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joeb

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Posts: 8,378
Reply with quote  #51 
2 reads about FBI agents and their role protecting corporations.
After all they are protectors of privilege.

1st read
Liberals throw stones from glass houses

Jim Behrendt, Henderson

Thu, Jul 17, 2008 (2:01 a.m.)

How many times have you heard people say that Republicans are warmongers?

I think just the opposite: World War I (Democratic President Woodrow Wilson), World War II (Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt), Korean War (Democratic President Harry Truman), Vietnam War (Democratic Presidents John F.Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson), and Kosovo (Democratic President Bill Clinton).

Meanwhile, how about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which hold 80 percent of the paper on U.S. mortgages? They were just bailed out by the federal government. Look who is on the board of directors of those two financial institutions. Most are Democrats who worked in the Clinton administration; some are far left Democrats. Even Louis Freeh, the former director of the FBI in the Clinton administration, is on the board of Fannie Mae.

I say wise up, liberal America, and look at your own sins before judging others.
2nd read
Boston Globe        
Source: FBI investigating Indymac for fraud
CNN - 15 hours ago
Friday's closure of IndyMac bank sparked investor panic that sent shares of mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on a wild ride and fueled ...
UPDATE 1-FBI mortgage probe expands to 21 firms from 19 Reuters
FBI investigating IndyMac for potential fraud ToTheCenter.com
FBI probing IndyMac for possible fraud-authorities say guardian.co.uk
FN Arena News - AZ Central.com
all 739 news articles » FNM - IMB - FRE
Business Highlights
Forbes, NY - 13 hours ago
WASHINGTON (AP) - Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress Wednesday that troubled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are in "no danger ...
Today's Business
Myrtle Beach Sun News, SC - 7 hours ago
Washington | Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress Wednesday that troubled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are in "no danger of ...IMB
Bernanke: No danger to Fannie and Freddie
Philadelphia Inquirer, PA - 5 hours ago
By Jeannine Aversa AP WASHINGTON - Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke told Congress yesterday that troubled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac ...
Rescue plan reservations...Probe of failed bank...Deadly TV plot ...
Reiten Television KXMB Bismarck, ND - 10 hours ago
AP WASHINGTON (AP) The Bush administration is trying to convince skeptical lawmakers to back a rescue plan for mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. ...
Liberals throw stones from glass houses
Las Vegas Sun, NV - 1 hour ago
Even Louis Freeh, the former director of the FBI in the Clinton administration, is on the board of Fannie Mae. I say wise up, liberal America, ...
In gloomy time, Fed rules are bright spot
Charlotte Observer, NC - 7 hours ago
Meantime, the federal government has come up with a bailout plan for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two large and important government-sponsored mortgage ...
AP Business NewsBrief at 12:58 am EDT
TMCnet - 7 hours ago
... _ Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress Wednesday that troubled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are in "no danger of failing. ...
From the Wire
AlterNet, CA - 18 hours ago
Tuesday, President Bush addressed the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac crisis and the economy at large. In remarks to reporters, Bush endorsed the efforts of Fed ...
Housing, Energy To Top Week's Agendas
National Journal, DC - Jul 14, 2008
The Senate passed its version of housing legislation on Friday, 63-5, to revamp the oversight of government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae, ...
NBR Transcripts-July 16, 2008
Nightly Business Report, FL - 10 hours ago
GERSH: As for the stability of the financial system, Bernanke told Congress Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are in, quote, "no danger of failing. ...
Angelo's Many "Friends"
Conde Nast Portfolio, NY - Jul 16, 2008
The Fannie Mae Foundation has an impressive, active history. Since 1979, the Foundation has invested more than $1 billion … The Company is engaged in the ...
Bush claims executive privilege on CIA leak
Ocala, FL - 15 hours ago
... July 15, 2008, where he called on Congress to move quickly to put into force legislation designed to prop up mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. ...
Mortgage meltdown
StarNewsOnline.com, NC - Jul 13, 2008
Fannie Mae: Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA); a federally chartered enterprise owned by private stockholders that buys residential mortgages and ...
What Price Would You Put on a Short Seller’s Head?
Wall Street Journal Blogs, NY - Jul 15, 2008
And the Witness Protection Program may not help you out, since the FBI has different priorities. The SEC warns: “Absent compelling cause, the Commission ...
The Death of IndyMac
Motley Fool - Jul 14, 2008
Bear Stearns got picked up by JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM), Countrywide got adopted by Bank of America (NYSE: BAC), and Fannie Mae (NYSE: FNM) and Freddie Mac ...IMB

Media Channel        
Freddie Mac, When Are You Coming Back?
Media Channel, NY - Jul 14, 2008
And that’s what is behind, at least in part, the current fall of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Add in the Bush policies of lowering the value ...FRE
Mortgage worries...Presidential poll...iPhone anger... | KXNet.com ...
KXMC, ND - Jul 11, 2008
Officials are trying to figure out how to shore up struggling mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson says the goal is ...
Who Is On the Market Police’s Radar?
FOXBusiness - Jun 24, 2008
Lieb Pinter, 64, is charged with fraud in connection with the theft of $44 mn of payoff proceeds for refinanced mortgage loans financed by Fannie Mae and ...
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joeb

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Posts: 8,378
Reply with quote  #52 
       
                latest news        
       
                [AMR] American Eagle July load factor 73.1% vs 79.6%        
                                                                                                                       

Former FBI Financial Crimes Section Chief, Dennis M. Lormel, Joins IPSA International


Last update: 5:28 p.m. EDT Aug. 4, 2008
WASHINGTON, Aug 04, 2008 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- IPSA International, Inc. (IPSA), an international risk advisory firm, is pleased to announce that Dennis Lormel has joined as a Managing Director for IPSA's Anti-money Laundering (AML) practice. In this role, Mr. Lormel will be focusing on AML, Combating the Financing of Terrorism (CFT), fraud and financial crime issues affecting IPSA's clients globally.
Mr. Lormel comes to IPSA following 31 years of government services, 28 years as a Special Agent in the FBI. Dennis served as Section Chief for Financial Crimes where he was responsible for managing the FBI's White Collar Crime Program. During his accomplished career, Dennis amassed extensive major case experience, particularly in complex, document and labor intensive financial investigative matters.
Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, Mr. Lormel developed, implemented and directed the FBI's comprehensive terrorist financing initiatives, which evolved into a formalized entity within the Counterterrorism Division of the FBI known as The Terrorist Financing Operations Section. This group has attained international recognition as one of the world's elite operations for tracking, investigating and disrupting terrorist-related financial activity.
He is the recipient of numerous commendations and awards to include the Department of Justice, Criminal Division's Award for Investigative Initiative and the Central Intelligence Agency's George H. W. Bush Award for Excellence in Counterterrorism. Mr. Lormel is an accomplished instructor and conference speaker, with extensive domestic and international experience. He has testified before numerous congressional committees and also prepared written testimony for senior FBI executives.
"I have known Dennis for a number of years and consider him a dear and trusted friend. I am thrilled to finally have him on the IPSA team," commented Dan Wachtler, IPSA's President & CEO. "Dennis has dedicated his entire career to combating financial crimes and terrorism. His talent, integrity and passion will serve IPSA and our clients well as we continue to grow our international capabilities."
Mr. Lormel noted, "Joining IPSA and working with a team of industry experts with whom I have enjoyed a long relationship of mutual respect is a true honor. IPSA's commitment to business excellence, service to its clients and sense of public responsibility are attributes that attracted me to the team. I look forward with pride to embarking on the next phase of my career as a member of the IPSA family."
IPSA International, Inc. is an international risk advisory firm which provides clients in the corporate, financial and legal communities with high-end investigative consulting services. IPSA's preferred practice areas are: Anti-Money Laundering, Asset Location and Recovery, Intellectual Property, Fraud Investigations and Due Diligence Services.
Contact: Jillian Bernaiche
Phone: 602-889-1626 ; 480-235-2066
SOURCE IPSA International, Inc.
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joeb

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Posts: 8,378
Reply with quote  #53 
Former FBI  agent Maheau is at the top of my list of FBI  agents involved in assassinating President Kennedy.
couple reads about a Natural Born Sociopath

1st read
               


search NAMEBASE for this person's name

                        ROBERT MAHEU
was a CIA asset and ex-FBI agent, Howard Hughes' right-hand man, and tied to the Mob. When CIA needed Castro assassins, Maheau procurred the services of GIANCANA and ROSSELLI. He played a key role in numerous covert ops, including buggings, election rigging, and the Glomar affair.

2nd read
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Former Hughes' confidant dies in Las Vegas

Associated Press - August 5, 2008 3:34 PM ET

LAS VEGAS (AP) - A man who was once Howard Hughes' most trusted confidant and a CIA operative involved in a plot to kill Fidel Castro has died in a Las Vegas hospital.

Robert A. Maheu died at Desert Springs Hospital on Tuesday. A spokeswoman for Maheu's son, Peter Maheu, says the 91-year-old had been in failing health.

Maheu was the public face of Hughes' casino empire in the 1960s, when the troubled aviation mogul was rarely seen in public.

Before working for Hughes, Maheu was an FBI agent and a private investigator. Recently released documents show he was enlisted by the CIA to act as a mob liaison in a plot to kill Castro.

Maheu was born in Waterville, Maine. He'd lived in Las Vegas since 1966.



3rd read



Robert Maheu



 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Spartacus, USA History, British History, Second World War, First World War, Germany,
Assassination of John F. Kennedy, Political Events & Issues, Author, Search Website, Email

 

Robert Maheu was born in Waterville, Maine, in 1918. After graduating from the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, in 1940, he joined the Federal Bureau of Investigation. During the Second World War he posed as a German sympathizer.

In 1947 Maheu established his own investigative company. Maheu also worked for the Central Intelligence Agency. He was later to admit "The CIA was my first steady client, giving me `cut-out' assignments (those jobs in which the agency could not officially be involved)." This work brought him into contact with Howard Hughes and in the late 1950s worked for him on a freelance basis. This included intimidating would be blackmailers and obtaining information on business rivals.

In 1960 Richard Bissell and Allen W. Dulles decided to work with the Mafia in a plot to assassinate Fidel Castro. Maheu was employed by the CIA to organize the conspiracy. The advantage of employing the Mafia for this work is that it provided CIA with a credible cover story. The Mafia were known to be angry with Castro for closing down their profitable brothels and casinos in Cuba. If the assassins were killed or captured the media would accept that the Mafia were working on their own.

In August 1960, Colonel Sheffield Edwards contacted Maheu. As Maheu explained in 1995: "In the winter of 1959-60, however, the CIA still thought it could pull off the invasion (of Cuba). But it thought the odds might be better if the plan went one step further - the murder of Fidel Castro. All the Company needed was someone to do the dirty work for it. Professional killers. A gangland-style hit."

Maheu offered the contract to Johnny Rosell. He in turn arranged for a meeting on 11th October, 1960, between Maheu and two leading mobsters, Santo Trafficante and Sam Giancana. As Maheu pointed out, "both were among the ten most powerful Mafia members" in America. Maheu told the mobsters that the CIA was willing to pay $150,000 to have Castro killed.

On 12th March, 1961, Maheu arranged for CIA operative, Jim O'Connell, to meet Roselli, Trafficante and Giancana at the Fontainebleau Hotel. During the meeting O'Connell gave poison pills and $10,000 to Rosselli to be used against Fidel Castro.

Maheu began full-time work for Howard Hughes in 1966. He moved to Las Vegas where he ran Hughes's casinos. Maheu explained later what his role was in the operation: "When he came here, he wanted to tie up all the property on the Strip to develop it properly. He didn't want it to be honky-tonk or like Coney Island. Hughes was a catalyst in the city cleaning up its act."

After losing his job with Howard Hughes in 1970 Maheu eastablished a new company in Las Vegas called Robert A. Maheu and Associates. In 1993 Maheu published the book, Next to Hughes.

 

Robert A. Maheu (right) with two business associates.

Open Debate on the Kennedy Assassination



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joeb

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Posts: 8,378
Reply with quote  #54 
1st read
http://realhistoryarchives.blogspot.com/2007/01/real-history-of-gerald-ford-watergate.html

2nd read
Carmine Bellino was born in New Jersey in 1905. After graduating from New York University in 1928 Bellino worked as an accountant in New York City.

In 1934 Bellino joined the Federal Bureau of Investigation and served as an administrative assistant to, J. Edgar Hoover, the director of the FBI, until the end of the Second World War. He then served as assistant director of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (1945-46) and War Assets Administration (1946-47). According to Robert Maheu, Bellino was also employed by Joseph Kennedy as his accountant and personal secretary.

Bellino specialized in dealing with organized crime and corrupt trade union officials and served on two congressional investigations into labour racketeering. In 1955, Robert Kennedy became chief counsel of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. He recruited Bellino as one of his staff members.

Bellino served as a consultant to various congressional committees. He also worked as an accountant in New York City and Washington.

In 1961 John F. Kennedy appointed him as his special consultant until and held the post until the president was assassinated in 1963. Bellino now became a partner at Wright, Long and Company. He also worked part time for the Atomic Energy Commission and various congressional committees.

During the Watergate Scandal Bellino was appointed chief investigator of the Senate Select Committee on the 1972 Presidential Campaign Activities. Bellino had worked with Lou Russell at the FBI and the House Committee on Un-American Activities. According to Jim Hougan (Secret Agenda) Russell had helped James W. McCord to "sabotage the break-in".

Russell was interviewed by the FBI soon afterwards. He claimed that during the break-in he was in his rooming house. The FBI agents did not believe him but none of the burglars claimed he had been involved in the conspiracy and he was released. Bob Woodward discovered that Russell had been working for James W. McCord. He interviewed Russell but decided that he had not taken part in the Watergate break-in. According to Woodward: "He (Russell) was just an old drunk".

Soon afterwards Russell received a phone call from Bellino. It is not known was was said but as a result of this conversation Russell went to stay with Bellino's friend, William Birely, on the top floor of the Twin Towers complex in Silver Spring, Maryland. Birely was also a close friend of Lee R. Pennington. Both men had been active members of the Sons of the American Revolution. John Leon later claimed that Lou Russell was working as a spy for the Democratic Party and was reporting to Bellino about the Watergate break-in.

During the Watergate investigation George Bush accused Bellino of organizing a wiretap to be placed on the phones of Engelhard Industries for John F. Kennedy during the 1960 presidential elections. It later emerged that this story was true. Charles W. Engelhard, a South African diamond merchant, had discovered that Kennedy was having an affair with a nineteen year old student at Radcliffe College. Engelhard had attempted to employ a private detective in Boston to obtain photographs of Kennedy with this student. The detective refused and informed Kennedy of what was going on and this resulted in Bellino organizing the wiretap.

In 1979 Bellino was appointed as chief investigator of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He held this post for the next two years.
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joeb

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Reply with quote  #55 

Chicago 2016 studies China's security plan as it makes its own

                                                                                                       

BEIJING - The sight was arresting: Columns of military troops marching in lockstep on the sidewalks near the “bird’s nest” stadium, where thousands of Beijing residents had gathered to catch a glimpse of the opening ceremony sky show.

Security is on parade at these Summer Games, from the 10-foot metal mesh fences around sporting venues to the scan-and-search stations at the entry to each venue.

Yet all these visible measures, involving 100,000 security personnel and $2 billion in spending, failed to prevent tragedy Saturday when a lone assailant stabbed two Americans at a tourist site, killing one and seriously injuring another.

The incident not only cast a pall over the start of the Games, but it raised the question of what, if anything, future host cities can do to prevent the unexpected attack. The question is especially compelling for Chicago, which is a finalist in the contest for the 2016 Games.

“You can’t prevent everything, or make a city 100 percent fail-safe,” said former FBI agent Ray Mey, a Vance security expert who has worked on every Olympics since 1996 and is advising Chicago 2016.

That said, there are steps that can be taken to lessen risks, and strategies than can be employed to contain the rumor mill and the lasting image damage, should an attack occur, experts said. And they don’t necessitate turning a city into an armed state, they added.

“Some people subscribe to the notion that numbers are the significant deterrent, and there is a deterrence to visible security, no question about it,” said Doug Arnot, operations chief for Chicago 2016, who has worked on operations for eight Olympics.

But a show of force “isn’t going to stop someone with a well-formed plan or significant intent,” he said. “I don’t want to diminish the value of a sort of overwhelming presence, but I don’t necessarily think that’s the most effective approach.”

An effective plan should include closely coordinated law enforcement efforts; “hardening” of venue sites, meaning entry would be carefully screened; and use of invisible elements, from cameras to undercover agents to radiological technology that tests the air for suspect elements, said Arnot and Mey, in a joint interview.

And a Chicago plan would include several layers of intelligence activities, with officers looking for so called “DLRs,” or folks who “don’t look right,” such as a person wearing an overcoat in the summer time.

In Beijing, the stabbing suspect, who committed suicide by leaping from the 13th Century Drum Tower where the attack occurred, appeared to be a homeless man who lived beneath the radar, said Jeff Ruffolo, a senior expert with the Beijing organizing committee.

“He lived on the street, was unemployed, had no cell phone, no electronic footprint . . . people like this are difficult to find,” he said.

The attack was a highly uncommon occurrence for a Beijing tourist site. Nonetheless, security has been stepped up at tourist spots around the city.

Chicago, which is competing against Madrid, Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Games, already is planning to protect tourist sites, Arnot said. But a number of elements in Beijing’s security apparatus have intrigued the Chicago team, which plans to return a month after the Games to get a briefing.

“I liked the accreditation reader,” said Arnot. “It’s a nice system and I will find out what information it’s gathering.” The scanners read the identification cards given to individuals with access to non-public spaces.

Chicago has not released information on the expected size and cost of its security plan, though Arnot confirmed it would be considerably smaller than in Beijing.

About 10,000 security forces were used for the Salt Lake City Winter Games of 2002. Winter Games are about one-third the size of Summer Games, so a Chicago Games could be expected to employ about 30,000 security personnel.

At any Olympics, “everything is not going to be good news—that’s what China has come to realize,” said crisis management expert Scott Kronick, president of Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, China. “How a host city responds to those things is how it will be judged.”

The Beijing organizing committee and Chinese President Hu Jintao both made statements the day after the event, offering sympathy to the family of Todd and Barbara Bachman, of Lakeville, Minn., the parents of 2004 volleyball Olympian Elisabeth Bachman and in-laws of U.S. men’s volleyball coach Hugh McCutcheon. Todd Bachman was killed in the attack and Barbara Bachman was seriously injured.

“Historically, [the Chinese government] would be very quiet, they wouldn’t respond; they’d investigate ” said Kronick, who was a communications adviser on these Games. “I find they are more communicative now.”

Beijing-based communications adviser David Wolf agreed with that assessment, and said he hoped the approach would continue after the Olympics are over.

In any crisis, it is critical to get information out as quickly as possible, he said, both to prevent an incident from getting blown out of proportion in the media and the rumor mills, and for moral and liability reasons.

“The more quickly people get information, the more quickly they can be on guard,” said Wolf, head of Wolf Group Asia Ltd.

                       
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joeb

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Reply with quote  #56 

‘It Should Be an Honor to Be Laid Off’


by Tula Connell, Aug 18, 2008




Quick, let’s all raise our hands: How many of us could live on less than $10 an hour?

That’s a take-home pay of roughly $300 a week. Most one-bedroom apartments cost at least $1,000 a month. Ooops. There goes nearly the entire salary in one rent check.

So how do the nearly 33 million U.S. workers who make less than $10 an hour survive?

As Steven Greenhouse points out in The Big Squeeze: Tough Times for the American Worker, a wage of $10 an hour is lower than the poverty level for a family of four—$20,614 a year in 2006. And it gets worse. Reading The Big Squeeze doesn’t give the reader the impression Greenhouse is talking about a western industrialized nation in the 21st century—let alone the United States.

  • U.S. worker productivity rose 60 percent since 1979. If wages had kept pace with productivity, the average full-time worker would be earning $58,000 a year. Instead, the average worker was paid $36,000 in 2007.
  • The typical American worker toils 1,804 hours a year, 135 hours more per year than the typical British worker, 240 hours more than the average French worker and 370 hours—nine weeks—more than the average German worker.
  • The number of Americans living in poverty jumped by 15 percent from 2000 to 2006—an increase of 5.4 million to 36.5 million.
  • From 1979 to 2005, after-tax income inched up 6 percent for the bottom fifth of U.S. households after inflation, while it rose 21 percent for the middle fifth. For the top fifth, income jumped 80 percent—and for the top 1 percent, it more than tripled, skyrocketing by 228 percent.

Greenhouse, a reporter for The New York Times—one of the few journalists remaining with a labor beat in the corporate-dominated mainstream media—looks at the impact of these data on America’s workers. And, in doing so, he pinpoints one of the big reasons why the vast majority of us are struggling to get by even during years when the economy was expanding: The employer attack on unions.

In his first vignette, Greenhouse describes how Kathy Saumier, a factory worker in Syracuse, N.Y., went from wage laborer to pariah—all because of her efforts to form a union with the United Steelworkers. At the plant, Landis Plastics, safety conditions were so bad four workers had fingers amputated in the machinery in the space of a few months. Women were told they would never be promoted and sexual harassment was rampant. But when Saumier sought to form a union to counter this egregious work environment, she experienced what many U.S. workers seeking to form unions encounter—viscous anti-union harassment.

Management called in the FBI to interrogate her, accusing her of sabotaging the car of an anti-union worker. Her workplace locker was tampered with, and she feared illegal substances would be placed in it so the company would have cause to fire her and get her arrested. She received phone calls at home threatening her and her children and was isolated in a room to work where she wouldn’t have contact with other workers.

Ultimately, the company fired her—ludicrously accusing her of pulling down the pants of a male worker, an allegation that a federal District Court judge threw out when it became clear the alleged victim was not credible. The judge ruled the company fired her in retaliation for her union activities—an illegal action, even in the anti-worker Bush administration era.

Some 60 million workers say they would join a union if they could—and Saumier’s experience shows why many can’t.

For many years, declining wages and job insecurity were seen as blue-collar problems confined to people like Kathy Saumier and her co-workers. But, as Greenhouse points out, the ripping apart of the nation’s social contract eventually hit white-collar workers.

The 1980s represented the humbling of the blue-collar workers. During that decade, the nation’s white-collar workers were, by and large, still confident that the social contract would protect them. But then came the 1990s. 

And the shredding of the social contract continues. Greenhouse devotes an entire chapter of his book to outsourcing, the global scourge of white-collar jobs.

Indeed, more and more economists are voicing fears that if American technology companies continue to send so much of their work and expertise overseas, that might someday enable India’s and China’s high-tech industries to outinvent, outthink and outstrip America’s high-tech industry in some key areas, leaving the United States at a costly disadvantage in a field of critical importance.

Later this month, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) releases its biannual report, The State of Working America. In previewing the report’s findings, co-author Heidi Shierholz sums up this decade’s jobs picture:

If job growth from 2000 to 2007 had matched the 1990s cycle, the economy would have added 7 million more jobs than it did. The weak jobs situation means that the potential of millions of productive, hard-working Americans has been left untapped—a profound disservice to them, their families, and the economy as a whole.

Often, humor helps us understand what’s going on. In The Big Squeeze, Greenhouse includes text from a mock memo circulated by workers soon after Chase Manhattan and Chemical banks merged. “Frequently Asked Questions,” supposedly signed by Thomas Labrecque, Chase’s CEO, zeros in on the core of what’s happening to workers in the U.S. economy while fleshing out the difficult to define concept of a society’s culture.

Q. Why am I facing layoffs, why is my career in ruins, why can’t I sleep at night?

A. Your largely insignificant life is being sacrificed to bring into existence the best banking and financial services company in the world, bar none….

Q. When will I know if I’m being laid off?

A. You, you, you, is that all you care about, you? Please understand that we need to think about “us,” which probably doesn’t include you. It’s about time you started to think about the greater whole, buddy….It should be an honor to be laid off.”

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joeb

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Reply with quote  #57 
YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK

Protectors of privilege protecting the people  of privilege using your tax dime.

a species that hires bodyguards to protect them looses the ability to protect itself and is doomed to extinction

2 reads
1st read
STOCKSRATES & BONDSCURRENCIESMUTUAL FUNDSETFsCOMMODITIESECONOMIC CALENDAR
Bloomberg
Bloomberg Anywhere
Updated:  New York, Aug 22 11:09
London, Aug 22 16:09


       

Security Turns U.S. Conventions Into $100 Million Fortresses

By Jeff Bliss

Aug. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Two U.S. cities will become virtual fortresses during the Democratic and Republican nominating conventions, protected by airplanes, helicopters, barriers, fences and thousands of police officers, National Guard troops and Secret Service agents.

In Denver, where Democrats assemble next week, police are spending $18 million on equipment alone and will be bolstered by National Guard troops and hundreds of officers from surrounding suburbs. In St. Paul, Minnesota, site of the Sept. 1-4 Republican nominating convention, police are calling on 80 law-enforcement agencies to provide 3,000 officers to supplement the city's 500- person force.

Congress earmarked $100 million for security at the two meetings, where federal and local authorities are trying to guard against any dangers to candidates or convention-goers.

``We are constantly looking at what threats could harm us,'' said Malcolm Wiley, a spokesman for the U.S. Secret Service, which is overseeing security operations.

Safeguarding the quadrennial gatherings is difficult, in part because so many public officials are among the thousands of people in attendance, said Andrew O'Connell, a former Secret Service agent who runs the Washington office of New York-based Fortress Global Investigations & Security. ``It will be a challenge,'' he said.

Offices Evacuated

The federal money, $50 million for each convention, is being spent for security measures such as fencing and high-tech camera- surveillance systems. The security costs will roughly equal the amount the two cities' host committees plan to raise for other convention costs.

Republican presidential candidate John McCain's campaign offices in Denver and in Manchester, New Hampshire, were evacuated yesterday after a Denver employee opened an envelope containing a threatening letter and white powder. The New Hampshire office received a letter addressed in similar handwriting, which wasn't opened.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security will be on ``heightened alert'' to track potential threats, said Russ Knocke, a department spokesman.

``We're really making sure we're amping up our focus,'' Knocke said.

Security in St. Paul and Denver will be so tight that former Secret Service agent Chris Falkenberg said terrorists searching for a target might look elsewhere. ``The possibility of having a major attack is very, very slim'' at the convention sites, said Falkenberg, president of New York-based Insite Security Inc. ``It would be a good time to pull off an attack in Chicago, Boston.''

Months of Planning

Security in St. Paul focuses on the Xcel EnergyCenter, where Republicans will meet to nominate Arizona Senator John McCain for president. In Denver, where most convention activities are scheduled for the Pepsi Center arena, security officials had to adapt their plans when Illinois Senator Barack Obama decided to accept his party's nomination at the 76,000-seat Invesco Field at Mile High.

``I'm not going to sit here and say, `Oh, it was a piece-of- cake,''' Secret Service Assistant Director Nicholas Trotta said of Obama's move. Still, he said the Secret Service wasn't thrown by the change because agents often ``have to modify, change, add and subtract when we get to a venue.''

The Colorado Department of Transportation will close Interstate 25, the main north-south route through the state's biggest city, during the Sept. 28 stadium event. Trucks carrying hazardous cargo are prohibited from using I-25 near downtown Denver for a week, starting tomorrow.

Air Cover

Federal, state and local officials have been planning security precautions since last year, consulting on details such as motorcades for VIPs and road closures.

More than 1,000 National Guard troops will help with communication and supplies in Denver, said Captain Robert Bell, a spokesman for the Colorado National Guard. More than 1,000 Minnesota National Guard troops will help provide security at sites outside the Xcel Center that are being used by convention participants, said Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Olson, a guard spokesman.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command, based at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, will participate. Lieutenant Desmond James, a spokesman, wouldn't give specifics about NORAD's involvement. At previous conventions, James said NORAD has provided medical and planning assistance as well as air cover.

Instant Communications

The Federal Bureau of Investigation plans to use a new version of a computer network that lets all its branch offices build leads on cases. ``We've got the capability of communicating instantaneously on case-specific matters,'' said Ray DiNunzio, the FBI's acting section chief for domestic terrorism and response.

The Coast Guard will monitor the Mississippi River near the Xcel Energy Center.

Protest groups say they expect large demonstrations. The American Civil Liberties Union's Colorado chapter filed suit challenging police plans to limit marches and protests to designated areas. A federal judge upheld the restrictions.

Mark Silverstein, legal director of the ACLU in Colorado, said he's afraid that crowd-control officers from a hodgepodge of different police departments might not all respond appropriately to protesters.

``Denver is getting reinforcements from dozens of other law- enforcement agencies,'' Silverstein said. ``When the visiting officers come, do they play by the visiting team's rules or by the home team's rules?''

2nd read
Protectors of Privilege
 By Frank J. Donner
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This landmark exposé of the dark history of repressive police operations in American cities offers a richly detailed account of police misconduct and violations of protected freedoms over the past century. In an incisive examination of undercover work in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and Philadelphia as well as Washington, D.C., Detroit, New Haven, Baltimore, and Birmingham, Donner reveals the underside of American law enforcement.

More details
Protectors of Privilege: Red Squads and Police Repression in Urban America
By Frank J. Donner
Published by University of California Press, 1990
ISBN 0520059514, 9780520059511
503 pages
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http://www.dallasnews.com/forums/viewforum.php?f=48

FILE UNDER:
IF THE BODYGUARD SYSTEM IS BROKEN DON'T FIX IT

OR
WHY IS THE ORGANIZATION WHO ASSASSINATED PRESIDENT KENNEDY
AND MARTIN LUTHER KING CONDUCTING CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS

OR
WHY DID THE DIRECTOR OF THE FBI, MUELLER COVER UP THE BCCI BANKING SCANDAL

OR
if a species hires bodyguards to protect them they loose the ability to protect
themselves and are at the whim of their bodyguards . Did I mention
they are doomed to extinction?

2 READS FOR THE UNEDUCATED AND THE UNEDUCABLE WHO CANT
DETECT FBI SPIN

1st read

FBI saw threat of mortgage crisis


By Richard B. Schmitt, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
August 25, 2008
WASHINGTON -- Long before the mortgage crisis began rocking Main Street and Wall Street, a top FBI official made a chilling, if little-noticed, prediction: The booming mortgage business, fueled by low interest rates and soaring home values, was starting to attract shady operators and billions in losses were possible.

"It has the potential to be an epidemic," Chris Swecker, the FBI official in charge of criminal investigations, told reporters in September 2004. But, he added reassuringly, the FBI was on the case. "We think we can prevent a problem that could have as much impact as the S&L crisis," he said.

 
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Today, the damage from the global mortgage meltdown has more than matched that of the savings-and-loan bailouts of the 1980s and early 1990s. By some estimates, it has made that costly debacle look like chump change. But it's also clear that the FBI failed to avert a problem it had accurately forecast.

Banks and brokerages have written down more than $300 billion of mortgage-backed securities and other risky investments in the last year or so as homeowner defaults leaped and weakness in the real estate market spread.

In California alone, lenders have foreclosed on $100 billion worth of homes over the last two years and are foreclosing at a rate of 1,300 houses every business day, according to a recent report from ForeclosureRadar.com.

Most observers have declared the mess a gross failure of regulation. To be sure, in the run-up to the crisis, market-oriented federal regulators bragged about their hands-off treatment of banks and other savings institutions and their executives. But it wasn't just regulators who were looking the other way. The FBI and its parent agency, the Justice Department, are supposed to act as the cops on the beat for potentially illegal activities by bankers and others. But they were focused on national security and other priorities, and paid scant attention to white-collar crimes that may have contributed to the lending and securities debacle.

Now that the problems are out in the open, the government's response strikes some veteran regulators as too little, too late.

Swecker, who retired from the FBI in 2006, declined to comment for this article.

But sources familiar with the FBI budget process, who were not authorized to speak publicly about the growing fraud problem, say that he and other FBI criminal investigators sought additional assistance to take on the mortgage scoundrels.

They ended up with fewer resources, rather than more.

In 2007, the number of agents pursuing mortgage fraud shrank to around 100. By comparison, the FBI had about 1,000 agents deployed on banking fraud during the S&L bust of the 1980s and '90s, said Anthony Adamski, who oversaw financial crime investigations for the FBI at the time.

The FBI says it now has about 200 agents working on mortgage fraud, but critics say the agency might have averted much of the problem had it heeded its own warning.

"The FBI correctly diagnosed that mortgage fraud was epidemic, but it did not come close to meeting its announced goal," said William K. Black, who was a federal regulator during the S&L crisis and now teaches economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

"It used everyday procedures and woefully inadequate resources to deal with an epidemic," he said. "The approach was certain to bring symbolic prosecutions and strategic defeat."

The mortgage debacle has laid bare a system marked by dubious practices at every stage of the process. Lenders often made loans to borrowers who had limited ability to repay them but little desire to pass up the dream of homeownership. Many loans lacked basic documentation, such as information about borrowers' incomes.

Still, mortgage companies could hardly sell them fast enough, packaging the loans as investment securities and peddling them to eager buyers on Wall Street.

The FBI defends its handling of the crisis, with officials contending that as home prices were rising several years ago, the trouble brewing in the mortgage market -- and the potential crimes behind it -- was not immediately apparent.

Officials said they began approaching mortgage companies and others in an attempt to raise awareness about the growing fraud problem. But the lenders had little incentive to cooperate because they were continuing to make money. Black says that in many cases, they were part of the fraud.

"Nobody wanted to listen," Sharon Ormsby, the chief of the FBI's financial crimes section, said in an interview. "We were dealing with the issue as best we could back then."

Over the last three years, the FBI and other agencies have brought dozens of mortgage-fraud cases. The bureau has rooted out foreclosure rescue schemes in which homeowners are tricked into signing over the deeds to their homes to operators who buried the properties even deeper in debt. Agents have disrupted cases of identity theft in which criminals open -- and exhaust -- home equity lines of credit and leave homeowners stuck with the bill.

Many of the cases have been relatively small, however, with about half the investigations involving losses of less than $1 million -- the size of two or three loans.

But the tepid response also reflects a broad realignment of law-enforcement priorities at the Justice Department in which mortgage fraud and other white-collar crimes have been subordinated to other Bush administration priorities.

That has reflected, in part, the ramp-up in national security and terrorism investigations after the Sept. 11 attacks. But the administration has also put more support behind efforts against illegal immigration and child pornography.

In a way, the mortgage debacle could not have come onto the FBI radar screen at a worse time. Just as Swecker was making his doomsday forecast, the FBI, under pressure from Congress and the White House, was creating a crime-fighting brain drain, transferring hundreds of agents from its criminal investigations unit into its anti-terrorism program. About 2,500 agents doing criminal work -- 20% or so of the entire force -- were affected.

Even as the number of new white-collar cases started declining, the Justice Department did pursue some high-profile corporate prosecutions, such as those arising from the collapse of Enron Corp. But some former prosecutors question the administration's current commitment to pursuing complex, high-stakes cases.

"I think most sitting U.S. attorneys now staring at the subprime crisis find scant resources available to pursue sophisticated financial crimes," said John C. Hueston, a Los Angeles lawyer who was a lead federal prosecutor in the trials of Enron executives Kenneth L. Lay and Jeffrey K. Skilling.

Absent a major shift in priorities and resources, he said, it is likely that the Justice Department and the FBI will continue on their current path of focusing on simple cases "that don't go to the heart of the problem."

The FBI says it has 21 open investigations into possible large-scale fraud related to the subprime meltdown. The Times reported last month that a federal grand jury in Los Angeles had subpoenaed records from three large California lenders: Countrywide Financial Corp. (now part of Bank of America Corp.), New Century Financial Corp. and IndyMac Federal Bank.

Among other possible targets, the FBI has said, are investment firms that sold billions in securities backed by shaky subprime mortgages and credit rating agencies that gave high marks to the now-worthless securities and failed to protect investors.

But it may be hard to jump-start such probes. Trying to prove that a major mortgage company intended to defraud buyers of its securities, for example, could take years of digging into records and testimony.

Moreover, some of those involved may have special legal protection: Credit rating firms have in other cases successfully asserted that their opinions about the values of securities are protected by the 1st Amendment.



"I am happy to have investigations going on, but these investigations should have taken place years ago," said Blair A. Nicholas, a San Diego lawyer representing investors who lost money in the collapse of several subprime mortgage lenders. "They seem to always get involved after the horse has left the barn. It is always cleaning up the mess rather than being proactive."

Could the crisis have been averted, or at least mitigated, if the FBI had intervened more forcefully?

"Until there is a catastrophic loss, there is no incentive to investigate criminal conduct," said Cynthia Monaco, a former federal prosecutor in New York. "Nor are there people coming forward with evidence" such as angry investors or whistle-blowing corporate employees, she said.

Even now, Monaco added, it is far from clear whether the damage -- suffered by investors and homeowners alike -- was the product of clear-cut fraud.

Ormsby says the FBI is more actively working with other federal investigative agencies in the hope they will pick up the slack. The Secret Service, for example, in a departure from its traditional missions of protecting presidents and heads of state and investigating counterfeiting, has assigned more than 100 agents to examine mortgage fraud, said spokesman Edwin Donovan.

The Justice Department is also starting to mobilize. The department offered what it described as a "basic seminar" on mortgage fraud cases to about 100 prosecutors last week at its national training academy in South Carolina.

2nd read
    http://www.globalresearch.ca
    Centre for Research on Globalisation
    Centre de recherche sur la mondialisation

There's Something About Omar:
Truth, Lies, and The Legend of 9/11
by Chaim Kupferberg

http://www.globalresearch.ca , 21  October 2003

The URL of this article is: http://globalresearch.ca/articles/KUP310A.html

3RD READ

August 25, 2008

"Never Confront the Protesters...Most of Them Know What Their Rights Are"

The State Deparment's Green Scare Wing

By WILL POTTER

A PowerPoint presentation, leaked from a division of the State Department, reveals that the government is briefing corporations about animal rights activists and offering “countermeasures” to protect corporate profits.

For years, the government has relentlessly pushed to label animal rights and environmental activists as “eco-terrorists” and domestic terrorists. The FBI even labels these groups the “number one domestic terrorism threat.” But this State Department PowerPoint puts the “Green Scare,” as many activists are calling it, in much different perspective.

It spells out, with startling candor, that animal rights and environmental activists are less a threat to national security than to corporate financial security. And it shows that the targets of this “War on Terrorism” aren’t just people burning SUVs: the targets are people using their First Amendment rights.

It’s a harrowing glimpse at what this country has become: the dissolution of all lines between corporate interests and government interests, between “terrorism” and free—albeit controversial—speech.

The presentation, “Animal Rights Extremists: Targets, Tactics Business Response & Countermeasures,” is by the Overseas Security Advisory Council, a division of the U.S. State Department. It was leaked to me by someone who attended the briefing, and I have made it available for download at GreenIsTheNewRed.com.

The notes section of the PowerPoint shows the comments of State Department officials, including a listing of illegal activist tactics by groups like the Animal Liberation Front, from arson to the beheading of a snowman (seriously). [If that seems unbelievable, check out the memo from DHS about “eco-terrorism” like tying up company phone lines.]

But what’s most disturbing is how this presentation on “extremism” and “eco-terrorism” includes so much First Amendment activity. The first slide on “major tactics” lists four “extremism” examples: one has only happened in the UK (“physical assaults”) and the other three are legal (posting personal information, videotaping, and demonstrations at executives’ homes).

The State Department admits as much, noting that activists “push the envelope right up to the line where another step would mean they are breaking the law.” In other words, most of these “terrorists” aren’t committing any crimes.

But that hasn’t stopped the government from surveilling, harassing and demonizing legal activists. In fact, this State Department briefing includes a flier for the Animal Rights 2006 National Conference, a mainstream event with hundreds of attendees where I spoke about the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. This year, among the “terrorists” in attendance was Heather Mills.

“Although many legitimate activists attend these events,” the presentation notes, “the conference holds workshops on successful tactics used against your companies…”

So what gives? Why are these activists such a threat?

The first reason: money. These activists are directly targeting corporate profits. “Although incidents related to terrorism are most likely to make the front page news, Animal Rights Extremism is what’s most likely to affect your day-to-day business operations…”

These activists don’t just want reforms, they want to force corporations like Huntingdon Life Sciences out of business. And they’re “calculating, persistent and often effective.”

The second reason: activists aren’t afraid. Despite the “eco-terrorism” rhetoric, despite the FBI attempting to infiltrate vegan potlucks, despite Joint Terrorism Task Forces arresting activists for wearing masks, and on and on and on, activists aren’t backing down and they aren’t caving in to fear. That, after all, is the entire point of all the “eco-terrorism” scare-mongering: to instill fear in everyday people and make them afraid of using their rights. If this chilling effect doesn’t occur, well, the government and corporations have quite a problem on their hands.

“Never confront the protesters,” the State Department warns corporations. “These individuals are clever. Most of them know what their rights are…”

Will Potter is an award-winning independent journalist who focuses on how lawmakers and corporations have labeled animal rights and environmental activists as "eco-terrorists." He is the creator of GreenIsTheNewRed.com, where he blogs about the Green Scare and history repeating itself.


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                latest news        
       
                Oct. crude gains 21 cents to $114.80/brl on Globex        
                                                                                                                       

NetWitness Executive Appointed to Chair Board of Advisors of InfraGard

Donald Gilberg, Vice President of Strategic Development, to Advise National Public and Private Sector Alliance Dedicated to the Protection of America's Critical Infrastructure


Last update: 9:02 a.m. EDT Aug. 25, 2008
HERNDON, Va., Aug 25, 2008 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- NetWitness Corporation, the leading provider of next generation network security monitoring and active threat intelligence software, today announced that Donald Gilberg, Vice President of Strategic Development, has been named as the new Chairman of the National InfraGard Board of Advisors. InfraGard is a national network of FBI-vetted volunteers who are critical infrastructure subject matter experts in one or more sectors. It provides a trusted forum for the real-time exchange of information and expertise related to the protection of critical infrastructure from both physical and cyber threats, creating a vital link between the FBI and the critical infrastructure owners, operators and experts in local communities.
"InfraGard plays an important role in linking together a broad spectrum of security experts from the private sector with key national law enforcement contacts to ensure our critical infrastructure is protected from unwanted attacks," said Don Gilberg, Vice President of Strategic Development, NetWitness. "In my new role as Chairman, I will assemble a forward-thinking group of security experts and visionaries who can provide true value to private organizations facing advanced persistent threats that require a close partnership with the public sector."
A key benefit of InfraGard is that it enables subject matter experts to share knowledge across sectors to address sector interdependencies within a trusted community. InfraGard has over 26,000 members in more than 80 cities spanning all vital sectors from agriculture to energy to telecommunications. In addition, the InfraGard National Members Alliance governs InfraGard's private sector membership and engages federal, state and local stakeholders in programs outside of the ongoing work with the FBI.
"We are excited to have a veteran security expert and forward thinker leading this very important national effort," said Dr. Kathleen L. Kiernan, Chairman of the Board, InfraGard National Members Alliance. "Don represents the true nature of volunteerism and public service that makes this organization so vibrant. With his guidance, we will continue to build out a system that protects this Nation's critical infrastructure from current and future physical and cyber threats."
As Vice President of Strategic Development for NetWitness, Don Gilberg is responsible for developing strategic relationships with public and private organizations critical to the company's overall growth. He previously served as Managing Director of Security Accelerator LLC, a strategic advisory firm serving the homeland security markets and is the former Senior Director of CivitasGroup and an expert on insurance, risk assessment and mitigation, product liability, corporate intelligence and fraud investigations. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Digital Sandbox and the Board of Advisors of Squareloop.
InfraGard membership applications as well as further information about InfraGard are available at http://www.infragardmembers.org.
About NetWitness
NetWitness(R) Corporation provides patented next generation network monitoring software products that enable organizations to achieve Total Network KnowledgeTM. Users of NetWitness NextGenTM can concurrently solve a wide variety of network and security problems, including, insider threat management, data leakage protection, malware activity detection, network performance management, compliance verification and e-discovery. Originally, developed for the US Intelligence Community, NetWitness has evolved to provide enterprises with breakthrough methods of network content analysis and risk determination. Customers include Defense, National Law Enforcement and Intelligence Agencies and Fortune 1000 organizations. For more information visit: http://www.netwitness.com.
SOURCE: NetWitness Corporation
NetWitness Corporation 
Nita Sinha, 571-748-4092
nita@netwitness.com
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Just in time for the theaters and theater of the absurd ROBERT MUELLER PART TWO
This is the sequel to Mueller's box office smash BCCI
Google
mueller bcci fbi
or google
skolnick mueller bcci

for a look at the multi billion dollar cover-up FBI  Director Mueller was involved in prior to moving over from the FBI  parent corporation the Department of Justice.
To see the long history of the Justice Department and its protectors of privilege, the FBI fixing cases for corporations read David Burnhams book ABOVE THE LAW.
The new Mueller sequel will also star former FBI  Director Louis Freeh.
American Taxpayers provided funding for this new release titled FREDDIE MAC AND FANNIE MAY GANG BANG AMERICAN TAXPAYERS

Hey! What are bodyguards for?
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1st read


                `Doomed' Fannie, Freddie Boards of Stars Failed to Stop Slide                

By Ian Katz

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Sept. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Not even a former FBI director, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology finance professor and the onetime chief U.S. accounting rule maker could keep Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from falling into the arms of the U.S. government.

