could confuse the two. Another disgrace which our callous president undoubtedly doesn't care about.

I share Krugman's despair.  

1 Oct 2007 @ 07:39 by vaxen : Who cares?
Kleins book? (*wink*). Here's some real poop for the intrepid amongst you who wish to explore and for the furtherance of dissonant treat ( a breakfast food) try where there is enough of the right `stuff' to hang anybodys' doom wad twice.  

1 Oct 2007 @ 08:56 by jazzolog : The Links
take me to one of those index things that don't really go anywhere. Undoubtedly there is some further Vaxen mystery to solve before the sacred texts are revealed.  

1 Oct 2007 @ 16:02 by vaxen : Yes...
find an .html that looks interesting and click on it. Lots of secrets there for the true researcher. Thought I'd toss it in here in case I needed to get back there I'd have a hidden few links spread out here and there also lends an air of nostalgia to my sojourns across the deep web. Go ahead...see what's in those folders. Or must I do everything for you kiddies who never went through reversers academy? Who do not know about +ORC or even Fravia++!

Oi, with all the glitz and shpiel of the modern web I'd think you'd be glad to see an index full of so much stuff! Danny Casalaro and the Octopus, old, cool, Watergate stuff --- and how it relates to Iraq today. Oh, stuff which illudes the modern savant.

As an example, this:

1st interview between Perry Russon and
James Phelan
Tape and transcript (approximately 30
Transcript re: Shaw, Moffett, Ferrie
5/27/67 3rd interview between Perry Russo
James Phelan
Tape and transcript

Transcript ‑ 7 pages, RE: parafin test, Warren report, misc.

Tape ‑"Nothing of importance" noted on box containing tape

Perry Russo and Washington Post #5
(Person conducting interview not identified)
Tape and transcript 11 pages , RE: Ferrie &associates; Shaw


;) Oh yeah, I once served papers on Mr. one else had ever been able to. I did. ;) Fait accompli!


Mena: The Oral Deposition of Richard J. Brenneke
Joint Investigation by the Arkansas State Attorney General's Office and the U.S. Congress

Or click on:

Or: clintan.html where clicking on it there will get you this: which just might lead the intrepid researcher to this

Lots of stuff in different directories. want it all out there nicely graphic'd set in stone can't change a thing no fun yuckamo? Take some time off and go play around you'd be surprised at what you might find in those folders, bins, zips, rtf's and html's in all their old bold glory just setting there doing nothing for anyone but us...spooks. We exo=terrestrials.;)

I'm now listening to Headline Edition with David Grant. Latest developements in the finding of a flying disk. Roswell...also a special report on the state of the soft coal negotiations. Ah, Army Air Force Officers! Hahahaha Joe WIlson Reporting From Chicago!

Col. William Blankfort is refusing to give details. The saucer has been shipped to Wright Field Ohio! Near you, jazzo? Appears it's made of some kind of tin foil!  

1 Oct 2007 @ 22:49 by quinty @ : So,
what else is new?  

2 Oct 2007 @ 06:28 by vaxen : So...
Blackwater just snagged a cool 92M contract from the Pentagon. So much for illegalities in Iraq, eh?  

3 Oct 2007 @ 04:36 by vaxen : "When
The Saxons Began To Hate..."

That's a line from an old poem some of you may recall. Here is a link to an important article and the death of a mother of three at the hands of Airport Security. More than anything it represents the end game that all Democracies play when they are lying and dying. Something they inevitably do but they don't do it well.
The Killing of Carol Ann Gotbaum?

Contortionists worldwide must be mourning the death of Carol Anne Gotbaum. She was an artist of unparalleled talent, if you believe the cops who arrested, trussed, and imprisoned her at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix, Arizona. She died in their custody last Friday because "[she] had possibly tried to manipulate the handcuffs from behind her to the front, got tangled up in the process and they ended up around her neck," according to Sgt. Andy Hill.

Go ahead: try it. Hold your hands behind your back and raise them. Now you truly appreciate Mrs. Gotbaum’s unbelievable skill: it’s impossible to lift your arms more than a few vertebrae upward. They won’t go anywhere near your neck.

Oddly, no account of Mrs. Gotbaum’s death mentions her prowess as a pretzel. We learn instead that she was 45, that she held an MBA from a South African university, and that she leaves behind "three very small children. It's a very delicate matter," her grieving mother-in-law told the New York Daily News.

"Delicate." Hmmm. Not exactly the word I’d use.

PS: You'll be surprised to learn who her mother in law is and from whence our murdered victim got her degrees. I can't help but think, to myself, of course, that there must be some errant connection.

It is a curious thing of late! :(  

3 Oct 2007 @ 18:03 by koravya : Just to say
Thanks for all the stuff to read.  

5 Oct 2007 @ 16:13 by rayon : Same here

5 Oct 2007 @ 18:14 by vaxen : Yeah...

"Nobody sees a flower---really---it is so small it takes time---we haven't time---and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time." - Georgia O'Keeffe

And a letter to the American People:

Not that any of this would 'concern' anyone in the New Civilization at all. After all Aushvitz is just a very dim memory if remembered at all and Treblinka? Right.


and Georgia in easy to befriend~~~


5 Oct 2007 @ 18:52 by Quinty @ : You're a regular hoot,

Auschvitz? Sure, just a distant memory. Doesn't bother anyone at all.

Thanks Vax....  

5 Oct 2007 @ 21:02 by vaxen : Sure...
Write him a note and let him know that someone cares and, if possible, read his site. Seems our jazzolog is of the opinion that there is no proof at this 'internet rant.'

Well, read the site (Pretty please.), how long can that take, and discover the proof. This man is not alone and it is a total disgrace for all Americans that such is allowed to happen. Remember Jessica Lynch?

The main site: and I know what you're thinking. But he is redesigning the site and his story is really worth a read. If you get time send him a dollar.  

6 Oct 2007 @ 12:16 by jazzolog : I Don't Believe
I discussed "proof" with you at all in my email, Vax. I remember writing it's a good idea in argument to set out your facts at the outset, rather than rail against the Fates---or choose a selection from the site that describes treatment he suffered. A paranoid person can present proof of what he sees is being done to him, and there undoubtedly is some truth in what he says. If he's a prophet, there's lots of truth in it.

To you and this guy, a bit of advice: if you want people to adopt your views, be sure to treat their questions with quiet respect. If there isn't enough time for such hospitality, then why bother even to talk to us? Just pick up your weapon and go shoot something.  

6 Oct 2007 @ 21:36 by vaxen : No...
you didn't write that but I don't believe I mentioned any email. However it would be really nice if you would write to him and let him know how you feel about the general layout and give a tip or two, as a writer, that the real message he has to offer might be better 'framed' thus reaching more people.

Or, if you get the time, you could write to me and I'll write to him and he'll go crazier than he already thinks he is. Or let General Alexander handle it all.

Remember that Fascism is only in it's budding stage now but in 347 years this Galaxy, if we allow it now, will be controlled completely by Fascism!

You do, of course, remember the real definition of "Fascism?" And Ikes' warning to We-The-People? Oh, it's all in the frame. ;) And please don't feel slighted because of my quip.


"Now that every citizen is a soldier, we need to make sure that all Americans have the weapons necessary to fight -- and win -- this new war. Expensive missile systems deployed in Afghanistan will only serve to rearrange the rubble of an already devestated country. But citizen-soldiers can be nearly invulnerable with some relatively modest investments." - President George W. Bush


THE STRANGER - Rudyard Kipling

The Stranger within my gate,
He may be true or kind,
But he does not talk my talk —
I cannot feel his mind.
I see the face and the eyes and the mouth,
But not the soul behind.

The men of my own stock
They may do ill or well,
But they tell the lies I am wonted to,
They are used to the lies I tell.
And we do not need interpreters
When we go to buy and sell.

The Stranger within my gates,
He may be evil or good,
But I cannot tell what powers control —
What reasons sway his mood;
Nor when the Gods of his far-off land
Shall repossess his blood.

The men of my own stock,
Bitter bad they may be,
But, at least, they hear the things I hear,
And see the things I see;
And whatever I think of them and their likes
They think of the likes of me.

This was my father's belief
And this is also mine:
Let the corn be all one sheaf —
And the grapes be all one vine,
Ere our children's teeth are set on edge
By bitter bread and wine.


"So, I am not advocating anything except that in 1996, whoever is in office now should be thrown out, and that we should start over again.

"That means that you must go to town council meetings, PTA meetings, school board meetings - everybody needs to get involved. Get off your ass, turn off the TV and get out there and speak.

"Tell your Congressman, "look, if you bullshit us once, you're out of here. We're tired of this."

"We are now legally, under the UN, a natural resource. Parts of the US are going to be withdrawn from human use. What are they going to do with the people that are in these areas? We have already lost part of
Yellowstone, and as I have said, other areas in the US have been nominated.

"I don't own a gun, but do not allow Congress to take apart the Bill of Rights. If you live by the sword, you die by it - sometimes you die
without a sword. If I choose to have a gun, though, I want the right to go and get it." - The Andromeda Letters

Obstructing Justice
Vanity Fair's David Rose explores how the free-for-all fraud by military contractors in Iraq has surpassed former levels of Defense Department corruption by decimal points. Most enlightening has been the highly unusual practice by the U.S. Department of Justice in helping companies like Halliburton to conceal a level of illegal profiteering that hasn't been seen since the Civil War.

# posted by Spartacus O'Neal

Halliburton. WuHu!  

12 Oct 2007 @ 09:57 by jazzolog : 3 Opinions On Bush Torture And Thugs
but, alas, not one of them is from our Supreme Court, which refused to consider these matters.
The first in from London's Financial Times, hardly a hotbed of radical opinion. It appeared Monday, and provides a keyhole through which to see how the world looks at us now.
The second is from The New York Times yesterday, and contributes a followup to what the FT editor was calling for.
The third is from the associate editor of In These Times and, though it is about Blackwater, describes when and how these policies began. The first 2 require registration (free & quick) to read, but since you may be in a hurry I'll post them all~~~

It is time to speak truth to US power
Published: October 8 2007 20:24 | Last updated: October 8 2007 20:24

Since the attacks of September 11 2001, the administration of President George W. Bush has sought to cast a cloak of legality over the wrongs that it has committed in the name of fighting terrorism.

Mr Bush seems to think that legal sleight of hand can be used to justify almost any tactic to battle terrorists – including, it emerged last week, simulated drowning and other cruel interrogation techniques that Alberto Gonzales, his former attorney-general, appears to have authorised by secret legal memorandum.

Time and again, Mr Bush has twisted the law to serve his own national security goals. He has given the rule of law a bad name, and devalued the US constitution – all in the name of protecting the American people.

But now the US Supreme Court has a chance to pierce this veil of spurious legality, and reveal the constitutional and legal abuses inherent in the anti-terrorism crusade – from the treatment of detainees at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, to the torture of terrorism suspects in secret prisons overseas, to the unwarranted surveillance of the phone calls and e-mails of US citizens.

Court cases challenging the legality of these policies have finally made their way to the top court, and civil liberties groups are pleading with the justices to take them up. The court has already agreed to hear a case testing the constitutionality of a 2006 law stripping Guantánamo detainees of the right to challenge their detention in federal court.

As soon as Tuesday, the court could announce whether it will also hear a case involving the “renditions” of terrorism suspects in secret prisons overseas. The justices are also being urged to hear a case testing the right of Americans to challenge the government’s secret surveillance programme in court.

In both the renditions and the surveillance case, the administration is refusing to answer the charges against it, claiming the mantle of state secrecy to stay out of court.

These cases give the justices the chance to undertake a comprehensive review of Mr Bush’s post-September 11 national security policies. They should not pass up this opportunity.

The genius of American democracy is that it gives each branch of government – the executive, the legislature and the judiciary – the power to check abuses by every other branch. Mr Bush has abused his power, and Congress has failed to hold him to account; it is time the Supreme Court did so.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007

The New York Times
October 11, 2007
Supreme Disgrace

The Supreme Court exerts leadership over the nation’s justice system, not just through its rulings, but also by its choice of cases — the ones it agrees to hear and the ones it declines. On Tuesday, it led in exactly the wrong direction.

