Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Last Roundup

The Last Roundup

Is the government compiling a secret list of citizens to detain under martial law?

By Christopher Ketcham

Go To Original

In the spring of 2007, a retired senior official in the U.S. Justice Department sat before Congress and told a story so odd and ominous, it could have sprung from the pages of a pulp political thriller. It was about a principled bureaucrat struggling to protect his country from a highly classified program with sinister implications. Rife with high drama, it included a car chase through the streets of Washington, D.C., and a tense meeting at the White House, where the president's henchmen made the bureaucrat so nervous that he demanded a neutral witness be present.

The bureaucrat was James Comey, John Ashcroft's second-in-command at the Department of Justice during Bush's first term. Comey had been a loyal political foot soldier of the Republican Party for many years. Yet in his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, he described how he had grown increasingly uneasy reviewing the Bush administration's various domestic surveillance and spying programs. Much of his testimony centered on an operation so clandestine he wasn't allowed to name it or even describe what it did. He did say, however, that he and Ashcroft had discussed the program in March 2004, trying to decide whether it was legal under federal statutes. Shortly before the certification deadline, Ashcroft fell ill with pancreatitis, making Comey acting attorney general, and Comey opted not to certify the program. When he communicated his decision to the White House, Bush's men told him, in so many words, to take his concerns and stuff them in an undisclosed location.

Comey refused to knuckle under, and the dispute came to a head on the cold night of March 10, 2004, hours before the program's authorization was to expire. At the time, Ashcroft was in intensive care at George Washington Hospital following emergency surgery. Apparently, at the behest of President Bush himself, the White House tried, in Comey's words, "to take advantage of a very sick man," sending Chief of Staff Andrew Card and then–White House counsel Alberto Gonzales on a mission to Ashcroft's sickroom to persuade the heavily doped attorney general to override his deputy. Apprised of their mission, Comey, accompanied by a full security detail, jumped in his car, raced through the streets of the capital, lights blazing, and "literally ran" up the hospital stairs to beat them there.

Minutes later, Gonzales and Card arrived with an envelope filled with the requisite forms. Ashcroft, even in his stupor, did not fall for their heavy-handed ploy. "I'm not the attorney general," Ashcroft told Bush's men. "There"—he pointed weakly to Comey—"is the attorney general." Gonzales and Card were furious, departing without even acknowledging Comey's presence in the room. The following day, the classified domestic spying program that Comey found so disturbing went forward at the demand of the White House—"without a signature from the Department of Justice attesting as to its legality," he testified.

What was the mysterious program that had so alarmed Comey? Political blogs buzzed for weeks with speculation. Though Comey testified that the program was subsequently readjusted to satisfy his concerns, one can't help wondering whether the unspecified alteration would satisfy constitutional experts, or even average citizens. Faced with push-back from his bosses at the White House, did he simply relent and accept a token concession? Two months after Comey's testimony to Congress, the New York Times reported a tantalizing detail: The program that prompted him "to threaten resignation involved computer searches through massive electronic databases." The larger mystery remained intact, however. "It is not known precisely why searching the databases, or data mining, raised such a furious legal debate," the article conceded.

Another clue came from a rather unexpected source: President Bush himself. Addressing the nation from the Oval Office in 2005 after the first disclosures of the NSA's warrantless electronic surveillance became public, Bush insisted that the spying program in question was reviewed "every 45 days" as part of planning to assess threats to "the continuity of our government."

Few Americans—professional journalists included—know anything about so-called Continuity of Government (COG) programs, so it's no surprise that the president's passing reference received almost no attention. COG resides in a nebulous legal realm, encompassing national emergency plans that would trigger the takeover of the country by extra-constitutional forces—and effectively suspend the republic. In short, it's a road map for martial law.

While Comey, who left the Department of Justice in 2005, has steadfastly refused to comment further on the matter, a number of former government employees and intelligence sources with independent knowledge of domestic surveillance operations claim the program that caused the flap between Comey and the White House was related to a database of Americans who might be considered potential threats in the event of a national emergency. Sources familiar with the program say that the government's data gathering has been overzealous and probably conducted in violation of federal law and the protection from unreasonable search and seizure guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment.

According to a senior government official who served with high-level security clearances in five administrations, "There exists a database of Americans, who, often for the slightest and most trivial reason, are considered unfriendly, and who, in a time of panic, might be incarcerated. The database can identify and locate perceived 'enemies of the state' almost instantaneously." He and other sources tell Radar that the database is sometimes referred to by the code name Main Core. One knowledgeable source claims that 8 million Americans are now listed in Main Core as potentially suspect. In the event of a national emergency, these people could be subject to everything from heightened surveillance and tracking to direct questioning and possibly even detention.

Of course, federal law is somewhat vague as to what might constitute a "national emergency." Executive orders issued over the past three decades define it as a "natural disaster, military attack, [or] technological or other emergency," while Department of Defense documents include eventualities like "riots, acts of violence, insurrections, unlawful obstructions or assemblages, [and] disorder prejudicial to public law and order." According to one news report, even "national opposition to U.S. military invasion abroad" could be a trigger.

Let's imagine a harrowing scenario: coordinated bombings in several American cities culminating in a major blast—say, a suitcase nuke—in New York City. Thousands of civilians are dead. Commerce is paralyzed. A state of emergency is declared by the president. Continuity of Governance plans that were developed during the Cold War and aggressively revised since 9/11 go into effect. Surviving government officials are shuttled to protected underground complexes carved into the hills of Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Power shifts to a "parallel government" that consists of scores of secretly preselected officials. (As far back as the 1980s, Donald Rumsfeld, then CEO of a pharmaceutical company, and Dick Cheney, then a congressman from Wyoming, were slated to step into key positions during a declared emergency.) The executive branch is the sole and absolute seat of authority, with Congress and the judiciary relegated to advisory roles at best. The country becomes, within a matter of hours, a police state.

Interestingly, plans drawn up during the Reagan administration suggest this parallel government would be ruling under authority given by law to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, home of the same hapless bunch that recently proved themselves unable to distribute water to desperate hurricane victims. The agency's incompetence in tackling natural disasters is less surprising when one considers that, since its inception in the 1970s, much of its focus has been on planning for the survival of the federal government in the wake of a decapitating nuclear strike.

Under law, during a national emergency, FEMA and its parent organization, the Department of Homeland Security, would be empowered to seize private and public property, all forms of transport, and all food supplies. The agency could dispatch military commanders to run state and local governments, and it could order the arrest of citizens without a warrant, holding them without trial for as long as the acting government deems necessary. From the comfortable perspective of peaceful times, such behavior by the government may seem far-fetched. But it was not so very long ago that FDR ordered 120,000 Japanese Americans—everyone from infants to the elderly—be held in detention camps for the duration of World War II. This is widely regarded as a shameful moment in U.S. history, a lesson learned. But a long trail of federal documents indicates that the possibility of large-scale detention has never quite been abandoned by federal authorities. Around the time of the 1968 race riots, for instance, a paper drawn up at the U.S. Army War College detailed plans for rounding up millions of "militants" and "American negroes," who were to be held at "assembly centers or relocation camps." In the late 1980s, the Austin American-Statesman and other publications reported the existence of 10 detention camp sites on military facilities nationwide, where hundreds of thousands of people could be held in the event of domestic political upheaval. More such facilities were commissioned in 2006, when Kellogg Brown & Root—then a subsidiary of Halliburton—was handed a $385 million contract to establish "temporary detention and processing capabilities" for the Department of Homeland Security. The contract is short on details, stating only that the facilities would be used for "an emergency influx of immigrants, or to support the rapid development of new programs." Just what those "new programs" might be is not specified.

