Saturday, May 31, 2008

As America Collapses US Government Secret Plans Revealed

As America Collapses US Government Secret Plans Revealed

A secret meeting of Congress discusses immanent martial law.

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On March 13th 2008 there was a secret closed door meeting of The United States House Of Representatives in Washington. In the history of The United States this is only the fourth time a secret meeting was held by the house. Even though Representatives are sworn to secrecy by House Rules XVII, some of the members were so shocked, horrified, furious, and concerned about the future of America by what was revealed to them inside the secret meeting, that they have started to leak this secret information to independent news agencies around the world. The mass media said almost nothing about the secret meeting of the House, mentioning only one of the items being discussed. (The new surveillance techniques that are going to be used by the U.S. Government to watch all American citizens). The story was first released in a newspaper out of Brisbane, Australia revealing the contents of the secret U.S. Government meeting and plans for America including all of it’s citizens. Shortly there after, David J. Meyer from Last Trumpet Ministries found it and made it more available for the world to see.

Here is what was revealed:

  • The imminent collapse of the U.S. Economy to occur sometime in late 2008
  • The imminent collapse of the U.S. Government finances sometime in mid 2009
  • The possibility of Civil War inside the United States as a result of the collapse
  • The advance round-ups of “insurgent U.S. Citizens” likely to move against the government
  • The detention of those rounded up at The REX 84 Camps constructed throughout the United States
  • The possibility of public retaliation against members of Congress for the collapses
  • The location of safe facilities for members of Congress and their families to reside during massive civil unrest
  • The necessary and unavoidable merger of The U.S. with Canada and Mexico establishing The North American Union
  • The issuance of a new currency called the AMERO for all three nations as an economic solution.

Except for a few hundred thousand U.S. Patriots, most Americans have no clue what has really been going on within The United States over the past 100 years, and the sad thing is that most do not want to know the truth. The further you look into the rabbit hole, the deeper it gets. Go to any currency conversion site and convert U.S. dollars to Euros so you can see for yourself the massive decline of the dollar. Look at how much money is and has been spent on the Iraq War to date, ($12 billion per month). Look at our currency and when it stopped being backed by gold.

The Federal Reserve is not federal but a private bank who does not have Americans best interests at heart. We no longer have any manufacturing really based out of America and there is no way that our economy can survive this incredible strain very much longer. The IRS strong arms every American yearly with income taxes, yet there are no laws saying an income tax is to be paid.

The CIA is involved in everything from global drug trafficking and covert military missions, to assassinations around the world and including U.S. Soil. Look at JFK for instance. It did not take long after JFK announced that he was going disband the CIA that he was shot in Texas. America’s new StasiThe Department Of Homeland Security is and has been slowly eradicating our rights for a few years now. based organization called

House Bill H.R. 1955/S-1959 was read by the senate and then sent to DHS for some reason, but is now back and sure to pass. Once passed, this bill introduced by Jane Harman (D/CA), will be the proverbial last nail hammered into every American patriots coffin. H.R. 4279 or the Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act of 2008 which was recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, will give the government draconian powers to do just this. This legislation gives the government the power to seize property that facilitates the violation of intellectual property laws. The legislation also mandates the formation of a formal Intellectual Property Enforcement Division within the office of the Deputy Attorney General to enforce this insanity…

It has been revealed that F.E.M.A. has been building internment camps all over America granting Halliburton a massive $385 million dollar construction contract to make this happen. Most of these sites only need refurbished because they are mostly closed prisons, old WW2 internment camps still intact and other facilities taken over by the government. Some people have referred to them as F.E.M.A. Death Camps where the infamous Red list/Blue Lists will be used to decide who goes where.

Whether you believe that The NWO/Illuminati/Globalization is real or not, there is a lot of proof that exposes definite plans or plots by the rich, political and religious elite to bring on an era of the end times. It is almost like some individuals are trying to make bible prophecy come true in their own sick and twisted ways. Not to mention that the world only has about 10 to 15 years of drinking water left before the wars fought for oil today will be fought for water in the near future. It has been said that these powers want to depopulate the planet of over 30% of it’s human inhabitants in the coming years. Examine all of the executive orders that have been signed into place allowing the president to basically become dictator in control of all government from tribal to federal in the event of any national emergency.

If you did not know, In late 2006, Congress revised the Posse Comitatus Act and the Insurrection Act to make it far easier for a president to declare martial law. Those changes were repealed at the end of this January as part of Public Law 110-181 (HR 4986), the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 (signed into law by President Bush on January 28, 2008). Unfortunately it is not the great victory in which one might think because of the total militarization of all local and State police forces all across America.

Will there be martial law? Is martial law coming soon to America? When you see law enforcement being armed with automatic weapons, bullet proof vests and riot gear in small towns that have not had a murder or crime in years, then you have to ask yourself why.

The United States has more people locked up in prisons today than Russia and China combined. It comes out to one in every hundred Americans is behind bars. Our once great country that our ancestors fought and died for has become exactly the tyrants they were fighting. Fascists! When has America ever used words like Homeland? Never!

If you spend a few weeks reading all the info, watching the videos and following the links at The U.A.F.F., you will then have a better understanding of what has led to The Decline And Fall Of America. Remember that Knowledge is power! Learn, look, listen, read, share, prepare, train, stock up on food and water supply for one year.

Fill your pantry with non perishable foods, medicines, cooking oils, tinned meats and veggies. Flour, oats dried corn peas, beans and lentils.. Teach your self how to preserve food for storage. Check out your local potable/ drinking water supplies, non perfumed chlorine bleach is a good sterilizer for water, about 2 teaspoons full per 2 gallon bucket, stirred well and allowed to stand for at least 24 hours with a lid on it or until it no longer smells of bleach. Boiling water helps but it is not always enough to kill off the bacteria which can resist high temperatures.

Americans have been warned for years of the things to come, but have blindly looked away from the truth, which has been available for all to see. There are no more excuses not to prepare for the possible future. The time to act is now before it is too late. Check The United American Freedom Foundation for daily updates and news you won’t see in the mainstream media.

U.S. Banks Likely to Fail as Bad Loans Soar

U.S. Banks Likely to Fail as Bad Loans Soar

Financial Times

US banks set aside a record $37.1bn to cover losses on real estate loans and other credits during the first quarter in a sign of the growing economic pain being caused by the global credit crisis, regulators said on Thursday.

Sheila Bair, chairwoman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, said it was likely loan-loss provisions and bank failures would rise in coming quarters as the fallout from market turmoil hits the real economy.

“While we may be past the worst of the turmoil in financial markets, we’re still in the early stages of the traditional credit crisis you typically see during an economic downturn,” she said, adding: “What we really need to focus on is the uncertainty surrounding the economy . . . and again it is all about housing.”

Ms Bair spoke as the FDIC released its quarterly banking profile, which showed loan-loss provisions in the first quarter were more than four times higher than last year’s level. That was the main reason bank earnings fell 46 per cent to $19.3bn from the first quarter in 2007 for the commercial banks and savings institutions where the FDIC insures customer deposits.

Following restatements by banks, the FDIC revised the industry’s net income for the fourth quarter of last year from $5.8bn to $646m – the lowest since the end of 1990.

Meanwhile, the FDIC said the number of “problem” banks rose in the first quarter from 76 to 90, with combined assets of $26.3bn. Three US banks have failed this year, compared with three for the whole of last year and none in 2005 and 2006.

Ms Bair said she expected more bank failures but emphasised that the number of problem institutions remained well below the record levels of the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s and 1990s – when one in 10 banks were in that category.

However, she said one worrying trend was the declining “coverage ratio”, which compares bank reserves with the level of loans that are 90 days past due. This ratio fell for the eighth consecutive quarter, to 89 cents in reserves for every $1 of noncurrent loans, the lowest level since the first quarter of 1993.

“This is the kind of thing that gives regulators heartburn,” said Ms Bair. “We also want them to beef up their capital cushions beyond regulatory minimums given uncertainty about the housing markets and the economy . . . It’s only prudent to be building up capital at a time like this.”

In a sign that some US banks may have underestimated the cost of the housing slump, KeyCorp this week doubled its forecast for loan losses – its second revision in as many months – sending its share price tumbling by more than 10 per cent. During the property boom, KeyCorp expanded in fast-growing regions such as southern California and Florida, where problem loans are now growing.

Thousands of Iraqis protest agreement for indefinite US occupation

Thousands of Iraqis protest agreement for indefinite US occupation

By David Walsh
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Tens of thousands of Iraqis protested in a number of cities Friday against the proposed agreement between the puppet regime of Nouri al-Maliki and the Bush administration that would codify a long-term US military occupation.

In a secret videoconference last November, Maliki and Bush signed an agreement, a cynically titled “Declaration of Principles for a Long-Term Relationship of Cooperation and Friendship,” which outlined plans for the establishment of permanent American military bases and preferential treatment for US energy conglomerates and investors to exploit Iraqi oil reserves. The full details of the pact, including the general dimensions of the American occupation force, were to be worked out by July 31, 2008.