Somehow, the court could not muster the four votes needed to grant review in the case of an innocent German citizen of Lebanese descent who was kidnapped, detained and tortured in a secret overseas prison as part of the Bush administration’s morally, physically and legally abusive anti-terrorism program. The victim, Khaled el-Masri, was denied justice by lower federal courts, which dismissed his civil suit in a reflexive bow to a flimsy government claim that allowing the case to go forward would put national security secrets at risk.

Those rulings, Mr. Masri’s lawyers correctly argued, represented a major distortion of the state secrets doctrine, a rule created by the federal courts that was originally intended to shield specific evidence in a lawsuit filed against the government. It was never designed to dictate dismissal of an entire case before any evidence is produced.

It may well be that one or more justices sensitive to the breathtaking violation of Mr. Masri’s rights, and the evident breaking of American law, refrained from voting to accept his case as a matter of strategy. They may have feared a majority ruling by the Roberts court approving the dangerously expansive view of executive authority inherent in the Bush team’s habitual invocation of the state secrets privilege. In that case, the justices at least could have commented, or offered a dissent, as has happened when the court abdicated its responsibility to hear at least two other recent cases involving national security issues of this kind.

Mr. Masri says he was picked up while vacationing in Macedonia in late 2003 and flown to a squalid prison in Afghanistan. He says he was questioned there about ties to terrorist groups and was beaten by his captors, some of whom were Americans. At the end of May 2004, Mr. Masri was released in a remote part of Albania without having been charged with a crime. Investigations in Europe and news reports in this country have supported his version of events, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice acknowledged privately to her that Mr. Masri’s abduction was a mistake, an admission that aides to Ms. Rice have denied. The Masri case, in other words, is being actively discussed all over the world. The only place it cannot be discussed, it seems, is in a United States courtroom.

In effect, the Supreme Court has granted the government immunity for subjecting Mr. Masri to “extraordinary rendition,” the morally and legally unsupportable United States practice of transporting foreign nationals to be interrogated in other countries known to use torture and lacking basic legal protections. It’s hard to imagine what, at this point, needs to be kept secret, other than the ways in which the administration behaved irresponsibly, and quite possibly illegally, in the Masri case. And Mr. Masri is not the only innocent man kidnapped by American agents and subjected to abuse and torture in a foreign country. He’s just the only one whose lawsuit got this far.

This unsatisfactory outcome gives rise to new worries about the current Supreme Court’s resolve to perform its crucial oversight role — particularly with other cases related to terrorism in the pipeline and last week’s disclosure of secret 2005 Justice Department memos authorizing the use of inhumane interrogation methods that just about everyone except the Bush White House thinks of as torture. Instead of a rejection, the Masri case should have occasioned a frank revisiting of the Supreme Court’s 1953 ruling in United States v. Reynolds. That case enshrined the state secrets doctrine that this administration has repeatedly relied upon to avoid judicial scrutiny of its lawless actions.

Indeed, the Reynolds case itself is an object lesson in why courts need to apply a healthy degree of skepticism to state secrets claims. The court denied the widows of three civilians, who had died in the crash of a military aircraft, access to the official accident report, blindly accepting the government’s assertion that sharing the report would hurt national security. When the documents finally became public just a few years ago, it became clear that the government had lied. The papers contained information embarrassing to the government but nothing to warrant top secret treatment or denying American citizens honest adjudication of their lawsuit.

In refusing to consider Mr. Masri’s appeal, the Supreme Court has left an innocent person without any remedy for his wrongful imprisonment and torture. It has damaged America’s standing in the world and established the nation as Supreme Enabler of the Bush administration’s efforts to avoid accountability for its actions. These are not accomplishments to be proud of.

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

Views > October 11, 2007
Blackwater Nation
Contracting soldiers of fortune is only one example of our recent philosophy of government
By Brian Cook

Those seeking to pinpoint the date that propelled the private military firm Blackwater into its prominent (and disastrous) position in the U.S. military apparatus might look toward Sept. 11, 2001. Al Clark, one of the company’s co-founders, once remarked, “Osama bin Laden turned Blackwater into what it is today.” And two weeks after 9/11, Erik Prince, the company’s other co-founder and current CEO, told Bill O’Reilly that, after four years in the business, “I was starting to get a little cynical on how seriously people took security. The phone is ringing off the hook now.”

However, in her new book, The Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein suggests that we should turn the calendar back one day and read the speech that then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld gave to Pentagon staffers on Sept. 10, 2001. The day before 19 hijackers flew passenger flights into the Pentagon and World Trade Center, Rumsfeld darkly warned of “a threat, a serious threat, to the security of the United States of America. … With brutal consistency, it stifles free thought and crushes new ideas. It disrupts the defense of the United States and places the lives of men and women in uniform at risk.” Who was this dastardly adversary? “[T]he Pentagon bureaucracy.”

Declaring “an all-out campaign to shift the Pentagon’s resources from bureaucracy to battlefield, from tail to the tooth,” Rumsfeld told his staff to “scour the department for functions that could be performed better and more cheaply through commercial outsourcing.” He mentioned healthcare, housing and custodial work, and said that, outside of “warfighting,” “we should seek suppliers who can provide these non-core activities efficiently and effectively.”

As Jeremy Scahill has reported, the implementation of that plan has been wildly successful, with at least 180,000 private contractors currently employed in Iraq, outnumbering U.S. troops by 20,000, even after the “surge.” (In the first Gulf war, the soldier-to-contractor ratio was 60:1.) But the results have been disastrous, from the deplorable conditions at the recently privatized Walter Reed military hospital, to the contaminated food and fecal-soiled bathing water that Halliburton provided to U.S. troops, to the gung-ho Blackwater contractors who prefer to shoot Iraqi hearts rather than win them.

This outsourcing of the military’s core services is in keeping with the Bush administration’s philosophy of government. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman noted that we’ve seen the same dynamic at work in the IRS, with the agency outsourcing debt collection of back taxes to private companies, which then receive a share of the return for their work.

But to lay the blame solely at the feet of the Bush administration is to overlook the complicity of Democrats in accepting a neoliberal agenda that has gutted government services and redistributed its wealth into the hands of private interests. After all, the Clinton administration first expanded the use of military contractors, deploying them in the Balkans, Somalia, Haiti and Colombia.

In fact, in late September, as the most recent Blackwater massacres started to gain mainstream press attention, hundreds of corporate luminaries joined Bill Clinton in New York City to extol the charitable efforts of the Clinton Global Initiative. The former president said his humanitarian endeavor is needed to tackle education, poverty and global warming because these are issues the “government won’t solve, or that government alone can’t solve.”

That might be true, but only because we’ve undergone 30 years of a political ideology that has robbed government of needed revenues, derided regulation that might impinge on corporate profits and sneered at the idea that a public spirit could be preferable to private motives. Rather than rely on the charity of those who have so handsomely profited, it’s time we alter the perverse arrangement.  

12 Oct 2007 @ 19:21 by vaxen : Charitable efforts...
of the Clinton global initiative? What, more cocaine for the kiddies? What a bunch of absolute bilk! This damned country has been a terrorist nation since its' inception. Anyone with half a brain could, and does, see that! The real terrorists in this world are 'All American!' Clinton is as bad as, or worse than, all the others. Bush is only doing what he is told to do. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without the end of American terrorism in site... Ogmemna

But, then, what can you expect from the 'Crowns' satrap? A good sitrep? Hardly!

"Obervation, Orientation, Decision, Action." ~ Col. Boyds' 'OODA' loop.  

14 Oct 2007 @ 03:42 by a-d : apropås
Blackwater 0and its workings...  

14 Oct 2007 @ 10:40 by jazzolog : Anybody Remember The Ugly American?
Frank Rich today~~~

The New York Times
October 14, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
The ‘Good Germans’ Among Us

“BUSH lies” doesn’t cut it anymore. It’s time to confront the darker reality that we are lying to ourselves.

Ten days ago The Times unearthed yet another round of secret Department of Justice memos countenancing torture. President Bush gave his standard response: “This government does not torture people.” Of course, it all depends on what the meaning of “torture” is. The whole point of these memos is to repeatedly recalibrate the definition so Mr. Bush can keep pleading innocent.

By any legal standards except those rubber-stamped by Alberto Gonzales, we are practicing torture, and we have known we are doing so ever since photographic proof emerged from Abu Ghraib more than three years ago. As Andrew Sullivan, once a Bush cheerleader, observed last weekend in The Sunday Times of London, America’s “enhanced interrogation” techniques have a grotesque provenance: “Verschärfte Vernehmung, enhanced or intensified interrogation, was the exact term innovated by the Gestapo to describe what became known as the ‘third degree.’ It left no marks. It included hypothermia, stress positions and long-time sleep deprivation.”

Still, the drill remains the same. The administration gives its alibi (Abu Ghraib was just a few bad apples). A few members of Congress squawk. The debate is labeled “politics.” We turn the page.

There has been scarcely more response to the similarly recurrent story of apparent war crimes committed by our contractors in Iraq. Call me cynical, but when Laura Bush spoke up last week about the human rights atrocities in Burma, it seemed less an act of selfless humanitarianism than another administration maneuver to change the subject from its own abuses.

As Mrs. Bush spoke, two women, both Armenian Christians, were gunned down in Baghdad by contractors underwritten by American taxpayers. On this matter, the White House has been silent. That incident followed the Sept. 16 massacre in Baghdad’s Nisour Square, where 17 Iraqis were killed by security forces from Blackwater USA, which had already been implicated in nearly 200 other shooting incidents since 2005. There has been no accountability. The State Department, Blackwater’s sugar daddy for most of its billion dollars in contracts, won’t even share its investigative findings with the United States military and the Iraqi government, both of which have deemed the killings criminal.

The gunmen who mowed down the two Christian women worked for a Dubai-based company managed by Australians, registered in Singapore and enlisted as a subcontractor by an American contractor headquartered in North Carolina. This is a plot out of “Syriana” by way of “Chinatown.” There will be no trial. We will never find out what happened. A new bill passed by the House to regulate contractor behavior will have little effect, even if it becomes law in its current form.

We can continue to blame the Bush administration for the horrors of Iraq — and should. Paul Bremer, our post-invasion viceroy and the recipient of a Presidential Medal of Freedom for his efforts, issued the order that allows contractors to elude Iraqi law, a folly second only to his disbanding of the Iraqi Army. But we must also examine our own responsibility for the hideous acts committed in our name in a war where we have now fought longer than we did in the one that put Verschärfte Vernehmung on the map.

I have always maintained that the American public was the least culpable of the players during the run-up to Iraq. The war was sold by a brilliant and fear-fueled White House propaganda campaign designed to stampede a nation still shellshocked by 9/11. Both Congress and the press — the powerful institutions that should have provided the checks, balances and due diligence of the administration’s case — failed to do their job. Had they done so, more Americans might have raised more objections. This perfect storm of democratic failure began at the top.

As the war has dragged on, it is hard to give Americans en masse a pass. We are too slow to notice, let alone protest, the calamities that have followed the original sin.

In April 2004, Stars and Stripes first reported that our troops were using makeshift vehicle armor fashioned out of sandbags, yet when a soldier complained to Donald Rumsfeld at a town meeting in Kuwait eight months later, he was successfully pilloried by the right. Proper armor procurement lagged for months more to come. Not until early this year, four years after the war’s first casualties, did a Washington Post investigation finally focus the country’s attention on the shoddy treatment of veterans, many of them victims of inadequate armor, at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and other military hospitals.

We first learned of the use of contractors as mercenaries when four Blackwater employees were strung up in Falluja in March 2004, just weeks before the first torture photos emerged from Abu Ghraib. We asked few questions. When reports surfaced early this summer that our contractors in Iraq (180,000, of whom some 48,000 are believed to be security personnel) now outnumber our postsurge troop strength, we yawned. Contractor casualties and contractor-inflicted casualties are kept off the books.

