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Sources: Blackwater's Running A Secret War in Pakistan - So Classified, Even Administration Doesn't Know

Sources: Blackwater's Running A Secret War in Pakistan - So Classified, Even Administration Doesn't Know
By Susie Madrak | Crooks & Liars

There was a definite method to BushCo's madness: Namely, hire subcontractors to evade the laws that prevent the DoD and the CIA from taking part in torture and assassination. From The Nation:

At a covert forward operating base run by the US Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in the Pakistani port city of Karachi, members of an elite division of Blackwater are at the center of a secret program in which they plan targeted assassinations of suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives, "snatch and grabs" of high-value targets and other sensitive action inside and outside Pakistan, an investigation by The Nation has found. The Blackwater operatives also assist in gathering intelligence and help run a secret US military drone bombing campaign that runs parallel to the well-documented CIA predator strikes, according to a well-placed source within the US military intelligence apparatus.

The source, who has worked on covert US military programs for years, including in Afghanistan and Pakistan, has direct knowledge of Blackwater's involvement. He spoke to The Nation on condition of anonymity because the program is classified. The source said that the program is so "compartmentalized" that senior figures within the Obama administration and the US military chain of command may not be aware of its existence.

Sure sounds like Cheney's still got his moles deep inside, doesn't it? Read more.

Blackwater's Secret War in Pakistan Revealed

Blackwater's Secret War in Pakistan Revealed
An elite division of Blackwater plans targeted assassinations of suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives in Pakistan. And everyone's denying it.
By Jeremy Scahill | The Nation

At a covert forward operating base run by the US Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in the Pakistani port city of Karachi, members of an elite division of Blackwater are at the center of a secret program in which they plan targeted assassinations of suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives, "snatch and grabs" of high-value targets and other sensitive action inside and outside Pakistan, an investigation by The Nation has found. The Blackwater operatives also assist in gathering intelligence and help run a secret US military drone bombing campaign that runs parallel to the well-documented CIA predator strikes, according to a well-placed source within the US military intelligence apparatus.

The source, who has worked on covert US military programs for years, including in Afghanistan and Pakistan, has direct knowledge of Blackwater's involvement. He spoke to The Nation on condition of anonymity because the program is classified. The source said that the program is so "compartmentalized" that senior figures within the Obama administration and the US military chain of command may not be aware of its existence.

The White House did not return calls or email messages seeking comment for this story. Capt. John Kirby, the spokesperson for Adm. Michael Mullen, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told The Nation, "We do not discuss current operations one way or the other, regardless of their nature." A defense official, on background, specifically denied that Blackwater performs work on drone strikes or intelligence for JSOC in Pakistan. "We don't have any contracts to do that work for us. We don't contract that kind of work out, period," the official said. "There has not been, and is not now, contracts between JSOC and that organization for these types of services." The previously unreported program, the military intelligence source said, is distinct from the CIA assassination program that the agency's director, Leon Panetta, announced he had canceled in June 2009. "This is a parallel operation to the CIA," said the source. "They are two separate beasts." The program puts Blackwater at the epicenter of a US military operation within the borders of a nation against which the United States has not declared war--knowledge that could further strain the already tense relations between the United States and Pakistan. Read more.

Teflon Dick: How Cheney Uses Media For Protection

By Linda Milazzo

On January 29, 2001, just nine days after taking office, Dick Cheney created The National Energy Policy Development Group, commonly known as the Cheney Energy Task Force. The task force was charged with the critically important task of designing America's national energy policy. Although the group's efforts would directly impact the entire nation, the new Vice President refused to divulge the names of its members or their specific activities, claiming the Executive Branch's right to confidentiality.

The Truth of UK's Guilt Over Iraq

The truth of UK's guilt over Iraq
Until Chilcot hears UN weapons inspectors' testimony, the fiction of Britain honestly seeking a WMD smoking gun prevails
By Scott Ritter | Guardian.co.UK

But having decided on war using WMD as the justification, both the US and Great Britain began the process of fabricating a case after the fact. Lacking new intelligence data on Iraqi WMD, both nations resorted to either recycling old charges that had been disproved by UN inspectors in the past, or fabricating new charges that would not withstand even the most cursory of investigations.

