Monday, March 31, 2008

Forty Years After Vietnam, a Reckoning

Published on Monday, March 31, 2008 by The Boston Globe

Forty Years After Vietnam , a Reckoning

by James Carroll

Anthropologists speak of “foundational” violence, acts that establish a broad milieu of destruction and discord. Forty years ago, America was in the grip of the foundational violence of its war against Vietnam , which, while killing thousands in Southeast Asia, was causing massive divisions in the United States , divisions that were increasingly violent. There was no separating that distant war from the broad social, political, and racial discord that made 1968 America’s annus terribilis. On this date in that year, the man most responsible made a valiant attempt both to turn away from violence and to reckon with his own role as its instigator.

In a televised address, President Lyndon B. Johnson surprised the world by announcing a major de-escalation of American hostilities, a cessation of almost all bombing of North Vietnam , coupled with a plea to Hanoi for negotiations aimed at a political settlement. Johnson effectively renounced the goal of military victory.Indeed, his speech marked the end of an escalation that, inside the Pentagon, included proposals for the use of nuclear weapons. What gave this startling announcement its gravity, however, was what followed.

“There is divisiveness among us all tonight. And holding the trust that is mine, as president of all the people, I cannot disregard the peril to the progress of the American people and the hope and the prospect of peace for all peoples . . .

“With our hopes and the world’s hopes for peace in the balance every day, I do not believe that I should devote an hour or a day of my time to any personal partisan causes . . . Accordingly, I shall not seek, and I will not accept the nomination of my party for another term as your president.”

Johnson did not explicitly define the meaning of this renunciation of office, and at the time many misunderstood it. Only weeks before, he had come close to losing the New Hampshire primary to Eugene McCarthy, and now some polls showed him trailing Robert Kennedy.

But Johnson could have rallied in that contest, and, with diehard support of unions and party bosses, almost certainly won re-nomination. By taking himself out of politics, he was adding weight to his appeal for peace negotiations, but not even that explains what he did.

In leaving the presidency, Johnson was accepting the ethical consequences of the mistake he had made. He could not pretend that the many thousands of deaths in Vietnam , and the torn fabric of American society, were of no significance to him. The words he spoke that night were not nearly as eloquent as the simple action he took, and nothing else could have given such truthful expression to the burden he felt.

At last, it was possible to believe that the president of the United States had been paying attention to the loss of life, erosion of community, skepticism of the young, disappointment of the old, despair of the poor - all that had followed on his foundational choices.

Lyndon Johnson stood before us as an American Oedipus - seeing the truth of what he had done, and doing what to him was the political equivalent of self-blinding. The last words of his speech concerned honor and sacrifice - “the sacrifice that duty may require.”

But for once, an American president understood that responsibilities of honor and sacrifice belonged more to him than to anyone.

Johnson’s action should have been the climax of that American tragedy, but it was not. The devils were loose, and the spirit of violence was unchecked. Four days after the speech, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, opening an abyss into which, with much else, the meaning of Johnson’s momentous deed fell like a stone.

The peace talks began, but they would be inconclusive. Divisiveness thrived. Robert Kennedy was murdered. Democrats turned on each other. When Richard Nixon was elected as the peace candidate, he immediately restored the goal of victory in Vietnam . The bombers flew as never before.

But today, when the attitude of America’s leadership toward the foundational tragedy it has caused is summed up with Dick Cheney’s “So?”, it is important to remember, by contrast, another president’s act of authentic moral reckoning. What a difference! And why shouldn’t this nation’s soul be sorrowful?

James Carroll’s column appears regularly in the Globe.

© Copyright 2008 Globe Newspaper Company

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center , 325 E. 25th St. , Baltimore , MD 21218 . Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at]

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Delusionary, Dancing Bush

Published on Monday, March 31, 2008 by

Delusionary, Dancing Bush

by Ray McGovern

Events of last week offer a metaphorical glimpse at the delusion pervading President George W. Bush’s White House and other enclaves of Iraq supporters in Washington . Bush and the First Lady spent last Monday clowning with the Easter Bunny (White House counsel Fred Fielding having donned the costume).

At the American Enterprise Institute war-cheerleaders, dressed as academicians, were delivering a panegyric on how peaceful and stable the situation in Iraq had become. The “surge,” they announced had nipped a civil war in the bud.

“The civil war is over,” AEI’s Fred Kagan, co-author of the surge, declared proudly. Brookings twins Michael O’Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack led the cheering section.

Meanwhile, back in the southern Iraq city of Basra and elsewhere, full-blown civil war seemed about to explode. And in Baghdad , formerly protected folks were getting killed by mortar and rocket fire in what is customarily referred to as “the highly fortified Green Zone,” which has sequestered U.S. embassy and military officials as well as those of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s government.

Two American officials and two Iraqi guards of Sunni Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi died in the Green Zone attacks, which are continuing.

At ABC in New York , Good Morning America ’s Diane Sawyer was trying hard Thursday to understand it all. Shaking her head in disbelief after four straight days of attacks on the Green Zone, she asked how a round “can actually get inside the embassy; how fortified is that?” ABC national security correspondent Jonathan Karl let her down easy, explaining that artillery fire can actually get “over the walls…so it does happen: they do get inside the embassy compound.”

A teaching moment. Mortar and artillery fire can actually get “over the walls.” Quick. Someone tell Gen. David Petraeus.

But Don’t Bother Bush

No need to drag the president away from the Easter Bunny with such nettlesome detail. Interestingly, it was Sawyer herself who asked Bush, during an interview on Dec. 16, 2003, where he gets his news and how he reacts to criticism. The president’s answer was revealing:

“Why even put up with it when you can get the facts elsewhere? I’m a lucky man. I’ve got…it’s not just Condi and Andy [Andy Card, former chief of staff], it’s all kinds of people in my administration who are charged with different responsibilities, and they come in and say this is what’s happening, this isn’t what’s happening.”

By Thursday, someone did tell the president about Maliki’s big gamble in taking on militias loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr in the Basra area, the stiff resistance Iraqi government forces encountered, and the application of U.S. ground and air support.

And someone told the president to take the line that the outbreak of major violence was “a positive moment,” and so that’s what he said. No matter that the upsurge in hostilities threatened to demolish the myth of a “successful surge.” The White House spin machine could be counted on to take care of that. And, for good measure, the shelling of the Green Zone could be blamed on Iran . Indeed, Petraeus was quick to label the projectiles “Iranian-provided, Iranian-made rockets.”

Reality? We Make Our Own

It is comfortable to stay in denial, and President George W. Bush basks in it. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska saw that early on. In June 2005 he told U.S. News & World Report:

“The White House is completely disconnected from reality…it’s like they’re just making it up as they go along.”

Would that someone had summoned the courage to tell Bush of William F. Buckley, Jr.’s observations about Iraq in the National Review on Feb. 24, 2006:

“Our mission has failed because Iraqi animosities have proved uncontainable by an invading army of 130,000 Americans…Mr. Bush has a very difficult internal problem here because to make the kind of concession that is strategically appropriate requires a mitigation of policies he has several times affirmed in high-flown pronouncements. His challenge is to persuade himself that he can submit to a historical reality…different plans have to be made. And the kernel here is the acknowledgement of defeat.”

A few months later, on June 13, 2006, Bush flew to Baghdad to size up Prime Minister Maliki. The president told American troops gathered in the “heavily fortified Green Zone” that he had come “to look Prime Minister Maliki in the eyes-to determine whether or not he is as dedicated to a free Iraq as you are. I believe he is.”

This, of course, was not the first display of the president’s propensity to draw significant impressions from eyeballing foreign leaders. Five years before, Bush had quickly taken the measure of Russia ’s Vladimir Putin: “I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy…I was able to get a sense of his soul.”

Souls can change, I suppose. But apparently not eyeballs. Maliki’s retinal scan apparently remains valid for at least two years, judging from the president’s automatic endorsement of Maliki’s major gamble last week in the Basra area. Bush has now ordered U.S. ground and air units to support Maliki’s effort. The general objective is to root out Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army units in the area, but the campaign faces formidable obstacles and does not appear to be going well.

Doesn’t Make a Lot of Sense? So?…

In the past, Bush has let himself be convinced by Vice President Dick Cheney’s “analysis” that increased enemy attacks were signs of desperation-an indication that the enemy is in its “last throes,” if you will. And it seems clear that Cheney is still, as Col. Larry Wilkerson has put it, “whispering in Bush’s ear.”

That is scary. There were abundant signs during Cheney’s recent visit to the Middle East that, among other things, he continues to be receptive to Israeli importuning, as Israeli president Shimon Perez put it on March 23, to deal with what both referred to as “the Iranian threat” before Bush leaves office. Bush and Cheney seem to have given Israeli leaders the impression that the Bush administration has made a commitment to do precisely that.

Gen. Brent Scowcroft, who was national security adviser to the president’s father and who was appointed Chairman of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board by the son, took the unusual step of going public with a startling remark in Oct. 2004 that should give us all great concern. Just before he was sacked, the usually discreet Scowcroft told the Financial Times that former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had George W. Bush “mesmerized.” Eyeballing again-this time in Bush’s direction, it appears.

And Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, with masterful tutoring from the psychologists in the Israeli Mossad, has shown he can duplicate the spell. Who can forget watching Olmert’s fulsome praise of George W. Bush during his recent visit to Israel and how Bush seemed to turn to putty. Aw shucks, he seemed to be saying. At least the Israelis respect me. And they are “mighty tough fellas.”

Attacking Iran

The point is that if Cheney and Olmert both whisper “attack Iran,” the president may give the order with the full expectation that-with Admiral William Fallon out of the way-a malleable secretary of defense and martinet generals and admirals left over from former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s reign will salute smartly and launch a much wider and more dangerous war in the Persian Gulf area. (After all, those rockets hitting the Green Zone are, according to Gen. Petraeus, “Iranian-provided, Iranian-made.”)