It was always the White House’s plan to coax us into a blissful ignorance about the war. Part of this was achieved with the usual Bush-Cheney secretiveness, from the torture memos to the prohibition of photos of military coffins. But the administration also invited our passive complicity by requiring no shared sacrifice. A country that knows there’s no such thing as a free lunch was all too easily persuaded there could be a free war.

Instead of taxing us for Iraq, the White House bought us off with tax cuts. Instead of mobilizing the needed troops, it kept a draft off the table by quietly purchasing its auxiliary army of contractors to finesse the overstretched military’s holes. With the war’s entire weight falling on a small voluntary force, amounting to less than 1 percent of the population, the rest of us were free to look the other way at whatever went down in Iraq.

We ignored the contractor scandal to our own peril. Ever since Falluja this auxiliary army has been a leading indicator of every element of the war’s failure: not only our inadequate troop strength but also our alienation of Iraqi hearts and minds and our rampant outsourcing to contractors rife with Bush-Cheney cronies and campaign contributors. Contractors remain a bellwether of the war’s progress today. When Blackwater was briefly suspended after the Nisour Square catastrophe, American diplomats were flatly forbidden from leaving the fortified Green Zone. So much for the surge’s great “success” in bringing security to Baghdad.

Last week Paul Rieckhoff, an Iraq war combat veteran who directs Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, sketched for me the apocalypse to come. Should Baghdad implode, our contractors, not having to answer to the military chain of command, can simply “drop their guns and go home.” Vulnerable American troops could be deserted by those “who deliver their bullets and beans.”

This potential scenario is just one example of why it’s in our national self-interest to attend to Iraq policy the White House counts on us to ignore. Our national character is on the line too. The extralegal contractors are both a slap at the sovereignty of the self-governing Iraq we supposedly support and an insult to those in uniform receiving as little as one-sixth the pay. Yet it took mass death in Nisour Square to fix even our fleeting attention on this long-metastasizing cancer in our battle plan.

Similarly, it took until December 2005, two and a half years after “Mission Accomplished,” for Mr. Bush to feel sufficient public pressure to acknowledge the large number of Iraqi casualties in the war. Even now, despite his repeated declaration that “America will not abandon the Iraqi people,” he has yet to address or intervene decisively in the tragedy of four million-plus Iraqi refugees, a disproportionate number of them children. He feels no pressure from the American public to do so, but hey, he pays lip service to Darfur.

Our moral trajectory over the Bush years could not be better dramatized than it was by a reunion of an elite group of two dozen World War II veterans in Washington this month. They were participants in a top-secret operation to interrogate some 4,000 Nazi prisoners of war. Until now, they have kept silent, but America’s recent record prompted them to talk to The Washington Post.

“We got more information out of a German general with a game of chess or Ping-Pong than they do today, with their torture,” said Henry Kolm, 90, an M.I.T. physicist whose interrogation of Rudolf Hess, Hitler’s deputy, took place over a chessboard. George Frenkel, 87, recalled that he “never laid hands on anyone” in his many interrogations, adding, “I’m proud to say I never compromised my humanity.”

Our humanity has been compromised by those who use Gestapo tactics in our war. The longer we stand idly by while they do so, the more we resemble those “good Germans” who professed ignorance of their own Gestapo. It’s up to us to wake up our somnambulant Congress to challenge administration policy every day. Let the war’s last supporters filibuster all night if they want to. There is nothing left to lose except whatever remains of our country’s good name.

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company  

14 Oct 2007 @ 14:35 by vaxen : Humanity?
What humanity?  

14 Oct 2007 @ 20:31 by quinty : It’s something
we can sense in ourselves and in others. It crosses racial and even national lines. Not sensing it in others is one of the reasons the world is in such bad shape. Lacking that sense leads to greed and selfishness. The cold eye the well off have on the sufferings of others. Superficial prejudices. Fear and hate. As well as condemning an entire people and seeing them all as one.

Does that make it a little bit clearer to you Vax?

“It’s time to confront the darker reality that we are lying to ourselves.”

it seems to me Rich may be a little out of the loop. Just about everyone who will admit we have been lying to ourselves (those actively spreading these lies being the administration, the mass media, the guardians of America’s self image) already have. That’s about two thirds of the nation, judging superficially from the poles.

In fact, a powerful sense of unreality, distrust, and uncertainty has come to the fore in the nation’s psyche. Many of us are appalled by the current political debate: including aspects of a Christian right theocracy or a bellicose Neocon empire. Though I suspect most Americans may not see our country as an empire for doing so would conflict with our self image. The good guys who liberated Europe, etc., etc.

The Iraq war started with hundreds of thousands of Americans out on the streets clamoring the war was a lie. The critics of Bush have been beating back the lies week after week for the past five or six years. It has been a constant slip and slide and those who are honest with themselves know it has all been founded upon lies. But that “darker reality” is the Bush administration, the neocons and Christian right refueling the lie, as well as the national news media (who, reflecting popular opinion, have become more critical of the administration today): all those who still keep the lie alive.

Is Rich addressing them? Those who will never change? Those for whom Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham speak? Or does he have his more career minded colleagues in the mass media in mind? Pleading with them to uphold the journalistic standards they profess (the high ideals they learned in Journalism 101) but rarely allow to ever interfere with their career oriented public image?

a lot of us have been clamoring that the “darker side” of reality has to be faced, and faced soon, for a very long time. The war, the empire, global warming, the nation’s infrastructure, Social Security, Medicare, the national health (or lack of health) system, pensions, retirement, workers’ rights, the environment, and much more.  

18 Oct 2007 @ 10:03 by jazzolog : Out Of Control
Suddenly everywhere I look for help in our sinking republic, there's Joe Lieberman in charge of the life rafts. Interested in seeing someone run the Department of Justice? Mike Mukasey's old buddy, Joe Lieberman, filled in for busy Hillary to introduce him for confirmation yesterday. {link:,0,441637.story} Worried about global warming? Joe Lieberman has the bill. {link:,0,5928613.story} Concerned that CEO contractors actually are running the country? Joe's looking into it. How about this culture of violence in the States? Joe knows Marilyn Mason is the one behind it all. See? Don't you feel better and safer now? And of course, the Dalai Lama got the Congressional Gold Medal. From Bush's past record I thought Erik Prince of Blackwater would get it!

An interview in Monday's Spiegel Online caught my eye yesterday. It's with American military historian Gabriel Kolko. He's Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus at York University in Toronto, and Wikipedia has an article on his achievements. Professor Kolko reports many in the American military believe the Commander In Chief is a runaway cannon and are on the verge of rebellion~~~

October 15, 2007
'Many in the US Military Think Bush and Cheney Are Out of Control'

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Mr. Kolko, editorials in US papers like the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard and the National Review are pushing for military action against Iran. How does the leadership in the US military view such a conflict?

Gabriel Kolko: The American military is stretched to the limit. They are losing both wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Everything is being sacrificed for these wars: money, equipment in Asia, American military power globally, etc. Where and how can they fight yet another? The Pentagon is short of money for procurement, and that is what so many people in the military bureaucracy live for. The situation will be far worse in the event of a war with Iran.

Many in the American military have learned the fundamental dilemma of modern warfare: More money and better weapons don't mean that you win. IEDs, which cost so little to make, are defeating a military which spends billions of dollars per month. IEDS are so adaptable that each new strategy developed by the United States to counter them is answered by the Iraqi insurgents. The Israelis were also never quite able to counter IEDs. One report quotes an Israeli military engineer who said the Israeli answer to IEDs was frequently the use of armored bulldozers to effectively rip away the top 18 inches of pavement and earth where explosive devices might be hidden. This is fantastic, as the cost of winning means destroying roads, which form the basis of a modern economy.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Are people in the Pentagon getting nervous about how influential voices in the White House continue to push for conflict with Iran?

Kolko: Many in the US military think Bush and Cheney are out of control. They are rebelling against Bush and Cheney. Washington Post reporter Dana Priest recently said in an interview that she believed the US military would revolt and refuse to fly missions against Iran if the White House issued such orders.

CENTCOM [US Central Command, the military grouping whose responsibilities include the Middle East] commander Admiral William Fallon reportedly thwarted Cheney's wish to sent a third additional aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf. One paper wrote that he "vowed privately there would be no war against Iran as long as he was chief of CENTCOM."

Lt. Gen. Bruce Wright, in charge of US forces in Japan, told the Associated Press last week that the Iraq war had weakened American forces in the face of any potential conflict with China. He was quoted as saying, "Are we in trouble? It depends on the scenario. But you have to be concerned about the small number of our forces and the age of our forces."

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Do you think that conflict with Iran is likely?

Kolko: All the significant economic journals (Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, etc.) recognize that the American and European economies are now in a crisis, and it may be protracted. The dollar is falling; Gulf States and others may abandon it (as an investment currency). A war with Iran would produce economic chaos because oil would be scarce. There are states which the United States wishes to isolate, like Russia and Venezuela, who can develop great influence through their ability to sell oil in such a crisis. The balance of world economic power is involved, and that is a great issue.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: But aren't the Gulf States interested in seeing Iran weakened through a conflict with the United States?

Kolko: The Gulf States do not like Shia Iran, but they export oil, which makes them rich. They are dependent on peace, not war.

Kolko: Iran fought Iraq for about a decade and lost hundreds of thousands of men. Perhaps they will roll over, but it is not likely. There are a number of tiny islands in the gulf they have had years to fortify. Can 90 percent of their weapons be knocked out? Even if this United States could achieve this, the remainder would be sufficient to sink many boats and tankers. The amount of oil exported through the gulf would thereby be reduced, perhaps cease altogether. This would only strengthen American rivals like Russia and Venezuela.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: But what about the bunker-buster bombs? Wouldn't that be a technology which Iran could not match?

Kolko: Bunker busters are only able to knock out so many bunkers, but alas, not all. If bunker-buster bombs are nuclear they are very useful, but they are also radioactive. In addition to killing Iranians, they may also kill friends and nearby US soldiers.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: What about the so-called 'Cheney plan' to let Israel attack Iran? What role would Israel play in a conflict with Iran? Isn't Israel also interested in seeing that the United States weakens its greatest threat in the region?

Kolko: Israel may be a factor. They must cross Syrian and Jordanian airspace, and the Iranians will be prepared if they are not shot down over Syria. Their countermeasures may be effective, but perhaps not ... War with Iran will lead to a rain of rockets and Israel would be left with an inability to deal with local priorities. Iran is likely to get nuclear bombs sooner or later. So will other nations. Israel has hundreds already. Israeli strategists believe deterrence will then exist. Why risk war?

Israel dislikes Iran and the prospect of Iranian nuclear weapons, but they believe they can handle it with a deterrent relationship. Israel needs its army, which is not large enough for potential nearby problems -- for Palestinians and its Arab neighbors, who it rightfully fears and hates. That means Israel can be belligerent, but it is not capable of playing the US role, except of course with nuclear weapons.

So I regard the Israelis as opponents of a war with Iran which would involve them. They certainly noticed how during the war with Lebanon the Palestinians in Gaza used the opportunity to increase pressure on Israel from the south. Israelis opposed the Iraq war because it would lead to Iranian domination of the region, which it has.

Hence, the report that Cheney is trying to use Israel, if it is true, shows that he's confused and quite mad -- but also unusually isolated.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: But what about the Democratic Party? Isn't it in the interest of the Democratic Party to do everything they can to end the war?

Kolko: All three leading Democratic Party presidential hopefuls -- Clinton, Obama and Edwards -- refused at a debate recently in New Hampshire to promise to pull the US military out of Iraq by the beginning of 2013. The American public is a small factor, as elections have repeatedly shown, but may play some role also. As the last election proved, anyone who thinks Democrats will stop wars is fooling him- or herself. But war with Iran would require new authorizations. Then the Congress would, potentially, be very important.