With its troops no longer engaged in military operations inside Iraq, Great Britain has been liberated politically to conduct a postmortem of that conflict, including the sensitive issue of the primary justification used by then Prime Minister Tony Blair for going to war, namely Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, or WMD.

The failure to find any WMD in Iraq following the March 2003 invasion and subsequent occupation of that country by US and British troops continues to haunt those who were involved in making the decision for war. The issue of Iraqi WMD, and the role it played in influencing the decision for war, is at the centre of the ongoing Iraq war inquiry being conducted by Sir John Chilcot.

Among the more compelling testimonies provided to date has been that of Sir Christopher Meyer, the former British ambassador to the US, who served in that capacity during the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq. Meyer convincingly portrayed an environment where the decision by the US to invade Iraq, backed by Blair, precluded any process (such as viable UN weapons inspections) that sought to compel Iraq to prove it had no WMD. Rather, Great Britain and the US were left "scrambling" to find evidence of a "smoking gun" to prove Iraq indeed possessed the WMD it was accused of having.

In short, Saddam had been found guilty of possessing WMD, and his sentence had been passed down by Washington and London void of any hard evidence that such weapons, or even related programmes, even existed. The sentence meted out – regime termination – mandated such a massive deployment of troops and material that all but the wilfully blind or intentionally ignorant had to know by the early autumn of 2002 that war with Iraq was inevitable. One simply does not initiate the movement of hundreds of thousands of troops, thousands of armoured vehicles and aircraft, and dozens of ships on a whim or to reinforce an idle threat. Read more.

The Five Stages of Collapse

THE 5 STAGES OF COLLAPSE
By Dmitry Orlov | Carolyn Baker

With comment regarding Orlov's article from Mike Ruppert:

One of the best things I ever did at FTW (From The Wilderness) was to bring up good writers and thinkers. FTW was the first to publish Dmitry Orlov who has done so much to prepare us. He desribes what we can expect.

The Five Stages of Collapse

1. Stage one: Financial Collapse
2. Commercial Collapse
3. Political Collapse
4. Social Collapse
5. Cultural Collapse

I think everybody needs to break out their Dmitry Orlove reader right about now. We are just entering the second stage. We can expect to be able to function as something resembling normal until the end of Stage Three. That means there will be warning signs and time to prepare. We will not get caught flat-footed. How could we? We're the ones who made the map. Trust this. As to how long each stage lasts... that's anybody's guess right now.

Another rule of thumb is that with each new stage, things get less and less predictable/reliable.

1. Hello, everyone! The talk you are about to hear is the result of a lengthy process on my part. My specialty is in thinking about and, unfortunately, predicting collapse. My method is based on comparison: I watched the Soviet Union collapse, and, since I am also familiar with the details of the situation in the United States, I can make comparisons between these two failed superpowers.

I was born and grew up in Russia, and I traveled back to Russia repeatedly between the late 80s and mid-90s. This allowed me to gain a solid understanding of the dynamics of the collapse process as it unfolded there. By the mid-90s it was quite clear to me that the US was headed in the same general direction. But I couldn't yet tell how long the process would take, so I sat back and watched.

I am an engineer, and so I naturally tended to look for physical explanations for this process, as opposed to economic, political, or cultural ones. It turns out that one could come up with a very good explanation for the Soviet collapse by following energy flows. Read more.

Jeremy Scahill Reveals Private Military Firm Operating in Pakistan Under Covert Assassination & Kidnapping Program

Blackwater’s Secret War in Pakistan: Jeremy Scahill Reveals Private Military Firm Operating in Pakistan Under Covert Assassination and Kidnapping Program

In an explosive new article in The Nation magazine, investigative journalist and Democracy Now! correspondent Jeremy Scahill reveals the private military firm Blackwater is part of a covert program in Pakistan that includes planning the assassination and kidnapping of Taliban and Al-Qaeda suspects. Blackwater is also said to be involved in a previously undisclosed U.S. military drone campaign that has killed scores of people inside Pakistan. The article says the program has become so secretive that top Obama administration and military officials have likely been unaware of its existence. In a Democracy Now! exclusive, Scahill joins us for his first interview since the story broke. Read more.