Negotiations on the deal began in March and US officials have told the media that the two governments are close to an agreement. The White House and the Pentagon claim that the deal is merely intended to replace the United Nations mandate that expires December 31.

Last month, US ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker claimed during a US Senate hearing that the agreement would cover the “basic authorizations and protections” to allow American troops to continue their operations but would not specify troop levels or establish permanent bases.

Crocker asserted, “We anticipate that it will expressly forswear them [permanent bases] ... and it will not tie the hands of the next administration.” These are simply new lies from the Bush administration. Whether the agreement calls the US facilities “permanent bases” or not, or sidesteps the issue altogether, such a deal has no other purpose apart from ensuring that the US military will remain indefinitely to suppress internal opposition and protect American geopolitical interests, above all, its designs on Iraqi oil supplies.

On the eve of Crocker’s testimony in April, the Guardian in Britain published an account of what it called a “secret” draft of the US-Iraqi deal, noting that it “shows that provision is being made for an open-ended military presence in the country.” Debka-Net-Weekly, a web site associated with Israeli military intelligence, alleged that the US had plans to leave behind 50,000 troops by 2009 in 20 huge land and air bases.

Crocker reasserted the administration’s position that the bilateral deal did not need to be and would not be submitted to the Senate for approval. Instead the so-called Status of Forces Agreement would be imposed by executive order.

According to a Defense Department official, the agreement is needed “to make sure our forces in Iraq have the tools they need to be able to do the job they need to. Our forces need to be able to defend themselves.” Such “tools” include the US forces’ right to detain new “terrorist” suspects and continue to incarcerate the tens of thousands already in Iraqi prisons.

Friday’s demonstrations in Iraq against the agreement were organized by the movement headed by Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. A statement from his office called the US-Iraqi negotiations “a project of humiliation for the Iraqi people.” Sadr has appealed for demonstrations every Friday after prayers “until further notice or until the treaty is canceled.” He demanded that the government not sign the agreement, because “it is against the interests of the Iraqi people.”

In a statement, Sadr called for a timetable for the withdrawal of US troops and called for delegations from his movement to approach the UN, the European Union, the Arab League and Iraq’s neighbors to explain its opposition. If the government continues with its project, Sadr indicated his movement would “work to collect millions of signatures opposing it.”

Sadr also called for a popular referendum on any agreement allowing US troops to stay past December 31, 2008. He appealed for “an organized media action” and “a unified political and parliamentary movement” to oppose the US-Iraqi deal.

One of his spokesmen in parliament, Salah al-Obeidi, declared, “The agreement is against Islam. There is no religious basis for an agreement like this.” He also declared that the call for protests was not a “threat” to the Maliki regime, but a “warning.”

Another leading Sadrist, Sheikh Mohannad Al-Gazawi, decried the agreement, stating that it “binds Iraq and gives 99 percent of the country to America.”

Protesters in Baghdad Friday carried signs and banners denouncing “the disastrous agreement that tears Iraq apart and gives in to the occupying power.” Another placard, according to AFP, declared, “This agreement surrenders the sovereignty of Iraq.” Demonstrators burned Maliki in effigy as well as US flags. They chanted “No to America! No to the occupation!”

“This isn’t an Iraqi government, it’s an American government,” Mohammed Mohsin, a 25-year-old laborer told the New York Times in Sadr City. “The Americans keep pressuring Maliki to carry out what they want,” he said. “The agreement will only serve the Americans’ interests.”

Protests were also held Friday in Kut, Najaf, Basra, Nassiriya and other cities.

Other Iraqi parties and groups have denounced the treaty as well. Last week, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, one of the country’s leading Shiite clerics reportedly expressed his opposition, saying he would not permit the Iraqi regime to sign such a deal with the “US occupiers” as long as he was alive.

Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, head of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, the largest Shiite faction in Maliki’s fragile coalition government, criticized the agreement to extend the US occupation. In a statement on his web site, Hakim said that there was a “national consensus to reject many points raised by the American side as they infringe national sovereignty.”

Last November, after Bush and Maliki signed the provisional agreement, a variety of Sunni Arab politicians denounced it, declaring that it would permit “US interference [in Iraq] for years to come.” The Association of Muslim Scholars declared that any Iraqi signatories of the document would be looked on as “collaborators with the occupier.”

On Tuesday Iraq’s national security council urged Maliki to negotiate a deal “that is satisfactory to the people of Iraq and does not harm its interests.”

Washington is obviously placing immense pressure on the Maliki government to carry through with the negotiations and signing of the agreement, thereby placing the puppet regime in a politically untenable position. The Times observed Friday “The raw feelings that the negotiations engender among many Iraqis—who view the prospects of a long-term American troop presence as demeaning and humiliating—underscores the political risks the negotiations hold for Mr. Maliki’s government.

“Indeed, some top members of the Shiite and Kurdish coalition that has formed Mr. Maliki’s deepest base of support are now having reservations about agreeing to a new security pact before Iraq holds parliamentary elections later this year, lest they appear to Iraqi voters as being too compliant to American demands.”

Even one of Maliki’s closest allies, Ali Adeeb, a senior member of the prime minister’s own Dawa Party, expressed reservations, according to the Times: “This agreement is between Iraq and the United States president, and the American policy is not clear.... Therefore, we can wait until the American elections to deal with a Democratic or Republican president.”

A senior Iranian cleric last week denounced the proposed agreement as treachery to Islam, claiming it would permit the US to launch attacks on Iran from Iraq, prevent Iraqi courts from trying US citizens and place Iraqi ministries under American control.

Underscoring the intense instability of the Iraqi regime, the largest Sunni Arab political bloc announced Wednesday that it had suspended talks aimed at bringing it back into the government. “The talks yielded nothing and the government’s response was not in line with our demands so we have decided to suspend them,” declared Adnan al-Dulaimi, leader of the Sunni National Accordance Front.

The Accordance Front withdrew from the Maliki “national unity” government last August, demanding the release of Sunni detainees and a greater voice in security issues.

The Sunni bloc comprises three parties with 44 seats in the Iraqi parliament. The decision to break off talks was made after Maliki refused to allow the bloc to have one of its representatives named as head of the Planning Ministry. The prime minister had offered the Communications post instead.

The Planning Ministry is considered to be more important, and, moreover, the current head of the ministry is a former member of the Sunni bloc who broke with the Accordance Front after it pulled out of the government last year and returned to his cabinet position. He was subsequently expelled.

The announcement by the Sunni bloc came on the eve of Maliki’s attendance at an international conference on Iraq in Stockholm. It was not expected to help the prime minister convince Sunni Arab states attending the gathering to offer more support to Baghdad as a means of countering Iran’s growing influence.

The governments of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, two predominantly Sunni countries and Iraq’s largest creditors, pointedly sent only lower-level officials to the Stockholm meeting. In his speech Thursday, Maliki said that the Iraqi government was “looking forward to the brother countries writing off its [Iraq’s] debts, which are a burden on the Iraqi government.”

Saudi State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Nizar Madani said his government would consider “alleviating” Iraq’s debt. Reuters noted that Saudi pledges, made ahead of last year’s inaugural international conference on Iraq in Sharm al-Sheikh in Egypt, to waive Iraqi debts “came to nothing.” The Iraqis and Saudis even disagree over the amount of the debts. The Maliki government claims it owes $15 billion, while Riyadh puts the amount, with interest, at $40 billion.

Le Monde commented bluntly, “Maliki’s objective [in Stockholm] was to obtain the cancellation of the foreign debt and a reduction of war reparations [for the invasion of Kuwait in 1990]. His hopes were disappointed.”

At the conference US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called on the “international community” to help Iraq strengthen its apparatus of repression. She asserted that the Iraqis “don’t need large sums of money. They do need large infusions of technical assistance, project support, help to build an adequate police force, help to build an adequate justice system ... Iraq is increasingly a functioning state. The question is: can it be a capable and functioning state?”

US academic Norman Finkelstein denied entry to Israel

US academic Norman Finkelstein denied entry to Israel

By Jean Shaoul

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Professor Norman Finkelstein, an American Jewish scholar known for his trenchant criticism of Israeli policy, was detained and interrogated by Israel’s security forces, Shin Bet, for 24 hours at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport on May 23, denied entry into Israel and deported back to Amsterdam where he had been lecturing.

Finkelstein had been en route to visit a friend in Hebron in the occupied West Bank. His deportation, and a 10-year ban on entering Israel for “security reasons,” is a major attack on the freedom of expression, the right of Israeli citizens to hear alternative viewpoints, and an attempt to intimidate and silence international opposition to Israel’s brutal treatment of the Palestinians.

It also exposes the fraud of any putative Palestinian state where Israel controls the Palestinian borders and thus who may or may not enter.

Finkelstein, a son of Holocaust survivors, is one of a growing number of Jewish scholars who have made valuable contributions to the study of Israeli history and have become known as the “new” or “revisionist” historians. He has consequently been the focus of constant opposition from right-wing professors and the pro-Israeli media for years. He has been targeted in particular for his opposition to the charge of anti-Semitism being employed as a means of suppressing criticism of Israel’s violations of human rights and international law.