In the days after our hypothetical terror attack, events might play out like this: With the population gripped by fear and anger, authorities undertake unprecedented actions in the name of public safety. Officials at the Department of Homeland Security begin actively scrutinizing people who—for a tremendously broad set of reasons—have been flagged in Main Core as potential domestic threats. Some of these individuals might receive a letter or a phone call, others a request to register with local authorities. Still others might hear a knock on the door and find police or armed soldiers outside. In some instances, the authorities might just ask a few questions. Other suspects might be arrested and escorted to federal holding facilities, where they could be detained without counsel until the state of emergency is no longer in effect.

It is, of course, appropriate for any government to plan for the worst. But when COG plans are shrouded in extreme secrecy, effectively unregulated by Congress or the courts, and married to an overreaching surveillance state—as seems to be the case with Main Core—even sober observers must weigh whether the protections put in place by the federal government are becoming more dangerous to America than any outside threat.

Another well-informed source—a former military operative regularly briefed by members of the intelligence community—says this particular program has roots going back at least to the 1980s and was set up with help from the Defense Intelligence Agency. He has been told that the program utilizes software that makes predictive judgments of targets' behavior and tracks their circle of associations with "social network analysis" and artificial intelligence modeling tools.

"The more data you have on a particular target, the better [the software] can predict what the target will do, where the target will go, who it will turn to for help," he says. "Main Core is the table of contents for all the illegal information that the U.S. government has [compiled] on specific targets." An intelligence expert who has been briefed by high-level contacts in the Department of Homeland Security confirms that a database of this sort exists, but adds that "it is less a mega-database than a way to search numerous other agency databases at the same time."

A host of publicly disclosed programs, sources say, now supply data to Main Core. Most notable are the NSA domestic surveillance programs, initiated in the wake of 9/11, typically referred to in press reports as "warrantless wiretapping."

In March, a front-page article in the Wall Street Journal shed further light onto the extraordinarily invasive scope of the NSA efforts: According to the Journal, the government can now electronically monitor "huge volumes of records of domestic e-mails and Internet searches, as well as bank transfers, credit card transactions, travel, and telephone records." Authorities employ "sophisticated software programs" to sift through the data, searching for "suspicious patterns." In effect, the program is a mass catalog of the private lives of Americans. And it's notable that the article hints at the possibility of programs like Main Core. "The [NSA] effort also ties into data from an ad-hoc collection of so-called black programs whose existence is undisclosed," the Journal reported, quoting unnamed officials. "Many of the programs in various agencies began years before the 9/11 attacks but have since been given greater reach."

The following information seems to be fair game for collection without a warrant: the e-mail addresses you send to and receive from, and the subject lines of those messages; the phone numbers you dial, the numbers that dial in to your line, and the durations of the calls; the Internet sites you visit and the keywords in your Web searches; the destinations of the airline tickets you buy; the amounts and locations of your ATM withdrawals; and the goods and services you purchase on credit cards. All of this information is archived on government supercomputers and, according to sources, also fed into the Main Core database.

Main Core also allegedly draws on four smaller databases that, in turn, cull from federal, state, and local "intelligence" reports; print and broadcast media; financial records; "commercial databases"; and unidentified "private sector entities." Additional information comes from a database known as the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, which generates watch lists from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence for use by airlines, law enforcement, and border posts. According to the Washington Post, the Terrorist Identities list has quadrupled in size between 2003 and 2007 to include about 435,000 names. The FBI's Terrorist Screening Center border crossing list, which listed 755,000 persons as of fall 2007, grows by 200,000 names a year. A former NSA officer tells Radar that the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, using an electronic-funds transfer surveillance program, also contributes data to Main Core, as does a Pentagon program that was created in 2002 to monitor antiwar protesters and environmental activists such as Greenpeace.

If previous FEMA and FBI lists are any indication, the Main Core database includes dissidents and activists of various stripes, political and tax protesters, lawyers and professors, publishers and journalists, gun owners, illegal aliens, foreign nationals, and a great many other harmless, average people.

A veteran CIA intelligence analyst who maintains active high-level clearances and serves as an advisor to the Department of Defense in the field of emerging technology tells Radar that during the 2004 hospital room drama, James Comey expressed concern over how this secret database was being used "to accumulate otherwise private data on non-targeted U.S. citizens for use at a future time." Though not specifically familiar with the name Main Core, he adds, "What was being requested of Comey for legal approval was exactly what a Main Core story would be." A source regularly briefed by people inside the intelligence community adds: "Comey had discovered that President Bush had authorized NSA to use a highly classified and compartmentalized Continuity of Government database on Americans in computerized searches of its domestic intercepts. [Comey] had concluded that the use of that 'Main Core' database compromised the legality of the overall NSA domestic surveillance project."

If Main Core does exist, says Philip Giraldi, a former CIA counterterrorism officer and an outspoken critic of the agency, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is its likely home. "If a master list is being compiled, it would have to be in a place where there are no legal issues"—the CIA and FBI would be restricted by oversight and accountability laws—"so I suspect it is at DHS, which as far as I know operates with no such restraints." Giraldi notes that DHS already maintains a central list of suspected terrorists and has been freely adding people who pose no reasonable threat to domestic security. "It's clear that DHS has the mandate for controlling and owning master lists. The process is not transparent, and the criteria for getting on the list are not clear." Giraldi continues, "I am certain that the content of such a master list [as Main Core] would not be carefully vetted, and there would be many names on it for many reasons—quite likely including the two of us."

Would Main Core in fact be legal? According to constitutional scholar Bruce Fein, who served as associate deputy attorney general under Ronald Reagan, the question of legality is murky: "In the event of a national emergency, the executive branch simply assumes these powers"—the powers to collect domestic intelligence and draw up detention lists, for example—"if Congress doesn't explicitly prohibit it. It's really up to Congress to put these things to rest, and Congress has not done so." Fein adds that it is virtually impossible to contest the legality of these kinds of data collection and spy programs in court "when there are no criminal prosecutions and [there is] no notice to persons on the president's 'enemies list.' That means if Congress remains invertebrate, the law will be whatever the president says it is—even in secret. He will be the judge on his own powers and invariably rule in his own favor."

The veteran CIA intelligence analyst notes that Comey's suggestion that the offending elements of the program were dropped could be misleading: "Bush [may have gone ahead and] signed it as a National Intelligence Finding anyway."

But even if we never face a national emergency, the mere existence of the database is a matter of concern. "The capacity for future use of this information against the American people is so great as to be virtually unfathomable," the senior government official says.
In any case, mass watch lists of domestic citizens may do nothing to make us safer from terrorism. Jeff Jonas, chief scientist at IBM, a world-renowned expert in data mining, contends that such efforts won't prevent terrorist conspiracies. "Because there is so little historical terrorist event data," Jonas tells Radar, "there is not enough volume to create precise predictions."

The overzealous compilation of a domestic watch list is not unique in postwar American history. In 1950, the FBI, under the notoriously paranoid J. Edgar Hoover, began to "accumulate the names, identities, and activities" of suspect American citizens in a rapidly expanding "security index," according to declassified documents. In a letter to the Truman White House, Hoover stated that in the event of certain emergency situations, suspect individuals would be held in detention camps overseen by "the National Military Establishment." By 1960, a congressional investigation later revealed, the FBI list of suspicious persons included "professors, teachers, and educators; labor-union organizers and leaders; writers, lecturers, newsmen, and others in the mass-media field; lawyers, doctors, and scientists; other potentially influential persons on a local or national level; [and] individuals who could potentially furnish financial or material aid" to unnamed "subversive elements." This same FBI "security index" was allegedly maintained and updated into the 1980s, when it was reportedly transferred to the control of none other than FEMA (though the FBI denied this at the time).

