Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Horror Of Israeli Occupation; West Bank Checkpoints

The Horror Of Israeli Occupation

West Bank Checkpoints

A video clip that dramatically portrays the meeting of Israeli solders and Palestinians at controversial West Bank security checkpoints. This clip is the second of a series taken from "Land of the Settlers", the acclaimed documentary developed by Chaim Yavin, Israel's premier news anchor.

Obama And The Empire

Obama And The Empire

By William Blum

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The New Yorker magazine in its July 14 issue ran a cover cartoon that achieved instant fame. It showed Barack Obama wearing Muslim garb in the Oval Office with a portrait of Osama bin Laden on the wall. Obama is delivering a fist bump to his wife, Michelle, who has an Afro hairdo and an assault rifle slung over her shoulder. An American flag lies burning in the fireplace. The magazine says it's all satire, a parody of the crazy right-wing fears, rumors, and scare tactics about Obama's past and ideology.

The cartoon makes fun of the idea that Barack and Michelle Obama are some kind of mixture of Black Panther, Islamist jihadist, and Marxist revolutionary. But how much more educational for the American public and the world it would be to make fun of the idea that Obama is even some kind of progressive.

I'm more concerned here with foreign policy than domestic issues because it's in this area that the US government can do, and indeed does do, the most harm to the world, to put it mildly. And in this area what do we find? We find Obama threatening, several times, to attack Iran if they don't do what the United States wants them to do nuclear-wise; threatening more than once to attack Pakistan if their anti-terrorist policies are not tough enough or if there would be a regime change in the nuclear-armed country not to his liking; calling for a large increase in US troops and tougher policies for Afghanistan; wholly and unequivocally embracing Israel as if it were the 51st state; totally ignoring Hamas, an elected ruling party in the occupied territory; decrying the Berlin Wall in his recent talk in that city, about the safest thing a politician can do, but with no mention of the Israeli Wall while in Israel, nor the numerous American-built walls in Baghdad while in Iraq; referring to the Venezuelan government of Hugo Chávez as "authoritarian", but never referring similarly to the government of George W. Bush, certainly more deserving of the label; talking with the usual disinformation and hostility about Cuba, albeit with a token reform re visits and remittances. But would he dare mention the outrageous case of the imprisoned Cuban Five[1] in his frequent references to fighting terrorism?

While an Illinois state senator in January 2004, Obama declared that it was time "to end the embargo with Cuba" because it had "utterly failed in the effort to overthrow Castro." But speaking as a presidential candidate to a Cuban-American audience in Miami in August 2007, he said he would not "take off the embargo" as president because it is "an important inducement for change."[2] He thus went from a good policy for the wrong reason to the wrong policy for the wrong reason. Does Mr. Obama care any more than Mr. Bush that the United Nations General Assembly has voted -- virtually unanimously -- 16 years in a row against the embargo?

In summary, it would be difficult to name a single ODE (Officially Designated Enemy) that Obama has not been critical of, or to name one that he has supported. Can this be mere coincidence?

The fact that Obama says he's willing to "talk" to some of the "enemies" more than the Bush administration has done sounds good, but one doesn't have to be too cynical to believe that it will not amount to more than a public relations gimmick. It's only change of policy that counts. Why doesn't he simply and clearly state that he would not attack Iran unless Iran first attacked the US or Israel or anyone else?

As to Iraq, if you're sick to the core of your being about the horrors US policy brings down upon the heads of the people of that unhappy land, then you must support withdrawal –- immediate, total, all troops, combat and non-combat, all the Blackwater-type killer contractors, not moved to Kuwait or Qatar to be on call. All bases out. No permanent bases. No permanent war. No timetables. No approval by the US military necessary. No reductions in forces. Just OUT. ALL. Just like what the people of Iraq want. Nothing less will give them the opportunity to try to put an end to the civil war and violence instigated by the American invasion and occupation and to recreate their failed state.

George W. Bush, 2006: "We're going to stay in Iraq to get the job done as long as the government wants us there."[3]
George W. Bush, 2007: "It's their government's choice. If they were to say, leave, we would leave."[4]
Iraqi National Security Adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie, 2008: "said his government was 'impatiently waiting' for the complete withdrawal of U.S. troops."[5]
Barack Obama, 2008: We can "redeploy combat brigades from Iraq at a pace of 1 to 2 brigades a month that would remove them in 16 months."[6]

Obama's terms of withdrawal equals no withdrawal. Literally. Has he ever said that the war is categorically illegal and immoral? A war crime? Or that anti-American terrorism in the world is the direct result of oppressive US policies? Instead he calls for a troop increase and "the first truly 21st century military ... We must maintain the strongest, best-equipped military in the world."[7] Why of course, that's what the people of the United States and the people of Iraq and Afghanistan and the rest of the people in this sad world desperately desire and need -- greater American killing power! Obama is not so much concerned with ending America's endless warfare as he is with "succeeding" in them, by whatever perverted definition of that word.

And has he ever dared to raise the obvious question: Why would Iran, even if nuclear armed, be a threat to attack the US or Israel? Any more than Iraq was such a threat. Which was zero. Instead, he has said things like "Iran continues to be a major threat" and repeats the tiresome lie that the Iranian president called for the destruction of Israel.[8]

Obama, one observer has noted, "opposes the present US policy in Iraq not on the basis of any principled opposition to neo-colonialism or aggressive war, but rather on the grounds that the Iraq war is a mistaken deployment of power that fails to advance the global strategic interests of American imperialism."[9]

He and his supporters have made much of the speech he delivered in the Illinois state legislature in 2002 against the upcoming US invasion of Iraq. But two years later, when he was running for the US Senate, he declared: "There's not that much difference between my position and George Bush's position at this stage."[10] Since taking office in January 2005, he has voted to approve every war appropriation the Republicans have put forward. He also voted to confirm Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State despite her complicity in the Bush Administration's false justifications for going to war in Iraq. In doing so, he lacked the courage of 12 of his Democratic Party Senate colleagues who voted against her confirmation.

If you're one of those who would like to believe that Obama has to present moderate foreign policy views to be elected, but once he's in the White House we can forget that he lied to us repeatedly and the true, progressive man of peace and international law and human rights will emerge ... keep in mind that as a US Senate candidate in 2004 he threatened missile strikes against Iran[11], and winning that election apparently did not put him in touch with his inner peacenik.

When, in 2005, the other Illinois Senator, Dick Durbin, stuck his neck out and compared American torture at Guantanamo to "Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others -- that had no concern for human beings", and was angrily denounced by the right wing, Obama stood up in the Senate and ... defended him? No, he joined the critics, thrice calling Durbin's remark a "mistake".[12]

One of Obama's chief foreign policy advisers is Zbigniew Brzezinski, a man instrumental in provoking Soviet intervention in Afghanistan in 1979, which was followed by massive US military supplies to the opposition and widespread war. This gave rise to a generation of Islamic jihadists, the Taliban, Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda, and more than two decades of anti-American terrorism. Asked later if he had any regrets about this policy, Brzezinski replied: "Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter, in substance: We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war."[13]

Another prominent Obama adviser -- from a list entirely and depressingly establishment-imperial -- is Madeleine Albright, who should always wear gloves because her hands are caked with blood from her roles in the bombings of Iraq and Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

In a primary campaign talk in March, Obama said that "he would return the country to the more 'traditional' foreign policy efforts of past presidents, such as George H.W. Bush, John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan."[14] Use your imagination. Bloody serial interventionists, all.

Why have well-known conservatives like George Will, David Brooks, Rush Limbaugh, Joe Scarborough, and others spoken so favorably about Obama's candidacy?[15] Whatever else, they know he's not a threat to their most cherished views and values.