The boards oversaw the companies' slide as the U.S. housing market suffered its worst slump since the Great Depression. It wasn't for a lack of talent. Fannie's directors include former FBI Director Louis Freeh and former Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland President Karen Horn. Freddie's board has MIT finance professor Stephen Ross and former J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Merrill Lynch & Co. vice chairmen.

The dual mission of Fannie and Freddie, the biggest U.S. mortgage-finance firms, to deliver profits to shareholders while promoting affordable housing as government-sponsored entities may have limited their directors' ability to stabilize the companies and contributed to the need for the U.S. government takeover.

``Under extreme pressure, the boards couldn't serve two masters at one time,'' Richard Ferlauto, director of corporate governance at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said in an interview.

The objective of providing affordable housing isn't consistent with maximizing returns for shareholders, Ferlauto said. At the same time, risks the companies took to boost profits don't align with the companies' mission of serving the public.

`Flawed' Model

The ``inherent conflict and flawed business model'' of the corporate structure and the ``ongoing housing correction'' forced the government to act, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said Sept. 7. Management and the boards of directors ``are responsible for neither,'' Paulson, the former chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., said at a press conference in Washington announcing the takeovers.

Paulson and Federal Housing Finance Agency Director James Lockhart placed Freddie and Fannie in a government-operated conservatorship, ousting their CEOs and eliminating their dividends.

``There was a sense these companies were doomed to fail,'' said Nell Minow, editor of the Corporate Library, a Portland, Maine-based corporate-governance research firm. Fannie, based in Washington, and Freddie, with its headquarters in McLean, Virginia, were ``trying to do mutually exclusive things.''

`Recipe for Catastrophe'

``They want to be a publicly traded company and be competitive,'' Minow said. ``But they arrived on third base and behaved like they hit a triple. That's a recipe for catastrophe.''

Fannie's board has been chaired since December 2004 by Stephen Ashley, CEO of Rochester, New York-based Ashley Group, which has real estate and investment companies. The board includes Dennis Beresford, former chairman of the Financial Accounting Standards Board.

Ashley received $559,659 as chairman in 2007, according to Fannie's 2007 proxy statement. Eleven of the 13 board members received more than $140,000 in 2007, including cash and stock awards.

Freddie's board, which outgoing CEO and Chairman Richard Syron chaired since December 2003, includes Geoffrey Boisi, former vice chairman at JPMorgan Chase & Co.; Jerome Kenney, former Merrill Lynch & Co. vice chairman and William Lewis, co- chairman of investment banking at Lazard Ltd.

Directors' Pay

Ten of the 12 board members in addition to Syron got more than $200,000 in 2007, according to Freddie's proxy statement. Former Chairman Shaun O'Malley, who retired as a director this year, received $602,458 in 2007.

The boards might have been able to reduce the companies' risks even though they had little control over the mortgage market as it seized up in the past year, said Broc Romanek, editor of the TheCorporateCounsel.net Web site.

``They could -- and should -- have been doing something different to change the circumstances that led to this incredible collapse,'' Romanek said.

Syron could receive an exit package of $12 million to $14 million and departing Fannie CEO Daniel Mudd may get $7 million to $9 million, said David Schmidt, a senior consultant for James F. Reda & Associates, a New York-based compensation consultant.

About $8.8 million of Syron's exit pay is cash in exchange for his forfeiting of equity grants. Syron and Mudd could end up accepting less money than they are contractually entitled to, Schmidt said.

`Real Culprits'

Michael Garland, director of value strategies for CtW Investment Group, which advises pension funds, said the ``real culprits deserving of taxpayer ire are the commercial and investment banks that peddled subprime and exotic mortgages.'' Fannie and Freddie were ``principally the victims of a mortgage crisis they did not create,'' he said.

Fannie and Freddie Mac came under greater regulatory scrutiny after accounting errors began surfacing in 2003. In April, former Fannie Mae CEO Franklin Raines agreed to pay $24.7 million for his role in $6.3 billion of accounting errors.

The Office of Federal Housing Oversight sued Raines and two other executives over allegations they inflated earnings. Raines said he accepted ``accountability as the leader of Fannie Mae'' while not admitting any wrongdoing. Freddie Mac understated $5 billion of earnings from 2000 to 2002.



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Richard Syron’s costly swan song

                                                               

Ex-Freddie exec may net $14M

                                                                                                                               
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                                        Tuesday, September 9, 2008 -
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A possible multimillion-dollar payout for former Freddie Mac Chief Executive Richard Syron came under fire yesterday as the federal government seized control of the troubled company.

Published reports pegged a possible severance package for Syron, the former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and ex-CEO of Waltham-based Thermo Electron, at about $14.1 million.

Syron, who was head of Freddie Mac for four years and was paid nearly $20 million last year, was ousted as CEO after yesterday’s government-led takeover and bailout of the mortgage company that’s now reeling from the subprime-mortgage meltdown.

                               

A spokeswoman for Freddie Mac said that “Mr. Syron’s severance package has not yet been determined.” It appeared that regulators were assessing compensation issues related to former executives at both Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

Fannie Mae’s just-ousted CEO, David Mudd, reportedly is in line to get about $9.3 million.

The possibility of either Syron or Mudd receiving multimillion-dollar payouts angered some observers.

“It’s outrageous,” said Peter Cohan, owner of Peter S. Cohan Associates in Marlboro. “I’m furious about it. What are these guys getting paid for after what happened (to their firms)?”

Jay Lorsch, a professor at Harvard Business School, said he knew little about the severance packages. But if Syron and Mudd end up getting large going-away packages, then it’s “morally and ethically wrong,” he said.

“It’s another example of (corporate) guys failing and getting rewarded after failing,” he said.

One source said that Syron has already lost virtually all the value of the 735,936 shares he recently held in Freddie Mac. Shares of the firm, whose formation was sponsored by the government, closed trading yesterday at only 88 cents, down from its 52-week high of $65.88.

While some were upset with possible payouts to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae executives, Wall Street was reacting with delight yesterday to the government seizure of the two firms. The Dow jumped 289.53 points, or 2.58 percent, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 25.49, or 2.05 percent. The Nasdaq advanced 13.88, or 0.62 percent.

Dave Rovelli, managing director of U.S. equity trading at Canaccord Adams in New York, said while the plan boosts confidence in sectors like financials and home builders, it doesn’t immediately alleviate worries about other areas of the economy. Still, he said the move was far more welcome than a collapse of Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

“It saves Armageddon from happening,” he said.



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The true cost of crime

                                                                by ArabianBusiness.com staff writer on Wednesday, 10 September 2008                                                                                                        
                                                                                       
                                                       
                                                                                                                                                                               
                                                                                       
                                                                                                       

                                                Retail News investigates the industry's tough approach to crime and the major concerns among security bosses.

"The crime rate has definitely risen in the retail industry in the UAE and is probably higher than most other countries in the region simply due to the dramatic population increase and the rising cost of living," according to Charles Mallice, director of operations and training for Abu Dhabi's ADSECC Consulting & Security Centre.

"Increased security at stores and malls in the Middle East has been sparked by new Government regulations and the realisation that professional security personnel, systems and management are indeed required here," Mallice says.

                                                               
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The absence of standardised wages for security officers creates a loophole for smaller unprofessional security companies to abuse cheap, untrained labour and undermine the efforts of others attempting to professionalise the industry.
The one-stop security management company, which has developed a one stop shop for training, equipment, central monitoring and specialised services, assists in the planning of physical and technical security measures for clients.

For retailers, ADSECC specialises in monitoring of cashiers, where the actual transaction is recorded along with the footage in addition to internal inquiries and security assessments.

The losses from theft are obvious, he says, but by using state of the art equipment employee time and staff numbers can be utilised more efficiently, making greater savings and profit.

"ADSECC offers a fully functional monitoring station that is manned 24 hours a day. We use our state of the art facility to monitor our clients' security systems, as well as their complete building management systems from one location in our control centre," Mallice explains.

The firm flaunts its capability to track assets, personnel and vehicles and act as a liaison between its clients, the emergency services and service companies. "If your air conditioning system goes out at 2am in your offices, our monitoring station is alerted automatically and we will dispatch an engineer to address the problem immediately hence there is no loss of work time when the staff arrive at 8am."

Its credentials extend to a registered training Institute that boasts a complete series of training courses for security and safety, including training for the Armed Forces and Police.

"Our company, unlike others, offers a full service turn-key solution to security. Our management team are all westerners with years of experience in Law Enforcement and Security. ADSECC's two directors alone have over 60 years of combined experience, from FBI and British Army backgrounds."

The standards found within security companies in this region, he believes, swing from "very bad to good. We see security equipment suppliers here, who have no security background, and were selling electric toothbrushes before going into the security business where they could earn more money."

Darryn Johnston, regional manager of Enforce Security Services LLC believes that "security Standards are improving all the time, we must give credit to the Dubai Department of Protective Systems implementing mandatory training for all security officers who work in Dubai thus creating a minimum standard across all business sectors."
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Senate Panel Approves Bill To Make The Justice Dep't Hollywood's Private Police Force

from the travesty-of-justice dept

We were just talking about how a huge number of public interest groups had explained to the Senate why the new Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights Act was a such terrible idea since it would add a Copyright Czar in the White House and let the FBI file civil charges against people caught infringing on copyrights. After all, there's simply no logical explanation for why the FBI should be propping up the obsolete business model of an industry that refuses to change with the market.

However, it appears that public interest groups don't fund campaigns like the entertainment industry does. The Senate Judiciary Committee has gone ahead and approved moving the bill forward by a 14-4 margin, basically handing over Justice Department resources to Hollywood to protect its business model with no real justification.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Patrick Leahy's explanation is pretty stunning in its ignorance:

"We all know that intellectual property makes up some of the most valuable, and most vulnerable, property we have. We need to do more to protect it from theft and abuse if we hope to continue being a world leader in innovation."
Can someone send him a copy of Against Intellectual Monopoly so he can understand how nearly every part of that sentence is wrong. First off, intellectual property, despite the name, is not "property" at all. It's also not "vulnerable" except if you mean that there are better business models out there for dealing with. He gives no convincing reason why we should "protect" it, other than a factually untrue statement about "theft," when infringement and theft are two totally different things and should be dealt with in two totally different ways. Finally, studies have shown that the more "protected" IP is, the less innovation results, so his final clause is simply backwards. This bill will serve to limit American innovation, and open up more foreign innovation instead. But, as long as it means the RIAA doesn't need to innovate...
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Our Financial 9/11: Can They Save the System?
The Bush Administration’s Rescue Plan Will Not Work

by Danny Schechter

Global Research, September 21, 2008
 

The world is holding its breath.

Many know and the rest of us are just finding out that in this turbulent month of September, the US is experiencing a financial 9/11, probably worse than the one in 2001, as a series of cataclysmic developments rock our economic system which is ,in turn, intangled with others worldwide. Terms like “Armageddon” are now being used in polite company.

Imagine being a fly on the wall last Thursday night as the head of the Federal Reserve Bank, Ben Bernanke, and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, met behind closed doors in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office. The meeting was called urgent; it was also unprecedented.

It was a truth-telling moment as Michael Shedlock describes it on the Seeking Alpha Financial website:

“When you listened to him describe it you gulped," said Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York.

As Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut and chairman of the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, put it Friday morning on the ABC program “Good Morning America,” the congressional leaders were told “that we’re literally maybe days away from a complete meltdown of our financial system, with all the implications here at home and globally.”

Mr. Schumer added, “History was sort of hanging over it, like this was a moment.”

When Mr. Schumer described the meeting as “somber,” Mr. Dodd cut in. “Somber doesn’t begin to justify the words,” he said. “We have never heard language like this.”

Until that moment the full extent of this disaster had been hidden from Congress and the American people with all kinds of upbeat blather and outright lies about how the “fundamentals of the economy” were sound.

Suddenly nothing was sound. The government than announced a rescue plan. On Saturday, The Bush Administration said they want $700 billion to fund it, but that may just be the start.

The plan includes creating a new entity like the RTC that ended the S&L crisis in the 1980’s to buy up and sell-off bad mortgages and other “illiquid assets,“ billions to back up money market funds, and new SEC edicts to stop short sellers from undermining stock prices—a measure backed by John McCain who has made “the shorts” his boogie man over the fierce editorial objections of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and most anyone who knows anything about the way the market works.

Barack Obama has so far supported this major intervention into saving the markets that may cost taxpayers a trillion dollars or more although he wants to consult with other countries on what to do.

Much of our media has ignored international fears as this crisis ripples globally. China has already called the crisis a “financial tsunami” and called for a new non-US based currency system.

The stock markets were euphoric Friday and shot up as if the crisis had been solved. It was more “market psychology” which is not the same thing as common sense. Joe Nocera in the New York Times was less positive, likening these measures to a “hail mary pass” in football where a quarterback just flings the ball in the final minutes of the game and hopes someone catches it, noting that ”most of the time they fail.”

Blogger Shedlock says, at best, these moves postponed Armageddon but did not end the danger:

“Government manipulation can never prevent financial Armageddon. In fact, government intervention and manipulation in the free markets eventually guarantees financial Armageddon. Armageddon was not prevented, only delayed, and at taxpayer expense.”

Nocera agrees, concluding with the kind of understatement you expect from the newspaper of record, “as much as we might hope that the government finally has the answer, it probably doesn’t.”

So much for all that “problem solved” optimism you have been seeing on TV.

Also troubling is the tendency in the media to blame the crisis on “mistakes” by irresponsible lenders and irresponsible borrowers as if their contributions to this crisis balanced each other out and, hence, since everyone was at fault, no one is at fault.

This “logic” compares the Jones family that took a subprime loan after being targeted by fraudulent brokers who assured them it was a great deal and that they couldn’t lose, with a powerful industry that knew they couldn’t afford to their home but went ahead anyway securitizing the mortgage, slicing and dicing it into financial instruments and then misrepresenting its value to buyers and investors worldwide.

Since when do you equate individuals with institutions?

The buyer was duped; the lender and the multi-million dollar Wall Street market machine behind these unscrupulous brokers were consciously exploiting people who had no idea they were victimized by a well-calculated and criminal ponzi scheme. The FBI is investigating some of these crimes, so far indicting 400 scammers, but our media continues to leave out the criminal cabal behind this crisis. They support the bailouts but have yet to call for a jail out as if they are unaware that Wall Street is not just a financial center but has been a crime scene.

No wonder that a reader to the New York Times called this measure a “No Banker Left Behind Scheme.”

This crisis is hardly over.

Listen to economist Nouriel Roubini who has been on target in most of his forecasts,

He predicts, according to financial writer Felix Salmon, “Credit losses of $2 trillion, half the US banking system nationalized, municipal defaults, house price declines accelerating, a sudden stop in consumer spending, global contagion, stagflation, you name it.”

Roubini concludes:

“At this point the perfect financial storm of the century cannot be contained. The only light at the end of the tunnel is the one of the coming financial and economic train wreck.”

If you think you can trust this Administration to solve this crisis when it has created so many others, think again. Unfortunately neither political party seems to have a clear take on what is happening or any plan to solve it.

So strap in, we are in for volatile rollercoaster ride.

Danny Schechter made the film IN DEBT WE TRUST (indebtwetrust.com) warning of the crisis and has written the just published PLUNDER: Investigating Our Economic Calamity (Cosimo) available at online book stores. Comments to Dissector@mediachannel.org
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http://www.motherjones.com/mojoblog/archives/2008/09/9960_lehman_brothers_records_discarded.html

Lehman Brothers Records Discarded?

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) just sent a letter to Lehman Brothers CEO Richard Fuld, who's scheduled to testify before the House Oversight Committee on October 6, to follow up on a previous document request. Among other things, the committee had sought e-mails and other documents that had been sent or received by Fuld over the past six months. According to Waxman, Lehman blew [PDF] Thursday's deadline to produce the records. And Fuld's counsel has apparently told the committee that he doesn't expect to have much to turn over.

    In conversations with Committee staff, your counsel stated that he and his team are working on collecting your e-mails from this time period, but they expect to produce relatively few to the Committee because you were an infrequent user of e-mail.

    Your counsel and his team have also informed Committee staff that they do not currently plan to produce any documents sent, received, or reviewed by you during the past six months that are nonelectronic, such as internal memoranda from company officials, assessments of the company’s potential liabilities, or warnings of the company’s impending collapse. According to your counsel, although these documents did exist at one time, they were typically “discarded.”

Discarded? Sarbanes-Oxley, signed into law after the Enron debacle, forced publicly traded companies—such as Lehman Brothers, before it was delisted by the New York Stock Exchange—to comply with heightened record-retention procedures. And it imposes strict criminal penalties on anyone who tampers with company records:

    Whoever knowingly alters, destroys, mutilates, conceals, covers up, falsifies, or makes a false entry in any record, document, or tangible object with the intent to impede, obstruct, or influence the investigation or proper administration of any matter within the jurisdiction of any department or agency of the United States or any case filed under title 11, or in relation to or contemplation of any such matter or case, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.

It's unclear whether the documents in question are covered under Sarbanes, but, just the same, "discarded" doesn't seem like it's going to fly, particularly since congressional scrutiny is the least of Lehman's problems. The failed investment bank is currently under investigation by the FBI, as well as the subject of multiple lawsuits, including a class action that was filed earlier this week.

And Waxman is growing testy with Lehman's lack of cooperation, too.

    It is difficult to understand how Lehman Brothers is unable to produce a single internal document that went to or from the CEO’s office over the past six months. It is also difficult to understand why there is no log, file, or other record documenting where these internal documents went.

    For these reasons, I request that you inform the Committee by the close of business today whether you will agree to expand your search of documents to include company officials and employees outside the office of the CEO. If we do not receive such a commitment, the Committee will begin the process of seeking these documents by compulsory means.

Have a nice weekend, Mr. Fuld.
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September 29, 2008    Most Serious Financial Crisis since Great Depression...   
               
                                                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                                                                       
When Corporations Spy



Global Research, September 30, 2008
Antifascist Calling - 2008-09-24




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As if illegal spying and dirty tricks by state agencies weren't threat enough to democratic institutions and grassroots activist organizations, hundreds of corporate spy outfits are doing their part--to defend the "homeland" and the bottom line--for the multinational grifters who plunder the world's wealth.

SourceWatch revealed that Hakluyt & Company, Ltd., a "British private intelligence agency ... staffed almost entirely by ex-intelligence services staff," was outed by a freelance journalist after the company sought to recruit her "services." The group reported in August:

Melissa Sweet, a freelance Australian health journalist, reports that she recently received an email from a staffer with Hakluyt. In it she was asked if she would like to become part of a "network of well-placed individuals around the world who are able to provide us, very discreetly, with intelligence on specific commercial or political issues that may arise." In particular, they were seeking her assistance for an anonymous "financial institution" client on "a new project on the new Australian government's healthcare policy--how realistic their reform ambitions really are", "the role of the private sector" and other matters. Sweet responded by pointing out that she was a journalist not a consultant. Undeterred, the Hakluyt staffer wrote back explaining that as a journalist she was likely to have "dozens of well-placed sources in the field" and that the company already has "a number of quality, usually specialist journalists that we deal with". In 2001 Hakluyt was outed for infiltrating Greenpeace in Europe. ("Hakluyt & Company Limited," SourceWatch, August 1, 2008)

The Sunday Times reported in 2001 that Hakluyt hired Manfred Schlickenrieder, a German foreign intelligence operative tasked by the firm to spy on Greenpeace at the behest of oil giants BP and Shell. According to The Sunday Times:

His political credentials seemed impeccable: he had once been chairman of the Munich branch of the German Communist party and the bookshelves of his office held the works of Bertolt Brecht, the Marxist playwright and poet.

Behind the facade, however, Schlickenrieder was a spy working for both the German secret service and for Hakluyt, a private intelligence agency based in London's West End and set up by former officers of MI6, the secret intelligence service. His codename was Camus after Albert Camus, the existentialist author of L'Etranger.

Hakluyt paid him thousands of pounds to inform on the activities of Greenpeace, Anita Roddick's Body Shop and other environmental campaigners. The BND, the German equivalent of MI6, allegedly paid him £3,125 a month living expenses. (Maurice Chittenden and Nicholas Rufford, "MI6 'Firm' Spied on Green Groups," The Sunday Times, June 17, 2008)

Also in 2001, after the Greenpeace scandal exploded, Christopher James, Hakluyt's Managing Director, wrote to the disgraced CEO of Enron, the convicted felon Jeffrey Skilling, bragging of Hakluyt's unique "services":

The range of deployments we have completed for core clients is wide. In all cases we guarantee complete confidentiality. And, although we work for divisional directors on tactical issues, we have found our most rewarding work in personal dealings with CEOs who wish--for whatever reason--to have a confidential agency at their own disposal. It was this, which prompted Phil Carroll to write to you about us in April as he has found our work of considerable value to him personally. We look at people and the issues, which often drive them to make the decisions or act as they do. All our work is unattributable.

To sweeten the pot, James told Skilling,

We also have an association with Kissinger/McLarty Associates for although our work is very different the services we both provide can be complementary. Our US client base is increasing well but at the same time we wish to remain small and discreet. (Confidential email from Christopher James to Jeffrey Skilling, posted by Enron Explorer, July 8, 2001)


Talk about a small (and very greedy) world!


But Hakluyt wasn't the only firm engaged in corporate espionage targeting green groups. As investigative journalist James Ridgeway reported last April,

A private security company organized and managed by former Secret Service officers spied on Greenpeace and other environmental organizations from the late 1990s through at least 2000, pilfering documents from trash bins, attempting to plant undercover operatives within groups, casing offices, collecting phone records of activists, and penetrating confidential meetings. According to company documents provided to Mother Jones by a former investor in the firm, this security outfit collected confidential internal records--donor lists, detailed financial statements, the Social Security numbers of staff members, strategy memos—from these organizations and produced intelligence reports for public relations firms and major corporations involved in environmental controversies. ("Cops and Former Secret Service Agents Ran Black Ops on Green Groups," Mother Jones, April 11, 2008)

The firm, the now-defunct Beckett Brown International, provided a "range of services" for heavy-hitting corporate clients including Allied Waste, the Carlyle Group, Halliburton and Monsanto. Headquartered in Easton, Maryland, BBI "worked extensively" for public-relations firms Ketchum, Nichols-Dezenhall Communications, and Mongoven, Biscoe & Duchin. According to Ridgeway,

At the time, these PR outfits were servicing corporate clients fighting environmental organizations opposed to their products or actions. Ketchum, for example, was working for Dow Chemical and Kraft Foods; Nichols-Dezenhall, according to BBI records, was working with Condea Vista, a chemical manufacturing firm that in 1994 leaked up to 47 million pounds of ethylene dichloride, a suspected carcinogen, into the Calcasieu River in Louisiana.

BBI was apparently good at what they did until the firm ran to ground in 2001, provoked by "infighting between the principals." But don't despair, Ridgeway tells us that "the firm's officials went on to work in other security firms that remain active today." Call it another prime example of keeping the "homeland safe"--and profitable--for the corporate grifters who ceaselessly labor to destroy "our way of life." Their dream, our nightmare.

Big Budgets, Global Reach

With global reach, seemingly limitless budgets and often staffed by ex-military and security operatives, the world of private spying is a big business with a huge growth potential, particularly when citizens revolt against the sordid schemes of corporate polluters, defense contractors and resource grabbers.

Indeed, as legendary researcher Frank J. Donner documented in his landmark books, The Age of Surveillance and Protectors of Privilege, "a more functional public-private linkage is often found on the urban and state levels" where connections amongst right-wing groups, corporations and the government abound.

Historically, this nexus included organizations such as the semi-official Law Enforcement Intelligence Unit (LEIU), ultrarightist outfits such as the John Birch Society, Church League of America, the Minutemen, Legion of Justice, the American Security Council, and "legitimate" private detective agencies such Pinkerton, Kroll, Burns and Wackenhut.

But as the corporatist state totters on the brink of economic collapse, in no small part the result of greed and gross criminality by top-flight financial institutions, banks, investment firms and other corporate grifters linked to the Bush administration and the Republican and Democratic parties, the capitalist state will require a vast legion of private spooks to "keep the rabble in line."

There certainly are plenty of them.


In 2006, the World Socialist Web Site reported that high-tech powerhouse Hewlett-Packard was caught red-handed in a corporate spies-for-hire scheme to stanch leaks.

The spying campaign, launched by H-P board Chairwoman Patricia Dunn in response to leaks to the press of internal corporate discussions, included surreptitiously obtaining the phone records of H-P board members and employees, surveillance of board members and journalists, and the emailing of spyware to journalists in an effort to learn the identity of their sources within the company.

Private telephone records on hundreds of cell and home telephones were obtained by a method called "pretexting," in which investigators made repeated calls to telephone companies, pretending to be the individuals targeted, until they were able to convince a phone company employee to release the information. (Patrick Martin, "Hewlett-Packard spying scandal sheds new light on U.S. corporate 'ethics'," World Socialist Web Site, 2 October 2006)


The corporate spooks, their tradecraft acquired through years of practice as dodgy state operatives, were hired through a series of "cutouts" designed to provide top company officials with "plausible deniability" should their cover be blown.

Among the firms employed by H-P were the Boston-based Security Outsourcing Solutions (SOS). According to Martin, the "dirty work" was outsourced to Action Research Group (ARG) of Melbourne, Florida. A blurb on SOS's website claims that the company will "work with internal security departments that do not have the expertise and or resources to address all of their organization's security concerns."

That's rich, considering that H-P clocks in at No. 14 on the 2008 Fortune 500 list and recently agreed to pay $12.6 billion to buy out Electronic Data Systems! An additional subcontractor, Eye in the Sky Investigations, described itself as providing (as of 2004) "skip tracing services" for "the licensed private investigator, finance company, collection agency, recovery agency, bail bondsman, info brokers." A handy list of charges for company "services" was even listed on Webspawner.

While ARG's website is blocked, a simple Google search uncovered a "Complaint for Injunctive and Other Equitable Relief" filed February 14, 2007 by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in United States Federal District Court, Orlando Division, against ARG and Eye in the Sky Investigations.

The complaint against corporate officers of the firms charged the companies with gross violations of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 for illegally obtaining "customer proprietary network information."

Indeed the FTC accused ARG and other defendants in the suit with engaging in an egregious "invasion of privacy" of confidential customer phone records "likely to cause substantial harm to consumers." According to court documents:

The account holders have not authorized Defendants to access or sell their confidential customer phone records. Instead, to obtain such information, Defendants have used or have caused others to use, false pretenses, fraudulent statements, fraudulent or stolen documents or other misrepresentations, including posing as an account holder or as an employee of the telecommunications carer [sic], to induce officers, employees, or agents of telecommunications carers [sic] to disclose confidential customer phone records. Defendants have sold the confidential customer phone records that they have obtained to their clients or others.

Sounds like business as usual to me!

The San Francisco Business Times reported in May that the named defendants agreed to pay some $600,000 to settle the case with the FTC for their role in the illegal H-P spying operation. Keep in mind, this is but one case in what must be a tsunami of illegal covert operations by American corporate behemoths!

Wal-Mart and Raytheon: Best Friends Forever!

While the hunt for "subversives," often under the direction of corporate associations such as the National Association of Manufacturers, the American Chamber of Commerce and related "defense" industry trade and lobby shops, occupied corporate spooks during the McCarthy period, by the late 1970s and down to the present moment, environmental, labor, antiwar, antinuclear, antiglobalization and increasingly, civil liberties and privacy advocates have entered the frame, often with a vengeance.

Indeed, according to Wal-Mart Watch, the retail giant's Threat Research and Analysis Group conducted extensive spying operations against critics and employees until it was revealed by a whistleblower. Bruce Gabbard told The Wall Street Journal,

Wal-Mart began beefing up its electronic call surveillance after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in response to government requests to employers in general to help find terrorist cells. Mr. Gabbard says he was directed by two former FBI agents working for Wal-Mart to set up a system that could track any calls to and from Syria, Yemen and Iran, among other countries. The search was unsuccessful, only flagging an apparent call from Iran that turned out instead to be from an Indian jeweler, according to Mr. Gabbard.

Later, he says, he used the same equipment to intercept and record calls from the New York Times. (Ann Zimmerman and Gary McWilliams, "Inside Wal-Mart's 'Threat Research' Operation," The Wall Street Journal, April 4, 2007, Page B1)

Wal-Mart whistleblower Gabbard said the electronic surveillance "accelerated" in 2005 when leaked documents began appearing on the website of the pro-union group Wal-Mart Watch. One memo "suggested" that because of rising healthcare costs and criticism of the corporate giant's policies "the retailer should revise its policies by hiring healthier workers and requiring all jobs to perform physical activity, such as retrieving shopping carts."

According to the Journal, Wal-Mart began working with Oakley Networks Inc., a developer of "insider threat management" gear to surveil employee computer usage over the retail giant's network. Indeed, the Journal reports that one Oakley system is capable of recording an employee's keystrokes "and deliver a TiVo-like replay of his or her computing activities."

While confirming the "advanced capabilities" of its system, Oakley Networks refused to identify its customers "apart from the U.S. Defense Department." Zimmerman and McWilliams reported that "the system goes beyond keystroke capture products and email filtering packages" providing "a view of content" moving across a targeted network.

Oakley Networks Inc., now a wholly owned subsidiary of Raytheon (Raytheon Oakley), was founded in 2001 and "acquired" in 2007 by the defense giant. It is now a major component of Raytheon's "Intelligence and information Systems (IIS) business." According to a blurb on their website, "Raytheon Oakley protects 10 of the Fortune 100 banking, technology, manufacturing and other critical commercial infrastructure companies." Washington Technology reported "terms [of the deal] were not disclosed."

And with "security" in the heimat the latest frontier to be conquered by "war on terror" corporate profiteers, is it any wonder that private surveillance has become a lucrative growth industry. Indeed, there's even a trade association, the Homeland Security Industries Association (HSIA)! A Washington, D.C.-based lobby group, HSIA describes its mission as providing "a mechanism for government and the private sector to coordinate on a wide range of homeland security issues."

And do they ever coordinate!

Members include corporate heavy-hitters such as Bechtel, Fluor Corp., Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Textron and Washington Group International. Mid-sized firms such as E.J. Krause & Associates, Intelsat Government Solutions, Galileo International, Shaw Group, and Worldwide Security Associates. Additionally, smaller firms and universities include AR Challenges, Georgetown University, Intelliorg, the John Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, and QED are saddled-up in HSIA's stable.

As USA Today reported back in 2006,

Without another major terrorist attack like those of 9/11, Homeland Security Research, the industry tracker, expects the market for security goods and services to increase to $178 billion in 2015, or triple its current value.

But a major attack in the United States, Europe or Japan could increase the global market in 2015 to $730 billion, more than a twelvefold increase, the company says.

Most of the growth this decade will come from building what Homeland Security Research calls "a homeland defense infrastructure." Growth areas are likely to include technology for surveillance and for detection of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. (Gary Stoller, "Homeland security generates multibillion business," USA Today, September 10, 2006)


As can be seen from this overview, corporate spying like "outsourcing" state security and intelligence functions to corporatist "partners" are another means of providing "plausible deniability," global reach and maximum capabilities in the subversion of democratic institutions in the service of imperialist Empire.

We can be certain of this: as the American economic house of cards continues its epochal collapse, a viper's nest of state and private intelligence operatives will be unleashed upon the American people.


Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to publishing in Covert Action Quarterly, Love & Rage and Antifa Forum, he is the editor of Police State America: U.S. Military "Civil Disturbance" Planning, distributed by AK Press.

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1st read





OpEdNews

Original Content at http://www.opednews.com/articles/Does-the-Bailout-Bill-Mark-by-Richard-C-Cook-081001-554.html

October 2, 2008

Does the Bailout Bill Mark the End of America As We Know It?

By Richard C. Cook



OCTOBER 1, 2008 Tonight the Senate passed the $700 billion Wall Street bailout bill by a vote of 74-25. This follows the rejection of the bill by the House on Monday. In an MSNBC poll, 62 percent of Americans oppose the giveaway, but the lobbyists are doing everything possible to assure the rejection is overturned. According to Bob Borosage, co-director of The Campaign for America's Future, House leaders "are bringing in the small business lobby and the banking lobby to buy the twelve Republican votes they need."-


The Senate took up the bill in order to pressure House members who voted against it to change their positions when it returns to a vote on the House floor on Friday. This procedure may be unconstitutional, because revenue bills must originate in the House, but there is no time or political will for anyone to mount a challenge on constitutional grounds. As another means of inducement--or blackmail--the bill includes the repeal of the wildly unjust alternative minimum tax.


Every reputable economist commenting on the bill opposes it, including NYU's Nouriel Roubini, who says the plan is "totally flawed."- He says the plan is:


"a disgrace: a bailout of reckless bankers, lenders, and investors that provides little direct debt relief to borrowers and financially stressed households and that will come at a very high cost to the US taxpayer."-


My own view is that the plan is worse than that: a crime; grand larceny on a monumental scale.


Here's why: We know that the debacle started with homeowner defaults on subprime mortgages and that it has now spread to other types of mortgages as foreclosures spread. We know that the unhealthy use of subprime mortgages started during the Clinton administration, as did the bundling and sale of these mortgages into mortgage-backed securities sold in the financial markets.


What has not been reported is that the Bush administration turned these acts of reckless lending into a national program of mortgage fraud. Soon after George W. Bush became president in 2001, meetings at the White House between Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and administration officials became more frequent. According to mortgage industry insiders I have interviewed, direction soon began to come down from the banks to mortgage brokers to falsify borrower income information to allow them to qualify for loans that were otherwise out of reach.


The FBI has investigations underway to prosecute some of these cases of mortgage fraud. But they are not reaching above the brokers' level. The FBI is not gaining access--or at least they have not reported it publicly--to information about collusion at the political level or at the level of the banks which provided the leveraged funding for mortgage money.


But at the time the housing bubble was inflating, no one was watching. Note that when Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson testified before the Senate Banking Committee last week, he said he was shocked to learn when assuming office in June 2006 that no federal agency regulated mortgage lending. Rather this was an area left to the states.

What Paulson did not say was that when the states attempted to intervene, they were blocked by the Treasury Department's Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. In a February 14 article in the Washington Post written before he resigned, New York governor Eliot Spitzer wrote:

"In 2003, during the height of the predatory lending crisis, the OCC invoked a clause from the 1863 National Bank Act to issue formal opinions preempting all state predatory lending laws, thereby rendering them inoperative. The OCC also promulgated new rules that prevented states from enforcing any of their own consumer protection laws against national banks. The federal government's actions were so egregious and so unprecedented that all 50 state attorneys general, and all 50 state banking superintendents, actively fought the new rules. But the unanimous opposition of the 50 states did not deter, or even slow, the Bush administration in its goal of protecting the banks. In fact, when my office opened an investigation of possible discrimination in mortgage lending by a number of banks, the OCC filed a federal lawsuit to stop the investigation."-

Why did the Bush administration do this?

The only possible answer is that it had every intention of producing the housing bubble, one that had the effect of not only inflating the cost of homes and real estate but also pumping billions of dollars of borrowed cash into the economy through mortgage and home equity loans. The bubble enriched huge numbers of executives, managers, and shareholders throughout the financial and real estate industries, and provided jobs to millions of people. The bubble also brought back foreign capital to U.S. markets that had been scared away by the dot.com bust of 2000-2001.

Everyone seemed to benefit, but it was those at the top who skimmed the greatest profits. And for an economy that had already given away millions of its best manufacturing jobs through NAFTA, Most-Favored-Nation trading policies with China, World Trade Organization agreements, etc., the bubble acted as a kind of substitute economic engine.

It also resulted in tax revenues that allowed the Bush administration to implement its 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for the rich and provide funding for the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Of course these tax revenues were not enough, as the national debt soared to over $9 trillion during the Bush years as well.


Economist Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research makes the point:

"The near hysterical discussion (count the times '-Great Depression' appears in news stories) of the bailout still largely fails to recognize the roots of the economy's current problems in the collapse of the housing bubble. Much of the discussion assumes that the problem is just bad subprime loans and that house prices will bounce back once the credit markets are working properly."-

The point is critical, because what the Senate and House leaders are telling us, as are President George W. Bush, presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain, and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, is that the bailout is to get the American economy moving again.

Credit, they say, is the lifeblood of the economy, and without credit no one can make a move. But credit is the lifeblood of the economy only because people are broke. Purchasing power in the U.S. has collapsed, and it is getting worse as the recession which has now begun worsens.

People can't get loans, not because the credit markets are stalled, but because they have no savings for down payments and can't afford to repay what they wish to borrow.

If they could repay their loans, plenty of credit would be available. But there is no money--and no savings--within the economy for it to get moving again. The only possible source is more federal borrowing to prime the pump Keynesian-style. That is what the politicians claim the bailout will do. But it won't.

Then what is happening?

What is happening is that the Bush administration is engineering a massive raid on the Federal treasury to pay off the people within the financial industry who have been operating the housing scam because the politicians told them to do it. This is hush money. The people in the financial institutions who are getting the money will be passing it on to the big banks that leveraged their criminal lending practices. The giant sucking sound you hear is almost a trillion dollars of future taxpayer earnings going into the vaults of the nations's biggest banks, such as Citibank, Bank of American, and--the pet bank of the Rockefeller family--J.P. Morgan Chase. Much will also go into the vaults of foreign investors such as the Bank of China.

And these banks have no intention of recycling the money into productive U.S. investments. Despite the political posturing, where much of it will go at the second or third tier is into executive salaries and bonuses. The fat cats are "gittin' out while the gittin's good."-

What happens next?

Well, it is already happening. In the post-bubble era there will be no more economic engines for the American economy. A long-term recession and depression are inevitable, and they are expected by those in the know. In fact, there has been a plan in the works for a very long time to bring down the U.S. economy, and it will be happening over the coming months.

This is the plan, so people need to begin to take whatever measures they can to cut their cost of living, get out of debt, and protect themselves and their families.




Authors Website: http://www.richardccook.com

Authors Bio: Richard C. Cook is a former U.S. federal government analyst, whose career included service with the U.S. Civil Service Commission, the Food and Drug Administration, the Carter White House, NASA, and the U.S. Treasury Department. His articles on economics, politics, and space policy have appeared in numerous websites and print magazines. His book on monetary reform, entitled We Hold These Truths: The Hope of Monetary Reform, will soon be published. He is the author of Challenger Revealed: An Insider's Account of How the Reagan Administration Caused the Greatest Tragedy of the Space Age, called by one reviewer, "the most important spaceflight book of the last twenty years."

2nd read
http://epic.org/epic/board/burnham/book.html
Above the Law
Secret Deals, Political Fixes and Other Misadventures of the U.S. Department of Justice



"This book tells us that far too often the Justice Department represents not the people, but the politicians, corporations and other entrenched private interests. In Above the Law, David Burnham once again shows us why his investigative reporting is a national asset."

-- Seymour M. Hersh, Pulitzer Price winning investigative journalist

Myth: The Justice Department is a rational and evenhanded law enforcement mechanism.

Fact: The Justice Department is always political, steadily more powerful, sometimes corrupt and surprisingly ineffective.

The United States Justice Department -- which includes the FBI, the DEA, the INS and more than 100,000 employees -- functions as law enforcer, investigator and jailer of American citizens. The department's legal reach is vast, extending to social controversies of race, religion and economics as well as to thousands of criminal and civil laws, including espionage; mail fraud; corruption; racketeering; vote-fixing; pollution; computer crimes; adulterated food and drugs; price-fixing; tax fraud; gambling; forgery; and the sale, manufacture or possession of illicit drugs. The department then, and the attorney general, make decisions daily that affect every American citizen. But who monitors the Justice Department and its pervasive dealings?

In Above the Law, David Burnham reveals the chilling truth about this powerful arm of the government. Examining its records on such issues as drug enforcement, civil rights and national security, Burnham discovered that the agency runs virtually unpoliced, even after the BCCI scandal, the forcible abduction of Manuel Noriega and the disastrous mission at Waco. For the first time, David Burnham conducts a thorough investigation of the investigator, exposing the Justice Department as never before.

Read Above the Law and learn:

* How the FBI and the DEA have relentlessly expanded their electronic surveillance networks to encompass more and more average Americans -- rather than suspected criminals.

* How the war on drugs currently consumes more than half of the Justice Department's budget but remains a well-documented dud when it comes to reducing the use of illegal drugs.

* How and why FBI director Freeh, following a trail blazed by J. Edgar Hoover, directs a misleading national advertising blitz about the nation's crime problem.

* How the Justice Department has routinely failed to investigate the political allies of all presidents, including Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, John F. Kennedy and George Bush.

* How -- more than three hundred times a year -- teams of agents from the FBI's top secret Surreptitious entry Program go about the task of breaking into houses, offices and warehouses of selected targets, usually to plant hidden cameras and microphones.

* How the law enforcement powers of the Justice Department have been used to harass black politicians and aid white ones.

Selected Excerpts

Annotated Table of Contents


Chapter 5.KEEPING TRACK OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE: THE UNBLINKING EYE AND GIANT EAR


Chapter 6.THE BIG, BAD, DUMB WAR ON DRUGS


Chapter 8.UNCIVIL WRONGS AND CIVIL RIGHTS
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joeb

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The FBI public relations department known as CBS News  ran a info-mercial tonight on 60 Minutes about a FBI  agent named Garcia who infiltrated the New York City mob to take down its  top  boss.
FBI  agent Garcia posed as an italian mobster named Jack Falcone.
Recently retired FBI  agent Garcia's new book will be published by  the parent company that owns CBS  News.
The timing of taxpayer funded FBI  agents airing this program is impeccable.
One of their Boston agents John Connolly is on trial in Miami  for collaborating with the Boston Irish  Mafia in murdering  an  informant in Florida . FBI agent Connolly's lawyers begin their rebuttal tommorrow, to the evidence presented by the prosecution for the last 3 weeks.I wonder how many jurors will watch this show?
google
john connolly fbi miami
google
clemente devecchio fbi
There is also a new book out by retired FBI  agent Wesley Swearingen presenting
his evidence of the FBI  collaborating with the Chicago Mafia in the assassination of
President Kennedy.
FBI  agent Swearingen should know. He was an FBI  agent investigating the Chicago mob when President Kennedy was assassinated.
Please understand that other groups were involved in the hit on Kennedy including the Texas oil people and President Johnson.
Couple of reads funded by your tax dime.

1st read
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               


                                                                                                                               



http://www.langtoninfo.com/showitem.asp?isbn=1419693824

                                                                                                                               


3rd read
  1. Making Jack Falcone

    By Joaquin "Jack" Garcia
    Free shipping on orders over $25
    Amazon.com/NonfictionBooks



2nd read

The Fed Who Infiltrated The Mob

TV Exclusive: Meet The Undercover FBI Agent Who Was Inducted Into The Gambino Crime Family

                       

                               

                               

                       

               
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Undercover Mob Buster

In an exclusive interview with CBS News, Armen Keteyian speaks with undercover FBI agent Jack Garcia, who infiltrated New York's notorious Gambino crime family, taking down its bosses in 2005. | Share/Embed


Answers.com

(CBS) Only one other undercover agent in history has walked in his shoes; played a role to such perfection as to be offered the Mafia's most sacred blessing.

"I am the second law-enforcement officer ever to be proposed for membership into La Cosa Nostra," Jack Garcia told CBS News chief investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian.

The first, immortalized in the movie "Donnie Brasco," tells the tale of FBI agent Joe Pistone who infiltrated the Bonnano crime family back in the mid-1970s.

Now, for the first time on television, a modern-day Brasco, who still works undercover, tells CBS News how he convinced the notorious Gambino crime family he was one of their own.

"You're always so afraid for your life," Garcia said. "And anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. I mean, things can turn like this (snaps fingers)."

His riveting story begins as Garcia, a Cuban-born immigrant turned FBI undercover agent with a gift for creating characters - from a drug lord to small-time mobsters - for 20 years.

Then he went big-game hunting after the Gambinos, posing as Jack Falcone, a Miami wise-guy.

"Jack Falcone was a knock-around guy from Florida who was a jewel thief, he was a hijacker. He was an individual that was surrounded in Miami by the Cuban culture," Garcia said.

It was the spring of 2003 when Jack Falcone, a.k.a., "Jackie Boy," caught the eye of Gambino capo Greg DePalma who controlled loan sharking, gambling and construction rackets in and around New York.

"They wanted me because I was an earner," he said. "You're not a broken-down garbage can. You're a guy who makes money, and that's what the mob is all about."

Falcone eventually earned DePalma's trust by offering an endless supply of stolen goods - likes cigarettes and televisions - all provided by the FBI.

"Jack, there has to be a moment when the door opens and you realize I am in," Keteyian asked.

"I remember that day distinctively," Garcia said. "I met with him, at which time he presented me with a beautiful diamond pinky ring. He told me he put me on record with the Gambino crime family. 'You're under our umbrella.'"

Wearing a court-authorized wire, over the next two years Falcone secretly recorded DePalma - and other bosses - concocting money-making schemes at restaurants, diners, even a Jewish geriatric center … the FBI monitoring almost every meeting.