FEMA, however—then known as the Federal Preparedness Agency—already had its own domestic surveillance system in place, according to a 1975 investigation by Senator John V. Tunney of California. Tunney, the son of heavyweight boxing champion Gene Tunney and the inspiration for Robert Redford's character in the film The Candidate, found that the agency maintained electronic dossiers on at least 100,000 Americans that contained information gleaned from wide-ranging computerized surveillance. The database was located in the agency's secret underground city at Mount Weather, near the town of Bluemont, Virginia. The senator's findings were confirmed in a 1976 investigation by the Progressive magazine, which found that the Mount Weather computers "can obtain millions of pieces [of] information on the personal lives of American citizens by tapping the data stored at any of the 96 Federal Relocation Centers"—a reference to other classified facilities. According to the Progressive, Mount Weather's databases were run "without any set of stated rules or regulations. Its surveillance program remains secret even from the leaders of the House and the Senate."

Ten years later, a new round of government martial law plans came to light. A report in the Miami Herald contended that Reagan loyalist and Iran-Contra conspirator Colonel Oliver North had spearheaded the development of a "secret contingency plan,"—code-named REX 84—which called "for suspension of the Constitution, turning control of the United States over to FEMA, [and the] appointment of military commanders to run state and local governments." The North plan also reportedly called for the detention of upwards of 400,000 illegal aliens and an undisclosed number of American citizens in at least 10 military facilities maintained as potential holding camps.

North's program was so sensitive in nature that when Texas congressman Jack Brooks attempted to question North about it during the 1987 Iran-Contra hearings, he was rebuffed even by his fellow legislators. "I read in Miami papers and several others that there had been a plan by that same agency [FEMA] that would suspend the American Constitution," Brooks said. "I was deeply concerned about that and wondered if that was the area in which he [North] had worked." Senator Daniel Inouye, chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Iran, immediately cut off his colleague, saying, "That question touches upon a highly sensitive and classified area, so may I request that you not touch upon that, sir." Though Brooks pushed for an answer, the line of questioning was not allowed to proceed.

Wired magazine turned up additional damaging information, revealing in 1993 that North, operating from a secure White House site, allegedly employed a software database program called PROMIS (ostensibly as part of the REX 84 plan). PROMIS, which has a strange and controversial history, was designed to track individuals—prisoners, for example—by pulling together information from disparate databases into a single record. According to Wired, "Using the computers in his command center, North tracked dissidents and potential troublemakers within the United States. Compared to PROMIS, Richard Nixon's enemies list or Senator Joe McCarthy's blacklist look downright crude." Sources have suggested to Radar that government databases tracking Americans today, including Main Core, could still have PROMIS-based legacy code from the days when North was running his programs.

In the wake of 9/11, domestic surveillance programs of all sorts expanded dramatically. As one well-placed source in the intelligence community puts it, "The gloves seemed to come off." What is not yet clear is what sort of still-undisclosed programs may have been authorized by the Bush White House. Marty Lederman, a high-level official at the Department of Justice under Clinton, writing on a law blog last year, wondered, "How extreme were the programs they implemented [after 9/11]? How egregious was the lawbreaking?" Congress has tried, and mostly failed, to find out.

In July 2007 and again last August, Representative Peter DeFazio, a Democrat from Oregon and a senior member of the House Homeland Security Committee, sought access to the "classified annexes" of the Bush administration's Continuity of Government program. DeFazio's interest was prompted by Homeland Security Presidential Directive 20 (also known as NSPD-51), issued in May 2007, which reserves for the executive branch the sole authority to decide what constitutes a national emergency and to determine when the emergency is over. DeFazio found this unnerving.

But he and other leaders of the Homeland Security Committee, including Chairman Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, were denied a review of the Continuity of Government classified annexes. To this day, their calls for disclosure have been ignored by the White House. In a press release issued last August, DeFazio went public with his concerns that the NSPD-51 Continuity of Government plans are "extra-constitutional or unconstitutional." Around the same time, he told the Oregonian: "Maybe the people who think there's a conspiracy out there are right."

Congress itself has recently widened the path for both extra-constitutional detentions by the White House and the domestic use of military force during a national emergency. The Military Commissions Act of 2006 effectively suspended habeas corpus and freed up the executive branch to designate any American citizen an "enemy combatant" forfeiting all privileges accorded under the Bill of Rights. The John Warner National Defense Authorization Act, also passed in 2006, included a last-minute rider titled "Use of the Armed Forces in Major Public Emergencies," which allowed the deployment of U.S. military units not just to put down domestic insurrections—as permitted under posse comitatus and the Insurrection Act of 1807—but also to deal with a wide range of calamities, including "natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack, or incident."

More troubling, in 2002, Congress authorized funding for the U.S. Northern Command, or NORTHCOM, which, according to Washington Post military intelligence expert William Arkin, "allows for emergency military operations in the United States without civilian supervision or control."

"We are at the edge of a cliff and we're about to fall off," says constitutional lawyer and former Reagan administration official Bruce Fein. "To a national emergency planner, everybody looks like a danger to stability. There's no doubt that Congress would have the authority to denounce all this—for example, to refuse to appropriate money for the preparation of a list of U.S. citizens to be detained in the event of martial law. But Congress is the invertebrate branch. They say, 'We have to be cautious.' The same old crap you associate with cowards. None of this will change under a Democratic administration, unless you have exceptional statesmanship and the courage to stand up and say, 'You know, democracies accept certain risks that tyrannies do not.'"

As of this writing, DeFazio, Thompson, and the other 433 members of the House are debating the so-called Protect America Act, after a similar bill passed in the Senate. Despite its name, the act offers no protection for U.S. citizens; instead, it would immunize from litigation U.S. telecom giants for colluding with the government in the surveillance of Americans to feed the hungry maw of databases like Main Core. The Protect America Act would legalize programs that appear to be unconstitutional.

Meanwhile, the mystery of James Comey's testimony has disappeared in the morass of election year coverage. None of the leading presidential candidates have been asked the questions that are so profoundly pertinent to the future of the country: As president, will you continue aggressive domestic surveillance programs in the vein of the Bush administration? Will you release the COG blueprints that Representatives DeFazio and Thompson were not allowed to read? What does it suggest about the state of the nation that the U.S. is now ranked by worldwide civil liberties groups as an "endemic surveillance society," alongside repressive regimes such as China and Russia? How can a democracy thrive with a massive apparatus of spying technology deployed against every act of political expression, private or public? (Radar put these questions to spokespeople for the McCain, Obama, and Clinton campaigns, but at press time had yet to receive any responses.)

These days, it's rare to hear a voice like that of Senator Frank Church, who in the 1970s led the explosive investigations into U.S. domestic intelligence crimes that prompted the very reforms now being eroded. "The technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny," Church pointed out in 1975. "And there would be no way to fight back, because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know."


UPDATE: Since this article went to press, several documents have emerged to suggest the story has longer legs than we thought. Most troubling among these is an October 2001 Justice Department memo that detailed the extra-constitutional powers the U.S. military might invoke during domestic operations following a terrorist attack. In the memo, John Yoo, then deputy assistant attorney general, "concluded that the Fourth Amendment had no application to domestic military operations." (Yoo, as most readers know, is author of the infamous Torture Memo that, in bizarro fashion, rejiggers the definition of "legal" torture to allow pretty much anything short of murder.) In the October 2001 memo, Yoo refers to a classified DOJ document titled "Authority for Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist Activities Within the United States." According to the Associated Press, "Exactly what domestic military action was covered by the October memo is unclear. But federal documents indicate that the memo relates to the National Security Agency's Terrorist Surveillance Program." Attorney General John Mukasey last month refused to clarify before Congress whether the Yoo memo was still in force.