The 55-year-old political science professor is best known for his 2000 book, The Holocaust Industry, which argues that the Holocaust has been exploited for ends—support for Israel and calls for reparations—that have nothing to do with historical truth or the victims of the Nazi genocide. Finkelstein has also written critical studies of Daniel Goldhagen’s book, Hitler’s Willing Executioners, which argues that the cause of the Holocaust can be located in the inherent anti-Semitism of the German people as a whole.

His most recent book, Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History, continues on these themes, as well as documenting in detail the human rights violations of the state of Israel. Among the targets of the book, published by the University of California Press, are Harvard law Professor Alan Dershowitz and others who have used the charge of anti-Semitism to suppress criticism of Israeli policies.

Last year, Finkelstein was denied tenure at Chicago’s DePaul University where he had been lecturing for six years, despite support from his department, his students, and the faculty of the university, following pressure from opponents of his views, including Dershowitz. His classes for his final year in 2007-08 were cancelled and he was denied access to his office, leading him to resign under duress.

After landing in Tel Aviv last Friday, Shin Bet held Finkelstein in an airport cell and interrogated him about contacts with Hezbollah—against whom Israel fought a massive 33-day aerial bombardment in 2006—whether Hezbollah had sent him to Israel, any contacts he had with Al Qaeda and how he intended to finance his stay in Israel.

Earlier this year, Finkelstein had visited Lebanon, where he had been invited to speak at a conference at the American University in Beirut. He also undertook a tour in order to promote his book, accompanied by his Arab publisher and representatives of Hezbollah in the south of Lebanon. He has subsequently published articles about his trip.

Finkelstein’s web site posts excerpts from an interview he gave in January to Lebanese TV, in which he said he was “happy to meet the Hizbollah people because it is a point of view rarely heard in the US.”

Shin Bet’s line of questioning insinuates that Finkelstein is a supporter of Hezbollah, if not in their employ. Moreover to imply he is also connected to Al Qaeda is yet more absurd, particularly since Hezbollah is a a Shiite party while Al-Qaeda is a Sunni Muslim grouping.

The Shin Bet said Finkelstein “is not permitted to enter Israel because of suspicions involving hostile elements in Lebanon” and because he “did not give a full accounting to interrogators with regard to these suspicions.”

Finkelstein denied this in an emailed statement to Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper from Amsterdam. He wrote, “I did my best to provide absolutely candid and comprehensive answers to all the questions put to me. I am confident that I have nothing to hide. Apart from my political views, and the supporting scholarship, there isn’t much more to say for myself: alas, no suicide missions or secret rendezvous with terrorist organizations.” He added, “I support the two-state solution based on the ’67 borders and I told my interrogators I’m not an enemy of Israel.”

He explained that he was “en route to Palestine to see one of my oldest and dearest friends, Musa Abu-Hashhash.”

Finkelstein said he had visited Israel every year for the last 15 years. He added that he was held in a cell and encountered “several unpleasant moments with the guards.” Eventually he used a mobile phone belonging to another detainee and called another friend he had arranged to meet in Israel, the journalist Allan Nairn, who called a lawyer, Michael Sfard. Sfard met with Finkelstein and told him he could appeal the ban. He said that banning Finkelstein from entering the country “recalls the behaviour of the Soviet bloc countries.”

However, Finkelstein said that it was not “his inclination to pursue the matter,” although lawyers in Israel were encouraging him to do so on political grounds.

According to the Jerusalem Post, Finkelstein said he is not “dogmatic or fanatic” and while he believes every country has the right to restrict entry, he does not agree with the criteria. “Just as I would oppose the US not allowing people to enter due to ideological beliefs, I would consistently oppose them in Israel,” he said.

He also denied that he poses any threat to Israel. “I couldn’t be [a risk] because of any security threat I pose,” said Finkelstein. “The US has as stringent anti-terrorism laws in the books as Israel, and Hamas and Hezbollah are on their terrorist list. If I posed a security threat I should be talking to you from jail. Because no authorities have contacted me there are no grounds for it.”

Finkelstein did not intend to visit Israel, but had to pass through Israeli customs “by force of circumstance,” to visit a friend in Hebron. “Israel has the right to restrict who enters its country, but the West Bank is not its country,” said Finkelstein. “One day the Palestinian Authority may restrict my rights, but that’s an issue for the Palestinian Authority,” he continued.

Israel’s Association for Civil Rights called the deportation of Finkelstein an assault on free speech. “The decision to prevent someone from voicing their opinions by arresting and deporting them is typical of a totalitarian regime. A democratic state, where freedom of expression is the highest principle, does not shut out criticism or ideas just because they are uncomfortable for its authorities to hear. It confronts those ideas in public debate,” said the association’s lawyer, Oded Peler.

The decision to deport Finkelstein stands in marked contrast to Israel’s willingness to permit the entry of right-wing fascistic and religious zealots from the US and Russia who have been involved in all manner of provocative, criminal and murderous attacks on Palestinians—into both Israel and the West Bank.

The refusal to allow Finkelstein to enter Israel is particularly telling since Israel legally permits every Jew to exercise his or her right to live in Israel as a citizen of the country, in contrast to the Palestinians who fled their homes in 1948 and 1967 who are refused entry or the right of return, in accordance with the Law of Return that is fundamental to the Zionist state. It demonstrates that the security force reserves to itself the right to interpret the law as it sees fit. Israel is a home to diaspora Jews only providing that they do not criticise its military expansionism and oppression of the Palestinian people.

The ban on an academic critical of Israeli policy is all the more noteworthy because Israel likes to portray itself as a beacon of democracy in the region. In reality Finkelstein is not the first to be barred from entering the country: Israel regularly stops pro-Palestinian academics and peace activists from entering Israel who go to show support for Palestinian activists.

It also demonstrates the degree to which Shin Bet’s operations and decisions are not subject to judicial oversight. Israeli lawyers say that the chances of overturning Shin Bet’s ban on Finkelstein are slim. According to Ha’aretz, the courts do not intervene when Shin Bet decides that someone constitutes a security risk. Immigration authorities can prevent tourists entering the country, without even having to provide an explanation.

A Ha’aretz editorial opined, “Considering his unusual and extremely critical views, one cannot avoid the suspicion that refusing to allow him to enter Israel was a punishment rather than a precaution.”

“The Shin Bet argues that Finkelstein constitutes a security risk. But it is more reasonable to assume that Finkelstein is persona non grata and that the Shin Bet, whose influence has increased to frightening proportions, latched onto his meetings with Hezbollah operatives in order to punish him,” the editorial continued (emphasis added).

The attack on a liberal critic of Israel reflects a degree of desperation on the part of Israel. Faced with international opprobrium and internal dissent due to its brutal treatment of the Palestinians and bellicosity towards Iran, Israel is using its security forces to stifle opposition and to maintain the political hegemony of the financial and corporate elite in Tel Aviv and Washington.

If Israel’s liberal press was moved to express concern about the decision to deport Finkelstein, then that is more than can be said for the press in the West. His treatment went almost unreported in the United States. In particular the New York Times did not mention the exclusion of one of New York’s most well known residents.

In Britain, the Guardian reported it, but without an editorial or op-ed comment. It later published two letters. The first was from Dershowitz, which devoted more space to justifying the decision to deny tenure to Finkelstein because of his lack of scholarship and professionalism than to opposing Israel’s decision to ban him. The second was from the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre, which claimed that Israel’s decision was entirely legitimate.

The silence of the liberal press speaks volumes about their attitude to basic democratic rights and the freedom of expression. Silence denotes consent. They do not criticise Israel’s actions because they agree with them.

Government is Spying on US Muslims

Reports concern Muslims

Alleged checks on San Diego, L.A. mosques spark calls for hearings.

By H.G. Reza

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A report that mosques in Los Angeles and San Diego are under federal surveillance has resurrected fears in the Muslim community about government monitoring and led two civil rights groups Wednesday to call for congressional hearings.

The request for public hearings followed a newspaper article last week that cited FBI and Defense Department files pertaining to surveillance of mosques and Muslims in Southern California.

Corey Saylor, Washington spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the article in the San Diego Union-Tribune "has again raised concerns that our community is being watched."

"We've heard about this in the past, but this article appears to be the first confirmation that surveillance is taking place," Saylor said. "Has faith moved from a personal choice to probable cause?"

Council chapters in Anaheim and San Diego joined the American Civil Liberties Union and Islamic Shura Council of Southern California in asking the U.S. House and Senate judiciary committees and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform for hearings. In a letter to the committee chairmen and ranking minority members, the groups said hearings are needed to determine the extent of the surveillance and whether people are being monitored because they are Muslim.

Information about the alleged spying surfaced in a case about classified files concerning terrorism that the newspaper said were stolen from a secure office used by mili- tary and civilian law enforcement officials at Camp Pendleton.

Ed Buice, Naval Criminal Investigative Service spokesman in Washington, said an investigation was underway to determine "whether individuals connected to the military may have been involved in illegal activities."

"I appreciate that the groups asking for congressional hearings want to know more about where all the dots are and how they all connect," Buice said. "But there is still much work to be done in this case, and we cannot discuss the details of the ongoing investigation."