Given all this, can we expect a more enlightened, less bloody, more progressive and humane foreign policy from Mr. Barack Obama? Forget the alleged eloquence and charm; forget the warm feel-good stuff; forget the interminable clichés and platitudes about hope, change, unity, and America's indispensable role as world leader; forget all the religiobabble; forget John McCain and George W. Bush ... All that counts is putting an end to the horror -- the bombings, the invasions, the killings, the destruction, the overthrows, the occupations, the torture, the American Empire.

Al Gore and John Kerry both took the progressive vote for granted. Neither had ever been particularly progressive themself. Each harbored a measure of disdain for the left. Both paid a heavy price for the neglect. I and millions like me voted for Ralph Nader, or some other third-party candidate, or stayed home. Obama is doing the same as Gore and Kerry. Progressives should let him know that his positions are not acceptable, keeping up the anti-war pressure on him and the Democratic Party at every opportunity. For whatever good it just might do.

I'm afraid that if Barack Obama becomes president he's going to break a lot of young hearts. And some older ones as well.

Writer Norman Solomon has written: "These days, an appreciable number of Obama supporters are starting to use words like "disillusionment." But that's a consequence of projecting their political outlooks onto the candidate in the first place. The best way to avoid becoming disillusioned is to not have illusions in the first place."

NOTES

[1] William Blum, "Cuban Political Prisoners ... in the United States" -- http://members.aol.com/bblum6/polpris.htm

[2] Washington Post, February 25, 2008; p.A4

[3] New York Times. December 1, 2006, p.1

[4] White House press conference, May 24, 2007

[5] Washington Post, July 9, 2008

[6] Obama's website: www.barackobama.com/issues/iraq/

[7] Speech to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, April 23, 2007

[8] Haaretz.com (leading Israeli newspaper), May 16, 2007

[9] Bill Van Auken, Global Research, July 18, 2008 -- http://www.globalresearch.ca/

[10] Chicago Tribune, July 27, 2004

[11] Chicago Tribune, September 25, 2004

[12] Congressional Record, June 21, 2005, p.S6897

[13] For the full Brzezinski interview see http://members.aol.com/bblum6/brz.htm

[14] Associated Press, March 28, 2008

[15] See, for example, Peter Wehner, "Why Republicans Like Obama", Washington Post, February 3, 2008, p.B7

illiam Blum is the author of: Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2, Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower, West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir, Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire, Portions of the books can be read, and signed copies purchased, at www.killinghope.org

Only We Can End the Conflict

Only We Can End the Conflict

An Israeli Jew in Gaza

By Jeff Halper

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I
n another few days, I will sail on one of the Free Gaza movement boats from Cyprus to Gaza. The mission is to break the Israeli siege, an absolutely illegal siege which has plunged a million and a half Palestinians into wretched conditions: imprisoned in their own homes, exposed to extreme military violence, deprived of the basic necessities of life, stripped of their most fundamental human rights and dignity. The siege violates the most fundamental principle of international law: the inadmissibility of harming civilian populations. Our voyage also exposes Israel’s attempt to absolve itself of responsibility for what is happening in Gaza. Israel’s claim that there is no Occupation, or that the Occupation ended with “disengagement,” is patently false. Occupation is defined in international law as having effective control over a territory. If Israel intercepts our boats, it is clear that it is the Occupying Power exercising effective control over Gaza. Nor has the siege anything to do with “security.” Like other elements of the Occupation in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, where Israel has also besieged cities, towns, villages and whole regions, the siege on Gaza is fundamentally political. It is intended to isolate the democratically-elected government of Palestine and break its power to resist Israeli attempts to impose an apartheid regime over the entire country.

This is why I, an Israeli Jew, felt compelled to join this voyage to break the siege. As a person who seeks a just peace with the Palestinians, who understands (despite what our politicians tell us) that they are not our enemies but rather people seeking precisely what we sought and fought for – national self-determination I cannot stand idly aside. I can no more passively witness my government’s destruction of another people than I can watch the Occupation destroy the moral fabric of my own country. To do so would violate my commitment to human rights, the very essence of prophetic Jewish religion, culture and morals, without which Israel is no longer Jewish but an empty, if powerful, Sparta.

Israel has, of course, legitimate security concerns, and Palestinian attacks against civilian populations in Sderot and other Israeli communities bordering on Gaza cannot be condoned. Under the Fourth Geneva Convention, Israel, as an Occupying Power, has the right to monitor the movement of arms to Gaza as a matter of “immediate military necessity.” As activists committed to resisting the siege non-violently, I have no objection to the Israeli navy boarding our boats and searching for weapons. But only that. Because Israel has no right to besiege a civilian population, it has no legal right to prevent us, private persons sailing solely in international and Palestinian waters, from reaching Gaza – particularly since Israel has declared that it no longer occupies it. Once the Israeli navy is convinced we pose no security threat, then, we thoroughly expect it to permit us to continue our peaceful and lawful journey into Gaza port.

Ordinary people have often played key roles in history, particularly in situations like this where governments shirk their responsibilities. My voyage to Gaza is a statement of solidarity with the Palestinian people in their time of suffering, but it also conveys a message to my fellow citizens.

First, despite what our political leaders say, there is a political solution to the conflict, there are partners for peace. The very fact that I, an Israeli Jew, will be welcomed by Palestinian Gazans makes that very point. My presence in Gaza also affirms that any resolution of the conflict must include all the peoples of the country, Palestinian and Israeli alike. I am therefore using whatever credibility my actions lend me to call on my government to renew genuine peace negotiations based on the Prisoners Document accepted by all Palestinian factions, including Hamas. The release of all political prisoners held by Israel, including Hamas government ministers and parliamentary members, in return for the repatriation of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, would dramatically transform the political landscape by providing the trust and good-will essential to any peace process.

Second, the Palestinians are not our enemies. In fact, I urge my fellow Israeli Jews to disassociate from the dead-end politics of our failed political leaders by declaring, in concert with Israeli and Palestinian peace-makers: We refuse to be enemies. Only that assertion of popular will can signal our government that we are fed up with being manipulated by those profiting from the Occupation.

And third, as the infinitely stronger party in the conflict and the only Occupying Power, we Israelis must accept responsibility for our failed and oppressive policies. Only we can end the conflict.

In the Israeli conception, Zionism was intended to return to the Jews control over their own destiny. Do not let us be held hostage to politicians who endanger the future of our society. Join with us end the siege of Gaza, and with it the Occupation in its entirety. Let us, the Israeli and Palestinian peoples, declare to our leaders: we demand a just and lasting peace in this tortured Holy Land.

Racism and Genocide Lies of Our Times

Racism and Genocide Lies of Our Times

By James Petras

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One of the hallmarks of totalitarian ideologues is the use of the big lie: a virulent attack on a defenseless group and then a categorical denial turning victims into executioners and executioners into victims.

Zionist genocide promoter, Benny Morris practices the Big Lie1. He claims, “I have never supported the brutal expulsion of all Palestinians…I have said, repeatedly, that the expulsion of the Palestinians is immoral and impracticable.”