Meanwhile, congressional sources tell Radar that Congressman Peter DeFazio has apparently abandoned his effort to get to the bottom of the White House COG classified annexes. Penny Dodge, DeFazio's chief of staff, says otherwise. "We will be sending a letter requesting a classified briefing soon," she told Radar this week.

Christopher Ketcham writes for Harper's, GQ, and Mother Jones, among other publications. He splits his time between Utah and Brooklyn, NY.

Consciousness of Guilt: Genocide in Iraq?

Consciousness of Guilt: Genocide in Iraq?

By DAVID MODEL

Go To Original

Despite the precipitous plunge in his popularity and growing criticism of his competency, character, and style, George W. Bush is not really that much different from other presidents with respect to his hegemonic ambitions or his proclivity to use force to achieve foreign policy objectives. Continuing historical patterns, President Bush and all presidents since World War II have committed horrendous crimes against humanity in order to protect and advance American interests under the guise of liberating people from under the jackboot of brutal dictators or communist subversives, bringing democracy to totalitarian states, improving the lives of those who are suffering and eradicating terrorism.

These are laudable goals reflecting prevailing shibboleths domestically. These goals are an alluring mantle for the real paradigm governing foreign policy which is the pursuit of American interests with total indifference to the consequences to people victimized by American “ideals”.

The gaping discrepancy between the stated goals of American foreign policy and its praxis is best exemplified by the apogee of war crimes: genocide. In its pursuit of these lofty goals, the United States has committed genocide in Iraq. Intervention resulting in genocide at the very minimum proves that American government’s professed motives for foreign policy decisions are altogether specious.

Rationalizations for the application of military force have been based on euphemistic doctrines which have no basis in American or international law. George W. Bush’s doctrine of preemptive war was not new to foreign and defence policy strategists but can be traced back to Dean Acheson’s doctrine dismissing the applicability of international law to the United States as outlined in a speech to the American Society of International Law in 1963 in which he argued that:

The power, position and prestige of the US had been challenged [Cuban Missile Crisis] by another state and the law does not deal with such questions of ultimate power – power that comes close to the source of sovereignty. [1]

In other words, national interests including meretricious threats to the sovereignty of the American State supersede international law despite the fact the United Nations Charter makes provisions for these exigencies.

The growing appetite for the unilateral application of force resulted in the “humanitarian intervention” or “illegal but legitimate” doctrine during the Clinton and Bush presidencies. This doctrine validated acts of preemption that justified the use of force whenever a threat was neither imminent nor substantial but necessary to defend the security interests of the United States against a perceived threat easily manufactured through the propaganda of fear.

Invading and occupying Iraq under the pretext of a preemptive war, a country already decimated by Dessert Storm, sanctions and no-fly-zones, represents the quintessential tragedy and hypocrisy of American foreign policy. To verify that the American Government is guilty of genocide in Iraq, I will establish a set of criteria based on the United Nations Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and apply them to Iraq.

The UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide sets out a number of criteria to evaluate whether or not a war crime attains the magnitude of genocide. These criteria are not without controversy but by examining the scholarly literature on the subject and the judgments of the International Criminal Court, I have established conservative standards to assess whether or not the American Government is responsible for genocide in Iraq.

According to the Convention:

Genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, such as:

a) Killing members of the group;
b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm;
c) Deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or part;
d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Although the phrase “in whole or in part” sounds ambiguous, its ambit has been restricted by judgments of the International Criminal Court. According to the Rapporteur for the Preparatory Commission of the International Criminal Court, “The accused aimed to destroy a large part of the group in a particular area.”

The International Criminal Court for the former Yugoslavia concluded that “The killing of all members of a group within a small geographical area” was tantamount to genocide.

Notwithstanding the imprecision of these definitions of “part”, the area in Bosnia referred to in the ruling sets a baseline for future cases. The architect of the Convention, Raphael Lemkin, intended to define “in part” as a level of destruction sufficiently substantial to imperil the existence of the group. Shedding even further light on this problem, the Convention itself considers attempted genocide to be punishable under the Convention implying that intent alone is sufficient to establish guilt.

“Intent” is another term in need of clarification. Apart from direct evidence through orders, statements, or coordinated acts, intention can be shown if “Acts of destruction that are not the specific goal but are predictable outcomes or by-products of a policy, which may have been avoided by a change in that policy.” [2]

The Genocide Convention defines two basic levels of guilt: the direct commission of genocide and complicity to commit genocide.

Complicity in genocide must embody:

    1. Intentional participation;
    2. Knowledge of the genocidal intent of the perpetrators;
    3. Organizing, planning, supplying arms, training intelligence, or direct military support.

One example of direct American genocide, Iraq, has suffered massive destruction to its infrastructure, the economy and human life, particularly since the imposition of American sanctions in 1990 and the bombing in 1991. UN Resolution 661 mandated sanctions against Iraq originally to force Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait. The resolution was worded in such a way as to grant the United States a veto over which products could be traded with Iraq. The American government exploited that veto to severely punish the people of Iraq in the hope that they would overthrow Saddam Hussein themselves.

According to a 1993 UNICEF study, “What has become increasingly clear is that no significant movement toward food security can be achieved so long as the embargo remains in place.” [3]

Declassified documents divulge the fact that the Americans were aware of and responsible for a humanitarian crisis caused by the sanctions. A Defense Intelligence Agency report on January 18, 1991 concludes that:

Failing to secure supplies [for Iraq] will result in a shortage of pure drinking water for much of the population. This could lead to increased incidences; if not epidemics of disease…Current public health problems are attributable to the reduction of normal preventative medicine, waste disposal, water purification and distribution electricity, and the decreased ability to control disease outbreaks.[4]

On January 15, 1991, B-52s were flying towards their targets in Iraq and cruise missiles were fired from ships in the Indian Ocean. Iraqi defences were incapable of offering any resistance.

Restricting the bombing to only military targets was not part of the U.S. war plan whereas targets included hospitals, electric utilities, schools, factories, water treatment plants, irrigation systems, food storage facilities and community health centres. Over 200,000 people died, the majority of whom were civilians.

In 2003, George Bush Junior inflicted further atrocities on the devastated people of Iraq and on a country virtually bombed back into pre-industrial times by another so-called war. As of today, Iraq has suffered a further one million casualties and four million refugees.

Whether or not the administrations of Bush Senior, Clinton, and Bush Junior intended to commit genocide in Iraq is irrelevant because the consequences of the bombings and sanctions could have been predicted by any reasonable person. The actions of these administrations clearly resulted in mass killing, serious bodily and mental harm, and the infliction of conditions calculated to bring about Iraq’s physical destruction in whole or in part. Iraq is a clear-cut case of genocide.

The carnage resulting from this genocide clearly exposes the disparity between the professed principles of American foreign policy and its manifest practice. This hypocrisy betrays the indifference of American leaders to basic democratic principles and to respect for both domestic and international law.

David Model is a Professor of Political Science at Seneca College. He is the author of States of Darkness: US Complicity in Genocides Since 1945. He can be reached at: david.model@senecac.on.ca

Notes

[1] Acheson, D. (1968). Dean Acheson’s remark is quoted in Louis Henkin: “How Nations Behave: Law and Foreign Policy.” Columbia University Press. P. 265-266.