An FBI spokesman in San Diego would not confirm that an investigation was ongoing and said the agency regularly reaches out to Muslims through town meetings.

The civil rights groups also want the hearings to determine if the U.S. military has engaged in domestic surveillance in violation of federal law. The Islamic Center of San Diego, where two of the 9/11 hijackers worshiped in early 2000, was the only mosque mentioned in the San Diego Union-Tribune article. The report did not specify which other mosques in Los Angeles and San Diego were allegedly under surveillance. But Saylor said it would not be surprising if mosques in Orange County were also monitored.

Since the 2001 terrorist attacks, members of the Islamic Center of Irvine and other local mosques have complained about FBI agents questioning them about imams' sermons and how often they attend services. In 2006, J. Stephen Tidwell, then-FBI assistant director in Los Angeles, met at the Irvine mosque with about 200 people who questioned him about government monitoring.

The meeting was prompted by media reports that the FBI was monitoring Muslim students at UC Irvine and USC. Tidwell denied that monitoring was taking place, telling the audience that "we still play by the rules."

Ramona Ripston, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, said the congressional hearings would compel the government "to say why they're amassing this information." "There's a lot of suspicion of the Muslim community," she said.

ACLU lawyers regularly go to mosques to advise worshipers that they do not have to answer questions from FBI agents about how long they have been in the United States, how often they attend services and what they get out of the sermons, Ripston said.

The newspaper said some missing files were made available to Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies. Larry Richards, a deputy and Marine reservist, is one of several people under investigation by the FBI and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service in the thefts.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department spokesman Steve Whitmore said Wednesday that Richards used to work with the Los Angeles Terrorism Early Warning Group but is currently on administrative leave. He declined to comment further because of the ongoing federal investigation.

The Great Oil Swindle

The Great Oil Swindle

How much did the Fed really know?

By Mike Whitney

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The Commodity Futures and Trading Commission (CFTC) is investigating trading in oil futures to determine whether the surge in prices to record levels is the result of manipulation or fraud. They might want to take a look at wheat, rice and corn futures while they're at it. The whole thing is a hoax cooked up by the investment banks and hedge funds who are trying to dig their way out of the trillion dollar mortgage-backed securities (MBS) mess that they created by turning garbage loans into securities. That scam blew up in their face last August and left them scrounging for handouts from the Federal Reserve. Now the billions of dollars they're getting from the Fed is being diverted into commodities which is destabilizing the world economy; driving gas prices to the moon and triggering food riots across the planet.

For months we've been told that the soaring price of oil has been the result of Peak Oil, fighting in Iraq, attacks on oil facilities in Nigeria, labor problems in Norway, and (the all-time favorite)growth in China. It's all baloney. Just like Goldman Sachs prediction of $200 per barrel oil is baloney. If oil is about to skyrocket then why has G-Sax kept a neutral rating on some of its oil holdings like Exxon Mobile? Could it be that they know that oil is just another mega-inflated equity bubble---like housing, corporate bonds and dot.com stocks—that is about to crash to earth as soon as the big players grab a parachute?

There are three things that are driving up the price of oil: the falling dollar, speculation and buying on margin.

The dollar is tanking because of the Federal Reserve's low interest monetary policies have kept interest rates below the rate of inflation for most of the last decade. Add that to the $700 billion current account deficit and a National Debt that has increased from $5.8 trillion when Bush first took office to over $9 trillion today and it's a wonder the dollar hasn't gone “Poof” already.

According to a January 4 editorial in the Wall Street Journal: “If the dollar had remained 'as good as gold' since 2001, oil today would be selling at about $30 per barrel, not $99. (today $126 per barrel) The decline of the dollar against gold and oil suggests a US monetary that is supplying too many dollars.” Wall Street Journal 1-4-08

The price of oil has more than quadrupled since 2001, from roughly $30 per barrel to $126, WITHOUT ANY DISRUPTIONS TO SUPPLY. There's no shortage; it's just gibberish.


As far as “buying on margin” consider this summary from author William Engdahl:

“A conservative calculation is that at least 60% of today’s $128 per barrel price of crude oil comes from unregulated futures speculation by hedge funds, banks and financial groups using the London ICE Futures and New York NYMEX futures exchanges and uncontrolled inter-bank or Over-The-Counter trading to avoid scrutiny. US margin rules of the government’s Commodity Futures Trading Commission allow speculators to buy a crude oil futures contract on the Nymex, by having to pay only 6% of the value of the contract. At today's price of $128 per barrel, that means a futures trader only has to put up about $8 for every barrel. He borrows the other $120. This extreme “leverage” of 16 to 1 helps drive prices to wildly unrealistic levels and offset bank losses in sub-prime and other disasters at the expense of the overall population.”

So the investment banks and their trading partners at the hedge funds can game the system for a mere 8 bucks per barrel or 16 to 1 leverage. Not bad, eh?

Is it possible that gambling on oil futures might be a temptation for banks that are already underwater from a trillion dollars worth of mortgage-related deals that have “gone south” leaving the banking system essentially bankrupt?

And if the banks and hedgies are not playing this game, then where is the money coming from? I have compiled charts and graphs that show that nearly two-thirds of the big investment banks' revenue came from the securitization of commercial and residential real estate loans. That market is frozen. Besides, this is not just a matter of “loan delinquencies” or MBS that have to be written off. The banks are "revenue starved". How are they filling the coffers? They're either neck-deep in interest rate swaps, derivatives trading, or gaming the futures market. Which is it?

Of course, there is one other possibility, but if that possibility turned out to be right than it would cast doubt on the legitimacy of the entire financial system. In fact, it would prove that the system is being rigged from the top-down by our friends at the Banking Politburo, the Federal Reserve. Here goes:

What if the investment banks are trading their worthless MBS and CDOs at the Fed's auction facilities and using the money ($400 billion) to drive up the price of raw materials like rice, corn, wheat, and oil?

Could it be? Could the Fed really be looking the other way so it can bail out its banking buddies while they drive prices skyward?

If it is true; (and I suspect it is) it hasn't done much good. As the Associated Press reported yesterday:

“The Federal Reserve announced Thursday that it will make a fresh batch of short-term cash loans available to squeezed banks as part of an ongoing effort to ease stressed credit markets. The Fed said it will conduct three auctions in June, with each one making $75 billion available in short-term cash loans. Banks can bid for a slice of the available funds. It would mark the latest round in a program that the Fed launched in December to help banks overcome credit problems so they will keep lending to customers.”

Another $225 billion for the bankers and not a dime for the struggling homeowner! The Fed is bankrupting the country with their permanent rotating loans to keep reckless speculators from going under. So much for moral hazard.

As far as speculation, there is ample evidence that the system is being manipulated. According to MarketWatch:

“Speculative activity in commodity markets has grown "enormously" over the past several years, the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee said in a news release. It pointed out that in five years, from 2003 to 2008, investment in the index funds tied to commodities has grown by 20-fold -- to $260 billion from $13 billion.”

And here's a revealing clip from the testimony of Michael W. Masters of Masters Capital Management, LLC, who addressed the issue of “Commodities Speculation” before the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs this week:

“Today, Index Speculators are pouring billions of dollars into the commodities futures
markets, speculating that commodity prices will increase. ...In the popular press the explanation given most often for rising oil prices is the increased demand for oil from China. According to the DOE, annual Chinese demand for petroleum has increased over the last five years from 1.88 billion barrels to 2.8 billion barrels, an increase of 920 million barrels.8 Over the same five-year period, Index Speculatorsʼ demand for petroleum futures has increased by 848 million barrels. THE INCREASE IN DEMAND FROM INDEX SPECULATORS IS ALMOST EQUAL TO THE INCREASE IN DEMAND FROM CHINA.

Index Speculators have now stockpiled, via the futures market, the equivalent of 1.1 billion barrels of petroleum, effectively adding eight times as much oil to their own stockpile as the United States has added to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve over the last five years.

Today, in many commodities futures markets, they are the single largest force.15 The huge growth in their demand has gone virtually undetected by classically-trained economists who almost never analyze demand in futures markets.

As money pours into the markets, two things happen concurrently: the markets expand and prices rise. One particularly troubling aspect of Index Speculator demand is that it actually increases the more prices increase. This explains the accelerating rate at which commodity futures prices (and actual commodity prices) are increasing. The CFTC has taken deliberate steps to allow CERTAIN SPECULATORS VIRTUALLY UNLIMITED ACCESS TO THE COMMODITIES FUTURES MARKETS. The CFTC has granted Wall Street banks an exemption from speculative position limits when these banks hedge over-the-counter swaps transactions. This has effectively opened a loophole for unlimited speculation. When Index Speculators enter into commodity index swaps, which 85-90% of them do, they face no speculative position limits.... The result is a gross distortion in data that effectively hides the full impact of Index Speculation.” (Thanks to Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis; the one “indispensable” financial blog on the Internet)

Masters adds that the CFTC is pressing to make “Index Speculators exempt from all position limits” so they can make “unlimited” bets on the futures which are wreaking havoc on the global economy and pushing millions towards starvation. Of course, these things pale in comparison to the higher priority of fatting the bottom line of the parasitic investor class.