In a recent interview in Israel, Morris states, “Under some circumstances, expulsion is not a war crime. I don’t think that the expulsions of 1948 (of nearly a million Palestinians) were war crimes. You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs. You have to dirty your hands. Moreover, if he (Israeli Prime Minister Ben Gurion) was already engaged in expulsion, maybe he should have done a complete job. I know that this stuns the Arabs and the liberals and the politically correct types. But my feeling is that this place would be quieter and know less suffering if the matter had been resolved once and for all. If Ben-Gurion had carried out a large expulsion and cleaned the whole country – the whole land of Israel, as far as the Jordan River. It may yet turn out that this was his fatal mistake. If he carried out a full expulsion – rather than a partial one – he would have stabilized the State of Israel for generations.” In its extremism, Morris’ promotion of Judeo-fascist ethnocide of Palestine/Jordan exceeds that of any expressed by a secular public Jewish figure in Israel.

Uprooting, massacring and driving 3 million Palestinians from their homes, land and communities, according to Morris, lessens suffering – for Jews – and promises a quieter life for Israeli Jews! This is the same rationale that Hitler pronounced in his project to ‘purify’ Nazi Germany.

Morris fabricates a tale about Israel’s peaceful role in the Middle East when in fact it has been the most aggressive, militarist, expansionist state in the entire Middle East. He writes, “I am completely unaware that Zionism ever aimed to ‘rule the Middle East’…Zionism simply wanted to establish and maintain a (miniscule) Jewish state in the Land of Israel/Palestine, the patrimony of the Jews…conquered by savage Muslim Arab invaders.”

The history of the Israeli state tells us otherwise. Israel has expanded and colonized over three quarters of Palestine since the original partition in 1948. Israel has invaded Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and seized and occupies territory from three of the four countries. Israel is the only country in the Middle East, which has repeatedly invaded Lebanon, destroyed its infrastructure, slaughtered Palestinian refugees in camps and attempted to establish a puppet regime in South Lebanon. Israel is the only Middle Eastern country, which shot down a Libyan commercial airliner carrying pilgrims to Mecca killing all aboard.

Israel’s ‘lobby’ – the Zionist power configuration in the US – has secured over $120 billion dollars of US military aid and the most advanced military technology for Israel, to insure Israel’s ‘overwhelming military superiority’ in the region. The military superiority of Israel has served the Jewish state to threaten, pressure, destabilize and influence Arab states.

The biggest nuclear threat in the Middle East and the sole nuclear power (over 200 nuclear bombs) and the only country, which publicly threatens to attack with nuclear weapons – is Israel. Israel has engaged in cross border terrorist assassinations throughout the Middle East, training death squads in Northern Iraq (Kurdistan) to Colombia and recognizes no sovereign borders in pursuit of its hegemonic goals.

Morris’ style is as revelatory as the substance of his totalitarian beliefs. He claims, “Israel has been threatened by Iran with destruction and the Iranian nuclear project appears to have Israel as its target.” Apart from a vague remark, which was grossly mistranslated, of Iranian President Ahmadinejad about Israel “Disappearing from the page of history” (a remark pointing to a political change of the ethnic nature of the state), the Iranian government has never threatened to nuke Israel. Morris, the prophet of Armageddon, with special powers to delve into the “self-sacrificing mindset of the mullahs who run Iran,” knows that deterrence will not work. No evidence founded on action is presented. No history of Iranian foreign policy over the past 50 years is presented.

The key to understanding Benny Morris’ proposal for nuclear genocide is his totalitarian-racist view of Arabs, Muslims and Iranians. In an interview in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz (2004) regarding Israeli-Palestinian relations he asserted, “Something like a cage has to be built for them…There is no choice. There is a wild animal there that has to be locked up in one way or another.” According to Morris, Palestinians are “barbarians who want to take our lives…At the moment that society is in the state of being a serial killer. It is a very sick society. It should be treated the way we treat individuals who are serial killers.” To Morris, the dispossessed Palestinians are the killers while the Israeli colonial state, which dispossessed millions, tortured tens of thousands, jailed hundreds of thousands and killed thousands and is building a huge ghetto wall destroying the livelihood of 3 million, is a sane, healthy society. Dehumanizing the victims and the use of sub-human analogies is common practice of totalitarian ideologues. Considering Muslims as sub-human eases the way to incinerating them with nuclear weapons.

Benny Morris bases his argument for launching a nuclear attack against Iran on two boldface lies: (1) “Every intelligence agency in the world believes the Iranian program is geared to making weapons, not to the peaceful application of nuclear power”; and (2) “Everyone knows that such measures (economic sanctions) have so far led nowhere and are unlikely to be applied.” The sixteen leading US intelligence agencies released a National Intelligence Estimate in 2007 based on all available high tech sources and inside informants, stating that Iran was not preparing enriched uranium for weapons. The International Atomic Energy Agency, which has permanent on site inspectors and makes continuous visits to Iranian nuclear facilities over the past decade, has not found any evidence of a weapons program. Every country, except Israel and the Zionist-dominated US Congress and White House believe that negotiations should continue. China, Russia, the states of the Middle East have supported sanctions among other countries. Iran’s uranium enrichment program is legal and is practiced by dozens of countries around the world. Only Israel, the US and the EU have arbitrarily decided to exclude Iran from developing nuclear enrichment programs for peaceful uses. Morris and the Israelis equate Iran’s legitimate activity with nuclear weapon production and extrapolate the latter to an immediate threat against Israel’s very existence.

Morris’ most laughable assertion is his claim that he “never advocated a genocidal attack on Iran with the aim of killing 70 million Iranians.” In his own words, just a few weeks earlier in a July 18 editorial in the New York Times he wrote, “Iran’s leaders would do well to re-think their gamble and suspend their nuclear program. Barring this, the best they could hope for is that Israel’s conventional air assault will destroy their nuclear facilities. To be sure, this would mean thousands of Iranian casualties and international humiliation. But the alternative is an Iran turned into a nuclear wasteland.”

By posing the question to Iran as one of ‘no choice’ but surrendering national sovereignty to an “Israeli nuclear threat’ Morris has pre-determined the result: Israel will have to engage in a genocidal nuclear assault on Iran. Morris’ double talk and utter confusion in claiming to oppose Iranian genocide while supporting ‘limited’ nuclear strikes against Iran revels his total ignorance of the most elementary consequences of the long-term, large-scale effects of radiation, contamination, economic devastation and widespread social trauma, not to mention the immediate effects of a thermonuclear attack on a populous nation. A nuclear strike against a country is genocidal in its effects on that nation – involving millions of human beings in Iran and throughout the entire region with widespread global contamination.

Benny Morris’ rant, in itself, is of no great concern were it limited to some Israeli version of a Munich beer hall. But the fact that ‘respectable’ capitalist print media, like the New York Times among others…publish and circulate blatant advocacy of nuclear genocide as ‘just another opinion’ is of prime political concern: It tells us how far imperial-militarism has infected Western political discourse; we have moved from a scratch to gangrene.

Postnote: A declaration signed by over 200 Israeli academics and peace activists was released August 5, 2008 stating:

There is no military, political or moral justification to initiate war with Iran. A constant flow of information bears witness to the fact that the Israeli government is seriously considering attacking Iran, in order to disrupt its nuclear plans. We do no disregard irresponsible actions by the Iranian government – we also oppose atomic weapons of mass destruction in the region. However, it is clear that the main source of the immediate danger of a new, widespread war stems from the policies of the Israeli government and the flow of threats from it, backed by provocative military maneuvers.

After serious consideration, we reiterate our position that all the arguments for such an attack are without any security, political or moral justification. Israel might get caught up in an act of adventurism that could endanger our very existence, and this without any serious effort to exhaust the political and diplomatic alternatives to armed conflict.

We are not certain that such an attack will occur. But the very fact that it is being weighed as a reasonable option makes it imperative that we warn and caution against the destructive results of an offensive strike against Iran.