Lehman, Bear Officials Made $2.5 Billion, Study Says (Update1)

Lehman, Bear Officials Made $2.5 Billion, Study Says (Update1)
By By Matt Townsend | Bloomberg

-- Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and Bear Stearns Cos. executives made $2.5 billion from 2000 to 2008, a sign pay policies may have encouraged risk- taking that doomed the companies, a Harvard University study said.

The top five officials at Lehman, which filed for bankruptcy in September 2008, received $1.03 billion in cash bonuses and proceeds from equity sales during the period, according to the report, “The Wages of Failure,” released today by Harvard Law School’s Program on Corporate Governance. Bear Stearns’s top executives made $1.46 billion in the years before JPMorgan Chase & Co. agreed to buy the firm in 2008.

Losses the executives suffered when the firms failed were outweighed by payoffs in the preceding eight years, the study said, concluding that the “standard narrative” that the meltdown of Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns wiped out top executive’s wealth was incorrect and should be viewed skeptically in the debate over pay regulation.

“Excessive incentives to take risks might have been generated by executives’ ability to cash out compensation based on the firms’ short-term results,” said the report, written by Harvard professors Lucian Bebchuk, Alma Cohen and Holger Spamann. “To the extent that executives did cash out large amounts of such compensation, their decisions might have been distorted by an excessive focus on short-term results.”

New Pay Rules Read more.

Blackwater's Secret War in Pakistan

Blackwater's Secret War in Pakistan
By Jeremy Scahill | The Nation

At a covert forward operating base run by the US Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in the Pakistani port city of Karachi, members of an elite division of Blackwater are at the center of a secret program in which they plan targeted assassinations of suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives, "snatch and grabs" of high-value targets and other sensitive action inside and outside Pakistan, an investigation by The Nation has found. The Blackwater operatives also assist in gathering intelligence and help run a secret US military drone bombing campaign that runs parallel to the well-documented CIA predator strikes, according to a well-placed source within the US military intelligence apparatus.

The source, who has worked on covert US military programs for years, including in Afghanistan and Pakistan, has direct knowledge of Blackwater's involvement. He spoke to The Nation on condition of anonymity because the program is classified. The source said that the program is so "compartmentalized" that senior figures within the Obama administration and the US military chain of command may not be aware of its existence.

The White House did not return calls or email messages seeking comment for this story. Capt. John Kirby, the spokesperson for Adm. Michael Mullen, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told The Nation, "We do not discuss current operations one way or the other, regardless of their nature." A defense official, on background, specifically denied that Blackwater performs work on drone strikes or intelligence for JSOC in Pakistan. "We don't have any contracts to do that work for us. We don't contract that kind of work out, period," the official said. "There has not been, and is not now, contracts between JSOC and that organization for these types of services."

The previously unreported program, the military intelligence source said, is distinct from the CIA assassination program that the agency's director, Leon Panetta, announced he had canceled in June 2009. "This is a parallel operation to the CIA," said the source. "They are two separate beasts." Read more.

Too Many Overseas Bases

Too Many Overseas Bases
By David Vine | Foreign Policy in Focus

In the midst of an economic crisis that’s getting scarier by the day, it’s time to ask whether the nation can really afford some 1,000 military bases overseas. For those unfamiliar with the issue, you read that number correctly. One thousand. One thousand U.S. military bases outside the 50 states and Washington, DC, representing the largest collection of bases in world history.

