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It's Time for Kucinich, Conyers, Feingold and Other `Progressives' in Congress to Take a Stand

By Dave Lindorff

What's missing in Congress these days is real progressive leadership and real political courage.

Over the past several decades, the Democratic Party has been entirely taken over by corporate shills and money-grubbing sleazes while those who might still have some vestigial remnant of a conscience or genuine concern for the plight of the common person have been co-opted or intimidated into silence or powerlessness.

Look at Dennis Kucinich (D-OH). He says all the right things. He's fought all the good fights. And yet after 15 years in Congress, he is chair of what? The House subcommittee on domestic policy of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Heck, his post doesn't even merit capitalization in the AP Stylebook!

An Open Letter to Leon Panetta

It is clear that the most dangerous and sickening crimes being committed by the US government are being directed by the CIA. The CIA poses the biggest threat to US national security and the security of the planet. The US Constitution and international law must be used to ensure security and enforce justice.

An Open Letter to Leon Panetta

Dear Mr. Panetta:

We are writing you to express our anger and dismay at the criminal and sadistic actions of the Central Intelligence Agency. There is overwhelming evidence that your organization and its front companies are guilty of the most supreme crimes against humanity. These include but are not limited to destabilizing and overthrowing elected governments, drug smuggling, child prostitution, and of course, orchestrating illegal wars of aggression. The latter was done under the pretext of eliminating a shadowy terrorist organization, Al Qaeda, which was in fact created by your own treasonous agency.

Perhaps the most sickening of the CIA's crimes is the systematic torture of human beings. Not only do you and your colleagues engage in this cowardly act, you attempt to cover up the crime through destruction of evidence and control of the media.

Mass. Mayhem: The Democrats' Debacle and the Perfect Moment for Party Progressives

By Dave Lindorff

The media punditry, corn-fed on conventional wisdom, are all atwitter about the looming Democratic debacle in Massachusetts, saying that win or lose, the poor showing by the Democratic candidate for the late Sen. Edward Kennedy’s seat, state Attorney General Martha Coakley, means Democrats in Congress should abandon plans to push through a House-Senate compromise health bill, and instead just go with the Senate’s version of health “reform” legislation, thus circumventing a certain Republican filibuster attempt.

US Magazine Claims Guantánamo Inmates Were Killed During Questioning

US magazine claims Guantánamo inmates were killed during questioning
Harper's investigation quotes camp staff who say suspects died in interrogation and their deaths were made to look like suicides
By Ian Cobain |

US government officials may have conspired to conceal evidence that three Guantánamo Bay inmates could have been murdered during interrogations, according to a six-month investigation by American journalists.

All three may have been suffocated during questioning on the same evening and their deaths passed off as suicides by hanging, the joint investigation for Harper's Magazine and NBC News has concluded.

The magazine also suggests the cover-up may explain why the US government is reluctant to allow the release of Shaker Aamer, the last former British resident held at Guantánamo, as he is said to have alleged that he was part-suffocated while being tortured on the same evening.

"The cover-up is amazing in its audacity, and it is continuing into the Obama administration," said Scott Horton, the contributing editor for Harper's who conducted the investigation.

When the three men – Salah Ahmed al-Salami, 37, a Yemeni, and two Saudis, Talal al-Zahrani, 22, and Mani Shaman al-Utaybi, 30 – died in June 2006, the camp's commander declared that they had committed suicide and that this had been "an act of asymmetrical warfare", rather than one of desperation.

According to an official inquiry by the US navy, whose report was heavily censored before release, each man was found in his cell, hanging from bedsheets, with their hands bound and rags stuffed down their throats.

However, Horton spoke to four camp guards who alleged that when the bodies were taken to the camp's medical clinic they had definitely not come from their cell block, which they were guarding, and appeared to have been transfered from a "black site", known as Camp No, within Guantánamo, operated by either the CIA or a Pentagon intelligence agency. Read more.

Xe Services (Blackwater) Killers' Story Doesn't Add Up

Xe Services (Blackwater) Killers' Story Doesn't Add Up
Posted by Joshua Holland | AlterNet

Wherever Xe Services' mercenaries are deployed, dead civilians stack up.

Subjects of the empire tend to get pretty pissed off when this faceless American multinational kills off innocent people -- families out for a drive, folks walking down the street in the middle of the afternoon.

This can be bad for business. After the Nisour Square Massacre, XE Services -- then known as Blackwater Worldwide -- was briefly booted out of Iraq as a result of a massive public outcry (before the Iraqi government demonstrated its legendary sovereignty by buckling to U.S. demands that the company be reinstated).

Xe Services is in Afghanistan, and as one might expect civilian bodies have turned up over there as well. Last week, two of its mercenaries were charged by federal authorities for a shooting last May in Kabul which resulted in far fewer casualties than Nisour Square, but according to prosecutors was equally unjustified.