Working Poor Unready to Revolt

Working Poor Unready to Revolt

Joel S. Hirschhorn

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Once upon a time when governments no longer served most of their citizens it was the most economically disadvantaged that could be counted on to rebel against tyranny and injustice. Times have changed, for the worse.

Here we are with a two-party plutocracy that preferentially serves corporate and wealthy interests and lets the middle class suffer and sink. Plausibly, the middle class is unready to revolt because it still maintains a relatively good standard of living despite rising economic insecurity. But what about the lowest 40 percent of Americans that are the working poor?

A recent survey of this group by the Washington Post, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard University conducted this past June looked at the beliefs of adults ages 18 to 64 working 30 or more hours a week, not self-employed and who earned no more than $27,000 in 2007. The results show a fascinating dichotomy. Though there is widespread pain and discontent there is also a stubborn faith in the American dream despite little help from government.

Ninety percent of this group sees the current economy negatively, either not so good or poor, with 52 percent feeling financially insecure and 50 percent feeling less secure than a few years ago. The fractions saying they have difficulty affording basic things are severe, including: 88 percent that cannot save money for college or other education for their children, 82 percent paying for gasoline or other transportation costs, 81 percent saving money for retirement, 65 percent paying for health care and health insurance, 65 percent handling child care, close to 60 percent paying credit card bills, monthly utility bills and rent or mortgage costs, and 47 percent buying food. Three quarters say it has gotten harder to find good jobs and nearly that fraction for finding affordable health care, and 68 percent finding decent, affordable housing.

In the past year this group has had to take many actions to make ends meet, including 70 percent that cut electricity use and home heating; 62 percent that took an extra job or worked extra hours, 51 percent that postponed medical or dental care and 50 percent that took money out of savings or retirement funds.

All this sounds pretty bleak. But are these people mad and pessimistic? Not exactly.

An amazing 69 percent are hopeful about their personal financial situation, 59 percent believe they are more likely over the next few years to move up in terms of their social class, 59 percent believe that their children will have a standard of living much or somewhat better than theirs, and 56 percent think they will achieve the American dream in their lifetime.

Do these lower economic class, hardest hit Americans that account for 25 percent of the adult population believe that government helps them? No. Only 22 percent believe that government programs are making things better for them. But apparently they have bought hook, line and sinker into Barack Obama's change rhetoric, with a 2 to 1 margin favoring him over John McCain. And when it comes to beliefs about which candidate will do better for them the margins favoring Obama go up to 3 or more to 1 for improving their own financial situation, the national economy and the national health care system. Similarly, Obama is seen as much more concerned with their needs and better represent their values. All very good news for Obama, except that only 70 are registered to vote and about a third saw no difference in whether Obama or McCain was in office.

Faith in Obama, however, pales in comparison to the other source of comfort for dealing with hard economic times. A striking 78 percent find religion or faith in God helps them get through tough economic times.

The unmistakable conclusion from all these data is that no rebellion against the power elites running the two-party plutocracy seems likely. If the bottom 40 percent of Americans in terms of income still believe in the American dream and change-spouting politicians like Obama, it is hard to believe that the more affluent middle 40 percent of the population are ready to support more radical change through political rebellion.

Interesting how gasoline prices are dropping as we approach the Republican and Democratic conventions and Election Day. Apparently, America's ruling class knows what it is doing. It can keep channeling more and more of the nation's wealth to the rich, Upper Class producing more economic inequality without fearing the kind of political revolution that Thomas Jefferson thought the nation needs periodically. Consider this: In the three decades after World War II household inflation-adjusted income of the bottom 90 percent increased 83 percent compared to 20 percent increase for the top 10 percent. In contrast, in the past three decades, the bottom 90 percent saw only a 10 percent increase while the top 10 percent received an increase of 232 percent! The two-party stranglehold on our political system has produced rising economic inequality.

Forget all that nonsense about the proletariat. Most Americans use their faith in God or religion or conventional politicians to cope, even in some of the most insecure economic times in American history. The ruling class has successfully used propaganda to dumb down and manipulate most of the public and delusion has become the opiate of the masses.

In God and Barack Obama We Trust could be placed on all our currency if the views of millions of Americans are taken seriously. Don't you feel better?

America Out of Economic Ammunition

America Out of Economic Ammunition

Jean-Marc Vittori

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Faced with an increasingly uncertain economy, America has ever-fewer means to take action. At the exact moment when the two White House candidates are honing their programs and their teams, this weakness is becoming obvious. The great economic policy levers have already been totally activated, or nearly so, and without really succeeding in stimulating the machine.

That is the case for monetary policy first of all. The Federal Reserve should announce today that it will not move its interest rates. The United States' central bank is stuck between two symmetrical risks. On the one hand, economic activity is not strong; consumers are depressed; unemployment is rising. So, the Fed should decrease its interest rates. However - on the other hand - interest rates are already low, barely two percent for the Fed's reference rate. And prices are increasing ever-more rapidly. One of the measures of this inflation published yesterday, the Personal Consumption Index, increased 0.8 percent in June, the strongest rise since 1981. Another measure, the classic Consumer Price Index, grew five percent in a year. Such a gap between prices and interest rates has not been observed on the other side of the Atlantic since the first oil shock. It would be perilous to increase it.

Budget policy is in the same situation. The reductions in taxes the Bush administration granted this spring will have barely offset the erosion in income skyrocketing oil prices have exerted. The deficit will exceed $400 billion in 2008 and could approach $500 billion next year, if one believes the forecasts published last week by the White House. Of course, that's barely more than three percent of the enormous American GNP. But it is difficult under these conditions to set a vast plan in motion to support the economy while preserving the trust of investors likely to buy the bonds necessary for its financing.

The United States is also not succeeding any better in using the trade weapon that would have allowed it to open new markets for its exporters. The recent injunctions directed at Beijing that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has just formulated look like a confession of impotence. America is left with barely any means to pressure China, Russia or the Emirates. All the more so as those countries' capital is indispensable to America's financial equilibrium.

The last time an American president took the reins of an economy as stalled as this one was in 1981. But Ronald Reagan changed the rules of the game and created what we in France would call a "break" with the past. For example, he increased military spending by 40 percent in five years. It's difficult to imagine John McCain - and even less so Barack Obama - following that route. All the more so as problems of colossal budgetary impact loom on the horizon, such as financing health care and retirement costs. In reality, the next president of the United States will have no major economic weapon available. If growth resumes, that's not very serious. In the opposite event, the whole world will suffer as a result of this American impotence.

Justice Department Subpoenas Its Former Lawyers In Civil Rights Probe

Justice Department Subpoenas Its Former Lawyers In Civil Rights Probe

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A federal grand jury has subpoenaed several former senior Justice Department attorneys for an investigation into the politicization of the Department's own Civil Rights Division, according to sources close to the investigation.

The extraordinary step by the Justice Department of subpoenaing attorneys once from within its own ranks was taken because several of them refused to voluntarily give interviews to the Department Inspector General, which has been conducting its own probe of the politicization of the Civil Rights Division, the same sources said.

The grand jury has been investigating allegations that a former senior Bush administration appointee in the Civil Rights Division, Bradley Schlozman, gave false or misleading testimony on a variety of topics to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Sources close to the investigation say that the grand jury is also more broadly examining whether Schlozman and other Department officials violated civil service laws by screening Civil Rights attorneys for political affiliation while hiring them.

Investigators for the Inspector General have also asked whether Schlozman, while an interim U.S. attorney in Missouri, brought certain actions and even a voting fraud indictment for political ends, according to witnesses questioned by the investigators. But it is unclear whether the grand jury is going to hear testimony on that issue as well.