Officially the Pentagon counts 865 base sites, but this notoriously unreliable number omits all our bases in Iraq (likely over 100) and Afghanistan (80 and counting), among many other well-known and secretive bases. More than half a century after World War II and the Korean War, we still have 268 bases in Germany, 124 in Japan, and 87 in South Korea. Others are scattered around the globe in places like Aruba and Australia, Bulgaria and Bahrain, Colombia and Greece, Djibouti, Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar, Romania, Singapore, and of course, Guantánamo Bay, Cuba — just to name a few. Among the installations considered critical to our national security are a ski center in the Bavarian Alps, resorts in Seoul and Tokyo, and 234 golf courses the Pentagon runs worldwide.

Unlike domestic bases, which set off local alarms when threatened by closure, our collection of overseas bases is particularly galling because almost all our taxpayer money leaves the United States (much goes to enriching private base contractors like corruption-plagued former Halliburton subsidiary KBR). One part of the massive Ramstein airbase near Landstuhl, Germany, has an estimated value of $3.3 billion. Just think how local communities could use that kind of money to make investments in schools, hospitals, jobs, and infrastructure. Read more.

Three Cheers for Women Behaving "Badly"

This Sunday on Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox, one misbehaving woman interviews another one. Thank goodness for women who do buck the system and resist "going with the flow," just so as to appear socially acceptable to a society that is not so polite.

Cindy interviews Malalai Joya, a female Afghan Parliamentarian who courageously stands up for female rights and peace against the warlords of Afghanistan and America. Cindy and Cliff caught up with Malalai when she was in Berkeley to talk about her book: A Woman Among Warlords.

Cindy loves to bust Myths (and is almost finished with Myth America II: 20 Greatest Myths of the Robber Class and the Case for Revolution) and was thrilled when Malalai busted the stuffing out of the Myth that US and NATO forces must remain in Afghanistan to "protect the women."

Please listen to this interview on Sunday at the website after 2pm (PACIFIC):

www.CindySheehansSoapbox.com

or

1360am Rational Radio in Dallas, TX at 3pm (central)

The 15 Biggest Congressional Recipients Of Wall Street Campaign Cash

The 15 Biggest Congressional Recipients Of Wall Street Campaign Cash | Huffington Post

Reforming Wall Street is a hot topic on Capitol Hill these days. Congress is currently weighing two financial reform bills that would, to varying degrees, reshape the way the financial system is regulated.

Still, Wall Street's influence in Washington appears to be as strong as ever. After all, it was just last spring that Senator Dick Durbin, frustrated by pushback on bankruptcy reform, denounced the financial sector's influence on the Senate: the banks, he said, "they frankly own the place." The Center for Responsive Politics, a research group that tracks money in politics, reports that financial industries -- the finance, insurance and real estate sectors, specifically -- have been one of the biggest benefactors to Congress over the past two decades,,,

We [Huffington Post] took a look at the Center for Responsive Politics's database, OpenSecrets.org, to see which members of Congress have so far received Wall Street money for the 2010 election cycle. The answers may surprise you. Check out our slideshow of the top 15 recipients and choose which politician may be taking too much money from Wall Street. Read more, view the slideshow.

Tomgram: Pratap Chatterjee, Afghanistan as a Patronage Machine

Tomgram: Pratap Chatterjee, Afghanistan as a Patronage Machine | TomDispatch.com

~Chip's Note: Every once in a while, Tom over at Tom's Dispatch writes an intro to an article that is so well-researched and comprehensive that it's difficult to excerpt just a portion as a prelude to the published article. This is one of those times. Both Tom's introduction and Pratap Chatterjee's "Paying Off the Warlords, Anatomy of an Afghan Culture of Corruption" will provoke your outrage at the stark reality of the what is really happening in Afghanistan. Now, on to Tom's introduction.

There is much discussion in the media today about "corruption" in Hamid Karzai's Afghanistan, but remarkably little actual reporting about it. Just back from Kabul, TomDispatch regular Pratap Chatterjee, author of Halliburton's Army, helps to rectify that deficit. He offers a rare, news-making, eye-opening inside look at how that country's system of nepotism and corruption -- involving its old "warlords" from the days of the post-Soviet civil war and its new corporate "reconstruction" raiders -- actually works. His piece is an anatomy of the way the brother of the country's new vice president (and long-time warlord), Mohammed Fahim, is raking in tens of millions of dollars in diesel fuel contracts for an American-built power plant -- even though far cheaper methods of bringing electricity to the Afghan capital now exist.