[2] Gellately, R., and Kiernan, B. (Eds.). (2003). The Specter of Genocide: Mass Murder in Historical Perspective. New York: Cambridge University Press. P. 15.

[3] UNICEF Report. (1993). Children, War, and Sanctions. Cited in Ullrich, G. (1998) “The effects of Sanctions on the Civilian Community of Iraq.”

[4] Defense Intelligence Agency. (1991, January 8). Iraq Water Treatment Vulnerabilities.

Oil Rises Above $133 to Record as Stockpiles Drop

Oil Rises Above $133 on U.S. Supply Drop, Bank Price Forecasts

By Mark Shenk

Go To Original

Crude oil rose to a record above $133 a barrel as U.S. stockpiles unexpectedly dropped and banks raised price forecasts because of supply constraints and demand growth.

Supplies fell 5.32 million barrels to 320.4 million last week, the biggest drop in four months, the Energy Department said. Oil for December 2016 delivery rose more than $19 a barrel, or 16 percent, after Goldman Sachs Group Inc. on May 16 raised its outlook to $141 a barrel for the second-half of the year.

''What we have here is a situation where essentially higher prices aren't generating any more supply,'' Paul Sankey, an analyst at Deutsche Bank Securities in New York said in an interview with Bloomberg radio. ''What we have to do is keep pricing the commodity higher until demand starts falling,'' which ''is around $150 a barrel.''

Crude oil for July delivery rose $4.23, or 3.3 percent, to $133.21 a barrel at the 2:30 p.m. close of floor trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after reaching $133.38. Prices have more than doubled from a year ago.

Gasoline and heating-oil futures in New York also climbed to records. Gasoline for June delivery rose 9.19 cents, or 2.8 percent, to $3.3963 a gallon, after touching $3.40. Heating oil for June delivery rose 13.45 cents, or 3.6 percent, to $3.9095 a gallon, after reaching an all-time high of $3.913.

Higher Pump Prices

Pump prices are following futures higher. Regular gasoline, averaged nationwide, rose 0.7 cent to a record $3.807 a gallon, AAA, the nation's largest motorist organization, said today on its Web site.

An inventory increase of 300,000 barrels was forecast, according to the median of responses by 15 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News before the report's release.

The supply decline left inventories 0.9 percent below the five-year average for the week, the Energy Department said. Stockpiles were 0.8 percent above normal a week earlier.

Imports fell 7 percent to 9.24 million barrels a day, the report showed. Imports have averaged 9.86 million barrels a day so far this year, down 0.9 percent from the same period last year, according to department figures.

''In this high-priced environment we are seeing refiners cut back on imports,'' said Antoine Halff, head of energy research at New York-based Newedge USA LLC. ''High prices and credit tightness are making it much harder to build supply.''

Brent crude oil for July settlement rose $4.88, or 3.8 percent, to $132.72 a barrel on London's ICE Futures Europe exchange. The contract touched $132.94 today, the highest since trading began in 1988.

'Well Supplied'

The crude-oil market is ''well supplied,'' Libya's top oil official Shokri Ghanem said today, rejecting calls for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to increase production to curb prices. OPEC, which pumps more than 40 percent of the world's oil, isn't planning to meet before its next scheduled conference in September to review production, he said.

''OPEC is playing with fire,'' said Rick Mueller, director of oil practice at Energy Security Analysis Inc. in Wakefield, Massachusetts. ''While they may be right from a fundamental standpoint about crude supplies, at this time it will take more than words from them to bring prices down. We will need to see more gestures like the Saudis made, to lower prices.''

Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi told reporters on May 16 that the kingdom is planning a 300,000 barrel-a-day output increase, to bring June production to 9.45 million barrels a day.

''Once prices hit $150 or $200 like our friends at Goldman are saying, we are looking at $5 or $6 gasoline, which will really hurt demand and cause a recession,'' Mueller said.

Goldman Forecasts

Goldman analyst Arjun N. Murti said in a May 16 report that ''the possibility of $150-$200 per barrel seems increasingly likely over the next six-24 months.'' Murti first wrote of a ''super spike'' in March 2005, predicting crude may trade between $50 and $105 a barrel through 2009.

U.S. oil-company executives told Congress oil prices should be between $35 and $90 a barrel. Representatives of the five largest publicly traded oil companies appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee to testify on record energy prices. Appearing today were representatives of BP Plc, ConocoPhillips, Chevron Corp., Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell Plc.

The price of oil should be ''somewhere between $35 and $65 a barrel,'' John Hofmeister, president of Shell Oil Co., the Houston-based subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell, said at the hearing today. Other executives said prices should be as much as $90 a barrel.

Strategic Reserve

Congress last week approved legislation to halt deliveries to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in an effort to respond to record prices.

Airlines have been hit by higher jet fuel costs. The price of the fuel, the largest expense at many airlines, has climbed 84 percent in the past year and traded at a record $3.9684 a gallon in New York Harbor today.

AMR Corp.'s American Airlines, the world's largest carrier, will world's largest carrier, said it will cut ''thousands'' of jobs as it responds to high fuel prices and slowing demand.

Bill C51 - How to Slip In CODEX


Please view and MASS FORWARD this You Tube re C-51. Spread the MEME!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbxItUVwyXA

See Most recent Alerts at http://www.ymlp.com/pubarchive.php?jham Top most one was sent TODAY, Urgent Mssg for Americans and Canadians re Health Canada Sneak Attack Launched Late Last Night.

Stakeholder Meeting on C-51 sponsored by Health Canada is being held TODAY in Richmond BC on less than 24 Hrs notice.

IAHF is feverishly sounding an alert across N.America because unless KILLED in Canada, C-51 will NUKE Health Freedom in the USA too. Full explanation in alerts and at http://www.stopc51.com

This is not a drill. The New World Order "elitists" have planned the worldwide food shortage in order to implement their Sustainable Development Treaty goals. (Food control is people control). You can peruse the N.W.O.worldwide population reduction goals by accessing website at: http://onlinejournal.com/artman/publish/article_3304.shtml

If you appreciate IAHF's tireless efforts to monkeywrench the NWOs population control plans and societal control agenda, please let us know via a donation that will help us pay for gas and lodging while sounding an urgent alert all over the metro Vancouver BC Area and the World: Paypal link at http://www.iahf.com/index1.html top left part of page above the word "Contents" or send check to IAHF 556 Boundary Bay Rd., Point Roberts WA 98281 USA

Please mass forward. Thanks! The life you save could be your

Source

Former CIA official indicted anew in bribery case

Former CIA official indicted anew in bribery case

Go To Original

A new indictment of a former top CIA official alleges that he received bribes in the form of "sexual companionship" in exchange for helping a friend get an edge in landing multimillion-dollar contracts from the agency.

Federal prosecutors in Alexandria, Va., on Tuesday obtained a superseding indictment against Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, who as executive director held the CIA's No. 3 rank before leaving in 2006.

The indictment accuses Foggo of accepting tens of thousands of dollars in meals, vacations and other perks in exchange for helping friend Brent Wilkes obtain various contracts with the CIA.

The new indictment also includes an allegation that Foggo received sexual companionship and "enrichment of a mistress," though the allegations are not detailed in the indictment.

Calls and an e-mail sent to Foggo's lawyers were not immediately returned Tuesday.

The sexual companionship allegation may be new to the formal charges against Foggo, but they are a familiar part of the case as a whole. Wilkes has already pleaded guilty to paying bribes to then-Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Calif., some of which came in the form of prostitutes.