One person who has been subpoenaed before the grand jury, sources said, was Hans von Spakovsky, who as a former counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights was a top aide to Schlozman. An attempt to reach Spakovsky for comment for this story was unsuccessful.
Earlier this year, Spakovsky withdrew his name from nomination by President Bush to serve on the Federal Election Commission after repeatedly claiming a faulty memory or citing the attorney-client privilege to fend off questions from senators about allegedly using his position to restrict voting rights for minorities -- and that he hindered an investigation of Republican officeholders in Minnesota accused of discriminating against Native American voters.

Three current and former Justice Department officials were questioned by investigators about allegations that Schlozman--with Spakovsky advising and assisting him-- made decisions whether to hire and fire attorneys in the Civil Rights Divison on the basis of their political affiliation.

Another person subpoenaed by the grand jury, according to several sources, was Jason Torchinsky, who, like Spavosky, was also a Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights.

Torchinsky is not under investigation for any wrongdoing himself, but rather subpoenaed as a witness in the probe, sources said. Previously, however, Torchinsky had refused to voluntarily answer questions from investigators working for the Justice Department's Inspector General about the politicization of the Civil Rights Divison. Reached at his home on Tuesday night, Torchinsky declined to comment for this article.

Sources familiar with the federal grand jury subpoenas say that they were approved at the highest levels of the Justice Department.

The sources said that investigators working the case as well as senior Department officials were distressed that some of the Justice Department's most senior political appointees refused to co-operate with an investigation by the very Department they once served.

"What does this say for the average person on the street if we want them to co-operate?" said a senior official, "How can we say to the ordinary citizen that you should report crimes, tell the government what you know, when the people who ran the Department of Justice thumb their noses at the system?"

Another federal law enforcement official familiar with the subpoenas said that they believed that senior Justice Department officials had no choice but to approve the subpoenas because to do otherwise would have meant overruling career prosecutors and their actions would appear political if they did. The official also said that political appointees at the top of the Department had to appear to be aggressive in their investigation of the politicization because to do otherwise might lead to calls for a special prosecutor to take over the investigation from them.

A former Justice Department attorney who was subpoenaed said that he believed they had been called before the grand jury as "retaliation" for refusing to talk voluntarily to investigators working for Justice's Inspector General. Current Justice Department employees are required to talk to investigators, while former employees are not.

But sources with first-hand knowledge of the investigation said that the former Justice Department officials were subpoenaed because they had information necessary to the Department's probe and without subpoenas there was no other way to compel their testimony.

During his tenure in the Civil Rights Division, career employees charged that Schlozman disregarded longstanding voting rights law to electorally favor Republicans over Democrats.

Joseph Rich, who was chief of the voting rights section of the Civil Rights Division under Schlozman, told the Boston Globe: "Schlozman was reshaping the Civil Rights Division. Schlozman didn't know anything about voting law. . . . All he knew is he wanted to be sure that the Republicans were going to win."

Schlozman and other Bush administration appointees in the Justice Department claimed that federal law enforcement authorities had been deficient in prosecuting cases of voter fraud. Schlozman and other Bush administration officials--most prominently Karl Rove- claimed that the failure to prosecute purported voter fraud benefited Democrats at the expense of Republicans.
But most independent assessments suggest that the vast majority of reports of voting fraud are unfounded.

A recent study [PDF] by Lorraine C. Minnite, an assistant professor of political science at Barnard College, found that most reports of voting fraud turned out to be "unsubstantiated or false claims by the loser of a close race, mischief, and administrative or voter error." Joseph Rich, who was chief of the voting-rights section in Justice's Civil Rights Division until 2005, told me in an interview: "There is virtually no evidence that voter fraud ever occurs except by individuals and in rare instances."

Democrats and interest groups ranging from the League of Woman Voters to the NAACP to those who protect the rights of the disabled, assert that the White House and Republican activists exaggerate claims of voter fraud as a means to suppress voter participation. Citing allegations of purported voter fraud, the Bush White House has supported state initiatives which would require voters to produce state photo identification at the polls.

In the courts, however, state and federal judges have said that such requirements might discourage voting by minorities, the disabled, the impoverished, students, and the elderly--all segments of voters who traditionally vote in greater numbers for the Democrats.

Von Spakovsky, Schlozman's deputy, who has been subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury because of his refusal to speak to investigators, was also alleged to have to misused his official position by setting aside the law to take actions to help Republican candidates.

When von Spakovsky was nominated to serve on the Federal Election commission, six career officials of the Justice Department's Voting Rights Section, who had worked under him, wrote the Senate asking that he not be confirmed.

The six alleged that "during the 2004 election cycle" von Spakovsky "broke with established Department policy by getting involved with contentious and partisan litigation on the eve of the election. Mr. von Spakovsky drafted legal briefs between the Republican and Democratic parties in three battleground states, Ohio, Michigan and Florida just before the election, all in favor of the Republican party's position." The six career officials further asserted: "These briefs ran counter to the well-established practice of the Civil Rights Division not to inject itself into litigation or election monitoring on the eve of an election where it would be viewed as expressing a political preference or could have an impact on a political dispute."

These briefs ran counter to the well-established practice of the Civil Rights Division not to inject itself into litigation or election monitoring on the eve of an election where it could be viewed as expressing a political preference or could have an impact on a political dispute. Moreover, in another case between the Republican and Democratic parties which concerned an Ohio law that permitted political parties to challenge voters, he drafted a letter that was sent to the court which supported the Republican Party position even though the law did not implicate any statute that the Department enforces.

During his tenure with the Civil Rights Division, Schlozman also repeatedly clashed not only with career attorneys in his own office but also with federal prosecutors who he did not believe were taking the issue of voting fraud seriously enough.

One of those he clashed with was Todd Graves, the U.S. Attorney in Kansas City, Missouri, a conservative Republican stalwart who excelled in his job, but who also was fired by the Bush administration in March, 2006-- only to be temporarily replaced by Schlozman.

As interim U.S. attorney, less than a week before a tightly contested U.S. Senate race in Missouri in 2006, Schlozman brought an indictment of voter fraud against four workers with a liberal advocacy group, despite the fact that Justice Department guidelines prohibit such indictments so close to election day. Schlozman said that he was justified in his actions because he was afraid that more fraud might take place.

But Robert Kengle, a former deputy chief in the voting-rights section at Justice during the Clinton and Bush administrations, told me in an interview: "They cooked up that there is a general exception to the policy because they wanted to prevent more fraud. But indicting people before the election was not going to change anything. Registration had already closed.... There just wasn't a justification for bending the law."

The Justice Department guidelines state: "Federal prosecutors and investigators should be extremely careful not to conduct overt investigations during the pre-election period or while the elections are underway."

One reason for such a policy, the guidelines say, is that "a criminal investigation by armed, badged federal agents runs the obvious risk of chilling legitimate voting and campaign activities."
In the end, the indictment had to be reissued after the election. In his haste to bring charges, Schlozman had indicted the wrong person--someone with a name similar to the person he wanted to charge.

The Forged Iraqi Letter: What Just Happened?

The Forged Iraqi Letter: What Just Happened?

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What just happened? Evidence. A secret that has been judiciously kept for five years just spilled out. All of what follows is new, never reported in any way:

The Iraq Intelligence Chief, Tahir Jalil Habbush -- a man still carrying a $1 million reward for capture, the Jack of Diamonds in Bush's famous deck of wanted men -- has been America's secret source on Iraq. Starting in January of 2003, with Blair and Bush watching, his secret reports began to flow to officials on both sides of the Atlantic, saying that there were no WMD and that Hussein was acting so odd because of fear that the Iranians would find out he was a toothless tiger. The U.S. deep-sixed the intelligence report in February, "resettled" Habbush to a safe house in Jordan during the invasion and then paid him $5 million in what could only be considered hush money.