In a scene straight out of Hollywood, at one point Falcone was called upon to "talk" to a made man not paying the proper respect to DePalma. It was a meeting that took place right in one Bloomingdales' housewares section.

Things turned ugly. Falcone says he watched a mob soldier pick up a solid glass candlestick and bash the guy over the head.

"In the housewares," Garcia said. "Grabs it, hits him right over the head, cracks his head open. You hear like a melon popping; blood all over the place."

In March of 2005, the FBI swooped in and arrested DePalma, his bosses Arnold Squitieri and Anthony "The Genius" Magale along with dozens of underlings, essentially decapitating the family.

All pleaded guilty except DePalma, who insisted on going to trial, where, before his eyes, his "Jackie Boy" turned into FBI agent Jack Garcia…putting DePalma behind bars for 12 years.

Describe the look on DePalma's face, as he's staring at you when you are on that witness stand.

"It was like, if he could only get his hands around my neck," Garcia said.

Is he worried Greg DePalma wants to put him in the ground?

"What the bureau did, they went out and spoke to the heads of all five families and they told them if anything is to happen to Jack Falcone, the reign of terror will fall upon them," Garcia said.

But what motivated Garcia to put these guys away?

"I saw the faces. They're really like wolves in sheep's clothing," he said. "These are not the people that should be revered… as being these great group of guys. They're not. They're criminals."






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joeb

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Reply with quote  #68 
a species that hires bodyguards to protect it looses the ability to protect itself and is doomed to extinction


When a pickpocket is standing in the middle of a group of saints
all he sees is their pockets


Have you checked recently to see who retired FBI agents go to work for
after they retire?

couple of reads on your tax dime

1st read

Above the Law
Secret Deals, Political Fixes and Other Misadventures of the U.S. Department of Justice



"This book tells us that far too often the Justice Department represents not the people, but the politicians, corporations and other entrenched private interests. In Above the Law, David Burnham once again shows us why his investigative reporting is a national asset."

-- Seymour M. Hersh, Pulitzer Price winning investigative journalist

Myth: The Justice Department is a rational and evenhanded law enforcement mechanism.

Fact: The Justice Department is always political, steadily more powerful, sometimes corrupt and surprisingly ineffective.

The United States Justice Department -- which includes the FBI, the DEA, the INS and more than 100,000 employees -- functions as law enforcer, investigator and jailer of American citizens. The department's legal reach is vast, extending to social controversies of race, religion and economics as well as to thousands of criminal and civil laws, including espionage; mail fraud; corruption; racketeering; vote-fixing; pollution; computer crimes; adulterated food and drugs; price-fixing; tax fraud; gambling; forgery; and the sale, manufacture or possession of illicit drugs. The department then, and the attorney general, make decisions daily that affect every American citizen. But who monitors the Justice Department and its pervasive dealings?

In Above the Law, David Burnham reveals the chilling truth about this powerful arm of the government. Examining its records on such issues as drug enforcement, civil rights and national security, Burnham discovered that the agency runs virtually unpoliced, even after the BCCI scandal, the forcible abduction of Manuel Noriega and the disastrous mission at Waco. For the first time, David Burnham conducts a thorough investigation of the investigator, exposing the Justice Department as never before.

Read Above the Law and learn:

* How the FBI and the DEA have relentlessly expanded their electronic surveillance networks to encompass more and more average Americans -- rather than suspected criminals.

* How the war on drugs currently consumes more than half of the Justice Department's budget but remains a well-documented dud when it comes to reducing the use of illegal drugs.

* How and why FBI director Freeh, following a trail blazed by J. Edgar Hoover, directs a misleading national advertising blitz about the nation's crime problem.

* How the Justice Department has routinely failed to investigate the political allies of all presidents, including Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, John F. Kennedy and George Bush.

* How -- more than three hundred times a year -- teams of agents from the FBI's top secret Surreptitious entry Program go about the task of breaking into houses, offices and warehouses of selected targets, usually to plant hidden cameras and microphones.

* How the law enforcement powers of the Justice Department have been used to harass black politicians and aid white ones.


2nd read
Former FBI Agent Arrested in Miami for 1981 Tulsa Murder

By DENISE LAVOIE, The Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) -- A former FBI agent who handled high-profile mob informants in Boston was arrested Thursday and charged in the 1981 mob-related murder of a Tulsa, Okla., businessman, his lawyer said.

H. Paul Rico, 78, was arrested at his home near Miami and charged with murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the death of Roger Wheeler, the 55-year-old chairman of Tulsa-based Telex Corp., who was shot in the head after playing a round of golf at Southern Hills Country Club on May 27, 1981.

Investigators have said Rico provided John Martorano, a hit man for the Boston-based Winter Hill Gang, with information on Wheeler's schedule so he could be killed.

They said the slaying was linked to Wheeler's purchase of the Florida-based World Jai Alai -- a sport in which betting is involved -- and his suspicion that money was being skimmed from the company. At the time of Wheeler's killing, Rico had retired from the FBI and was working as the head of security for World Jai Alai.

"He flat out categorically denies this," his Florida attorney, William Cagney III told The Associated Press. "He never assisted the Winter Hill Gang in trying to get inside information so they could ... do away with people."

Wheeler's son said he was pleased with Rico's arrest.

"It's something I've wanted for years," said Larry Wheeler, who said he believes Rico played a role in his father's murder.

Rico spent 24 years with the FBI, specializing in organized crime cases in Boston in the 1960s and 1970s. He cultivated mob associate Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi and others as informants.

Fugitive mobster James "Whitey" Bulger, the leader of the Winter Hill Gang, Flemmi and Martorano were all charged in Wheeler's murder in 2001 by Oklahoma prosecutors.

Prosecutors in Florida followed with an indictment charging all three in the 1982 murder of World Jai Alai executive John "Jack" Callahan in Miami. Investigators said they believe Callahan was killed to keep him from telling authorities about links between World Jai Alai and the mob.

Martorano, who admitted pulling the trigger in both killings, agreed to testify against Bulger and Flemmi to get his charge reduced to second-degree murder.

District Attorney Tim Harris of Tulsa has said he planned to seek the death penalty against Bulger and Flemmi.

Harris could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday on Rico's arrest. He did not return repeated phone messages left at his office by The Associated Press.

Gail Marcinkiewicz, a spokeswoman for the Boston FBI, declined to comment on the arrest of Rico.

Cagney said he expects Rico will appear before a Miami-Dade County judge within the next two days for an extradition hearing. He said he had not spoken with his client since his arrest and did not know if he planned to waive extradition to Tulsa.

Rico is being held at the Miami-Dade County jail, Cagney said.

During the trial last year of former FBI Agent John Connolly Jr., prosecutors said Bulger and Flemmi were left untouched by law enforcement for decades because they were acting as FBI informants, ratting on the separate New England Mafia.

Flemmi is scheduled to go to trial Oct. 20 in U.S. District Court in Boston on a federal racketeering indictment in which he is charged in 10 murders.

Bulger fled in 1995, just before he was indicted, after receiving a tip from Connolly, his former FBI handler. Now wanted in 21 murders, Bulger is on the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted" list. Connolly is serving a 10-year sentence in federal prison.

For more than two years, a Congressional panel has been investigating the Boston FBI office's ties to its mob informants. In 2001, Rico testified about another case before the House Committee on Government Reform.

He denied that he and his partner helped framed an innocent man for the 1965 gangland slaying of Edward "Teddy" Deegan, but acknowledged that Joseph Salvati wrongly spent 30 years in prison for the crime.

After U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., accused Rico of feeling no remorse for his role in the conviction of four innocent men in the Deegan case, Rico replied, "What do you want, tears?"

Rico denied claims that he and other FBI agents hid evidence in the case to protect its informants.

Salvati and three other men were sent to prison based in part on the testimony of another top FBI informant, Joseph "The Animal" Barboza.

Salvati's lawyer, Victor Garo, predicted that Rico's arrest might split the Boston FBI scandal wide open, exposing more government wrongdoing both in Boston and Washington.

"He was the inside man of the Boston office of the FBI in dealing with informants like Steve Flemmi and others," Garo said. "I would imagine that right now many people are concerned about what he knows and what he will say ... He knows about all the skeletons in the closet."
3rd read

Former FBI director to investigate SemGroup
        KTEN Local News


Associated Press - October 15, 2008 9:35 AM ET

TULSA, Okla. (AP) - Former FBI Director Louis Freeh has been appointed to investigate the bankrupt Tulsa-based SemGroup LP.

A federal bankruptcy judge in Delaware approved Freeh's investigation, which will look into SemGroups oil futures trading strategy.

He's also to investigate alleged misuse of loan funds and insider transactions.

SemGroup declared bankruptcy July 22 after losing about $2.4 billion in oil futures transactions.

Information from: Tulsa World, http://www.tulsaworld.com
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joeb

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        « John McCain's Campaign Robots Hit the Phones |         Main        

       

Can Private Companies Helping the NSA Be Watchdogs, Too?

       
                By Ryan Singel EmailOctober 16, 2008 | 4:15:02 PMCategories: NSA, Sunshine and Secrecy, Surveillance          
                       

Billlboardliberationfront

Companies that secretly helped the government's secret anti-terrorism surveillance operations without requiring valid legal orders have found their reputations sullied, their billboards re-decorated and their lawyers busy fending off suits seeking billions in damages. Just ask AT&T.

But given that the government's spooks will continue to rely on private companies -- especially telecoms -- to help with their secret intelligence efforts, could these companies actually serve as a watchdog protecting the country from intrusive, lawbreaking spying?

Jon Michaels, an acting professor at UCLA Law School, thinks they could.

The key, according to Michaels' article in the California Law Review, is making such companies tell the appropriate Congressional committees and inspectors general in regular reports when they transfer information about Americans to the government's spy agencies.  Congress also much find a clear way to punish companies which cooperate informally and immunize those who follow legal orders.

That should make telecoms resist the kind of handshake agreements like the ones that led the nation's largest telecoms to give the government billions of phone call records and to let the nation's spooks wiretap the internet inside the United States, Michaels argues.

And the spies' reliance on private companies and organizations (Western Union, the phone companies, JetBlue and FedEx, among others) won't be ending any time soon.

In July, Congress buckled to pressure from the White House gave the nation's spies wide-ranging new powers to wiretap American-based communication facilities and service providers. It also granted retroactive immunity to companies that helped the government spy -- without court orders -- on Americans' communications post 9/11.

But with the mandatory reports, Congress will have a better idea what the nation's spies are up to, at least in terms of domestic operations, Michaels argues in All the President's Spies: Private-Public Intelligence Partnerships in the War on Terror.

"Armed with data far more detailed and more timely than what it currently receives, Congress could decide to hold hearings [...] to investigate programs it suspects are misguided, insufficiently attentive to privacy concerns, [and] overly burdensome to corporations," Michaels writes.

The nation's inspectors general would keep better track of the government's use of powers such as National Security Letters. The FBI's abuse of those self-issued subpoenas was uncovered by an Justice Department inspector general report mandated by Congress.

But, Michaels argues, things would have been different if the telephone companies had been regularly reporting to Congress that the FBI was using fake emergency letters and asking not just for one person's records, but the phone records of everyone in that person's social network.

"The inspectors general would now have the opportunity to review overall patterns of intelligence operations almost in real time, with an eye toward detecting evidence of overreaching or abuse," Michaels writes.

The nation's secret spying court would also get a bump in responsibilities and would be given the job of approving a wide range of surveillance programs every three months, as well as handling cases brought by citizens against corporations for illegal spying.

As for the Executive branch, Michaels hopes the regime makes it more likely that it turns to Congress to ask for more spying powers when it thinks it needs them, instead of just secretly violating the law.

Michaels realizes this might not be the perfect arrangement, but argues it might just work practically.

"Of course, having private actors serve as government watchdogs in the face of Executive non-compliance is not the most normatively attractive model of the separation of powers, and ti may even be seen as excusing ... bad behavior by the Executive," Michaels writes. [H]owever true reform of the sort that is necessary in terms of better allocating war-,alomg and intelligence powers is not likely to occur untill after the terrorism crisis abates...

Via National Security Advisors blog

Photo courtesy Billboard Liberation Front/Flickr

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joeb

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Reply with quote  #70 
http://www.mikeruppert.blogspot.com/



Sunday, October 19, 2008

THE NUMBER OF MORTGAGES vs.PROPERTIES

I'm glad that several of you asked about my comment. It shows you're paying attention. I'm not sure how much help I can be for reasons out of my control.

I started receiving the warnings about the number of mortgages from Catherine Austin Fitts -- former Assistant Secretary of Housing -- in late 2004 or early 2005. That was followed by several key stories which had that choice morsel buried (as usual) in later paragraphs. Unfortunately, when FTW's computers were smashed on June 25, 2006 I lost the ability to locate those stories. As we reloaded new computers with all of my research from backups, the new IT tech changed all the dates on all of my 20,000+ stories to July 10, 2006 and the file names were changed in many cases. File trees were rearranged and my ability to search was really impaired. I just entered "mortgages" in my search engine and came up with more than 300 archived stories. I just can't go back and read through them all. In all I have perhaps 4,000 separate research files totalling 4 Gigs.

However, throughout 2005-6, I cited these alarming discrepancies in all of my lectures and I believe it's in my video "Denial Stops Here"compiled from my 2004 through late 2005 public appearances. I used Powerpoint slides and probably there's a slide in there with one of the stories supporting this.

I no longer communicate with Fitts in any way. The reasons are between her and me. Yet I have never had reason to doubt what she told me on this subject and there were substantiating stories. It was clear that the same addresses were being used on multiple mortgages and that fictitious properties had also been created to blend in and pump the value of bundled mortgage-backed securities. This pattern first appeared way back in the S&L crisis in the last years of Bush I. The RTC (Resolution Trust Corporation) was used to destroy or hide evidence and I would say "literally" complete and finalize the looting that happened then. The S&L crisis was, I believe, a trial run for what's happened this year. With time I am more and more convinced that the Bushes et al have known that Peak Oil was coming for a long time and have planned to loot wealth, keeping it out of the hands of those who could/would use it constructively. Note that both economic crises happened at the very end of Bush regimes. It has been the"cashing-out" process for their "base".
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Taxpayer funded FBI  agents have moved their operations for committing voter fraud to West Virginia.
FBI  agents now have a national model to effect voter fraud in every state.
In the mid 1980's FBI  agents were perfecting their ability to commit voter fraud
by tapping into  voting machine computers when they were caught because Leonard Gates and Bob Draise blew the whistle on their activities.
Who are Bob  Draise and Leonard Gates?
They both were supervisors at Cincinnati Bell Telephone and were told by the FBI  to tap into the voting machines computer via the modem built into each machine.Draise and Gates placed illegal phone taps on the voting polls where the voting machines were used. The rest is history as documented by investigative reporter Greg Flannery also editor at City Beat newspaper in Cincinnati. Flannery wrote an article IN 1989 called REACH OUT AND TAP SOMEONE for the national publication IN THESE TIMES.
Since then FBI  agents have upgraded their techniques and now use Wi Fi to enter the voting machines so they can insert voting machine software that has been altered and programmed to erase itself after the election.This operation is now being carried out of the new FBI  CyberCrime
Center in West Virginia.
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1st read

http://www.wvgazette.com/News/200810170676
 
October 18, 2008
Some early W.Va. voters angry over switched votes
Jackson County touch-screens switched votes, 3 residents say
At least three early voters in Jackson County had a hard time voting for candidates they want to win.
By Paul J. Nyden
Staff writer

At least three early voters in Jackson County had a hard time voting for candidates they want to win.

Virginia Matheney and Calvin Thomas said touch-screen machines in the county clerk's office in Ripley kept switching their votes from Democratic to Republican candidates.

"When I touched the screen for Barack Obama, the check mark moved from his box to the box indicating a vote for John McCain," said Matheney, who lives in Kenna.

When she reported the problem, she said, the poll worker in charge "responded that everything was all right. It was just that the screen was sensitive and I was touching the screen too hard. She instructed me to use only my fingernail."

Even after she began using her fingernail, Matheney said, the problem persisted.

When she tried to vote for candidates running for two open seats on the Supreme Court, the electronic machine canceled her second vote twice.

On her third try, Matheney managed to cast votes for both Menis Ketchum and Margaret Workman, Democratic candidates for the two open seats.

Calvin Thomas, 81, who retired from Kaiser Aluminum in Ravenswood in 1983 and now lives in Ripley, experienced the same problem.

"When I pushed Obama, it jumped to McCain. When I went down to governor's office and punched [Gov. Joe] Manchin, it went to the other dude. When I went to Karen Facemyer [the incumbent Republican state senator], I pushed the Democrat, but it jumped again.

"The rest of them were OK, but the machine sent my votes for those top three offices from the Democrat to the Republican," Thomas said.

"When I hollered about that, the girl who worked there said, 'Push it again.' I pushed Obama again and it stayed there. Then, the machine did the same thing for other candidates.

"Why didn't she [the polling clerk] tell me before I even used the machine that might happen? And how many people, especially my age, didn't notice that?

2nd read

     
   
Cyber Investigations






    * Wi-Fi Security: Advice from the FBI
    * The New Phenomenon of 'Swatting'
    * More


Resources

    * CyberCrime.gov
    * Online Crime Statistics
    * FBI/Computer Security Institute Survey
    * National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace (pdf)
    * National Cyber-Forensics & Training Alliance

The FBI's cyber mission is four-fold: first and foremost, to stop those behind the most serious computer intrusions and the spread of malicious code; second, to identify and thwart online sexual predators who use the Internet to meet and exploit children and to produce, possess, or share child pornography; third, to counteract operations that target U.S. intellectual property, endangering our national security and competitiveness; and fourth, to dismantle national and transnational organized criminal enterprises engaging in Internet fraud. Pursuant to the National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace signed by the President, the Department of Justice and the FBI lead the national effort to investigate and prosecute cybercrime.
Inside FBI Cyber Operations
Cyber Action
Teams
     
Cyber Action Team logoOur Cyber Action Teams, or CATs, are small, highly-trained teams of FBI agents, analysts, and computer forensics and malicious code experts who travel the world on a moment’s notice to respond to fast-moving cyber threats. Read how teams sent to Morocco and Turkey helped catch the authors of the malicious "Zotob" code.
   
Computer Crimes
Task Forces
    http://www.fbi.gov/cyberinvest/cyberhome.htm
FBI agent at computer An FBI agent takes a call from an Internet scam victim. Down the hall in a computer lab, a police detective poses undercover as a teenage girl in an online chat room. Steps away, a forensic examiner is breaking passwords and decrypting files on a suspected hacker’s computer. Welcome to the front lines of the war on cyber crime. Full Story
   
Internet Crime
Complaint Center
IC3 LogoThe FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center have set up a clearinghouse for triaging cyber crime complaints called the Internet Crime Complaint Center, or IC3. Based in West Virginia, it works closely with a range of law enforcement agencies and private sector organizations. IC3 also releases annual statistics and performs analysis and research.

3rd read
http://www.votefraud.org/greatest_coverup_of_all.htm
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joeb

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http://www.soaw.org/newswire_detail.php?id=1465
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Reply with quote  #73 
                               
The Ten Worst Corporations of 2008



Global Research, November 24, 2008






 

The financial meltdown and economic crisis illustrated that corporations will destroy even themselves in search of profit.

2008 marks the 20th anniversary of Multinational Monitor's annual list of the 10 Worst Corporations of the year.

In the 20 years that we've published our annual list, we've covered corporate villains, scoundrels, criminals and miscreants. We've reported on some really bad stuff - from Exxon's Valdez spill to Union Carbide and Dow's effort to avoid responsibility for the Bhopal disaster; from oil companies coddling dictators (including Chevron and CNPC, both profiled this year) to a bank (Riggs) providing financial services for Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet; from oil and auto companies threatening the future of the planet by blocking efforts to address climate change to duplicitous tobacco companies marketing cigarettes around the world by associating their product with images of freedom, sports, youthful energy and good health.

But we've never had a year like 2008.

The financial crisis first gripping Wall Street and now spreading rapidly throughout the world is, in many ways, emblematic of the worst of the corporate-dominated political and economic system that we aim to expose with our annual 10 Worst list. Here is how.

Improper political influence: Corporations dominate the policy-making process, from city councils to global institutions like the World Trade Organization. Over the last 30 years, and especially in the last decade, Wall Street interests leveraged their political power to remove many of the regulations that had restricted their activities. There are at least a dozen separate and significant examples of this, including the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999, which permitted the merger of banks and investment banks. In a form of corporate civil disobedience, Citibank and Travelers Group merged in 1998 - a move that was illegal at the time, but for which they were given a two-year forbearance - on the assumption that they would be able to force a change in the relevant law. They did, with the help of just-retired (at the time) Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, who went on to an executive position at the newly created Citigroup.

Deregulation and non-enforcement: Non-enforcement of rules against predatory lending helped the housing bubble balloon. While some regulators had sought to exert authority over financial derivatives, they were stopped by finance-friendly figures in the Clinton administration and Congress - enabling the creation of the credit default swap market. Even Alan Greenspan concedes that that market - worth $55 trillion in what is called notional value - is imploding in significant part because it was not regulated.

Short-term thinking: It was obvious to anyone who cared to look at historical trends that the United States was experiencing a housing bubble. Many in the financial sector seemed to have convinced themselves that there was no bubble. But others must have been more clear-eyed. In any case, all the Wall Street players had an incentive not to pay attention to the bubble. They were making stratospheric annual bonuses based on annual results. Even if they were certain the bubble would pop sometime in the future, they had every incentive to keep making money on the upside.

Financialization: Profits in the financial sector were more than 35 percent of overall U.S. corporate profits in each year from 2005 to 2007, according to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Instead of serving the real economy, the financial sector was taking over the real economy.

Profit over social use: Relatedly, the corporate-driven economy was being driven by what could make a profit, rather than what would serve a social purpose. Although Wall Street hucksters offered elaborate rationalizations for why exotic financial derivatives, private equity takeovers of firms, securitization and other so-called financial innovations helped improve economic efficiency, by and large these financial schemes served no socially useful purpose.

Externalized costs: Worse, the financial schemes didn't just create money for Wall Street movers and shakers and their investors. They made money at the expense of others. The costs of these schemes were foisted onto workers who lost jobs at firms gutted by private equity operators, unpayable loans acquired by homeowners who bought into a bubble market (often made worse by unconscionable lending terms), and now the public.

What is most revealing about the financial meltdown and economic crisis, however, is that it illustrates that corporations - if left to their own worst instincts - will destroy themselves and the system that nurtures them. It is rare that this lesson is so graphically illustrated. It is one the world must quickly learn, if we are to avoid the most serious existential threat we have yet faced: climate change.

Of course, the rest of the corporate sector was not on good behavior during 2008 either, and we do not want them to escape justified scrutiny. In keeping with our tradition of highlighting diverse forms of corporate wrongdoing, we include only one financial company on the 10 Worst list. Here, presented in alphabetical order, are the 10 Worst Corporations of 2008.

AIG: Money for Nothing

There's surely no one party responsible for the ongoing global financial crisis.

But if you had to pick a single responsible corporation, there's a very strong case to make for American International Group (AIG).

In September, the Federal Reserve poured $85 billion into the distressed global financial services company. It followed up with $38 billion in October.

The government drove a hard bargain for its support. It allocated its billions to the company as high-interest loans; it demanded just short of an 80 percent share of the company in exchange for the loans; and it insisted on the firing of the company's CEO (even though he had only been on the job for three months).

Why did AIG - primarily an insurance company powerhouse, with more than 100,000 employees around the world and $1 trillion in assets - require more than $100 billion ($100 billion!) in government funds? The company's traditional insurance business continues to go strong, but its gigantic exposure to the world of "credit default swaps" left it teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Government officials then intervened, because they feared that an AIG bankruptcy would crash the world's financial system.

Credit default swaps are effectively a kind of insurance policy on debt securities. Companies contracted with AIG to provide insurance on a wide range of securities. The insurance policy provided that, if a bond didn't pay, AIG would make up the loss.

AIG's eventual problem was rooted in its entering a very risky business but treating it as safe. First, AIG Financial Products, the small London-based unit handling credit default swaps, decided to insure "collateralized debt obligations" (CDOs). CDOs are pools of mortgage loans, but often only a portion of the underlying loans - perhaps involving the most risky part of each loan. Ratings agencies graded many of these CDOs as highest quality, though subsequent events would show these ratings to have been profoundly flawed. Based on the blue-chip ratings, AIG treated its insurance on the CDOs as low risk. Then, because AIG was highly rated, it did not have to post collateral.

Through credit default swaps, AIG was basically collecting insurance premiums and assuming it would never pay out on a failure - let alone a collapse of the entire market it was insuring. It was a scheme that couldn't be beat: money for nothing.

In September, the New York Times' Gretchen Morgenson reported on the operations of AIG's small London unit, and the profile of its former chief, Joseph Cassano. In 2007, the Times reported, Cassano "described the credit default swaps as almost a sure thing." "It is hard to get this message across, but these are very much handpicked," he said in a call with analysts.

"It is hard for us, without being flippant, to even see a scenario within any kind of realm of reason that would see us losing one dollar in any of those transactions," he said.

Cassano assured investors that AIG's operations were nearly fail safe. Following earlier accounting problems, the company's risk management was stellar, he said: "That's a committee that I sit on, along with many of the senior managers at AIG, and we look at a whole variety of transactions that come in to make sure that they are maintaining the quality that we need to. And so I think the things that have been put in at our level and the things that have been put in at the parent level will ensure that there won't be any of those kinds of mistakes again."

Cassano turned out to be spectacularly wrong. The credit default swaps were not a sure thing. AIG somehow did not notice that the United States was experiencing a housing bubble, and that it was essentially insuring that the bubble would not pop. It made an ill-formed judgment that positive credit ratings meant CDOs were high quality - even when the underlying mortgages were of poor quality.

But before the bubble popped, Cassano's operation was minting money. It wasn't hard work, since AIG Financial Products was taking in premiums in exchange for nothing. In 2005, the unit's profit margin was 83 percent, according to the Times. By 2007, its credit default swap portfolio was more than $500 billion.

Then things started to go bad. Suddenly, AIG had to start paying out on some of the securities it had insured. As it started recording losses, its credit default swap contracts require that it begin putting up more and more collateral. AIG found it couldn't raise enough money fast enough - over the course of a weekend in September, the amount of money AIG owed shot up from $20 billion to more than $80 billion.

With no private creditors stepping forward, it fell to the government to provide the needed capital or let AIG enter bankruptcy. Top federal officials deemed bankruptcy too high a risk to the overall financial system.

After the bailout, it emerged that AIG did not even know all of the CDOs it had ensured.

In September, less than a week after the bailout was announced, the Orange County Register reported on a posh retreat for company executives and insurance agents at the exclusive St. Regis Resort in Monarch Beach, California. Rooms at the resort can cost over $1,000 per night.

After the House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee highlighted the retreat, AIG explained that the retreat was primarily for well-performing independent insurance agents. Only 10 of the 100 participants were from AIG (and they from a successful AIG subsidiary), the company said, and the event was planned long in advance of the federal bailout. In an apology letter to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, CEO Edward Liddy wrote that AIG now faces very different challenges, and "that we owe our employees and the American public new standards and approaches."

New standards and approaches, indeed.

Cargill: Food Profiteers

The world's food system is broken. Or, more accurately, the giant food companies and their allies in the U.S. and other rich country governments, and at the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, broke it.

Thirty years ago, most developing countries produced enough food to feed themselves [CHECK]. Now, 70 percent are net food importers.

Thirty years ago, most developing countries had in place mechanisms aimed at maintaining a relatively constant price for food commodities. Tariffs on imports protected local farmers from fluctuations in global food prices. Government-run grain purchasing boards paid above-market prices for farm goods when prices were low, and required farmers to sell below-market when prices were high. The idea was to give farmers some certainty over price, and to keep food affordable for consumers. Governments also provided a wide set of support services for farmers, giving them advice on new crop and growing technologies and, in some countries, helping set up cooperative structures.

This was not a perfect system by any means, but it looks pretty good in retrospect.

Over the last three decades, the system was completely abandoned, in country after country. It was replaced by a multinational-dominated, globally integrated food system, in which the World Bank and other institutions coerced countries into opening their markets to cheap food imports from rich countries and re-orienting their agricultural systems to grow food for rich consumers abroad. Proponents said the new system was a "free market" approach, but in reality it traded one set of government interventions for another - a new set of rules that gave enhanced power to a handful of global grain trading companies like Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland, as well as to seed and fertilizer corporations.

"For this food regime to work," Raj Patel, author of Stuffed and Starved, told the U.S. House Financial Services Committee at a May hearing, "existing marketing boards and support structures needed to be dismantled. In a range of countries, this meant that the state bodies that had been supported and built by the World Bank were dismantled by the World Bank. The rationale behind the dismantling of these institutions was to clear the path for private sector involvement in these sectors, on the understanding that the private sector would be more efficient and less wasteful than the public sector."

"The result of these interventions and conditions," explained Patel, "was to accelerate the decline of developing country agriculture. One of the most striking consequences of liberalization has been the phenomenon of ‘import surges.' These happen when tariffs on cheaper, and often subsidized, agricultural products are lowered, and a host country is then flooded with those goods. There is often a corresponding decline in domestic production. In Senegal, for example, tariff reduction led to an import surge in tomato paste, with a 15-fold increase in imports, and a halving of domestic production. Similar stories might be told of Chile, which saw a three-fold surge in imports of vegetable oil, and a halving of domestic production. In Ghana in 1998, local rice production accounted for over 80 percent of domestic consumption. By 2003, that figure was less than 20 percent."

The decline of developing country agriculture means that developing countries are dependent on the vagaries of the global market. When prices spike - as they did in late 2007 and through the beginning of 2008 - countries and poor consumers are at the mercy of the global market and the giant trading companies that dominate it. In the first quarter of 2008, the price of rice in Asia doubled, and commodity prices overall rose 40 percent. People in rich countries felt this pinch, but the problem was much more severe in the developing world. Not only do consumers in poor countries have less money, they spend a much higher proportion of their household budget on food - often half or more - and they buy much less processed food, so commodity increases affect them much more directly. In poor countries, higher prices don't just pinch, they mean people go hungry. Food riots broke out around the world in early 2008.

But not everyone was feeling pain. For Cargill, spiking prices was an opportunity to get rich. In the second quarter of 2008, the company reported profits of more than $1 billion, with profits from continuing operations soaring 18 percent from the previous year. Cargill's 2007 profits totaled more than $2.3 billion, up more than a third from 2006.

In a competitive market, would a grain-trading middleman make super-profits? Or would rising prices crimp the middleman's profit margin?

Well, the global grain trade is not competitive.

In an August speech, Cargill CEO Greg Page posed the question, "So, isn't Cargill exploiting the food situation to make money?" Here is how he responded:

"I would give you four pieces of information about why our earnings have gone up dramatically.

  1. The demand for food has gone up. The demand for our facilities has gone up, and we are running virtually all of our facilities worldwide at total capacity. As we utilize our capacity more effectively, clearly we do better.
  2. Fertilizer prices rose, and we are owners of a large fertilizer company. That has been the single largest factor in Cargill's earnings.
  3. The volatility in the grain industry - much of it created by governments - was an opportunity for a trading company like Cargill to make money.
  4. Finally, in this era of high prices, Cargill over the last two years has invested $15.5 billion additional dollars into the world food system. Some was to carry all these high-priced inventories. We also wanted to be sure that we were there for farmers who needed the working capital to operate in this much more expensive environment. Clearly, our owners expected some return on that $15.5 billion. Cargill had an opportunity to make more money in this environment, and I think that is something that we need to be very forthright about."

OK, Mr. Page, that's all very interesting. The question was, "So, isn't Cargill exploiting the food situation to make money?" It sounds like your answer is, "yes."

Chevron: "We can't let little countries screw around with big companies"

The world has witnessed a stunning consolidation of the multinational oil companies over the last decade.

One of the big winners was Chevron. It swallowed up Texaco and Unocal, among others. It was happy to absorb their revenue streams. It has been less willing to take responsibility for ecological and human rights abuses perpetrated by these companies.

One of the inherited legacies from Chevron's 2001 acquisition of Texaco is litigation in Ecuador over the company's alleged decimation of the Ecuadorian Amazon over a 20-year period of operation. In 1993, 30,000 indigenous Ecuadorians filed a class action suit in U.S. courts, alleging that Texaco had poisoned the land where they live and the waterways on which they rely, allowing billions of gallons of oil to spill and leaving hundreds of waste pits unlined and uncovered. They sought billions in compensation for the harm to their land and livelihood, and for alleged health harms. The Ecuadorians and their lawyers filed the case in U.S. courts because U.S. courts have more capacity to handle complex litigation, and procedures (including jury trials) that offer plaintiffs a better chance to challenge big corporations. Texaco, and later Chevron, deployed massive legal resources to defeat the lawsuit. Ultimately, a Chevron legal maneuver prevailed: At Chevron's instigation, U.S. courts held that the case should be litigated in Ecuador, closer to where the alleged harms occurred.

Having argued vociferously that Ecuadorian courts were fair and impartial, Chevron is now unhappy with how the litigation has proceeded in that country. So unhappy, in fact, that it is lobbying the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to impose trade sanctions on Ecuador if the Ecuadorian government does not make the case go away.

"We can't let little countries screw around with big companies like this - companies that have made big investments around the world," a Chevron lobbyist said to Newsweek in August. (Chevron subsequently stated that "the comments attributed to an unnamed lobbyist working for Chevron do not reflect our company's views regarding the Ecuador case. They were not approved by the company and will not be tolerated.")

Chevron is worried because a court-appointed special master found in March that the company was liable to plaintiffs for between $7 billion and $16 billion. The special master has made other findings that Chevron's clean-up operations in Ecuador have been inadequate.

Another of Chevron's inherited legacies is the Yadana natural gas pipeline in Burma, operated by a consortium in which Unocal was one of the lead partners. Human rights organizations have documented that the Yadana pipeline was constructed with forced labor, and associated with brutal human rights abuses by the Burmese military.

EarthRights International, a human rights group with offices in Washington, D.C. and Bangkok, has carefully tracked human rights abuses connected to the Yadana pipeline, and led a successful lawsuit against Unocal/Chevron. In an April 2008 report, the group states that "Chevron and its consortium partners continue to rely on the Burmese army for pipeline security, and those forces continue to conscript thousands of villagers for forced labor, and to commit torture, rape, murder and other serious abuses in the course of their operations."

Money from the Yadana pipeline plays a crucial role in enabling the Burmese junta to maintain its grip on power. EarthRights International estimates the pipeline funneled roughly $1 billion to the military regime in 2007. The group also notes that, in late 2007, when the Burmese military violently suppressed political protests led by Buddhist monks, Chevron sat idly by.

Chevron has trouble in the United States, as well. In September, Earl Devaney, the inspector general for the Department of Interior, released an explosive report documenting "a culture of ethical failure" and a "culture of substance abuse and promiscuity" in the U.S. government program handling oil lease contracts on U.S. government lands and property. Government employees, Devaney found, accepted a stream of small gifts and favors from oil company representatives, and maintained sexual relations with them. (In one memorable passage, the inspector general report states that "sexual relationships with prohibited sources cannot, by definition, be arms-length.") The report showed that Chevron had conferred the largest number of gifts on federal employees. It also complained that Chevron refused to cooperate with the investigation, a claim Chevron subsequently disputed.

Constellation Energy: Nuclear Operators

Although it is too dangerous, too expensive and too centralized to make sense as an energy source, nuclear power won't go away, thanks to equipment makers and utilities that find ways to make the public pay and pay.

Case in point: Constellation Energy Group, the operator of the Calvert Cliffs nuclear plant in Maryland. When Maryland deregulated its electricity market in 1999, Constellation - like other energy generators in other states - was able to cut a deal to recover its "stranded costs" and nuclear decommissioning fees. The idea was that competition would bring multiple suppliers into the market, and these new competitors would have an unfair advantage over old-time monopoly suppliers. Those former monopolists, the argument went, had built expensive nuclear reactors with the approval of state regulators, and it would be unfair if they could not charge consumers to recover their costs. It would also be unfair, according to this line of reasoning, if the former monopolists were unable to recover the costs of decommissioning nuclear facilities.

In Maryland, the "stranded cost" deal gave Constellation (through its affiliate Baltimore Gas & Electric, BGE) the right to charge ratepayers $975 million in 1993 dollars (almost $1.5 billion in present dollars).

Deregulation meant that Constellation's energy generating assets - including its nuclear facility at Calvert Cliffs - were free from price regulation. As a result, instead of costing Constellation, Calvert Cliffs' market value increased.

Deregulation also meant that, after an agreed-upon freeze period, BGE was free to raise its rates as it chose. In 2006, it announced a 72 percent rate increase. For residential consumers, this meant they would pay an average of $743 more per year for electricity.

The sudden price hike sparked a rebellion. The Maryland legislature passed a law requiring BGE to credit consumers $386 million over a 10-year period. At the time, Constellation was very pleased with the deal, which let it keep most of its price-gouging profits - a spokesperson for the then-governor said that Constellation and BGE were "doing a victory lap around the statehouse" after the bill passed.

In February 2008, however, Constellation announced that it intended to sue the state for unconstitutionally "taking" its assets via the mandatory consumer credit. In March, following a preemptive lawsuit by the state, the matter was settled. BGE agreed to make a one-time rebate of $170 million to residential ratepayers, and 90 percent of the credits to ratepayers (totaling $346 million) were left in place. The deal also relieved ratepayers of the obligation to pay for decommissioning - an expense that had been expected to total $1.5 billion (or possibly much more) from 2016 to 2036.

The deal also included regulatory changes making it easier for outside companies to invest in Constellation - a move of greater import than initially apparent. In September, with utility stock prices plummeting, Warren Buffet's MidAmerican Energy announced it would purchase Constellation for $4.7 billion, less than a quarter of the company's market value in January.

Meanwhile, Constellation plans to build a new reactor at Calvert Cliffs, potentially the first new reactor built in the United States since the near-meltdown at Three Mile Island in 1979.

"There are substantial clean air benefits associated with nuclear power, benefits that we recognize as the operator of three plants in two states," says Constellation spokesperson Maureen Brown.

It has lined up to take advantage of U.S. government-guaranteed loans for new nuclear construction, available under the terms of the 2005 Energy Act [see "Nuclear's Power Play: Give Us Subsidies or Give Us Death," Multinational Monitor, September/October 2008]. "We can't go forward unless we have federal loan guarantees," says Brown.

Building nuclear plants is extraordinarily expensive (Constellation's planned construction is estimated at $9.6 billion) and takes a long time; construction plans face massive political risks; and the value of electric utilities is small relative to the huge costs of nuclear construction. For banks and investors, this amounts to too much uncertainty - but if the government guarantees loans will be paid back, then there's no risk.

Or, stated better, the risk is absorbed entirely by the public. That's the financial risk. The nuclear safety risk is always absorbed, involuntarily, by the public.

CNPC: Fueling Violence in Darfur

Many of the world's most brutal regimes have a common characteristic: Although subject to economic sanctions and politically isolated, they are able to maintain power thanks to multinational oil company enablers. Case in point: Sudan, and the Chinese National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC).

In July, International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo charged the President of Sudan, Omar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir, with committing genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The charges claim that Al Bashir is the mastermind of crimes against ethnic groups in Darfur, aimed at removing the black population from Sudan. Sudanese armed forces and government-authorized militias known as the Janjaweed have carried out massive attacks against the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa communities of Darfur, according to the ICC allegations. Following bombing raids, "ground forces would then enter the village or town and attack civilian inhabitants. They kill men, children, elderly, women; they subject women and girls to massive rapes. They burn and loot the villages." The ICC says 35,000 people have been killed and 2.7 million displaced.

The ICC reports one victim saying: "When we see them, we run. Some of us succeed in getting away, and some are caught and taken to be raped - gang-raped. Maybe around 20 men rape one woman. ... These things are normal for us here in Darfur. These things happen all the time. I have seen rapes, too. It does not matter who sees them raping the women - they don't care. They rape girls in front of their mothers and fathers."

Governments around the world have imposed various sanctions on Sudan, with human rights groups demanding much more aggressive action.

But there is little doubt that Sudan has been able to laugh off existing and threatened sanctions because of the huge support it receives from China, channeled above all through the Sudanese relationship with CNPC.

"The relationship between CNPC and Sudan is symbiotic," notes the Washington, D.C.-based Human Rights First, in a March 2008 report, "Investing in Tragedy." "Not only is CNPC the largest investor in the Sudanese oil sector, but Sudan is CNPC's largest market for overseas investment."

China receives three quarters of Sudan's exports, and Chinese companies hold the majority share in almost all of the key oil-rich areas in Sudan. Explains Human Rights First: "Beijing's companies pump oil from numerous key fields, which then courses through Chinese-made pipelines to Chinese-made storage tanks to await a voyage to buyers, most of them Chinese." CNPC is the largest oil investor in Sudan; the other key Chinese company is the Sinopec Group (also known as the China Petrochemical Corporation).

Oil money has fueled violence in Darfur. "The profitability of Sudan's oil sector has developed in close chronological step with the violence in Darfur," notes Human Rights First. "In 2000, before the crisis, Sudan's oil revenue was $1.2 billion. By 2006, with the crisis well underway, that total had shot up by 291 percent, to $4.7 billion. How does Sudan use that windfall? Its finance minister has said that at least 70 percent of the oil profits go to the Sudanese armed forces, linked with its militia allies to the crimes in Darfur."

There are other nefarious components of the CNPC relationship with the Sudanese government. China ships substantial amounts of small arms to Sudan and has helped Sudan build its own small arms factories. China has also worked at the United Nations to undermine more effective multilateral action to protect Darfur. Human rights organizations charge a key Chinese motivation is to lubricate its relationship with the Khartoum government so the oil continues to flow.

CNPC did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Dole: The Sour Taste of Pineapple

Starting in 1988, the Philippines undertook what was to be a bold initiative to redress the historically high concentration of land ownership that has impoverished millions of rural Filipinos and undermined the country's development. The Comprehensive Agricultural Reform Program (CARP) promised to deliver land to the landless.

It didn't work out that way.

Plantation owners helped draft the law and invented ways to circumvent its purported purpose.

Dole pineapple workers are among those paying the price.

Under CARP, Dole's land was divided among its workers and others who had claims on the land prior to the pineapple giant. However, under the terms of the law, as the Washington, D.C.-based International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) explains in an October report, "The Sour Taste of Pineapple," the workers received only nominal title. They were required to form labor cooperatives. Intended to give workers - now the new land owners - a means to collectively manage their land, the cooperatives were instead controlled by wealthy landlords.

"Through its dealings with these cooperatives," ILRF found, Dole and Del Monte, (the world's other leading pineapple grower) "have been able to take advantage of a number of worker abuses. Dole has outsourced its labor force to contract labor and replaced its full-time regular employment system that existed before CARP." Dole employs 12,000 contract workers. Meanwhile, from 1989 to 1998, Dole reduced its regular workforce by 3,500.

Under current arrangements, Dole now leases its land from its workers, on extremely cheap terms - in one example cited by ILRF, Dole pays in rent one-fifteenth of its net profits from a plantation. Most workers continue to work the land they purportedly own, but as contract workers for Dole.

The Philippine Supreme Court has ordered Dole to convert its contract workers into regular employees, but the company has not done so. In 2006, the Court upheld a Department of Labor and Employment decision requiring Dole to stop using illegal contract labor. Under Philippine law, contract workers should be regularized after six months.

Dole emphasizes that it pays its workers $10 a day, more than the country's $5.60 minimum wage. It also says that its workers are organized into unions. The company responded angrily to a 2007 nomination for most irresponsible corporations from a Swiss organization, the Berne Declaration. "We must also say that those fallacious attacks created incredulity and some anger among our Dolefil workers, their representatives, our growers, their cooperatives and more generally speaking among the entire community where we operate." The company thanked "hundreds of people who spontaneously expressed their support to Dolefil, by taking the initiative to sign manifestos," including seven cooperatives.

The problem with Dole's position, as ILRF points out, is that "Dole's contract workers are denied the same rights afforded to Dole's regular workers. They are refused the right to organize or benefits gained by the regular union, and are consequently left with poor wages and permanent job insecurity." Contract workers are paid under a quota system, and earn about $1.85 a day, according to ILRF.

Conditions are not perfect for unionized workers, either. In 2006, when a union leader complained about pesticide and chemical exposures (apparently misreported in local media as a complaint about Dole's waste disposal practices), the management of Dole Philippines (Dolefil) pressed criminal libel charges against him. Two years later, these criminal charges remain pending.

Dole says it cannot respond to the allegations in the ILRF report, because the U.S. Trade Representative is considering acting on a petition by ILRF to deny some trade benefits to Dole pineapples imported into the United States from the Philippines.

Concludes Bama Atheya, executive director of ILRF, "In both Costa Rica and the Philippines, Dole has deliberately obstructed workers' right to organize, has failed to pay a living wage and has polluted workers' communities."

GE: Creative Accounting

General Electric (GE) has appeared on Multinational Monitor's annual 10 Worst Corporations list for defense contractor fraud, labor rights abuses, toxic and radioactive pollution, manufacturing nuclear weaponry, workplace safety violations and media conflicts of interest (GE owns television network NBC).