Why attack Iran ? Israeli officials have not been reluctant to insist publicly that they want our impressionable president to take care of their Iran problem before he leaves office.

Last October, for example, Israeli ambassador to the US , Sallai Meridor, rang several changes on the theme of Iran ’s “threat” to Israel . In warning dripping with chutzpah and unintended candor, the Israeli ambassador served notice that countering Iran’s nuclear ambitions will take a “united United States in this matter,” lest the Iranians conclude that, “come January ‘09, they have it their own way.” Meridor stressed that “very little time” remained to keep Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, and the time frame he has in mind is clear.

Why attack Iran ? Well, also, just because! Because, as Bush is fond of saying, he is commander in chief. And he considers the U.S. armed forces his plaything. And because he can. Never mind the consequences. When has anyone held George W. Bush accountable for consequences?

Worse still, Bush’s open-ended rhetorical commitment to defend Israel if attacked could spell big trouble. If Iran were to strike Israel , Bush has said, “We will defend our ally (sic), no ifs, ands, or buts.” That is great rhetoric; trouble is that it surrenders the initiative to the Israelis, who have it within their power to provoke the Iranians.

And, Please, No Jimmy Baker

Bush chafes at any thought that those he considers his father’s cronies could rein him in. Bete noire number one is the fella the president calls “Jimmy Baker.” Negotiate with Iran ? Draw down troops? George W. Bush will instinctively do the opposite. If Baker says Guantanamo should be shut down (as he did, joining five other former secretaries of state last week), then keep it open.

But, most of all, enjoy the last ten months of “unitary executive” power.

That is perhaps most disturbing of all. George W. Bush is tap dancing through it all. And the worse things get, the more jocular he seems to become. Commenting on Bush’s recent manic behavior, Justin Frank, MD, author of Bush on the Couch, suggests that Bush is “acting like a kid planning to make a real mess as only he knows how-given his comfort with sadism, his lack of shame or conscience, and his propensity to take delight in breaking things.”

Trouble is that as he tap dances the next few months away, he is systematically destroying the armed forces of the United States , and there does not seem to be anyone with the courage to try to stop him.

Eight months ago, Dr. Frank and Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) collaborated on an article we called “Dangers of a Cornered Bush.” The president and his imperial court now have ten more months to act out. The scenarios we explored in that memo are still worth pondering.

Let me close with a remark Seymour Hersh made last year, even though it may seem flippant and in no way conveys the enormity of the danger we face in the coming months:

“These guys are scary as hell…you can’t use the word ‘delusional,’ for it’s actually a medical term. Wacky. That’s a fair word.”

With so much destructive power at the disposal of George W. Bush, we need to be increasingly alert to signs that additional delusionary policies are about to be executed.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington . During his 27-year career as a CIA analyst, he worked closely with George H. W. Bush when he was C.I.A. Director and later at the White House. Ray is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

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Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center , 325 E. 25th St. , Baltimore , MD 21218 . Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at]

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Paul Krugman | The Dilbert Strategy

There are 296 days until Jan. 20, 2009.

t r u t h o u t | 03.31

The Dilbert Strategy
By Paul Krugman
The New York Times

Monday 31 March 2008

Anyone who has worked in a large organization - or, for that matter, reads the comic strip "Dilbert" - is familiar with the "org chart" strategy. To hide their lack of any actual ideas about what to do, managers sometimes make a big show of rearranging the boxes and lines that say who reports to whom.

You now understand the principle behind the Bush administration's new proposal for financial reform, which will be formally announced today: it's all about creating the appearance of responding to the current crisis, without actually doing anything substantive.

The financial events of the last seven months, and especially the past few weeks, have convinced all but a few diehards that the U.S. financial system needs major reform. Otherwise, we'll lurch from crisis to crisis - and the crises will get bigger and bigger.

The rescue of Bear Stearns, in particular, was a paradigm-changing event.

Traditional, deposit-taking banks have been regulated since the 1930s, because the experience of the Great Depression showed how bank failures can threaten the whole economy. Supposedly, however, "non-depository" institutions like Bear didn't have to be regulated, because "market discipline" would ensure that they were run responsibly.

When push came to shove, however, the Federal Reserve didn't dare let market discipline run its course. Instead, it rushed to Bear's rescue, risking billions of taxpayer dollars, because it feared that the collapse of a major financial institution would endanger the financial system as a whole.

And if financial players like Bear are going to receive the kind of rescue previously limited to deposit-taking banks, the implication seems obvious: they should be regulated like banks, too.

The Bush administration, however, has spent the last seven years trying to do away with government oversight of the financial industry. In fact, the new plan was originally conceived of as "promoting a competitive financial services sector leading the world and supporting continued economic innovation." That's banker-speak for getting rid of regulations that annoy big financial operators.

To reverse course now, and seek expanded regulation, the administration would have to back down on its free-market ideology - and it would also have to face up to the fact that it was wrong. And this administration never, ever, admits that it made a mistake.

Thus, in a draft of a speech to be delivered on Monday, Henry Paulson, the Treasury secretary, declares, "I do not believe it is fair or accurate to blame our regulatory structure for the current turmoil."

And sure enough, according to the executive summary of the new administration plan, regulation will be limited to institutions that receive explicit federal guarantees - that is, institutions that are already regulated, and have not been the source of today's problems. As for the rest, it blithely declares that "market discipline is the most effective tool to limit systemic risk."

The administration, then, has learned nothing from the current crisis. Yet it needs, as a political matter, to pretend to be doing something.

So the Treasury has, with great fanfare, announced - you know what's coming - its support for a rearrangement of the boxes on the org chart. OCC, OTS, and CFTC are out; PFRA and CBRA are in. Whatever.

Will rearranging these boxes make any difference? I've been disappointed to see some news outlets report as fact the administration's cover story - the claim that lack of coordination among regulatory agencies was an important factor in our current problems.

The truth is that that's not at all what happened. The various regulators actually did quite well at acting in a coordinated fashion. Unfortunately, they coordinated in the wrong direction.

For example, there was a 2003 photo-op in which officials from multiple agencies used pruning shears and chainsaws to chop up stacks of banking regulations. The occasion symbolized the shared determination of Bush appointees to suspend adult supervision just as the financial industry was starting to run wild.

Oh, and the Bush administration actively blocked state governments when they tried to protect families against predatory lending.

So, will the administration's plan succeed? I'm not asking whether it will succeed in preventing future financial crises - that's not its purpose. The question, instead, is whether it will succeed in confusing the issue sufficiently to stand in the way of real reform.

Let's hope not. As I said, America 's financial crises have been getting bigger. A decade ago, the market disruption that followed the collapse of Long-Term Capital Management was considered a major, scary event; but compared with the current earthquake, the L.T.C.M. crisis was a minor tremor.

If we don't reform the system this time, the next crisis could well be even bigger. And I, for one, really don't want to live through a replay of the 1930s.


Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center , 325 E. 25th St. , Baltimore , MD 21218 . Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at]

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Jan. 20, 2009
Add to Calendar

Colombian Troops Kill Farmers, Pass Off Bodies as Rebels

Published on Sunday, March 30, 2008 by The Washington Post

Colombian Troops Kill Farmers, Pass Off Bodies as Rebels

by Juan Forero

SAN FRANCISCO, Colombia — All Cruz Elena González saw when the soldiers came past her house was a corpse, wrapped in a tarp and strapped to a mule. A guerrilla killed in combat, soldiers muttered, as they trudged past her meek home in this town in northwestern Colombia .

She soon learned that the body belonged to her 16-year-old son, Robeiro Valencia , and that soldiers had classified him as a guerrilla killed in combat, a claim later discredited by the local government human rights ombudsman. “Imagine what I felt when my other son told me it was Robeiro,” González said in recounting the August killing. “He was my boy.”

Funded in part by the Bush administration, a six-year military offensive has helped the government here wrest back territory once controlled by guerrillas and kill hundreds of rebels in recent months, including two top commanders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

But under intense pressure from Colombian military commanders to register combat kills, the army has in recent years also increasingly been killing poor farmers and passing them off as rebels slain in combat, government officials and human rights groups say. The tactic has touched off a fierce debate in the Defense Ministry between tradition-bound generals who favor an aggressive campaign that centers on body counts and reformers who say the army needs to develop other yardsticks to measure battlefield success.

The killings, carried out by combat units under the orders of regional commanders, have always been a problem in the shadowy, 44-year-old conflict here — one that pits the army against a peasant-based rebel movement.

But with the recent demobilization of thousands of paramilitary fighters, many of whom operated death squads to wipe out rebels, army killings of civilians have grown markedly since 2004, according to rights groups, U.N. investigators and the government’s internal affairs agency. The spike has come during a military buildup that has seen the armed forces nearly double to 270,000 members in the last six years, becoming the second-largest military in Latin America .

There are varying accounts on the number of registered extrajudicial killings, as the civilian deaths are called. But a report by a coalition of 187 human rights groups said there are allegations that between mid-2002 and mid-2007, 955 civilians were killed and classified as guerrillas fallen in combat — a 65 percent increase over the previous five years, when 577 civilians were reported killed by troops.

“We used to see this as isolated, as a military patrol that lost control,” said Bayron Gongora of the Judicial Freedom Corp., a Medellin lawyers group representing the families of 110 people killed in murky circumstances. “But what we’re now seeing is systematic.”

The victims are the marginalized in Colombia ’s highly stratified society. Most, like Robeiro Valencia , are subsistence farmers. Others are poor Colombians kidnapped off the streets of bustling Medellin , the capital of this state, Antioquia, which has registered the most killings.