In the fall of 2003, after the world learned there were no WMD -- as Habbush had foretold -- the White House ordered the CIA to carry out a deception. The mission: create a handwritten letter, dated July, 2001, from Habbush to Saddam saying that Atta trained in Iraq before the attacks and the Saddam was buying yellow cake for Niger with help from a "small team from the al Qaeda organization."

The mission was carried out, the letter was created, popped up in Baghdad, and roiled the global newcycles in December, 2003 (conning even venerable journalists like Tom Brokaw). The mission is a statutory violation of the charter of the CIA, and amendments added in 1991, prohibiting the CIA from conducting disinformation campaigns on U.S. soil.

So, here we go again: the administration is in full attack mode, calling me names, George Tenet is claiming he doesn't remember any such thing -- just like he couldn't remember "slam dunk" -- and reporters are scratching their heads. Everything in my book is on the record, with many sources. And so, we watch and wait....

The Iraq Forgery

The Iraq Forgery

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On Dec. 14, 2003, the London Sunday Telegraph published an explosive front-page story headlined, "Terrorist behind September 11 strike 'was trained by Saddam.'" The proof was a July 1, 2001, letter from the head of Iraqi intelligence, Tahir Jalil Habbush, stating that 9/11 terrorist Mohammed Atta had trained for his mission in Iraq. War supporters touted this story as further justification for the Bush administration's war. That same day, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly proclaimed, "Now, if this is true, that blows the lid off al Qaeda/Saddam." However, as the 9/11 Commission proved, there were no pre-war ties between Saddam Hussein's regime and the al Qaeda organization. So what happened? Pulitzer-Prize winning author Ron Suskind argues in his new book, "The Way of the World," the White House fabricated this letter and paid Habbush $5 million to stay quiet. Additionally, officials ignored Habbush's warnings that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction. Suskind's reporting provides the latest bit of evidence that the Bush administration deliberately misled the public to launch its war.

IGNORING UNWANTED EVIDENCE: In January 2003, Michael Shipster, the head of Iraqi operations for the British intelligence service MI6, began secret talks with Habbush. According to Nigel Inkster, a former senior British intelligence official, Habbush confirmed that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction. Hussein was "more concerned with threats from regional enemies like Iran than a US invasion." Senior White House officials were well-informed about these discussions. The British intelligence services prepared a final report on Shipster's meetings with Habbush, which then-CIA director George Tenet used to brief President Bush and then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. "The report stated that according to Habbush, Saddam had ended his nuclear program in 1991, the same year he destroyed his chemical weapons stockpile. Iraq had no intention, Habbush said, of restarting either program," Suskind writes. "The White House then buried the Habbush report. They instructed the British that they were no longer interested in keeping the channel open." But as Suskind told MSNBC's Keith Olbermann yesterday, Bush administration officials became worried that Habbush might go public with his revelations after Amb. Joseph Wilson published his infamous op-ed on July 6, 2003. "Everyone was terrified that Habbush would pop up on the screen," former CIA agent Rob Maguire told Suskind. The CIA paid Habbush $5 million in hush money in October 2003 to lay low and stay quiet. Ironically, the State Department's "Rewards for Justice" website still lists Habbush as a "wanted" man, offering a $1 million reward.

THE BOGUS LETTER: Around the time that it hushed Habbush, the White House decided to use the Iraqi's name to forge the bogus letter, backdated to July 2001. The letter was meant to show "that there was an operational link between Saddam and al Qaeda, something the Vice President's Office had been pressing CIA to prove since 9/11 as a justification to invade Iraq," writes Suskind. According to Suskind's CIA sources, officials remember seeing the forgery order on "creamy White House stationery." Furthermore, they concluded that the letter must have come from the "highest reaches of the White House." The fake letter was then strategically leaked to Telegraph reporter Con Coughlin. Coughlin noted that in the memo, Habbush said that Atta "displayed extraordinary effort" and would be able to attack "the targets that we have agreed to destroy." The second part of the memo, headed "Niger Shipment," detailed an unspecified shipment -- presumably uranium -- that was allegedly shipped to Iraq via Libya and Syria. In his article, Coughlin wrote, Iraqi officials refused to disclose how and where they had obtained the document." Dr. Ayad Allawi, then a member of Iraq's Presidential Committee, nevertheless "said the document was genuine."

GUTTER ATTACKS: Current and former Bush administration officials wasted no time in excoriating Suskind's work. "There was no such order from the White House to me nor, to the best of my knowledge, was anyone from CIA ever involved in any such effort," said Tenet. He also questioned whether Suskind was a "serious journalist." White House spokesman Tony Fratto went further, telling Politico, "Ron Suskind makes a living from gutter journalism. He is about selling books and making wild allegations that no one can verify." The White House told NPR that the claims in the book were part of the "bizarre conspiracy theories that Ron Suskind likes to dwell in." Yesterday in a Washington Post online chat, media reporter Howard Kurtz disputed the White House's characterization of Suskind, stating, "Gutter journalism is certainly not a phrase I'd associate with Ron Suskind." Moreover, Suskind is standing by his work. He said that many of his sources "felt that at the end of this Bush era it is imperative to be truthful about this issue -- going to war under false pretenses so that we settle accounts and people understand what occurred and what the truth is. So we can get past this as a country." He also called the White House's reaction "regrettable" but "expected." "If they reacted any other way they would have to answer questions that might have some legal consequences," he told ABC News.

Enron setbacks could hurt other white-collar prosecutions

Enron setbacks could hurt other white-collar prosecutions

Marisa Taylor

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Almost seven years after the energy giant Enron collapsed, a series of court decisions has opened the door to new trials for some of the convicted corporate executives and threatened to hobble the Justice Department's efforts to pursue future corporate-fraud cases.

In the wake of the scandal, prosecutors pursued executives for covering up the company's financial bleeding and unloading millions of dollars in stock. The Bush administration was under pressure to hold the company's executives accountable for what at the time represented the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history. More than 4,000 Enron employees lost their jobs, and investors lost billions.

However, legal experts said the government's recent setbacks in court raised troubling questions about how federal prosecutors handled the high-profile cases and suggested that the Justice Department could face serious obstacles in other white-collar investigations:

  • In one defeat for the Enron prosecutors, the usually divided Supreme Court in 2005 unanimously overturned the conviction of Enron accounting firm Arthur Andersen after the justices found that the trial judge had instructed the jury improperly.
  • In another case, four former executives from Enron's Internet subsidiary, Enron Broadband Services, are getting another trial after a federal jury acquitted them on some charges and deadlocked on the rest. The group was accused of exaggerating the firm's technology capabilities in order to inflate stock prices and cash out. One former executive was acquitted in the original trial.
  • Three Merrill Lynch executives are being retried after the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed most of their convictions. They're accused of helping to inflate Enron's earnings by arranging a fraudulent sale to their company of three electricity-generating barges off the coast of Nigeria. A jury acquitted a fourth executive, and the conviction of a fifth was thrown out because of a lack of evidence.
  • Finally, prosecutors are under fire in the conviction of former Enron Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Skilling because of allegations that they withheld evidence that could have cleared him. A federal appeals court also tossed out a legal approach that the prosecutors used, giving Skilling and future defendants new ammunition to challenge their convictions.