Interview conducted by John Goetz

18 Oct 2007 @ 18:26 by vaxen : Who cares?
More rhetoric, pointless, from the peanut gallery. Topple the statue of Abraham Lincoln, take the White House apart brick by brick. Throw the Masons, the undead and not so free, into the Potomac. tell the people the truth that George Washington was not the first president, tell the Democrats and the Republicans, the Independents, Progressives, Regressives, all their Ilk, and all the members of the House which does NOT represent "WE THE PEOPLE" that...

We don't believe you any more and we sure as hell will not put up with your antics any more! Vote for yourself in all elections and bring these fools to their knees begging for mercy, which they do not deserve!

Or better - still - stop voting. Tear down the Federal reserve and throw their phoney debt instruments into the streets. Bomb Wall Street and laugh as the investors and invested jump out of tall sky scraper windows to go splat in the streets far below.

Over 1,000,000 Iraqi dead and these bastards have their sites on Iran! A country of 80,000,000 living souls. Well, the 'souls' part might be off a bit.

But most of all please read this article: and afterwards, if you can, laugh out loud, for a very long time, hysterically!

(Fulford, the interviewed, is the former Asian Pacific bureau chief for Forbes magazine.)


Here is a little bit to tweak your interest, hopefully...

RENSE: What's the timetable on this, Ben?

FULFORD: I cannot discuss that. You can't let people know what you're going to do. But I will tell you something interesting.

There is a force of three thousand ninja assassins. Now these ninjas are a two thousand year old cult - a school of martial arts. One of their specialties is sneaking into fortified compounds and murdering important people. The thing about these ninjas is they are white people - they are not Asians - and they are working for the US Special Forces.

They were trained by the Japanese. They understand the true state of power in the US, and they are willing to act when the time comes.

So I hope you're listening out there, Mr. Cheney and Mr. Rockefeller. We have someone close to each of you. You can be turned into dead meat in a matter of hours. I am not bluffing.

And I am hoping it doesn't come to that. I am a decent human being. I am a journalist. I do not want any death. Not one.

But if it comes to it, they will all be slaughtered. They will be hunted down like beasts. Every one of them will be killed. Until they agree to the terms I mentioned before.

Here's the Makow article so you don't have to hunt it down like we will hunt down and dispense with those who would murder us. Heh, heh... ;) Take courage, then, the fun is about to begin! ;)  

18 Oct 2007 @ 21:43 by bushman : Hmm,
He wasn't sposed to mention US Ninjas either.  

19 Oct 2007 @ 04:58 by vaxen : Well...
be that as it may here is an interesting article at his site: Most Americans know very little aboout the Japanese and Chinese.

I was fortunate enough, or not, to have spent considerable time with both so there is a lot that Mr Fulford isn't saying that can be intimated between the lines and in the subtexting. China controls trillions of U.S. Dollars. Japans economy is intimately linked with ours.

Be that as it may... Mr Fulfords site is worth examining. Much of it is in Japanese but the English site is found here and there are enough articles there to get a jist of what he is about. Some cool stuff.

For the Nipponghese site go here:

Sic Semper Tyrannis!
De Opresso Liber!


21 Oct 2007 @ 10:27 by jazzolog : Cause Of Death? Too Much Corruption
I may have seen one too many George Clooney movies lately, but I'm beginning to analyze my options. Would I prefer death by CIA torture in a secret prison, bullets from Blackwater, a heart attack delivered by corporate assassin, or maybe just a hose out of the exhaust in the comfort of my own garage? Frank Rich adds some clout to your morning coffee~~~

The New York Times
October 21, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
Suicide Is Not Painless

It was one of those stories lost in the newspaper’s inside pages. Last week a man you’ve never heard of — Charles D. Riechers, 47, the second-highest-ranking procurement officer in the United States Air Force — killed himself by running his car’s engine in his suburban Virginia garage.

Mr. Riechers’s suicide occurred just two weeks after his appearance in a front-page exposé in The Washington Post. The Post reported that the Air Force had asked a defense contractor, Commonwealth Research Institute, to give him a job with no known duties while he waited for official clearance for his new Pentagon assignment. Mr. Riechers, a decorated Air Force officer earlier in his career, told The Post: “I really didn’t do anything for C.R.I. I got a paycheck from them.” The question, of course, was whether the contractor might expect favors in return once he arrived at the Pentagon last January.

Set against the epic corruption that has defined the war in Iraq, Mr. Riechers’s tragic tale is but a passing anecdote, his infraction at most a misdemeanor. The $26,788 he received for two months in a non-job doesn’t rise even to a rounding error in the Iraq-Afghanistan money pit. So far some $6 billion worth of contracts are being investigated for waste and fraud, however slowly, by the Pentagon and the Justice Department. That doesn’t include the unaccounted-for piles of cash, some $9 billion in Iraqi funds, that vanished during L. Paul Bremer’s short but disastrous reign in the Green Zone. Yet Mr. Riechers, not the first suicide connected to the war’s corruption scandals, is a window into the culture of the whole debacle.

Through his story you can see how America has routinely betrayed the very values of democratic governance that it hoped to export to Iraq. Look deeper and you can see how the wholesale corruption of government contracting sabotaged the crucial mission that might have enabled us to secure the country: the rebuilding of the Iraqi infrastructure, from electricity to hospitals. You can also see just why the heretofore press-shy Erik Prince, the owner of Blackwater USA, staged a rapid-fire media blitz a week ago, sitting down with Charlie Rose, Lara Logan, Lisa Myers and Wolf Blitzer.

Mr. Prince wasn’t trying to save his employees from legal culpability in the deaths of 17 innocent Iraqis mowed down on Sept. 16 in Baghdad. He knows that the legal loopholes granted contractors by Mr. Bremer back in 2004 amount to a get-out-of-jail-free card. He knows that Americans will forget about another 17 Iraqi casualties as soon as Blackwater gets some wrist-slapping punishment.

Instead, Mr. Prince is moving on, salivating over the next payday. As he told The Wall Street Journal last week, Blackwater no longer cares much about its security business; it is expanding into a “full spectrum” defense contractor offering a “one-stop shop” for everything from remotely piloted blimps to armored trucks. The point of his P.R. offensive was to smooth his quest for more billions of Pentagon loot.

Which brings us back to Mr. Riechers. As it happens, he was only about three degrees of separation from Blackwater. His Pentagon job, managing a $30 billion Air Force procurement budget, had been previously held by an officer named Darleen Druyun, who in 2004 was sentenced to nine months in prison for securing jobs for herself, her daughter and her son-in-law at Boeing while favoring the company with billions of dollars of contracts. Ms. Druyun’s Pentagon post remained vacant until Mr. Riechers was appointed. He was brought in to clean up the corruption.

Yet the full story of the corruption during Ms. Druyun’s tenure is even now still unknown. The Bush-appointed Pentagon inspector general delivered a report to Congress full of holes in 2005. Specifically, black holes: dozens of the report’s passages were redacted, as were the names of many White House officials in the report’s e-mail evidence on the Boeing machinations.

The inspector general also assured Congress that neither Donald Rumsfeld nor Paul Wolfowitz knew anything about the crimes. Senators on the Armed Services Committee were incredulous. John Warner, the Virginia Republican, could not believe that the Pentagon’s top two officials had no information about “the most significant defense procurement mismanagement in contemporary history.”

But the inspector general who vouched for their ignorance, Joseph Schmitz, was already heading for the exit when he delivered his redacted report. His new job would be as the chief operating officer of the Prince Group, Blackwater’s parent company.

Much has been made of Erik Prince and his family’s six-digit contributions to Republican candidates and lifelong connections to religious-right power brokers like James Dobson and Gary Bauer. Mr. Prince maintains that these contacts had nothing to do with Blackwater’s growth from tiny start-up to billion-dollar federal contractor in the Bush years. But far more revealing, though far less noticed, is the pedigree of the Washington players on his payroll.

Blackwater’s lobbyist and sometime spokesman, for instance, is Paul Behrends, who first represented the company as a partner in the now-defunct Alexander Strategy Group. That firm, founded by a former Tom DeLay chief of staff, proved ground zero in the Jack Abramoff scandals. Alexander may be no more, but since then, in addition to Blackwater, Mr. Behrends’s clients have includeda company called the First Kuwaiti General Trading and Contracting Company, the builder of the new American embassy in Iraq.

That Vatican-sized complex is the largest American embassy in the world. Now running some $144 million over its $592 million budget and months behind schedule, the project is notorious for its deficient, unsafe construction, some of which has come under criminal investigation. First Kuwaiti has also been accused of engaging in human trafficking to supply the labor force. But the current Bush-appointed State Department inspector general — guess what — has found no evidence of any wrongdoing.

Both that inspector general, Howard Krongard, and First Kuwaiti are now in the cross hairs of Henry Waxman’s House oversight committee. Some of Mr. Krongard’s deputies have accused him of repeatedly halting or impeding investigations in a variety of fraud cases.

Representative Waxman is also trying to overcome State Department stonewalling to investigate corruption in the Iraqi government. In perverse mimicry of his American patrons, Nuri al-Maliki’s office has repeatedly tried to limit the scope of inquiries conducted by Iraq’s own Commission on Public Integrity. The judge in charge of that commission, Radhi Hamza al-Radhi, has now sought asylum in America. Thirty-one of his staff members and a dozen of their relatives have been assassinated, sometimes after being tortured.

The Waxman investigations notwithstanding, the culture of corruption, Iraq war division, remains firmly entrenched. Though some American bribe-takers have been caught — including Gloria Davis, an Army major who committed suicide in Kuwait after admitting her crimes last year — we are asked to believe they are isolated incidents. The higher reaches of the chain of command have been spared, much as they were at Abu Ghraib.

Even a turnover in administrations doesn’t guarantee reform. J. Cofer Black, the longtime C.I.A. hand who is now Blackwater’s vice chairman, has signed on as a Mitt Romney adviser. Hillary Clinton’s Karl Rove, Mark Penn, doubles as the chief executive of Burson-Marsteller, the P.R. giant whose subsidiary helped prepare Mr. Prince for his Congressional testimony. Mr. Penn said the Blackwater association was “temporary.”

War profiteering happens even in “good” wars. Arthur Miller made his name in 1947 with “All My Sons,” which ends with the suicide of a corrupt World War II contractor whose defective airplane parts cost 21 pilots their lives. But in the case of Iraq, this corruption has been at the center of the entire mission, from war-waging to nation-building. As the investigative reporters Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele observed in the October Vanity Fair, America has to date “spent twice as much in inflation-adjusted dollars to rebuild Iraq as it did to rebuild Japan — an industrialized country three times Iraq’s size, two of whose cities had been incinerated by atomic bombs.” (And still Iraq lacks reliable electric power.)

The cost cannot be measured only in lost opportunities, lives and money. There will be a long hangover of shame. Its essence was summed up by Col. Ted Westhusing, an Army scholar of military ethics who was an innocent witness to corruption, not a participant, when he died at age 44 of a gunshot wound to the head while working for Gen. David Petraeus training Iraqi security forces in Baghdad in 2005. He was at the time the highest-ranking officer to die in Iraq.

Colonel Westhusing’s death was ruled a suicide, though some believe he was murdered by contractors fearing a whistle-blower, according to T. Christian Miller, the Los Angeles Times reporter who documents the case in his book “Blood Money.” Either way, the angry four-page letter the officer left behind for General Petraeus and his other commander, Gen. Joseph Fil, is as much an epitaph for America’s engagement in Iraq as a suicide note.

“I cannot support a msn that leads to corruption, human rights abuse and liars,” Colonel Westhusing wrote, abbreviating the word mission. “I am sullied.”

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company with links to research sources  

21 Oct 2007 @ 16:44 by quinty : All My Sons

Arthur Miller's "tragedy" seems small time compared to this. And we had a Harry Truman in the Senate during WW2 investigating this sort of thing. (See, democracy sometimes works. Which is no cause for self-congratulatory chest beating, but democracy does allow a gap or fissure for some justice to occasionally emerge. Which, even with all its flaws, is better than having the roof completely sealed and tarred over.)