TPM reports that the killers -- who were fired after the incident for violating the company's alcohol policy -- say they're being "thrown under the bus by a company desperate to preserve its standing with the Afghan government, after another shooting case in Iraq led to a crackdown on its operations in that country." The company says they were out on a bender when the shooting occurred, and not on the official clock. The men say they were working at the time, and that the shooting was justified. Read more.

Stop the Chamber; I Want to Get Off! Group to Expose Candidates Accepting Funds From Commerce Lobbyists

Stop the Chamber; I Want to Get Off! Group to Expose Candidates Accepting Funds From Commerce Lobbyists
By Meg White | Buzzflash News Analysis

It's 2010. Do you know which corporate pocket your representative is in?

There is no better analogy for the outsize influence of corporations upon government than the behavior of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce of late. The "world's largest business federation" has transformed itself into a lobbying machine for some of the nation's dirtiest corporate crooks in a series of misleading campaigns against climate change legislation, affordable healthcare, the employee free choice act, campaign spending reform, corporate responsibility, consumer protection, and keeping social security private.

All the more reason to know who they've been wining and dining on the Hill.Velvet Revolution, a nonprofit organization "dedicated to clean and honest government," issued a statement today announcing they plan to target political candidates who accept contributions from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

"If a candidate gets support from the Chamber, we are going to call him or her out for accepting tainted money -- money from big business that is not going into creating jobs, providing health care, and cleaning up Wall Street.  We will demand that candidates renounce the Chamber's support, return any funding, and condemn the Chamber’s advertisements and policies. If they do not, we will expose them," said Kevin Zeese, spokesman and attorney for Velvet Revolution in a statement.

Today's news release is part of Velvet Revolution's larger "Stop the Chamber" campaign (to which BuzzFlash has signed on), which seeks to expose the Chamber's lobbying efforts against all kinds of reform, as well as to precipitate an investigation into allegations of the organization's illegal activities:

Polluters like Big Coal, Big Asbestos, and Big Oil only need call the Chamber to stop any accountability for their toxic destruction. Wall Street banks and CEOs need only make sure that they have paid their Chamber dues to ensure that they can continue to rip off the taxpayers. And killers like Big Tobacco need only form a partnership with the Chamber to ensure that they will be given immunity from lawsuits that seek accountability for the death and sickness of millions of Americans...

Not only is the Chamber lobbying and advertising against the interests of Americans, it is also committing fraud and violating campaign finance laws by creating fake astroturfing front groups, with patriotic names like Citizens for a Strong Ohio, and then illegally funneling millions of anonymous dollars into those groups to attack candidates and judges who won't do their bidding.

This announcement doesn't come a moment too soon. Not only are primary elections coming up, but the Chamber of Commerce just recently signaled its plans to spend record amounts of money in the 2010 elections. Read more.

If You Could Ask Tony Blair One Question...


The Iraq Inquiry committee needs your help. Its weak, deferential questioning of witnesses has been widely criticized as inadequate for an inquiry into the most disastrous foreign policy decision of the past half century.

This doesn't augur well for Tony Blair's much awaited appearance in the next few weeks. Stop the War wants your help in providing suggestions for the type of questioning which will be required to expose the lies and deception that Blair used to take Britain into an illegal war.

Stop the War is inviting questions from all of our supporters, which we will publish on our website and then collate to send to the Iraq Inquiry committee.

Writer and broadcaster Michael Rosen has already sent us his question:

"You say that the war was right and that it was worth it, so this is a question about your level of acceptable death and destruction: at what number of deaths and at what level of destruction would such a war become not-worth-it?"


Write "Blair question" in the message subject title and send your question to

Schakowsky Prepares Legislation to Ban Blackwater

Schakowsky Prepares Legislation to Ban Blackwater
By Jeremy Scahill | Rebel Reports

Schakowsky says Blackwater has “severely damaged the credibility and security of our military and harmed our relationship with other governments”

As multiple scandals involving Blackwater continue to emerge almost daily, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence is preparing to introduce legislation aimed at ending the US government’s relationship with Blackwater and other armed contracting companies. “In 2009, the U.S. government employed well over 20,000 armed private security contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan, and there is every indication that these figures will continue to rise in 2010,” Schakowsky wrote in a “Dear Colleage” letter asking for support for her Stop Outsourcing Security (SOS) Act. “These men and women are not part of the U.S. military or government. They do not wear the uniform of the United States, though their behavior has, on numerous occasions, severely damaged the credibility and security of our military and harmed our relationship with other governments.”