"Every morning," Chatterjee begins, "dozens of trucks laden with diesel from Turkmenistan lumber out of the northern Afghan border town of Hairaton on a two-day trek across the Hindu Kush down to Afghanistan's capital, Kabul. Among the dozens of businesses dispatching these trucks are two extremely well connected companies -- Ghazanfar and Zahid Walid -- that helped to swell the election coffers of President Hamid Karzai as well as the family business of his running mate, the country's new vice president, warlord Mohammed Qasim Fahim."

He then follows the history of corruption and the path of the money -- both Afghan and American -- as he traces the business dealings of the Afghan elite, including figures connected to Afghan president Hamid Karzai, and well-connected western "reconstruction" companies.

He concludes: "This week, Mohammed Qasim Fahim will be sworn in as the next vice-president of the new government of Afghanistan. Under an agreement with USAID, this new government is required to spend Afghan money to buy yet more diesel for the [U.S.-built] Tarakhil power plant, which in turn will put money exclusively and directly into the vice president's brother's pocket."

From TomDispatch today, a rare, carefully reported, follow-the-money piece from Afghanistan that reveals the corruption and nepotism at the highest levels of the Afghan government -- Pratap Chatterjee, "Paying Off the Warlords, Anatomy of an Afghan Culture of Corruption." This is a devastating look at how Afghaniscam actually works. Read more.

The 15 Biggest Congressional Recipients of Legal Bribes from Wall Street

Here's a list. Hint: 4 of them are Republicans. Context: None of them are in the same league as the president.

Opinion: U.S. Is Doing No Good In Afghanistan

Note: Chris Cook recorded some interesting audio of Malalai on her current book tour as well as some of the Question & Answer period.

Opinion: U.S. is doing no good in Afghanistan
By Malalai Joya | Mercury News

As an Afghan woman who was elected to Parliament, I am in the United States to ask President Barack Obama to immediately end the occupation of my country.

Eight years ago, women's rights were used as one of the excuses to start this war. But today, Afghanistan is still facing a women's rights catastrophe. Life for most Afghan women resembles a type of hell that is never reflected in the Western mainstream media.

In 2001, the U.S. helped return to power the worst misogynist criminals, such as the Northern Alliance warlords and druglords. These men ought to be considered a photocopy of the Taliban. The only difference is that the Northern Alliance warlords wear suits and ties and cover their faces with the mask of democracy while they occupy government positions. But they are responsible for much of the disaster today in Afghanistan, thanks to the U.S. support they enjoy.

The U.S. and its allies are getting ready to offer power to the medieval Taliban by creating an imaginary category called the "moderate Taliban" and inviting them to join the government. A man who was near the top of the list of most-wanted terrorists eight years ago, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, has been invited to join the government.

Over the past eight years the U.S. has helped turn my country into the drug capital of the world through its support of drug lords. Today, 93 percent of all opium in the world is produced in Afghanistan. Many members of Parliament and high ranking officials openly benefit from the drug trade. President Karzai's own brother is a well known drug trafficker. Read more.

In House, Many Spoke With One Voice: Lobbyists’

In House, Many Spoke With One Voice: Lobbyists’
By Robert Pear | NY Times

In the official record of the historic House debate on overhauling health care, the speeches of many lawmakers echo with similarities. Often, that was no accident.

Statements by more than a dozen lawmakers were ghostwritten, in whole or in part, by Washington lobbyists working for Genentech, one of the world’s largest biotechnology companies.

E-mail messages obtained by The New York Times show that the lobbyists drafted one statement for Democrats and another for Republicans.

The lobbyists, employed by Genentech and by two Washington law firms, were remarkably successful in getting the statements printed in the Congressional Record under the names of different members of Congress.