But as "conservatives" say, they would like to "put all of big government into a bathtub and pull the plug." Except, of course, when taxpayer money goes into the pockets of the big players. Okay, one of you may bring up John McCain. I'll grant he's truly against government waste unless you disillusion me with the facts. (I’m no fan of McCain’s) But there are conservatives who truly oppose government waste. Not Bush's crowd, though.

Waxman has also been investigating the activities of the lady in charge of government contracts. Sorry I can't be more specific, but when I went into Google a minute ago for exact information I had so many hits, involving so many scandals, that I quickly became frustrated and gave up. Waxman’s memoirs should be quite interesting.

Naomi Klein, as most of us here know, did an excellent piece on Bremer and his Iraq privatization boondoggle a couple of years ago. Combine Christian fundamentalism with greed (and fundamentalists can convince themselves of anything. After all, they do on the most important issues) and you get some scary people, people with the Jesus glow like Erik Prince. Having a huge secret network (they're not going to make all their activities public, are they?) of various "security" activities and private military contracting is a pretty scary thing. But in the meantime we all acknowledge the Islamo Fascists may come charging over the borders at any time. Well, with Blackwater on the field we should be able to combat them, shouldn't we? In this Republican ideal we will not only have gated walled communities, but Blackwater protected gated walled communities. Pardon me if I became lurid, but this sort of thing is in the air today. Bush has spread his own sickness to the rest of the country.

About choosing how to die, if the Islamo Fascists, Blackwater, or one of the groups Vax knows a lot about don't get you, you can always go on vacation in ancient Persia. Then you might get it from an American bomb.

We started off the third millennium running, haven't we?  

21 Oct 2007 @ 16:52 by quinty : Oh yes, and Hillary

"Hillary Clinton’s Karl Rove, Mark Penn, doubles as the chief executive of Burson-Marsteller, the P.R. giant whose subsidiary helped prepare Mr. Prince for his Congressional testimony. Mr. Penn said the Blackwater association was “temporary.”

Scary stuff.  

21 Oct 2007 @ 20:49 by vaxen : Better yet,
Quinty san, become an ex-pat in Japan or, still - better - yet, Sinkiang. Then you can work for the Yakuza or the Red and Green Gang, pushing Opium (Get you into big time favor with the White House) or retire to the Kun Lun mountains and write about the "Midnight Scholar (of 'Jo Pu Tuan' fame...)" and Kun Luns' rival.

Air America will even get you there free of charge! And even 'set you up.'

Katie will be interviewing Valery (A NOC you'll remember) on 60 minutes tonight. Should be interesting and ... oh so PC.

Pardon me now as I roll another Dubai.

Robert Steele, a former CIA officer who has put forward a number of otherwise thoughtful ideas about reforming the CIA, recently called for a doubling of the agency's clandestine espionage and for placing all of the new spies under "nonofficial cover."

Sic Semper Tyrannis?

Nija, Ninja, on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?  

2 Nov 2007 @ 09:46 by jazzolog : Blitzkrieg From Blackwater
You saw undoubtedly the New York Times article about Blackwater's media response to all this criticism? Of course we expect retaliation from the New World Order, but will the innocent consumer see through the swift boat attack? "Blackwater is pursuing a bold legal strategy, going so far in a North Carolina case as to seek a gag order on the lawyers for the families of four Blackwater employees killed in an ambush in Falluja in 2004. The company argues that the dead men had signed contracts that prohibited them from talking to the press about Blackwater and that this restriction extended to their lawyers and their estates even after death."

Interestingly, the Sydney Morning Herald (you remember Australia: our big ally?) on Halloween carried a special report from its correspondent in the States about America's leadership in torture around the world. The information source is one Manfred Nowak, an Austrian human rights attorney and professor at the University of Vienna. He also maintains a post with the United Nations for which he travels around the world investigating incidents of torture carried out by various governments. Last year he said torture in Iraq, including that done by our private contractors (hello Blackwater), is worse now than under Saddam Hussein's regime. The Herald article hones in on American tactics specifically~~~

US accused of torture
Ian Munro Herald Correspondent in New York
October 31, 2007

THE United States's willingness to resort to harsh interrogation techniques in its so-called war on terror undermined human rights and the international ban on torture, a United Nations spokesman says.

Manfred Nowak, UN Special Rapporteur on torture, said the US's standing and importance meant it was a model to other countries which queried why they were subject to scrutiny when the US resorted to measures witnessed at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib prison.

Mr Nowak was speaking after releasing his finding that the use of torture was routine and widespread in Sri Lanka ,despite laws against it.

"I am very concerned about the undermining of the absolute prohibition of torture by interrogation methods themselves in Abu Grahib, in Guantanamo Bay and others, but also by rendition and the whole CIA secret places of detention. All that is really undermining the international rule of law in general and human rights but also the prohibition of torture," said Mr Nowak.

"(Other countries) say why are you criticising us if the US, the most democratic country with the oldest history of human rights, if they are torturing you should first go there. It has a negative effect because the US is a very powerful and important country and many other countries take the US as a model."

His comments come amid continuing controversy over whether the use of waterboarding - which simulates drowning - is torture. US senators are threatening to stop the appointment of Michael Mukasey, President Bush's new nominee for Attorney-General, following Mr Mukasey's refusal to condemn waterboarding at judiciary committee hearings recently.

Reports have linked CIA interrogations of al-Qaeda suspects, including alleged 9/11 planner Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, to the technique.

President Bush has said the US does not restort to torture, but his administation has refused to say if waterboarding has been used. During waterboarding a cloth is used to cover a prisoner's mouth and water poured over it, triggering the gag reflex.

Commenting on his investigation into Sri Lanka, Mr Nowak said that the use of torture in counter-terrorism operations was prone to become routine.

During his visit there this month he received many "consistent and credible" allegations from detainees who claimed they were ill-treated by police.

He said that he was alerted to a new form of torture which his medical aide had initially thought was impossible. It involved individuals being suspended only by their thumbs which were bound together so they could be hoisted into the air.

He said he had received two independent accounts of its use in Army camps. The effects were verified by medical examination. Six months after the alleged incidents the individuals had not regained use of their thumbs.

Mr Nowak said that Italy and Germany had shown in the 1970s and 1980s that terrorism could be beaten within the rule of law.

"Certain human rights such as the prohibition on torture are absolute. It doesn't matter how dangerous a person is, governments have an absolute obligation never to resort to torture or other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment," said Mr Nowak.

"In my opinion, this ill-conceived, security oriented counter terrorism strategy is having a very, very negative effect, not only on human rights in the USA, but for the first time I would say in a long period of time, the US is really engaging in systematic violation of human rights, but also a very negative effect on many other countries."

Mr Nowak is next month to investigate complaints of torture in Indonesia. He said that he expected the use of torture to have diminished following action by the Indonesian government but would not discuss the nature of the allegations until after his inquiries.

2 Nov 2007 @ 15:24 by vaxen : America...
has always used torture. Remember Cotton Mather and his gang? America is an example to the world of what? Hypocrisy.

Of course most of the torture that goes on here in the 'homeland' is not believed by the totally pie eyed, thanks to Television, and dumbed down, thanks to the government forced 'behavior modification (cf. Delaware Universities' latest)' called education.

Then there is Rice Krispy and her embarrassment at being called out...

And Valery Plame, and Joe Wilson (The killer), and Abraxas, and Aegis and...

No end in sight.  

3 Nov 2007 @ 09:51 by jazzolog : And Now Private Fire Departments
lookout by Naomi Klein

Rapture Rescue 911: Disaster Response for the Chosen
[from the November 19, 2007 issue of The Nation]

I used to worry that the United States was in the grip of extremists who sincerely believed that the Apocalypse was coming and that they and their friends would be airlifted to heavenly safety. I have since reconsidered. The country is indeed in the grip of extremists who are determined to act out the biblical climax--the saving of the chosen and the burning of the masses--but without any divine intervention. Heaven can wait. Thanks to the booming business of privatized disaster services, we're getting the Rapture right here on earth.

Just look at what is happening in Southern California. Even as wildfires devoured whole swaths of the region, some homes in the heart of the inferno were left intact, as if saved by a higher power. But it wasn't the hand of God; in several cases it was the handiwork of Firebreak Spray Systems. Firebreak is a special service offered to customers of insurance giant American International Group (AIG)--but only if they happen to live in the wealthiest ZIP codes in the country. Members of the company's Private Client Group pay an average of $19,000 to have their homes sprayed with fire retardant. During the wildfires, the "mobile units"--racing around in red firetrucks--even extinguished fires for their clients.

One customer described a scene of modern-day Revelation. "Just picture it. Here you are in that raging wildfire. Smoke everywhere. Flames everywhere. Plumes of smoke coming up over the hills," he told the Los Angeles Times. "Here's a couple guys showing up in what looks like a firetruck who are experts trained in fighting wildfire and they're there specifically to protect your home."

And your home alone. "There were a few instances," one of the private firefighters told Bloomberg News, "where we were spraying and the neighbor's house went up like a candle." With public fire departments cut to the bone, gone are the days of Rapid Response, when everyone was entitled to equal protection. Now, increasingly intense natural disasters will be met with the new model: Rapture Response.

During last year's hurricane season, Florida homeowners were offered similarly high-priced salvation by HelpJet, a travel agency launched with promises to turn "a hurricane evacuation into a jet-setter vacation." For an annual fee, a company concierge takes care of everything: transport to the air terminal, luxurious travel, bookings at five-star resorts. Most of all, HelpJet is an escape hatch from the kind of government failure on display during Katrina. "No standing in lines, no hassle with crowds, just a first class experience."

HelpJet is about to get some serious competition from some much larger players. In northern Michigan, during the same week that the California fires raged, the rural community of Pellston was in the grip of an intense public debate. The village is about to become the headquarters for the first fully privatized national disaster response center. The plan is the brainchild of Sovereign Deed, a little-known start-up with links to the mercenary firm Triple Canopy. Like HelpJet, Sovereign Deed works on a "country-club type membership fee," according to the company's vice president, retired Brig. Gen. Richard Mills. In exchange for a one-time fee of $50,000 followed by annual dues of $15,000, members receive "comprehensive catastrophe response services" should their city be hit by a manmade disaster that can "cause severe threats to public health and/or well-being" (read: a terrorist attack), a disease outbreak or a natural disaster. Basic membership includes access to medicine, water and food, while those who pay for "premium tiered services" will be eligible for VIP rescue missions.

Like so many private disaster companies, Sovereign Deed is selling escape from climate change and the failed state--by touting the security clearance and connections its executives amassed while working for that same state. So Mills, speaking recently in Pellston, explained, "The reality of FEMA is that it has no infrastructure, and a lot of our National Guard is elsewhere." Sovereign Deed, on the other hand, claims to have "direct access and special arrangements with several national and international information centers. These proprietary arrangements allow our Emergency Operations Center to...give our Members that critical head start in times of crisis." In this secular version of the Rapture, God's hand is unnecessary. Not when you have retired ex-CIA agents and ex-Special Forces lifting the chosen to safety--no need to pray, just pay. And who needs a celestial New Jerusalem when you can have Pellston, with its flexible local politicians and its surprisingly modern regional airport?

Sovereign Deed could soon find itself competing with Blackwater USA, whose CEO, Erik Prince, wrote recently of his plans to offer "full spectrum" services, including humanitarian aid in disasters. When fires broke out in San Diego County, near the proposed site of the controversial Blackwater West base, the company immediately seized the opportunity to make its case. Blackwater could have been the "tactical operation center for East County fires," said company vice president Brian Bonfiglio. "Can you imagine how much of a benefit it would be if we were operational now?" To show off its capacity, Blackwater has been distributing badly needed food and blankets to people of Potrero, California. "This is something we've always done," Bonfiglio said. "This is what we do." Actually, what Blackwater does, as Iraqis have painfully learned, is not protect entire communities or countries but "protect the principal"--the principal being whoever has paid Blackwater for its guns and gear.

The same pay-to-be-saved logic governs this entire new sector of country club disaster management. There is, of course, another principle that could guide our collective responses in a disaster-prone world: the simple conviction that every life is of equal value.

For anyone out there who still believes in that wild idea, the time has urgently arrived to protect the principle.  