Prosecutors secured 18 guilty pleas, but the legacy of the entire Enron investigation is at stake in Skilling's appeal and the 5th Circuit's ruling in the Merrill Lynch case gives Skilling a realistic shot at overturning at least part of his conviction, experts said.

"Skilling is kind of the linchpin," said Peter J. Henning, a Wayne State University law professor and a former Securities and Exchange Commission attorney. "If his conviction stands, the Enron prosecutions were a success. If it doesn't, prosecutors will have a hard time convincing the public that they took the right approach."

In its 2006 ruling in the Merrill Lynch case, the 5th Circuit struck down the government's reliance on the so-called "honest services" theory, which allows prosecutors to pursue suspects who enabled fraud but didn't profit from it directly, a common allegation in corporate scandals.

Prosecutors still rely on the theory despite the ruling, Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr said, "but it's clear that the law is evolving in this area."

"Whenever a court rules — as the 5th Circuit did regarding this issue — we listen to that ruling," he said.

Skilling, who's serving a 24-year prison sentence, is awaiting the outcome of his appeal before the 5th Circuit. A jury convicted him of 19 counts of conspiracy, insider trading and lying to auditors. Kenneth Lay, Enron's former chairman of the board, also was convicted, but he died of a heart attack before he could be sentenced.

Defense attorneys contend that prosecutors responded to the public outcry over the Enron scandal by bringing unwarranted charges, taking shortcuts and relying on unorthodox tactics to win convictions.

"I've never seen such egregious misconduct by any prosecutor," said Sidney Powell, a former federal prosecutor who represents one of the defendants. She's filed a misconduct complaint against Matthew Friedrich, a former Enron prosecutor who now heads the Justice Department's Criminal Division.

The defense attorneys cite newly released FBI notes of interviews with former Enron Chief Financial Officer Andrew Fastow, a key government witness in the Enron cases.

Prosecutors are required to turn over to the defense FBI summaries of interviews of testifying witnesses such as Fastow. But throughout the Skilling trial, prosecutors declined to hand over the usual FBI summaries of the hundreds of hours of interviews with Fastow. Instead, they provided what defense attorneys called "summaries of summaries." Agents destroyed the original summaries.

Since the 5th Circuit ordered the Justice Department to turn over the full FBI notes to the defense, Skilling's lawyers contend that they've found dozens of facts in the documents that could have cleared their client.

The Justice Department declined to comment on the allegations of misconduct.

In court papers, department lawyers have said that defense attorneys received all the evidence to which they were entitled. The Justice lawyers called an attempt by several defense attorneys to dismiss charges because of alleged misconduct "stunning" and "an attempt at character assassination" despite "the paucity of evidence to support the claims." If small details weren't divulged, the department lawyers said, the new information wasn't sufficient to clear the defendants.

"To be clear, we vigorously oppose the defendant's every accusation of prosecutorial misconduct," the lawyers wrote in response to Powell's allegations.

Some former prosecutors say that the Enron investigation suffered from a perennial problem at the Justice Department. When regulators fail to detect or prevent corporate malfeasance, prosecutors and investigators find themselves under pressure to pursue rich, powerful and resourceful suspects with complex charges that are difficult to explain to juries. Even if they win convictions, when the crisis blows over they're on the defensive for lacking sufficient evidence or acting too aggressively.

John Kroger, who oversaw one of the Enron indictments in question, has described a pressure-cooker atmosphere in which the Bush administration "was motivated to get some scalps quickly."

"The Bush team knew that if it failed to move aggressively on Enron, there would be a huge political price to pay," he wrote in his new book, "Convictions: A Prosecutor's Battle Against Mafia Killers, Drug Kingpins and Enron Thieves."

Defense attorneys have seized on passages in Kroger's book to support their contentions. For example, unlike in other corporate fraud cases, Kroger wrote, he and other prosecutors didn't delve into the millions of company documents to prove their cases.

"The Enron business records were so voluminous and hard to decode we thought it could take years to determine what evidence was relevant," he wrote.

At one point, he calculated that if prosecutors had tried to analyze each of Enron's 3,500 potentially fraudulent financial transactions, "it would take the six of us more than a decade."

In an interview with McClatchy, Kroger denied that prosecutors had responded to the pressure by pushing weak cases.

"We tried as hard as we could to do a thoughtful and conscientious job in a very difficult case," said Kroger, who's now running as a Democrat for Oregon attorney general.

Several former prosecutors assigned to the task force that oversaw the investigation dismissed the defense lawyers' criticism as a routine part of the appeals process when defense attorneys try to clear their clients.

And even if defense lawyers convince a court that misconduct occurred, their clients still could be guilty of crimes. In dismissing the charges against the Merrill Lynch executives, the 5th Circuit said that its opinion "should not be read to suggest that no dishonest, fraudulent, wrongful or criminal act has occurred."

When Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr was asked about the department's view of the investigation's success, he replied: "The book is not finished, as many of these issues continue to work their way through the courts."

There are signs, however, that the Justice Department already is taking a different tack. Prosecutors are relying frequently on deferred prosecutions, which allow corporations to pay fines but avoid indictments.

In a separate development, Attorney General Michael Mukasey announced in June that he wouldn't create an Enron-like task force to oversee the investigation into the sub-prime mortgage crisis. Although he said he made that decision because he thought that individual U.S. attorneys could handle the job, some suspect that the Justice Department is trying to avoid a repeat of the sprawling Enron investigation.

"They're trying to avoid being attacked for what some may call the excesses of the Enron and other earlier corporate-fraud matters," said Roma Theus, a former federal prosecutor who's now a defense attorney. "The government was very aggressive, and they may have gone too far in their prosecution theories."

No matter what the outcome, former Enron prosecutor Kroger predicted, the public would demand the same forceful action after the next "boom and bust cycle."

"We see this cycle repeated over and over again," Kroger said. "We regulate very loosely, then we have a crisis and we react strongly. Then, we grow complacent again."

Morgan Stanley Said to Freeze Home-Equity Credit Withdrawals

Morgan Stanley Said to Freeze Home-Equity Credit Withdrawals

By Christine Harper

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Morgan Stanley, the second-biggest U.S. securities firm, told thousands of clients this week that they won't be allowed to withdraw money on their home-equity credit lines, said a person familiar with the situation.

Most of the clients had properties that have lost value, according to the person, who declined to be identified because the information isn't public. The New York-based investment bank will review home-equity lines of credit, or HELOCs, monthly from now on, the person said yesterday.

Wall Street firms including Morgan Stanley are ratcheting back on risks after the collapse of the subprime mortgage market and ensuing credit contraction saddled banks and brokerages with almost $500 billion of writedowns and losses. Consumers fell behind on home-equity credit lines at the fastest pace in two decades in the first quarter, the American Bankers Association reported last month.

‘‘Morgan Stanley periodically reassesses client property values and risk profiles,'' said Christine Pollak, a Morgan Stanley spokeswoman in Purchase, New York. ‘‘A segment of clients was recently notified of a change in the status of their home- equity line of credit, or HELOC, due to a change in the value of their property and/or their credit profile.''

Pollak declined to specify the dollar amount of the frozen credit lines. The firm's global wealth management division, which doesn't disclose how many clients it serves, had 8,350 advisers managing $739 billion of customer assets at the end of May, according to its second-quarter earnings report.

No Recovery Seen

‘‘It's evidence that they don't think the economy is going to recover quickly,'' said Brad Hintz, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. in New York who rates Morgan Stanley shares ‘‘outperform'' and who owns some of the stock. ‘‘The fact that they're trying to get ahead of the problem is very good.''