How the US Funds the Taliban

How the US Funds the Taliban
By Aram Roston | The Nation

On October 29, 2001, while the Taliban's rule over Afghanistan was under assault, the regime's ambassador in Islamabad gave a chaotic press conference in front of several dozen reporters sitting on the grass. On the Taliban diplomat's right sat his interpreter, Ahmad Rateb Popal, a man with an imposing presence. Like the ambassador, Popal wore a black turban, and he had a huge bushy beard. He had a black patch over his right eye socket, a prosthetic left arm and a deformed right hand, the result of injuries from an explosives mishap during an old operation against the Soviets in Kabul.

But Popal was more than just a former mujahedeen. In 1988, a year before the Soviets fled Afghanistan, Popal had been charged in the United States with conspiring to import more than a kilo of heroin. Court records show he was released from prison in 1997.

Flash forward to 2009, and Afghanistan is ruled by Popal's cousin President Hamid Karzai. Popal has cut his huge beard down to a neatly trimmed one and has become an immensely wealthy businessman, along with his brother Rashid Popal, who in a separate case pleaded guilty to a heroin charge in 1996 in Brooklyn. The Popal brothers control the huge Watan Group in Afghanistan, a consortium engaged in telecommunications, logistics and, most important, security. Watan Risk Management, the Popals' private military arm, is one of the few dozen private security companies in Afghanistan. One of Watan's enterprises, key to the war effort, is protecting convoys of Afghan trucks heading from Kabul to Kandahar, carrying American supplies. Read more.

Mexican Business Groups Call for U.N. Troops

Mexican business groups call for U.N. troops
5,000 soldiers aren't enough protection, Ciudad Juarez business owners say
By Associated Press | MSNBC

"What we are asking for with the blue helmets (U.N. peacekeepers) is that we know they are the army of peace, so we could use not only the strategies they have developed in other countries ... but they also have technology," Maynez said....Maynez said the United States could also contribute to the solution, adding that the U.S. might be forced to in its own interests. "We know that sooner or later, the violence will spill over into our sister city of El Paso, Texas," he said.

Business groups in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez said Wednesday they are calling for United Nations peacekeepers to quell the drug-related violence that has given their city one of the highest homicide rates in the world.

Groups representing assembly plants, retailers and other businesses said they will submit a request to the Mexican government and the Inter American Human Rights Commission to ask the U.N. to send help.

"This is a proposal ... for international forces to come here to help out the domestic (security) forces," said Daniel Murguia, president of the Ciudad Juarez chapter of the National Chamber of Commerce, Services and Tourism. "There is a lot of extortions and robberies of businesses. Many businesses are closing." Read more.

US Is Doing No Good in Afghanistan

US Is Doing No Good in Afghanistan
By Malalai Joya | San Jose Mercury News | Submitted by Michael Munk | www.MichaelMunk.com

As an Afghan woman who was elected to Parliament, I am in the United States to ask President Barack Obama to immediately end the occupation of my country.

Eight years ago, women's rights were used as one of the excuses to start this war. But today, Afghanistan is still facing a women's rights catastrophe. Life for most Afghan women resembles a type of hell that is never reflected in the Western mainstream media.

In 2001, the U.S. helped return to power the worst misogynist criminals, such as the Northern Alliance warlords and druglords. These men ought to be considered a photocopy of the Taliban. The only difference is that the Northern Alliance warlords wear suits and ties and cover their faces with the mask of democracy while they occupy government positions. But they are responsible for much of the disaster today in Afghanistan, thanks to the U.S. support they enjoy.

The U.S. and its allies are getting ready to offer power to the medieval Taliban by creating an imaginary category called the "moderate Taliban" and inviting them to join the government. A man who was near the top of the list of most-wanted terrorists eight years ago, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, has been invited to join the government.

Over the past eight years the U.S. has helped turn my country into the drug capital of the world through its support of drug lords. Today, 93 percent of all opium in the world is produced in Afghanistan. Many members of Parliament and high ranking officials openly benefit from the drug trade. President Karzai's own brother is a well known drug trafficker.