3 Nov 2007 @ 22:16 by quinty : You don't have to go
back that far, Vax. We used torture in our long protracted war in the Philippines. And, I'm sure, it has often popped up in secret ops since then. (Cotton at least had the excuse that religious strife was common throughout Europe in his time. Starting, perhaps, with the blood massacres of the sixteenth century?)

We, as a species, do appear to exhibit a certain degree of pathology.

We have been given a paradise - at least, pretty much so. It is a rather photogenic place, the world, that is, which we live in - and we insist on making our living environment far worse than it needs be for ourselves. To the point now, as we all know, or should (unless you vote for Fred Thompson) that our home, dwelling place, nest, little island in space known as the world may be in serious peril.

Speaking of Thompson: jeeze, I thought anyone as moronic as Fred Thompson would soon be off the eligible list on account of being such a knuckle dragging boneheaded boob. I mean, I’m sure he and Bush would have much to speak about. Like, perhaps, H. L. Mencken?

But in our innocent overall composure (or lack of) we Americans don’t really like torture. Though sadism runs throughout our history. Look at the pleasure those cops had apprehending Richard’s friend? Power and sadism. Do they often go together? They certainly do.

Still, I can easily imagine many Americans sitting out there in the vast American night, watching TV, having their dinner, thinking about life, the bills, their children, their ordinary preoccupatons, who truly, truly do not like the thought that Americans are actually engaged in torture. Even those supporting it, many of them, believe it is something “we have to do,” because they have bought into the whole notion of “a war on terror.” That extraordinary times require extraordinary means.

Attack the fear, uncertainty, superstitions, and lies. And those in government who encourage torture will be forced to return to their holes.  

3 Nov 2007 @ 22:51 by Quinty @ : Here's Robert Fisk on torture....

The Independent
Warning, This Film Could Make You Very Angry
by Robert Fisk

At university, we male students used to say that it was impossible to take a beautiful young woman to the cinema and concentrate on the film. But in Canada, I’ve at last proved this to be untrue. Familiar with the Middle East and its abuses - and with the vicious policies of George Bush - we both sat absorbed by Rendition, Gavin Hood’s powerful, appalling testimony of the torture of a “terrorist suspect” in an unidentified Arab capital after he was shipped there by CIA thugs in Washington.

Why did an Arab “terrorist” telephone an Egyptian chemical engineer - holder of a green card and living in Chicago with a pregnant American wife while he was attending an international conference in Johannesburg? Did he have knowledge of how to make bombs? (Unfortunately, yes - he was a chemical engineer - but the phone calls were mistakenly made to his number.)

He steps off his plane at Dulles International Airport and is immediately shipped off on a CIA jet to what looks suspiciously like Morocco - where, of course, the local cops don’t pussyfoot about Queensberry rules during interrogation. A CIA operative from the local US embassy - played by a nervous Jake Gyllenhaal - has to witness the captive’s torture while his wife pleads with congressmen in Washington to find him.

The Arab interrogator - who starts with muttered questions to the naked Egyptian in an underground prison - works his way up from beatings to a “black hole”, to the notorious “waterboarding” and then to electricity charges through the captive’s body. The senior Muhabarat questioner is, in fact, played by an Israeli and was so good that when he demanded to know how the al-Jazeera channel got exclusive footage of a suicide bombing before his own cops, my companion and I burst into laughter.

Well, suffice it to say that the CIA guy turns soft, rightly believes the Egyptian is innocent, forces his release by the local minister of interior, while the senior interrogator loses his daughter in the suicide bombing - there is a mind-numbing reversal of time sequences so that the bomb explodes both at the start and at the end of the film - while Meryl Streep as the catty, uncaring CIA boss is exposed for her wrong-doing. Not very realistic?

Well, think again. For in Canada lives Maher Arar, a totally harmless software engineer - originally from Damascus - who was picked up at JFK airport in New York and underwent an almost identical “rendition” to the fictional Egyptian in the movie. Suspected of being a member of al-Qa’ida - the Canadian Mounties had a hand in passing on this nonsense to the FBI - he was put on a CIA plane to Syria where he was held in an underground prison and tortured. The Canadian government later awarded Arar $10m in compensation and he received a public apology from Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

But Bush’s thugs didn’t get fazed like Streep’s CIA boss. They still claim that Arar is a “terrorist suspect”; which is why, when he testified to a special US congressional meeting on 18 October, he had to appear on a giant video screen in Washington. He’s still, you see, not allowed to enter the US. Personally, I’d stay in Canada - in case the FBI decided to ship him back to Syria for another round of torture. But save for the US congressmen - “let me personally give you what our government has not: an apology,” Democratic congressman Bill Delahunt said humbly - there hasn’t been a whimper from the Bush administration.

Even worse, it refused to reveal the “secret evidence” which it claimed it had on Arar - until the Canadian press got its claws on these “secret” papers and discovered they were hearsay evidence of an Arar visit to Afghanistan from an Arab prisoner in Minneapolis, Mohamed Elzahabi, whose brother, according to Arar, once repaired Arar’s car in Montreal.

There was a lovely quote from America’s Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff and Alberto Gonzales, the US attorney general at the time, that the evidence again Arar was “supported by information developed by US law enforcement agencies”. Don’t you just love that word “developed”? Doesn’t it smell rotten? Doesn’t it mean “fabricated”?

And what, one wonders, were Bush’s toughs doing sending Arar off to Syria, a country that they themselves claim to be a “terrorist” state which supports “terrorist” organisations like Hizbollah. President Bush, it seems, wants to threaten Damascus, but is happy to rely on his brutal Syrian chums if they’ll be obliging enough to plug in the electricity and attach the wires in an underground prison on Washington’s behalf.

But then again, what can you expect of a president whose nominee for Alberto Gonzales’s old job of attorney general, Michael Mukasey, tells senators that he doesn’t “know what is involved” in the near-drowning “waterboarding” torture used by US forces during interrogations. “If waterboarding is torture, torture is not constitutional,” the luckless Mukasey bleated.

Yes, and I suppose if electric shocks to the body constitute torture - if, mind you - that would be unconstitutional. Right? The New York Times readers at least spotted the immorality of Mukasey’s remarks. A former US assistant attorney asked “how the United States could hope to regain its position as a respected world leader on the great issues of human rights if its chief law enforcement officer cannot even bring himself to acknowledge the undeniable verity that waterboarding constitutes torture…”. As another reader pointed out, “Like pornography, torture doesn’t require a definition.”

Yet all is not lost for the torture lovers in America. Here’s what Republican senator Arlen Spector - a firm friend of Israel - had to say about Mukasey’s shameful remarks: “We’re glad to see somebody who is strong, with a strong record, take over this department.”

So is truth stranger than fiction? Or is Hollywood waking up - after Syriana and Munich - to the gross injustices of the Middle East and the shameless and illegal policies of the US in the region? Go and see Rendition - it will make you angry - and remember Arar. And you can take a beautiful woman along to share your fury.

– Robert Fisk  

4 Nov 2007 @ 08:45 by vaxen : Since when...
has the "UNITED STATES" been a "respected world leader on the great issues of human rights?" What is the name of this film, quinty? The Independent? Or is that a newspaper? Quite fitting for a nation of voyeurs, I might add, who've never actually been in a 'Middle Eastern' jail. I'm sure Tom Cruise plays the part of the able Senator well.

And, of course, 'everyone' will be talking about "Streepes" performance for years to come and the Director... will get a friggin Emmy or whatever you call the damned thing. And the torture will go on, as it always has since the beginning, and no one will be the wiser. You'll pay your 20 bucks or whatever it costs to proxy up and that'll be it. Pathos? Pass the popcorn, please...


A party line is a fixed idea, pet theory, or other philosophical
vanity that when confronted by evidence or reason that it is wrong,
over rules that evidence or reason.

People may be stuck in one or more party lines.

The core party line is the perfect certainty that perfect
certainty is useless, undesirable or impossible.

We call this 'mind broke'.

Perfect certainty of uncertainty is the beginning of personal

Homer Wilson Smith  

4 Nov 2007 @ 09:47 by jazzolog : What's An Army To Do? You Need Spooks!
Blackwater's Owner Has Spies for Hire
Ex-U.S. Operatives Dot Firm's Roster

By Dana Hedgpeth
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 3, 2007; A01

First it became a brand name in security for its work in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now it's taking on intelligence.

The Prince Group, the holding company that owns Blackwater Worldwide, has been building an operation that will sniff out intelligence about natural disasters, business-friendly governments, overseas regulations and global political developments for clients in industry and government.

The operation, Total Intelligence Solutions, has assembled a roster of former spooks -- high-ranking figures from agencies such as the CIA and defense intelligence -- that mirrors the slate of former military officials who run Blackwater. Its chairman is Cofer Black, the former head of counterterrorism at CIA known for his leading role in many of the agency's more controversial programs, including the rendition and interrogation of al-Qaeda suspects and the detention of some of them in secret prisons overseas.

Its chief executive is Robert Richer, a former CIA associate deputy director of operations who was heavily involved in running the agency's role in the Iraq war.

Total Intelligence Solutions is one of a growing number of companies that offer intelligence services such as risk analysis to companies and governments. Because of its roster and its ties to owner Erik Prince, the multimillionaire former Navy SEAL, the company's thrust into this world highlights the blurring of lines between government, industry and activities formerly reserved for agents operating in the shadows.

Richer, for instance, once served as the chief of the CIA's Near East division and is said to have ties to King Abdullah of Jordan. The CIA had spent millions helping train Jordan's intelligence service in exchange for information. Now Jordan has hired Blackwater to train its special forces.

"Cofer can open doors," said Richer, who served 22 years at the CIA. "I can open doors. We can generally get in to see who we need to see. We don't help pay bribes. We do everything within the law, but we can deal with the right minister or person."

Total Intel, as the company is known, is bringing "the skills traditionally honed by CIA operatives directly to the board room," Black said. Black had a 28-year career with the CIA.

"They have the skills and background to do anything anyone wants," said RJ Hillhouse, who writes a national security blog called The Spy Who Billed Me. "There's no oversight. They're an independent company offering freelance espionage services. They're rent-a-spies."

The heart of Total Intel operations is a suite on the ninth floor of an office tower in Ballston, patterned after the CIA counterterrorist center Black once ran, with analysts sitting at cubicles in the center of the room and glass offices of senior executives on the perimeter.

A handful of analysts in their 20s and 30s sit hunched over Macintosh computers, scanning Web sites, databases, newspapers and chat rooms. The lights are dimmed. Three large-screen TVs play in the background, one tuned to al-Jazeera.

The room, called the Global Fusion Center, is staffed around the clock, as analysts search for warnings on everything from terrorist plots on radical Islamic Web sites to possible political upheavals in Asia, labor strikes in South America and Europe, and economic upheavals that could affect a company's business.

"We're not a private detective," Black said. "We provide intelligence to our clients. It's not about taking pictures. It's business intelligence. We collect all information that's publicly available. This is a completely legal enterprise. We break no laws. We don't go anywhere near breaking laws. We don't have to."

Total Intel was launched in February by Prince, who a decade ago opened a law enforcement training center in Moyock, N.C., that has since grown into a half-billion-dollar business called Blackwater Worldwide. Prince has nine other companies and subsidiaries in his Prince Group empire, offering a broad range of security and training services. (One, Blackwater Security Consulting, is under scrutiny because of a Sept. 16 shooting incident in Iraq that involved some of its armed guards and in which 17 Iraqi civilians were killed.) Prince built Total Intel by buying two companies owned by Matt Devost, the Terrorism Research Center and Technical Defense, and merging them with Black's consulting group, the Black Group. Devost, a cyber security and risk management expert, is now president of Total Intel.

Devost runs day-to-day operations, overseeing 65 full-time employees. At the Global Fusion Center, young analysts monitor activities in more than 60 countries. They include a 25-year-old Fulbright scholar fluent in Arabic and another person with a master's degree in international affairs, focused on the Middle East, who tracks the oil industry and security in Saudi Arabia.