Amparo Bermudez Dávila said her son, Diego Castañeda, 27, disappeared from Medellin in January 2006. Two months later, authorities called to say he had been killed, another battlefield death. They showed her a photograph of his body, dressed in camouflage.

“I said, ‘Guerrilla?’ ” she recalled. “My son was not a guerrilla. And they told me if I didn’t think he was a guerrilla, then I should file a complaint.”

Military prosecutors ordinarily initiate investigations when the army kills someone. In cases that appear criminal, civilian prosecutors take over, as they did in the slayings of Valencia and Castañeda in San Francisco . But human rights groups and government prosecutors say the initial probes have usually been perfunctory, and investigators have been under intense pressure from high-ranking military officers to rule in the army’s favor.

Such challenges have made tabulating the exact number of dead civilians impossible, though officials at the attorney general’s office and the inspector general’s office revealed recent estimates in interviews.

The attorney general’s office is investigating 525 killings of civilians, all but a handful of which occurred since 2002 and in which 706 soldiers and officers are implicated. The office has another 500 cases, involving hundreds more victims, yet to be opened. The inspector general’s office, meanwhile, is investigating 650 cases from 2003 to mid-2007 that could involve as many as 1,000 victims, said Carlos Arturo Gomez, the vice inspector general.

“Last year, the number of complaints shot up,” Gomez said. “Some have said the cause could be unscrupulous military members who want to show results from false operations. Others say it’s the product of pressure from the high command, the push for results.”

The trend has prompted concern among some members of the U.S. Congress. Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations foreign operations subcommittee, said he is holding up $23 million in military aid until he sees progress in the fight against impunity and state-sponsored violence.

“We’ve had six years, $5 billion in U.S. aid. More than half of it has gone to the Colombian military, and we find the army is killing more civilians, not less,” Leahy said in an interview. “And by all accounts, all independent accounts, we find that civilians are just being taken out, executed and then dressed up in uniforms so they can claim body counts of guerrillas killed.”

President Álvaro Uribe’s government, which has had a string of recent successes against the FARC, has defended itself against the accusations and contends they are part of an international campaign designed to discredit the armed forces. Indeed, some officials say the FARC is prodding the families of rebels killed in combat to claim the dead were civilians.

Still, Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos acknowledges civilian deaths and has initiated steps that include new rules of engagement, assigning inspectors to combat units to advise commanders on the use of force and improving human rights training for soldiers.

The military has also been streamlining its justice system and transferring more cases to the attorney general’s office, which the United Nations says must have a greater role if extrajudicial executions are to be eradicated. The attorney general’s office said more than 200 members of the military have been detained as prosecutors investigate their involvement in the killings of civilians, with 13 convicted last year.

“I have said this very clearly: The soldier who commits a crime becomes a criminal, and he will be treated as a criminal,” Santos said.

Santos also has stressed, in speeches and directives, that the army’s anti-guerrilla policy should be more focused on generating desertions than accumulating combat kills, the traditional method of measuring success. “I’ve told all my soldiers and policemen that I prefer a demobilized guerrilla, or a captured guerrilla, to a dead guerrilla,” Santos said.

But the Defense Ministry’s reformers have been met by influential generals who have defended officers accused of slayings and favor a more traditional strategy for defeating the rebels.

That approach means giving field commanders autonomy and instilling a philosophy that stresses swift engagement with the rebels.

“What’s the result of offensives? Combat,” Gen. Mario Montoya, head of Colombia ’s army, said in an interview. “And if there’s combat, there are dead in combat.”

Human rights groups see a disturbing trend, saying the tactics used by some army units are similar to those that death squads used to terrorize civilians. A top U.N. investigator said some army units went as far as to carry “kits,” which included grenades and pistols that could be planted next to bodies.

“The method of killing people perceived as guerrilla collaborators is still seen as legitimate by too many members of the army,” said Lisa Haugaard, director of Latin America Working Group, a Washington-based coalition of humanitarian groups.

After she interviewed a number of families of victims, she determined that in many of the cases soldiers “appeared to be going on missions, not accidentally detaining and killing people,” she said.

The highest-ranking officer implicated in extrajudicial killings is Col. Hernan Mejía.

A former army sergeant who was under Mejía’s command, Edwin Guzman, recounted in an interview how Mejía’s unit would kill peasant farmers, dress them in combat fatigues and call in local newspaper reporters to write about the supposed combat that had taken place.

Guzman, now a government witness against Mejía, said soldiers participated because they knew the army gave incentives — from extra pay to days off — for amassing kills in combat. “This is because the army gives prizes for kills, not for control of territory,” he said.

© 2008 The Washington Post

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center , 325 E. 25th St. , Baltimore , MD 21218 . Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at]

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Embracing A Clean Green Dream

There are 297 days until Jan. 20, 2009.

Published on Saturday, March 29, 2008 by The Toronto Star

Embracing A Clean Green Dream
Copenhagen aims to become the world’s ‘Eco-Metropole’ – the lowest-emitting city on the planet, with harnessed winds, a pristine harbour and cyclists ruling the roads

by Mitch Potter

COPENHAGEN - An inner-city harbour with water so clean the fish are for eating and the beaches for swimming. Offshore wind farms in the waters beyond, piped to the power grid on two generations of Danish brainpower. Underfoot, a district heating network that squeezes every possible joule of warmth from some of the world’s most efficient electricity plants, keeping 97 per cent of Copenhagen toasty.

And here on the ground, a city where cyclists outnumber motorists during the downtown commute on close to 400 kilometres of dedicated lanes so safe that the vast majority don’t even bother wearing helmets, which aren’t mandatory anyway.

At first glance, Copenhagen is everything the brochure says: a hand-shaped city where each finger of suburb is separated by green space and in each fingerbone, a transit corridor of trains and buses, car and bike lanes to the central palm, where many of the globe’s deepest environmental thinkers can be found.

Or so it all seems, through North American eyes.

Ask the Danes, and they will tell you yes, they are rightly proud of their great green strides - especially the fact that this country of just 5.4 million leads in the delicate art of harnessing wind.

How did the Danish windmill come to rule the world? It all dates back to the shower-with-a-friend 1970s, when the OPEC oil crisis and a broad national reluctance to go nuclear sent Denmark on a quest for better energy answers.

From those first small land-mounted experimental turbines to the latest generation of multi-megawatt offshore behemoths, the modern, efficient Danish turbine stands today at the forefront of the emerging green economy - very nearly, but not quite, at cost-per-unit par with fossil fuels.

In total, Denmark drives 40 per cent of the global wind market, and its largest manufacturer, Vestas Wind Systems, commands a workforce of 15,000.

Ironically, while Vestas crews are in demand on five continents, the next generation of wind farms has been embarrassingly slow to take root in Denmark . Since 2004, the Danes have added little of their own product, compared to more than 2,500 megawatts of new wind production between 1996-2003.

The disappointing reason is a familiar four-letter word: coal.

“The brochure tells you that 16 per cent of our energy comes from renewable sources. This is true. What the brochure doesn’t say is that a huge and increasing amount of the rest of our energy comes from coal,” says Tarjei Haaland, who has monitored climate and energy issues for Greenpeace Denmark since 1992.

“We were doing great things until 2001, when a new government arrived with a different approach. Since then, many of us feel we’ve been squandering our advantage. We saw reduced government support for renewables in favour of a shift back to coal. So now the sad fact is our carbon emissions are increasing. This is the dirty Denmark they don’t put on the poster.”

The Danish government appears to have turned a corner, however, striking an agreement last month that will see at least a partial return to the progressive policies of carbon reduction. At the very least, the move is the politically expedient thing to do, given that Copenhagen is scheduled in late 2009 to host the UN Summit on Climate Change, where participants hope to seal a robust global action plan.

But even as climate campaigners chide their national government’s recalcitrance, most offer high praise for Copenhagen’s municipal leadership, which has set itself an ambitious goal for 2015 to become what it calls the world’s “Eco-Metropole” - the cleanest, greenest, lowest-emitting city on the planet.

“The things we’ve already achieved show us that Copenhagen doesn’t need national legislation to go even further. We can do most of this on our own,” said Klaus Bondam, the city’s mayor of technology and the environment. “Cleaning up our harbour so that you can swim and catch cod fish, enhancing our cycling network to where it is today, becoming one of the first in the world to convert the wasted heat of electrical generation into heat for our homes - Copenhagen has done all this. And now we lead Europe . By 2015, we’ll lead the world.”

Among the city’s goals is a plan to raise to 50 per cent the number of downtown commuters arriving by bicycle. The number seems otherworldly, until you consider that bikes comprise 36 per cent of downtown traffic, compared to only 27 per cent private automobiles.

To fully comprehend how such numbers are possible, the Toronto Star sought a history lesson from Dansk Cyklist Forbund - the Federation of Danish Cyclists - an organization launched in 1905 when the pressing issue of the day was punctures resulting from horseshoe nails littered along Copenhagen’s network of horse paths.

“Here in Copenhagen , riding a bike is like wearing shoes,” said DCF’s Allan Carstensen. “It’s normal. It’s easy. It’s convenient. People ride in their work clothes. And even the people in cars, the chances are they have a bike at home that they use regularly to run errands in the neighbourhood.”

The sheer flatness of the city helps, as does the lack of weather extremes - even during a dusting of snow flurries this week, the hardier pedalers were out. Best of all, Copenhagen comes in condensed proportions, with a population of just 1.5 million people, most of whom field modest five-click commutes that would be the envy of many Torontonians.

Still, it is a wonder to behold the choreography of Copenhagen in full pedal regalia, with a rush hour that includes cyclists from 8 to 80 flowing at a brisk average of 16 km/h. The dedicated lanes take much of the worry out of encounters with cars, but corners remain tricky, as this is where cyclists sometimes meet motorized metal.