Morgan Stanley has already taken about $14.4 billion of losses related to leveraged loans and collateralized debt obligations. The clampdown on home-equity loans mirrors similar efforts by commercial banks, said David Hendler, an analyst at Credit Sights Inc. in New York.

‘‘All consumer lenders and home-equity lenders are reassessing the environment given the pressure on housing and the economy,'' Hendler said.

JPMorgan Chase & Co., the second-biggest U.S. bank by market value after Bank of America Corp., has notified 150,000 customers about changes in their home-equity lines of credit since March, said Christine Holevas, a Chicago-based spokeswoman.

Changes Made

In some cases the lines have been reduced and in other cases they've been suspended, depending on the change in home values, she said. The changes affect about 15 percent of JPMorgan's home- equity credit customers, Holevas said.

Bank of America and Washington Mutual Inc. are among the other lenders that have frozen home-equity credit lines this year.

‘‘Morgan Stanley customers are typically coming out of their wealth management side, so typically a high net worth customer,'' said Christopher Whalen, co-founder of Institutional Risk Analytics in Torrance, California. ‘‘This shows you they are under the same pressures as everybody else.''

A War of Self-Destruction

A War of Self-Destruction

Vision 2015: Consolidation of U.S. Intelligence Into Global Intel Network

Vision 2015: Consolidation of U.S. Intelligence Into Global Intel Network

By Michael Vail

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By 2015, a globally networked Intelligence Enterprise will be essential to meet the demands for greater forethought and improved strategic agility. The existing agency-centric Intelligence Community must evolve into a true Intelligence Enterprise established on a collaborative foundation of shared services, mission-centric operations, and integrated mission management, all enabled by a smooth flow of people, ideas, and activities across the boundaries of the Intelligence Community agency members.” – Mike McConnell(DNI)[1]

The Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell and The Council on Foreign Relations has made public a twenty eight page document called ‘Vision 2015’ which outlines a plan to integrate the entire United States intelligence network into a global intelligence community. Unsurprisingly there are many in the 16 intelligence agencies that support this project. At this very moment there is in-fighting between our own intelligence agencies, also currently there are problems between the CIA and Pakistani ISI. So how are they going to resolve these issues that have existed for decades?

Old problems assume new dimensions: information operations with emphasis on a cyber domain, asymmetric political or military responses, and illicit trafficking. Lastly, we confront the challenge of acting in an environment that is more time-sensitive and open to the flow of information, in which intelligence sources and analysis compete in a public context established by a global media. By 2015 we will need integrated and collaborative capabilities that can anticipate and rapidly respond to a wide array of threats and risks.” –Mike McConnell(DNI)

According to the existing protocols they will integrate and patch up the problems as they emerge. This is the Achilles heel of globalism, and we have seen time after time how calamity comes forth and brings globalism to a standstill. And nations that were fully globalized begin to act in their own interests which is the nature of the beast. This mammoth global intelligence project has been under wraps for some time and now the NGOs, members of elite academia and think tanks are going to unveil it in front of our eyes as if it was a brand new concept.

Our analytic professionals will collaborate with world-class experts in academe, commercial interests, and think tanks, all with similar knowledge and personal networks. Deep expertise will require broad access to open source information, our unique collection results, and a network of outside experts. Our understanding of the breadth and depth of policy intelligence doctrine, and global situational awareness must match the depth of our analyses.” –Mike McConnell(DNI)

Our world has slowly been globalized from the economic sector to health, wealth and trade. They have taken the power from we the people and placed it in unelected non-governmental organizations which has led to heights of corruption never seen before. The direct and after effects of the IMF[2], WTO[3] and WHO[4] are well known but just imagine the power and influence that will be wielded by those who will control our spy satellites and command intelligence forces around the world. Will there be increased domestic spying on citizens who fight against globalism? More importantly will all of our intelligence capabilities be controlled from outside the and will there be foreign Intel forces operating in ?

By 2015, the Intelligence Community will be expected to provide more details about more issues to more customers. We anticipate different types of customers — with greater expectations and new demands to change the basic engagement model by which we serve them. “

“To carry out its mission in an increasingly turbulent and complex global environment, the Intelligence Enterprise must
enhance capabilities to evaluate global risks affecting our national security. Greater systems interconnectedness increases the need to identify vulnerabilities emerging at the nexus of multiple systems (e.g., critical information infrastructures, disruptions in energy supplies, fragile financial markets, and climate change-related spread of diseases) and the potential for multiple, simultaneous crises. Global awareness and strategic foresight will provide the response to these challenges, linking methods for strategic forecasting and assessment of systems vulnerabilities in constantly renewed communities of diverse expertise and insight. “ –Mike McConnell(DNI)

The intelligence agencies which provide geopolitical statistical data and analysis increasingly have to compete with multinational corporations who have former high-level military generals on staff making six figure salaries. Booz Allen Hamilton[5], Blackwater Worldwide[6], SAIC[7] and others have Intel analysts who have been providing services to not only the NSA, NGA, and NRO but also to foreign governments. These multilateral corporations offer their services to the highest bidder. Everything is for sale in this global economy.

“The opportunity now exists to tap into a vastly larger amount of expertise than was previously available to intelligence. However, this will require working from a very different paradigm from that which characterized much of our Cold War history. The key features of that traditional paradigm were: secrets; classified channels of information flows; a focus on a few hard targets (e.g., the Soviet Union, other so-called “denied area” Communist Bloc countries, their military forces and technologies and other observables); very limited contact with outside experts who were almost always US citizens; and focus on key facts and finished intelligence products.

The new paradigm, in contrast, will focus on “open source” information and reach out to a wide variety of experts who are non-intelligence professionals drawn from different sectors and often non-Americans.” –Roger Z. George(CIA)[8]

Globalization dissolves our borders, strips us of our independence and renders us dependant on unstable nations for our daily bread and clothes on our backs. From top to bottom every sector of our government is going under the influence of foreigners. Globalization should be a dirty word if you look at our world from a larger perspective. This should be a stark example for anyone who would rely on this government for the protection of their life and liberty. The only way to survive in this new dark age of global governance is to become self reliant. Let’s establish our own intelligence network on and off the internet.

"The only thing worth globalizing is dissent." --Arundhati Roy

1. Mike McConnell. Vision 2015: a Globally Networked and Integrated Intelligence Enterprise. 2008 [cited; Available from: http://www.cfr.org/publication/16890/vision_2015.html]

2. Physorg. New research links International Monetary Fund loans with higher death rates from tuberculosis. 2008 [cited; Available from: http://www.physorg.com/news135917494.html]

3. Ronald Bailey. Perpetuating Poverty by Protecting Livelihoods. 2008 [cited; Available from: http://www.reason.com/news/show/127925.html]

4. Living Nutrition. Codex Alimentarius: Monstrously Toxic Power Play for Control of the Global Food Supply & Natural Health Industry. 2007 [cited; Available from: http://www.livingnutrition.com/articles/codex.html]

5. Democracy Now! Mike McConnell, Booz Allen and the Privatization of Intelligence. 2007 [cited; Available from: http://www.democracynow.org/2007/1/12/mike_mcconnell_booz_allen_and_the]

6. Washington Post. Blackwater's Owner Has Spies for Hire. 2007 [cited; Available from: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/02/AR2007110202165.html]

7. FCW. NSA taps SAIC for Trailblazer. 2002 [cited; Available from: http://www.fcw.com/print/8_43/news/77905-1.html]

8. Roger Z. George. Meeting 21st Century Transnational Challenges: Building a Global Intelligence Paradigm. 2007 [cited; Available from: https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/csi-studies/studies/vol51no3/building-a-global-intelligence-paradigm.html]