Black and Richer spend much of their time traveling. They won't say where. It's a CIA thing. Black called at midnight recently to talk about Total Intel from "somewhere in the Middle East."

"I don't spend a lot of time telling people where I am as part of my business," he said. "I am discreet in where I go and who I see. I spend most of my time dealing with senior people in governments, making connections."

Black, who also serves as vice chairman of Blackwater Worldwide, said he also does "a lot more mundane things like go to conferences and trade shows," looking for business opportunities. "I'm going to have to go," he said. "My guy is motioning for me. I have to go meet people."



Government people? Business people?

All kinds.

The company won't reveal its financial information, the names of its customers or other details of its business. Even looking at an analyst's screen at its Global Fusion Center wasn't allowed.

"No, no," Richer said, putting his hands up. "There may be customers' names on there. We don't want you to see."

In their conference room overlooking the Global Fusion Center, Total Intel executives fired off a list of some of their work. Are some recent bombings at major cities in India isolated incidents or should you pull your personnel out? What are the political developments in Pakistan going to mean for your business? Is your company popping up on jihadist Web sites? There's been crime recently in the ports of Mexico, possibly by rogue police officers. Is the government going to be able to ensure safety?

Since 2000, the Terrorism Research Center portion of the company has done $1.5 million worth of contracts with the government, mainly from agencies like the Army, Navy, Air Force, Customs and the U.S. Special Operations Command buying its data subscription or other services.

To Black and Richer, one of the most surprising things about being in the private sector is finding that much of the information they once considered top secret is publicly available. The trick, Richer said, is knowing where to look.

"In a classified area, there's an assumption that if it is open, it can't be as good as if you stole it," Richer said. "I'm seeing that at least 80 percent of what we stole was open."

As he's no longer with the CIA, Richer said he's found that people are more willing to share information. He said a military general in a country he would not name told him of the country's plan to build its next strike fighter. "I listened," Richer said.

"We talked business and where we could help him understand markets and things like that." At the end of the conversation, Richer said, he asked the man, "Isn't that classified? Why are you telling me this?"

Richer said the man answered, "If I tell it to an embassy official I've created espionage. You're a business partner."

Staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company  

4 Nov 2007 @ 19:43 by quinty : Only Vax
could see an attack on torture as an expression of support.  

4 Nov 2007 @ 23:41 by vaxen : Attack on torture?
Ah, where do you see that? Certainly not in some Hollyweird, made for 'consumption,' jingoist film in which the makers of said film make off with big bucks putting the 'voyeur masses' to sleep.

The very same masses that condone it, and always have, and will forget anything of true worth such a 'movie' could ever offer ... in a flash.

I hesitate to comment further as this log is getting a bit soaked and unwieldly. But, there ya go!  

5 Nov 2007 @ 00:21 by quinty : "Voyeur masses"

Nice, Vax, very nice. But your fallback reeks of rhetorical agility. Of mere reaching into your hat.

The depravity of the American people as a whole is a given, is it: no matter who speaks up, even a Brit like Robert Fisk. We are fools who stuff ourselves on popcorn as we watch lurid propaganda films dreaming of John Wayne and our enlightened superiority.

When I see the film I'll tell you if its "jingoist" or not. But frankly, at this stage, I would prefer believe Robert Fisk. He at least relies on the evidence of his eyes, not his hat. And I know he has a clear eye.  

5 Nov 2007 @ 07:34 by vaxen : Regardless...
of Mr Fisks 'clear eye,' even a one eyed bandit can sing, the torture will go on and on and on... it's a given. And foreign service officers will get fired for not wishing to commit suicide by staffing the largest, and most expensive ever built, embassy in the world. Ah, the one built with your 'voluntary tax' dollars.

It's an old game. Older still than prostitution, though some argue that that business came first. Chicken or egg? ;)

Yes, by all means see the bloody film. But don't forget who is supporting torture in Iraq and, indeed, all over this tiny little world. How many millions will the film rake in? And remember also that it costs the Fed $230.00 to print up $1000.00 which they then lend out at face value plus interest plus tax plus... what a scam!

Water boarding is torture? Thinking that there is any sanity left in this country is torture too! Besides, this too will pass ... and when it does? What will remain in that empty vacuum called the human heart?

Oh, and I wear a lot of hats. Each one tailored to a very specific degree.  

5 Nov 2007 @ 10:20 by jazzolog : Whose Rendition Is This?
My apologies if this thread has become unwieldy. Logging creates the dilemma if an entry starts pulling in bunches of comments, which can attract new readers---but of course too many makes things exhausting for anybody but those who are in the fracas, and so new people just click away to something else. Starting a new entry, like Blackwater Part 2, might be an answer...and I have done that once before. We'll see...

In the meantime, I might toss my theater credentials on the table and trump both you guys. I did not see Rendition, although the cast, topic and previews had me anticipating the film. Mixed reviews, despite Ebert's rave, kept me away thus far {link:^Rendition+(2007)} but I'm sure I'll get to it eventually.

But that doesn't seem to be the point. I think Paul put in the review to discuss the situation of an innocent being abducted, jailed and tortured under American auspices rather than whether film and theater, made in Hollywood or anywhere else, have any effect on population and policy. Both are interesting topics and probably connected to Blackwater but maybe better addressed in entries of their own.

For my part I am opposed to anyone, guilty or innocent, being touched by police without charges and rights clearly pronounced and allowed. That means a phone call to an attorney! And I include prisoners of war, who should have access to Red Cross or UN inspectors. I don't argue that networks of assassins and naughty boys always have existed, but if this country is exposed as condoning such practices we're sunk.

I don't watch television anymore, nor do my closest friends...but I'm not opposed to the medium, although I condemn the present setup of Big Media without regulation. Obviously the FCC works for the Company now, rather than for the people, just like all the other watchdog agencies. But theatre itself, which TV and movies convey among other media, has its roots in the most primitive instincts for ritual and expression inherent in humanity. In fact, some guy even said once, "The play's the catch the conscience of the King!" And it works even if the king has no conscience.

Speaking of watchdogs, the current issue of Rolling Stone is worth the price for a ton of interviews with "people of interest" about whether anybody is feeling optimistic these days. It also has this article about US watchdog agencies~~~

Bush's Lap Dogs:
What Happened to DC's Watchdogs?
Tim Dickinson
Posted Oct 31, 2007 6:00 AM

In October, with Osama Bin Laden still at large, the Central Intelligence Agency announced the creation of a new spy unit. Headed by a top deputy and staffed with a select corps of agents, the operation was charged with gathering intelligence on a single man — a foe who was threatening to undermine the president's War on Terror.
The CIA's new target? John Helgerson, the man appointed by President Bush to expose wrongdoing at the CIA. As inspector general of the agency, Helgerson came under attack from his superiors simply for trying to do his job: He was aggressively investigating torture at the CIA's secret prisons.

Like the other twenty-eight inspectors within the executive branch, Helgerson is supposed to be immune from such political meddling. Created in 1978 as a post-Watergate check on Nixonian abuses of power, the inspectors bypass the chain of command within their own agencies and report their findings directly to Congress. By law, the president must appoint these watchdogs "without regard to political affiliation" and "solely on the basis of integrity and demonstrated ability."

But as the investigation of Helgerson makes clear, the administration is more interested in turning the watchdogs into lap dogs. Just as he politicized every other facet of government from FEMA to the Farm Bureau, President Bush has ignored the law and stocked the inspector general posts with inexperienced cronies. According to a study by the House Oversight Committee, more than a third of Bush's inspectors previously held a political post in the White House, compared to none of Bill Clinton's appointees. Judging from their résumés — deputy counsel to the Bush-Cheney transition team, special assistant to Trent Lott, senior counsel to Fred Thompson, daughter to Chief Justice William Rehnquist — Bush's appointees seem more qualified to be partisans at a neoconservative think tank than America's last line of defense against fraud and abuse. What's more, fewer than one-fifth of the inspectors appointed by Bush had previous experience as auditors, compared to two-thirds of Clinton's appointees. "The IGs have been politicized and dumbed down," said Rep. Brad Miller, oversight chair of the House science committee.

Rather than root out wrongdoing, Bush's appointees — men with nicknames like Moose and Cookie — have actually helped the White House cover up corrupt defense contracts, conceal the theft of sensitive rocket technology and whitewash a host of scandals from Abu Ghraib to Medicare prescription drugs. "Not only has this administration been aided in avoiding scrutiny by a compliant Republican Congress, they installed inspectors general who were not going to use their positions aggressively — if at all," says Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Oversight Committee.

Even worse, inspectors have often been hand-selected by the very Cabinet heads they are supposed to oversee — a practice that Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, a lonely Republican voice for executive accountability, blasts as "directly contrary to the spirit of the law." As a result, the administration often treats inspectors more like employees than independent auditors. "Cabinet secretaries expect their inspectors general to be members of the 'team,' rather than watchdogs who call things as they see them," says Clark Kent Ervin, who came under fire as Bush's first inspector general in Homeland Security for exposing weaknesses in airport security.

No one epitomizes the politicization of Bush's inspectors general more than Janet Rehnquist. The chief justice's daughter, who served as a former White House counsel to Bush's father, was named IG of the Department of Health and Human Services in 2001. She quickly eviscerated her own investigative staff, lightened penalties for fraudulent Medicare contractors and doled out political favors to the Bush clan. In 2002, in direct response to a request by Jeb Bush's chief of staff in Florida, Rehnquist postponed an embarrassing audit of the state's pension system until after Jeb's re-election.

Rehnquist eventually resigned under a cloud: The Government Accountability Office rebuked her for having "compromised" the independence of her post. But her acting successor, Dara Corrigan, soon became an accessory to one of the greatest taxpayer heists of all time, ignoring a congressional demand to investigate whether the White House had lied to Congress about the true costs of the Medicare prescription-drug bill. And Rehnquist's permanent replacement, Daniel Levinson, had no prior experience as an auditor, having proved his mettle for the job by serving as chief of staff to Rep. Bob Barr, the Republican ringleader of the Clinton impeachment. "Bush has disregarded the requirement of the law to make these people non- partisan investigators with the background to do the work," says Waxman.

If Rehnquist fits a pattern of Bush nominees who, according to Grassley, "weren't qualified to do the job in the first place," Howard "Cookie" Krongard stands as a glaring example of those who "are qualified to do the job — but don't." Before being appointed IG of the State Department in 2005, Krongard had an impressive résumé, having served as general counsel for the accounting firm of Deloitte & Touche. But far from putting that experience to work as inspector general, he has set about dismantling his own investigative team, which, according to House documents, currently has twenty vacancies for twenty-seven positions. "Under the current regime," Krongard's assistant inspector general for investigations wrote in an e-mail made public by the House Oversight Committee, orders are "to keep working the BS cases . . . and not rock the boat with more significant investigations." Most troubling, Krongard has stonewalled explosive allegations that the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad was built with the indentured labor of Filipino workers who were flown to Iraq at gunpoint. Rather than launch a formal investigation, Krongard announced he would personally tour the construction site — and then gave the contractor, First Kuwaiti, six months' advance notice of his visit and allowed the company to handpick the six employees he interviewed. In the summary report he dashed off to Congress, Krongard whitewashed the problem: "Nothing came to our attention," he wrote, "that caused us to believe" the allegations. At a July hearing, Krongard confessed to Congress that he took few notes during his "investigation," saying he didn't want to make the people he was investigating "uncomfortable."

Abuses in Iraq were also covered up by Joseph Schmitz, who served as Bush's inspector general at the Pentagon. What Schmitz lacked in relevant training to monitor the Defense Department's $400 billion budget — "I am neither an accountant nor an auditor by background," he admitted to Congress — he more than made up for with his political pedigree. The son of a former GOP congressman, Schmitz worked for both Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich, and his brother served as a deputy counsel to George H.W. Bush and as a "pioneer" fund-raiser for George W. Bush.