Schakowsky originally introduced the bill in 2007, but it only won two co-sponsors in the Senate: Vermont’s Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. Ironically, Clinton—now Secretary of State— is currently the US official responsible for most of Blackwater’s contracts. “The legislation would prohibit the use of private contractors for military, security, law enforcement, intelligence, and armed rescue functions unless the President tells Congress why the military is unable to perform those functions,” according to Schakowsky. “It would also increase transparency over any remaining security contracts by increasing reporting requirements and giving Congress access to details about large contracts.”

Meanwhile, a national coalition of groups opposed to Blackwater have issued an open letter to Congress urging support for Schakowsky’s SOS Act and have called on Congress to investigate the US Justice Department’s handling of the criminal case against the Blackwater operatives alleged to have been responsible for the 2007 Nisour Square massacre. Read more.

Big Tobacco Still At It

Tobacco Company Helped Shape European Policy System Favoring Corporate Profits Over Public Health, Study Finds

ScienceDaily (Jan. 12, 2010) — British American Tobacco (BAT), the world's second largest tobacco transnational, strategically influenced the European Union's framework for evaluating policy options, leading to the acceptance of an agenda which emphasizes business interests over public health, according to a study published in PLoS Medicine.

Health Insurers Secretly Funded $10-$20 Million In Attack Ads

Health insurers secretly funded $10-$20 million in attack ads
By John Byrne | Raw Story

Seen one of those TV ads attacking healthcare reform?

Chances are, it may have been paid for by a health insurance company funneling money through the US Chamber of Commerce -- who then funneled it to one of two front groups it created specifically aimed at derailing or watering down the Democrats' healthcare reform bill.

According to National Journal veteran investigative correspondent Peter Stone, some $10 to $20 million of health insurer money was funneled into the Chamber of Commerce, which then doled it out to its anti-healthcare groups, Campaign for Responsible Health Reform and Employers for a Healthy Economy.

The insurers who contributed to the anti-reform effort purportedly were: Aetna, Cigna, Humana, Kaiser Foundation Health Plans, UnitedHealth Group and Wellpoint.

Each insurer reportedly gave at least $1 million to the campaign, with some insurers contributions totaling in the multi-millions. Read more.

The Real Obama: Sticking it to the Working Stiffs

By Dave Lindorff

If you want to see the unvarnished, true nature of our latest president, you need look no farther than two issues: whether to tax health plans that are deemed “too generous” and whether or how to tax the banks that brought about the financial crisis.

President Obama, the CIA and the Master of the Cover-Up

President Obama, the CIA and the Master of the Cover-Up
By Melvin A. Goodman | Truthout

The Obama administration quietly announced Friday the appointment of John McLaughlin, former deputy CIA director, to head the internal investigation of the intelligence failures that led to the Christmas Day attempted bombing of a Delta airliner headed for Detroit as well as the events leading to the shootings at Fort Hood in November.

With this appointment, President Barack Obama has assured that the culture of intelligence cover-up will continue. McLaughlin has participated in and sought to cover-up many of the CIA's most egregious failures and misdeeds of the past decade. When he left the CIA, he then served as the agency's chief apologist.

So, who is John McLaughlin? Most of official Washington and the mainstream media view McLaughlin as the mild-mannered, professorial CIA bureaucrat, who former CIA director George Tenet called the "smartest man he had ever met."

Few people understand, however, that McLaughlin played the most important role in making sure that the Bush administration received the intelligence that would be used and misused to justify the use of force against Iraq in 2003. Read more.

Huge Scandal Brewing: Obama Administration Paid $780K To Economist for Health Care Reform Support

For almost the entirety of the health care debate, the Obama Administration has relied on economist Jonathan Gruber to make the public case for its idea of reform - even the most unpopular parts. But as Firedoglake revealed on Friday, the Obama Administration has failed to disclose that it paid the same economist more than $780,000.

Jonathan Gruber's work has been cited by the White House, Members of Congress, and countless media outlets, but not once did the Obama Administration disclose it was paying him more than $780,000 in tax dollars. This is a huge ethical violation that undermines the entirety of health care reform.

Sign our petition to President Obama: come clean on Jonathan Gruber and anyone else receiving public money to push health care reform.

Once we broke this scandal, The New York Times, Washington Post, Time Magazine, and other publications all said they should have disclosed Gruber's lucrative contracts if they were aware of the conflict of interest. Dozens of Members of Congress cited Gruber's work in their floor speeches. The White House pushed Gruber hundreds of times to the press and on its website.

While Gruber's ethical lapses are his own personal and professional issue, the true problem here is that the White House used Gruber and his research as a seemingly unbiased source in support of its unpopular reforms.

When Obama wanted to tax middle class health care plans, Gruber defends the tax. When Obama to force people to buy private insurance, Gruber defends individual mandate. When Obama does not want public option, Gruber says a public option is not important. When Obama needs to pretend the bill has cost controls, Gruber says it has the greatest cost controls ever.