The superseding indictment also adds new counts of making false statements and conflict of interest against Foggo. Specifically, the indictment accuses him of failing to disclose the various gifts he received from Wilkes on his federal financial disclosure form.

The conflict of interest charges allege, among other things, that Foggo tried to steer to Wilkes a contract worth more than $100 million to provide air support to the CIA, even as Foggo stood to benefit financially.

Generally, though, the new indictment spells out many of the same allegations made previously; prosecutors had said earlier this year that the new indictment would not contain any major surprises for the defense.

CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield said Tuesday that "the CIA has cooperated closely with the investigating agencies and the Department of Justice. That cooperation continues today."

A hearing is scheduled for Thursday.

Wider Antiterror Role for Elite Forces Rejected

Wider Antiterror Role for Elite Forces Rejected

Go To Original

The military’s elite Special Operations Command has quietly stepped back from a controversial plan that gave it the authority to carry out secret counterterrorism missions on its own around the world.

The decision culminates four years of misgivings within the military that the command, with its expertise in commando missions and unconventional war, would use its broader mandate too aggressively, by carrying out operations that had not been reviewed or approved by the regional commanders.

A new Special Operations commander, Adm. Eric T. Olson of the Navy Seals, has now said publicly that he intends to play a different role, and will instead continue the command’s new mission as coordinator of the military’s counterterrorism efforts around the world.

The shift reverses what Donald H. Rumsfeld put in place as defense secretary in 2004, when he said he wanted the Special Operations Command, based in Tampa, Fla., to operate unilaterally; he believed that it would be more aggressive in hunting down terrorists than the regional commanders, who are tied most closely to conventional forces.

Roger D. Carstens, a 20-year veteran of Special Operations missions who is now a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, a Washington policy institute, said the Special Operations Command finally “came to the conclusion that its role is not to be that of a global Lone Ranger who shows up at the last second to dispatch the bad guys.”

“That just can’t be done,” Mr. Carstens said, “or rather it should not be done.”

The change is the latest rejection of initiatives that Mr. Rumsfeld set forth during almost six years as defense secretary, before stepping down in 2006. His successor, Robert M. Gates, has increased the size of the ground forces, a move Mr. Rumsfeld resisted; signed off on a plan to keep more troops in Europe than Mr. Rumsfeld had envisioned; and called for future budgets to focus on the weapons needed to fight insurgents and terrorists today, rather than on investments in next-generation technology advocated by Mr. Rumsfeld.

Mr. Gates, a former director of central intelligence, has also reined in some Pentagon intelligence operations and has otherwise sought to ease tensions caused by what intelligence officials saw as Mr. Rumsfeld’s attempts to give the Pentagon a more dominant role in American spying efforts.

It is not known how Mr. Gates views the decision by the Special Operations Command to back away from Mr. Rumsfeld’s view of its role. Mr. Gates has not discussed it publicly, and senior aides said they were not privy to his thinking on the matter.

But senior Pentagon and military officers made clear that the Special Operations Command was not independently carrying out its own secret counterterrorism missions, but was instead coordinating counterterrorism planning across the military, as well as fulfilling its traditional role of training and equipping Special Operations forces for the armed services.

Mr. Rumsfeld outlined his views in 2004 by advocating what was known as a new Unified Command Plan, one that would have shifted the center of gravity within the military. It declared that the Special Operations Command “leads, plans, synchronizes, and as directed, executes global operations against terrorist networks.” He stressed that his reorganization was intended to permit the command to send out its own small teams to capture or kill terrorists.

But Admiral Olson used a speech in March to the Center for a New American Security to register disagreement with that approach. “There was some sense that from our headquarters in Tampa we were in the business of directing specific activities that were really in the area of operations of other commanders, and we really don’t do that,” he said in the speech. He initially spoke off the record, but under an agreement with his command, the policy institute later posted his remarks on its Web site, www.cnas.org. “What we really do is, we synchronize plans and planning in the global war on terror,” he added.

Counterterrorism missions continue to be carried out under regional commanders, Admiral Olson said. Officers at the Special Operations Command, he said, “receive the plans, review the plans, coordinate the plans, deconflict them.” He also said the command made recommendations to the Joint Chiefs and the defense secretary “on how resources ought to be allocated around the world to match the demands of the global war on terror.”

Senior officials familiar with the admiral’s thinking say his comments reflect the same deliberate approach that his predecessors have adopted in interpreting Mr. Rumsfeld’s directive, and they say it is in keeping with the instruction that the Special Operations Command carry out its own missions only when first directed by the president or the defense secretary. Senior officials said that such missions had rarely, if ever, actually happened.

Mr. Carstens, of the Center for a New American Security, said that when the Unified Command Plan was first approved by Mr. Rumsfeld, many people thought the Special Operations Command would conduct military operations regardless of whether regional commanders had approved the missions. He said the Rumsfeld vision had been rejected. “It is not what we thought it was going to be when we first received the authority,” Mr. Carstens said. The way missions are carried out today, he added, “is not much different than what we have always done.”

In many ways, Mr. Rumsfeld’s goals for the Special Operations Command are being carried out by a subordinate unit, the Joint Special Operations Command.

That command is in charge of the armed forces’ most secretive counterterrorism units, and is credited with capturing or killing many of the most wanted terrorist or insurgent leaders, including Saddam Hussein. This elite command operates in full coordination with the regional commanders in the Middle East, East Asia and other parts of the world.

Veterans Attest to PTSD Neglect by VA

Veterans Attest to PTSD Neglect by VA

by: Maya Schenwar and Matt Renner

Go To Original

Recently released documents from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are further proof the VA has failed to adequately address the crisis in veterans' mental health care, according to a former top VA employee turned veterans' advocate.

In March, Norma J. Perez, the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) coordinator at a VA facility in Temple, Texas, wrote an email (PDF) to her subordinates stating: "Given that we have more and more compensation seeking veterans, I'd like to suggest that you refrain from giving a diagnosis of PTSD straight out. Consider a diagnosis of adjustment disorder, R/O [ruling out] PTSD ... we really don't or have time to do the extensive testing that should be done to determine PTSD."

In response, VA secretary James Peake said that the VA is "committed to absolute accuracy in a diagnosis and unwavering in providing any and all earned benefits. PTSD and the mental health arena is no exception." Peake placed the blame on Perez, saying that the memo revealed the mistake of a single employee, not VA policy.

However, the VA has been under fire from Congress and veterans' rights groups for more than a year for allegedly covering up and underreporting the mental health care crisis among veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. A lawsuit that is currently awaiting a final ruling seeks to force the VA to move quickly in addressing the mental and physical health needs of veterans.

Paul Sullivan, the executive director of Veterans for Common Sense (VCS), the veterans' rights organization which brought the lawsuit, said the Perez email exemplifies a larger trend. "The bottom line is that VA under the Bush administration has dropped the ball. The email sent by Perez proves our lawsuit was correct - VA is short staffed for mental health care and VA intentionally misdiagnoses veterans in order to save money. VA was illegally and unconscionably turning away suicidal veterans in need of emergency mental health care. We are asking the court to order VA to stop this outrageous practice," Sullivan said.

New VA documents obtained exclusively by VCS using the Freedom of Information Act indicate the Veterans Administration is only paying disability benefits for PTSD to 33,247 Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans, although 67,717 have been diagnosed with PTSD. According to Sullivan, VCS is calling for an investigation into this apparent discrepancy.

A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report in September 2007 stated that the VA's "lack of early identification techniques" led to "inconsistent diagnosis and treatment" of PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury. According to the GAO, early diagnosis is essential in preventing PTSD's consequences - which could be deadly.