Meanwhile, ordinary Afghans are living in destitution. The latest United Nations Human Development Index ranked Afghanistan 181 out of 182 countries. Eighteen million Afghans live on less than $2 a day. Mothers in many parts of Afghanistan are ready to sell their children because they cannot feed them. Read more.

Still Waiting for Health Care

Still Waiting for Health Care
By nimda | Nader.org

The House of Representatives debate on the health insurance “reform” is over with the Democrats failing the people and the Republicans disgracing themselves as having left their minds back in the third grade (with apologies to third graders).

House Democrats were determined to pass any bill with a nice sounding name, such as “The Affordable Health Care for America Act”. Single payer, full Medicare for all was never on the table even though a majority of citizens, physicians and nurses support that far more efficient, free choice of health care professionals, system.

There are no effective cost containment or prevention measures in the bill. The public option is so weak it will be a receptacle for the sickest of patients among the meager number of people who qualify for its coverage. There are no provisions to reduce the number of people (100,000) who die annually from medical malpractice in hospitals.

Nor is there a major program to reduce the tens of billions of dollars that is stolen yearly out of Medicare from criminals inside and outside the medical profession. Read more.

Blackwater Said to Pursue Bribes to Iraq After 17 Died

Blackwater Said to Pursue Bribes to Iraq After 17 Died
By Mark Mazzetti and James Risen | NY Times

Blackwater’s strategy of buying off the government officials, which would have been illegal under American law, created a deep rift inside the company, according to the former executives.

Top executives at Blackwater Worldwide authorized secret payments of about $1 million to Iraqi officials that were intended to silence their criticism and buy their support after a September 2007 episode in which Blackwater security guards fatally shot 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad, according to former company officials.

Blackwater approved the cash payments in December 2007, the officials said, as protests over the deadly shootings in Nisour Square stoked long-simmering anger inside Iraq about reckless practices by the security company’s employees. American and Iraqi investigators had already concluded that the shootings were unjustified, top Iraqi officials were calling for Blackwater’s ouster from the country, and company officials feared that Blackwater might be refused an operating license it would need to retain its contracts with the State Department and private clients, worth hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

Four former executives said in interviews that Gary Jackson, who was then Blackwater’s president, had approved the bribes and that the money was sent from Amman, Jordan, where the company maintains an operations hub, to a top manager in Iraq. The executives, though, said they did not know whether the cash was delivered to Iraqi officials or the identities of the potential recipients. Read more.

It’s Baltimore, Hon!: Did Mayor Dixon Steal from the Poor?

It’s Baltimore, Hon!: Did Mayor Dixon Steal from the Poor?
By William Hughes

“Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.” - H. L. Mencken

Baltimore, MD - On Monday, Nov. 9, 2009, the criminal trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon will open up in the Circuit Court House, only two blocks from City Hall, where she’s reigned as boss of bosses since 2007. In a way, it will be like watching one of the iconic John Waters’ flicks. The case will have it all: sex, fur coats, a shop-till-you drop mentality, comedy, a married boyfriend in heat, gift cards, sleazy politics, back room deals, greed and high priced lawyers. In fact, the Mayor has seven lawyers on her defense team! This is probably a world record! (Saddam Hussein only had three.) This is also something film guru Waters would never allow in any of his movies. One legal eagle blowing off hot steam on behalf of a client would be more than enough for him.

U.S. Seeks to Limit Warlords in Karzai Cabinet

U.S. Seeks to Limit Warlords in Karzai Cabinet
By Gareth Porter | IPS

The Barack Obama administration is talking tough to Afghan President Hamid Karzai about the need for decisive action on corruption and governance reform, but its main objective is to prevent particularly corrupt and incompetent warlords from getting plum ministries as rewards for helping clinch his fraudulent reelection, IPS has learned.

Obama told reporters Monday that he had emphasised to Karzai in a phone call to congratulate him on his re-election that there would have to be "a much more serious effort to eradicate corruption" and that "the proof is not going to be in words, it's going to be in deeds".

The New York Times reported the day after the Obama-Karzai conversation that the Obama administration wants Karzai to prosecute certain high-profile figures who are known to be involved in corruption. The story referred to the president's brother, Kandahar warlord Ahmed Wali Karzai, former defence minister Muhammad Qasim Fahim and Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum.