This year, the company returns to the list for new reasons: alleged tax cheating and the firing of a whistleblower.

In June, former New York Times reporter David Cay Johnston reported on internal GE documents that appeared to show the company had engaged in long-running effort to evade taxes in Brazil. In a lengthy report in Tax Notes International, Johnston cited a GE subsidiary manager's powerpoint presentation that showed "suspicious" invoices as "an indication of possible tax evasion." The invoices showed suspiciously high sales volume for lighting equipment in lightly populated Amazon regions of the country. These sales would avoid higher value added taxes (VAT) in urban states, where sales would be expected to be greater.

Johnston wrote that the state-level VAT at issue, based on the internal documents he reviewed, appeared to be less than $100 million. But, "since the VAT scheme appears to have gone on long before the period covered in the Moreira [the company manager] report, the total sum could be much larger and could involve other countries supplied by the Brazil subsidiary."

A senior GE spokesperson, Gary Sheffer, told Johnston that the VAT and related issues were so small relative to GE's size that the company was surprised a reporter would spend time looking at them. "No company has perfect compliance," Sheffer said. "We do not believe we owe the tax."

Johnston did not identify the source that gave him the internal GE documents, but GE has alleged it was a former company attorney, Adriana Koeck. GE fired Koeck in January 2007 for what it says were "performance reasons." GE sued Koeck in June 2008, alleging that she wrongfully maintained privileged and confidential information, and improperly shared the information with third parties. In a court filing, GE said that it "considers its professional reputation to be its greatest asset and it has worked tirelessly to develop and preserve an unparalleled reputation of ‘unyielding integrity.'"

GE's suit followed a whistleblower defense claim filed by Koeck in 2007. In April 2007, Koeck filed a claim with the U.S. Department of Labor under the Sarbanes-Oxley whistleblower protections (rules put in place following the Enron scandal).

In her filing, Koeck alleges that she was fired not for poor performance, but because she called attention to improper activities by GE. After being hired in January 2006, Koeck's complaint asserts, she "soon discovered that GE C&I [consumer and industrial] operations in Latin America were engaged in a variety of irregular practices. But when she tried to address the problems, both Mr. Burse and Mr. Jones [her superiors in the general counsel's office] interfered with her efforts, took certain matters away from her, repeatedly became enraged with her when she insisted that failing to address the problems would harm GE, and eventually had her terminated."

Koeck's whistleblower filing details the state VAT-avoidance scheme discussed in Johnston's article. It also indicates that several GE employees in Brazil were blackmailing the company to keep quiet about the scheme.

Koeck's whistleblower filing also discusses reports in the Brazilian media that GE had participated in a "bribing club" with other major corporations. Members of the club allegedly met to divide up public contracts in Brazil, as well as to agree on the amounts that would be paid in bribes. Koeck discovered evidence of GE subsidiaries engaging in behavior compatible with the "bribing club" stories and reported this information to her superior. Koeck alleges that her efforts to get higher level attorneys to review the situation failed.

In a statement, GE responds to the substance of Koeck's allegations of wrongdoing: "These were relatively minor and routine commercial and tax issues in Brazil. Our employees proactively identified, investigated and resolved these issues in the appropriate manner. We are confident we have met all of our tax and compliance obligations in Brazil.GE has a strong and rigorous compliance process that dealt effectively with these issues."

Koeck's Sarbanes-Oxley complaint was thrown out in June, on the grounds that it had not been filed in a timely matter.

The substance of her claims, however, are now under investigation by the Department of Justice Fraud Section, according to Corporate Crime Reporter.

Imperial Sugar: 13 Dead

On February 7, an explosion rocked the Imperial Sugar refinery in Port Wentworth, Georgia, near Savannah.

Tony Holmes, a forklift operator at the plant, was in the break room when the blast occurred.

"I heard the explosion," he told the Savannah Morning News. "The building shook, and the lights went out. I thought the roof was falling in. ... I saw people running. I saw some horrific injuries. ... People had clothes burning. Their skin was hanging off. Some were bleeding."

Days later, when the fire was finally extinguished and search-and-rescue operations completed, the horrible human toll was finally known: 13 dead, dozens badly burned and injured.

As with almost every industrial disaster, it turns out the tragedy was preventable. The cause was accumulated sugar dust, which like other forms of dust, is highly combustible.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the government workplace safety regulator, had not visited Imperial Sugar's Port Wentworth facility since 2000. When inspectors examined the blast site after the fact, they found rampant violations of the agency's already inadequate standards. They proposed a more than $5 million fine, and issuance of citations for 61 egregious willful violations, eight willful violations and 51 serious violations. Under OSHA's rules, a "serious" citation is issued when death or serious physical harm is likely to occur, a "willful" violation is a violation committed with plain indifference to employee safety and health, and "egregious" citations are issued for particularly flagrant violations.

A month later, OSHA inspectors investigated Imperial Sugar's plant in Gramercy, Louisiana. They found 1/4- to 2-inch accumulations of dust on electrical wiring and machinery. They found 6- to 8-inch accumulations on wall ledges and piping. They found 1/2- to 1-inch accumulations on mechanical equipment and motors. They found 3- to 48-inch accumulations on workroom floors. OSHA posted an "imminent danger" notice at the plant, because of the high likelihood of another explosion.

Imperial Sugar obviously knew of the conditions in its plants. It had in fact taken some measures to clean up operations prior to the explosion.

Graham H. Graham was hired as vice president of operations of Imperial Sugar in November 2007. In July 2008, he told a Senate subcommittee that he first walked through the Port Wentworth facility in December 2007. "The conditions were shocking," he testified. "Port Wentworth was a dirty and dangerous facility. The refinery was littered with discarded materials, piles of sugar dust, puddles of sugar liquid and airborne sugar dust. Electrical motors and controls were encrusted with solidified sugar, while safety covers and doors were missing from live electrical switchgear and panels. A combustible environment existed."

Graham recommended that the plant manager be fired, and he was. Graham ordered a housekeeping blitz, and by the end of January, he testified to the Senate subcommittee, conditions had improved significantly, but still were hazardous.

But Graham also testified that he was told to tone down his demands for immediate action. In a meeting with John Sheptor, then Imperial Sugar's chief operating officer and now its CEO, and Kay Hastings, senior vice president of human resources, Graham testified, "I was also informed that I was excessively eager in addressing the refinery's problems."

Sheptor, who was nearly killed in the refinery explosion, and Hastings both deny Graham's account.

The company says that it respected safety concerns before the explosion, but has since redoubled efforts, hiring expert consultants on combustible hazards, refocusing on housekeeping efforts and purchasing industrial vacuums to minimize airborne disbursement.

In March, the House of Representatives Education and Labor Committee held a hearing on the hazards posed by combustible dust. The head of the Chemical Safety Board testified about a 2006 study that identified hundreds of combustible dust incidents that had killed more than 100 workers during the previous 25 years. The report recommended that OSHA issue rules to control the risk of dust explosions.

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joeb

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te and Profitable World of Corporate Spying                                                                                                                                
                                        Written by Tom Burghardt                                           
                Sunday, 30 November 2008 16:35        

                                                                                               
                               
                                                               
                               
                                                                       
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Thick as Thieves: The Private (and very profitable) World of Corporate Spying
by Tom Burghardt
When Comverse Infosys founder and CEO Jacob "Kobi" Alexander fled to Israel and later Namibia in 2006, the former Israeli intelligence officer and entrepreneur took along a little extra cash for his extended "vacation"--$57 million to be precise.

According to investigative journalist James Bamford's exposé of the National Security Agency, The Shadow Factory, Alexander was facing a thirty-two-count indictment by the Justice Department "charging him with masterminding a scheme to backdate millions of Comverse stock options ... that allowed Alexander to realize $138 million in profits--profits stolen from the pockets of the company's shareholders."

When the scandal broke, one former colleague told The New York Times, "The one thing about Kobi is that he did have a sense of entitlement," said Stephen R. Kowarsky, who was an executive at Comverse from 1985-97. "Most people are a little bit shy or self-effacing about asking for something, but not Kobi. It was easy for him to say, 'I want that. I deserve that.'"

Sounds like business as usual to me!
 
[For complete article reference links, please source here.]

 
 
But there is a darker side to Verint. As investigative journalist Christopher Ketcham revealed on the muckraking website CounterPunch, U.S. intelligence agencies are wary of Israeli penetration and interception of U.S. military systems and advanced computing applications through a backdoor, called a "trojan," secretly built into enterprise architecture. Ketcham wrote,


According to former CIA officer [Philip] Giraldi and other US intelligence sources, software manufactured and maintained by Verint, Inc. handles most of American law enforcement's wiretaps. Says Giraldi: "Phone calls are intercepted, recorded, and transmitted to US investigators by Verint, which claims that it has to be 'hands on' with its equipment to maintain the system." Giraldi also notes Verint is reimbursed for up to 50 percent of its R&D costs by the Israeli Ministry of Industry and Trade. According to Giraldi, the extent of the use of Verint technology "is considered classified," but sources have spoken out and told Giraldi they are worried about the security of Verint wiretap systems. The key concern, says Giraldi, is the issue of a "trojan" embedded in the software. (Christopher Ketcham, "An Israeli Trojan Horse," CounterPunch, Weekend Edition, September 27-28, 2008)

Yet despite alarms raised by a score of federal law enforcement agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), fearful that sensitive wiretap information was finding its way into the hands of international narcotrafficking cartels, virtually nothing has been done to halt the outsourcing of America's surveillance apparatus to firms with intimate ties to foreign intelligence entities. Indeed, as America's spy system is turned inward against the American people, corporations such as Verint work hand-in-glove with a spooky network of security agencies and their corporatist pals in the telecommunications industry.

Kobi Alexander would've certainly known the drill, exploiting family connections for advantage over competitors with movers and shakers in Washington. As they say, the fruit doesn't fall far from the tree. Kobi's father Zvi was a fabulously wealthy oil baron who wound up running Israel's state oil company. Bamford recounts how Zvi won drilling franchises: he'd bribe African cabinet ministers, "often in partnership with the U.S. tax cheat Marc Rich, who became a fugitive and was given sanctuary in Israel."

That is, until Rich was handed a pardon during the waning days of the Clinton administration. In the aftermath of Clinton's "gifting" the tax scofflaw with a "get-out-of-jail-free" card, Rich's close confidant, attorney and convicted felon, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, denied that Rich had conspired to hide illegal profits or violate U.S. laws.

Yet despite a documentary record of shady dealings that spanned continents--and decades--a "neutral, leaning towards favorable" opinion on Rich's petition for pardon was signed-off by none other than former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder, Barack Obama's apparent pick for U.S. Attorney General.

Like Kobi Alexander and his pals at Comverse, Rich too, had a dirty little secret as CNN reported back in 2001: "Marc Rich did help the Israeli security services in some way." CNN doesn't specify how Rich curried favor with Mossad, only that he did. Which just goes to show its a small world--of one hand washing the other.

(Memo to Obama supporters: you can forget about future Justice Department investigations of Bush cronies and war criminals. Why? Shortly before entering private practice at the tony law firm Covington & Burling, Holder was Bush's Acting Attorney General until John Ashcroft's nomination was confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Out of government, Holder made a killing defending Chiquita Brands International against charges that the firm paid the far-right Colombian, narcotrafficking AUC death squad millions in "protection money" to murder labor activists. But I digress.)

Meanwhile in the heimat, enterprising innovators such as Verint are inside--deep inside--America's telephone and internet infrastructure. Keeping "America safe"--from its citizens--has become a veritable cash cow for dozens of corporate embeds busy as proverbial bees inventing new products for an alphabet-soup mix of intelligence agencies such as the FBI, CIA, DHS, DIA, NGA, NRO and NSA.

Five months after the 9/11 attacks, the security bubble was rapidly expanding and the "homeland security" market was touted by Wall Street gurus as "the next big thing" on the corporate grifting horizon.

Alexander (before fleeing to the dry, but relatively safe harbor in Windhoek) rebranded Comverse Infosys, Verint Systems, Inc., an acronym for "verified intelligence." The company, which made a fortune on a digital suite of wiretapping tools, AudioDisk, describes itself as a "a leading provider of actionable intelligence solutions for workforce optimization, IP video, communications interception, and public safety."

Soon thereafter according to Bamford, Verint was selling its "actionable intelligence solutions" to "more than 5,000 organizations in over 100 countries" world-wide, including the worst human rights abusers on the planet. And why wouldn't they? Verint's already brisk business took off like a bat out of hell after 9/11.

As USA Today reported in 2006, "Most of the growth this decade will come from building what Homeland Security Research calls 'a homeland defense infrastructure.' Growth areas are likely to include technology for surveillance and for detection of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction." Or illegal spying by unaccountable state agencies and their private partners.


According to a Business Week company profile,

Verint Systems, Inc. provides analytic software-based solutions for the security and business intelligence markets. Its analytic solutions collect, retain, and analyze voice, fax, video, email, Internet, and data transmissions from voice, video and IP networks for the purpose of generating actionable intelligence for decision makers. The company primarily offers communications interception solutions, such as STAR-GATE, RELIANT, and VANTAGE; networked video solutions that include NEXTIVA; and contact center actionable intelligence solutions, which include ULTRA. Verint Systems serves government entities, global corporations, law enforcement agencies, financial institutions, transportation agencies, retail stores, utilities, and communications service providers. (Verint Systems, Inc. Business Week, Information Technology Sector, accessed November 26, 2008)

With total revenues of $249.8 million and gross profits in 2005 of $137.1 million, Verint, while not the largest firm in the security and intelligence "marketplace" nonetheless is connected to a host of spooky clients, including the National Security Agency and their "partners" at Verizon Communications.

As I wrote back in March, whistleblower and security consultant Babak Pasdar revealed how Verizon handed the FBI and one assumes the NSA, unrestricted access to their customers' voice communications and electronic data via the Bureau's "Quantico circuit."

In a signed affidavit to the whistleblowing protection group, the Government Accountability Project (GAP), Pasdar described how his unnamed client (revealed by The Washington Post as Verizon Communications), listened in and recorded all conversations en-masse; collected and recorded mobile phone data use en-masse; obtained data that the company accessed from mobile phone usage, including internet access, e-mail and web browsing; trended calling patterns and call behavior; identified inbound and outbound callers; tracked all inbound and outbound calls; and traced a user's physical location.

While Verizon and fellow telecom spy AT&T may have handed the FBI and NSA a treasure trove of their customer's personal details, niche telecom companies such as Verint, rival Narus (another spooky Israeli security firm), Siemans and Ericsson to name but a few of the multinationals that build the surveillance tools hard-wired into America's telecommunications infrastructure, have made a killing destroying our privacy.

The Ties that Bind: Verint's Spooky Board of Directors

The close interconnections amongst firms such as Verint and the U.S. and Israeli National Security States are revealed by a glance at the firm's Board of Directors.

When Kobi Alexander fled the country in 2006, Dan Bodner became the company's CEO. According to Business Week, Bodner, a Comverse Infosys insider, "served in the Israeli Defense Forces in an engineering capacity." A graduate of Technion, Israel's Institute of Technology, Bodner was previously the President and CEO of Comverse Government Systems Corporation.

David T. Ledwell, Verint's Chief Strategic Officer since 2003, was formerly the President and CEO of Verint subsidiary Loronix Information Systems, according to Business Week. Apparently Loronix has been folded into its parent company Verint, and no longer exists as a separate corporate entity. However, the firm's products made the transition. According to Verint, the former Loronix division was responsible for its Nextiva IP Video Surveillance System. The "Nextiva portfolio" is loaded with "a broad array of solutions" for video recording and analysis in the banking, critical infrastructure, retail and mass transit "markets."

Andre Dahan, CEO, President and Executive Director of Verint's parent company Comverse Technology Inc., was a former CEO and President of AT&T Wireless Services Inc., Business Week reveals. Dahan, a graduate of the Jerusalem Institute of Technology, is described as having "more than 30 years of leadership experience in the information technology industry."

Victor DeMarines, a Verint board member since 2002 and Advisor to National Security Solutions, Inc., a "private equity firm" that focuses on "services and software" in the security and homeland defense industries, served as President and CEO of the spooky MITRE Corporation, where he worked in the "command and control" field as general manager of MITRE's Center for Integrated Intelligence Systems and oversaw the non-profit's Intelligence and Electronic Warfare Systems. Interestingly enough, from 1967-1969 DeMarines "managed MITRE's Bangkok, Thailand, site, where he helped coordinate MITRE's support for Air Force systems ... on support operations issues," according to Business Week. In addition to his duties at Verint and MITRE, DeMarines is a member of the advisory group for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) that oversees operations of America's fleet of military spy satellites.

Howard Safir, formerly New York City Police Commissioner under "Mr. 9/11" himself, Mayor Rudy Giuliani, has been a Verint board member since 2002 according to his Business Week profile. After his tenure as Police Commissioner, Safir became the CEO of SafirRosetti, the intelligence and security division of GlobalOptions Group, Inc., described as a firm that provides "crisis management and emergency response plans for disaster mitigation, continuity of operations, and other emergency management issues."

Larry Myers, another MITRE alumni was MITRE's Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer. At MITRE, Myers' brief included work on that firms' wide-ranging contracts for computer systems for the Department of Defense, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Internal Revenue Service and "several organizations" in the "U.S. intelligence community," according to Business Week. He joined Verint's board in 2003.

Paul D. Baker, Vice President of Corporate Marketing and Corporate Communications of Comverse Technology, joined Verint's board in 2002 according to his Business Week profile. Additionally, Baker is a director with Ulticom, Inc., a firm that provides the telecommunications industry with "Mobility, Location, Payment, Switching and Messaging services within wireless, IP and wireline networks," according to Ulticom's website.

Lt. General (retired) Kenneth Minihan, joined Verint's board in 2002, according to Business Week. Described by the business publication as the "most connected" member on Verint's board of directors, after leaving his post as the Director of the National Security Agency, NSA's Central Security Service and Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Minihan became managing director of the Paladin Capital Group. A private equity firm based (where else!) in Washington, D.C. Paladin's management team is loaded with heavy-hitting embeds from the security-intelligence complex, including among others, Dr. Alf Andreassen, described by his Paladin profile as having "promoted technological innovation in the area of national security ... for AT&T's support of classified national programs in the areas of Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence" (C3I). Minihan is well placed on some 17 boards of directors to implement the Pentagon's vision of creating a panoptic police state. Indeed, while at NSA Minihan oversaw that agency's transition into the digital age of surveillance.

Shortly after Minihan's appointment to Verint's board, Verizon Communications installed STAR-GATE, an intrusive communications interception system. According to a blurb on the firm's website,

STAR-GATE ... [is] designed to manage vast numbers of targets, concurrent sessions, call data records, and communications, STAR-GATE transparently accesses targeted communications without alerting subscribers or disrupting service. Verint partners with leading switch and network equipment vendors across the globe to deliver passive, active, and hybrid solutions for a wide range of communication technologies and communication services. ... STAR-GATE can manage network topologies from small, single-switch implementations to country-wide deployments. (Verint, "STAR-GATE Lawful Interception and Data Retention Compliance Solutions for Communication Service Providers," accessed November 28, 2008)

Another product marketed by Verint for security and intelligence agencies world-wide is RELIANT, described by the firm as a monitoring center for "interception compliance, evidence gathering and historical data analysis by law enforcement agencies." The Verint brochure touts RELIANT's ability "to collect, retain, analyze, investigate and distribute intercepted voice data and multimedia communications and historical data to facilitate more productive investigations and the gathering of evidence."

VANTAGE, according to Verint's product description, is specifically designed for "mass and target communications interception, investigation and analysis, including COMINT for intelligence and national security agencies." Indeed the VANTAGE monitoring center promises to deliver a "mass and target interception system" that "intercepts, filters, and analyzes voice, data and multimedia for intelligence purposes, with sophisticated probing technology for passively collecting maximum communications, with Verint’s real-time filtering mechanisms to extract the most important information, and stored data analysis for generating intelligence from data collected over time."

Amongst the "features" touted by Verint are: mass communications related to specific "areas of interest;" target interception of "known entities;" a "unified interception" and "investigation workflow" specifically designed for "intelligence generation;" the "historical data analysis of call records" conveniently "imported from service providers;" and "tools" that facilitate the "passive monitoring of virtually any type of network."

The Failure of the National Security-Surveillance State

While America turns its intelligence and security apparatus inward and targets its own citizens, especially leftist dissenters, labor organizers, environmentalists and antiglobalization activists, threats from well-trained far-right jihadis--many of whom were witting or unwitting Western intelligence assets deployed on countless battlefields from Afghanistan to Kosovo and beyond--or neo-Nazi hooligans training for the next Oklahoma City atrocity, go unaddressed.

"Reading the tea leaves" from petaflops (a quadrillion bits) of data vacuumed-up from the internet, cell phones, land lines, spy satellites, personal business transactions or CCTV cameras is not "intelligence" but the height of folly as the recently-concluded attacks in Mumbai starkly demonstrate. The Indian intelligence apparatus, particularly its Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) are hardly slouches when its comes to tradecraft or high-tech security "solutions."

The close relationship built-up over decades amongst RAW and Mossad for example, did not prevent commandos with alleged links to Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), a militant group aligned with al-Qaeda and Pakistan's "state within a state," the Inter-Sevices Intelligence agency (ISI) from striking at the heart of India's financial center with devastating effect. While it appears unlikely that the Pakistani government was involved in the Mumbai massacre, pro-Taliban elements within ISI or the military may be seeking to enflame tensions between the two South Asian nuclear nations.

RAW, like their counterparts in the CIA, MI6 or Mossad, rely on an inexhaustible stream of signals intelligence (SIGINT), communications intelligence (COMINT), human intelligence (HUMINT) and increasingly, imagery intelligence (IMINT) from India's fleet of spy satellites to prevent attacks. Indeed, Verint and other high-tech firms have sold RAW the same equipment with the same promise of "security" that they sold their American and European counterparts. RAW's headquarters in New Delhi may sport the latest in surveillance technologies, including high-speed supercomputers and yet, 195 people's lives were snuffed-out by a determined gang of miscreants.

While high-tech "solutions" may give the cops the geolocation of young anarchists slated for preemptive arrest or which journalists may pose "problems," all the data-mining on the planet will not prevent terrorism; indeed terrorism is the reactionary handmaid of a system at the end of its rope. As the global capitalist economic crisis deepens as industry after industry succumb to the hammer blows of an historic crisis of confidence, new social and political struggles inevitably, appear on the horizon.

Although the close--and well compensated--interconnections amongst securocrats and corporate grifters capitalizing on the homeland security investment bubble will continue well into the next administration, real security in any meaningful sense of the word will only come by creating a just society. Anything less is a fraudulent exercise in self-delusion fueled by the Gordon Gekko's and Kobi Alexander's of America's (very profitable) "war on terror."
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joeb

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te and Profitable World of Corporate Spying                                                                                                                                
                                        Written by Tom Burghardt                                           
                Sunday, 30 November 2008 16:35        

                                                                                               
                               
                                                               
                               
                                                                       
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Thick as Thieves: The Private (and very profitable) World of Corporate Spying
by Tom Burghardt
When Comverse Infosys founder and CEO Jacob "Kobi" Alexander fled to Israel and later Namibia in 2006, the former Israeli intelligence officer and entrepreneur took along a little extra cash for his extended "vacation"--$57 million to be precise.

According to investigative journalist James Bamford's exposé of the National Security Agency, The Shadow Factory, Alexander was facing a thirty-two-count indictment by the Justice Department "charging him with masterminding a scheme to backdate millions of Comverse stock options ... that allowed Alexander to realize $138 million in profits--profits stolen from the pockets of the company's shareholders."

When the scandal broke, one former colleague told The New York Times, "The one thing about Kobi is that he did have a sense of entitlement," said Stephen R. Kowarsky, who was an executive at Comverse from 1985-97. "Most people are a little bit shy or self-effacing about asking for something, but not Kobi. It was easy for him to say, 'I want that. I deserve that.'"

Sounds like business as usual to me!
 
[For complete article reference links, please source here.]

 
 
But there is a darker side to Verint. As investigative journalist Christopher Ketcham revealed on the muckraking website CounterPunch, U.S. intelligence agencies are wary of Israeli penetration and interception of U.S. military systems and advanced computing applications through a backdoor, called a "trojan," secretly built into enterprise architecture. Ketcham wrote,


According to former CIA officer [Philip] Giraldi and other US intelligence sources, software manufactured and maintained by Verint, Inc. handles most of American law enforcement's wiretaps. Says Giraldi: "Phone calls are intercepted, recorded, and transmitted to US investigators by Verint, which claims that it has to be 'hands on' with its equipment to maintain the system." Giraldi also notes Verint is reimbursed for up to 50 percent of its R&D costs by the Israeli Ministry of Industry and Trade. According to Giraldi, the extent of the use of Verint technology "is considered classified," but sources have spoken out and told Giraldi they are worried about the security of Verint wiretap systems. The key concern, says Giraldi, is the issue of a "trojan" embedded in the software. (Christopher Ketcham, "An Israeli Trojan Horse," CounterPunch, Weekend Edition, September 27-28, 2008)

Yet despite alarms raised by a score of federal law enforcement agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), fearful that sensitive wiretap information was finding its way into the hands of international narcotrafficking cartels, virtually nothing has been done to halt the outsourcing of America's surveillance apparatus to firms with intimate ties to foreign intelligence entities. Indeed, as America's spy system is turned inward against the American people, corporations such as Verint work hand-in-glove with a spooky network of security agencies and their corporatist pals in the telecommunications industry.

Kobi Alexander would've certainly known the drill, exploiting family connections for advantage over competitors with movers and shakers in Washington. As they say, the fruit doesn't fall far from the tree. Kobi's father Zvi was a fabulously wealthy oil baron who wound up running Israel's state oil company. Bamford recounts how Zvi won drilling franchises: he'd bribe African cabinet ministers, "often in partnership with the U.S. tax cheat Marc Rich, who became a fugitive and was given sanctuary in Israel."

That is, until Rich was handed a pardon during the waning days of the Clinton administration. In the aftermath of Clinton's "gifting" the tax scofflaw with a "get-out-of-jail-free" card, Rich's close confidant, attorney and convicted felon, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, denied that Rich had conspired to hide illegal profits or violate U.S. laws.

Yet despite a documentary record of shady dealings that spanned continents--and decades--a "neutral, leaning towards favorable" opinion on Rich's petition for pardon was signed-off by none other than former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder, Barack Obama's apparent pick for U.S. Attorney General.

Like Kobi Alexander and his pals at Comverse, Rich too, had a dirty little secret as CNN reported back in 2001: "Marc Rich did help the Israeli security services in some way." CNN doesn't specify how Rich curried favor with Mossad, only that he did. Which just goes to show its a small world--of one hand washing the other.

(Memo to Obama supporters: you can forget about future Justice Department investigations of Bush cronies and war criminals. Why? Shortly before entering private practice at the tony law firm Covington & Burling, Holder was Bush's Acting Attorney General until John Ashcroft's nomination was confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Out of government, Holder made a killing defending Chiquita Brands International against charges that the firm paid the far-right Colombian, narcotrafficking AUC death squad millions in "protection money" to murder labor activists. But I digress.)

Meanwhile in the heimat, enterprising innovators such as Verint are inside--deep inside--America's telephone and internet infrastructure. Keeping "America safe"--from its citizens--has become a veritable cash cow for dozens of corporate embeds busy as proverbial bees inventing new products for an alphabet-soup mix of intelligence agencies such as the FBI, CIA, DHS, DIA, NGA, NRO and NSA.

Five months after the 9/11 attacks, the security bubble was rapidly expanding and the "homeland security" market was touted by Wall Street gurus as "the next big thing" on the corporate grifting horizon.

Alexander (before fleeing to the dry, but relatively safe harbor in Windhoek) rebranded Comverse Infosys, Verint Systems, Inc., an acronym for "verified intelligence." The company, which made a fortune on a digital suite of wiretapping tools, AudioDisk, describes itself as a "a leading provider of actionable intelligence solutions for workforce optimization, IP video, communications interception, and public safety."

Soon thereafter according to Bamford, Verint was selling its "actionable intelligence solutions" to "more than 5,000 organizations in over 100 countries" world-wide, including the worst human rights abusers on the planet. And why wouldn't they? Verint's already brisk business took off like a bat out of hell after 9/11.

As USA Today reported in 2006, "Most of the growth this decade will come from building what Homeland Security Research calls 'a homeland defense infrastructure.' Growth areas are likely to include technology for surveillance and for detection of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction." Or illegal spying by unaccountable state agencies and their private partners.


According to a Business Week company profile,

Verint Systems, Inc. provides analytic software-based solutions for the security and business intelligence markets. Its analytic solutions collect, retain, and analyze voice, fax, video, email, Internet, and data transmissions from voice, video and IP networks for the purpose of generating actionable intelligence for decision makers. The company primarily offers communications interception solutions, such as STAR-GATE, RELIANT, and VANTAGE; networked video solutions that include NEXTIVA; and contact center actionable intelligence solutions, which include ULTRA. Verint Systems serves government entities, global corporations, law enforcement agencies, financial institutions, transportation agencies, retail stores, utilities, and communications service providers. (Verint Systems, Inc. Business Week, Information Technology Sector, accessed November 26, 2008)

With total revenues of $249.8 million and gross profits in 2005 of $137.1 million, Verint, while not the largest firm in the security and intelligence "marketplace" nonetheless is connected to a host of spooky clients, including the National Security Agency and their "partners" at Verizon Communications.

As I wrote back in March, whistleblower and security consultant Babak Pasdar revealed how Verizon handed the FBI and one assumes the NSA, unrestricted access to their customers' voice communications and electronic data via the Bureau's "Quantico circuit."

In a signed affidavit to the whistleblowing protection group, the Government Accountability Project (GAP), Pasdar described how his unnamed client (revealed by The Washington Post as Verizon Communications), listened in and recorded all conversations en-masse; collected and recorded mobile phone data use en-masse; obtained data that the company accessed from mobile phone usage, including internet access, e-mail and web browsing; trended calling patterns and call behavior; identified inbound and outbound callers; tracked all inbound and outbound calls; and traced a user's physical location.

While Verizon and fellow telecom spy AT&T may have handed the FBI and NSA a treasure trove of their customer's personal details, niche telecom companies such as Verint, rival Narus (another spooky Israeli security firm), Siemans and Ericsson to name but a few of the multinationals that build the surveillance tools hard-wired into America's telecommunications infrastructure, have made a killing destroying our privacy.

The Ties that Bind: Verint's Spooky Board of Directors

The close interconnections amongst firms such as Verint and the U.S. and Israeli National Security States are revealed by a glance at the firm's Board of Directors.

When Kobi Alexander fled the country in 2006, Dan Bodner became the company's CEO. According to Business Week, Bodner, a Comverse Infosys insider, "served in the Israeli Defense Forces in an engineering capacity." A graduate of Technion, Israel's Institute of Technology, Bodner was previously the President and CEO of Comverse Government Systems Corporation.

David T. Ledwell, Verint's Chief Strategic Officer since 2003, was formerly the President and CEO of Verint subsidiary Loronix Information Systems, according to Business Week. Apparently Loronix has been folded into its parent company Verint, and no longer exists as a separate corporate entity. However, the firm's products made the transition. According to Verint, the former Loronix division was responsible for its Nextiva IP Video Surveillance System. The "Nextiva portfolio" is loaded with "a broad array of solutions" for video recording and analysis in the banking, critical infrastructure, retail and mass transit "markets."

Andre Dahan, CEO, President and Executive Director of Verint's parent company Comverse Technology Inc., was a former CEO and President of AT&T Wireless Services Inc., Business Week reveals. Dahan, a graduate of the Jerusalem Institute of Technology, is described as having "more than 30 years of leadership experience in the information technology industry."

Victor DeMarines, a Verint board member since 2002 and Advisor to National Security Solutions, Inc., a "private equity firm" that focuses on "services and software" in the security and homeland defense industries, served as President and CEO of the spooky MITRE Corporation, where he worked in the "command and control" field as general manager of MITRE's Center for Integrated Intelligence Systems and oversaw the non-profit's Intelligence and Electronic Warfare Systems. Interestingly enough, from 1967-1969 DeMarines "managed MITRE's Bangkok, Thailand, site, where he helped coordinate MITRE's support for Air Force systems ... on support operations issues," according to Business Week. In addition to his duties at Verint and MITRE, DeMarines is a member of the advisory group for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) that oversees operations of America's fleet of military spy satellites.

Howard Safir, formerly New York City Police Commissioner under "Mr. 9/11" himself, Mayor Rudy Giuliani, has been a Verint board member since 2002 according to his Business Week profile. After his tenure as Police Commissioner, Safir became the CEO of SafirRosetti, the intelligence and security division of GlobalOptions Group, Inc., described as a firm that provides "crisis management and emergency response plans for disaster mitigation, continuity of operations, and other emergency management issues."

Larry Myers, another MITRE alumni was MITRE's Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer. At MITRE, Myers' brief included work on that firms' wide-ranging contracts for computer systems for the Department of Defense, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Internal Revenue Service and "several organizations" in the "U.S. intelligence community," according to Business Week. He joined Verint's board in 2003.

Paul D. Baker, Vice President of Corporate Marketing and Corporate Communications of Comverse Technology, joined Verint's board in 2002 according to his Business Week profile. Additionally, Baker is a director with Ulticom, Inc., a firm that provides the telecommunications industry with "Mobility, Location, Payment, Switching and Messaging services within wireless, IP and wireline networks," according to Ulticom's website.

Lt. General (retired) Kenneth Minihan, joined Verint's board in 2002, according to Business Week. Described by the business publication as the "most connected" member on Verint's board of directors, after leaving his post as the Director of the National Security Agency, NSA's Central Security Service and Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Minihan became managing director of the Paladin Capital Group. A private equity firm based (where else!) in Washington, D.C. Paladin's management team is loaded with heavy-hitting embeds from the security-intelligence complex, including among others, Dr. Alf Andreassen, described by his Paladin profile as having "promoted technological innovation in the area of national security ... for AT&T's support of classified national programs in the areas of Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence" (C3I). Minihan is well placed on some 17 boards of directors to implement the Pentagon's vision of creating a panoptic police state. Indeed, while at NSA Minihan oversaw that agency's transition into the digital age of surveillance.

Shortly after Minihan's appointment to Verint's board, Verizon Communications installed STAR-GATE, an intrusive communications interception system. According to a blurb on the firm's website,

STAR-GATE ... [is] designed to manage vast numbers of targets, concurrent sessions, call data records, and communications, STAR-GATE transparently accesses targeted communications without alerting subscribers or disrupting service. Verint partners with leading switch and network equipment vendors across the globe to deliver passive, active, and hybrid solutions for a wide range of communication technologies and communication services. ... STAR-GATE can manage network topologies from small, single-switch implementations to country-wide deployments. (Verint, "STAR-GATE Lawful Interception and Data Retention Compliance Solutions for Communication Service Providers," accessed November 28, 2008)

Another product marketed by Verint for security and intelligence agencies world-wide is RELIANT, described by the firm as a monitoring center for "interception compliance, evidence gathering and historical data analysis by law enforcement agencies." The Verint brochure touts RELIANT's ability "to collect, retain, analyze, investigate and distribute intercepted voice data and multimedia communications and historical data to facilitate more productive investigations and the gathering of evidence."

VANTAGE, according to Verint's product description, is specifically designed for "mass and target communications interception, investigation and analysis, including COMINT for intelligence and national security agencies." Indeed the VANTAGE monitoring center promises to deliver a "mass and target interception system" that "intercepts, filters, and analyzes voice, data and multimedia for intelligence purposes, with sophisticated probing technology for passively collecting maximum communications, with Verint’s real-time filtering mechanisms to extract the most important information, and stored data analysis for generating intelligence from data collected over time."

Amongst the "features" touted by Verint are: mass communications related to specific "areas of interest;" target interception of "known entities;" a "unified interception" and "investigation workflow" specifically designed for "intelligence generation;" the "historical data analysis of call records" conveniently "imported from service providers;" and "tools" that facilitate the "passive monitoring of virtually any type of network."

The Failure of the National Security-Surveillance State

While America turns its intelligence and security apparatus inward and targets its own citizens, especially leftist dissenters, labor organizers, environmentalists and antiglobalization activists, threats from well-trained far-right jihadis--many of whom were witting or unwitting Western intelligence assets deployed on countless battlefields from Afghanistan to Kosovo and beyond--or neo-Nazi hooligans training for the next Oklahoma City atrocity, go unaddressed.

"Reading the tea leaves" from petaflops (a quadrillion bits) of data vacuumed-up from the internet, cell phones, land lines, spy satellites, personal business transactions or CCTV cameras is not "intelligence" but the height of folly as the recently-concluded attacks in Mumbai starkly demonstrate. The Indian intelligence apparatus, particularly its Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) are hardly slouches when its comes to tradecraft or high-tech security "solutions."

The close relationship built-up over decades amongst RAW and Mossad for example, did not prevent commandos with alleged links to Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), a militant group aligned with al-Qaeda and Pakistan's "state within a state," the Inter-Sevices Intelligence agency (ISI) from striking at the heart of India's financial center with devastating effect. While it appears unlikely that the Pakistani government was involved in the Mumbai massacre, pro-Taliban elements within ISI or the military may be seeking to enflame tensions between the two South Asian nuclear nations.

RAW, like their counterparts in the CIA, MI6 or Mossad, rely on an inexhaustible stream of signals intelligence (SIGINT), communications intelligence (COMINT), human intelligence (HUMINT) and increasingly, imagery intelligence (IMINT) from India's fleet of spy satellites to prevent attacks. Indeed, Verint and other high-tech firms have sold RAW the same equipment with the same promise of "security" that they sold their American and European counterparts. RAW's headquarters in New Delhi may sport the latest in surveillance technologies, including high-speed supercomputers and yet, 195 people's lives were snuffed-out by a determined gang of miscreants.

While high-tech "solutions" may give the cops the geolocation of young anarchists slated for preemptive arrest or which journalists may pose "problems," all the data-mining on the planet will not prevent terrorism; indeed terrorism is the reactionary handmaid of a system at the end of its rope. As the global capitalist economic crisis deepens as industry after industry succumb to the hammer blows of an historic crisis of confidence, new social and political struggles inevitably, appear on the horizon.

Although the close--and well compensated--interconnections amongst securocrats and corporate grifters capitalizing on the homeland security investment bubble will continue well into the next administration, real security in any meaningful sense of the word will only come by creating a just society. Anything less is a fraudulent exercise in self-delusion fueled by the Gordon Gekko's and Kobi Alexander's of America's (very profitable) "war on terror."
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joeb

Registered:
Posts: 8,378
Reply with quote  #76 
The only change you will see with the election of Obama is the change YOU make.
The organizational model of the Justice Department is designed to protect the Corporations. FBI agents represent the Death Squad
component of the Justice Department. FBI agents create the political assassinations, control the elections of politicians and judges,
and eliminate any threats to the corporations.
It engages in these activities while carrying out the duties of a taxpayer funded law enforcement agency.
Once you hire someone to protect you, you eventually loose the ability to protect yourself and community.

3 easy reads

1st read

Are Conflicts Issues Ahead for Attorney General Nominee?
Holder's private practice at Covington & Burling has focused on criminal and ethical investigations and defense of major companies from discrimination claims

David Ingram and Joe Palazzolo
Legal Times
December 8, 2008
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Eric H. Holder Jr., Covington & Burling partner
Image: Diego M. Radzinschi/Legal Times

One afternoon shortly after the 2001 inauguration, Eric Holder Jr. considered his future from his lavishly appointed office in the Justice Department's Robert F. Kennedy Building, still his a while longer, until his Republican successor arrived. One of his old friends, Covington & Burling's Thomas Williamson Jr., was visiting for lunch.

"It was a lengthy lunch, because a number of firms were coming to him to join their partnership," says Williamson, head of the firm's employment practice. "I wanted to be sure I didn't just rely on, ‘Come be my partner because we're old friends.'" Williamson, who met Holder in the late 1970s, says he told the longtime public official that he could channel a portion of his private work into Covington's pro bono efforts, and he told Holder that the firm could offer exciting work.

"It took a couple of weeks," Williamson says, "but he came around."

While much is known about Holder's more than two decades in government, supporters and critics of his nomination to be attorney general have said relatively little about his seven years with one of Washington's premier law firms. His private practice -- following his time as a lawyer for the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section, D.C. Superior Court judge, U.S. Attorney, and No. 2 Justice official -- focused on complex criminal and ethical investigations and defending major companies from claims of discrimination. Holder has been in the spotlight as a lawyer for the National Football League in Michael Vick's dogfighting case and for Chiquita Brands International regarding its payments to Colombian guerrillas. He also advised the campaign of President-elect Barack Obama, who last week named Holder as his choice for the nation's top law enforcement official.

His work at Covington, which averages $1.175 million in profits per partner, reveals some of the qualities he would bring to his next job and some of the conflict-of-interest challenges he'll likely think about as he goes through the confirmation process and -- if confirmed -- takes over as AG.

MR. FIX-IT

Since 2001, Holder has been a sought-after figure for companies, nonprofits and government agencies caught up criminal or ethical investigations. In 2004, he represented the United Way of the National Capital Area when its former director of 27 years pleaded guilty to embezzling nearly $500,000 from the organization. That same year, he also represented the president of the University of the District of Columbia in an ethics inquiry, and the Illinois governor recruited him -- until the state attorney general intervened -- to conduct a public review of the awarding of a casino license.

"His transition to private practice was effortless," says Lanny Breuer, co-chairman of Covington's white-collar defense and investigations group. "He just brings this extraordinary level of judgment and this remarkably calm and thoughtful demeanor to every problem."

Breuer says he and Holder were the lead attorneys for a committee of Hewlett-Packard's independent directors, managing a team that investigated allegations in 2006 that the company spied on journalists following the leak of sensitive information about company strategy. Holder also represented Chiquita in a 2007 settlement with the Justice Department in which the company agreed to a $25 million fine for payments it made to a Colombian terrorist group that was threatening company employees.

In defending Chiquita, Holder at one point criticized the Justice Department for not giving the company clear guidance after it notified Justice of the payments. He said in court that if department staff had failed to act on such information when he was deputy attorney general, "heads would have rolled," according to a 2007 article in Corporate Counsel magazine, a sibling publication to Legal Times.

Earlier this year, Holder was lead counsel for Merck & Co. when it agreed to pay $671 million to settle allegations that the company routinely overbilled Medicaid for four popular medicines. The agreement was one of the largest Medicaid fraud recoveries in history. In 2002, he registered as a lobbyist for Global Crossing when the telecommunications company was seeking approval from federal security officials to be sold to Asian buyers. He has also represented the widow of Robert Wone, a former Covington associate who was killed in a Dupont Circle row house in 2006.

DISCRIMINATION DEFENSE

Holder complemented his high-profile investigations and criminal work with dozens of employment cases, many of which he handled with Williamson. Holder defended MBNA Corp. -- now part of Bank of America -- as well as Purdue Pharma and GlaxoSmithKline against claims of racial, gender and national origin discrimination.

In the early 2000s, plaintiffs lawyers were threatening MBNA with a nationwide class action on behalf of employees alleging discrimination. MBNA's general counsel at the time, former FBI Director Louis Freeh, went to his friend, Covington partner Aaron Marcu in the New York office, for advice. Marcu recommended Freeh hire Holder to devise a strategy.

The plaintiffs' test case -- a discrimination suit brought by an Iranian-American in Dallas -- flopped. Holder first-chaired the trial and won so thoroughly that the judge ordered the plaintiff's law firm, Gary Williams Parenti Finney Lewis McManus Watson & Sperando, to cover MBNA's legal fees. The other 20 or so MBNA cases were either dismissed or settled for modest sums.

David Ellis of K&L Gates, Holder's co-counsel in the MBNA cases, says Holder decimated the claims "but treated the plaintiff with total respect" throughout the five-day trial.

"The jury loved him," Ellis says.

Firoozeh Butler, the plaintiff, did not. MBNA had offered Butler, a senior program analyst, $400,000 to settle the case, but she forced a trial in 2004, alleging she was denied promotions, harassed and discriminated against because of her Persian descent. Butler lost her job about five months after the trial for repeated absences. She was about two months short of early retirement.

Butler, who lives in Dallas and is unemployed, says she was laid up for health-related reasons. "Not a day goes by that I don't think about this," Butler says of her failed lawsuit. "I hope to God [Holder] doesn't get confirmed."

In other employment cases, Holder was less prominent, serving in either an advisory or supervisory role. "In the limited interaction with Eric that I had, he came across as an extremely skilled, great attorney, and I have nothing but kind words to say about him," says Shanon Carson of Philadelphia-based Berger & Montague. The firm is representing three black former employees of Swiss bank UBS in a lawsuit claiming racial discrimination, and Holder has helped represent UBS.

And, as Williamson suggested in 2001, Holder has taken cases pro bono. He's been representing a Louisiana man who's seeking damages for serving nearly 20 years in prison for a rape he didn't commit. The man, Dennis Patrick Brown, participated as a fill-in in a police lineup while he was being interviewed about an unrelated burglary, and he was wrongly identified as the attacker.