Brimming oil tankers are presently sitting off the coasts of Iran and Louisiana. The Strategic Petroleum Reserve has been filled. Demand is flat. The world's biggest consumer of energy (guess who?) is cutting back . As CNN reports:

“At a time when gas prices are at an all-time high, Americans have curtailed their driving at a historic rate. The Department of Transportation said figures from March show the steepest decrease in driving ever recorded. Compared with March a year earlier, Americans drove an estimated 4.3 percent less -- that's 11 billion fewer miles, the DOT's Federal Highway Administration said Monday, calling it "the sharpest yearly drop for any month in FHWA history." (CNN)

The great oil crunch is another fabricated crisis; another "smoke and mirrors" fiasco; another Enron-type shell-game engineered by banksters and hedge fund managers. Once again, the bloody footprints can be traced right back to the front door of the Federal Reserve. Don't expect help from the regulators either; they've all been replaced with business reps like Harvey Pitt or Hank Paulson. The only time anyone in the Bush administration finds their conscience is when they're offered a multi-million dollar “tell all” book deal.

Can you hear me, Scotty?

Pain and Conscience (A Must Read)

Pain and Conscience

By Charles Sullivan

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It is evident that a substantial majority of U.S. citizens are, in principle, opposed to the most destructive governmental policies stemming from the nation’s capital. These include, but are not limited to—the continuing war and occupation of Iraq, as well as the pervasive consumer fraud that preys upon the innocent and the unwary and causes them undue hardship. These charges are born out by the abysmal approval rating of Congress and the president. It is equally evident that the government, while pretending to be sympathetic to these views, continues to carry forth those same policies both at home and abroad. It does so without the consent of the people and, therefore, it has abrogated its responsibility to them.

These destructive policies are formulated in the various branches of government and in the corporate board rooms of America. They are a prominent feature of the run amok presidency of George W. Bush, where they manifest themselves to the world. However, their history precedes Bush and his corporate gangsters by generations, and they are an outgrowth of the exploitive capital system.

In some respects the presidency serves as a distraction from the machinations that are operating behind the scenes to spew forth one disastrous policy after another. With so much attention given to Bush, the people are failing to confront the root cause of which George W. Bush is but a single manifestation: the sociopolitical system that put the present criminal regime in power.

Beyond capitalism, other destructive paradigms are operating to produce a hybridized and even more virulent form of economics. One might call it hyper capitalism. This explains why the American form of capitalism is so much more destructive than most of its European counterparts. For example, most European workers enjoy a shorter work week, higher wages, and have more paid vacation than do American workers; and most of them have union representation and, therefore, more and better benefits. In Germany, even Wal-mart is unionized.

One of these harmful paradigms that interact synergistically with capitalism is the idea of American exceptionalism: the persistent belief that America knows best and everything we do is good for the world. This synergism is tinged with powerful elements of racism, sexism, and other belief systems that are rooted in bigotry, hate, and religious intolerance. It is this lethal combination that gave rise to the concept of Manifest Destiny. It was these paradigms that attempted to sweep the continent clean of its indigenous population, and is blowing across the planet, touching ground in the Middle East and beyond like a violent cyclone.

What is so exasperating to many of us is that the corruption of the political system is widely understood and yet so little is done about it. The people continue to participate in it; they continue to vote in the absence of meaningful choice and they continue to support it with their taxes. There have been peace marches and other forms of token protest, but they have had little bearing on the continuing policies of economic disparity, environmental destruction, and imperial war that are prominent features of American capitalism.

Because protest in America has become more symbolic than effective, those in power can afford to ignore it. Even when participation in protest is great, it is of short duration; it does not cause serious economic or political disruption, and it does not pose a real threat to the established orthodoxy. After a few hours of peaceful marching, the people pack up and go back to their lives and everything remains as it was before they came.

Effective protest causes economic and political disruption. It persists until the just demands of the people are met. The established orthodoxy feels pain and discomfort from it; it feels a palpable threat and understands that the injustice cannot continue. Either it addresses the demands of the people, or it perishes. This is a manifestation of democracy. It is serious stuff that requires enormous sacrifice from those who protest in this way. The Montgomery bus boycott of the 60s was that kind of protest; and it was a protest that was won by the people, despite a constant threat of violence and death.

These days few people are willing to put anything tangible on the line. One wonders: Is there anything that the American people are willing to fight and die for? Is there anything real that we really believe in? Or do we relish the symbols of freedom more than we love freedom itself?

American exceptionalism is fostered in all of our social and political institutions. This includes the educational system and religious institutions. Thus, these beliefs are continually reinforced from cradle to grave, and never more so than in the corporate media. So it is not surprising that our political leaders behave as if they were endowed with the powers of deities, even though they are nothing more than fallible human beings like everyone else. It requires enormous hubris for anyone to adopt such doctrines, but there appears to be an inexhaustible supply of hubris in this country and a paucity of humility and compassion. Those who think in this way are prone to behaving toward the world with vitriol, as we witness daily.

The collective result of so many individually destructive paradigms is dehumanization. When we allow people to be dehumanized it is easy to hate them and to exploit them; to see them as entities endowed with less inherent value than ourselves or our chosen kind. It is easy to kill or subjugate inferior people and inferior beings. That is also how the government (the economic elite) perceives the working class and in their eyes that perception makes working people exploitable and expendable. Giving our continued allegiance to such government is irrational and immoral; it is also cowardly and self-destructive.

We are faced with a situation in which the body politic not only does not care what the American people think; it disdains populism as much here as it does in Latin America and elsewhere in the world. Populism and its close cousin—democracy—pose an enormous threat to the established order; and that order provides wealth and privilege to a select few, while denying it to everyone else. This is why corrupt politicians and so many academicians spare no effort to suppress and crush democratic movements, and cover up their crimes through a disingenuous rendering of history.

Yet with so much of the population aware of the government’s disdain of the people’s needs, why isn’t there effective organized resistance to it? Why isn’t there widespread social and economic disruption? Why do the people not revoke their consent to be governed and refuse their allegiance to a government that is not only corrupt and devoid of moral capital but is also clearly predatory or even cannibalistic? Why do we continue to fund criminal governments, including our own, with our taxes? Why isn’t there social unrest and civil disobedience in the streets? Why are those who expose these crimes punished and the criminals go free and reap financial reward for their malfeasance?

One explanation for the widespread social malaise in this country is that people are overwhelmed by it; shocked and awed by it; disorientated by it. They cannot believe the audacity of the Bush regime. Disorientation makes the plunder of the commonwealth easy to carry out. Even while dazed and confused, so many people remain wed to the idea of America’s inherent goodness and moral superiority to the rest of the world, despite mountains of evidence against such views. Thus, they view the criminal Bush regime as an aberration rather than a continuation of an historical pattern.

Social justice advocates are rightly infuriated to know that amidst this worsening climate a solid majority of the people can remain indifferent and willfully ignorant of what is being done in their names. There is a reason for this. The American people do not want to acknowledge any wrong doing on the part of their government, which is, in theory, an extension of the people. Of course, that is not the actual practice. This refusal psychologically absolves them from guilt or complicity and it permits them the luxury of apathy. By refusing to acknowledge wrong doing, no further action is required of them. They can go on consuming, falling asleep in front of the television and sending their offspring to die in unnecessary wars, while sinking ever deeper into debt and economic servitude.

Furthermore, the inert masses are mentally and spiritually ill equipped to deal with reality; so they block it out of their minds—aided, of course, by the corporate media and the propaganda apparatus of the government, itself. This is why fantasy is freely substituted for reality; plutocracy is mistaken for democracy, and the majority of the people do not know the difference. Millions of good people thus refuse to allow into their psyche the suffering and misery that U.S. policy has produced and exported to the world, even as that reality is closing in upon them. Unfortunately, I can point to my own family as an example of such delusional thinking, as no doubt can many of my readers.

Understanding this, the greatest obstacle to creating a vibrant and effective social justice movement is convincing the inert masses that they must acknowledge the suffering we have caused and are continuing to inflict upon the world. The multitudes must see the wisdom of looking behind the veneer of propaganda and confronting an ugly and often painful truth: the brutal and violent history of our nation, including the suppression of democracy wherever it is encountered. Eventually, perhaps very soon, they must also come to grips with the demise of capitalism.

We the people must find the courage to confront reality, and that means that we must be willing to feel the pain and suffering we have inflicted on others. We must admit that we are not exceptional or superior, and that we are not more entitled to our share of the world’s bounty than any other people. But we must go even deeper than that: we must bring about restitution for our past wrong-doing.

The citizens of the United States must become one with the world and look beyond nationality; beyond race, sex, and religious creed. Suffering and joy are conditions of life and they should be kept in balance as much as possible. Because suffering causes discomfort that few people want to experience, the alleviation of suffering is powerful motivation to demand justice; and that is the force that motivates most good people to do what they do, which is resist the tyranny of evil government. Once our indiscretions have been acknowledged and acted upon, we will find that the world is more than willing to forgive our past transgressions. This act alone will allow us to rejoin the world, so to speak.