Schmitz served Bush well as inspector general. In the wake of Abu Ghraib, he declared — without any formal investigation — that the scandal was the work of "bad eggs" in the junior ranks, not a direct result of the interrogation techniques approved by the president. He also turned a blind eye to war profiteering by contractors like Halliburton and Blackwater. "I haven't seen any real deliberate gouging of the American taxpayer," he said in 2004. "But we are looking." Not very hard, apparently: Schmitz sent only a single auditor to Iraq, and then quietly called him home in 2003 after just three months on the job.

According to those who worked with him, Schmitz spent much of his time as inspector general obsessively researching the history of Baron Friedrich von Steuben, George Washington's inspector general for the Continental Army. He also devoted three months to personally redesigning the inspector general's official seal to incorporate von Steuben's family motto: "Always under the protection of the Almighty."

But Schmitz always made time to shield administration officials from criminal investigation and congressional oversight. In 2004, according to Congressional documents, Schmitz blocked an inquiry by his own staff into John Shaw, an undersecretary to Donald Rumsfeld who was suspected of steering a lucrative Iraqi contract to an associate. Distrust in the IG's office grew so intense that Schmitz's senior staffers reportedly used code names for officials they were investigating so that their boss wouldn't torpedo their efforts. In a report to Congress, Schmitz also omitted testimony by Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz and blacked out the names of White House officials suspected of colluding with Boeing on a fraudulent deal that would have cost taxpayers $5 billion.

Under fire for withholding evidence from Congress to shield the very officials he was supposed to be investigating — as well as for spending more than $100,000 in public funds on a ceremony honoring von Steuben — Schmitz resigned in 2005. He soon found a more comfortable home, however, at the helm of one of the shady contractors he had failed to properly oversee. He is now chief operating officer of the Prince Group, parent company to the mercenary security force Blackwater USA.

His replacement, Lt. Gen. Claude "Mick" Kicklighter, isn't likely to be any tougher on fraud and waste in the administration. A Rumsfeld and Wolf- owitz loyalist, Kicklighter previously served in an administration post that has become virtually synonymous with fraud and waste: The general was in charge of transforming the Coalition Provisional Authority in its final days into the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

A few inspectors — nearly all of them holdovers from the Clinton administration — continued to do their jobs. Nikki Tinsley of the Environmental Protection Agency revealed that the White House actively misled residents of Lower Manhattan about toxic dangers after September 11th. Earl Devaney of the Interior Department worked tirelessly to bring down Steven Griles, the former deputy secretary now imprisoned for his complicity in the Jack Abramoff scandal. And Glenn Fine of the Justice Department exposed the FBI's illegal abuse of the Patriot Act to spy on average Americans. "A lot of the trouble for Alberto Gonzales came out of the work the inspector general did," says Rep. Miller. "It's the perfect example of why we need competent, tough, independent IGs."

To squelch such independence, the president has turned to his ultimate loyalist, Clay Johnson III — his prep-school pal from Andover and roommate at Yale. As a top official at the White House Office of Management and Budget, Johnson has made no secret that the administration expects inspectors to be seen and not heard. Testifying before Congress, he asserted that the "proper relationship" of the IGs is "to work together" with the agency heads they are supposed to monitor. Johnson also disparaged aggressive IGs like the Clinton holdovers, calling them "junkyard dogs."

To keep the inspectors in line, Johnson has browbeaten them into signing what amounts to a loyalty oath. According to Ervin, the former inspector for Homeland Security, Johnson held a meeting with the IGs and demanded that each of them sign a series of "principles" promising to work "in partnership" with their cabinet secretaries. "Clearly, the intent was to intimidate people," says Ervin, who refused to sign and was soon out of a job. Ervin's replacement, Richard Skinner — who had previously done a heck of a job as the acting inspector general of FEMA — now prints Johnson's loyalty principles at the front of his semiannual reports to Congress.

No inspector general has been more criticized for his lack of independent oversight than Robert "Moose" Cobb, who served as associate White House counsel under Alberto Gonzales before being appointed inspector general of NASA in 2002. According to a report by the President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency, an office run by fellow IGs to police the work of their peers, Cobb helped cover up the theft of nearly $2 billion in rocket-engine data from NASA's servers. The council also found that Cobb had tipped off Sean O'Keefe, the head of NASA, to impending FBI search warrants, and sought O'Keefe's input on how he should structure his "independent" audits.

Cobb wasn't nearly so considerate of those under him: According to the council, he berated subordinates as "knuckle-draggers" and "fucksticks," causing more than half of his staff to quit. As his own hand-picked assistant testified before Congress, "Mr. Cobb's arrogance, his abusive, bullying style, absence of managerial experience, limited understanding of investigative processes, egotism and misplaced sense of self-importance make it impossible for him to successfully manage and lead an organization."

The president's council concluded that Cobb should be subject to discipline "up to and including removal." But Clay Johnson left Cobb's punishment up to NASA administrator Michael Griffin, who asked only that Cobb work with an "executive coach" to further his "professional growth."

Such ineptitude and blind loyalty have implications far beyond the hurt feelings of disgruntled staffers. NASA, which funds much of the government's research into global warming, has been accused of trying to silence agency scientists like James Hansen, who warn that the world has less than a decade to forestall a climate catastrophe. "I would like an independent NASA watchdog investigating whether government scientists are free to research climate change," says Miller, oversight chair of the House science committee.

Now that the Democrats have regained control of Congress, they are seeking to restore a measure of independence to the inspectors general. Under a bill passed by the House on October 3rd, IGs — who now serve strictly at the pleasure of the president — would be given seven-year terms and could be fired only for cause. "The government needs more junkyard dogs," says Sen. Grassley, a Republican veteran of six administrations. But even if the current bill becomes law, Grassley notes, real oversight won't happen without change at the top to encourage honesty from below. "Whistle-blowers are the essence of IGs doing their job," he says. "The government is too big — you don't know where the skeletons are buried, you don't know where the fraud is being committed. You've gotta have leads, and the leads come from whistle-blowers. We need a president who will hold a Rose Garden ceremony honoring these people. Everyone from the top of the federal bureaucracy down to the janitor needs to know that whistle-blowers are patriots — and not the skunks at a picnic."  

5 Nov 2007 @ 18:27 by Quinty @ : Sorry -

I got frustrated. And apologize for even bringing a whiff of violence to your site.

Frisk is one of the best journalists in the English language covering the Middle East. I just thought bringing his take (the movie was irrelevant) on torture and the renditions would be interesting.  

5 Nov 2007 @ 18:53 by vaxen : Exposure disclosure...
"I don't argue that networks of assassins and naughty boys always have existed, but if this country is exposed as condoning such practices we're sunk." - jazzoLOG

Then you're sunk!

And it is interesting, quinty. Thankyou very much for sharing that with us. But torture IS an American business whether or not the American people, whatever that means, is self deludo-blinded to the fact or not.

Torture, such as water boarding, that a confession may be 'coerced,' is 'general proceedure' amongst cops everywhere (blanket statement requiring proof).

Mostly they get away with it but sometimes they get caught. Sometimes...

Now with Habeus Corpus gone... Well, you get the picture. It's the Trumps of this world and their caustic games of venture capitol support for the entrepreneurs of endless "war on terrorism," the new, made for Holly-weirds' titillated (mind raped) masses, that are behind the scenes buying everybody, including GOD (Gold, Oil, Drugs), who never seem to be able to see the immense harm they are doing to all of life. Or maybe they do and absolutely relish the fact?

If we do not take justice into our own hands then who the hell will? Porter Goss? (if:then statement)

COULTER: I think I can leave now.

POWERS: … increasing funding for airline security. I mean, isn’t that true, Michael?

HANNITY: Hang on, Ann.


"Terrorism means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience – violence as evidenced in the US on 11 September 2001. Search the National Counterterrorism Center's (NCTC) Worldwide Incidents Tracking System for in-depth information on terrorist incidents, groups, and trials."

“I am acutely aware that our terrorist enemies continue to seek ways to exploit the international travel system to plan and carry out attacks against Americans and our allies at home and abroad,” Admiral Redd said.

“Combating terrorist travel is a key component in the War on Terror,” the Admiral added. “The Strategy demonstrates that we are in this fight to win, and signals our aggressive pursuit of terrorists as they attempt to move around the world.”

All of this, in writing by his hand,
Did Yahweh make me
all of the workings of the Tavnit  

6 Nov 2007 @ 10:57 by jazzolog : Decision
Yeah, I think I'll start a Part 2 entry on this (these) topic(s) soon as I can find the time. Bizzy day all day today...what with elections (I continue to walk through the ritual!) and an evening of music and dance from Caucasus Georgia---and the workday of course. Hopefully tomorrow morning something will be up. In the meantime, this same article has taken off with some very interesting comments over at Blogger. Vax, there's one contributer who's going into the whole republic/democracy thing. I wish you'd peek in and post something enlighteningly infuriating.  

6 Nov 2007 @ 17:04 by vaxen : OK...
Just went there and... now my mind is aching. Going through all of that (Though the republic/democracy conundrum is interesting) requires patience and a fresh, clear, mental state.

These days, for me, it is getting increasingly difficult to go through reams and reams of commentary on tens of thousands of blogs. The amopunt of research I do in a day flabberghasts me.

I'd love to jump in but I'm afraid it could generate a lot more commentary so I'll wait for part two, if that's ok, and see what developes. My brain feels fried and my body feels like it has been through a war. And, of course, it has...

Back to "the Lamentation texts," for now, I'll get back to your blogspace later. Thanks jazzo, you make a nice stew. Then there is the Appalachia thing... Oi!  

7 Nov 2007 @ 06:13 by vaxen : Well...
I do hope that what I did post meets with your approval. Keith Olberman has a lot to say. So... let me know if itsa itsa, please...


And... (JIC - Just In Case)  

7 Nov 2007 @ 07:17 by vaxen : Incidentally incrementally...
From Daniels v. City of New York, the case that led to the dismantling of the notorious NYPD Street Crimes Unit responsible for killing Amadou Diallo, to our upcoming Supreme Court case which aims to close down Guantánamo and restore habeas corpus, CCR’s work demonstrates unwavering commitment to progressive principles, people’s movements and human rights.


Corporation Responsible for Interrogations at Abu Ghraib Will Be Tried by Jury for Torture

November 6, 2007, New York, NY – In a key victory in the war against torture, today a federal court ruled that the lawsuit against a private military contractor in Iraq should be heard by…

PS: Don't forget to check out 'current cases' for some Blackwater.  

7 Nov 2007 @ 16:26 by jazzolog : Yahoo!
Yes, hurray for the outsourced torture corporation citation...and sure enough I'll better a bottom dollar that Blackwater has had gloved hands (holding cowboy whips, electrical clips and Bible quips) in on torture too! Thanks for the continuing updates Vax, both here and as Cyberdeck 13 over at Blogspot . It's a fulltime job just keeping up to date on all the Bushie crap that's coming out at last---here in the States. The rest of the world has been on to us for a long time.

I got the Part II writ and ready to go, but ran out of time this morning. I sent a copy of it to myself at my Yahoo email so I could work on it during lunch half hour---which this is right now. Hmmm, that dispatch went out at 6 AM. It now is 11:30, and nothing is there at Yahoo...nor did I get a bounce from the Vista version of Outlook Express I used to send it. Where is it? Could it be the "Blackwater" in the subject is slowing it down a bit? Is someone having to check it over---or am I paranoid?  

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27 Sep 2016 @ 12:39 by Black Magic Specialist @ : Black Magic Specialist
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Other entries in
14 Aug 2008 @ 11:20: The Republic Of Georgia: Hypocrisy
26 Jan 2008 @ 11:33: An Open Letter To Amy Goodman
1 Dec 2007 @ 10:42: Would You Invest In Green Technology Or Guns?
21 Nov 2007 @ 23:59: An Easy Solution Missed
7 Nov 2007 @ 21:08: Blackwater, Blackwater Run Down Through The Land, Part 2
27 Oct 2007 @ 07:43: Creating the 3rd Millennium Civilization Security
24 Aug 2007 @ 07:29: American History: The Bush Family Legacy
20 Jul 2007 @ 19:17: Well, well, well... It happened!.... How do U feel about this?

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