That Copenhagen ’s zero-carbon cycling culture fits perfectly with the times is sheer serendipity, for it is merely an enhanced version of a lifestyle that began a century ago.

“Most of our lifestyle is historic - a result of wars that taxed our resources and made us worry about being self-sufficient,” said political scientist Bjorn Lomborg, one of Copenhagen ’s most provocative environmental thinkers.

“We grew out of medieval towns that were built before anyone thought of cars. The cycle culture was an extension of that. But make no mistake, there are trade-offs. We deliberately made our cities more compact. And the price is we live in smaller homes than most Canadians, we have fewer gardens and backyards, our kids have slightly fewer places to have fun in.”

Mayor Bondam, on a major branding mission for Copenhagen , unabashedly holds out the welcome mat for Toronto officials to come hunting for inspiration. Harbour rehabilitation, waste management, cycling ideas, wind farms, the combined heat and generation plant at Avedore that fires on a variety of fuels, including straw and wood pellets - Copenhagen is happy to show its hand.

“We know Copenhagen is a small city. But we see our role in the future global community as a sort of model city that experiments constantly with environmental projects, so that hopefully bigger cities like Toronto can draw on our experience,” said Bondam.

“It’s not a question of bragging. We just want to show some political leadership, by being a city that will dedicate itself to these ideals by striving for and sharing more efficient energy solutions.”

Environmental critic Lomborg doesn’t question Copenhagen ’s ability to find solutions. But he is becoming famous for his scintillating critique of the world’s obsession with carbon reduction, which he reckons is precisely the wrong response to the right problem.

“The crucial problem with the climate change debate is actually very similar to the bike helmet debate, because the obvious solutions don’t ultimately do the most good,” said Lomborg, who heads the Copenhagen Consensus Centre.

“You think, `Head injuries bad, everyone must wear helmets.’ But then you lose a bunch of the riders who hate wearing helmets and they need much more expensive health care in the end.”

Similarly, said Lomborg, the climate change debate seems now almost certain to be aiming for a batch of new carbon-reduction promises at next year’s UN Summit in Copenhagen . A revival of the kind of goals that were set in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio (”which failed,” said Lomborg) and later, Kyoto (”failed again.”).

“The world failed twice. And now it is talking about coming to Copenhagen with promises to spend the equivalent of 25 to 50 per cent of each country’s health budget on reducing carbon emissions.”

Instead, Lomborg is a relentless advocate for directing those vast resources into a dramatic acceleration of global research and development in search of the answer - or, more likely, the range of answers - to future energy needs.

“Somewhere in the next 50 to 100 years - possibly much sooner - we will find the answer to climate change,” he said.

Lomborg can’t resist one especially tantalizing afterthought. He posits the notion that 100 years from now, under a best-case scenario, Toronto , and not Copenhagen , could end up being the dream city.

“Imagine 100 years from now that we have abundant, free, clean energy that is no longer scarce. Copenhagen will still be here biking around. But I’m not really sure we’ll be so happy with our small, condensed city, so focused on conserving resources that are no longer scarce.

“ Toronto will be there in your bigger houses and yards, Copenhagen will be here in our tiny apartments. Maybe you will be the winners. And we will be envious of you.”

© 2008 The Toronto Star

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center , 325 E. 25th St. , Baltimore , MD 21218 . Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at]

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Police Arrest Anti-War Protester, 80, At Mall/Venezuelans burn Exxon 'Judas' in Easter ritual

Published on Sunday, March 30, 2008 by (New York)

Police Arrest Anti-War Protester, 80, At Mall

by Anastasia Economides & Matthew Chayes

An 80-year-old church deacon was removed from the Smith Haven Mall yesterday in a wheelchair and arrested by police for refusing to remove a T-shirt protesting the Iraq War.

Police said that Don Zirkel, of Bethpage , was disturbing shoppers at the Lake Grove mall with his T-shirt, which had what they described as “graphic anti-war images.” Zirkel, a deacon at Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal in Wyandanch, said his shirt had the death tolls of American military personnel and Iraqis - 4,000 and 1 million - and the words “Dead” and “Enough.” The shirt also has three blotches resembling blood splatters.

Police said in a release last night that Zirkel was handing out anti-war pamphlets to mallgoers and that mall security told him to stop and turn his shirt inside out. Zirkel refused to turn his shirt inside out and wouldn’t leave, police said. Security placed him on “civilian arrest” and called police. When police arrived, Zirkel passively resisted attempts to bring him to a police car, the release said.

But Zirkel said he was sitting in the food court drinking coffee with his wife Marie, 77, and several others when police and mall security officers approached and demanded they remove their anti-war T-shirts.

The others complied, but Zirkel said he refused, and when he wouldn’t stand up to be removed and arrested, authorities brought over a wheelchair. “They forcibly picked me up and put me in the wheelchair,” said Zirkel, a deacon at one of the poorest Catholic parishes on Long Island , where a devastating fire recently destroyed the rectory and storage areas.

Zirkel was charged with criminal trespassing and resisting arrest. He was released on bail. A spokeswoman for mall owner Simon Property Group did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

Generally speaking, a mall has the right to control what happens on its property, said John McEntee, a Uniondale commercial litigation lawyer.

Activists with dueling opinions had gathered to support and oppose America ’s five-year campaign.

As Zirkel was being wheeled to the police car, the crowd chanted “We shall not be moved!” Moments later, they moved; police and mall security had ordered them off the property. Many joined a larger anti-war crowd assembled by the mall’s entrance, off mall property, on Veterans Memorial Highway .

They were complemented nearby by protesters saying the Iraq war is vital for security.

Copyright © 2008, Newsday Inc.

Venezuelans burn Exxon 'Judas' in Easter ritual

Sun Mar 23, 2008 10:24pm EDT

By Frank Jack Daniel

CARACAS, March 23 (Reuters) - In a political take on a popular Easter ritual, hundreds of Venezuelans cheered at the burning of an "Judas" effigy symbolizing oil giant Exxon Mobil, which last week lost a battle with the South American nation.

With a pink face, sculpted hair and wearing a pair of aviator-style sunglasses, the model packed with fireworks was hoisted up a pole and set ablaze with a flaming torch on Sunday while African-inspired dancers swayed to fast drum rhythms.

Pinned to the effigy's gasoline-soaked two piece suit a sign read "Mister Exxon."

A British judge last Tuesday lifted a $12 billion freeze on Venezuelan assets awarded to Exxon, dealing a blow to the oil giant in its fight with the OPEC nation over President Hugo Chavez's nationalization crusade.

"They under-estimated our country," said Jorge Loaisa, 67, who headed a committee that organized Sunday's event in the Caracas neighborhood El Cementerio, which was sponsored by the mayor of Caracas, an ally of the socialist Chavez.

It was part of a widespread Venezuelan Holy Week tradition where mainly poor neighborhoods burn effigies to represent Judas Iscariot, who the Bible says betrayed Jesus Christ. The effigies are often modeled on political figures.

In shanty-town neighborhoods across the capital, a carnival atmosphere prevailed as youths scrambled up greasy poles for cash prizes, and children ran egg-and-spoon races to loud salsa and reggaeton music.

Judas effigies are burnt in villages and towns in several Latin American countries and in parts of Greece . Anthropologists say the practice serves a symbolic function to overcome divisions and unite communities around a common enemy. The tradition has sometimes been described as anti-Semitic.

High above Caracas in the hilltop shantytown of San Miguel, residents burnt a bearded Judas with glass eyes that some said represented retired Cuban President Fidel Castro.

Others said the model symbolized nothing more than the Biblical figure.

"Here we don't stick our nose in political matters, in bad things, this is just a beautiful party for ourselves," said lifetime San Miguel resident William Sulbaran, 57. (Additional reporting by Enrique Andres Pretel)

© Reuters 2007. All rights reserved.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center , 325 E. 25th St. , Baltimore , MD 21218 . Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at]

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

"Death to the Arabs!"

Uri Avnery 29.03.08 "Death to the Arabs!"

TOMORROW WILL BE the 32nd anniversary of the first "Day of the Land" - one of the defining events in the history of Israel .

I remember the day well. I was at Ben Gurion airport, on the way to a secret meeting in London with Said Hamami, Yasser Arafat's emissary, when someone told me: "They have killed a lot of Arab protestors!"

That was not entirely unexpected. A few days before, we - members of the newly formed Israeli Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace - had handed the Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, an urgent memorandum warning him that the government's intention of expropriating huge chunks of land from Arab villages would cause an explosion. We included a proposal for an alternative solution, worked out by Lova Eliav, a veteran expert on settlements.

When I returned from abroad, the poet Yevi suggested that we make a symbolic gesture of sorrow and regret for the killings. Three of us - Yevi himself, the painter Dan Kedar and I - laid wreaths on the graves of the victims. This aroused a wave of hatred against us. I felt that something profoundly significant had happened, that the relationship between Jews and Arabs within the state had changed fundamentally.

And indeed, the impact of the Day of the Land - as the event was called - was stronger than even the Kafr Kassem massacre of 1956 or the October Events killings of 2000.

THE REASONS for this go back to the early days of the state.

After the 1948 war, only a small, weak and frightened Arab community was left in the state. Not only had about 750 thousand Arabs been uprooted from the territory that had become the State of Israel , but those who remained were leaderless. The political, intellectual and economic elites had vanished, most of them right at the beginning of the war. The vacuum was somehow filled by the Communist Party, whose leaders had been allowed to return from abroad - mainly in order to please Stalin, who at the time supported Israel .