Many years ago I questioned my mother about eating meat and the suffering it caused so many innocent animals. Her response revealed much about the American consciousness. She did not witness the suffering of those animals. She did not hear their cries of pain. She saw no blood in the sanitized product that was sold in the grocery store, wrapped in clear plastic and served up on pristine styrofoam. So their suffering was not real to her; it was too far removed from her experience. But the suffering of those animals and their cries of pain are very real indeed; and so is the suffering the United States government is inflicting upon the world.

Were we on the receiving end of our government’s foreign policies, we would have a very different perception of them. But like wrapped meat in the grocery store, we do not see the pain and the blood—or the suffering. So for many people it is not real; it is not happening…but it is.

By admitting some of this pain into our lives we are simultaneously admitting all of the other things into our lives that define our collective humanity; among them hope and joy. Then, and only then, can we take a principled stand for social and environmental justice and build an effective movement toward these ends. We must pry open closed minds and allow reality to penetrate delusion, as witnessing cause and effect often does. By this process sheeple are transformed once again into people, each of them endowed with a conscience capable of distinguishing right and wrong. This moral evolution is itself a revolutionary act of monumental import to any justice movement. It provides the means for people to act according to the dictates of conscience, and that is an act of liberation from dogma.

Revolution begins by altering consciousness. We stand at the brink of a multitude of possible futures, many of them tragic. The failure to act and rebel when the conditions demand it is a betrayal not only of our own humanity; it is a crime of great magnitude. The world’s foremost thinkers and visionaries have always understood this. Can we?

Charles Sullivan is a nature photographer, a naturalist, an environmental educator and free-lance writer residing in the Ridge and Valley Province of geopolitical West Virginia. He welcomes your comments at csullivan@copper.net(no spam).

Why Does the Media Cover Up War Crimes?

Why Does the Media Cover Up War Crimes?


By Ted Rall

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LOS ANGELES--In last week's column I cited New York Times reporter Eric Lichtblau as a prime example of what ails us: reporters who don't report, a.k.a. journalists who love the government too much.

When Lichtblau found out that the Bush Administration was listening to Americans' phone calls and reading their e-mail, he decided to hold the story. Instead of fulfilling his duty to the Times' readers and running with it, he asked the White House for permission. By the time the NSA domestic surveillance story finally ran, 14 months had passed--and Bush had won the 2004 election.

Again, in a May 17th piece bearing the headline "FBI Gets Mixed Review in Interrogation Report," Lichtblau is running interference for the government. "A new Justice Department report praises the refusal of FBI agents to take part in the military's abusive questioning of prisoners in Guantánamo Bay, Iraq and Afghanistan," begins the article, "but it also finds fault with the bureau's slow response to complaints about the tactics from its own agents."

"Abusive questioning." "Harsh interrogation tactics."

According to the Justice Department report, "routine" treatment of Guantánamo prisoners--witnessed by the FBI--includes "bending the detainee's thumbs back and grabbing his genitals." Military and CIA torturers chained detainees' hands and feet together for as long as a full day, "left to defecate on themselves." They terrorized them with dogs, stripped them and made them wear women's underwear and subjected them to blaring music, freezing cold and searing heat.

Torture. Such a simple word. Why not use it?

Lichtblau's "mixed review" appellation notwithstanding, the report by the Justice Department paints a shocking, uniformly negative portrait of a federal law enforcement agency whose officers react to appalling conduct with the Nuremberg defense--"I was just following orders."

"Indeed," reported U.S. News & World Report, "time after time, the report concludes that FBI agents saw or heard about numerous interrogation methods--from sleep deprivation to duct-taping detainees' mouths to scaring them with dogs--that plainly violated their own agency's code of conduct." (Not to mention the Geneva Conventions.) Rather than report their scruples to someone who might raise hell and put a stop to the systemic torture at Gitmo and other U.S. concentration camps--i.e., the public--FBI agents turned to the criminals. Just like Lichtblau did with domestic spying.

"When [one] agent mentioned [a torture] incident to the general [at Guantánamo], the general's response...was 'Thank you, gentlemen, but my boys know what they're doing.'" Ultimately the FBI, worried that agents could be charged with war crimes if they continued to witness the torture by CIA operatives and mercenaries, pulled its employees out of Gitmo and other camps. No one called a Congressman. None called a press conference.

FBI agents kept quiet--even when the CIA frat-boy-style torture tactics screwed up their interrogations.

In 2003 one FBI agent had "begin building a rapport" with Yussef Mohammed Mubarak al-Shihri, a Saudi citizen. Al-Shihri told the agent that female CIA agents had "forced to listen to the 'meow mix' jingle for cat food for hours and had a women's dress 'draped' on him." As usual, the agent turned to the torturer. "The agent said he confronted a female military intelligence interrogator who admitted to 'poaching' his detainee, but there was little more the agent could do. Following the incident, al-Shihri became uncooperative, and the agent said he never bothered to tell his superiors about the military interrogator's actions."

Turning a blind eye to torture. Watching passively as CIA goons destroy the trust of a possible material witness to terrorism. What "mixed review"?

As usual, the Newspaper of Record's worst sins in Gitmogate are those of omission--the really weird stuff that could deprive the Administration of its few remaining supporters. "Buried in a Department of Justice report," reported ABC News, "are new allegations about a 2002 arrangement between the United States and China, which allowed Chinese intelligence to visit Guantánamo and interrogate Chinese Uyghurs held there."

Like their Tibetan neighbors, the Uyghurs of western China are victims of government oppression, including mass executions. Throughout the 1990s, U.S.-funded Radio Free Asia urged Uyghurs to revolt against Chinese occupation. After 9/11, however, the U.S. agreed to help China capture and torture Uyghur independence activists--as a quid pro quo for not using its U.N. veto to stop the American invasion of Afghanistan. (There's more about the U.S. betrayal of the Uyghurs in my book "Silk Road to Ruin.")

"Uyghur detainees were kept awake for long periods, deprived of food and forced to endure cold for hours on end, just prior to questioning by Chinese interrogators," said ABC. "When Uyghur detainees refused to talk to Chinese interrogators in 2002, U.S. military personnel put them in solitary confinement as punishment."

It's a tale bizarre enough to make Rush Limbaugh blush: intelligence agents from communist China invited to an American military base, where they're allowed to torture political dissidents in American custody, with American soldiers as their sidekicks. In light of China's crackdown on Tibet during the run-up to the Olympics, it's a tasty news tidbit. But it didn't run in The Times--as far as I can tell, it only ran in one newspaper, the Christian Science Monitor.

At the same time journo-wimp Lichtblau was penning his "balanced" take on the Justice Department's bombshell report, the U.S. government admitted that it has more than 500 children in its torture and concentration camps. More than 2,500 children have gone through U.S. secret prisons since 2002, including at least eight at Guantánamo.

I know a lot of right-wing conservatives. We don't share much political common ground, but it's hard to imagine any of them thinking the indefinite detention and torture of children, against whom there is no evidence whatsoever of wrongdoing, is anything other than the behavior of a monster.

If a man screams in a government torture chamber, does he make a sound? Not if the only one who hears him is an American reporter.

Ted Rall is the author of the book "Silk Road to Ruin: Is Central Asia the New Middle East?," an in-depth prose and graphic novel analysis of America's next big foreign policy challenge. Visit his website www.tedrall.com

Can Truth Retain Its Independence?

Can Truth Retain Its Independence?

By Paul Craig Roberts

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Justin Raimondo has a good column this morning on Antiwar.com. It is written as a fundraiser. But what it shows is that journalists (and whistle-blowers) who tell the truth in America are more likely to be pummeled than rewarded, whereas those who lie for powerful interest groups live high on the hog.

It wasn’t just Bush, Cheney, and the neoconservatives who deceived us into an illegal war in behalf of a hidden agenda. It was the American media. Raimondo names some of the culprits who are complicit in the deaths of some one million Iraqis, an unknown number of Afghans, and thousands of American soldiers.

It was all for a lie. A lie told by the President of the United States and his handmaidens in the media.

Two of the worst handmaidens, Billy Kristol and Thomas Friedman, have been rewarded for their treachery to America by the New York Times, which pays these men, who have never been right about anything, to pontificate from columns on its pages. Others, such as Peter Beinart, are installed at the Washington Post and other publications.

The benefit of being a name columnist at a name newspaper is that it puts you on the lucrative speaking circuit. Raimondo reports, for example, that Friedman is paid $65,000 for a speech.

Such extravagant fees are not paid for words of wisdom. They are paid by interest groups for service. Even if Friedman had anything intelligent to say, it is unnecessary to pay him $65,000 to repeat what he writes in the New York Times.

The same interest groups that control the government offer the most extravagant fees on the speaking circuit. Global corporations that are driving up their stock prices and management bonuses by moving American jobs offshore reward journalists who write propaganda about the benefits of globalism. The military-security complex rewards journalists that feed hysteria about terrorism and foreign threats.