CONFLICT QUESTIONS

Lawyers who are named to an administrative post are generally expected to pull back from their private practice, handing off duties to colleagues. Jamie Gorelick, who preceded Holder as deputy attorney general, says Holder might have already done that because he has spent much of the last year helping Obama. "Eric told me that his billable hours had been slim during the campaign," Gorelick says, "so I would imagine that extricating himself wouldn't be that difficult." Williamson says Holder has not been "actively consulted in recent weeks on cases we're working on."

Holder declined to comment for this story. Timothy Hester, chairman of Covington, referred questions to Breuer.

"He's in the process from withdrawing from his practice in anticipation of being the next attorney general," Williamson says.

Still, there could be conflicts Holder will have to consider. Former Justice Department lawyers say Holder would need to think carefully about the oversight of cases where a former client is involved -- including, for example, investigations of UBS and of Bank of America's troubled subsidiary Countrywide Financial Corp. "I'm confident that Eric would check very carefully any ethics question and abide by whatever the determination is," says Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe partner Michael Madigan, a former federal prosecutor and a Republican who supported Obama.

There's also the broad reach of Covington & Burling, the Washington area's third-largest firm by head count, and with it the potential for other conflicts of interest. In 2005, then-Assistant Attorney General Robert McCallum faced criticism involving his former law firm after the Justice Department lowered the penalties it was seeking from tobacco companies in a landmark racketeering case from $130 billion to $10 billion. McCallum had never represented tobacco companies in private practice, but colleagues at Alston & Bird had. An internal Justice probe cleared McCallum, who is now ambassador to Australia.

"The Justice Department has pretty clear rules about this," says Gorelick, now a partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr. "Eric will need to recuse himself from anything in which he participated in private practice, and prudentially should recuse himself from matters involving his old law firm, at least for a little while."

And, she adds, there's an easy fix: "He can always refer to his deputy." While working under Attorney General Janet Reno, Gorelick says she served as acting attorney general in several situations where Reno recused herself.

George Terwilliger III, who served as deputy attorney general under President George H. W. Bush, says he doubts that Holder will have much trouble with the transition back to public office. He calls Holder "highly qualified."

"Sometimes people try to make an issue out of, 'Well, you were in private practice and you worked for a bank, so how can you work on banking issues in the Justice Department?'" says Terwilliger, a partner at White & Case. "That, to me, is a complete red herring."

2nd read
Above the Law
Secret Deals, Political Fixes and Other Misadventures of the U.S. Department of Justice



"This book tells us that far too often the Justice Department represents not the people, but the politicians, corporations and other entrenched private interests. In Above the Law, David Burnham once again shows us why his investigative reporting is a national asset."

-- Seymour M. Hersh, Pulitzer Price winning investigative journalist

Myth: The Justice Department is a rational and evenhanded law enforcement mechanism.

Fact: The Justice Department is always political, steadily more powerful, sometimes corrupt and surprisingly ineffective.

The United States Justice Department -- which includes the FBI, the DEA, the INS and more than 100,000 employees -- functions as law enforcer, investigator and jailer of American citizens. The department's legal reach is vast, extending to social controversies of race, religion and economics as well as to thousands of criminal and civil laws, including espionage; mail fraud; corruption; racketeering; vote-fixing; pollution; computer crimes; adulterated food and drugs; price-fixing; tax fraud; gambling; forgery; and the sale, manufacture or possession of illicit drugs. The department then, and the attorney general, make decisions daily that affect every American citizen. But who monitors the Justice Department and its pervasive dealings?

In Above the Law, David Burnham reveals the chilling truth about this powerful arm of the government. Examining its records on such issues as drug enforcement, civil rights and national security, Burnham discovered that the agency runs virtually unpoliced, even after the BCCI scandal, the forcible abduction of Manuel Noriega and the disastrous mission at Waco. For the first time, David Burnham conducts a thorough investigation of the investigator, exposing the Justice Department as never before.

Read Above the Law and learn:

* How the FBI and the DEA have relentlessly expanded their electronic surveillance networks to encompass more and more average Americans -- rather than suspected criminals.

* How the war on drugs currently consumes more than half of the Justice Department's budget but remains a well-documented dud when it comes to reducing the use of illegal drugs.

* How and why FBI director Freeh, following a trail blazed by J. Edgar Hoover, directs a misleading national advertising blitz about the nation's crime problem.

* How the Justice Department has routinely failed to investigate the political allies of all presidents, including Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, John F. Kennedy and George Bush.

* How -- more than three hundred times a year -- teams of agents from the FBI's top secret Surreptitious entry Program go about the task of breaking into houses, offices and warehouses of selected targets, usually to plant hidden cameras and microphones.

* How the law enforcement powers of the Justice Department have been used to harass black politicians and aid white ones.

Selected Excerpts

Annotated Table of Contents


Chapter 5.KEEPING TRACK OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE: THE UNBLINKING EYE AND GIANT EAR


Chapter 6.THE BIG, BAD, DUMB WAR ON DRUGS


Chapter 8.UNCIVIL WRONGS AND CIVIL RIGHTS

3rd read
When Corporations Wield the Constitution
by Richard L. Grossman and Ward Morehouse
Co-Founders, PROGRAM ON CORPORATIONS, LAW & DEMOCRACY
November 2002

The following is reproduced with permission of the authors.




The 1st Amendment "does not intend to guarantee men freedom to say what some private interest pays them to say for its own advantage. It intends only to make men free to say what, as citizens, they think."
Alexander Meiklejohn
Philosopher & Educator (1872-1964)


"Over the past 200 years, all over the world but especially in the United States, legal systems have been changed to accomplish two things: limit the legal liabilities of corporations, and give corporations the rights and protections of citizens" by extending "constitutional rights to corporations." So writes George Draffan in this book about the few who govern the many.

These two accomplishments have enabled corporate officers "to make decisions and control resources . . . to unite to influence political agendas" towards transforming their values and goals (maximizing production, paying as few workers as possible as little as possible, building complex industrial systems, propelling America as Empire, etc.) into law and policy.

What does this mean for all the people hired and fired at will by corporate managers? For people who value cooperation, love, human rights, ecological sanity, democracy and consent of the governed? It means that a unified corporate class uses the law of the land to deny the majority's fundamental right to govern.

It means that a relatively small number of corporate operatives use "the rule of law" to keep millions and millions of people divided and disempowered.

Routine corporate decisions involving investment, labor and the natural world cause so much harm to life, liberty and property that millions struggle to figure out which corporation is doing what to whom. They scrutinize each new corporate technology, corporate merger, and proposed corporate law; study finance and interlocking corporate structures. Millions have become experts on water, forests, soils, climate; have learned chemistry, physics, hydrology, biology and finance; have learned how to make their way through regulatory and administrative agencies.

Time and again people have come together to oppose corporate plans. They have declared: Not In Our Names. Not Here. Not There. Not Anywhere. This civic work has been vital -- to save life and land, to lift the human spirit, to teach children. But while people were resisting corporate assaults and working for sane investments and technologies, corporate operatives were making the rules for governing the nation.

So people are saying "No" in ways which challenge corporate claims to constitutional authority; which reveal the histories of slave owner -- and then corporation owner -- usurpations; which confront public officials with trampling upon people's basic rights.

George advances this exciting evolution as he dissects the elite consensus -- "larger than any industry" -- relentlessly pitching its manufactured histories, destructive values, false choices and global empire; aggressively selling and reselling ever-more production of everything possible as the fount of liberty.

He reveals the motivation driving this corporate consensus that "rises above the competitive advantage of particular corporations, and is larger than any industry." It is "to build and maintain power itself." To thwart democracy. To govern the Earth.



Today's corporate leaders received a head start from the men of property who wrote the Constitution.

When the overwhelmingly white male voters of the thirteen states ratified the Constitution, the "rule of law" they adopted defined the majority of human beings in those states as property, or as invisible. Contrary to the democratic ideals unleashed by the American Revolution, the law in this newly-formed republic denied rights to women, African American slaves, indentured servants, Native peoples, and white males without property.

All these human beings were written out of "We the people."

Who represented their needs and aspirations? Not the men meeting behind closed doors in Philadelphia's Constitution Hall that hot summer of 1787. These men not only denied rights to the majority but also built barriers to democratic processes into their Constitution: indirect election of the president through the electoral college, indirect election of US senators by state legislators, a commerce clause, a contracts clause, an appointed Supreme Court as an eternal closed-door constitutional convention, [1] to name a few.

The Revolutionary Era's propertied and slave-owning gentlemen who wrote the Constitution used law to keep the histories, experiences, needs, values and aspirations of the denied from being transformed into public policy. Parading their stolen powers as "constitutional rights," they provided future elites with the "legal" means to expand their rule even after whole classes of people had won the right to vote, to run for public office, to own property, to speak, to go to school, to form unions, to serve on juries and testify in court, to enjoy public accommodations, etc.

Since Southern slaveowners and northern men of property controlled the mechanisms of governance in the nation's early years, they saw no need to muscle up the corporation -- a tool of kings with which they had direct experience. These men who were doing very well did not want rival ruling power controlled by others, like the East India Company, to arise in their midst. So their state legislators wrote corporate charters -- and then state corporation laws -- limiting how long corporations could exist and limiting their real property and capital holdings. Laws in all states specified corporate purpose, banned corporations from owning other corporations, preserved rights of minority shareholders, made directors and shareholders liable for corporate debts and harms, and barred corporate involvement in elections and lobbying.

The culture regarded corporations as subordinate to the sovereign people.

After the Civil War, however, the men setting out to industrialize this land with machines and workers without rights made the corporation their ruling institution. As men of property had wrapped the Constitution around themselves in 1787, men of the Gilded Age enlisted judges and legislators to wrap the nation's sacred text around their new financial and industrial conglomerates.

By the end of the 19th Century, corporations had been baptized in the contract, commerce, property and personhood pools the Revolutionary elite had dammed into the Constitution one hundred years before. Public officials in New Jersey, and then Delaware, lay down for Rockefeller's Standard Oil Corporation, for the DuPont family and for men of great wealth controlling everything from food to steel to matches to armaments to whiskey. Robber barons began buying up other corporations, using them to create even more corporations swaddled in the Constitution.

A century later, corporate lobbying and propaganda think tanks, charities, foundations and other corporate clones masquerade as We the People. They sport goodness and mercy monikers like "Patriotic Citizens for Secure jobs and All-American Energy" and "Good Neighbors for Fair and Democratic Chemicals." On talk shows; in op-ed pages; in seances with elected officials in governors' offices, legislatures and judges' chambers; at meetings of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations; at international conferences; and in endless advertisements, corporate shills say what they are paid to say.

They tell governments what to do.

Wielding such power generation after generation breeds a special arrogance. Consider this: a few years ago, leaders of Travelers Group and Citibank corporations decided to merge. There was one minor problem: such a merger was against the law. But confident that in no time they could pass a new law wiping out a fifty-year old law, they went full speed ahead.

Their confidence was justified. A New York Times Corporation photograph adorning our POCLAD walls captures a blissed-out elite consensus moment at the White House. The caption reads:

"Depression-Era Rules Undone. Alan Greenspan, left, the Federal Reserve Chairman, and Congressional leaders applauded President Clinton yesterday after he signed the Financial Services Modernization Act, which allows merging of banks, securities firms and insurers. It repeals parts of the Glass-Steagall Act."

Why do corporations get away with it? Because with few exceptions, civic activists have not looked closely at this history. They have not contested the nation's corporate class over its grab of governing authority. [2] So let's look more closely at how the nation got into this mess.

Until the Civil War, political power was held primarily by the representatives of large slave holders like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, who used their domination of southern state governments to direct the United States government. The constitution that they wrote guaranteed profits from the new government's denial of human rights by, among other things, directing government to guarantee the return of all "persons held to service or labor in one State" [3] to their rightful owners. ("Persons" here meant both African American slaves and white slaves better known today as indentured servants.) The Constitution provided as well that the armed might of the United States would aid states against rebellions (called "domestic violence" [4]) by workers -- whether they were chattel slaves or wage slaves.

Their Constitution also decreed their domination of politics and lawmaking. A slave was to count as "3/5 of a person" [5] for assigning representation in the House of Representatives and the Electoral College. This meant that slave state elites could turn their ownership of human beings into domination over congressional and presidential elections. [6]

The rise of northern industrialists after the Civil War brought the end of slave master rule and the beginning of rule by corporate kings. As happened after the Revolution had been won, Southern and Northern men of property again united. They wrote slavery out of the Constitution with the "Civil War Amendments," [7] and wrote corporations in. Industrialists then used government to defeat organized resistance by women, former slaves, farmers, workers and small businessmen seeking to reconstruct the nation as a democracy based on free labor and equal rights. They did the same to Native peoples seeking to preserve their independence.

These elites stole the presidential election of 1876. [8] They then established "new trends in legal doctrine and political-economic theory" to enable "the corporate reorganization of the property-production system." [9]

After ratification of the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments, judges and legislators concocted constitutional doctrines legalizing racial segregation and exploitation, [10] and denial of workers' rights no matter the worker's race, creed, gender or color. [11] As a result, men of property could call upon sheriffs, militias, police, jails and courts to enforce Jim Crow, anti-free labor, anti-union, anti-strike, conspiracy and sedition laws at local, state and national levels. They directed the coercive force of law -- legalized violence -- to prevent the majority from using elections, lawmaking and lawsuits to remedy harms or pass the laws they wanted.

Over succeeding generations they directed government force and violence to deny African Americans, Native peoples, Asians, women, immigrants from the global south, war resisters -- anyone spouting anti-elite values -- their most fundamental rights.

These industrialists were simply acting in an old tradition. After all, the forebears of the new corporate class had written a constitution trashing the Declaration of Independence's "all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights; that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these right, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed . . ."

So for more than two centuries, the nation's elite minority has arrayed government against the assembling, speaking out and petitioning by African Americans, enslaved and free; by working people and their unions; by Native peoples and immigrants; by family farmers and small businesspeople. They have arrayed government against people whose lands and labor they desired; or whose appearance, thoughts, speech, assembling and governing they feared. [12]

They did this despite the plain and simple language of the Constitution's very first amendment: "Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Since 1868, they did this despite the plain and simple language of the 14th amendment: ". . . No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

They did all this without writing the words "slave," or "segregation," or "labor union," or "foreigner," or "unAmerican," or "separate but equal," into the nation's plan of governance. While raving about "democracy," "liberty," "freedom." While making gods of the "Founding Fathers."

Now that's wielding the Constitution!

There is another word which does not appear in the Constitution -- "corporation."

Men of property have had no difficulty encouraging Supreme Court justices to find corporations in the nation's sacred text. Beginning with the 1819 Dartmouth College case, [13] judges bestowed the privileges upon corporations which white, male, propertied human persons had already seized for themselves. This, of course, meant the denial of everyone else's rights.

During railway workers' 1894 strike against the Pullman Corporation, the justices upheld local judges who had banned American Railway Union officials from speaking with members and had thrown union leaders in jail. For a unanimous Court, justice David Brewer declared: ". . . the army of the Nation, and all its militia, are at the service of the Nation to compel obedience to its laws." [14]

This is not the language justices used when human persons petitioned them for redress of grievances. (See, for example, Dred Scott, [15] Plessy, [16] Minor, [17] Mackay, [18] Brown, [19] and hundreds of Supreme Court decisions).

On the contrary: judges decreed that corporations could brandish those "due process of law" and "equal protection of the laws" powers of the 14th Amendment and the "due process" clause of the 5th Amendment. They expanded corporations' commerce, contract and other constitutional authority. In so doing, they barred municipal, state and congressional legislation making the economy subject to public law, or directing government power to kick corporations out of village squares, elections, government halls, judges' chambers and the Constitution.

Since World War II, judicial gifts of 1st Amendment powers to corporations have continued undermining the ability of voters to instruct elected legislators. As Professor Mark Tushnet observed: "The 1st amendment has replaced the due process clause as the primary guarantor of the privileged. Indeed, it protects the privileged more perniciously than the due process clause ever did . . ." [20]

Today, corporate directors and their non-profit corporations straddle the twin pillars of the 14th and 1st amendments, as Matt Wuerker portrays on the cover of this book. Unleashing their intellectuals, propagandists and lobbyists for hire, buying the loyalty of or silencing community groups, schools and the press (including public radio and public television), they drive the nation's debate, values, investments, technologies, legal relationships and wars.

Non-profit corporate creations of today's elites subvert people's ability to "secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity." [21] They shut people up and out of any decisionmaking which counts. Their Supreme Court nullifies any people's laws which even minimally challenge corporate authority. [22]

The majority of people in these United States are constitutionally disabled.

No wonder people are exhausted and disillusioned from forays into campaign finance reform, corporate responsibility, EPA, NLRB, SEC, NRC, FDA, FCC and other corporate regulatory struggles. No wonder there is so much cultural pressure on communities, concerned citizens -- and even academics and public interest lawyers -- against linking people's multiple single-issues struggles against corporate assaults. No wonder that people are instructed over and over again (often by many leaders of environmental, human rights and labor groups) that we must not aspire to anything more than begging for "acceptable" levels of corporate class lobbying, election domination, wage enslavement and Earthly poisoning.

No wonder people are rethinking their work in this corporate world.

Enter George Draffan and The Elite Consensus.

In this book George examines "institutions which support corporate power" from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization to the Council on Foreign Relations, the Cato Institute, NATO and the United Nations. He includes public relations and advertising corporations into which elites pour hundreds of billions of tax-deductible [23] dollars . . . along with corporate propagandists posing as journalists and pundits.

George shows how a few people shape ideas, policies, values, news, information and language while writing laws and rewriting histories. He makes clear that by the time "issues" or even honest candidates appear before the voters, they have been sterilized, sanitized, disinfected and fumigated to order by the elite consensus.

By that time, intellectuals at corporate think tanks have done their trashy-but-footnoted studies and reports. By that time, journalists, editors, TV news writers, public officials and community leaders have been properly educated. Peoples' energies have been channeled into Potemkin Villages propped up by corporate fairy tales and democratic myths, as depicted in Matt Wuerker's cover.

Shill corporations like the Cato Institute, the Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable and the Heritage Foundation have spent years and billions of dollars fabricating idea deconstruction systems constantly spewing cockamamie that frames and reframes and reframes the country's agendas. Their managing of the nation's discussions can be seen in the ways Social Security, fast track legislation, global rights agreements like NAFTA, war in the Middle East, energy and health care policies, revelations of corporate usurpations and other issues in the news are mass-produced from coast to coast.

Encouraging people to deny their own experiences and crushing people's aspirations -- that's power. Using police, militias, courts and jails to limit people's ability to exercise rights collectively (such as speech and assembly) they cannot exercise as individuals -- that's mastery.

George's first chapter, "Cultural Power: The Colonization of Our Minds," looks at how mass media, PR and other corporate foundations, think tanks and lobby groups do this work.

Chapter two probes the corporate use of the "rule of law" as a means of "leveraging authority." The third chapter focuses on the reality that so many industries and services are oligopolies dominated by a few corporate conglomerates wealthier than most nations.

Next, George looks at the iron fist inside the PR-camouflaged corporate glove. He helps us remember that even when huge groups of people challenged governance by corporations, public officials responded with violence.

Haven't demonstrators against global corporatization and war -- from Seattle to Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Washington DC and smaller communities -- found our own government arrayed against them wrapped in the uniform of Ninja warriors?

The second part of The Elite Consensus profiles leading terrorist corporations -- such as the Chamber of Commerce, the Trilateral Commission, the Council on Foreign Relations. George provides useful information about the origins, budgets, directors and work of each. We learn, for instance, that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was a director of the Hoover Institution (which had placed many of its members in the Reagan administration). So was David Packard of "military and electronics giant" Hewlett-Packard Corporation. We see that in the mid-1990s, National Public Radio correspondent Anne Garrels spent two years in Russia as a "fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations."

A decade ago, 79 of the Business Roundtable's directors "held 206 board seats in 134 corporations." In 1999 the Brookings Institution had $225 million in net assets. Petroleum corporation millionaires David and Charles Koch fund not only the Cato Institute but also Citizens for a Sound Economy. Among the directors of that group have been C. Boyden Gray (former counsel to George H. W Bush) and James C. Miller III (former director of the Office of Management and Budget and chair of the Federal Trade Commission).

As icing on the cake, George offers eight appendices documenting selected dynamics of corporate power. He ranks corporate expenditures for writing laws, links top lobbyists with their corporate clients, follows the flow of corporate money as it violates the body politic, and summarizes studies examining creative corporate extractions of public funds.

These corporate profiles bring the elite consensus to life!" [24]

The Elite Consensus reveals how a propertied class which long ago figured out how to write -- and keep on writing -- the Constitution kills democratic thought, nips democratic institutions in the bud and diverts organizing for democratic self-governance, over and over again. George's analysis complements the work and publications of the Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy described at the end of this volume. POCLAD is pleased to join with The Apex Press to bring you this new edition of George's book.


Richard L. Grossman and Ward Morehouse
Co-Founders, Program On Corporations,
Law & Democracy (POCLAD)
November 2002




NOTES



1. As justice Robert Jackson said of this august body: "We are not final because we are infallible, but we are infallible only because we are final." Brown v Allen, 344 US 443, 540 (1953).

2. Since the great corporate-imposed un-American scare following World War II, and the government repression of thought, speech, assembly and civic action it spawned, corporate leaders have been far more conscious about strengthening their governing role than have been most of their critics. In the 1970s, for example, they launched (and funded with millions of dollars) a nonprofit corporate attack group called "Americans Against Union Control of Government," a "subsidiary" of the National Right to Work Committee. As Gerald Colby described, "Like the Liberty Lobby of the 1930s, these groups served as a front for DuPont and other large corporations . . ." DuPont Dynasty, Secaucus NJ: Lyle Stewart Inc., (1984), p. 750. As far as we know, there has never been a people's group with a name like "Americans Against Corporate Control of Government." Only in the past few years have contemporary activists defending against corporate assaults begun to grapple with the reality that corporations govern the nation enabled and protected by the rule of law . . . by the Constitution.

3. Article IV, section 2, part 3.

4. Article IV, Section 4.

5. Article 1, Section 3.

6. In 28 of the nation's first 32 years, the president was from a slave state: Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe, each of whom served two terms in office, were from Virginia.

7. The 13th Amendment, banning slavery and involuntary servitude, was ratified in 1865; the 14th amendment, defining "All persons born or naturalized in the US . . ." as citizens of the US, and declaring that no state shall "deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law," was ratified in 1868; the 15th amendment, declaring that the "right of citizens of the US to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the US or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude," was ratified in 1870.

8. See "Property Picks A President," by Mike Ferner, in By What Authority, volume 3, number 2, Spring 2001.

9. Martin J. Sklar, The Corporate Reconstruction of American Capitalism, 1890-1916, The Market, The Law and Politics, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1988, p. 85.

10. See, among many examples, Plessy v Ferguson, 163 US 537 (1896).

11. See, among many examples: Topeka & Santa Fe Railway Corporation v Gee, 139 F. 582, 584 (C.C.S.D. Iowa), (1905) -- "[t]here is and can be no such thing as peaceful picketing, any more than there can be chaste vulgarity or peaceful mobbing, or lawful lynching. When men want to converse or persuade, they do not organize a picket line."

12. See, among many examples: Schenck v United States, 249 US 47 (1919); Whitney v California, 274 US 357, 372 (1927).

13. Dartmouth College v Woodward, 4 Wheat. 518 (1819). See "You've Heard of Santa Clara, Now Meet Dartmouth," by Peter Kellman, in Defying Corporations, Defining Democracy, published for POCLAD by The Apex Press, 2001.

14. In Re: Debs, 158 US 564 (1895).

15. Dred Scott v Sandford, 19 HOW. 393 (1857).

16. Plessy v Ferguson, 163 US 537, 16 S. Ct. 1138, 41 L. Ed. 256 (1896).

17. Minor v Happersett, 88 US 162 (1875).

18. NLRB v Mackay Radio & Tel. Co., 304 US 333 (1938).

19. Brown v Board of Education, 347 US 483, 74 S. Ct. 686, 98 L. Ed. 873 (1954).

20. "An Essay on Rights," Texas Law Review, Vol. 62, 1984.

21. From the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States.

22. See among many, many Federal court decisions, e.g., George A. O'Toole of Federal District Court nullifying a Massachusetts "law requiring tobacco companies to list the ingredients of their products, saying it forces the companies to give away trade secrets," New York Times, 10 September 2000; nullification of a New Jersey law banning the transit of toxic waste through its borders, Philadelphia v New Jersey, 437 US 617 (1978).

23. Law today defines corporate propaganda, along with lawyers' fees and a large proportion of executive salaries and expense accounts, and penalizing fines, as normal costs of business. These costs are tax-deductible . . . which means that We the People pay for much of our own manipulation.

24. The Enron Corporation Saga shows that George is on the money. The Nation ("Ken Lay's Good Works," 11 February 2002, and "A Naked Emperor Disrobed", by Nate Blakeslee, 4 March 2002, p.15), reports that Ken Lay financed a chair at the corporate think tank Resources For the Future (RFF), a creation of the Brookings Institution. "Lay's gift to RFF, according to the group's newsletter, was to underwrite research `to improve the way decision-makers consider important issues on the top of the nation's policy agenda.'" The Nation also reveals that Lay was a "board member and funder of the conservative American Enterprise Institute."
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3 READS ABOUT YOUR PROTECTORS OF PRIVILEGE

Boyden Places New CIO for FBI
-- Top Global Executive Search Firm Places Chad Fulgham in Critical Technology Position for Federal Bureau of Investigation --

Last update: 4:11 p.m. EST Dec. 8, 2008
WASHINGTON, Dec 08, 2008 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- FBI Director Robert S. Mueller today announced the appointment of Chad Fulgham as the Bureau's Chief Information Officer (CIO), responsible for directing the organization's overall information technology (IT) efforts.
"In today's global environment, information technology remains key to how the FBI conducts its business - capturing information that can be instantly retrieved and shared as we build our investigations, providing the means to collaborate across distances, and keeping our information secure," Mueller said, noting that Fulgham's extensive experience working with multi-national corporations and cutting edge technology fit well with the Bureau's IT needs.
Tim McNamara, Leader of Boyden's Global Government and Public Sector Practice, partnered with the FBI in the placement.
"In Director Mueller's announcement he emphasized the critical role that information technology now plays at the FBI," said Mr. McNamara. "It's key to assuring secure information management and long distance collaboration for the Bureau. The FBI now plays a global role in fighting cybercrime and terrorism. Director Mueller said that with his experience heading information Technology for Lehman Brothers and leading IBM's Global Virus Team, Chad Fulgham will be a great fit for the Bureau's IT needs."
Before being hired by the FBI, Fulgham headed the Information Technology Division of Lehman Brothers, where he served as a senior vice president in various capacities over the past four years. In addition to being credited with the transformation of much of its technological infrastructure, he was responsible for performing organizational needs assessments, developing policy and instituting IT strategies, managing budgets, directing products and services selection, and overseeing technology operations. He will have many of the same responsibilities at the FBI.
Previously, he carried out many aspects of computer security and information risk management for IBM, JPMorgan Chase, and Arthur Andersen. He is a member of three Microsoft Advisory Boards and serves on the Financial Services Industry Advisory Boards for both AT&T and Verizon.
A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Fulgham spent five years in the Navy where he also worked with information security, network management, and communications, ending his tour of duty assigned to Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet.
Fulgham replaces Zal Azmi, who left the FBI last October to enter private industry.
Boyden's Mr. McNamara has an extensive track record of success placing senior management at top organizations including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, National Transportation Safety Board, International Air Transport Association and The World Bank. In addition to leading Boyden's Government Practice, McNamara is the Managing Director of Boyden's Washington D.C. office.
About Boyden World Corporation
Boyden is a global leader in the executive search industry with more than 70 offices in 40 countries. Founded in 1946, Boyden specializes in high level executive search, Interim Management and Human Capital consulting across a broad spectrum of industries. For further information, visit the firm's website at http://www.boyden.com.

2nd read
http://www.ucpress.edu/books/pages/4780.php
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Next time a catastrophic event from Global Warming kills a loved one in your family go up the street and thank your local FBI agent neighbor.
In 1998 Maine experienced a catastrophic ice storm that "media" called
a "once in every 100 years event'.
Well Maine just experienced its greatest ever catastrophic ice storm yesterday and it occured 10 years after the 1st one.
Over 200,000 people in Maine will be without power , most of them for more than a week.
Over 1 million people in New England will be without power, most of them for more than a week.Tonights' temperature in Maine will be 8 degrees farenheit, tommorrow night 0 degrees farenheit.
Most of the people in Maine use oil to heat their homes. Without furnaces they have no heat. Without electricity they have no furnaces.
FBI agents were the principal architects behind ensuring George Bush got elected for two terms, in effect completely halting any meaningful response to Global Warming for 8 years.Nobody commits voter fraud better than FBI agents.The FBI agents did their jobs representing the oil corporations much the same way they did in 1963 when they assassinated president Kennedy because he was going to do away with the oil depletion allowance.
Nobody does political assassinations better than FBI agents.
for a daily listing of catastrophic events associated with global warming see
http://www.heatisonline.org

Ice storm cuts power to more than 1 million
'It's pretty ugly,' N.H. man says as storm socks New England, upstate N.Y. msnbc.com
Image: Ice covered street in Kinderhook, NY        
Pedestrians walk along an ice-covered street in Kinderhook, N.Y., on Friday, after a wintry mix of sleet and freezing rain descended on the area.

CONCORD, N.H. - An ice storm knocked out power to more than a million homes and businesses in New England and upstate New York, and authorities say it could take days for all of them to get service back.

The governors of Massachusetts and New Hampshire declared states of emergency Friday morning, and schools were closed and travel disrupted across the region.

Power may not return to tens of thousands in Massachusetts until Monday at the earliest, Gov. Deval Patrick said. "Many of us view that as an ambitious estimate at this point," he told a news conference.

New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch urged residents "to take sensible precautions and heed all warnings from public officials."

"I don’t think anyone anticipated it would be as bad as it is," he added.

In Hampstead, N.H., Mark Cegelis said things were hectic at his neighborhood gas station, which was jammed with people trying to get gas for home generators.

"It's kind of lawless out there right now," Cegelis said. "There's a lot of people very frustrated, stacking up at the gas stations. It's pretty ugly."

He bought 21 gallons for himself and tried to deliver some to some friends in Derry but couldn't get there because of downed trees blocking roads. So his friends came to him instead, and were expected to hunker down until power was restored.

In eastern New York, particularly around Albany, the state capital, outages brought the total in the state to more than 235,000.

"Trees were down on all the roads," said Miguel Figueroa as he waited for coffee at a store in Colonie, N.Y. "... I couldn't even get on the Thruway today."

350,000 in dark in Mass.
Fire departments across New Hampshire were responding to reports of transformer explosions, wires and utility poles down and trees falling on homes.

Gov. Patrick's emergency declaration in Massachusetts, where 350,000 were without power, would enable the governor to take further steps, such as mobilizing the National Guard, if needed as the day wore on, officials said.

State officials do not even know the full extent of the problem because some towns have municipal utilities.

At least 20 Massachusetts towns declared local states of emergency even before the governor.

"Stay home if you live in Holden, don't come to Holden if you work here," Holden, Mass., fire Chief Jack Chandler said. The entire town was without power and some senior citizens on oxygen were transported to a hospital or a shelter opened at the town's senior center.

"This is a really extreme situation we are experiencing," NBC affiliate WHDH-Boston quoted Jackie Barry, a spokeswoman for National Grid, as saying. The National Grid reported about 100,000 electric customers without power, mostly in the Worcester area and Merrimack Valley.

N.H. outages worse than '98 storm
Utilities in New Hampshire reported 392,000 homes and businesses without power.
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Appeals court puts restrictions on NSL gag orders

By Julian Sanchez | Published: December 15, 2008 - 07:10PM CT

       

A federal appeals court today upheld the National Security Letter provision of the PATRIOT Act, which a lower court had stricken down last year. But the three-judge panel also imposed a series of restrictions on the gag orders that routinely accompany the controversial requests for information, saying that the government must meet a First Amendment burden higher than that imposed by the statute, and requiring law enforcement to demonstrate the need for a gag order to a judge.

Today's decision is the latest chapter in Doe v. Mukasey, a legal battle that began over four years ago, when the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit on behalf of an unnamed Internet service provider that had been served with a National Security Letter. These investigative tools allow the Federal Bureau of Investigation to demand records from an ISP or phone company without obtaining a court order—and, in 97 percent of cases, to forbid the company from saying anything about the information request. The government's own internal watchdogs have discovered widespread abuse of NSLs since their scope was expanded by the PATRIOT Act of 2001.

The original lawsuit attacked NSLs on both First and Fourth Amendment grounds, and the ACLU won its first round in court. But in 2006, two developments changed the contours of the battle: First, the FBI ultimately withdrew the original record request that had prompted the court fight, leaving in place only the gag order—and the corresponding First Amendment challenge. Second, Congress amended the PATRIOT Act, and in U.S.C. 18 §3511 established a mechanism for ISPs served with NSL requests to challenge them, and their attached gag orders, in court. Once again, the ACLU prevailed, winning wholesale invalidation of the NSL provision. An appeal by the government brought the civil liberties group back into court this summer, before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Second Circuit today chose a less radical remedy than the lower court had opted for: it allowed the NSL and gag order provisions to stand, but construed the gag rules narrowly so as to pass First Amendment muster. While agreeing with the lower court that the statutory provisions providing for judicial review of the gag orders were constitutionally flawed as written, the Second Circuit held that either Congress or the Justice Department could adopt procedures to remedy the infirmity.

Under the current language of the statute, the FBI has discretion to bar an ISP served with an NSL from speaking about it. The ISP has the burden of appealing if it finds the gag order unreasonable, and the court may remove the gag if it finds that there is "no reason to believe that disclosure may endanger the national security of the United States, interfere with a criminal, counterterrorism, or counterintelligence investigation, interfere with diplomatic relations, or endanger the life or physical safety of any person." If a high-ranking executive branch official certifies that disclosure does pose some danger, that assertion is to be "treated as conclusive unless the court finds that the certification was made in bad faith."

The court's ruling today narrows that language in several ways. First, the Second Circuit held that the alleged harm of disclosure cannot be any old risk to "life or physical safety," but must be appropriately linked to "an authorized investigation to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities." Second, the Court held that "no reason" did not mean that literally any reason at all would do, but that the government must provide evidence establishing some specific reason for thinking such harm is likely, a standard not met if the justification "surmounts only a standard of frivolousness." Perhaps most importantly, it rejected the notion that Congress may dictate a standard of First Amendment review to judges, invalidating the statute's injunction to take the executive branch's word for it, absent some explanation of why disclosure would be harmful.

Today's ruling also held that the government could not stick ISPs with the burden of initiating litigation if they objected to a gag order—but here, the Court recognized that it did not have discretion to effectively rewrite the statute. Instead, the decision suggests a procedure of "reciprocal notice" that might allow the NSL review process to survive constitutional scrutiny. Such a procedure, the court wrote, might involve giving ISPs a certain amount of time to notify the FBI that they object to a gag order, at which point it would be incumbent upon the FBI to get a judge to ratify it. The ruling suggested that Congress could formally impose such a change, but that the Justice Department might also implement such a procedure on its own initiative.

ACLU Staff Attorney Melissa Goodman told Ars that while the court "didn't necessarily do everything that we were asking for," the group was pleased that the decision had affirmed the applicability of the First Amendment to these gag orders, and required the government to provide a judge with some substantial evidentiary basis for silencing a served ISP. 

The government may now choose to ask the Supreme Court to review the Second Circuit's decision. If it does not, the case returns to the lower district court, where the Justice Department will have to make some substantive showing that the gag order is needed to protect national security. Since the underlying request for information was withdrawn over two years ago, that may prove an uphill battle even under a relatively deferential standard.

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December 31, 2008
The Worker-Capitalist Con
Wall Street's Collapse and the Ownership Society

By PAM MARTENS

On February 24, 2005, I clicked on the evening news to see President Bush finishing his European tour in Slovakia, surrounded by children waving little American flags.  It had the feel of a Macy’s holiday window designed by Karl Rove.  I recalled a recent news item about Slovakia.  Just two months prior to the President’s visit, Slovakia initiated a plan to divert nine per cent of worker’s wages into private investment accounts laden with corporate stocks and bonds as an alternative to a government run social security program.

This was similar to a plan that President Bush had peddled under the banner of the “ownership society.” Fortunately, this was one of the rare occasions when the President was rebuked by Congress.

Today in the U.S., with both corporate bonds and stocks suffering massive losses and over $2 trillion of taxpayers’ dollars doled out by the Federal Reserve to shore up Wall Street firms in various stages of insolvency, we finally grasp the true meaning of “the ownership society:” the Wall Street execs absconded with the so-called profits; the little people own the losses; the next generation owns the bailout debt. This scheme makes Ponzi artist Bernie Madofflook like a piker.

The Slovakia plan was modeled after the program set up in Chile in 1980 and 28 other countries thereafter.  According to actuarial studies of the plans in Chile and Mexico, it was an asset stripping operation that allowed Wall Street firms like Citigroup to strip away as much as 20 to 25 per cent of the workers’ wages in fees to “manage” the money.

The Chilean plan was the brainchild of Jose Pinera, who served as Labor Minister under the brutal military dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet.  Pinera later emerged as the global pied piper of private accounts to replace government run social security systems and peddled his pension reform mantra around the globe.

In testimony before the U.S. Senate on June 26, 1997, Pinera explained how private accounts move workers to the corporate side of the table: “A typical Chilean worker is not indifferent to the behavior of the stock market or interest rates.  Intuitively, he knows that his old age security depends on the well being of the companies that represent the backbone of the economy.”  In Pinera’s book, The Bull by the Horns, he says the whole working population can become “shareholder capitalists.”

According to Pinera’s web site, http://www.pensionreform.org, (which is registered not to him but to the Cato Institute, a free market think tank) Pinera sat down in the Austin home of George W. Bush, then Governor of Texas, and mapped out his vision.

I had a chance to personally observe this worker-capitalist dynamic in action in August 1994.  I was working for the Wall Street brokerage firm, Smith Barney (which had been taken over by the large insurance company, Traveler’s) and was called to an employee meeting by the branch manager and a visiting V.P. from the corporate headquarters.  Employees were shown a new benefits plan that deferred anything we might hypothetically get in deferred compensation invested in company stock intothe distant future while dramatically increasing our expenses in the present.

While the room was fuming, one of my colleagues spoke up.  He said since we’re getting deferred stock over time in the publicly-traded parent company (Traveler’s), and reducing company expenses will boost profits and push the stock price higher, isn’t this something we should support.  The room immediately calmed.  They had sipped the Kool Aid of shareholder capitalism.  (Traveler’s would eventually merge with Citicorp to become Citigroup and in 2008 require a backstop of hundreds of billions of taxpayers’ dollars to prevent the company from collapsing.)

I opted out of the stock plan. The fine print of this so-called Capital Appreciation Plan said the firm could keep two years of the wages I put into the plan if I was terminated for cause or left to join a competitor.  This sounded to me like shackled shareholder capitalism at best and theft of employee wages at worst.

Combined with Traveler’s, and later Citigroup’s, private justice system which barred employees from accessing the nation’s courts as a condition of employment (including whistleblower claims) it was all too Kafkaesque for me.  (Citigroup and most Wall Street firms enforce a system called “mandatory arbitration” which moves all legal claims against the firms into an industry run forum which is not required to follow the law, legal precedent or issue a written decision, making an appeal to a court almost impossible.)

On April 17, 2001, some dodgy looking police would whisk me off the public sidewalk in front of Citigroup’s shareholder meeting at Carnegie Hall in New York City and throw me in jail for my high crime of peacefully attempting to hand out flyers  highlighting Citigroup’s private justice system, Capital “Appreciation” Plan, and myriad abuses against women, minorities and society in general.

News media reported that shortly after my pesky personage was removed from the sidewalk, Citigroup’s shadow government (Board of Directors) emerged from their black limos: former President Gerald Ford; former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin; former CIA Director John Deutch.  You can imagine my reaction on November 25, 2008 when the New York Post featured a photo spread of Citigroup’s Board of Directors (which included Rubin and Deutch) and a full front page titled “Citi of Fools.” The same issue carried an editorial urging an ouster of the Board (“Bounce These Bozo Bankers”) or perhaps a stronger remedy (“Off with their heads”).

The uproar at The Post was over a weekend confab that saw the Federal Reserve guarantee upwards of $300 billion of taxpayer money to bail out Citigroup for the second time in a month and a half.  Of that amount, $20 billion was for a paltry equity stake for taxpayers when the whole company could have been bought for $20.5 billion at the prior Friday’s closing price, and that was $4.5 billion less than taxpayers had dumped into the company in October.  (It’s not a good omen that the man who helped put this deal together, Tim Geithner, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, has been selected by President-elect Barack Obama to be the new U.S. Treasury Secretary; neither is it promising that Robert Rubin was standing at the elbow of the President-elect in his first press conference, signaling he’s a key advisor.)

What progressives need to focus on is that all of these private retirement accounts, IRAs, Roth IRAs and 401(k)s have one homogenous denominator: they are primarily invested in stocks and bonds of multinational companies that we in the progressive community frequently oppose on issues ranging from labor, environment or human rights degradation.  Our own money is being deployed in opposition to our goals.  We’re financing our own demise.

Is it any wonder we have watched union membership collapse?  Or have seen a giant swell in the ranks of corporate mandatory arbitration systems that block both the employee and the consumer’s right to redress in a court of law?   Is it any mystery why serious investigations of what led to these massive bailouts are missing in Congress; why there has been an absence of large-scale mobilizations and street protests, even in the face of losing an average of 48 to 54 per cent of one’s retirement assets in one year. Should we be surprised that the crooked and incompetent remain in their positions and get a bailout from taxpayers.

More than $31 trillion was lost globally in stocks from January 1 to December 2, 2008 while much of this country is stumbling around dazed, afraid to open their 401(k) and IRA statements, repeating the imposed mantra “I’m in it for the long haul.”

We’ve arrived at the finish line in the race to the bottom and it’s clear there are few  winners: once the little fish were eaten, the big fish fed on each other (Madoff’s  Ponzi scheme and assorted hedge fund frauds against the wealthy).  Now the big fish have no where else to feed but at the government’s bailout trough, transferring the debt-ownership society to our children.

Our own money is also being used against us in electing our President and members of Congress.  After subsidizing our corporate health care plan to boost corporate profits or paying for it outright and funding our contribution to our 401(k) plan, which provides a steady stream of cheap capital to boost corporate profits, we have little left to donate to political campaigns.  That makes it possible for Wall Street to fund the candidates of both major parties.  Our choice becomes corporate candidate A or corporate candidate B and Wall Street installs the money men at Treasury, the regulators and economic advisors to the President.

But here’s the good news: Wall Street’s greed and corruption blinded it to its own fragile existence.  It completely neglected to notice that its survival was dependent upon the people it was looting.  By destroying its customer base, it destroyed itself.

The collapse of this strange species of financial Neanderthals in Armani suits is as breathtaking as are the opportunities it opens.  We can create a finance model from the ground floor up with our own vision of what we want the future to look like; what we want new companies to bring to market; how we want investors to be treated by their advisors.

We can start boutique firms to study young, socially worthwhile businesses and put the promising ones together with financial backers to bring forward as viable, publicly traded companies.  We can open schools to train men, women and minorities to become knowledgeable financial consultants and have a placement office to help them get started. (What does it tell you about a 200 year old industry that has no schools to train employees as financial advisors but hires instead on the basis of salesmanship.)   We can create independent regional firms all over the country to provide investors with the unbiased advice they crave from salaried employees who are not conflicted by working on commissions, as is now the norm, but get bonuses for how well their clients’ portfolios perform (currently unthinkable at major brokerage firms).

Out of chaos emerges opportunity. Are there those among us bold enough to seize it?

Pam Martens worked on Wall Street for 21 years; she has no security position, long or short, in any company mentioned in this article.  She writes on public interest issues from New Hampshire.  She can be reached at pamk741@aol.com
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PART 1

Martial Law, the Financial Bailout, and War

by Prof. Peter Dale Scott

Global Research, January 8, 2009

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Paulson’s Financial Bailout



It is becoming clear that the bailout measures of late 2008 may have consequences at least as grave for an open society as the response to 9/11 in 2001. Many members of Congress felt coerced into voting against their inclinations, and the normal procedures for orderly consideration of a bill were dispensed with.



The excuse for bypassing normal legislative procedures was the existence of an emergency. But one of the most reprehensible features of the legislation, that it allowed Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to permit bailed-out institutions to use public money for exorbitant salaries and bonuses, was inserted by Paulson after the immediate crisis had passed.