After an internal debate, the leaders of the new state decided to accord the Arabs in the "Jewish State" citizenship and the right to vote. That was not self-evident. But the government wanted to appear before the world as a democratic state. In my opinion, the main reason was party political: David Ben-Gurion believed that he could coerce the Arabs to vote for his own party.

And indeed: the great majority of the Arab citizens voted for the Labor Party (then called Mapai) and its two Arab satellite parties which had been set up for that very purpose. They had no choice: they were living in a state of fear, under the watchful eyes of the Security Service (then called Shin Bet). Every Arab Hamulah (extended family) was told exactly how to vote, either for Mapai or one of the two subsidiaries. Since every election list has two different ballot papers, one in Hebrew and one in Arabic, there were six possibilities for faithful Arabs in every polling station, and it was easy for the Shin Bet to make sure that each Hamula voted exactly as instructed. More than once did Ben Gurion achieve a majority in the Knesset only with the help of these captive votes.

For the sake of "security" (in both senses) the Arabs were subjected to a "military government". Every detail of their lives depended on it. They needed a permit to leave their village and go to town or the next village. Without the permission of the military government they could not buy a tractor, send a daughter to the teachers' college, get a job for a son, obtain an import license. Under the authority of the military government and a whole series of laws, huge chunks of land were expropriated for Jewish towns and kibbutzim.

A story engraved in my memory: my late friend, the poet Rashed Hussein from Musmus village, was summoned to the military governor in Netanya, who told him: Independence Day is approaching and I want you to write a nice poem for the occasion. Rashed, a proud youngster, refused. When he came home, he found his whole family sitting on the floor and weeping. At first he thought that somebody had died, but then his mother cried out: "You have destroyed us! We are finished!" So the poem was written.

Every independent Arab political initiative was choked at birth. The first such group - the nationalist al-Ard ("the land") group - was rigorously suppressed. It was outlawed, its leaders exiled, its paper proscribed - all with the blessing of the Supreme Court. Only the Communist Party was left intact, but its leaders were also persecuted from time to time.

The military government was dismantled only in 1966, after Ben Gurion's exit from power and a short time after my election to the Knesset. After demonstrating against it so many times, I had the pleasure of voting for its abolition. But in practice very little changed - instead of the official military government an unofficial one remained, as did most of the discrimination.

"THE DAY OF THE LAND" changed the situation. A second generation of Arabs had grown up in Israel , no longer timidly submissive, a generation that had not experienced the mass expulsions and whose economic position had improved. The order given to the soldiers and policemen to open fire on them caused a shock. Thus a new chapter started.

The percentage of Arab citizens in the state has not changed: from the first days of the state to now, it had hovered around 20%. The much higher natural rate of increase of the Muslim community was balanced by Jewish immigration. But the numbers have grown significantly: from 200 thousand at the beginning of the state to almost 1.3 million - twice the size of the Jewish community that founded the state.

The Day of the Land also dramatically changed the attitude of the Arab world and the Palestinian people towards the Arabs in Israel . Until then, they were considered traitors, collaborators of the "Zionist entity". I remember a scene from the 1965 meeting convened in Firenze by the legendary mayor, Giorgio la Pira, who tried to bring together personalities from Israel and the Arab world. At the time, that was considered a very bold undertaking.

During one of the intermissions, I was chatting with a senior Egyptian diplomat in a sunny piazza outside the conference site, when two young Arabs from Israel , who had heard about the conference, approached us. After embracing, I introduced them to the Egyptian, but he turned his back and exclaimed: "I am ready to talk with you, but not with these traitors!"

The bloody events of the Day of the Land brought the "Israeli Arabs" back into the fold of the Arab nation and the Palestinian people, who now call them "the 1948 Arabs".

In October 2000, policemen again shot and killed Arab citizens, when they tried to express their solidarity with Arabs killed at the Haram al-Sharif ( Temple Mount ) in Jerusalem . But in the meantime, a third generation of Arabs had grown up in Israel, many of whom, in spite of all the obstacles, had attended universities and become business people, politicians, professors, lawyers and physicians. It is impossible to ignore this community - even if the state tries very hard to do just that.

From time to time, complaints about discrimination are voiced, but everybody shrinks back from the fundamental question: What is the status of the Arab minority growing up in a state that defines itself officially as "Jewish and democratic"?

ONE LEADER of the Arab community, the late Knesset member Abd-al-Aziz Zuabi, defined his dilemma this way: "My state is at war with my people". The Arab citizens belong both to the State of Israel and to the Palestinian people.

Their belonging to the Palestinian people is self-evident. The Arab citizens of Israel, who lately tend to call themselves "Palestinians in Israel", are only one part of the stricken Palestinian people, which consists of many branches: the inhabitants of the occupied territories (now themselves split between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip), the Arabs in East Jerusalem (officially "residents" but not "citizens" of Israel), and the refugees living in many different countries, each with its own particular regime. All these branches have a strong feeling of belonging together, but the consciousness of each is shaped by its own particular situation.

How strong is the Palestinian component in the consciousness of the Arab citizens of Israel ? How can it be measured? Palestinians in the occupied territories often complain that it expresses itself mainly in words, not deeds. The support given by the Arab citizens in Israel to the Palestinian struggle for liberation is mainly symbolic. Here and there a citizen is arrested for helping a suicide bomber, but these are rare exceptions.

When the extreme Arab-hater Avigdor Liberman proposed that a string of Arab villages in Israel adjoining the Green Line (called "the Triangle") be turned over to the future Palestinian state in return for the Jewish settlement blocs in the West Bank , not a single Arab voice was raised in support. That is a very significant fact.

The Arab community is much more rooted in Israel than appears at first sight. The Arabs play an important part in the Israeli economy, they work in the state, pay taxes to the state. They enjoy the benefits of social security - by right, since they pay for it. Their standard of living is much higher than that of their Palestinian brethren in the occupied territories and beyond. They participate in Israeli democracy and have no desire at all to live under regimes like those of Egypt and Jordan . They have serious and justified complaints - but they live in Israel und will continue to do so.

IN RECENT YEARS, intellectuals of the third Arab generation in Israel have published several proposals for the normalization of the relations between the majority and the minority.

There exist, in principle, two main alternatives:

The first way says: Israel is a Jewish state, but a second people also live here. If Jewish Israelis have defined national rights, Arab Israelis must also have defined national rights. For example, educational, cultural and religious autonomy (as the young Vladimir Zeev Jabotinsky demanded a hundred years ago for the Jews in Czarist Russia ). They must be allowed to have free and open connections with the Arab world and the Palestinian people, like the connections Jewish citizens have with the Jewish Diaspora. All this must be spelled out in the future constitution of the state.

The second way says: Israel belongs to all its citizens, and only to them. Every citizen is an Israeli, much as every US citizen is an American. As far as the state is concerned, there is no difference between one citizen and another, whether Jewish, Muslim or Christian, Arab or Russian, much as, from the point of view of the American state, there is no difference between white, brown or black citizens, whether of European, African or Asian descent, Protestant, Catholic, Jewish or Muslim. In Israeli parlance, this is called "a state of all its citizens".

It goes without saying that I favor the second alternative, but I am ready to accept the first. Either of them is preferable to the existing situation, where the state pretends that there is no problem except some traces of discrimination that have to be overcome (without doing anything about it).

If the courage is lacking to treat a wound, it will fester. At football matches, the riffraff shout: "Death-to-the-Arabs!" and in the Knesset far right deputies threaten to expel Arab members from the House, and from the state altogether.

On the 32nd anniversary of the Day of the Land, with the 60th Independence Day approaching, it is time to take this bull by the horns.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center , 325 E. 25th St. , Baltimore , MD 21218 . Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at]

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Three Mile Island at 29: Reactors and Infant Health

Published on Friday, March 28, 2008 by

Three Mile Island at 29: Reactors and Infant Health

By John LaForge

Today marks 29 years since the partial meltdown and radiation disaster at Three Mile Island (TMI) near Harrisburg , Pennsylvania.News accounts noted the reactor’s loss-of-coolant, fuel melting, multiple explosions, venting of radioactive gases, dumping of contaminated water and the buildup of explosive hydrogen inside the reactor vessel. The accident caused such a nationwide scare that the expansion of nuclear power ended in the United States .

Yet the environmental and health consequences of the TMI disaster aren’t widely understood. Official cover-ups, industry propaganda, and ignorance of radiation-induced illnesses have led to present-day trivialization of TMI and a supposed revival of reactor construction. Any such revival is totally dependent on billions in federal subsidies included in the recent energy bill, because, as Forbes magazine blazoned across its cover: “The failure of the U.S. nuclear power program ranks as the largest managerial disaster in business history, a disaster on a monumental scale.”

The nuclear industry’s attempt to raise nuclear power from the dead involves denying the damage resulting from TMI itself and flies in the face of 25 years of science regarding the effects of low-dose radiation. One Wisconsin legislator said on the record last December, “ Three Mile Island was a success of containment.”

Things weren’t much different in 1979. President Carter’s Kemeny Commission hurriedly finished its report on the disaster issuing it in Oct. 1979. The commission did not consider any data on the effects of wind-borne radiation, although the wind blew 6-to-9 mph toward upstate New York and western Pennsylvania .

Over 10 million curies of radioactive noble gases including 43,000 curies of krypton-85 — which stays in the environment for 100 years — as well as 15-to-24 curies of radioactive iodine-131, were vented from the “containment” building. (A curie — 37 billion disintegrations per second — is a huge amount of radiation.) As the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) later noted, several “deliberate but uncontrolled releases” were used to vent radioactive gas. Official airborne release estimates are just guesses, because of the insufficient number of outside radiation monitors half weren’t working, and a large number of them went off-scale.

On the third day of the venting of these gases, half the population within 15 miles — 144,000 people — fled the area. By this time the bulk of the accident’s airborne radiation was already spewed and drifting on the wind.