There are far better columnists available than Friedman and Kristol. There’s Raimondo himself. There’s Alexander Cockburn, Jeffrey St. Clair, Pat Buchanan, Lew Rockwell, to name just a few. If the print media had columnists of intelligence and integrity explaining events, instead of propagandists for government and interest groups, the United States would not have wasted eight years (so far) in pointless, illegal, and immoral wars of aggression that have been financed by foreign loans, thus sapping the strength of the dollar and American power.

In America, money, not truth, has the power. If the New York Times had Cockburn instead of Friedman and the Washington Post had Raimondo instead of Beinart, the newspapers would lose advertising revenues and connections with the power brokers.

The same problem exists outside the media. Studies produced by think tanks and university professors serve the causes of those who finance them. Does anyone think we will ever see a study from the American Enterprise Institute, for example, that is critical of Israel’s policy toward the Palestinians, the military-industrial complex, or the offshoring of American jobs? With rare exceptions, think tanks serve the interests of donors.

Even in universities there is not much of the academic freedom that we hear so much about. The Israel Lobby was able to reach into an American Catholic university and deny tenure to a fine scholar, Norman Finkelstein, who refused to obey the rule against truthfully examining Israeli policy and behavior.

Try to find an academic economist who will describe the devastation that offshoring has brought to the American economy and the economic prospects of US labor.

Try to find an academic physicist who will express in public his doubts about the official explanation for the collapse of the three World Trade buildings. An academic career in physics is almost totally dependent on government research grants. By bringing federal funding to education, liberals handed government the power to control. One physicist who expressed his doubts about the collapse of the twin towers, Steven Jones, was terminated by BYU at the insistence of the federal government, which held the power of the purse over the university’s head.

The same constraint on truth exists everywhere. I once asked the proprietor of a distinguished engineering firm why he didn’t publicly express his doubts about the World Trade Center buildings. He said it would be the end of his business, that he would be denounced as an anti-American and demonized as a terrorist sympathizer. The fact that he would be an expert giving an expert opinion would carry no weight.

The same resistance to truth is found in scholarship where enormous vested interests are entrenched. Taking on these vested interests is most often a career-ending event.

Even when the US had an independent press with independent points of view, hysteria could sweep the country in wrong-headed directions. Today it is easier than ever.

Even when research and scholarship were dependent on philanthropic foundations that supported independent views, academic fraud was not uncommon. Today many academics are bought and paid for.

When government and special interests finance education and research, and the media is concentrated in a few large corporations dependent on government broadcast licenses, there is not much room left for truth.

Consequently, today we have the Internet and a new generation of documentary film makers who, together, provide the information, opinions and research that the media, the universities, and the think tanks cannot provide. These sources are our last best hope.

Scientist and philosopher Michael Polanyi said that truth required people to believe in it as a force independent of material interests and intellectual dogmas and to relentlessly seek it. Truth is a belief system, he said, and if we cease to believe in it, it will disappear.

Paul Craig Roberts wrote the Kemp-Roth bill and was assistant secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was associate editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and contributing editor of National Review. He is author or co-author of eight books, including The Supply-Side Revolution (Harvard University Press). He has held numerous academic appointments, including the William E. Simon chair in political economy, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, and senior research fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He has contributed to numerous scholarly journals and testified before Congress on 30 occasions. He has been awarded the U.S. Treasury's Meritorious Service Award and the French Legion of Honor. He was a reviewer for the Journal of Political Economy under editor Robert Mundell.

ICE, ICE, Baby

ICE, ICE, Baby

One piece of legislation is why the price of everything is going through the roof

Go To Original

Special to the Star-Telegram

"There's a few hedge fund managers out there who are masters at knowing how to exploit the peak [oil] theories and hot buttons of supply and demand and by making bold predictions of shocking price advancements to come, they only add more fuel to the bullish fire in a sort of self fulfilling prophecy." — National Gas Week, September 5, 2005 as reprinted in the US Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations' report, "The Role of Market Speculation in Rising Oil and Gas Prices," June 27, 2006

Fiddling While We Burn

There it is in plain sight for everyone to see, exactly what I've been reporting for the past few years: Many individuals who are investing in oil and natural gas futures are going out in the media and trying to convince the American public that either we are out of oil or there is a serious supply shortage of crude against worldwide demand. The question is: Does it surprise you to discover that the US Senate investigated the rigging of the oil market by speculators in the summer of 2006 – and concluded that there was no supply and demand problem with oil? Did you know that their conclusion was that speculators were responsible for a 70 percent overcharge in the price of oil in the months leading up to the summer of 2006?

This from page 1 of the Executive Summary of that Senate investigation, there is this one troubling line: "Today, U.S. oil inventories are at an eight-year high, and OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) oil inventories are at a 20-year high."

That's odd because, in 2006, just like today, the media reporting covered the serious international shortage of oil and justified oil's high price. Even more troubling is that the House of Representatives held a hearing this past December, ominously titled "Energy Speculation and Price Manipulation." How did it pass under the radar that both the Senate and the House studied the issue of price manipulation in our energy markets and both concluded that it was unregulated, massive trading in one futures market that was really driving up the price of oil and natural gas? And given that conclusion, why has Congress done nothing about it?

Investors Make the News, Literally

A week ago Goldman Sachs issued a new investor note, suggesting that somewhere between six months to two years, the price of oil could go into a "super spike" and prices jump as high as $200 per barrel. It became the major story of the night. Ignored in the reporting frenzy was that many legitimate and well-respected oil analysts dismissed Goldman Sachs' prediction as groundless.

Get ready for the next shock to your system. In the past month we have added 11.9 million barrels of oil into our stock reserves, giving us 32.3 million more barrels of oil than we had on hand January 1. On May 5, we found out that for the second time in as many years, Iran was storing its excess crude oil on tankers in the Persian Gulf, because it had run out of storage space in the desert and was awaiting buyers for its heavy crude. That same day Saudi Arabia cut the discount price for its Arabian Heavy crude to $7.45, hoping to entice more buyers for immediate delivery. We didn't hear that news, either.

While researching my third article for BusinessWeek online about the world's oil situation in 2008, I asked for the most current report from Oil Movements. Because the oil industry is not transparent, Oil Movements tracks every tanker at sea, from both OPEC and non-OPEC oil countries, along with their cargoes' final destinations. Anne O'Shea responded immediately to my request with their report dated May 8, 2008. Just so you will know, oil shipments are up from a year ago in almost every class, including Middle East oil in transit and Non-OPEC in Transit. The only class of oil shipment that has declined is covered on page 3 of that report. That chart is labeled, "4-Week Changes in Westbound Oil at Sea."

That's right, shipments of oil headed west have shown serious declines during the month of April, down 800,000 barrels per day in the week before the publication of the report. Now, let me give you the first line from under the Westbound Oil shipments chart: "In the west, a big share of any [oil] stock building done this year has happened offshore, out of sight."

Could this be true? Oil Movements, the unimpeachable source for finding the real world situation on oil transits, is saying that oil is being hidden offshore, not declared in inventories? Yes, that is exactly what they are saying.

That same week our refineries cut their production runs back to 85 percent, down from 89 percent a year ago, to trim more gasoline out of our stock reserves, to increase their profits per gallon.

National Short-Term Memory Loss

It's amazing how quickly we forget our recent history. Congressional hearings in 2001, blasting certain Wall Street executives for using the media to sell the public on stocks in order to bid up the price – so their firm could divest of its shares without taking a beating. Meanwhile, other trusted advisors pushed stocks that were fundamentally worthless, because their affiliated banks had large loan agreements with those companies.

The year before Enron had been caught manipulating the California energy market, even forcing rolling blackouts across the northern part of their state apparently just for effect – to support their claim that there just wasn't enough electricity to go around. Again, we now know that claim was untrue. It was Enron shutting down certain power generation plants, while placing bets on their unregulated energy futures market. The net cost to California consumers was almost $8 billion.

It didn't end there. Amaranth Advisors, a hedge fund, literally was cornering the market on natural gas futures, to make it appear that there was a shortage of natural gas, when the Commodities Futures Trading Commission told Amaranth to liquidate its position on the NYMEX because its bidding had already moved natural gas prices far beyond the reasonable limits of supply and demand. Now, remember this name: ICE, short for Intercontinental Exchange – the "dark futures lookalike market."

Once the CFTC told it to back off its natural gas futures contracts, Amaranth simply shifted gears, got out of the NYMEX, placed its massive bets outside of government regulation in ICE and managed to drive natural gas futures to $8.50 per MBtu.

As the Senate investigation into the manipulation of the energy markets showed, "Amaranth – the day before they failed, natural gas was about $8.50; the day after it failed, it went to $4.46 MBtu." That's right, one major hedge fund managed to double the price of natural gas simply by loading up on futures contracts; when the government told them their bets were unwarranted, they simply moved their monies to a futures exchange that was unregulated. Only when Amaranth failed did natural gas prices fall back to what was considered normal for supply and demand.

Sadly, like oil today, when this was happening we were being told that natural gas supplies were tight worldwide. That statement simply wasn't true.