Firsthand Accounts of PTSD Crisis

Kristofer Goldsmith, a former Army sergeant who was forced to stay in the military beyond his contract because of the "stop loss" order given by the president, testified about his experience with mental health care at Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We were told that if we were to seek mental health, we would be locked away and our careers would not advance. If I admitted that I had severe chronic depression, if I thought I had PTSD ... my career could have been ruined," Goldsmith said.

He received an adjustment disorder diagnosis after experiencing a panic attack in March 2007. Because he was not granted the PTSD label - despite displaying many symptoms of the disorder - he was ordered to deploy to Iraq for a second tour.

What Goldsmith described as a "sharp downward spiral" came to a head the day before he was scheduled to ship back to Iraq with his unit.

"The day before I was supposed to deploy, Memorial Day, I went out onto a field in Fort Stewart and tried to take my own life ... I took pills and drank vodka until I couldn't drink anymore. The next thing I knew I was handcuffed to a gurney in the hospital. The cops had found me and literally dragged my body into an ambulance," Goldsmith said in his testimony.

Finally, in October 2007, months after his suicide attempt, Goldsmith received a PTSD diagnosis from the VA.

According to Goldsmith, his experience was far from unique.

"While undergoing psychiatric treatment, I heard of many people being diagnosed with personality disorder and adjustment disorder instead of PTSD," Goldsmith told Truthout. "I believe this is a way for the Army to hide the levels of PTSD among its ranks, through the usage of misdiagnoses."

Suspicions about the VA's motives for misdiagnoses flared up over a year ago, when a series of news reports revealed many of the 22,500 soldiers diagnosed with "personality disorder" since 2001 were actually suffering from PTSD. Taken in conjunction with a rising suicide rate among veterans, the reports sparked a flurry of investigations and Congressional hearings.

"My concern is that this country is regressing and again ignoring legitimate claims of PTSD in favor of the time and money saving diagnosis of personality disorder," said Congressman Bob Filner, chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, at a July 27 hearing. "I want to know how the VA deals with veterans who have been labeled with a personality disorder. Does the burden fall on the veteran to prove that he or she doesn't have a personality disorder? Will such a diagnosis prevent the veteran from receiving health care once initial VA coverage ends? What extra barriers does this veteran face?"

Misdiagnosed vets are not only often deprived of proper treatment, Filner noted; they also miss out on condition-related benefits and subsidies. PTSD has attracted a lot of legislative attention over the past year, and new funding may soon become available for veterans with that diagnosis. Moreover, special programs geared toward PTSD are already in motion at many VA facilities, and vets without an official diagnosis are not eligible for those treatments.

For Iraq veteran Joe Wheeler, a delayed VA diagnosis meant two years of paying for his psychotropic medications out of pocket, at a time when his tenuous mental health made it tough to hold a job. Wheeler's doctors immediately diagnosed him with PTSD, but without an official VA acknowledgment of his condition, he was left without benefits.

"I was never told why my diagnosis was delayed," Wheeler said. "It's a faceless bureaucracy; most people within the VA don't understand the system themselves. And it's designed to be adversarial. They make it hard so that it costs them less money."

Wheeler no longer seeks treatment at the VA, preferring the financial strain of private treatment to the psychological strain he endured under VA care. With a different doctor - and along with the switch, a new medication - every few months, his experience at the VA was a saga of fits and starts; not exactly a recipe for recovery.

Recent studies back up Goldsmith's and Wheeler's charges of VA negligence in PTSD diagnosis. According to Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Daniel Akaka, the committee has uncovered "widespread inadequate evaluation of veterans claiming service-connection for PTSD due to combat exposure and military sexual trauma."

"Veterans often report to the Committee that during exams they were not asked about their military experience and received superficial evaluations," Akaka wrote in a letter to VA Secretary Peak last week. "Veterans' advocates report the reluctance of some VA examiners to provide a diagnosis of PTSD, even for veterans previously diagnosed with PTSD."

Akaka added that while the VA's own "Best Practice Manual for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Compensation and Pension Examinations" recommends a three-hour evaluation session for every potential PTSD sufferer, average exams clock in at 30 to 35 minutes.

Following the release of the Temple VA memo last week, Akaka requested the Office of the Inspector General begin an investigation into the PTSD diagnosis methods at Temple.

"This incident is both disturbing and disappointing, and provides further evidence that VA's mental health program requires significant attention," Akaka said in a statement on Friday. "Psychological war wounds are difficult to diagnose and harder still to heal, but they are no less real than any other service-connected injury. I continue to be concerned that VA's mental health system is unprepared for the rising demands placed on the system."

FBI "War Crimes" Investigation at Guantanamo Shut Down in 2003

Report Details Dissent on Guantánamo Tactics

Go To Original

In 2002, as evidence of prisoner mistreatment at Guantánamo BayFederal Bureau of Investigation agents at the base created a "war crimes file" to document accusations against American military personnel, but were eventually ordered to close down the file, a Justice Department report revealed Tuesday. began to mount,

The report, an exhaustive, 437-page review prepared by the Justice Department inspector general, provides the fullest account to date of internal dissent and confusion within the Bush administration over the use of harsh interrogation tactics by the military and the Central Intelligence Agency.

In one of several previously undisclosed episodes, the report found that American military interrogators appeared to have collaborated with visiting Chinese officials at Guantánamo Bay to disrupt the sleep of Chinese Muslims held there, waking them every 15 minutes the night before their interviews by the Chinese. In another incident, it said, a female interrogator reportedly bent back an inmate's thumbs and squeezed his genitals as he grimaced in pain.

The report describes what one official called "trench warfare" between the F.B.I. and the military over the rough methods being used on detainees in Guantánamo Bay, Afghanistan and Iraq.

The report says that the F.B.I. agents took their concerns to higher-ups, but that their concerns often fell on deaf ears: officials at senior levels at the F.B.I., the Justice Department, the Defense Department and the National Security Council were all made aware of the F.B.I. agents' complaints, but little appears to have been done as a result.

The report quotes passionate objections from F.B.I. officials who grew increasingly concerned about the reports of practices like intimidating inmates with snarling dogs, parading them in the nude before female soldiers, or "short-shackling" them to the floor for many hours in extreme heat or cold.

Such tactics, said one F.B.I. agent in an e-mail message to supervisors in November 2002, might violate American law banning torture.

More senior officials, including Spike Bowman, who was then the head of the national security law unit at the F.B.I., tried to sound the alarm as well.

"Beyond any doubt, what they are doing (and I don't know the extent of it) would be unlawful were these enemy prisoners of war," Mr. Bowman wrote in an e-mail message to top F.B.I. officials in July 2003.

Many of the abuses the report describes have previously been disclosed, but it was not known that F.B.I. agents had gone so far as to document accusations of abuse in a "war crimes file" at Guantánamo. The report does not say how many incidents were included in the file after it was started in 2002, but the "war crimes" label showed just how seriously F.B.I. agents took the accusations. Sometime in 2003, however, an F.B.I. official ordered the file closed because "investigating detainee allegations of abuse was not the F.B.I.'s mission," the report said.

The inspector general, Glenn A. Fine, found that in a few instances, F.B.I. agents participated in interrogations using pressure tactics that would not have been permitted inside the United States. But the "vast majority" of agents followed F.B.I. legal guidelines and "separated themselves" from harsh treatment, the report says.

The report says that the F.B.I. "had not provided sufficient guidance to its agents on how to respond when confronted with military interrogators" who used interrogation techniques that were not permitted by the F.B.I., and that fueled confusion and dissension. But it also says that "the F.B.I. should be credited for its conduct and professionalism in detainee interrogations in the military zones."