According to Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vermont) the bailout bill originally called for a cap on executive salaries, but Paulson changed the requirement at the last minute. Welch and other members of Congress were enraged by “news that banks getting taxpayer-funded bailouts are still paying exorbitant salaries, bonuses, and other benefits.”1 In addition, as AP reported in October, “Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. questioned allowing banks that accept bailout bucks to continue paying dividends on their common stock. `There are far better uses of taxpayer dollars than continuing dividend payments to shareholders,’ he said.”2



Even more reprehensible is the fact that since the bailouts, Paulson and the Treasury Department have refused to provide details of the Troubled Assets Relief Program spending of hundreds of billions of dollars, while the New York Federal Reserve has refused to provide information about its own bail-out (using government-backed loans) that amounts to trillions. This lack of transparency has been challenged by Fox TV in a FOIA suit against the Treasury Department, and a suit by Bloomberg News against the Fed.3



The financial bailout legislation of September 2008 was only passed after members of both Congressional houses were warned that failure to act would threaten civil unrest and the imposition of martial law.



U.S. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., and U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., both said U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson brought up a worst-case scenario as he pushed for the Wall Street bailout in September. Paulson, former Goldman Sachs CEO, said that might even require a declaration of martial law, the two noted.4



Here are the original remarks by Senator Inhofe:



Speaking on Tulsa Oklahoma’s 1170 KFAQ, when asked who was behind threats of martial law and civil unrest if the bailout bill failed, Senator James Inhofe named Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson as the source. “Somebody in D.C. was feeding you guys quite a story prior to the bailout, a story that if we didn’t do this we were going to see something on the scale of the depression, there were people talking about martial law being instituted, civil unrest….who was feeding you guys this stuff?,” asked host Pat Campbell. “That’s Henry Paulson,” responded Inhofe, “We had a conference call early on, it was on a Friday I think – a week and half before the vote on Oct. 1. So it would have been the middle … what was it – the 19th of September, we had a conference call. In this conference call – and I guess there’s no reason for me not to repeat what he said, but he said – he painted this picture you just described. He said, ‘This is serious. This is the most serious thing that we faced.’”5



Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA 27th District) reported the same threat on the Congressional floor (Rep. Sherman later downplayed his remarks slightly on the Alex Jones show):



“The only way they can pass this bill is by creating a panic atmosphere…. Many of us were told that the sky would fall…. A few of us were even told that there would be martial law in America if we voted no. That’s what I call fear-mongering, unjustified, proven wrong.”6



So it is clear that threats of martial law were used to get this reprehensible bailout legislation passed. It also seems clear that Congress was told of a threat of martial law, not itself threatened. It is still entirely appropriate to link such talk to the Army’s rapid moves to redefine its role as one of controlling the American people, not just protecting them. In a constitutional polity based on balance of powers, we see the emergence of a radical new military power that is as yet completely unbalanced.



The Army’s New Role in 2001: Not Protecting American Society, but Controlling It



This new role for the Army is not wholly unprecedented. The U.S. military had been training troops and police in "civil disturbance planning" for the last three decades. The master plan, Department of Defense Civil Disturbance Plan 55-2, or "Operation Garden Plot," was developed in 1968 in response to the major protests and disturbances of the 1960s.



But on January 19, 2001, on the last day of the Clinton administration, the U.S. Army promulgated a new and permanent Continuity of Operations (COOP) Program. It encapsulated its difference from the preceding, externally-oriented Army Survival, Recovery, and Reconstitution System (ASRRS) as follows:



a. In 1985, the Chief of Staff of the Army established the Army Survival, Recovery, and Reconstitution System (ASRRS) to ensure the continuity of essential Army missions and functions.



ASRRS doctrine was focused primarily on a response to the worst case 1980's threat of a massive nuclear laydown on CONUS as a result of a confrontation with the Soviet Union.



b. The end of the Cold War and the breakup of the former Soviet Union significantly reduced the probability of a major nuclear attack on CONUS but the probability of other threats has increased. Army organizations must be prepared for any contingency with a potential for interruption of normal operations.


To emphasize that Army continuity of operations planning is now focused on the full all-hazards threat spectrum, the name "ASRRS" has been replaced by the more generic title “Continuity of Operations (COOP) Program.”7



This document embodied the secret Continuity of Operations (COG) planning conducted secretly by Rumsfeld, Cheney, and others through the 1980s and 1990s.8 This planning was initially for continuity measures in the event of a nuclear attack, but soon called for suspension of the Constitution, not just “after a nuclear war” but for any “national security emergency.” This was defined in Reagan’s Executive Order 12656 of November 18, 1988 as “any occurrence, including natural disaster, military attack, technological emergency, or other emergency, that seriously degrades or seriously threatens the national security of the United States.” The effect was to impose on domestic civil society the extreme measures once planned for a response to a nuclear attack from abroad.9

In like fashion ARR 500-3 Regulation clarified that it was a plan for “the execution of mission-essential functions without unacceptable interruption during a national security or domestic emergency.”



Donald Rumsfeld, who as a private citizen had helped author the COG planning, promptly signed and implemented the revised ARR 500-3. Eight months later, on 9/11, Cheney and Rumsfeld implemented COG, a significant event of which we still know next to nothing. What we do know is that plans began almost immediately – as foreseen by COG planning the 1980s -- to implement warrantless surveillance and detention of large numbers of civilians, and that in January 2002 the Pentagon submitted a proposal for deploying troops on American streets.10



Then in April 2002, Defense officials implemented a plan for domestic U.S. military operations by creating a new U.S. Northern Command (CINC-NORTHCOM) for the continental United States.11 In short, what were being implemented were the most prominent features of the COG planning which Oliver North had worked on in the 1980s.



Deep Events and Changes of Party in the White House



Like so many other significant steps since World War Two towards a military-industrial state, the Army’s Regulation 500-3 surfaced in the last days of a departing administration (in this case the very last day). It is worth noticing that, ever since the 1950s, dubious events--of the unpublic variety I have called deep events--have marked the last months before a change of party in the White House. These deep events have tended to a) constrain incoming presidents, if the incomer is a Democrat, or alternatively b) to pave the way for the incomer, if he is a Republican.



Consider, in the first category, the following (when a Republican was succeeded by a Democrat):



* In December 1960 the CIA secured approval for the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, and escalated events in Laos into a crisis for which the Joint Chiefs proposed sending 60,000 troops. These events profoundly affected President Kennedy’s posture towards Cuba and Indochina.

* In 1976 CIA Director George H.W. Bush installed an outside Team B intelligence unit to enlarge drastically estimates of the Soviet threat to the United States, eventually frustrating and reversing presidential candidate Jimmy Carter’s campaign pledge to cut the U.S. defense budget.12

Equally important were events in the second category (when a Democrat was succeeded by a Republican):

* In late 1968 Kissinger, while advising the Johnson administration, gave secret information to the Nixon campaign that helped Nixon to obstruct the peace agreement in Vietnam that was about to be negotiated at the peace talks then taking place in Paris. (According to Seymour Hersh,“The Nixon campaign, alerted by Kissinger to the impending success of the peace talks, was able to get a series of messages to the Thieu government” in Saigon. making it clear that a Nixon presidency would offer a better deal. This was a major factor in securing the defeat of Democratic candidate Hubert Humphrey.13 Kissinger was not the kind of person to have betrayed his president on his own personal initiative. At the time Nixon’s campaign manager, John Mitchell (one of the very few in on the secret), told Hersh that “I thought Henry [Kissinger] was doing it because Nelson [Rockefeller] wanted him to. Nelson asked Henry to help and he did.”14

* In 1980 the so-called October Surprise, with the help of people inside CIA, helped ensure that the Americans held hostage in Iran would not be returned before the inauguration of Reagan. This was a major factor in securing the defeat of incumbent Jimmy Carter.15 Once again, the influence of the Rockefellers can be discerned. A CIA officer later reported hearing Joseph V. Reed, an aide to David Rockefeller, comment in 1981 to William Casey, the newly installed CIA Director, about their joint success in disrupting Carter’s plans to bring home the hostages.16

Both the financial bailout, extorted from Congress and the escalated preparations for martial law can be seen as transitional events of the first category. Whatever the explanations for their timing, they will constrain Obama’s freedom to make his own policies. I fear moreover they may have the consequence of easing this country into unforeseen escalations of the Afghan war.



The Intensive Quiet Preparations for Martial Law



Let us deal first with the preparations for martial law. On September 30, 2008, the Army Times announced the redeployment of an active Brigade Army Team from Iraq to America, in a new mission that “may become a permanent part of the active Army”:



The 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team has spent 35 of the last 60 months in Iraq patrolling in full battle rattle, helping restore essential services and escorting supply convoys.



Now they’re training for the same mission — with a twist — at home.



Beginning Oct. 1 for 12 months, the 1st BCT will be under the day-to-day control of U.S. Army North, the Army service component of Northern Command, as an on-call federal response force for natural or manmade emergencies and disasters, including terrorist attacks. . . . After 1st BCT finishes its dwell-time mission, expectations are that another, as yet unnamed, active-duty brigade will take over and that the mission will be a permanent one. . . .They may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control.17



This announcement followed by two weeks the talk of civil unrest and martial law that was used to panic the Congress into passing Paulson’s bailout legislation. Not only that, the two unprecedented events mirror each other: the bailout debate anticipated civil unrest and martial law, while the announced positioning of an active Brigade Combat Team on U.S. soil anticipated civil unrest (such as might result from the bailout legislation).

Then on December 17, 2008, US Northern Command chief General Renuart announced that “the US military plans to mobilize thousands of troops to protect Washington against potential terrorist attack during the inauguration of president-elect Barack Obama.”18

The US Army War College has also raised the possibility of the U.S. Army being used to control civil unrest, according to the Phoenix Business Journal:



A new report by the U.S. Army War College talks about the possibility of Pentagon resources and troops being used should the economic crisis lead to civil unrest, such as protests against businesses and government or runs on beleaguered banks.



“Widespread civil violence inside the United States would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities in extremis to defend basic domestic order and human security,” said the War College report.



The study says economic collapse, terrorism and loss of legal order are among possible domestic shocks that might require military action within the U.S.19



It is clear that there has been a sustained move in the direction of martial law preparations, a trend that has been as continuous as it has been unheralded. Senator Leahy was thus right to draw our attention to it back on September 29, 2006, in his objections to the final form of the Fiscal Year 2007 National Defense Authorization Act, which gave the president increased power to call up the National Guard for law enforcement:



It . . . should concern us all that the Conference agreement includes language that subverts solid, longstanding posse comitatus statutes that limit the military’s involvement in law enforcement, thereby making it easier for the President to declare martial law. There is good reason for the constructive friction in existing law when it comes to martial law declarations.20



This quiet agglomeration of military power has not “just growed,” like Topsy, through inadvertence. It shows sustained intention, even if no one has made a public case for it.



How the Bush Administration Protected Predatory Lending and Let the Financial Crisis Grow



Let us now consider the financial crisis and the panic bailout. No one should think that the crisis was unforeseen. Back in February Eliot Spitzer, in one of his last acts as governor of New York, warned about the impending crisis created by predatory lending, and reveled that the Bush Administration was blocking state efforts to deal with it. His extraordinary warning, in the Washington Post, is worth quoting at some length:



Several years ago, state attorneys general and others involved in consumer protection began to notice a marked increase in a range of predatory lending practices by mortgage lenders. …



Even though predatory lending was becoming a national problem, the Bush administration looked the other way and did nothing to protect American homeowners. In fact, the government chose instead to align itself with the banks that were victimizing consumers. . . . Several state legislatures, including New York's, enacted laws aimed at curbing such practices. . . .Not only did the Bush administration do nothing to protect consumers, it embarked on an aggressive and unprecedented campaign to prevent states from protecting their residents from the very problems to which the federal government was turning a blind eye.


Let me explain: The administration accomplished this feat through an obscure federal [Treasury] agency called the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). The OCC has been in existence since the Civil War. Its mission is to ensure the fiscal soundness of national banks. For 140 years, the OCC examined the books of national banks to make sure they were balanced, an important but uncontroversial function. But a few years ago, for the first time in its history, the OCC was used as a tool against consumers.



In 2003, during the height of the predatory lending crisis, the OCC invoked a clause from the 1863 National Bank Act to issue formal opinions preempting all state predatory lending laws, thereby rendering them inoperative. The OCC also promulgated new rules that prevented states from enforcing any of their own consumer protection laws against national banks. The federal government's actions were so egregious and so unprecedented that all 50 state attorneys general, and all 50 state banking superintendents, actively fought the new rules.



But the unanimous opposition of the 50 states did not deter, or even slow, the Bush administration in its goal of protecting the banks. In fact, when my office opened an investigation of possible discrimination in mortgage lending by a number of banks, the OCC filed a federal lawsuit to stop the investigation.21



Eliot Spitzer submitted his Op Ed to the Washington Post on February 13. If it had an impact, it was not the one Spitzer had hoped for. On March 10 the New York Times broke the story of Spitzer’s encounter with a prostitute. According to a later Times story, “on Feb. 13 [the day Spitzer’s Op Ed went up on the Washington Post website] federal agents staked out his hotel in Washington.”22



It is remarkable that the Mainstream Media found Spitzer’s private life to be big news, but not his charges that Paulson’s Treasury was prolonging the financial crisis, or the relation of these charges to Spitzer’s exposure. As a weblog commented,



The US news media failed to draw the obvious connection between the bizarre federal law enforcement investigation and leak campaign about the private life of New York Governor Spitzer and Spitzer's all out attack on the Bush administration for its collusion with predatory lenders.



While the international credit system grinds to a halt because of a superabundance of bad mortgage loans made in the US, the news media failed to cover the details of Spitzer's public charges against the White House.



Yet when salacious details were leaked about alleged details of Spitzer's private life, they took that information and made it the front page news for days.23



After Spitzer’s Op Ed was published, according to Greg Palast, the Federal Reserve, “for the first time in its history, loaned a selected coterie of banks one-fifth of a trillion dollars to guarantee these banks’ mortgage-backed junk bonds. The deluge of public loot was an eye-popping windfall to the very banking predators who have brought two million families to the brink of foreclosure.”24



What are we to make of Spitzer’s charge that the Bush administration interfered to preempt state laws against predatory lending, and of the fact that the mainstream media did not report that? A petty motive for the OCC’s behavior in 2003 might have been to allow the housing bubble to continue through 2003 and 2004, thus facilitating Bush’s re-election. But the persistence of Treasury obstruction thereafter, despite the unanimous opposition of all fifty states, and the continuing silence of the media about this disagreement, suggest that some broader policy intention may have been at stake.



One is struck by the similarities with the Savings and Loan scandal which was allowed to continue through the Reagan 1980s, long after it became apparent that deliberate bankruptcy was being used by unscrupulous profiteers to amass illegal fortunes at what was ultimately public expense.25



In the same way, the long drawn-out housing bubble of the current Bush decade, and particularly the derivative bubble that was floated upon it, allowed the Bush administration to help offset the trillion-dollar-plus cost of its Iraq misadventure,26 by creating spurious securities that sold for hundreds of billions, not just in the United States, but through the rest of the world.



In the long run, this was not a sustainable source of wealth for America’s financial class, which is now suffering like everyone else from the consequent recession. But in the short run, the financial crisis and bailout made it possible for Bush to wage a costly war without experiencing the kind of debilitating inflation that was brought on by America’s Vietnam War.



The trillion dollar meltdown,27 in other words, can be rationalized as having helped finance the Iraq War. When we turn to the martial law preparations, however, they are being made in anticipation of civil unrest in the future. Why such intense preparation for this?



The obvious answer of course is memory of the rioting that occurred in San Francisco and elsewhere during the great depression of the 1930s. Indeed that thought may be uppermost among those who recently arranged for the redeployment of a Brigade Combat Team from Iraq to America. But the planning for martial law in America dates back almost three decades, from the days when Reagan appointed Rumsfeld, Cheney and others to plan secretly for what was misleadingly called Continuity [i.e., Change] of Government. Concern about the 2008 recession cannot have been on their minds then, or on those who introduced the Army’s “Continuity of Operations (COOP) Program” on January 19, 2001. Instead the “full all-hazards threat spectrum” envisaged in that document was clearly ancillary to the doctrine of “full-spectrum dominance” that had been articulated in the Joint Chiefs of Staff blueprint, Joint Vision 2020, endorsed eight months earlier on May 30, 2000.28

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PART 2

In the same way, the long drawn-out housing bubble of the current Bush decade, and particularly the derivative bubble that was floated upon it, allowed the Bush administration to help offset the trillion-dollar-plus cost of its Iraq misadventure,26 by creating spurious securities that sold for hundreds of billions, not just in the United States, but through the rest of the world.

 

In the long run, this was not a sustainable source of wealth for America’s financial class, which is now suffering like everyone else from the consequent recession. But in the short run, the financial crisis and bailout made it possible for Bush to wage a costly war without experiencing the kind of debilitating inflation that was brought on by America’s Vietnam War.

 

The trillion dollar meltdown,27 in other words, can be rationalized as having helped finance the Iraq War. When we turn to the martial law preparations, however, they are being made in anticipation of civil unrest in the future. Why such intense preparation for this?

 

The obvious answer of course is memory of the rioting that occurred in San Francisco and elsewhere during the great depression of the 1930s. Indeed that thought may be uppermost among those who recently arranged for the redeployment of a Brigade Combat Team from Iraq to America. But the planning for martial law in America dates back almost three decades, from the days when Reagan appointed Rumsfeld, Cheney and others to plan secretly for what was misleadingly called Continuity [i.e., Change] of Government. Concern about the 2008 recession cannot have been on their minds then, or on those who introduced the Army’s “Continuity of Operations (COOP) Program” on January 19, 2001. Instead the “full all-hazards threat spectrum” envisaged in that document was clearly ancillary to the doctrine of “full-spectrum dominance” that had been articulated in the Joint Chiefs of Staff blueprint, Joint Vision 2020, endorsed eight months earlier on May 30, 2000.28

 

The interest of Cheney and Rumsfeld in COG planning, including planning for martial law, also envisaged full spectrum dominance. This is made clear by their simultaneous engagement in the 1990s in the public Project for the New American Century (PNAC). PNAC’s goals were stated very explicitly in their document Rebuilding America’s Defenses: to increase defense spending so as to establish America’s military presence throughout the world as an unchallengeable power. This would entail permanent U.S. forces in central as well as east Asia, even after the disappearance[jam1]  of Saddam Hussein.29

In short PNAC’s program was a blueprint for permanent overseas American empire, a project they recognized would not be easily accepted by an American democracy. Their call frankly acknowledged that it would be difficult to gain support for their projected increase in defense spending to “a minimum level of 3.5 to 3.8 percent of gross domestic product, adding $15 billion to $20 billion to total defense spending annually.” “The process of transformation,” the document admitted, “is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event—like a new Pearl Harbor.”30

There is of course every reason to hope that the disastrous era of Rumsfeld and Cheney is about to end, with the election of Barack Obama. Obama has made it clear that he will pursue a foreign policy dedicated to diplomacy and multilateralism. In this spirit he has declared his willingness to talk to Iran without preconditions.

 

But Obama’s stated reason for disengagement from Iraq – “The scale of our deployments in Iraq continues to set back our ability to finish the fight in Afghanistan”31 – is very ominous. Few serious students of the Afghan scene believe that America can “finish the fight in Afghanistan,” any more successfully than could the Russians or British before them. The U.S. position there is visibly deteriorating, while the U.S. strategy of cross-border attacks is having the effect of destabilizing Pakistan as well. The U.S.-backed Karzai regime has so little control over the countryside that Kabul itself is now coming under rocket attack. Experts on the scene agree that any effort to “finish” will be a long-term proposition requiring at a minimum a vastly escalated commitment of U.S. troops.32

 

One cannot predict the future, but one can examine the past. For thirty years I have been writing about the persistence in America of a war mentality that, time after time, trumps reasonable policies of negotiation, and leads us further into armed conflict. This dominant mindset is not restricted to any single agency or cabal, but is rather the likely outcome of on-going tensions between hawks and doves in the internal politics of Washington.

 

If a container of rocks and gravel is shaken vigorously, the probability is that the gravel will gravitate towards the bottom, leaving the largest rocks at the top. There is an analogous probability that, in an on-going debate over engaging or withdrawing from a difficult military contest, the forces for engagement will come out on top, regardless of circumstances. Available military power tends to be used, and one of the most remarkable features of history since 1945 is that this tendency has not so far repeated itself with atomic weapons.

 

Let me explain this metaphor in more concrete detail. Progressive societies (in this era usually democracies) tend to expand their presence beyond their geographic boundaries. This expanded presence calls for new institutions, usually (like the CIA) free from democratic accountability. This accretion of unaccountable power, in what I have elsewhere called the deep state, disrupts the public state’s system of checks and balances which is the underpinning of sane, deliberative policy.

 

We might expect of progressive democracies that they would evolve towards more and more rational foreign policies. But because of the dialectic just described, what we see is the exact opposite – evolution towards foolish and sometimes disastrous engagements. When Britain became more democratic in the late 19th Century, it also initiated the Boer War, a war very suited to the private imperial needs of Cecil Rhodes, but irrelevant if not deleterious to the interests of the British people.33 Hitler’s dreams of a Third Reich, entailing a doomed repeat of Napoleon’s venture into the heart of Russia, suited the needs of the German industrialists who had financed the Nazis; but from the outset sane heads of the German military staff could foresee the coming disaster.

 

For over a half century now, beginning with Vietnam, unaccountable forces have been maneuvering America into unsustainable adventures on the Asian mainland. We now know that Kennedy did not intend ever to commit U.S. combat troops to Vietnam.34 But the fatal planning to expand the Vietnam War north of the 17th parallel was authorized in the last week of his aborted presidency, probably without his being aware.35 When elected, Jimmy Carter was determined to reduce the size and frequency of CIA covert operations.36 Yet his national security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, initiated maneuvers in Afghanistan that led to the largest CIA covert operation (and in my view, one of the most deleterious) of all time.37

 

Our archival historians have not yet fully understood either paradox, or the forces behind them. And as the philosopher George Santayana famously observed, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."38

 

The Future: Military Escalation Abroad and at Home?

 

Like both Kennedy and Carter, Barack Obama is a complex mix of hopeful and depressing qualities. Among the latter are his unqualified desire to “finish” (i.e., “win”) the war in Afghanistan, and his support, along with his party’s, for the final version of the Paulson bailout. In my view they go together.

 

Like the government negotiated resolution of the savings-and-loan-scandal of the 1980s, the financial bailout undisguisedly taxed the public wealth of the republic to protect and even enrich those who for some time had been undeservedly enriching themselves. Old-line leftists might see nothing unusual about this: it conforms to their analysis of how the capitalist state has always worked.

 

But it is only characteristic of the American state since the Reagan revolution of the 1980s. Before that time governmental policies were more likely to be directed towards helping the poor; afterwards the ideology of free-market literalism, even under Clinton, was invoked in numerous ways for the enriching of the rich.

 

The result of these government policies has been summarized by Prof. Edward Wolff:

 

We have had a fairly sharp increase in wealth inequality dating back to 1975 or 1976. Prior to that, there was a protracted period when wealth inequality fell in this country, going back almost to 1929. So you have this fairly continuous downward trend from 1929, which of course was the peak of the stock market before it crashed, until just about the mid-1970s. Since then, things have really turned around, and the level of wealth inequality today is almost double what it was in the mid-1970s…..

 

Up until the early 1970s, the U.S. actually had lower wealth inequality than Great Britain, and even than a country like Sweden. But things have really turned around over the last 25 or 30 years. In fact, a lot of countries have experienced lessening wealth inequality over time. The U.S. is atypical in that inequality has risen so sharply over the last 25 or 30 years.39

 

Past excesses of American wealth, as in the Gilded Age and the 1920s, have been followed by political reforms, such as the income tax, to reduce wealth and income disparity. But as Kevin Phillips has warned, this type of reform must happen again soon, or it may not happen at all:

 

As the twenty-first century gets underway, the imbalance of wealth and democracy in the United States is unsustainable. . . . Either democracy must be renewed, with politics brought back to life, or wealth is likely to cement a new and less democratic regime—plutocracy by some other name.40

 

Judged by this criterion, the Paulson bailout as passed was not just an opportunity missed; it was a radical leap in the wrong direction. It is not reassuring that the bailout was passed with the support of Obama and the Democratic Party. This is rather a sign that plutocracy will not be seriously challenged by either party in their present state.

 

Warren Buffett may have been correct in saying that the bailout was necessary. But it is not hard to think of reforms that should have accompanied it:

 

1) there should have been transparency, not secrecy

 

2) public funds should not have been made available for bonuses or dividends (The richest 10 percent of Americans own 85 percent of all stock).41

 

And as a bailout for the automobile industry is debated, two more reforms seem self-evident:

 

3) any reduction in income should not affect workers alone, but all levels of employees equally

 

4) as has often been suggested, a limit should be established by law to the maximum ratio of the highest remuneration to the lowest in any industry – perhaps a ratio of twenty to one.

 

I am not making these obvious suggestions with any expectation that they will be passed or seriously debated. The plutocratic corruption of both our parties makes such a prospect almost unthinkable.

 

What I do want to contemplate is the serious prospect of war. America escaped from the depression of the 1890s with the Spanish-American War.42 It only escaped the Great Depression of the 1930s with the Second World War. There was even a recession in the late 1940s from which America only escaped with the Korean War. As we face the risk of major depression again, I believe we inevitably face the danger of major war again.

 

In the meantime, some aspects of the financial meltdown, although they arose for many reasons and were not the result of some conspiratorial cabal, may be prolonged because of their utility to the war-minded. Consider that, from the perspective of maintaining America’s imperial thrust into Afghanistan (and even Pakistan), the financial crisis has had some desired consequences:

 

1) The dollar’s value against other international currencies, notably the euro, has improved, thus improving America’s balance of payments and also offsetting the threat to the dollar’s important role as the primary unit of international trade.

 

2) Thanks to the determined international marketing of overvalued derivatives based on predatory lending, the resulting financial crisis has been internationalized, with economies elsewhere suffering even greater shocks than the United States. This has relatively improved America’s capacity to finance a major war effort overseas (which has always had a major impact on the U.S. balance of payments).

 

3) The price of oil has plummeted from $147 a barrel last July to under $40, thus weakening the economies of Russia, China, and especially Saudi Arabia, the country whose international foundations have been supporting Al Qaeda.

 

The Afghan situation is grim, but it is not hopeless. Two skilled observers, Barnett R. Rubin and Ahmed Rashid, have proposed a political solution for the entire region that would promise greater security for the entire area than Obama’s ill-considered proposal to send 20,000 more U.S. troops.43 In Rashid’s words, 

 

President-elect Obama and Western leaders have to adopt a comprehensive approach that sees the region [with Afghanistan's neighbors, including Pakistan, India, Russia, China, Iran, and the former Soviet states] as a unit with interlocking development issues to be resolved such as poverty, illiteracy and weak governance. There has to be a more comprehensive but more subtle approach to democratising the region and forcing powerful but negative stakeholders in local power structures - such as the drug mafias - either to change their thinking or be eliminated.44

 

That observers with such recognized status are offering a sensible political solution does not provide me with much optimism. For three decades now Barnett Rubin has been offering sound advice on Iran and Afghanistan to Washington, only to be ignored by those lobbying for covert operations and military solutions. This dialectic is reminiscent of the Vietnam War, where for over a decade reasonable proposals to demilitarize the conflict were similarly ignored.

 

I repeat that the future is unpredictable. But I fear that Obama’s proposal to send 20,000 additional troops will carry the day, with its predictable consequences of a wider war in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.45 With this I also fear an increased use of the U.S. Army to control protests by the American people.

 

I earnestly hope that my fears are misplaced. Time will tell.

 

NOTES
 

1.WCAX, Burlington, Vermont - December 22, 2008, http://www.wcax.com/Global/story.asp?S=9567271. Cf. CNBC, October 30, 2008, http://www.cnbc.com/id/27423117: “`You can get paid $30 million under this program,’ says Michael Kesner, who heads Deloitte Consulting's executive compensation practice. `There's no limit on what you can get paid.’”


2 John Dunbar, AP, October 25, 2007, http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/081025/meltdown_evolving_bailout.html .


3.David Hirst, “Fox joins battle cry for details of US bail-out,” BusinessDay, December 24, 2008, http://www.businessday.com.au/business/fox-joins-battle-cry-for-details-of-us-bailout-20081223-74eh.html?page=-1. 


4 http://phoenix.bizjournals.com/phoenix/stories/2008/12/15/daily34.html.


5. http://www.blacklistednews.com/news-2367-0-13-13--.html.


6. Rep. Brad Sherman, in the House, 8:07 EST PM, October 2, 2008, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HaG9d_4zij8&NR=1. Rep. Sherman later issued the following clarification: “I have no reason to think that any of the leaders in Congress who were involved in negotiating with the Bush Administration regarding the bailout bill ever mentioned the possibility of martial law -- again, that was just an example of extreme and deliberately hyperbolic comments being passed around by members not directly involved in the negotiations.”  Cf. Rep. Sherman on Alex Jones show, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_bH1mO8qhCs. .


7 Army Regulation 500-3, Emergency Employment of Army And Other Resources, Army Continuity Of Operations (COOP) Program, http://www.wikileaks.org/leak/us-army-reg-500-3-continuity-2001.pdf, emphasis added. Cf. Tom Burghardt, “Militarizing the `Homeland’ in Response to the Economic and Political Crisis: NORTHCOM's Joint Task Force-Civil Support,” GlobalResearch, October 11, 2008, http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=10534 .


8 Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2007), 183-87; cf. James Mann, The Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush’s War Cabinet (New York: Viking, 2004), 138-45,


9  Scott, The Road to 9/11, 183-87.


10 Ritt Goldstein , “Foundations are in place for martial law in the US,” Sydney Morning Herald, July 27 2002, http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2002/07/27/1027497418339.html.


11 Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 9/11, 240-41.


12  Scott, The Road to 9/11, 60-61.

13  Robert Parry, “Henry Kissinger, Eminence Noire,” ConsortiumNews, December 28, 2008, http://www.consortiumnews.com/2008/122808.html: “Kissinger, … – while serving as a peace-talk adviser to the Johnson administration – made obstruction of the peace talks possible by secretly contacting people working for Nixon, according to Seymour Hersh’s 1983 book, The Price of Power [p. 21]

14  Hersh, Price of Power, 18. Cf. Jim Hougan, Spooks: The Haunting of America (New York: William Morrow, 1978), 435: “Kissinger, married to a former Rockefeller aide, owner of a Georgetown mansion whose purchase was enabled only by Rockefeller gifts and loans, was always the protégé of his patron, Nelson R[ockefeller], even when he wasn’t directly employed by him.”

15 Scott, The Road to 9/11, 93-118.

16 Scott, The Road to 9/11, 82-87, 91, 104-05.

17  “Brigade homeland tours start Oct. 1,” Army Times, September 30, 2008, http://www.armytimes.com/news/2008/09/army_homeland_090708w/. Cf. Michel Chossudovsky, “Pre-election Militarization of the North American Homeland, US Combat Troops in Iraq repatriated to `help with civil unrest,’"GlobalResearch, September 26, 2008, http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=10341

18  Agence France-Presse, December 17, 2008, http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iTBOy3JF8pVAthIthq8C1NrMf4Cg

19  http://phoenix.bizjournals.com/phoenix/stories/2008/12/15/daily34.html

20  Remarks Of Sen. Patrick Leahy, National Defense Authorization Act For Fiscal Year 2007
Conference Report, Congressional Record, September 29, 2006, http://leahy.senate.gov/press/200609/092906b.html

21  Eliot Spitzer, “Predatory Lenders' Partner in Crime: How the Bush Administration Stopped the States From Stepping In to Help Consumers,” Washington Post, February 14, 2008; A25, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/13/AR2008021302783.html?nav=hcmodule . Three months earlier, on November 8, 2007, Governor Spitzer and New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo had published a joint letter to Congress, “calling for continued federal action to combat subprime lending practices” (http://www.state.ny.us/governor/press/1108071.html).

22 David Johnston and Philip Shenon, “U.S. Defends Tough Tactics on Spitzer,” New York Times, March 21, 2008. 

23  “Why Eliot Spitzer was assassinated: The predatory lending industry had a partner in the White House,” Brasscheck TV, March 2008, http://brasschecktv.com/page/291.html

24  Greg Palast, “Eliot’s Mess: The $200 billion bail-out for predator banks and Spitzer charges are intimately linked,” Air America Radio’s Clout, March 14, 2008,
http://www.gregpalast.com/elliot-spitzer-gets-nailed/

25 Without suggesting that the scandal was in any way centrally orchestrated or directed, it can be argued that the scandal was permitted to drag on so long because it was allowing profits from the illegal drug traffic to recapitalize the American economy and strengthen the beleaguered U.S. dollar.


26 Joseph E. Stiglitz and Linda J. Bilmes, The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict (New York: W.W. Norton, 2008). Cf. Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes, “The three trillion dollar war,” The Times (London), February 23, 2008, http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article3419840.ece: “On the eve of war, there were discussions of the likely costs. Larry Lindsey, President Bush's economic adviser and head of the National Economic Council, suggested that they might reach $200 billion. But this estimate was dismissed as “baloney” by the Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld. His deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, suggested that postwar reconstruction could pay for itself through increased oil revenues. Mitch Daniels, the Office of Management and Budget director, and Secretary Rumsfeld estimated the costs in the range of $50 to $60 billion, a portion of which they believed would be financed by other countries. (Adjusting for inflation, in 2007 dollars, they were projecting costs of between $57 and $69 billion.) The tone of the entire administration was cavalier, as if the sums involved were minimal.”


27 Charles R. Morris, The Trillion Dollar Meltdown: Easy Money, High Rollers, and the Great Credit Crash (New York: PublicAffairs, 2008).


28 Joint Vision 2020, http://www.dtic.mil/jointvision/jvpub2.htm; Scott, The Road to 9/11, 20, 24. “Full spectrum dominance” repeated what had been outlined earlier in a predecessor document, Joint Vision 2010 of 2005, but with new emphasis on the statement that “the United States must maintain its overseas presence forces” (Joint Vision 2020, 6). Cf. Joint Vision 2010, 4, http://www.dtic.mil/jv2010/jvpub.htm: “We will remain largely a force that is based in the continental United States.”


29 Project for the New American Century, Rebuilding America’s Defenses, http://www.newamericancentury.org/RebuildingAmericasDefenses.pdf; Scott, The Road to 9/11, 23-24, 191-93.


30 Rebuilding America’s Defenses, 51, 75.


31 “War in Iraq,” BarackObama.com, http://www.barackobama.com/issues/iraq/ .


32 See e.g. Andrew Bacevich, Newsweek, December 8, 2008, http://www.newsweek.com/id/171254: “In Afghanistan today, the United States and its allies are using the wrong means to pursue the wrong mission. Sending more troops to the region, as incoming president Barack Obama and others have suggested we should, will only turn Operation Enduring Freedom into Operation Enduring Obligation. Afghanistan will be a sinkhole, consuming resources neither the U.S. military nor the U.S. government can afford to waste.” Cf. PBS, Frontline, “The War Briefing,” October 28, 2008, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/warbriefing/view/.


33 For the role of the Rhodes-promoted Jameson Raid in instigating the Boer War, see Elizabeth Longford, Jameson’s Raid: The Prelude to the Boer War (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1982).


34 Gordon M. Goldstein, Lessons in Disaster: McGeorge Bundy and the Path to War in Vietnam (New York: Times Books/Henry Holt, 2008).


35 John Newman, JFK and Vietnam: Deception, Intrigue, and the Struggle for Power (New York: Warner Books, 1992), 375-77, 434-35, 447; Peter Dale Scott, The War Conspiracy: JFK, 9/11, and the Deep Politics of War (Ipswich, MA: Mary Ferrell Foundation Press, 2008), 25-26, 28.


36 Ofira Seliktar, Failing the Crystal Ball Test: The Carter Administration and the Fundamentalist Revolution in Iran (Westport, CN: Praeger, 2000), 52.


37 Brzezinski later boasted that his “secret operation was an excellent idea. It drew the Russians

into the Afghan trap” (“Les Révélations d’un ancien conseiller de Carter,” interview with

Zbigniew Brzezinski, Le Nouvel Observateur, January 15–21, 1998, http://http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/BRZ110A.html; French version:

http://www.confidentiel.net/breve.php3?id_breve=1862; quoted at length in Peter Dale Scott, Drugs, Oil, and War: The United States in Afghanistan, Colombia, and Indochina (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003), 35). For my negative assessment of what some have described as the CIA’s most successful covert operation, see The Road to 9/11, 114-37.


38 George Santayana, Life of Reason, Reason in Common Sense (New York: Scribner's, 1905), 284.


39 Edward Wolff, “The Wealth Divide: The Growing Gap in the United States Between the Rich and the Rest,” Multinational Monitor, May 2003, http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/America/Wealth_Divide.html. Cf. Edward Wolff, Top Heavy: The Increasing Inequality of Wealth in America and What Can Be Done About It (New York: New Press, 2002).


40 Kevin Phillips, Wealth and Democracy: A Political History of the American Rich (New York: Broadway Books, 2002), 422; quoted in Scott, The Road to 9/11, 3.


41 Wolff, “The Wealth Divide.”


42 For McKinley’s mercantilist “large policy” as a response to depression, see Philip Sheldon Foner, The Spanish-Cuban-American War and the Birth of American Imperialism, 1895-1902 (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1972).


43 Barnett R. Rubin and Ahmed Rashid, “From Great Game to Grand Bargain: Ending Chaos in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” Foreign Affairs, November/December 2008, http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20081001faessay87603-p40/barnett-r-rubin-ahmed-rashid/from-great-game-to-grand-bargain.html.


44 Ahmed Rashid, “Obama's huge South Asia headache,” BBC, January 2, 2009, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7788321.stm, 


45 Cf. Zia Sarhadi, “America's "good war" turns into quicksand,” MediaMonitors, January 5, 2009, http://usa.mediamonitors.net/content/view/full/58114: “Obama’s announcement to send 20,000 additional troops to the `good war’ in Afghanistan has been greeted by the Taliban with glee. They regard it as an opportunity to attack a `bigger army, bigger target and more shiny new weapons to take from the toy soldiers.’ American generals have talked in terms of 40,000 to 100,000 additional troops, levels that are simply not available. America’s killing of hundreds of Afghan civilians in indiscriminate aerial attacks has been the most effective recruiting tool for the Taliban. Even those Afghans not keen on seeing the Taliban back in power are appalled by the level of brutality inflicted on civilians.”  

Peter Dale Scott, a former Canadian diplomat and English Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, is a poet, writer, and researcher. His most recent book is The War Conspiracy: JFK, 9/11, and the Deep Politics of War, It can be ordered from the Mary Ferrell Foundation Press at http://www.maryferrell.org/wiki/index.php/MFF_Store.
Scott’s website is
http://www.peterdalescott.net.

       
Peter Dale Scott is a frequent contributor to Global Research.  Global Research Articles by Peter Dale Scott

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joeb

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Reply with quote  #83 
You can't see the FBI  fix is in for Verizon and PECO Energy
because you have't read David Burnham's ABOVE THE LAW which exposes FBI  agents and their parent corporation, the Department of Justice fixing cases for corporations.
You don't know the name of the retired FBI  agent who heads up security at Verizon  and probably soon to be one at PECO.
A different story unfolded when FBI  agents wanted to take out that activist Governor in Illinois, whats his name Bdjogavich......

FBI: Lost e-mails tanked Fumo extortion probe
By MARYCLAIRE DALE Associated Press Writer
 01/15/2009

PHILADELPHIA—Although she built a 139-count corruption case against a powerful state senator, an FBI agent testified Thursday that she could never get at the crux of the case—whether he extorted corporate donations—because of missing e-mails.

The FBI recovered more than 83,000 e-mails from computers and Blackberries in searches of Sen. Vincent Fumo's two state offices and those of a charity run by his former aides.

They found e-mails suggesting Fumo was using staff for campaign and personal work, and others concerning his alleged fraud on the charity, she said. But they found no correspondence related to his negotiations with Peco Energy and Verizon Pennsylvania over deregulation issues.

"There was nothing," said Special Agent Vicki Humphreys, the last witness in the government's three-month case.

Other witnesses have testified that Peco gave $17 million to the Fumo-linked charity, Citizens Alliance for Better Neighborhoods, as it negotiated with Fumo over energy deregulation. And a Verizon official testified that Fumo secretly sought $50 million in donations and favors, including millions in business for his family bank and law firm.

Verizon refused the vast majority of the requests. Fumo, meanwhile, was never charged with extorting either company.

Instead, he was charged in February 2007 with defrauding the state senate, the charity and a seaport museum of more than $3.5 million, and with obstruction for allegedly
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The American Red Cross
destroying e-mail evidence after the FBI probe was under way. Fumo has pleaded not guilty, and maintains that he continued his e-mail deletion policy amid the probe only after consulting his then-lawyers.

The defense is expected to begin its case next week, after Humphreys concludes her testimony.

She told jurors Thursday that co-defendant Lenny Luchko—the fiercely loyal computer technician in Fumo's district office in South Philadelphia—was trying to "wipe" or destroy data from his laptop even as the FBI searched the office on Feb. 18, 2005.

Luchko's long-awaited appearance before jurors was nixed after prosecutors who forged a plea agreement with him learned this week that he has stayed in regular contact with Fumo and has posted pro-Fumo comments about the case on a newspaper blog.

But the jury is nonetheless seeing many of Luchko's e-mails, some of which describe a frenzied atmosphere in the office after news of the FBI probe broke in January 2004. Ironically, the FBI discovered a cache of e-mails on disks and computers found at Luchko's house, despite the fact he was the one implementing Fumo's orders to regularly destroy e-mails and wipe clean the computers.

"He REALLY wants that mail gone," Luchko told a staffer in one e-mail read in court. "If Fumo goes (down), we all go down."

Humphreys also testified Thursday that agents found private e-mails between Fumo's adult daughter, Nicole, and her future husband, one-time Fumo protege Christian Marrone, in a "Nicole" folder on one of six discs recovered from Fumo. Fumo had not been copied in on the correspondence, Humphreys said.

Marrone, who had worked in Fumo's senate office, testified early in the trial about how his relationship with Fumo frayed about the time he married Nicole. The couple is now estranged from Fumo, and Fumo has never seen their children, his only grandchildren.
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joeb

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Posts: 8,378
Reply with quote  #84 
a species that hires bodyguards to protect it losses the ability to protect itself and is doomed to extinction

KGB, FBI no difference in organizational model. The mandates are the same. They are protectors of privilege.

2 reads

1st read


Sergei L. Loiko / Los Angeles Times

Ecologist Marina Rikhvanova is trying to protect Siberia's Lake Baikal. She is up against a Kremlin and business elite intent on exploiting natural resources.
By Megan K. Stack
January 18, 2009
Reporting from Irkutsk, Russia -- There are days when renowned Russian ecological crusader Marina Rikhvanova feels like an endangered species.

She has gotten used to a certain amount of ambient harassment -- the intelligence agents rifling through her files, the bank accounts abruptly blocked, the phone she believes is bugged. It comes with the territory.


As Russian President- turned-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has rolled back democracy and downsized civil rights, activists of all stripes have struggled to operate. But with the Kremlin and big business so intertwined that they've become virtually indistinguishable, the Russian elite appears to reserve a special brand of venom for those who tend to clash most directly with business: environmental advocates.

"We are preventing them from doing very quietly what they want to do very quietly," says Rikhvanova, 47, seated in the office of her Baikal Ecological Wave organization in this Siberian city.

Russia's efforts to reclaim lost superpower status are staked on the exploitation of vast natural resources, from oil and natural gas to timber and diamonds. Against this backdrop of runaway capitalism, independent ecologists such as Rikhvanova are voices in the wilderness.

Short, stolid, frowning skeptically through tinted eyeglasses, Rikhvanova seems an unlikely foil to Putin. She came to her love of nature early in life, and still recalls the smell of spring in the Siberian village where her parents taught school. Her father took her to explore forests and to gaze over the vast stretches of Lake Baikal.

The world's deepest and oldest freshwater reserve is treasured by evolutionary biologists as a liquid cornucopia of rare species. The lake holds an estimated 20% of the world's fresh water and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but has repeatedly been put at risk by the march of Russian industry.

"It's huge, tremendous, mysterious, beautiful," Rikhvanova says, watching tiny winter birds peck at the feeder dangling outside her window.

"It's 25 million years old, and every organism, every being, in Lake Baikal is a witness to this history."

Rikhvanova's first major clash with Putin erupted in 2005 when a pipeline to transport oil from the Siberian fields to the Pacific coast was slated to skim within half a mile of Lake Baikal. Scientists, including Rikhvanova, warned that the area is prone to earthquakes, and that an oil spill could prove catastrophic for the lake.

Transneft, the state pipeline company, did not respond to the warnings, and the government's own environmental experts backed the pipeline company. Only after Rikhvanova's organization and other environmental groups drummed up street protests in Siberia and Moscow did the government blink: Putin produced a red pen during a televised meeting, gestured at a map and ordered the pipeline rerouted.

But for Rikhvanova, it was a wan victory.

"It demonstrated the uselessness of the legislation and legal system in Russia, the management of ecological issues, that the whole thing was corrupt," she says. "It should have been based on assessments and expert opinions. Instead, the president took a crayon and drew a line on a map."

Her next battle was already on the horizon. In January 2006, Putin announced Russian plans to create an international uranium enrichment center, a factory that would provide enriched uranium to any country within international law. Putin described the center as a nondiscriminatory way to spread nuclear energy without divulging nuclear secrets.