Dark Future

Likewise, British Petroleum was busted for manipulating the propane market in the winter of 2004 and fined $373 million. Of course, in Texas, under deregulation of our public utilities, our electric rates can be set using the futures market for natural gas, so the manipulation of the natural gas market spelled trouble for us. Consider this, by 2006, according to www.powertochoose.org, electricity rates for us had climbed to 15 cents a kilowatt-hour due to the high cost of natural gas. But, that was the exact same time period that Amaranth was proven to be manipulating the market and sending natural gas futures through the roof. Two months later the hedge fund collapsed and natural gas prices fell. Therefore, most Texans paid higher electric bills for Amaranth's manipulation of the natural gas market.

Professor Michael Greenberger of the University of Maryland, a former board member of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, testified in front of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on December 14 of last year. Under discussion that day was the manipulation of the energy markets and prices, but Professor Greenberger added these comments: "Three, four months from now, you're going to have a hearing on the subprime meltdown, and you're going to find that the very same legislation [deregulating energy] deregulated something called collateralized debt obligations, CDOs." That legislation, friends, directly ties the mortgage meltdown to the high price of energy today.

It was called H.R. 5660, the Commodities Futures Modernization Act of 2000. At first this bill went nowhere in the House, not even up for debate. Then, a few months later, late one night a 242-page bill written by Wall Street lawyers, with the exact same name as the former House bill, was quietly added to an 11,000-page appropriations bill, and the Enron loophole was created. The power behind that bill was one Texas Senator, one Texas Congressman and their wives.


ICE, ICE, Baby, conclusion

"Too cold, too cold"

Go To Original

Special to the Star-Telegram

"What's been happening since 2004 is very high prices without record-low [oil] stocks. The relationship between U.S. [oil] inventory levels and prices has been shredded and become irrelevant."

— Jan Stuart, Global Oil Economist, UBS Securities

"What you have on the financial side is a bunch of money being thrown at the energy futures market. It's just pulling in more and more cash. That's the side of the market where we have runaway demand, not on the physical side."

— Tim Evans, Senior Oil Analyst, IFR Energy Services [From testimony: U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations' report, "The Role of Market Speculation in Rising Oil and Gas Prices," June 27, 2006]

The Love of Money

Record high prices without record low oil inventories, analysts saying that so much money flows into oil commodities that it gives the impression of shortages, when in fact no shortage exists. That mirrors the situation in the commodities market for food, as Bloomberg pointed out in its April 28 article, "Wall Street Grain Hoarding Brings Farmers, Consumers Near Ruin": "Commodity investors control more U.S. crops than ever before, competing with governments and consumers for dwindling food supplies." That's right; food, oil and gasoline have become an "asset class." No longer are you fighting a neighbor at the supermarket over the last box of Cheerios®; now you're fighting the futures traders, who are actually determining what you will pay for that cereal.

We started as a society that worships hard labor and the basic business ethic of building value into the goods you create. How'd we get from there to worshiping Wall Street's billion-dollar boys — who create nothing, build nothing, own nothing and deliver no goods, and yet can throw so much money into products made by others that they determine what we consumers will pay for those goods?

It wasn't always this way.

In the past, the Commodities Futures Trading Commission acted as the cop on the beat, ensuring that buyers in the market were not distorting or manipulating prices beyond what supply and demand normally dictate. Certainly, if a hard frost hit Florida and cost growers an orange crop, then bidding up the price of the remaining oranges was both a wise investment and allowed under the trading rules. Right now investors know that if they borrow and invest huge amounts in commodities futures, they can create a shortage on paper – which drives prices up just like an actual shortage of any given product would. What kept traders from cornering the market that way in the past were the government's anti-manipulation rules.

Lay, DeLay, Gramm, Gramm & Clinton

The late, infamous Enron head, Ken Lay, realized in the eighties that he could make more money bidding up energy in the futures market than by actually creating and selling energy. But, under then-current rules, how much you could make swapping paper was limited. Fortuitously, Lay had excellent Texas political connections; and in November of 1992, the head of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission moved to exempt energy-derivative contracts and related swaps from any government oversight.

A vote was hurriedly put together before the Clinton White House would take over, and so Lay could finally start "dark" – unregulated – futures trading. The head of the CFTC was Wendy Gramm, wife of Texas Senator Phil Gramm; five weeks after she left, she became a board member of Enron in Houston.

Fast-forward to late 2000 and H.R. 5660, the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000, sponsored by Republican Congressman Thomas Ewing of Illinois. That bill went nowhere, even though Tom Delay's wife Christine was then working for a Washington lobbying firm, Alexander Strategies – which Enron had paid $200,000 to push through legislation for permanent energy deregulation in these "dark" markets.

Six months later came Senate Bill 3283, also named the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000. This time around the sponsor was Republican Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, and now Phil Gramm was listed as one of the bill's co-sponsors. Like it had in the House, this bill was destined to go nowhere until, late one night, it was attached as a rider to an 11,000-page appropriations bill – which was signed into law by President Clinton.

Now traders had an officially deregulated market for energy futures. Worse, that bill also deregulated many financial instruments – including the collateralized debt obligations that are at the center of today's mortgage crisis, which may well cost us more than $1 trillion before it's over.

Everybody Was Warned!

As USA Today wrote of this fiasco in January of 2002, "But, as a power marketer, [Enron] could buy enough energy-futures contracts in a region to create a virtual monopoly." That's right: As early as the winter of 2002, it was widely known that the 2000 Commodities Futures Modernization Act had created a monster, capable of running up energy prices outside of the normal law of supply and demand. Worse, our government had been warned this was going to happen. Representatives of the Federal Reserve, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the CFTC had already told Congress not to deregulate energy because "the market was ripe for manipulation." Everybody was warned; that's why this deregulation bill was stealthily inserted into that appropriations bill without a floor debate.

Phil Gramm's office denied that he had anything to do with writing the section of that bill that actually deregulated energy. And yet Prof. Michael Greenberger, formerly a CFTC board member himself, said that Gramm's wife Wendy, along with a few lobbyists and Wall Street attorneys, had rewritten it. When Robert Manor of the Chicago Times wrote about this situation on January 18, 2002, neither Gramm could be reached for comment.

Kill It Before It Multiplies

When Enron failed and took its private, unregulated energy exchange to the grave, another rose to take its place. The Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) was the brainchild of Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, British Petroleum, Deutsche Bank, Dean Witter, Royal Dutch Shell, SG Investment Bank and Totalfina. In 2001 ICE purchased the International Petroleum Exchange in London; renamed ICE Futures, it now operates as an "exempt commercial market" under section 2(H)(3) of the Commodity Exchange Act. As the Senate hearings pointed out in the summer of 2006, "Both markets operate outside of any CFTC oversight."

If you reread the quotes at the start of this story again, you find that many officials in the government warned against what would happen in a deregulated energy market, because it was so easy to manipulate. We already know this to be true thanks to Enron's California misdeeds. And, as we pointed out last week, British Petroleum was busted for manipulating the propane market and fined over $300 million; and Amaranth Partners was caught manipulating the natural gas market, unconscionably causing the futures price for natural gas to raise every Texan's electric bills. (It took two years for Amaranth to be exposed.) And yes, the manipulation happened in the new "dark" and unregulated exchanges, making it almost impossible to uncover. So it's not a question of "if" some "theoretically possible" manipulation and distortion of the market will result from this bill, championed by Phil Gramm, his wife Wendy and Christine Delay's employer, Alexander Strategies. The reason it is not theoretical is because we keep catching well-known companies doing it on a regular basis.

No Conscience in Congress?

All you hear daily is that the world has a severe shortage of oil, or you can buy only 200 pounds of rice at one time, or we will have a gasoline crisis this summer, etc. But it takes only a minute to find hundreds of quotes from highly respected oil and economic analysts, (not to mention CEOs of the major oil companies), that completely dismiss the claim of oil, gas or food shortages that have been headlining the news.

Even more troubling is that within months of the CFMA's going into effect, we knew it had enabled easy manipulation of any energy market, but nothing was done to fix it. Nor was anything done when the Senate held its hearings on this matter in 2006, or in the House hearings last December.

Today we call this situation the "Enron Loophole," but that's untrue. It's not a loophole: it was a new law passed in 2000 – and far more individuals than Ken Lay have used that law to line their pockets with hundreds of billions of American consumers' hard-earned dollars. That's not my opinion, that's direct testimony by numerous experts before both the House and Senate.

Professor Greenberger warned about our "New American Economy" far better than I could:

"Should we have an economy that's based on whether people make good or bad bets? Or should we have an economy where people build companies, create manufacturing, do inventions, advance the American society and make it more productive? We are rewarding people for sitting at their computers and punching in bets. That's not the way our economy is going to be built, and India and China, with their focus on science and industry and building real businesses, are going to eat our lunch, unless the American public wakes up and puts an end to an economy that praises and makes heroes out of speculators."

Greenberger's statement explains why Detroit and other American manufacturers suffer while Wall Street speculators make a fortune — and your rapidly shrinking checkbook pays for it, every time you buy food, fuel or feed.

All because there is no shortage of these goods, you're just being told there is because it's more profitable – for a few – that way.