Jameel Jaffer, who tracks detainee issues for the American Civil Liberties Union, took a more critical stance, saying the report shows "the F.B.I.'s leadership failed to act aggressively to end the abuse." Mr. Jaffer said the report "only underscores the pressing need for an independent and comprehensive investigation of prisoner abuse."

The report documents in greater detail than ever before the conflict between the F.B.I. and the C.I.A. over interrogation methods, which began with the capture of Abu Zubaydah, a senior Qaeda figure, in Pakistan in March 2002. F.B.I. agents began the interrogation using traditional rapport-building methods, and one agent even provided personal care for Mr. Zubaydah, who had been shot three times and grievously wounded, "even to the point of cleaning him up after bowel movements."

But C.I.A. personnel who took over the case within a few days began to use harsher methods that one F.B.I. agent described as "borderline torture," and which the C.I.A. has acknowledged included waterboarding, in which water is poured over the prisoner's mouth and nose to create a feeling of suffocation.

The report describes extensive debate inside the F.B.I. over the next six months over whether it should continue to observe or assist the C.I.A. with interrogations using harsh methods it believed were counterproductive.

F.B.I. officials, including Pasquale D'Amuro, then the bureau's top counterterrorism officer, believed the physical pressure being used by the C.I.A. was less effective than traditional noncoercive methods, that it would "taint" any future effort at prosecution, and that it "was wrong and helped Al Qaeda in spreading negative views of the United States," the report says.

After the capture of another Qaeda figure, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, in September 2002, F.B.I. agents again traveled to a secret C.I.A. site where Mr. bin al-Shibh was being questioned. But only in 2003, the report concludes, did the F.B.I. make a "clean break" and choose to have no involvement in the C.I.A.'s harsh interrogations.

The report said several senior Justice Department Criminal Division officials raised concerns with the National Security Council in 2003 about the military's treatment of detainees but saw no changes as a result. One Justice Department official said he believed that John Ashcroft, the former attorney general, had spoken to Condoleezza Rice, then the national security adviser, about the department's concerns about interrogation methods being used in late 2002 on Mohammed al-Qahtani, a Qaeda member who was believed to be the so-called 20th hijacker in the attack of Sept. 11, 2001.

But Mr. Ashcroft declined to be interviewed by the inspector general's office of the department he had headed, an unusual refusal and one that hampered investigators' effort to learn of discussions inside the National Security Council , the report says.

A spokesman for Mr. Ashcroft, Mark Corallo, said the former attorney general had not cooperated because "his conversations with the White House and with staff on national security matters are privileged."

The report says that while some Justice Department officials believed that the physical pressure techniques being used by the military were wrong, others merely thought they might be ineffective.

A Pentagon spokesman, Bryan Whitman, noted that abuses at Guantánamo were the subject of a 2005 Defense Department investigation that found no evidence of torture, though it did fault some interrogation tactics and called the Qahtani interrogation degrading and abusive.

The Justice Department said it was pleased that the report "credited the F.B.I. for its conduct and professionalism during interrogations."

A C.I.A. spokesman said the harsh methods it used were "found lawful by the Department of Justice itself" and were "employed only when traditional means of questioning — things like rapport-building — were ineffective."

Israel PM calls for naval blockade of Iran

Israel PM calls for naval blockade of Iran

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has urged the United States to impose a naval blockade on Iran to pressure it to stop its controversial nuclear programme, the Haaretz daily reported on Wednesday.

Olmert raised the issue during a meeting in Jerusalem on Tuesday with US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the newspaper said.

"The present economic sanctions on Iran have exhausted themselves," Olmert was quoted as telling the California Democrat.

Asked about the report, Olmert's spokesman Mark Regev would say only: "We do not confirm this information."

Rafi Eitan, a member of Olmert's security cabinet, said he also favoured air travel restrictions against Iran.

"A blockade of maritime and air routes against Iran is a good possibility," Eitan, the minister in charge of pensioners' affairs, told public radio.

"There are voices we hear in Washington that indicate the military option remains open," he added.

Israel, the Middle East's sole if undeclared nuclear power, suspects, like Washington, that Tehran's nuclear programme is cover for a drive to develop an atomic bomb, something Iran strongly denies.

2016 Oil Futures Up 14% To $140 on Supply Concerns

Oil for 2016 Delivery Nears $140 on Supply Concern

By Margot Habiby

Go To Original

Oil prices are heading to almost $140 a barrel in the next eight years, according to futures contracts on the New York Mercantile Exchange, on concern that growth in supply may fail to keep pace with rising demand.

Oil for delivery in December 2016 surged $17.08, or 14 percent, in the past three trading days since Goldman Sachs Group Inc., the world's biggest securities firm by market value, forecast oil would average $141 in the second half of 2008 on constraints in production and a lack of substitutes. Crude for July 2008 climbed 1.9 percent in the same period, and today rose to a record $130.47.

The gain, more than triple the increase in oil for delivery this summer, ‘‘fits in'' with the Goldman forecast which ‘‘talked recently about long-dated crude in particular,'' said Tim Evans, an energy analyst for Citi Futures Perspective in New York.

Oil giants such as Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell Plc, BP Plc, Chevron Corp., Total SA and ConocoPhillips will spend a record $98.7 billion this year on exploration and production, more than quadruple the amount eight years ago. The supplies companies tap from non-OPEC countries will only meet about 20 percent of world demand growth over the next four years.

Earlier this month, UBS AG forecast that Brent crude oil, a benchmark for two-thirds of global supplies, would rise to $200 a barrel by 2015. The increase results from demand outpacing spare supply capacity sometime in 2013 to 2015, according to the May 15 report by UBS economist Jan Stuart.

Saudi Output

The struggle to find oil coincides with a boom in demand from places like China and the Middle East, where it will rise 4.9 percent this year, making up for a drop in demand from North America and Europe, the International Energy Agency said in a report May 13. It cut its forecast for global demand for a fourth month.

‘‘You have had a lot of press, whether from OPEC or other market watchers, calling for significantly higher prices than what we're seeing today,'' said Eric Wittenauer, an energy analyst at Wachovia Securities in St. Louis. ‘‘Those can be proof positive for the higher end of the curve.''

A Saudi Arabian decision last week to increase crude oil output unilaterally in June may not lower prices because speculators are driving the rally, not a supply shortage, Shokri Ghanem, the chairman of Libya's National Oil Corp., and Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani said earlier this week.

The December 2016 futures contract rose $8.40, or 6.5 percent, yesterday to $138.38 a barrel. It was up from $121.30 a barrel on May 15. Goldman raised its oil-price forecast by 32 percent on May 16.

Big Jump

‘‘The move was a big jump in one day for markets that far forward, which also makes it seem as if the markets thin out in those contract months,'' Evans said. Sixty-seven contracts traded, compared with more than 296,000 for the most-active July contract.

Goldman analyst Arjun N. Murti wrote in a report earlier this month that ‘‘the possibility of $150-$200 per barrel seems increasingly likely over the next six-24 months.''

Front-month futures rose above $130 for the first time today after at least five banks raised price forecasts in the past week on expectations supply constraints will persist. Billionaire hedge- fund manager Boone Pickens said yesterday that oil will reach $150 a barrel this year because supply isn't keeping up with demand.

Oil for July delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose as much as $1.16, or 1.5 percent, to $130.47 a barrel, and was trading at $130.33 at 11:41 a.m. London time. Prices are double that of a year ago. A strengthening of the euro against the dollar added to the gains.