In addition, approximately 400,000 gallons of radioactive cooling water that had leaked from the reactor were secretly dumped into the Susquehanna River , a source of drinking water for nearby communities. Later about 2.3 million gallons of radioactively contaminated cooling water were allowed to be “evaporated” into the atmosphere.

In 1980, Pennsylvania State Health Department authorities reported a sharp rise in hypothyroidism in newborn infants in the three counties downwind from the reactor. Late in 1979, four times as many infants as normal were born with the disease. The NRC said the increase was unrelated to radiation released by TMI. Upwind incidence of the disease had dropped to below the national average.

The same year, six workers entered the heavily contaminated reactor building. Five of the six later died of radiation-induced cancers. David Lochbaum of the Union of Concerned Scientists reports that UCS opposed license renewal for the surviving TMI units and demanded health studies for neighbors. The NRC refused.

In the county where TMI is located infant deaths soared 53.7 percent in the first month after the accident; 27 percent in the first year. As originally published, the federal government’s own Monthly Vital Statistics Report shows a statistically significant rise in infant and over-all mortality rates shortly after the accident.

Studying 10 counties closest to TMI, Jay M. Gould, in his meticulously documented 1990 book Deadly Deceit, found that childhood cancers, other infant diseases, and deaths from birth defects were 15% to 35% higher than before the accident, and those from breast cancer 7% higher. These increases far exceeded those elsewhere in Pennsylvania .

Gould suggests that between 50,000 and 100,000 excess deaths occurred after the TMI accident. Joseph Mangano of the New York-based Radiation and Public Health Project (RPHP) says, “The NRC allows reactors to emit a certain level of radiation, but it does not do follow-up studies to see if there are excessive infant deaths, birth defects or cancers.”

Leukemia deaths among kids fewer than 10 years of age (between 1980 and 1984) jumped almost 50 percent compared to the national rate.

Mangano reports that “between 1980 and 1984, death rates in the three nearest counties were considerably higher than 1970-74 (before the reactor opened) for leukemia, female breast, thyroid and bone and joint cancers.”

The Spring 2000 edition of Environmental Epidemiology and Toxicology Mangano and Ernest Sternglass reported that in counties adjacent to nuclear reactors, infant mortality falls dramatically after the reactors close. The RPHP study found that in the first two years after the reactors were shuttered, infant death rates fell 15-to-20 percent. In communities near Big Rock Point in Michigan for example, the decrease in infant mortality rates was 54 percent; at Maine Yankee, the percentage decrease was 33.4 %.

The evidence of cancers caused by reactor operations brings to mind the words of Roger Mattson, former Director of NRC Division of Systems Safety, who said during the TMI meltdown, “I’m not sure why you are not moving people. I don’t know what we are protecting at this point.”

John LaForge is on the staff of Nukewatch, an environmental action group in Wisconsin , and edits its quarterly newsletter. His articles on nuclear power, weapons and waste have appeared in New Internationalist, Z Magazine, Earth Island Journal, The Progressive, the opinion page of the Minneapolis Star Tribune and elsewhere.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center , 325 E. 25th St. , Baltimore , MD 21218 . Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at]

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

NPR Underreports Iraq Deaths/National Pentagon Radio


March 27, 2008

8:00 AM

CONTACT: Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR)

Isabel MacDonald

NPR Underreports Iraq Deaths

WASHINGTON, DC - March 27 - There is no more important question about the Iraq War than the question of how many Iraqis have died. It is impossible to truly evaluate the war or discuss where to go from here without knowing the human cost of the war, and that cost has overwhelmingly been borne by Iraqis. That's why it's so disappointing that NPR, looking back on the 5th anniversary of the war, treated this issue with either extreme sloppiness or deliberate dishonesty.

Here's how NPR anchor Scott Simon introduced a segment on March 15 in which senators James Webb and Jon Kyl talked about "what the war has meant and what the future might hold": "This coming Wednesday marks the fifth anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq. So far 3,975 U.S. service men and women have died. Estimates on the number of Iraqis killed range from 47,000 to 151,000, depending on the source."

But what sources are those? The New England Journal of Medicine (1/31/08) published a survey conducted by the Iraqi government on behalf of the World Health Organization, which estimated that 151,000 Iraqis had been killed by violence between the March 2003 invasion and June 2006. This, presumably, is the source of NPR's 151,000 figure. The write-up in NEJM begins: "Estimates of the death toll in Iraq from the time of the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003 until June 2006 have ranged from 47,668 (from the Iraq Body Count) to 601,027 (from a national survey)."

Is the 47,668 figure from Iraq Body Count--a group that tabulates accounts of civilian Iraqi deaths that appear in Western news sources--the source for NPR's 47,000 number? There does not seem to be another major survey of Iraqi deaths that provides that estimate. Yet this is clearly described as a figure from June 2006--before the biggest peak of violence in late 2006-early 2007. Iraq Body Count currently reports that there have been at least 82,249 reported civilian deaths in Iraq ; why didn't NPR use this

number instead?

And if NPR is taking its lower estimate of Iraqi fatalities from the NEJM report, why does it ignore the higher estimate given in that same report of 601,000? That's the estimate made by the Johns Hopkins University school of public health, and published by the Lancet medical journal (10/11/06). It's a well-known study done by highly regarded scholars; indeed, when the 151,000 figure came out, NPR's All Things Considered (1/10/08) turned for comment to Les Roberts, co-author of the Johns Hopkins study, which NPR referred to then as "a survey that continues to be debated in the press and political circles." Between January and March, though, that much-debated study somehow vanished from NPR's collective memory.

It's worth noting that 601,000 figure from Johns Hopkins study and the 151,000 number from WHO both only go up to June 2006, and therefore also leave out the worst of the violence. The most recent survey of Iraqi deaths is the poll conducted by Opinion Research Business, a top British polling firm, in August 2007, which found an estimated 1.2 million deaths by violence among Iraqi households. If NPR really wanted to inform its listeners about the range of credible estimates of Iraqi deaths, it would have included this survey--but instead left them with the impression that the highest plausible estimate was one-eighth as high.

Other outlets also downplayed the likely number of Iraqi dead; Jim Lehrer of PBS's NewsHour (3/19/08) reported that the number was "at least 90,000," without mentioning serious estimates almost 14 times higher. Others were more forthright, as with NBC's Richard Engel (NBC Nightly News, 3/19/08): "The number of civilian casualties is unclear. Estimates range from 85,000 to 600,000." But few outlets misled their audiences about what the highest credible estimates were the way NPR did.


Please ask NPR's ombud to investigate how NPR determined the lowest and highest estimates for Iraqis killed in the Iraq War.


NPR Ombud Alicia Shepard

Email form on NPR's website:

Published on Thursday, March 27, 2008 by

NPR News: National Pentagon Radio?

by Norman Solomon

While the Iraqi government continued its large-scale military assault in Basra , the NPR reporter’s voice from Iraq was unequivocal this morning: “There is no doubt that this operation needed to happen.”

Such flat-out statements, uttered with journalistic tones and without attribution, are routine for the U.S. media establishment. In the “War Made Easy” documentary film, I put it this way: “If you’re pro-war, you’re objective. But if you’re anti-war, you’re biased. And often, a news anchor will get no flak at all for making statements that are supportive of a war and wouldn’t dream of making a statement that’s against a war.”

So it goes at NPR News, where — on “Morning Edition” as well as the evening program “All Things Considered” — the sense and sensibilities tend to be neatly aligned with the outlooks of official Washington . The critical aspects of reporting largely amount to complaints about policy shortcomings that are tactical; the underlying and shared assumptions are imperial. Washington ’s prerogatives are evident when the media window on the world is tinted red-white-and-blue.

Earlier this week — a few days into the sixth year of the Iraq war — “All Things Considered” aired a discussion with a familiar guest.

“To talk about the state of the war and how the U.S. military changes tactics to deal with it,” said longtime anchor Robert Siegel, “we turn now to retired Gen. Robert Scales, who’s talked with us many times over the course of the conflict.”

This is the sort of introduction that elevates a guest to truly expert status — conveying to the listeners that expertise and wisdom, not just opinions, are being sought.

Siegel asked about the progression of assaults on U.S. troops over the years: “How have the attacks and the countermeasures to them evolved?”

Naturally, Gen. Scales responded with the language of a military man. “The enemy has built ever-larger explosives,” he said. “They’ve found clever ways to hide their IEDs, their roadside bombs, and even more diabolical means for detonating these devices.”

We’d expect a retired American general to speak in such categorical terms — referring to “the enemy” and declaring in a matter-of-fact tone that attacks on U.S. troops became even more “diabolical.” But what about an American journalist?

Well, if the American journalist is careful to function with independence instead of deference to the Pentagon, then the journalist’s assumptions will sound different than the outlooks of a high-ranking U.S. military officer.

In this case, an independent reporter might even be willing to ask a pointed question along these lines: You just used the word “diabolical” to describe attacks on the U.S. military by Iraqis, but would that ever be an appropriate adjective to use to describe attacks on Iraqis by the U.S. military?

In sharp contrast, what happened during the “All Things Considered” discussion on March 24 was a conversation of shared sensibilities. The retired U.S. Army general discussed the war effort in terms notably similar to those of the ostensibly independent journalist — who, along the way, made the phrase “the enemy” his own in a followup question.

It wouldn’t be fair to judge an entire news program on the basis of a couple of segments. But I’m a frequent listener to “All Things Considered” and “Morning Edition.” Such cozy proximity of world views, blanketing the war maker and the war reporter, is symptomatic of what ails NPR’s war coverage — especially from Washington .