And on Wednesday, Adm. Mike Mullen, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that Karzai must "take concrete steps to eliminate corruption", adding it means "you have to rid yourself of those who are corrupt, you have to actually arrest and prosecute them".

The new public rhetoric and press stories have given the impression that the Obama administration is now pursuing far-reaching reform of Afghanistan's system of governance. But the sudden intensification of administration pressure on the issue of corruption is aimed less at far-reaching reform of the system than at avoiding a significant worsening of the problem in the wake of Karzai's fraudulent re-election. Read more.

U.S. To Pay DEA Agent $3 Million In Spying Case

U.S. to pay DEA agent $3 million in spying case
By Josh Gerstein | Politico

The U.S. Government has agreed to pay $3 million to a former Drug Enforcement Administration official who claims he was spied on by a CIA agent and a U.S. diplomat while working at the U.S. Embassy in Burma more than a decade ago.

The settlement of a long-running lawsuit brought ex-DEA agent Richard Horn was filed tonight [11/04/09] in U.S. District Court in Washington.

Horn claimed that in 1993 a CIA officer in Rangoon, Arthur Brown, and the chief of mission there, Franklin Huddle, conspired to place a listening device in a coffee table at Horn's residence and that the pair then relayed information they obtained to Washington.

The case became a massive headache for the government recently after U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth found that government lawyers committed fraud on the court by pressing forward with state secrets claims in the case even after Huddle's cover was formally rolled back by the CIA. Read more.

Change to Win Challenges U.S. Chamber’s Assault on Wednesday’s Investor Reform Vote

Cites Chamber President Donohue’s own track record as director of Scandal-ridden companies

Washington, D.C. – Change to Win (CTW) Chair Anna Burger today called on members of the House Committee on Financial Services to reject the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s less than credible rhetoric and to approve the Waters/Peters Amendment to the Investor Protection Act of 2009 in this Wednesday’s vote. The Waters/Peters amendment affirms the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) authority to adopt a uniform proxy access rule.

In her letter to Committee members, Ms. Burger highlights U.S. Chamber President Tom Donohue’s own record as a director of four scandal-ridden, publicly-traded companies to demonstrate the need for this essential investor reform. That record is detailed in CtW’s new report on the Chamber, “Preaching Principle, Enabling Excess,” which Ms. Burger provided to Committee members and which is attached.

The text of the letter follows:

They DESERVE Justice 2

BBDY 4 Pack

Even the least of us deserves justice and accountability starts with you. So why don't you send out a reminder. Even Bush deserves all the justice he can get and we should ensure he gets his day in court.

Use these images as a 4 PAK and send 4 different cards to the same person; or, choose your favorite and send the same postcard to 4 different persons.

It's easy. Each individual postcard is formatted to the dimensions of 4.25"x5.5". Quarter a sheet of paper and combine the cards as you like. Don't forget to print the other side. Remember the postage stamps. Then mail one to your best beloved, your friends and neighbors, some acquaintance--your politicians and their parties. Show someone you care about them and about justice. Don’t forget Cheney, Condi, Gonzales and Rove: CCGR 4 PAK.

MAY BE USED AS HANDBILLS W/O REVERSE SIDE.

Justice for Bush

Justice for Bybee

Justice for Delahunty

Justice for Yoo

Reverse Side Postcard

America's Drug Crisis: Brought to You by the CIA

By Dave Lindorff

Next time you see a junkie sprawled at the curb in the downtown of your nearest city, or read about someone who died of a heroin overdose, just imagine a big yellow sign posted next to him or her saying: “Your Federal Tax Dollars at Work.”

Kudos to the New York Times, and to reporters Dexter Filkins, Mark Mazzetti and James Risen, for their lead article today reporting that Ahmed Wali Karzai, brother of Afghanistan’s stunningly corrupt President Hamid Karzai, a leading drug lord in the world’s major opium-producing nation, has for eight years been on the CIA payroll.

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