Soon, state nuclear giant Rosatom had unveiled plans to open the center on the grounds of a former chemical plant in Angarsk, just a few hours from Lake Baikal. The project has steamed ahead, despite vehement protests from Rikhvanova and other local ecologists.

Rosatom spokesman Fyodor Dragunov insists that the plant management has dealt openly with the community, inviting women's groups and youth organizations to take guided tours of the plant; meeting with the public; and releasing safety information.

"Experts and specialists have concluded that the plant does not pose any danger," he says.

"You need to exclude these fanatics who are not satisfied with conclusions and results. It's practically useless to explain anything to them."

Rikhvanova and other environmentalists accuse Rosatom of hiding behind a screen of carefully packaged excursions and scientists who are paid to downplay the plant's risks.

"Rosatom kept deceiving everybody," Rikhvanova says.

2nd read
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Our Enemies in Blue: Police and Power in America - Google Books Result
by Kristian Williams - 2004 - Political Science - 385 pages
19 Donner, Protectors of Privilege, 20. 20 Alan Wolfe, The Seamy Side of ... 27 Donner, Protectors of Privilege, 30. 28 Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall, ...
books.google.com/books?isbn=1932360433...
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EBSCOhost Connection: Protectors of Privilege: Red Squads and ...
Journal of American History: Reviews the book 'Protectors of Privilege: Red Squads and Police Repression in Urban America,' by Frank Donner.
connection.ebscohost.com/content/article/1024899921.html;jsessionid=FA05247C2A993FCA72A9A176CF7AF2E2.ehctc1 - Similar pages
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joeb

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Black FBI  agent John Glover continued to work for the FBI  after the FBI assassinated Martin Luther King.

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Distinguished FBI and Pharmaceutical Security Expert to Lead in NanoGuardian Advisory Board
       
                                       

       

SKOKIE, Ill. – January 19, 2009 – NanoGuardian™, a division of NanoInk® that focuses on delivering brand protection solutions to fight illegal diversion and counterfeiting, is pleased to announce that John D. Glover, D.P.A., has been appointed to lead its Security Advisory Board.  With a distinguished career spanning more than 35 years with the FBI, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (NYSE:  BMY), the Pharmaceutical Security Institute and the U.S. State Department, Dr. Glover will advise NanoGuardian in its efforts to curb the spread of counterfeit and diverted pharmaceuticals in the supply chain.

       
                                                                                                               

In March 1989, Dr. Glover retired from a distinguished career with the FBI, where he investigated, supervised and managed numerous successful high-profile investigations.  During his tenure, he was designated executive assistant director for administration at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C., one of three direct reports to the director of the FBI. 

Later, Dr. Glover served as vice president, corporate security for Bristol-Myers Squibb Company.  Among his many accomplishments during this timeframe, Dr. Glover was instrumental in creating the Pharmaceutical Security Institute, an industry-wide, anti-counterfeiting body.  He also served as co-chairman of the U.S. State Department’s Overseas Security Advisory Council.

Today, Dr. Glover serves as president of John Glover Consulting, Inc., which provides consulting services to a very select number of prominent corporate and non-governmental entities. 

“After 35 years of working complex investigations, some of which included chasing counterfeiters and diverters with the FBI, NanoGuardian's on-dose NanoEncryption technology is a product that I can get excited about,” said Dr. Glover.  “NanoEncryption technology is the only on-dosage, multi-layered, brand protection solution that enables manufacturers to trace and authenticate every single dosage, from plant to patient.”

NanoGuardian’s NanoEncryption technology possesses intrinsic layered security features at the overt, covert, and forensic level and can be applied directly to tablets, capsules and vial caps.  These multi-layered security features enable NanoGuardian to provide a dual-protective benefit to pharmaceutical manufacturers with a single technology.  The overt and covert security features enable dose-level authentication at any point in the supply chain, while the forensic NanoCodes provide comprehensive tracing information on each and every tablet, capsule, or vial.   

“Dr. Glover’s experience as a security expert within the pharmaceutical industry and as the former executive assistant director for administration at the FBI makes him an invaluable resource for us as we work with the pharmaceutical industry, law enforcement, and government to stop counterfeiting and illegal diversion of pharmaceuticals,” said Dean Hart, executive vice president of NanoGuardian.

Dr. Glover holds a Bachelor of Arts in Education from Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Fla.  He also received a Master and Doctorate in Public Administration from the University of Southern California.

About NanoGuardian
NanoGuardian™, a division of NanoInk®, focuses exclusively on delivering brand protection solutions to fight illegal diversion and counterfeiting.  NanoGuardian’s cutting-edge NanoEncryption™ technology enables manufacturers to authenticate and trace the integrity of their products across the supply chain.  More information about NanoGuardian is available at http://www.nanoguardian.net.



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Your commissioner – john d. glover


 

CALEA Commissioner John D. Glover hails from Miami, Florida, where he attended local public schools, graduating in 1957, with honors, and as president of his senior class. He played football and basketball, achieving all-state honors in both sports.

 

He attended Florida A&M University on a football scholarship, graduating with honors in 1962 with a degree in Education. After graduation, John returned to Miami where he taught and coached football and basketball for four years.

 

He joined the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1966, starting in Kansas City, Missouri, where he investigated general crimes. Over the next ten years, John took on various assignments with the FBI in Washington, DC, the FBI Academy, and in their Newark, New Jersey office.

 

Commissioner Glover was then assigned to the Milwaukee, Wisconsin Division, where he was the Special Agent in Charge of all FBI operations in the state. During this time, he led an investigation that closed down an entire organized crime family. In 1980, he was transferred to Atlanta, Georgia, also as the Special Agent in Charge.  There he was in charge of the Atlanta Child Murders Investigation, one of the most notorious serial killing cases in U.S. history.

 

In 1983, Commissioner Glover was designated Assistant Director of the Planning and Inspection Division, and in 1986, was promoted to Executive Assistant Director – Administration, where he was responsible for the day-to-day administrative operations of the FBI. While serving as an Executive Assistant Director, he attained a Master of Public Administration degree, and subsequently, received a Doctorate in Public Administration.

 

He retired from the FBI in 1989 and joined the corporate sector as a Vice President, Corporate Security for Bristol-Myers Squibb Company. He coordinated numerous international anti-counterfeiting investigations, and founded the Pharmaceutical Security Institute, the pharmaceutical industry’s anti-crime organization.

 

Dr. Glover retired in 2002 and now lives in south Florida where he has a small security consulting business. He is also a trustee on the Former FBI Agents Foundation. He has served on the CALEA Commission since January 1, 2001.


4th read
Georgia Officials Fighting Effort to Release Klan File in Atlanta Child Mu
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http://ap.tbo.com/ap/breaking/MGBVE1BO1AE.html

Georgia Officials Fighting Effort to Release Klan File in Atlanta Child Murders Case

ATLANTA (AP) - The state attorney general's office is fighting a judge's order to turn over wiretaps of reputed Ku Klux Klan members collected during the investigation of the notorious Atlanta child murders of 1979-1981.


In a motion filed in federal court Tuesday, the attorney general's office also opposes the part of the May 31 judge's order that would give lawyers for convicted killer Wayne Williams access to juvenile records of a key witness.

Williams was convicted in 1982 of killing two young black men but was implicated in more than 20 other deaths in a killing spree that terrorized Atlanta's black community. He's serving a life sentence.

A local police chief last month reopened the investigation into five of the deaths, saying he doesn't believe Williams was involved. He was never charged in the slayings.



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joeb

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Corporations are the dominant force in modern life, surpassing even church and state. The largest are richer than entire nations, and courts have given these entities more rights than people. To many Americans, corporate power seems out of control. According to a Business Week/Harris poll released in September 2000, 82 percent of those surveyed agreed that “business has too much power over too many aspects of our lives.” And the recent revelations of corporate scandal and political influence have only added to such concerns.
       

Where did this powerful institution come from? How did it get so much power? In Gangs of America: The Rise of Corporate Power and the Disabling of Democracy, author Ted Nace probes the roots of corporate power, finding answers in surprising places.

A key revelation of the book is the wariness of the Founding Fathers toward corporations. That wariness was shaped by rampant abuses on the part of British corporations such as the Virginia Company, whose ill-treatment killed thousands of women and children on forced-labor tobacco plantations, and the East India Company, whose attempt to monopolize American commodities led to the merchant-led rebellion known as the Boston Tea Party.

Because of such attitudes, the word corporation does not appear once in the United States Constitution. At the Constitutional Convention, all proposals to include corporations in that document were voted down by delegates. Corporate attorneys persisted in seeking legal protections for their clients by means of sympathetic court rulings, but until the Civil War such attempts largely failed.

After the Civil War, the tide quickly turned, as lobbyists secured key changes in corporate law and as corporate attorneys won a series of decisions from an increasingly pro-corporate Supreme Court. Nace recounts the key figures who engineered the “corporate bill of rights,” in particular two brilliant strategists: railroad baron Tom Scott and Supreme Court Justice Stephen Field. The book explores in depth the bizarre intrigues that resulted in the infamous “corporations are persons” ruling of 1886, and how that ruling affected the subsequent development of Supreme Court doctrine.

Nace charts the growth of corporate power through the Gilded Age, including the bloody repression of organized labor and the rise of social Darwinist thinking among American elites. He recounts how that expansion came to a halt under the New Deal, as organized labor gained legal protections, social Darwinism fell into disrepute, and Franklin Roosevelt asserted a vision of American society that placed democratic limits on corporate power. To many observers, it seemed that the corporate Frankenstein had finally been tamed by “countervailing power.”

According to Nace, that optimistic view was dashed in the final decades of the twentieth century, as Big Business mounted a remarkable comeback. The corporate political resurgence began with a 1971 memorandum written by Lewis Powell, Jr., shortly before Powell was appointed to the Supreme Court by Richard Nixon. In the memorandum, Powell urged corporate America to apply its full organizational and strategic resources to politics, a course of action that proved highly successful.

Gangs of America describes the expansion of corporate legal empowerment onto the global stage through international agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, which boosted the legal powers of corporations to the level of sovereign nations. The book pays special attention to recent events, including campaign finance reform, the financial scandals of 2002, and the growing movement to redefine the corporation and limit corporate power.

Ted Nace worked as a researcher on electric utility policy for the Environmental Defense Fund and as staff director of the Dakota Resource Council, a grassroots group seeking to protect farms and ranches from strip mines and other energy projects. In 1985, he founded Peachpit Press, the world’s leading publisher of books on computer graphics and desktop publishing. After selling Peachpit Press to British publishing conglomerate Pearson, Nace felt driven to understand the historical roots of corporate political power. Gangs of America, the result of that quest, features Nace’s engaging, personal, and complex voicethat of a writer, a businessman, and an activist.
       
       
                       
       


       

What They’re Saying About the Book

“A beautifully documented and readable history.”

—Ben H. Bagdikian, author, The Media Monopoly

“A brilliant page-turner revealing how powerful, greedy corporations wage institutional terrorism. Reading it is the first step to saving our communities, our democracy and our planet’s environment.”

—John Stauber, author, Toxic Sludge Is Good for You

“A valuable resource for understanding the origins of corporate power in this country. It offers an acute analysis of how the legal system became more and more a protector of corporate interests over human rights.”

—Howard Zinn, author of A People’s History of the United States

“The essential guide to the history of the American corporation—it explodes the myth of inevitability surrounding the corporate takeover of our lives.”

—Maria Elena Martinez, executive director, CorpWatch

“Nace documents the evolution of the corporate beast, step by step.”

—Jim Hightower, author of If the Gods Had Meant Us to Vote, They’d Have Given Us Candidates
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February 1, 2009 at 19:13:40


FBI used United Airlines in planned COINTELPRO action against Black Panthers in 'Omaha Two' case

by Michael Richardson 




 

In the late 1960's and early 1970's there was a fierce, illegal, and clandestine war being raged by the Federal Bureau of Investigation against the Black Panther Party.  FBI director J. Edgar Hoover had ordered agents to "expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit or otherwise neutralize" the Black Panthers.

The full scope of misdeeds under Operation COINTELPRO will never be known although some of the dirty tricks and actions have emerged piecemeal through Freedom of Information requests.  Political Research Associates maintains one of the largest collections of COINTELPRO documents and its copies of heavily redacted FBI memos tell part of the story.

To keep the momentum of the secret operation going Hoover ordered field offices to make written reports to him every two weeks.  The Omaha, Nebraska FBI office had drawn criticism in late 1969 from Hoover for inaction against the leaders of Omaha's Panther chapter, Edward Poindexter and Mondo we Langa (formerly David Rice).

On December 10, 1969, Hoover ordered the Omaha field office to "give consideration to counterintelligence measures directed against these leaders to weaken or destroy their positions."  Hoover told Omaha agents to make up a plan, "Evaluate your approach to this program and insure that it is given the imaginative attention necessary to produce effective results."

The Omaha Special-Agent-in-Charge responded to Hoover on December 29th with an update on the Panther group.  "United Front Against Fascism (UFAF) has been limited in activity to the sale of "The Black Panther", the official Black Panther Party (BPP) newspaper, the publication of a UFAF newsletter and making plans for starting a liberation school at its Omaha Headquarters in the near future."

"Consideration is still being given by Omaha to some type of counterintelligence activity directed against leaders of this organization or aimed at the disruption of the UFAF newsletter or the planned liberation school."

"Close attention will be afforded this matter in order to produce effective results and proposals for counterintelligence activity will be supplied to the Bureau by separate communications in the very near future."

Two weeks later on January 12, 1970, the Omaha FBI office informed Hoover they were still working on his request.  "Several counterintelligence measures aimed at this organization are presently under consideration and proposals for counterintelligence activities aimed at disruption of this organization or directed against its leaders will be submitted to the Bureau by separate communication in the very near future."

The next two-week letter to Hoover from Omaha had a COINTELPRO plan which was signed off on by the Racial Intelligence Section.  The COINTELPRO actions were conducted by field agents under the direction William Cornelius Sullivan, head of Domestic Intelligence.  The proposals had to also secure the approval of George Moore of Racial Intelligence and were reviewed by Mark Felt, an inspector better known as 'Deep Throat' of Watergate infamy.  Hoover, however, had the final word and closely monitored COINTELPRO proposals each day.

The Omaha Special-Agent-in Charge advised Hoover of the progress being made on his December order to be "imaginative" in crafting a COINTELPRO action.  On January 26, 1970, the Omaha office wrote to Hoover.

"The United Front Against Fascism (UFAF) is the only BPP affiliated organization presently active within the Omaha Division.  At present the only known source of income of the UFAF is money derived through the sale of the Black Panther newspaper which arrives in Omaha weekly via United Airlines."

"Contact is presently being maintained with United Airlines to ascertain if a regular pattern exists for the pickup of this newspaper by [REDACTED] a known UFAF member to whom these papers are consigned.  As soon as this pattern is established, Omaha contemplates initiating counterintelligence measures aimed at disruption of the distribution of this newspaper."

The operational details were worked out for the "disruption" of the newspaper distribution in a memo dated February 9, 1970, which is missing from the PRA archive.  However, the next regular report provided an update of the secret plan to interfere with the group's lawful activities.

"As pointed out in re communication and prior letters in captioned matter the only known source of income of the United Front Against Fascism (UFAF) at the present time is money derived through the sale of the Black Panther Newspaper, which prior to the last week of January 1970, arrived on a weekly basis in Omaha via United Airlines Air Freight."

"Since BPP Headquarters has changed its policy concerning the publishing of this newspaper to demanding that payment for these newspapers be received at BPP Headquarters prior to the time the newspaper goes to the printer, no papers have been received in Omaha from the San Francisco area.  In recent communications from San Francisco, it appears that arrangements are being made to have further shipments of the BPP Newspaper sent to Omaha and contact is being maintained with United Airlines Air Freight so that the Omaha office will be apprised when regular shipments of the newspaper to Omaha are resumed."
"Once these shipments are resumed, United Airlines Air Freight will be contacted on a continuing basis in order to determine if a regular pattern is established for the pickup of these newspapers by UFAF members.  Once a pattern is established for the pickup of these newspapers, counter intelligence measures will be aimed at disruption of the distribution of these newspapers."

FBI efforts against the Panthers escalated through the summer of 1970 culminating in the arrest of Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa for the August 17th murder of Omaha police officer Larry Minard.  Minard had had been lured to his death by an anonymous caller on the newly installed 911 emergency call system.  A recording of the killer's voice was captured on tape and presented a problem to the COINTELPRO plotters.

Omaha police sent the tape recording to the FBI Crime Laboratory for analysis with the stipulation that no formal laboratory report be issued.  Ivan Willard Conrad, lab director, checked with Hoover about withholding a lab report and noted on a COINTELPRO memorandum that on August 19th Hoover said it was "OK to do".  Conrad followed orders and issued no report on the killer's voice.  

The jury that convicted the two Panther leaders in April 1971 had no idea of the FBI intrigue or of Hoover's direct order to withhold evidence about Minard's killer.  Poindexter and Langa were sentenced to life imprisonment and remain confined at the maximum-security Nebraska State Penitentiary where they continue to proclaim their innocence.

Poindexter has a new trial request pending before the Nebraska Supreme Court over the withheld evidence and conflicting police testimony.  Oral argument in the case was in October 2008, no date for a decision has been announced.
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joeb

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It really hasn't registered with you.
We are past the point of no return with Global Warming.
Next time you and your children get hungry because you have no food
due to crop failures connected to Global Warming call a FBI  agent for chinese take-out.
FBI  agents created the voter fraud necessary to keep George Bush in office for 2 terms during which time nothing was done about Global Warming.
Who do you think funded the President Kennedy assassination?
Who do you think funded 911 which led to the invasion of Iraq for oil?
You got it right if you said the oil companies executives.



Energy secretary warns of global warming toll on California agriculture
3:43 PM, February 7, 2009
This week, Energy Secretary Steven Chu caused a stir in the Golden State -- and many circles across the country -- with his warnings that global warming could destroy California agriculture by century's end.

Chu isn't a climate scientist -- he's a Nobel-winning physicist -- but he's served on several climate-change commissions, and in his position, will be one of President Obama's point men on the climate issue. His comments came in a 40-minute interview, his first since being confirmed as secretary.

"This is a real economic disaster in the making for our children, for your children," he said, near the end of an extended riff on the topic.

Here, for the first time, is that riff, only slightly edited for length. For all sides of the climate debate, it makes for fascinating reading.

CHU: Carbon dioxide "is a global problem. The cost of the carbon emissions are things that, No. 1,  won't show up immediately in one year, or even in 10 years. They have begun to appear. The real costs are hard to estimate because we don't know to what extent, how bad it's going to get, in all honesty. There are projections.... You can make a best guess on what might happen. I prefer -- there are people who say, since we're not sure, we really shouldn't do anything about it -- I think, in my opinion, a more measured way of dealing with this is, it's all about the risk, the potential risk, the downside risk of not doing something, or maybe doing it in a very moderate way.

The analogy I like to use is, suppose you buy a house, and then in the inspection, the structural engineer says, well, this house is a fine house, but understand, you have to rewire the house, because it's an old wiring and there's a chance of an electrical fire. It's going to cost a lot of money, but you should rewire.... So you get an estimate of whether you really need to rewire the house, or whether you can go another, safely for another 20 years or 10 years. Suppose, just pretend, that the next person comes and says, essentially, I think the wiring is shot. I can't guarantee if it's going to be this year or five years from now, but you run the risk of an electrical fire. So now you have many options. You can continue to shop for the answer you want: Your house is safe. Or you can say, I know the solution.... Let's pretend it's $20,000, a lot of money, that's going to come out of your budget, and you can't -- you're going to have to forgo a lot of other things. You could say, well, I could just get better fire insurance. You're probably not going to do that. Because there's a chance the house could burn down when you're asleep and your kids are asleep in the house. So eventually, you might be led to say, if there's a 50% chance my house might burn down in five years, I better do the rewiring. Then you have to bite the bullet. No one is telling you there's a 100% chance this is going to happen.

So ... we certainly are seeing some of the consequences of a changing climate. More and more, it's coming down very hard on the fact that, it's caused by humans. And will there be a cost in trying to control carbon emissions? Well yes, like there's a cost in trying to clean up our sewage. But overall, the benefit to the world will be better. You know, if there's only five people on the earth, you don't have to worry about this. But the fact, with the population we have today, the fact is we don't want to go backward in terms of the prosperity of developed countries, and we see developing countries wanting to do [the same]. We've got to figure out a way to use the energy we have more efficiently, and then get newer, cleaner sources. And to get better technical solutions, better technical options....

Hopefully the American public will wake up and support their policymakers who see this is an essential issue. I don't think the American public has grasped in its gut what could happen. So let me give you one example. It's local to California.

California's major part of its water storage system is in the Sierra Mountains. It snows there, and then we have dams, but it's the snow and the slow melting of the snow and the forests in the watershed area that helps store the water in California. And much of the Central Valley is desert. Los Angeles, San Diego -- it's all desert. Without water -- right now, California spends about 20% of its electricity moving water. What is being predicted in climate change, there are two bracketed scenarios. The more optimistic one -- that we will really control carbon emissions, that we will get a handle on this, and we're talking the end of this century -- even by midcentury, in the optimistic scenario, we will have decreased our snow pack by 20% on an average basis. And our forests are going to begin to die, because of parasites and such. At the end of this century, optimistic scenario, you will have decreased [snow pack] by 47%. In the pessimistic scenario, the snow pack will decrease by 70% to 90%. Well, let me tell you what California does when there's a two-year in a row 20% decrease in snow pack: They water-ration.

Q: So you're looking at a scenario of permanent water rationing?

CHU: No, you're looking at a scenario where there's no more agriculture in California. When you lose 70% of your water in the mountains, I don't see how agriculture can continue. California produces 20% of the agriculture in the United States. I don't actually see how they can keep their cities going.

This is not only true of California, this is true for all the Western states. Forests are dying because of parasites. The pine bark beetle is killing pine. British Columbia has already lost 40% of its pine ... so, when there are no trees, when it rains, the soil doesn't hold the water.... The American public needs to be made aware that this is happening. This is a real economic disaster in the making for our children, for your children. If you live in California, any of the Western states, this is going to be very serious. In the Upper Midwest, water shortages, huge water shortages are being predicted.... It goes back to this fire insurance. How do we find the political will? It hopefully has to come from the people of America.

-- Jim Tankersley
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joeb

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Reply with quote  #89 
US Senators Schumer(Waco Coverup) and Sen. Shelby want to give $10,000,0000. dollars to the FBI, the organization that assassinated President Kennedy and Martin Luther King; created 1st World Trade Center bombing, Oklahoma City bombing and 911.

Recession Bolstering Demand for Forensic Accounting Services

Forensic accounting is one of the fastest-growing practice niches among CPA firms. The trend, which began several years ago, has evolved into an era in which CPAs are in constant demand as expert witnesses and litigation specialists. Today, amid the recession, forensic accounting has also become an integral part of “recovery teams” organized by CPA firms in an effort to help financially troubled clients navigate through these uncertain times.

Exacerbated by the credit crisis and economic slowdown, accounting jobs in the fields of fraud and litigation as well as forensic accounting are opening up. In fact, AICPA research shows that CPAs represent 94% of forensic experts hired over the past two years. Executive search firm, A.E. Feldman, says that CPAs with expertise in forensic services are in a prime position to capitalize on the surge in demand.

Forensic Accounting Exploding

This year, demand for CPAs with expertise in forensic accounting services has accelerated, according to a survey conducted by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Two out of three CPAs polled, or 68%, say their forensic practices are growing. “The survey findings tell us that not only are forensic accounting services in demand, but specifically that CPAs with this expertise are in high demand,” said Stephen Winters, AICPA Director - Firm Practice Management and Specialized Communities.

In response to the rising demand for forensic accounting services, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) Governing Council last year approved a new credential: Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF). According to the AICPA, “The Certified in Financial Forensics credential combines specialized forensic accounting knowledge and expertise with everything that makes CPAs among the most trusted business advisers.”

A Forensic Certified Public Accountant carries expertise as a CPA and a forensic accountant. Forensic CPAs utilize accounting and auditing skills, while also applying investigative skills to uncover what actually took place in a particular financial setting or transaction. Forensic accountants conduct investigatory accounting work in preparation for prosecution and litigation. They identify evidence of irregularities in financial statements and non-financial records and build compelling cases for what that evidence shows. Forensic accounting requires familiarity with both criminal and civil law. They must use hundreds of techniques from statistics to psychological profiles.

Sophisticated accounting techniques are necessary to detect, trace and resolve frauds - especially when the results may impact financial statements, according to Risk Consulting Firm, Kroll Worldwide. “The skills of forensic accountants are essential both to uncovering the extent of certain frauds and to negotiating the regulatory challenges which they entail,” said David Hess, Managing Director in Kroll’s Forensic Accounting and Litigation Consulting practice.

Allan Koltin, Chief Executive of PDI Global, told Financial Week that forensic accounting is one of the hottest areas in the profession. “I think the industry has probably quadrupled in the last seven years, and over the next decade, anything forensic or investigative will remain hot,” he says.

Recession Boosting Demand for Forensic Services

Right now there is heightened risk that reports of serious misconduct may not reach boards and senior management. That’s according to KPMG Forensic SM’s Integrity Survey 2008-2009, which examines corporate fraud and misconduct based on the experiences and views of more than 5,000 employees nationally across 13 different industries.

The survey found that three out of four employees in all industries reported having observed or having firsthand knowledge of wrongdoing. And although employees in highly regulated industries like insurance and banking reported the lowest rates overall, the prevalence of reports of serious misconduct that could cause a “Significant Loss of Public Trust” was highest in the banking industry.

In our current economic environment, “The need for effective fraud risk management efforts could not be greater, especially as we move through a volatile market in which management’s risks and opportunities may be amplified,” said Richard Girgenti, National Practice Leader, KPMG Forensic. Girgenti adds that, “While pressures may exist to meet revenue targets, managers may be able to leverage their anti-fraud efforts to control costs and reduce losses associated with fraud, waste, and abuse - particularly in circumstances involving significant government funding in private enterprise.”

In this climate, forensic accountants believe their skills will be even more valuable, as jilted investors and taxpayers are asking tough questions about where their money is going, according to AccountingWeb. The report states that Investigators report the number of people trying to pull off low-level Ponzi schemes is increasing so quickly that they are now calling them “mini-Madoffs.” As a result, companies and governments being more cautious and watching their funds with more scrutiny than ever before.

Accounting Firms Anticipate Increase in Fraud

Awareness of Ponzi schemes has grown exponentially since Madoff’s alleged $50 billion scheme was uncovered. The New York Times reports that the Commodity Futures Trading Commission has seen a doubling of complaints leading to possible Ponzi schemes in the last year, according to AccountingWeb. The report states that last year the agency prosecuted 15 Ponzi schemes and expects that number to increase in 2009.

U.S. Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Richard Shelby (R-AL) have introduced legislation to provide $110 million to hire 500 new FBI agents, 50 new assistant U.S. attorneys, and 100 new SEC enforcement officials to crack down on financial scams, according to AccountingWeb. In addition, the FBI and CIA are seeking accountants to track down where criminals got their money and where it went

Certified fraud examiner firm, Walter C. King Associates, says it is offering tax recovery and forensic accounting services to investors who fell victim to Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. AccountingWeb also quotes Joseph Centofanti, the Training Director of the Connecticut Certified Fraud Examiners Association, as saying that he’s got plenty of business, and plenty of work to delegate to interns. “We just started 11 accounting interns and every single one wants to work on fraud stuff,” said Centofanti.

Meanwhile, a forensic accounting firm has opened a new office in Los Angeles and added one of the nation’s leading forensic investigators to its team of experts in anticipation of an expected increase in fraud, waste and abuse as billions in Federal bailout money is about to be injected into the economy. Forensic/Strategic Solutions, PC announced that Don Mullinax, a 29-year veteran of conducting complex forensic investigations involving allegations of fraud, waste and abuse and providing anti-fraud consulting services in the public and private sectors, will lead its expanded government practice team from the firm’s new Los Angeles office. “Our current economic crisis unfortunately creates an environment that fuels bad decisions in both the public and private sectors,” says Mullinax.

“As the perception and likelihood of fraud continues to grow in the public and private sectors we want to remain at the forefront of the country’s most prominent forensic accounting firms,” said Ralph Q. Summerford, President of Forensic/Strategic Solutions. Summerford adds that, “Our team will also consult with organizations to analyze their systems to reduce the opportunities for fraud to occur and to put safeguards in place to prevent fraud before it happens.”

Mullinax also sees the growing government “economic stimulus” and “bailout” programs as a breeding ground for fraud, waste and abuse. He says forensic accountants are in a “unique position to help government organizations, non-profits, businesses, and associations create safeguards to prevent potential fraud before it occurs and to find and stop fraud, waste and abuse when it does occur.”
 
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Reform Institute Expands Advisory Committee to Help Guide Bold Agenda


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2009-02-09 18:06:44 - Non-Partisan Think Tank Will Tackle Critical National Issues in 2009 with the Help of Lance Bultena, Partner Hogan & Hartson, LLP; Bob Martin, Partner (Retired), Accenture, LLP; and Scott Greiper, President, Secure Strategy Group

WASHINGTON, DC - As it launches an ambitious policy program for 2009 the non-partisan Reform Institute today announced the additions of several policy experts to its Advisory Committee that will help guide its reform agenda. The Institute will address critical issues such as energy and environmental sustainability, the economy, immigration reform, homeland security and national resilience, and governance and election

               
reform.

Energy and economic reform will be major areas of focus for the Reform Institute in 2009. Lance Bultena, a partner with Hogan & Hartson, LLP and former counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation
, will provide insight to the Institute's energy and economic policy programs as a new member of the Advisory Committee. As the United States seeks to recover from a recession, the Institute will advance reforms that produce a truly resilient economy and enhance opportunity and competitiveness in advance of the challenges ahead posed by rising national debt and an aging population. 'I am excited to work with the Reform Institute as it addresses key energy and economic challenges that will affect long-term economic growth in the U.S. and our global leadership standing,' said Mr. Bultena.

Adding further expertise to its energy program the Institute is proud to announce that Bob Martin from Princeton, New Jersey has joined its Advisory Committee. Mr. Martin brings over 25 years of business consulting experience, primarily advising the utility and energy industry, to the Advisory Committee. He retired last year as a partner with Accenture, LLP. For the last several years he has also counseled numerous candidates at both the Federal and state level on energy policy. 'I look forward to working with the Reform Institute as it seeks solutions-based reforms that reduce our reliance on foreign oil, preserve the environment, and rebuild America's energy infrastructure,' according to Mr. Martin.

The Reform Institute will convene a national energy symposium in Washington, DC on April 21 to bring together a diverse array of stakeholders to discuss in a constructive manner the energy challenges facing the nation and how to confront them. In advance of the conference, the Institute will soon release a report that lays out the energy situation and offers ideas towards developing a comprehensive energy strategy that moves America forward. Modernizing the nation's electrical power grid towards a high-tech 'smart grid' that will promote conservation, efficiency, renewable energy and resilience is a key component of the Institute's energy agenda that is currently gaining considerable traction in Washington.

Building on a successful 2008 the Institute will also continue to be a leader in national resilience and security policy. The Institute's well-received March 2008 national symposium 'Building a Resilient Nation: Enhancing Security, Ensuring a Strong Economy' and subsequent report of the same name helped to elevate the concept of resilience as a key component of America's homeland and national security policy with the new Congress and Administration as well as in the private sector. In 2009 the Reform Institute will remain active in promoting resilience in critical infrastructure and the global supply chain, public-private partnerships, continuity of business operations, and preparedness on the part of individuals and communities.

The addition of Scott Greiper, President of the Secure Strategy Group, an advisory firm to the security and defense technology markets, to the Institute's Advisory Committee will bolster the Institute's efforts in homeland security and national resilience. In addition to being a frequent speaker on security and defense issues Mr. Greiper is a member of several professional groups, such as the InfraGard New York Alliance, which is sponsored by the FBI and brings together vetted practitioners and industry experts from business, academia and government with a common goal to enhance the security of the nation's critical infrastructure. 'I am pleased to join with the Reform Institute to promote innovation, collaboration and leadership in strengthening national security and resilience,' stated Mr. Greiper.

The Advisory Committee is a bipartisan group of notable academics, experts, business leaders and public officials that helps guide the Reform Institute's research and development of policy solutions. The committee does not have a governing role with the organization. 'The Reform Institute is honored to have these new additions to our distinguished Advisory Committee,' stated Reform Institute Executive Director Cecilia Martinez. 'They will play a valuable role in shaping and implementing our important policy agenda.'

The Reform Institute is a non-partisan, not-for-profit educational organization working to strengthen the foundations of our democracy and build a resilient society. The Institute formulates and advocates valuable, solutions-based reform in vital areas of public policy, including homeland and national security, energy and environmental progress, economic opportunity and competitiveness, immigration policy, and governance and election reform. Visit our website at http://www.reforminstitute.org.
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Genetically Modfied Seeds: Monsanto is Putting Normal Seeds Out of Reach

by Linn Cohen-Cole

Global Research, February 14, 2009




People say if farmers don’t want problems from Monsanto, just don’t buy their GMO seeds.

Not so simple. Where are farmers supposed to get normal seed these days? How are they supposed to avoid contamination of their fields from GM-crops? How are they supposed to stop Monsanto detectives from trespassing or Monsanto from using helicopters to fly over spying on them?

Monsanto contaminates the fields, trespasses onto the land taking samples and if they find any GMO plants growing there (or say they have), they then sue, saying they own the crop. It’s a way to make money since farmers can’t fight back and court and they settle because they have no choice.

And they have done and are doing a bucket load of things to keep farmers and everyone else from having any access at all to buying, collecting, and saving of NORMAL seeds.

1. They’ve bought up the seed companies across the Midwest.

2. They’ve written Monsanto seed laws and gotten legislators to put them through, that make cleaning, collecting and storing of seeds so onerous in terms of fees and paperwork and testing and tracking every variety and being subject to fines, that having normal seed becomes almost impossible (an NAIS approach to wiping out normal seeds). Does your state have such a seed law? Before they existed, farmers just collected the seeds and put them in sacks in the shed and used them the next year, sharing whatever they wished with friends and neighbors, selling some if they wanted. That’s been killed.

In Illinois, which has such a seed law, Madigan, the Speaker of the House, his staff is Monsanto lobbyists.

3. Monsanto is pushing anti-democracy laws (Vilsack’s brainchild, actually) that remove community’ control over their own counties so farmers and citizens can’t block the planting of GMO crops even if they can contaminate other crops. So if you don’t want a GM-crop that grows industrial chemicals or drugs or a rice growing with human DNA in it, in your area and mixing with your crops, tough luck.

Check the map of just where the Monsanto/Vilsack laws are and see if your state is still a democracy or is Monsanto’s. A farmer in Illinois told me he heard that Bush had pushed through some regulation that made this true in every state. People need to check on that.

4.. For sure there are Monsanto regulations buried in the FDA right now that make a farmer’s seed cleaning equipment illegal (another way to leave nothing but GM-seeds) because it’s now considered a “source of seed contamination.” Farmer can still seed clean but the equipment now has to be certified and a farmer said it would require a million to a million and half dollar building and equipment … for EACH line of seed. Seed storage facilities are also listed (another million?) and harvesting and transport equipment. And manure. Something that can contaminate seed. Notice that chemical fertilizers and pesticides are not mentioned.

You could eat manure and be okay (a little grossed out but okay). Try that with pesticides and fertilizers. Indian farmers have. Their top choice for how to commit suicide to escape the debt they have been left in is to drink Monsanto pesticides.

5. Monsanto is picking off seed cleaners across the Midwest. In Pilot Grove, Missouri, in Indiana (Maurice Parr), and now in southern Illinois (Steve Hixon). And they are using US marshals and state troopers and county police to show up in three cars to serve the poor farmers who had used Hixon as their seed cleaner, telling them that he or their neighbors turned them in, so across that 6 county areas, no one talking to neighbors and people are living in fear and those farming communities are falling apart from the suspicion Monsanto sowed. Hixon’s office got broken into and he thinks someone put a GPS tracking device on his equipment and that’s how Monsanto found between 200-400 customers in very scattered and remote areas, and threatened them all and destroyed his business within 2 days.

So, after demanding that seed cleaners somehow be able to tell one seed from another (or be sued to kingdom come) or corrupting legislatures to put in laws about labeling of seeds that are so onerous no one can cope with them, what is Monsanto’s attitude about labeling their own stuff? You guessed it - they’re out there pushing laws against ANY labeling of their own GM-food and animals and of any exports to other countries. Why?

We know and they know why.

As Norman Braksick, the president of Asgrow Seed Co. (now owned by Monsanto) predicted in the Kansas City Star (3/7/94) seven years ago, “If you put a label on a genetically engineered food, you might as well put a skull and crossbones on it.”

And they’ve sued dairy farmers for telling the truth about their milk being rBGH-free, though rBGH is associated with an increased risk of breast, colon and prostate cancers.

I just heard that some seed dealers urge farmers to buy the seed under the seed dealer’s name, telling the farmers it helps the dealer get a discount on seed to buy a lot under their own name. Then Monsanto sues the poor farmer for buying their seed without a contract and extorts huge sums from them.

Here’s a youtube video that is worth your time. Vandana Shiva is one of the leading anti-Monsanto people in the world. In this video, she says (and this video is old), Monsanto had sued 1500 farmers whose fields had simply been contaminated by GM-crops. Listen to all the ways Monsanto goes after farmers.

Do you know the story of Gandhi in India and how the British had salt laws that taxed salt? The British claimed it as theirs. Gandhi had what was called a Salt Satyagraha, in which people were asked to break the laws and march to the sea and collect the salt without paying the British. A kind of Boston tea party, I guess.

Thousands of people marched 240 miles to the ocean where the British were waiting. As people moved forward to collect the salt, the British soldiers clubbed them but the people kept coming. The non-violent protest exposed the British behavior, which was so revolting to the world that it helped end British control in India.

Vandana Shiva has started a Seed Satyagraha - nonviolent non-cooperation around seed laws - has gotten millions of farmers to sign a pledge to break those laws.

American farmers and cattlemen might appreciate what Gandhi fought for and what Shiva is bringing back and how much it is about what we are all so angry about - loss of basic freedoms. [The highlighting is mine.]



The Seed Satyagraha is the name for the nonviolent, noncooperative movement that Dr. Shiva has organized to stand against seed monopolies. According to Dr. Shiva, the name was inspired by Gandhi’s famous walk to the Dandi Beach, where he picked up salt and said, “You can’t monopolize this which we need for life.” But it’s not just the noncooperation aspect of the movement that is influenced by Gandhi. The creative side saving seeds, trading seeds, farming without corporate dependence–without their chemicals, without their seed.

” All this is talked about in the language that Gandhi left us as a legacy. We work with three key concepts.”

” (One) Swadeshi…which means the capacity to do your own thing–produce your own food, produce your own goods….”

“(Two) Swaraj–to govern yourself. And we fight on three fronts–water, food, and seed. JalSwaraj is water independence–water freedom and water sovereignty. Anna Swaraj is food freedom, food sovereignty. And Bija Swaraj is seed freedom and seed sovereignty. Swa means self–that which rises from the self and is very, very much a deep notion of freedom..

“I believe that these concepts, which are deep, deep, deep in Indian civilization, Gandhi resurrected them to fight for freedom. They are very important for today’s world because so far what we’ve had is centralized state rule, giving way now to centralized corporate control, and we need a third alternate. That third alternate is, in part, citizens being able to tell their state, ‘This is what your function is. This is what your obligations are,’ and being able to have their states act on corporations to say, ‘This is something you cannot do.’”

” (Three) Satyagraha, non-cooperation, basically saying, ‘We will do our thing and any law that tries to say that (our freedom) is illegal… we will have to not cooperate with it. We will defend our freedoms to have access to water, access to seed, access to food, access to medicine.’
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http://www.mikeruppert.blogspot.com/



Boston tycoon 'BP' paid prostitute $280,000 hush money while FBI protects his identity in sex bust

February 17, 2009
by Michael Richardson, Boston Progressive Examiner

The double-standard is alive and well in Boston. One of the city's elite, a wealthy businessman, decided to sow some wild oats outside the marital bedroom. The tycoon hired a prostitute from an escort service and enjoyed her charms for 18 months before she figured out he could afford a lot more than he was paying her.

Known in court documents by the code-name 'BP' to avoid publicity, the unfaithful tycoon paid two payments of hush money totaling $280,000 to Michelle Robinson to keep her quiet after she learned his identity according to court records. The U.S. Attorney tells the story in the criminal complaint that has kept Robinson behind bars the past half-year awaiting trial.

"Robinson was affiliated with a call girl/escort service operating in and around the Boston, Massachusetts area. At times material to this Information, an individual known to the United States Attorney as 'BP' was a business person who resided in the Boston, Massachusetts area. BP was married and was active in the business and philanthropic communities."

"Robinson engaged in a sex-for-fee relationship with BP."

"At some point during her relationship with BP, Robinson recognized that BP was a successful business person who has substantial monetary assets. Robinson further recognized that public exposure of her relationship with BP would subject him to significant reputational harm."

The first hush payment was $80,000, made in July 2008. A day later, the enterprising escort demanded more money and got $200,000 from the desperate pillar of the community. A week or so later she was back for more cash.

BP, apparently tiring of the extortion, went to a high-priced lawyer and ended up turning informer against his former companion. Her next demand for $300,000 more was overheard by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation on a monitored cell phone call. Robinson was quickly busted and has been in jail ever since. She is now scheduled to plead guilty to a special deal that will get her out of jail with time served in exchange for her continued silence about BP's identity.

The Boston Globe has led a vigorous, but unsuccessful, court battle to learn the identity of the mysterious community leader. Attorneys familiar with federal criminal cases say the treatment BP has gotten is not the same an ordinary citizen should expect.

The federal court pleadings do not disclose exactly how much Robinson charged BP for her sexual services in the first place. BP faces no charges for purchasing favors from a prostitute and is seeking restitution of his hush money.


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FBI agents have long worked on behalf of the oil companies. FBI agents helped assassinate President Kennedy because he was going to get rid of the oil depletion allowance. FBI agents created the first World Trade Center bombing, the Oklahoma City bombing, and 9/11 to insure the creation and passage of the Patriot Act, and to help us invade Iraq and Afghanistan for their large oil reserves. The article below invites scrutiny because the companies involved are working to create alternative energy supplies.


House approves earmarks tied to FBI raids

By PETE YOST – 19 hours ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House decided Wednesday to spend $8.8 million on projects sought by 11 businesses and educational institutions represented by a lobbying firm the FBI raided three months ago.

The money was in a $410 billion spending bill that covers a dozen Cabinet departments.

House members use such projects, or earmarks, to direct money to a particular government contractor or business in their district.

In November, FBI searched the lobbying firm PMA Group and the residence of its founder, Paul Magliocchetti, who once worked for the House Appropriations' defense subcommittee. PMA is closing down, and plans to go out of business by the end of March.

Two people, including a lawyer familiar with the raids, said the Justice Department's fraud section is overseeing an investigation into whether PMA reimbursed some employees for campaign contributions to members of Congress who requested the projects. Both people spoke on condition of anonymity because the Justice Department probe is ongoing.

Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., an opponent of earmarks, requested a House ethics probe of the matter Wednesday. House Democrats turned it down on a mostly party-line vote.

One lawmaker who sought a project for one of the 11 PMA clients was Democratic Rep. Pete Visclosky of Indiana, chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on energy and water.

Visclosky received $23,000 in campaign donations from PMA employees around the time he wrote a letter last March seeking money for NuVant Systems Inc. of Crown Point, Ind.., which develops and licenses advanced fuel cell components. It was awarded $951,500 in the bill that passed Wednesday.

Visclosky has said he will turn over to the Treasury at least $18,000 in contributions from donors tied to PMA.

Others who requested money for projects on behalf of companies represented by PMA were Democratic Reps. Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania and Tim Ryan of Ohio.

Doyle helped obtain a $1.2 million earmark for PPG Inc. of Pittsburgh to explore solar cell technology. Ryan requested help for AlphaMicron Inc. of Kent, Ohio, for development of liquid crystal technology to reduce energy and utility consumption. The House bill contained $951,500 for Alpha Micron.

Around the time they requested the earmarks, Doyle and Ryan received $8,000 and $4,000 respectively in campaign contributions from PMA employees.
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FBI Gives Award To Local Man

Last Update: 4:46 pm
In a ceremony at FBI Headquarters, Director Robert S. Mueller, III recognized the recipients of the 2008 Director’s Community Leadership Award. Local man John R. McConnaughey was one of the recipients.

A 2006 graduate of the Cincinnati Division’s Citizens’ Academy, Mr. McConnaughey now serves on the Board of Directors for the FBI Citizens’ Academy Alumni Association. He serves as an Associate Member of the Hamilton County Police Association and the President of the Cincinnati Citizens’ Police Association (CCPA), which provides support to the Cincinnati law enforcement community.

Mr. McConnaughey is now the owner and president of JRM & Associates Life Insurance Company.