Of course there are exceptions. Occasional news reports stray from the narrow baseline. But the essence of the propaganda function is repetition, and the exceptional does not undermine that function.

To add insult to injury, NPR calls itself public radio. It’s supposed to be willing to go where commercial networks fear to tread. But overall, when it comes to politics and war, the range of perspectives on National Public Radio isn’t any wider than what we encounter on the avowedly commercial networks.

The documentary film “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death,” based on Norman Solomon’s book of the same name, went into home-video release this week and is now available on DVD from Netflix, Amazon and similar outlets. For more information, go to:

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center , 325 E. 25th St. , Baltimore , MD 21218 . Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at]

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Governments Ever More Draconian, Group Says

Published on Friday, March 28, 2008 by Inter Press Service

Governments Ever More Draconian, Group Says

By William Fisher

NEW YORK - One of the Arab world’s most widely respected non-governmental organizations is charging that at least 14 Middle East and North African governments are systematically violating the civil liberties of their citizens — and most of them are close U.S. allies in the war on terror.

In a report to the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) said that there have been “huge harassments of human rights organisations and defenders have been increasingly subject to abusive and suppressive actions by government actors… in the majority of Arab countries, particularly Egypt, Syria, Bahrain and Tunisia.”

The group this week called upon the international community to “exert effective efforts to urge Arab governments to duly reconsider their legislation, policy and practices contravening their international obligations to protect freedom of assembly, freedom of expression and freedom to form associations, including non-governmental organisations.”

It added that “Special attention should be awarded to providing protection to human rights defenders in the Arab World.”

As an example of typical area-wide human rights abuses, the CIHRS report cited the recent forced closure by Egyptian authorities of the Association for Human Rights Legal Aid, an organisation active in exposing incidences of torture. The Egyptian government claimed that the organisation “received foreign funding without having the consent of the Minister of Social Solidarity.”

The organisation warned of “increasingly repressive conditions” being imposed on non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Egypt , including a proposed amendment to the Law of Associations that it said would limit the right of association and expression.

Other Arab nations singled out for detailed criticism included Algeria, Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Sudan , Somalia , Tunisia , the United Arab Emirates and Yemen . The report also accused four other Arab countries of human rights abuses — Libya , Algeria , Sudan and Morocco .

The U.S. and other Western governments have had close ties with Arab governments in the Middle East and North Africa for many years. These ties have grown closer since the terrorist attacks on the U.S. on Sep. 11, 2001.

But since the administration of President Ronald Reagan (1981-89), promoting democracy and freedom in the Arab world has been a staple in U.S. political rhetoric. The rhetoric has ratcheted up significantly during the administration of President George W. Bush. In his second inaugural address, Bush said, “It is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.”

Bush administration officials say they have used diplomatic pressure, foreign aid and the architecture established by Reagan to help nurture democracy in the Middle East and North Africa . Bush also said the democratic transformation of the Middle East would begin with regime change in Iraq .

Many observers have found the Bush administration’s relationships with Egypt to be particularly problematic. In the past, the president and his secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, have publicly expressed criticism of Egypt for repressing free political opposition, notably the imprisonment of liberal reformers such as Ayman Nour, the principal political opponent of longtime President Hosni Mubarak.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Congress put a “hold” on 100 million dollars of military aid to Egypt , calling on the Mubarak government to protect the independence of the judiciary, stop police abuses and curtail arms smuggling from Egypt to Gaza . In testimony to Congress, Margaret Scobey, the nominee to be ambassador to Egypt , said “The government’s respect for human rights remains poor, and serious abuses continue.”

But in January, the U.S. waived the hold in a bid to encourage Egypt to help in calming the Israeli-Palestinian crises. In a visit to Egypt the same month, President Bush told his Egyptian counterpart, “I appreciate the example that your nation is setting.”

Egypt receives 2.0 billion dollars a year, including 1.3 billion dollars in military assistance from the U.S. annually — second only to the sum awarded to Israel .

Steve Carpinelli of the Centre for Public Integrity (CPI) told IPS, “Billions of dollars in new military aid, accompanied by lax oversight and poor accountability, have flowed to governments with documented histories of human rights abuses, weak advancements toward democratic governance and the rule of law, among the findings of the Centre’s Collateral Damage project, which assessed the impact of U.S. military aid in the post 9/11 era.”

The CPI, a government accountability watchdog group, has just published a comprehensive report on U.S. military aid to repressive governments. The full report can be found at

The CIHRS report to the U.N. details numerous human rights violations throughout the Arab Middle East and North Africa . It accuses Syria of arresting “dozens tens of qualified professionals personnel belonging to human rights organisations and civil society revival committees.” It says the Bahraini government closed the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, put the president of one civil society on trial, and charged seven other activists with “participating in an illegal gathering and creating disturbance”.

In Tunisia , the report charges, “The authorities have made it almost impossible for the Tunisian League for Human Rights (LTDH) and other civil society institutions to operate.” Tunisian human rights defenders have not been allowed to travel abroad and the government undertook measures to freeze LTDH’s grants from the European Union.

According to the CIHRS report, “ Many Gulf countries, as well as Libya , do not allow for the existence of human rights organisations or civil society activists. The long-running Algerian military influence has severely limited civil society organisations. Since the toppling of Sudan ’s democratic government in 1989, Sudanese civil society has been deprived of many legal and political protections and rights. Furthermore, civil society institutions in conflict affected countries, such as Iraq , come under constant violent attack; the same applies to the situation in Palestine — whether due to the occupation or in-fighting between its two political parties.”

The report identifies Morocco as one of the few Arab countries that has made progress in the human rights field. However, it notes that members of the Moroccan Association for Human Rights have been arrested, tried and sentenced to prison for periods ranging between two and three years for displaying slogans during a peaceful protest during Labour Day celebrations. The slogans were considered by the authorities to be “detrimental to the king and monarchy”, the report said.

© 2008 Inter Press Service

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center , 325 E. 25th St. , Baltimore , MD 21218 . Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at]

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Protesters Enter Bear Stearns Headquarters/Alan Greenspan at the Feds: A Disaster for America

t r u t h o u t | 03.26

Protesters Enter Bear Stearns Headquarters
By Karen Brettell

Wednesday 26 March 2008

New York - About 60 protesters opposed to the U.S. Federal Reserve's help in bailing out Bear Stearns (BSC.N) entered the lobby of the investment bank's Manhattan headquarters on Wednesday, demanding assistance for struggling homeowners.

Demonstrators organized by the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America chanted " Help Main Street , not Wall Street" and entered the lobby without an invitation for around half an hour before being escorted out by police.

"There are no provisions for homeowners in this deal. There are people out there struggling who need help," said Detria Austin, an organizer at NACA, an advocacy group for home ownership.

Bear Stearns employees were alternatively amused and perplexed, taking pictures on their cell phones.

"Homeowners, that's more than $1 trillion (in mortgage debt), you're crazy," one man in a suit screamed at a protester on the street.

On March 16, JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) said it would acquire its rival the Bear Stearns Co Inc. for $2 per share, in a deal brokered by the Federal Reserve aimed at heading off a bankruptcy and a spreading crisis of confidence in the global financial system.

On Monday, JPMorgan raised its offer to about $10 a share to appease angry stockholders who vowed to fight the original deal. Bear Stearns traded at $10.86 a share at 1:30 p.m. EDT on Wednesday.

As part of the deal, the Fed agreed to guarantee up to $29 billion of Bear Stearns assets.

The agreement has raised concerns that the U.S. government is prepared to help rescue a failing Wall Street bank while declining to bail out millions of home owners facing the possibility of foreclosure.

Reporting by Karen Brettell; Editing by Daniel Trotta and Cynthia Osterman

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Published, March 29, 2008, at Baltimore 's Indy Media Center , at:

Alan Greenspan at the Feds: A Disaster for America

by William Hughes

“Alan Greenspan had a ‘calming’ influence...on Wall Street!” - Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), a wannabe President of the U.S.

How did Alan Greenspan ever get appointed to the chair of the prestigious Federal Reserve? This is the same guy who told a federal regulator, in 1984, not to worry about the Saving & Loan Industry. This was just before “15 of the 17 thrifts,” he said were sound, went under. That fiasco cost the taxpayers a whopping “$3 billion in losses.” Now, Greenspan’s shaky tenure for nineteen years at the Feds of “cutting interest rates and printing money” has brought the nation’s financial system close to collapse and many in the working class to their knees. In his book, “Greenspan’s Bubbles: The Age of Ignorance at the Federal Reserve,” William A. Fleckenstein, reveals how Greenspan has created one huge mess after another in the finance, real estate and stock markets. In his scathing indictment, the author sets the record straight, too, about Greenspan’s over inflated reputation as an economic guru.