These leaders, selected by their area FBI field office, have demonstrated outstanding contributions to their local communities through service.
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Ali Pabrai to speak at Healthcare Expansion Congress Middle East in Abu Dhabi
Tuesday, March 24, 2009     Avg. Reading Time: 2 Min, 30 Seconds
The rapid increase in electronic medical records, the rise in medical identity theft and the lack of appropriate security controls to restrict access to authorized individuals, may result in a serious risk to patient information that organizations are required to secure. Cyber security and compliance expert, Ali Pabrai, CISSP (ISSAP, ISSMP), CSCS, CEO of ecfirst, and member of the USA FBI InfraGard, says:

'The risk to medical records is rising and the consequences of not taking reasonable and appropriate steps to protect this information are not insignificant, especially with current enforcement actions and associated penalties. Further, today's infrastructure is just too vulnerable and introduces a serious risk to the health care organization.' This risk to medical records is emerging in Middle Eastern countries such as the UAE, which recently launched its new health information system, Wareed.

Wareed will automate all healthcare processes and link all UAE 14 public hospitals and 68 affiliated clinics via an online network by 2011. Doctors and nurses will have access to each patient's record, while patients will be able to view their own records online. Even as Wareed contributes to improving medical care and ensuring patient safety, such systems can potentially put patients' confidentiality at risk. Careful monitoring and safeguards such as correct staff training are essential to prevent possible fraud and abuse.


'Medical privacy is a critical component of quality medical care. Patients seeking care at a hospital or a health system today are concerned that their private medical information may be accessed inappropriately. It is for this reason that States such as California in America have introduced further legislation to assess and enforce fines against health facilities and individuals who inappropriately obtain, use or disclose medical information,' explains Pabrai.

The UAE authorities will surely look to the U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which proves to be an efficient regulation to avoid any misuse of medical records, as a model for the region. The government of the UAE has been a leader in adopting similar legislative protections for citizens in healthcare and other sectors.

'The average cost of a healthcare data breach in the U.S. is $282 per record, with an average expense of $6.6m to the organization. This is a real cost to an organization. Further, the significant rise in medical identity threat, attention to regulations such as the U.S. FACTA, enforcement and penalties associated with HIPAA and American State regulations, is resulting in increased executive attention to addressing the risk to medical records,' says Pabrai.

Pabrai will present the full details of his research on medical records safety in an exclusive session at Naseba's 4th annual Healthcare Expansion Middle East Congress, taking place in Abu Dhabi on May 26th-27th 2009, Pabrai will examine specific examples of breaches that have occurred recently and will explain the critical steps that a healthcare organization must take to address compliance requirements for securing medical records.

Simon Conyers, Senior Manager for Healthcare conferences at Naseba, said, 'With programmes to digitize patient records well under way throughout the Middle East region, concerns about how these records will be safeguarded are of paramount importance. Naseba is delighted to be hosting Ali Pabrai - America's foremost expert in such matters - for the 4th annual Healthcare Expansion Congress in Abu Dhabi, to address this critical area of concern.'

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2 READS

1ST READ
David Burnham
A reporter with The New York Times from 1968 to 1986, Burnham has written several ... challenged the basic management skills and investigative competence of the FBI. ... His latest book, Above the Law: Secret Deals, Political Fixes, ...
epic.org/epic/board/burnham/ - 6k - Cached - Similar pages
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2ND READ
Did Goldman Goose Oil?
Christopher Helman and Liz Moyer,
Forbes Magazine April 13, 2009


How Goldman Sachs was at the center of the oil trading fiasco that bankrupted pipeline giant Semgroup.

When oil prices spiked last summer to $147 a barrel, the biggest corporate casualty was oil pipeline giant Semgroup Holdings, a $14 billion (sales) private firm in Tulsa, Okla. It had racked up $2.4 billion in trading losses betting that oil prices would go down, including $290 million in accounts personally managed by then chief executive Thomas Kivisto. Its short positions amounted to the equivalent of 20% of the nation's crude oil inventories. With the credit crunch eliminating any hope of meeting a $500 million margin call, Semgroup filed for bankruptcy on July 22.

But now some of the people involved in cleaning up the financial mess are suggesting that Semgroup's collapse was more than just bad judgment and worse timing. There is evidence of a malevolent hand at work: oil price manipulation by traders orchestrating a short squeeze to push up the price of West Texas Intermediate crude to the point that it would generate fatal losses in Semgroup's accounts.

"What transpired at Semgroup was no less than a $500 billion fraud on the people of the world," says John Catsimatidis, the billionaire grocer turned oil refiner who is attempting to reorganize Semgroup in bankruptcy court. The $500 billion is how much the world would have overpaid for crude had a successful scam pushed up oil prices by $50 a barrel for 100 days.

What's the evidence of this? Much is circumstantial. Proving oil-trading manipulation is difficult. But numerous people familiar with the events insist that Citibank, Merrill Lynch and especially Goldman Sachs had knowledge about Semgroup's trading positions from their vetting of an ill-fated $1.5 billion private placement deal last spring. "Nothing's been proven, but if somebody has your book and knows every trade, it would not be difficult to bet against that book and put the company into a tremendous liquidity squeeze," says John Tucker, who is representing Kivisto.

What's known for sure is that Goldman Sachs, through J. Aron & Co., its commodities trading arm, was in prime position to use such data--and profited handsomely from Semgroup's fall. J. Aron was Semgroup's biggest counterparty, trading both physical oil flowing through pipelines and paper oil, in the form of options and futures.

When crude oil peaked in July, Semgroup ran out of cash to meet margin requirements on options contracts it had with Aron, contracts on which it had paper losses of $350 million. Desperate to survive, Semgroup asked Aron to pony up $430 million it owed on physical oil. Aron said no, declared Semgroup in default on its contracts and demanded immediate payment of losses.

Some answers may emerge in late March when former fbi director Louis Freeh releases a report on the trading surrounding Semgroup's demise. He was hired by Semgroup and given subpoena power by the bankruptcy court judge in Delaware. Meanwhile the Securities & Exchange Commission is investigating, and lawyers involved in the bankruptcy say that Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau's office is looking into the actions of New York firms in the collapse. His office declines to comment.
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For full story google dan moldea new york times or click on
http://www.moldea.com/NFLSecurity.html



Alien Ink.

In early 1992, I received a call from a colleague who told me that a newly-released book--Alien Ink: The FBI's War on Freedom of Expression, written by author Natalie Robins--revealed that the FBI had maintained a covert "book review section", which had been used to sabotage authors and their published works. My writer-friend added that my embattled 1989 book, Interference, was named in Robins's book and, according to the author, had been one of the FBI's targets--in fact, one of its last two targets before the section went out of business. My colleague knew that I had been extremely critical of the FBI in my book for its suppression of numerous investigations involving National Football League personnel and a variety of underworld figures.

I had never before heard of Robins--who is the wife of Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, the New York Times's widely-respected daily book critic--or her new publication. For whatever reason, she never attempted to interview me. However, I am very grateful for the revelations in her book.

At the time I received the news about Robins's book, my attorneys and I were in the midst of our litigation, Moldea v. New York Times, which claimed that Interference had been sabotaged by the NFL through its relationship with Gerald Eskenazi, a New York Times sportswriter, who had written a false and misleading review of my book in the New York Times Book Review.

However, we had also charged that a second review--which received very little attention but was published in the Washington Post Book World--had been written by a well-known investigative journalist who had also served as a long-time informant for the FBI.

After my friend told me about Robins's book, I began making my own inquiries, going first to the New York Times Book Review. Explaining the contents of Robins's new book, reviewer David Traxel had written:

Since antiquity, governments have feared writers because of their willingness to subvert official truths while seductively arguing for visions of their own. . . .

The Federal Bureau of Investigation had begun gathering information on American writers at least a decade before J. Edgar Hoover assumed command in 1924, but he brought an energetic efficiency and sense of mission to the task that resulted in hundreds of journalists, novelists, short-story writers and poets receiving unwanted reviews. . . .

What they [independent researchers] found ranged from the banal (newspaper clippings, extracts from Current Biography, bone-headed interpretations of the writings that would make a freshman blush with embarrassment) all the way up to serious trouble (malicious and anonymous letters, wiretap transcripts, agent reports)--all perhaps evidence that they had been victims of the sabotage programs the agency ran against those it considered a threat.

In other words, the FBI had created a section within the bureau for the purpose of, when necessary, undermining books with controversial points of view, as well as the authors who wrote them.

Did the FBI's "book-reviewing" operation end with J. Edgar Hoover's death?

In Robins's book, she wrote on pages 373-374:

In the eighties, the Book Review Section of the FBI, which had begun life in 1920 as the Publications Section, was placed under the Public Affairs Section. During the 1950s, book reviews had been handled by the Central Research Section, and in the 1960s, by the Research Satellite Section. In the 1970s, they were back under the Central Research Section.

Today, FBI deputy assistant Milt Ahlerich says that certain books are of interest to the FBI "not from an investigative standpoint necessarily," and that "in a very limited fashion we will review five or six books a year." The FBI is no longer looking for subversive writing, but "technique or new research that's being done--maybe a current work on terrorism, a current work on foreign counterintelligence."

In addition, according to FBI special agent Susan Schnitzer, "The authors of books reviewed are not indexed, because it is not done for investigative reasons."

What interested the FBI in the eighties? Thirteen books. . . .

Robins then noted these thirteen books, including:

In 1989, the Bureau reviewed Interference, by Dan E. Moldea., and Donnie Brasco: An FBI Agent Undercover in the Mafia, by Joseph D. Pistone and Richard Woodley. As of May 1990, no further books were reviewed. (Emphasis added)

After calling several sources at the FBI--who, unfortunately, did not have access to records from the bureau's Book Review Section--I filed a Freedom of Information Act request, asking for the FBI's "review" of Interference referred to in Alien Ink.

The FBI investigation

In mid-April 1996, after a four-year wait, I finally received the FBI's files regarding my book about professional football.

These documents demonstrated that, unknown to me, the FBI had placed me under investigation in August 1989, within the days after the release of Interference. The collection of records in the package I received ranged from my investigation of the Teamsters Union--which led to my first book, The Hoffa Wars in 1978--to my work at the left-wing Institute for Policy Studies to my 1986 book, Dark Victory, Ronald Reagan, MCA and the Mob to my probe of the NFL in Interference.

In a portion of a background report to Milt Ahlerich, the FBI deputy assistant who coordinated the investigation of me and my work, an unnamed FBI special agent wrote:

I am responding to your request for information concerning the author, Dan Moldea. Mr. Moldea is the subject of Bufile 190-3181, containing five sections. These files contain FOIPA requests dating from 1977 and continuing to the present. The primary subjects of his requests appear to relate to alleged organized crime figures and the Teamsters Union.

Mr. Moldea is also identified in Bufile 9-60052, Serial 855, dated October 1975. This file identifies Moldea as a self- identified, free-lance writer. . . . [Moldea] previously lived in the Detroit, Michigan, area, and did extensive research on the Teamsters Union. He developed valuable sources close to the Teamsters Union, and planned to put this information into book form. . . . It appeared from Moldea's [theories about the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa] that he was quite knowledgeable of local Teamster politics and individuals associated with the disappearance of Hoffa.

Dealing specifically with Interference, FBI Special Agent Scott Nelson wrote in another report:

Ostensibly providing a public service, the author has turned out a glaring commentary on law enforcement's efforts, or the lack thereof, to rid professional sports of organized-crime influence. At the Federal level, he charges that only the Kennedy and Carter administrations made a serious attempt at curbing organized crime.

Mr. Moldea is highly critical of Attorney General Richard Thornburgh and provides a mixed review of the FBI. While he acknowledges the positive results of some Bureau investigations, he also points out an instance in which the FBI was allegedly uncooperative with the IRS [the Donald Dawson case], that a new Agent working a major gambling case [the Computer Group investigation] was naive to the practices of bookmakers and that the FBI conducted electronic surveillance without court authorization.

The FBI, which widely disseminated these and numerous other reports about me, also included the horrific reviews of Interference by Gerald Eskenazi for the New York Times and Sandy Smith for the Washington Post.

Sandy Smith and the Washington Post review

My war with the New York Times over the Eskenazi review is well known. However, very little is known about my streetfight with the Washington Post over the review by Smith, then an investigative reporter for Time whom I openly accused of being a shill and informant for the FBI.

Here is part of what I wrote about Smith in a memorandum to my attorney, Roger Simmons, who was handling the New York Times case:

On October 29, 1989, Sandy Smith published a review of my book, Interference: How Organized Crime Influences Professional Football, in the Washington Post Book World. The review was extremely critical and, in my opinion, extraordinarily unfair.

In part, Smith wrote:

The most serious problem with Interference is the ridiculous information Moldea cites to support the charge of organized crime influence in pro football. He appears to have been bamboozled by his prime source of information, a Detroit hustler named Don Dawson. . . .

According to Moldea, Dawson's admissions establish that other successful game fixing followed the attempted bribery of two New York Giants in the 1946 NFL championship game.

"Dawson confessed to me that during the 1950s and 1960s he had been personally involved in the fixing of no fewer than 32 NFL games," writes Moldea. "Don Dawson's shocking admission is a first. No one has ever stepped forward and claimed to have actually been involved in fixed games." . . .

Thus Moldea is totally dependent on the shaky credibility of Dawson, a windy gambler convicted in a betting case that had nothing to do with the NFL. The FBI was all over Dawson at the time. While the investigation showed he knew [a particular NFL player] and there was little doubt that [the player] had done some betting through Dawson, there was no evidence of any fixed games."

On October 30, 1989, I submitted a letter to Nina King, the editor of Book World, in response to the Smith review.

One major point of contention between Smith and me was which federal agency had conducted the investigation of Detroit bookmaker Donald Dawson. I had claimed in my book that it was the IRS and that, according to federal sources quoted in my book, the FBI had refused to cooperate. Smith claimed that it was the FBI.

In an effort to attack Smith's credibility, I also gave Book World an IRS surveillance report on Dawson and then challenged Smith to support his claims about the FBI. I even asked Book World's editors to publish an "Editor's Note" to determine, once and for all, who was telling the truth: the author or the reviewer.

On November 26, 1989, Book World published my response to Smith's review. However, Book World refused to intervene as a third party to resolve the dispute, even though it's editors were in possession of my evidence that Smith was wrong about the question of which federal agency had conducted the investigation.

Consequently, to the readers of Book World, it was my word against his. And he had the first and last word.

In my published response, I wrote:

Sandy Smith spent nearly half of his review of my book, Interference: How Organized Crime Influences Professional Football, charging that I was "bamboozled" by one of my principal sources, Detroit bookmaker Donald Dawson. Smith claimed that I was "totally dependent on [Dawson's] shaky credibility," especially with regard to his confession that he had fixed NFL games. Smith's charges are simply not true.

Several federal and state law enforcement officials-- whom I named and quoted in my book--told me that Dawson had participated in the fixing of numerous NFL games. Even former Detroit Lions defensive back **** 'Night Train' Lane admitted to me that Dawson had personally tried to bribe him.

I then found Dawson and interviewed him. He confessed to me that he had "been involved with players in at least 32 NFL games that were dumped or where points were shaved." (The NFL claims that no game in its 69-year history has ever been successfully fixed.)

In his review, Smith dismissed Dawson's claims as "ridiculous," because "the FBI was all over Dawson at the time." But this is also not true. It was the IRS--not the FBI--that conducted the 1970 federal probe of Dawson and gambling in the NFL and had Dawson under constant surveillance. A top IRS official and several agents involved in the case told me that the FBI refused to cooperate with the IRS in its investigation.

In short, responsible law enforcement officials told me that a target of their investigations had been engaged in NFL game-fixing. I confronted the target with this charge, and he confessed. That would be accepted as credible evidence in any court of law. Consequently, it was incredibly deceptive and misleading of Smith to write that I was "totally dependent" on Dawson and then to use this charge as a means to discredit my book. (Emphasis added)

In his reply, published on the same page immediately after my response, Smith wrote: "If Dan Moldea had looked around a little more, he would have found that the FBI was indeed 'all over' Don Dawson."

I was furious when I read Smith's response, because he simply couldn't prove what he had written--whereas I had supplied my evidence to Book World.

Sandy Smith and the FBI

Concluding my memorandum to my attorney, I wondered out loud: (a) where Smith had received his false information; and (b) what the nature of his association with the FBI really was.

While trying to find the answers to these questions, I found three interesting sources about Smith's relationship with the FBI:

* In Sanford J. Ungar's 1976 book, FBI, a critical examination of the bureau, the author wrote on pages 284-285:

"As chief spokesman for the Bureau, [Cartha] DeLoach kept a stable of trusted journalists well supplied with information--people such as Hoover's close friend Walter Trohan of the Chicago Tribune, labor columnist Victor Riesel, Jeremiah O'Leary of the Washington Evening Star, Sandy Smith of Time and Life magazines. . . . Like many other government agencies in Washington, the Bureau profited from selectively leaking material to its friends that it wanted to see in print or on the air." (Emphasis added)

* In former FBI Special Agent William F. Roemer's 1990 book, Roemer: Man Against The Mob, the author wrote on pages 47-48:

"[T]here was one guy in Chicago who was in a position to help us a lot. His name was Sandy Smith, the ace of the investigative reporters in Chicago. Sandy had been with the Chicago Tribune for a decade or so. . . . In general, Sandy's help was invaluable. Whenever we possessed information that we could not use to make a case or to assist in gathering further intelligence, we fed info to Sandy for publication in the Tribune and later, when he left the Trib, in the Sun-Times. (Sandy later left the Sun-Times for Life magazine and eventually Time, where he cemented his reputation as the top crime reporter in the country.)"

* In Anthony Summers's book, Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover, the author wrote on page 212 that Sandy Smith had allegedly fabricated a story in Life magazine, which was based upon a non-existent FBI transcript:

"Life reporter Sandy Smith, who obtained the 'transcript' in 1968, had made his name as an organized-crime specialist while working for the Chicago Tribune, a paper especially favored by the FBI. In 1965, when Playboy consulted Smith about an article by a former agent critical of the FBI, he recommended it be rejected and passed it on to the Bureau. Bureau documents described Smith's value to the FBI as 'inestimable' and say he was 'utilized on many occasions.'

"While Smith has refused to comment, former Life reporter Bill Lambert, who also worked on the Gallagher story, recalled that his colleague was so close to the FBI that he was 'almost like an agent.' It was possible, he agreed, that someone at the FBI might have fed him a phony transcript. Former Assistant Director DeLoach, for his part, has admitted he knew Smith well in 1968, but had no comment on the Life story."

Later, Summers gave me his file on Sandy Smith, which included a letter to the editor of Playboy from William W. Turner, a former FBI agent. In his letter, published in the January 1981 issue of the magazine, Turner wrote:

"The FBI and the CIA have openly declared that they will continue to secretly employ journalists as collaborators. Obviously, that enables them to propagate their viewpoints with seeming objectivity; but it may interest Playboy's readers to know that there is an even uglier side to this business: disguised censorship. It happened to me some time ago, when my critical article, 'The FBI and Organized Crime,' was submitted to Playboy.

"On March 12, 1965, I was advised by my then literary agent, Lurton Blassingame, that Playboy intended to buy the article and have crime reporter Sandy Smith of the Chicago Sun- Times do some rewrite. Murray Fisher of Playboy gave the article to Smith, and then that's when the fun started. Smith, it turned out, was an FBI collaborator. According to bureau documents recently obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, he had been 'utilized on many different occasions' and his value was 'inestimable.' No wonder that, in reciprocation, he was able to authoritatively quote 'Justice Department sources' in his crime articles. . . .

"Smith rushed over to the Chicago FBI office and handed my article to Special Agent in Charge Marlin Johnson, who immediately copied it and sent it to Washington. Johnson reported that Smith had 'absolutely no intention of doing this assignment' but 'saw an opportunity to get the article . . . so that we could take a look at it.' Smith intended to tell Fisher that 'it is completely ridiculous, inaccurate and not worth the paper it is written on.'

"One week later, my agent received a memo from Playboy, saying that Smith had told them my article was not worth salvaging and was filled with inaccuracies and errors. . . .

"So the article was dinged, with Playboy's editorial staff not having the slightest notion of the duplicity involved." (Emphasis added)

Furthermore, at the time of his review of Interference, Sandy Smith was in the midst of a litigation against Little, Brown, the publisher of his recently canceled book about organized crime. Smith and his co-author, Roy Rowan, were represented by Washington attorney William Hundley, the former chief of the Justice Department's Organized Crime and Racketeering Section (OCRS), who had been retained by the two authors in June 1989.

What is the significance of Hundley's representation of Smith at the time of his review of my book about the NFL?

After leaving the government, Bill Hundley was selected by Pete Rozelle as the director of NFL Security.

In Chapter 18 of Interference, which is entitled "Bill Hundley and NFL Security," I was extremely critical of Hundley's role as NFL security chief, providing specific details of his alleged participation in the suppression and/or killing of official probes, including several investigations of game-fixing.1

However, when I reported Smith's obvious and well-documented conflicts of interest to the Washington Post--including the fact that he was currently represented by an attorney who was the former chief of NFL Security--the Post still decided to do nothing, refusing to give me any ammunition to use in my ongoing libel case against the New York Times, whose attorneys were repeatedly using the Smith review against me in their legal briefs and motions.2

Milt Ahlerich becomes director of NFL Security

Did the FBI attempt to sabotage Interference as a favor to the NFL?

Remarkably, in January 1996--with thousands of candidates to choose from--the NFL's high command selected Milt Ahlerich--the special agent who had supervised the FBI's investigation of Interference and me--to succeed former FBI Special Agent Warren Welsh as the chief of NFL Security. Immediately, Ahlerich began answering to his new boss, Joe Browne, the vice president of NFL communications and Gerald Eskenazi's long-time friend, who had initiated his attacks on Interference seven months before the book's release.

Author Natalie Robins asked the most obvious question at the end of Alien Ink: "Can the excesses that have been the subject of this book happen again?"

My answer? They can, and they will--the next time a journalist decides to investigate the NFL and the Mafia.

Bet on it.

Linked notes:

1. In addition, in Chapter 51 of Interference, pages 415-417, I discussed Hundley's role in the killing of a recent federal investigation of MCA, which he later represented as a private attorney. I concluded this section about Hundley--which was also based on my book, Dark Victory: Ronald Reagan, MCA, and the Mob, as well as a June 1988 article, "MCA and the Mob," in Regardie's--charging:

"The evidence is clear that there has been a cabal among some past and present officials of the Justice Department's Organized Crime and Racketeering Section and some of its Strike Force offices. And the NFL, through its long-term sweetheart relationship with a variety of law-enforcement agencies, particularly the OCRS has been a direct beneficiary of this situation--which raises serious questions about possible conflicts of interest, as well as activities that border on sheer political corruption."

Hundley, whom I had interviewed twice, denied my charges about the MCA case, which have since been corroborated by, among other publications, the Los Angeles Times and the Sacramento Bee, as well as the American Lawyer. In addition, Hundley directly attacked me in the June 4, 1988, issue of Billboard, over a year before his client, Sandy Smith, reviewed my book.

2. The Smith review of Interference in the Washington Post Book World has been used as a weapon to discredit me in a variety of forums since its publication. The New York Times used it as evidence against me in, among other documents, its motion for summary judgment, submitted to the court on November 30, 1990. Also, it was referred to by attorneys for the plaintiff during my February 11, 1991, sworn deposition as an expert witness for the defense in the libel case, Cooke v. Washingtonian--in which I was, once again, extremely critical of the FBI. The transcript of my sworn statement reflects ten pages of questions and answers specifically regarding the Smith review.

On June 20, 1991, I sent a letter, along with twenty-three exhibits, to Leonard Downie, then-managing editor of the Washington Post. Asking for a retraction of the entire review, I wrote, in part: "Even though a considerable amount of time has passed since the Smith review, . . . I am still being haunted by [it]."

Also, I asked Downie, "Did Hundley or the FBI have any influence on Sandy Smith's review of my book in the Washington Post Book World?"

Without addressing that specific question, Downie sent me his reply on October 26, 1989: "I have reviewed the material you sent . . . with our general counsel. I do not think that there is anything further that should be done in or by the Post at this time.

"As you noted in your chronology, we published your response to the Book World review of your book two years ago. In newspaper terms, much time has passed since. . . . We do not see a reason to pursue this further."

Actually, Downie did know something about Smith. In his 1976 book, The New Muckrakers, Downie had written on page 241 about "the flying squad of muckrakers assembled by Life magazine in its dying days during the late 1960s," who included "Sandy Smith, a burly Chicago newspaper veteran who specialized in investigative stories about the Mafia during two decades with the Tribune and Sun-Times."

On page 242, Downie continued, writing that after Life folded, "Sandy Smith rebounded the most successfully, taking his Justice Department contacts to Life's sister news magazine, Time." (Emphasis added)

In other words, Smith's relationship with the FBI was one of the worst-kept secrets in journalism. Yet, under the guise of objectivity, he was still permitted to publish stories about people, like me, who were critical of his benefactors.
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April 4th, 2009
 by William Blum
http://www.killinghope.org
Some thoughts about socialism

"History is littered with post-crisis regulations. If there are undue
restrictions on the operations of businesses, they may view it to be
their job to get around them, and you sow the seeds of the next
crisis."
 – Liz Ann Sonders, chief investment analyst, CharlesSchwab & Co., a
leading US provider of investment services.1

And so it goes. Corporations, whether financial or not, strive to
maximize profit as inevitably as water seeks its own level. We've been
trying to "regulate" them since the 19th century. Or is it the 18th?
Nothing helps for long. You close one loophole and the slime oozes out
of another hole. Wall Street has not only an army of lawyers and
accountants, but a horde of mathematicians with advanced degrees
searching for the perfect equations to separate people from their
money. After all the stimulus money has come and gone, after all the
speeches by our leaders condemning greed and swearing to reforms, after
the last congressional hearing deploring the corporate executives to
their faces, the boys of Wall Street, shrugging off a few bruises, will
resume churning out their assortment of financial entities, documents,
and packages that go by names like hedge funds, derivatives,
collateralized debt obligations, index funds, credit default swaps,
structured investment vehicles, subprime mortgages, and many other
pieces of paper with exotic names, for which, it must be kept in mind,
there had been no public need or strident demand. Speculation, bonuses,
and scotch will flow again, and the boys will be all the wiser, perhaps
shaken a bit that they're so reviled, but knowing better now what to
flaunt and what to disguise.

This is another reminder that communism or socialism have almost always
been given just one chance to work, if that much, while capitalism has
been given numerous chances to do so following its perennial fiascos.
Ralph Nader has observed: "Capitalism will never fail because socialism
will always be there to bail it out."

In the West, one of the most unfortunate results of the Cold War was
that 70 years of anti-communist education and media stamped in people's
minds a lasting association between socialism and what the Soviet Union
called communism. Socialism meant a dictatorship, it meant Stalinist
repression, a suffocating "command economy", no freedom of enterprise,
no freedom to change jobs, few avenues for personal expression, and
other similar truths and untruths. This is a set of beliefs clung to
even amongst many Americans opposed to US foreign policy. No matter how
bad the economy is, Americans think, the only alternative available is
something called "communism", and they know how awful that is.

Adding to the purposeful confusion, the conservatives in England, for
30 years following the end of World War 2, filled the minds of the
public with the idea that the Labour Party was socialist, and when
recession hit (as it does regularly in capitalist countries) the public
was then told, and believed, that "socialism had failed".

Yet, ever since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, polls
taken in Russia have shown a nostalgia for the old system. In the
latest example, "Russia Now", a Moscow publication that appears as a
supplement in the Washington Post, asked Russians: "What socio-economic
system do you favor?" The results were: "State planning and
distribution": 58% ... "Based on private property and market
relations": 28% ... "Hard to say": 14%.2

In 1994, Mark Brzezinski (son of Zbigniew) was a Fulbright Scholar
teaching in Warsaw. He has written: "I asked my students to define
democracy. Expecting a discussion on individual liberties and
authentically elected institutions, I was surprised to hear my students
respond that to them, democracy means a government obligation to
maintain a certain standard of living and to provide health care,
education and housing for all. In other words, socialism."3

Many Americans cannot go along with the notion of a planned,
centralized society. To some extent it's the terminology that bothers
them because they were raised to equate a planned society with the
worst excesses of Stalinism. Okay, let's forget the scary labels; let's
describe it as people sitting down to discuss a particular serious
societal problem, what the available options there are to solve the
problem, and what institutions and forces in the society have the best
access, experience, and assets to deliver those options. So, the idea
is to prepare these institutions and forces to deal with the problem in
a highly organized, rational manner without having to worry about which
corporation's profits might be adversely affected, without relying on
"the magic of the marketplace". Now it happens that all this is usually
called "planning" and if the organization and planning stem from a
government body it can be called "centralized". There's no reason to
assume that this has to result in some kind of very authoritarian
regime. All of us over a certain age —individually and collectively —
have learned a lot about such things from the past. We know the warning
signs; that's why the Bush administration's authoritarianism was so
early and so strongly condemned.

The overwhelming majority of people in the United States work for a
salary. They don't need to be motivated by the quest for profit. It's
not in our genes. Virtually everybody, if given the choice, would
prefer to work at jobs where the main motivations are to produce goods
and services that improve the quality of life of the society, to help
others, and to provide themselves with meaningful and satisfying work.
It's not natural to be primarily motivated by trying to win or steal
"customers" from other people, no holds barred, survival of the fittest
or the most ruthless.

A major war can be the supreme test of a nation, a time when it's put
under the greatest stress. In World War 2, the US government
commandeered the auto manufacturers to make tanks and jeeps instead of
private cars. When a pressing need for an atom bomb was seen,
Washington did not ask for bids from the private sector; it created the
Manhattan Project to do it itself, with no concern for balance sheets
or profit and loss statements. Women and blacks were given skilled
factory jobs they had been traditionally denied. Hollywood was enlisted
to make propaganda films. Indeed, much of the nation's activities,
including farming, manufacturing, mining, communications, labor,
education, and cultural undertakings were in some fashion brought under
new and significant government control, with the war effort coming
before private profit. In peacetime, we can think of socialism as
putting people before profit, with all the basics guaranteed — health
care, all education, decent housing, food, jobs. Those who swear by
free enterprise argue that the "socialism" of World War 2 was
instituted only because of the exigencies of the war. That's true, but
it doesn't alter the key point that it had been immediately recognized
by the government that the wasteful and inefficient capitalist system,
always in need of proper financial care and feeding, was no way to run
a country trying to win a war.

It's also no way to run a society of human beings with human needs.
Most Americans agree with this but are not consciously aware that they
hold such a belief. In 1987, nearly half of 1,004 Americans surveyed by
the Hearst press believed Karl Marx's aphorism: "From each according to
his ability, to each according to his need" was to be found in the US
Constitution.4

Along these lines, I've written an essay entitled: "The United States
invades, bombs, and kills for it, but do Americans really believe in
free enterprise?"5

I cannot describe in detail what every nut and bolt of my socialist
system would look like. That might appear rather pretentious on my
part; most of it would evolve through trial and error anyway; the
important thing is that the foundation — the crucial factors in making
the important decisions — would rest on people's welfare and the common
good coming before profit. Humankind's desperate need to halt
environmental degradation regularly runs smack into the profit motive,
as does the American health-care system. It's more than a matter of
ideology; it's a matter of the quality of life, sustainability, and
survival.
"Omission is the most powerful form of lie." – George Orwell

I am asked occasionally why I am so critical of the mainstream media
when I quote from them repeatedly in my writings. The answer is simple.
The American media's gravest shortcoming is much more their errors of
omission than their errors of commission. It's what they leave out that
distorts the news more than any factual errors or out-and-out lies. So
I can make good use of the facts they report, which a large, rich
organization can easier provide than the alternative media.

In early March, the Washington Post ran an article about Iran which
stated that "Iranian leaders ... reiterated that the Holocaust was 'a
lie'." The article then went on to add that Iranian president Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad "repeated his assertion that the Holocaust is a 'big
lie'."6 That's all we're told. What is the poor reader to conclude but
that some Iranian leaders must be amongst that much vilified and
ridiculed group called "Holocaust deniers"?

What the article fails to mention is that these Iranian leaders use the
word "lie" to refer to only particular features of the Holocaust. There
is no report of any of them simply, clearly, unambiguously, and
unequivocally asserting that what we know as the Holocaust never took
place. Ahmadinejad, for example, has instead commented about the
peculiarity and injustice of a Holocaust which took place in Europe
resulting in a state for the Jews in the Middle East instead of in
Europe. Why are the Palestinians paying a price for a German crime? he
asks. And he wonders about the accuracy of the number of Jews — six
million — allegedly killed in the Holocaust, as have many other people
of all political stripes and nationalities, including the noted Italian
author Primo Levi, a Holocaust survivor. Even Mahmoud Abbas, President
of the Palestinian National Authority — Israel and Washington's
favorite Palestinian because of his opposition to Hamas, their least
favored Palestinians — wrote in his doctoral dissertation: "The truth
of the matter is that no one can verify this number, or completely deny
it. In other words, the number of Jewish victims might be 6 million and
might be much smaller — even less than 1 million."7

It is also worth noting that at the end of the Post article we learn
that "a senior Israeli official in Washington, who spoke on the
condition of anonymity because he was not cleared to discuss such
matters publicly" has asserted that "Iran would be unlikely to use its
missiles in an attack [against Israel] because of the certainty of
retaliation." Really? That's what I and others have been saying for
years. It should have been the story's headline, not the very last
sentence, literally. Yet, we can be certain that Israeli and American
officials and their disciples will continue to warn the world of the
danger of Iranian missile attacks. So will the Washington Post,
engaging in future omissions of its own news story.

What actually has long worried Israeli and US officials about possible
Iranian nuclear weapons is not that Iran might attack anyone, but that
Israel's beloved security blanket — being the only nuclear power in the
Middle East — would at risk, as might be Washington's dominance of the
area.

Later in March, the Los Angeles Times ran an obituary of Janet Jagan,
the former president of Guyana and widow of Cheddi Jagan who had
earlier also been president. The obituary says not a word about the
fact that for 11 years, 1953-64, two of the oldest democracies in the
world, Great Britain and the United States, went to great lengths in
their repeated attempts to prevent the democratically elected Cheddi
Jagan from occupying his office.8

I've selected these examples of omission virtually at random. If I
wanted to report on each media omission concerning significant US
foreign policy matters I could fill this newsletter each month with
nothing else.

It happens that in late March the Washington Post also provided us with
the less common out-and-out lie. In an editorial about the leftist
former guerillas in El Salvador, the FMLN, winning the presidential
election with their candidate Mauricio Funes, the Post said: "If Mr.
Funes as well as the election's losers now respect the rule of law, the
result could be the consolidation of the political system the United
States was aiming for when it intervened in El Salvador's civil war
during the 1980s. At the time, the goal of a successful Salvadoran
democracy was dismissed as a mission impossible, just as some now say
democracy is unattainable in Iraq and Afghanistan."9

The idea that the US intervention in the Salvadoran civil war stemmed
from a desire to bring democracy to the country is so breathtaking in
its audacity that it's conceivable the Post editorial writer is
suffering from early-stage Alzheimer's; it's wholly comparable to
saying that the Apartheid regime of South Africa strove to increase
harmony and equality between blacks and whites. In the process of
supporting a Salvadoran government of remarkable tyranny, brutality and
human-rights violations, the United States provided the country's armed
forces with a never-ending supply of funds, weapons and training that
brought continual destruction and suffering to the people of El
Salvador. The Post's "disclosure" will not send historians scurrying to
rewrite their books. Nor can it serve to conceal the fact that the
United States is not fighting for "democracy" in Iraq and Afghanistan
any more than it did in El Salvador.
The ideology of Barack Obama

In the past two months:
        •         US Vice President Joe Biden was asked by reporters at a summit in
Chile if Washington plans to put an end to the near-50-year-old
economic embargo against Cuba. He replied "No."10
        •         Israeli authorities broke up a series of Palestinian cultural
events in Jerusalem, disrupting a children's march and bursting
balloons at a schoolyard celebration.11 There has not been, nor will
there be, any embargo of any kind by the United States against Israel.
Nor will President Obama make any comment about what he really feels
about invading a children's party and bursting their balloons.
        •         The White House and the Pentagon appear to be having a competition
over who can announce the most troops being sent to Afghanistan. Is
anyone keeping a body count?
        •         US drones continue to drop bombs on people's homes and wedding
parties in Pakistan. No one in Washington publicly admits to this or
comments in any way about the legality or morality of it all.
        •         Bolivia and Ecuador have expelled American diplomats for what their
hosts saw as conspiring to undermine the government.

Any number of other examples can be given of how alike the foreign
policies of the Bush and Obama administrations are, how little, if any,
change has occurred; certainly nothing of any significance. Yet, my
saying such a thing is precisely what most often bothers Obama
supporters who read or hear my comments. They're in love with the man
with the toothpaste-advertisement smile, who's "smart" (whatever that
means), who plays basketball, and is not George W. Bush, and his wife
who puts her arm around the queen of England.

Obama's popularity around the world is enhanced, to an important
extent, by the fact that he has endeavored to conceal or obscure his
real ideology. As an example, in early March, in an interview with the
New York Times, he was asked: "Is there a one word name for your
philosophy? If you're not a socialist, are you a liberal? Are you
progressive? One word?"

"No, I'm not going to engage in that," replied the president.12

The next day he called the Times reporter, telling him: "It was hard
for me to believe that you were entirely serious about that socialist
question". Obama then gave the reporter several examples of why his
policies show that he isn't a socialist.13

He didn't have to convince me. Obama's centrist bent is clear to anyone
who bothers to look. But after the Times incident — which apparently
bothered him — he may have felt the need to be more clear about his
ideological leanings to avoid any further silly "socialist" episodes.
The next day, meeting at the White House with members of the New
Democrat Coalition, a group of centrist Democratic members of the
House, Obama said at one point: "I am a New Democrat."14

Most conservatives will probably continue to see him as a dangerous
leftist. They should be happy that Obama is the president and not any
kind of real progressive or socialist or even a genuine liberal, but
the right wing is greedy.
Notes
        1         Washington Post, March 29, 2009 ↩
        2         "Russia Now", in Washington Post, March 25, 2009 ↩
        3         Los Angeles Times, September 2, 1994 ↩
        4         Frank Bernack, Jr., Hearst Corp. President, address to the American
Bar Association, early 1987, reported in In These Times magazine
(Chicago), June 24 - July 7, 1987 ↩
        5         William Blum, "Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only
Superpower", chapter 26 ↩
        6         Washington Post, March 5, 2009 ↩
        7         The Middle East Media Research Institute, "Inquiry and Analysis",
No. 95, May 30, 2002; also see Wikipedia, entry for Mahmoud Abbas,
"Doctoral Dissertation" section. ↩
        8         Los Angeles Times, March 29, 2009. See William Blum, "Killing Hope:
US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II", chapter 16 for
what was left out. ↩
        9         Washington Post, March 21, 2009 ↩
        10         Miami Herald, March 28, 2009 ↩
        11         Washington Post, March 22, 2009 ↩
        12         New York Times, March 7, 2009 ↩
        13         New York Times, March 8 2009 ↩
        14         Politico magazine, online, March 10, 2009 ↩



William Blum is the author of:
        •         Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2
        •         Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower
        •         West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir
        •         Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire

Portions of the books can be read, and signed copies purchased, at
http://www.killinghope.org

Previous Anti-Empire Reports can be read at this website.
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joeb

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Reply with quote  #99 
couple of reads






    
    
Shell in court over alleged role in Nigeria executions
Family of environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, hanged by his country's rulers in 1995, take oil giant to court in New York

by Nick Mathiason

Global Research, April 8, 2009
The Guardian - 2009-04-05

Ken Saro-Wiwa swore that one day Shell, the oil giant, would answer for his death in a court of law. Next month, 14 years after his execution, the Nigerian environmental activist's dying wish is to be fulfilled.

In a New York federal court, Shell and one of its senior executives are to face charges that in the early 1990s in Nigeria they were complicit in human rights abuses, including summary execution and torture.

The Anglo-Dutch company, if found liable, could be forced to pay hundreds of millions of pounds in damages. No multinational has ever been found guilty of human rights abuses, although two previous cases saw major claims settled outside court.

Saro-Wiwa became famous as a campaigner on behalf of the Ogoni people, leading peaceful protests against the environmental damage caused by oil companies in the Niger Delta. There was worldwide condemnation when, along with eight other activists, he was hanged by the Nigerian military government in 1995 after being charged with incitement to murder after the death of four Ogoni elders. Many of the prosecution witnesses later admitted that they had been bribed to give evidence against Saro-Wiwa, who was a respected television writer and businessman.

Lawyers in New York will allege that Shell actively subsidised a campaign of terror by security forces in the Niger Delta and attempted to influence the trial that led to Saro-Wiwa's execution. The lawsuit alleges that the company attempted to bribe two witnesses in his trial to testify against him. Members of Saro-Wiwa's family will take the stand for the first time to give their version of events, among them his brother Owens, who will allege that Brian Anderson, managing director of Shell's Nigerian subsidiary, told him: "It would not be impossible to get charges dropped if protests were called off." Anderson is fighting the action.

Witnesses who were shot by military police in the Niger Delta principally to protect the building of Shell's oil pipeline will allege that Shell, by paying the police to protect its interests, was complicit in acts of violence.

Speaking to the Observer from Abuja, Nigeria, Saro-Wiwa's son, Ken Wiwa, said: "For 14 years we have lived with the memory of a father, an uncle, a brother, a son executed for a crime he didn't commit. We have daily reminders. It's painful to live with a monstrous injustice. To wake up one day to finally get our day in court is tremendously satisfying.

"After the injustice of the original crime against my father, having to watch legal arguments [by Shell] using the highest-paid lawyers in the world is sickening. You can't describe how painful that is to go through.

"Part of the reason for the original protest was the way Shell behaved. Ogoni people made their living farming and fishing, but Shell was using open waste pits and oil pipelines criss-crossed the land. These polluting activities were put on top of a delicate ecosystem. It destroyed people's ability to sustain themselves. That's the impact of Shell and, when people tried to protest, they were brutally repressed."

In a statement, Shell this weekend described the executions of the Ogoni 9 as "tragic events carried out by the Nigerian government in power at the time".

"Shell attempted to persuade that government to grant clemency; to our deep regret, that appeal - and the appeals of many others - went unheard, and we were shocked and saddened when we heard the news. Shell in no way encouraged or advocated any act of violence against them or their fellow Ogonis. We believe that the evidence will show clearly that Shell was not responsible for these tragic events. The allegations made in the complaints against Royal Dutch/Shell concerning the 1995 executions of Ken Saro-Wiwa and his eight fellow Ogonis are false and without merit."

US lawyers have finally won permission to bring the case to court under the alien tort statute, which gives non-US citizens the right to file claims in American courts for international human rights violations. The court case had been set for 27 April, though last night the date was moved to 26 May.

Today the oil-producing Niger Delta region is riven by intense violence and corruption. The Ogoni 9 trial is seen as a way of coming to terms with the past and building a non-violent future.

"We need to know the truth," said Ken Wiwa last night. "We need to have people account for their role in the executions and the displacement of the Ogoni people, many of whom feel traumatised. It will be a relief. It will enable people to face the future. That's the most important thing. Let's account for the past, so we can move forward."

Lawyers representing Saro-Wiwa's family have not sought specific damages should Shell be found liable, but legal experts say the oil giant could face fines running into hundreds of millions of pounds.

Jenny Green, a senior lawyer at the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, who has played a pivotal role in ensuring the Saro-Wiwa case made it to court, said: "Mosop [the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People] was formed to stand up to multinationals and the dictatorship that acted hand-in-hand. This is a significant moment, because it says you can't act with impunity."




http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=13050
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April 13, 2009
    

    Washington D.C.
    FBI National Press Office
    (202) 324-3691

Stephanie Douglas Named Special Agent in Charge of FBI San Francisco Division

Stephanie Douglas has been named Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the FBI’s San Francisco Division. Director Robert S. Mueller, III appointed her to this position to replace SAC Charlene B. Thornton, who was recently named SAC of the FBI’s Honolulu Division.. Most recently, Ms. Douglas served as a Deputy Assistant Director of the Counterintelligence Division at FBI Headquarters

Ms. Douglas entered on duty as an FBI special agent in 1989. Upon completion of training at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, she was assigned to the Washington Field Office, where she investigated violent crimes, public corruption, and some of the FBI’s most sensitive counterintelligence and espionage investigations. In 2000, she was promoted to a supervisory position and was detailed to the Central Intelligence Agency.

In 2003, Ms. Douglas returned to the Washington Field Office as a counterintelligence squad supervisor, focusing primarily on espionage investigations. She was promoted to Assistant Special Agent in Charge in San Francisco in 2005. In that capacity, she managed the counterintelligence and security programs. In 2007, she was assigned to FBI Headquarters as an Inspector in the Inspection Division, where she addressed sensitive national security and criminal matters, as well as conducted field office and headquarters inspections. In 2008, she was named Deputy Assistant Director for Operations Support in the Counterintelligence Division.

Before joining the FBI, Ms. Douglas was employed with a nationwide insurance firm in Atlanta, Georgia
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