Fleckenstein’s first-rate book, written with Frederick Sheehan, couldn’t be more timely, especially coming on the heels of Charles R. Morris’ insightful tome, “The Trillion Dollar Meltdown: Easy Money, High Rollers and the Great Credit Crash.” The latter’s book focused on a Wall St.-related credit bubble, “of writedowns and defaults,” that could exceed “$1 trillion.” (1) It’s fair to say that the amiable dunce, the late President Ronald Reagan, contributed to today’s financial crisis by turning the country over to the Vulture Capitalists to exploit. It was the union-busting Reagan, who ushered in the “Age of Deregulation,” thanks to that false economic prophet, Milton Friedman. The Bush-Cheney Gang, however, may have supplied the final nail in the coffin of our economy by launching the illegal and immoral Iraq War. Its price tag is now put at a staggering $3 trillion and counting. (2)

Digging into the transcripts of the Feds’ meetings and Greenspan’s testimony before various Congressional committees, Fleckenstein builds a compelling case against the foxy ex-Feds’ czar. He shows how during Greenspan’s reign his “devastating mistakes” resulted in colossal failures, like: “The Stock Market Crash of 1987; the Savings and Loan Crisis; the Collapse of Long Term Capital Management; the Tech Bubble of 2000; the Feared Y2K Disaster; and the Credit Bubble and Real Estate Crisis of 2007.” At press time, Goldman-Sachs is predicting global credit losses coming from the current turmoil of about “$1.2 trillion,” with Wall St. accounting for “40 percent of the losses.” (3)

When Bear Stearns, Wall St. ’s fifth largest investment firm, recently went down for the count, folks wondered: “How could that be?” Well, one of my favorite financial pundits, Jay Hancock, provided a concise answer. He wrote: “There are uncountable culprits and dupes in the extraordinary chain of events that finished Bear Stearns...But at its heart the crisis is ‘A FAILURE OF REGULATION.’ If not for the Federal Reserve’s and Bush administration’s refusal to stop crazy mortgage lending, former Bear boss James E. Cayne would still be chewing cigars at his Manhattan office, counting his money and complaining about regulators. And the country wouldn’t be headed toward what might be the worst recession in decades.” Hancock added that Greenspan did a “great job of describing the danger...of subprime and exotic mortgages...but he did ‘little to stop’ the poison loans,’’ even though the Congress had explicitly instructed the Feds [as far back as 1994] to do just that. (4)

Getting back to Fleckenstein’s book. He recalls a time when we actually had honest politicians in the Congress, who genuinely represented the interests of the people. One of them was the late, great Sen. William Proxmire (D-WI). When Greenspan was nominated to be boss of the Feds by President Reagan, back in 1987, a public hearing was held. Sen. Proxmire dug into Greenspan’s “forecasting record,” when he served as the President of the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA). He labeled his CEA record “as dismal!” He said that Greenspan’s predictions on future interests rates “were wrong by the largest margin of those made during the period under review...Hopefully, when you [Greenspan] get to the Federal Reserve Board, everything will come up roses. YOU CAN’T ALWAYS BE WRONG.” Tragically, Sen. Proxmire’s gut reaction to Greenspan’s supposed expertise rang with the truth. If only Congress would have then rejected his nomination, maybe we could have avoided this present mess.

The crafty Greenspan headed the Feds from 1987 to 2006. After leaving office, he penned a self-serving book. It’s entitled, “The Age of Turbulence.” In it, he made this shocking statement: “It is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what ‘everyone’ knows: the Iraq War is largely about oil.” After reading his tract, I wrote: “Greenspan consciously chose to remain silent about what he now reveals was one of the true reasons for the Iraq War--oil! Why didn’t he resign his office and come clean with the American people that a massive fraud, a war based on serial lies [remember those WMD?] was being perpetrated on them by the Bush-Cheney Gang?” (5) I felt then and I feel now that Greenspan should be forced to testify, under oath before a Federal Grand Jury, and/or the House Judiciary Committee, about his amazing disclosure. The American people are entitled to the full truth about why we really got into the Iraq War. And, the liars, who took us there, should be severely punished. President Bush and VP Dick Cheney, first! (6)

Who benefitted from Greenspan’s disastrous policies at the Feds? Fleckenstein puts it this way: “Did he actually set out to redistribute wealth from the middle class to the rich, while the country itself essentially burned the furniture for heat? After all, his bubbles made the sponsors of those bubbles ‘fabulously wealthy,’ ultimately to the detriment of the average person of the United States as a whole. Or was he simply not up to the task?”

Author Fleckenstein concludes: “Down through financial history, markets have intermittently gone to excess. Prices go to the sky and then fall through the floor...But the bubbles in U.S. stocks and real estate didn’t just happen. To a degree that the American public had not yet fully realized, these costly distortions were instigated and financed by the Federal Reserve--ALAN GREENSPAN’S FEDERAL RESERVE!”



2. To see the baleful effects of the policies of the globalist schemers, via their so-called “Free Trade” ploys, on the U.S. economy, go here:

3. and and

4. “Bear Stearns Fiasco is Regulatory Failure,” Jay Hancock, March 18, 2008, Baltimore Sun; and, See also:



©2008, William Hughes, All Rights Reserved.

William Hughes is a video and print journalist. His videos can be found at:

Email Contact:

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center , 325 E. 25th St. , Baltimore , MD 21218 . Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at]

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Lawyer: Pentagon using Guantanamo trials to influence '08 election

There are 298 days until Jan. 20, 2009.


Posted on Fri, Mar. 28, 2008

Lawyer: Pentagon using Guantanamo trials to influence '08 election


The Navy lawyer for Osama bin Laden's driver argues in a Guantánamo military commissions motion that senior Pentagon officials are orchestrating war crimes prosecutions for the 2008 campaign.

The Pentagon declined late Friday to address the defense lawyer's allegations, noting that the matter is under litigation.

The brief filed Thursday by Navy Lt. Cmdr. Brian Mizer directly challenged the integrity of President Bush's war court.

Notably, it describes a Sept. 29, 2006, meeting at the Pentagon in which Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England , a veteran White House appointee, asked lawyers to consider Sept. 11, 2001, prosecutions in light of the campaign.

''We need to think about charging some of the high-value detainees because there could be strategic political value to charging some of these detainees before the election,'' England is quoted as saying.

A senior Pentagon spokesman, Bryan Whitman, declined to address the specifics, saying ``the trial process will surface the facts in this case.''

''It has always been everybody's desire to move as swiftly and deliberately as possible to conduct military commissions,'' he added. ``But I can tell you emphatically that leadership has always been extraordinarily careful to guard against any unlawful command influence.''

The brief quotes England as a stipulation of fact and cites other examples of alleged political interference, which Mizer argues makes it impossible for Salim Hamdan, 37, to have a fair trial.

It asks the judge, Navy Capt. Keith Allred, to dismiss the case against Hamdan as an alleged 9/11 co-conspirator on the grounds that Bush administration leadership exercises ``unlawful command influence.''

Allred has set hearings at Guantánamo for April 30.

Hamdan is the former Afghanistan driver of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden whose lawyers challenged an earlier war court format to the U.S. Supreme Court, which struck down the war court as unconstitutional.

Pentagon prosecutors call him a war criminal for driving bin Laden in Afghanistan before and during the 9/11 attacks and allegedly working as his sometimes bodyguard. Even if he didn't help plot the suicide attacks, they argue, he is an al Qaeda co-conspirator.

As described the Hamdan brief, the England meeting came three weeks after President Bush disclosed in a live address that he had ordered the CIA to transfer ''high-value detainees'' from years of secret custody to Guantánamo for trial.

Bush also disclosed that the CIA used ''an alternative set of procedures'' to interrogate the men into confessing -- since revealed by the CIA director, Air Force Gen. Michael V. Hayden, to include waterboarding.

They included reputed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four other men against whom the Pentagon prosecutor swore out death-penalty charges in a complex Sept. 11, 2001, conspiracy case on Feb. 11.

The proposed 90-page charge sheets list the names of 2,973 victims of the 9/11 attacks. The men have not been formally charged. Instead they are in the control of a White House appointee, Susan J. Crawford, whose title is the war court's convening authority, and her legal advisor, Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann.

Under the law governing the commissions, the alleged 9/11 conspirators would formally be charged 30 days after Crawford approves them.

That currently leaves a seven-month window during the 2008 election campaign.

An expert on military justice, attorney Eugene Fidell, said the Hamdan motion brings into sharp relief the problem of Pentagon appointees' supervisory relationship to the war court.

''It scrambles relationships that ought to be kept clear,'' said Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice.

The quote attributed to England is ``enough that you'd want to hold an evidentiary hearing about it, with live witnesses. It does strike me as disturbing for there to be even a whiff of political considerations in what should be a quasi-judicial determination.''

England is a two-term White House appointee. He joined the Bush administration in 2001 as Navy secretary, briefly served as deputy Homeland Security secretary and then returned to the Pentagon, where he supervised the prison camps' administrative processes.

Crawford was a Republican attorney appointee in the Pentagon when Vice President Dick Cheney was defense secretary.

Hamdan's military lawyer argues that standard military justice has barriers that separate various functions, which he contends Pentagon appointees have crossed in the war court.

In April the defense team plans to call the former chief prosecutor, Air Force Col. Morris Davis, who recounted the England remark since submitting his resignation, claiming political interference.

Davis, who had approved charges against Hamdan, served as former chief Pentagon prosecutor until he resigned over what he called political interference by general counsel William J. Haynes.

Haynes has since quit.

They also want to call as a witness the deputy chief defense counsel, a retired Army lawyer named Michael Berrigan, who, according to the filing, was mistakingly sent a draft copy of 9/11 conspiracy charges being prepared by the prosecution.

In the filing, Hartmann, the legal advisor, orders Berrigan to return it, which the defense team claims illustrates the muddied role of the legal advisor.

He supervised the prosecution, announced the 9/11 conspiracy charges on Feb. 11, then said he would evaluate them independently and recommend to Crawford how to proceed.

The Mizer motion is also the latest attack on the legitimacy of war-court prosecutions by a variety of feisty uniformed defense attorneys, who have doggedly used civilian courts and courted public opinion against the process since the earliest days.

Mizer sent the brief directly to reporters for major news organizations, rather than leave it to the Office of Military Commissions to post it on a Pentagon website.

The Pentagon has been releasing motions for the public to read after they have been argued -- and ruled on by the judge.

With delays in other cases, the Hamdan case is now on track to be the first full-blown U.S. war-crimes tribunal since World War II.

The current time frame would put the trial before the Supreme Court rules on an overarching detainee rights case in June.

© 2008 Miami Herald Media Company.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center , 325 E. 25th St. , Baltimore , MD 21218 . Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at]

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

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