It is simply not right for the White House to cite Gruber's analysis to illustrate the benefits of the bill they support without disclosing that Gruber is on the government payroll. A biased insider can't be an unbiased outside observer. But that's exactly the approach of the Obama Administration, to the tune of $780,000 in tax dollars.

The Obama Administation's $780,000 "buy-an-economist" scandal threatens to shake the foundation of health care reform. We need to get to the bottom of this.

Sign our petition to Obama: come clean on tax dollars used to pay any other undisclosed contracts.

We need to do health care reform right. But not telling the truth about reform won't help anyone. Thanks so much for your support.


Jane Hamsher

Kucinich, Winograd, Garamendi Are Guests on Connect the Dots Monday 1/11/10 - Miss It? No Problem, Listen from the Archives

Lila Garrett of Connect the Dots writes:

MONDAY at 7AM on KPFK 90.7 FM. I'm back on CONNECT THE DOTS with Congress people Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, John Garamendi of Ca. and Ca. Cong. candidate Marcy Winograd. All three will discuss their top priorities for 2010. Tune in and/or use this link.

How weighted is the Healthcare Bill toward benefiting the Insurance companies instead of the people? What bottom line will each Congressperson use in deciding whether to vote for it? And all three guests oppose the war in Afghanistan. What is Congress' responsibility for allowing Obama's escalation to prevail?
Kucinich also discusses the future of the Democratic Party.
Garamendi talks about jobs and the necessity for regulations. As Chair of the Senate Banking Com., how likely is retiring Chris Dodd, who has never been a critic of Wall Street, to support regulations this time around? And....

Marcy Winograd in her run for Congress in the 36th district answers some outrageous allegations from Henry Waxman in regard to Israel. Why are Waxman and other entrenched Democrats in Congress supporting Marcy's oppenent Jane Harman for Congress when Harman supported secret wiretapping under Bush, the Iraq War, the Patriot Act....the whole right wing agenda. The June primary is the chance to vote this Blue Dog Dem. out and replace her with a genuine advocate for peace and jobs. Is the old way of doing political business too locked in to allow real reform? Marcy Winnograd speaks out. Monday morning at 7 on CONNECT THE DOTS.

Lila Garrett (Host of CONNECT THE DOTS)
KPFK 90.7 FM in LA; 98.7 Santa Barbara
Airs Mondays from 7AM to 8AM.
To pod cast or download the broadcast just use this link. Each show is on line for three months.

Blackwater Fever: High Crimes and Hired Guns

Blackwater Fever: High Crimes and Hired Guns
By Chris Floyd | Empire Burlesque

Scott Horton of Harper's gives us chapter and verse of the Justice Department's very deliberate -- and insultingly brazen -- sabotaging of its own case against the Blackwater mercenaries who murdered 17 Iraqis in Nisoor Square back in September 2007. As any sentient observer could have told you then, these hired killers -- gorging on taxpayer dollars as they assisted the mass-murdering invasion and occupation of Iraq -- were never going to do time. Why should they? They were just doing what they were paid, by us, to do: kill ragheads.

The case was dismissed by a federal judge last week due to prosecutorial misconduct. In an interview with Democracy Now, Horton explained how the bad deal went down:

[The] decision to dismiss these charges had nothing to do with lack of evidence or weak evidence against the Blackwater employees. To the contrary, there was copious evidence. There was plenty of evidence prosecutors could have used that they evidently weren’t prepared to, including eyewitnesses there. The decision to dismiss was taken as a punishment measure against Justice Department prosecutors based on the judge’s conclusion that they engaged in grossly unethical and improper behavior in putting the case together.

And specifically what they did is they took statements that were taken by the Department of State against a grant of immunity; that is, the government investigators told the guards, “Give us your statement, be candid, be complete, and we promise you we won’t use your statement for any criminal charges against you.” But the Justice Department prosecutors took those statements and in fact used them. They used them before the grand jury. They used them to build their entire case. And they did this notwithstanding warnings from senior lawyers in the Justice Department that this was improper and could lead to dismissal of the case. It almost looks like the Justice Department prosecutors here wanted to sabotage their own case. It was so outrageous. Read more.

U.N. Experts Urge Iraq, U.S. To Pursue Blackwater Case

U.N. experts urge Iraq, U.S. to pursue Blackwater case | Reuters

U.N. human rights experts called on Iraq and the United States on Thursday to ensure that the 2007 killing of at least 14 Iraqi civilians, which has been blamed on Blackwater security guards, be prosecuted.

Iraq said on Monday it would launch lawsuits in U.S. and Iraqi courts against the U.S. security firm for the Baghdad killings, rejecting a U.S. judge's decision last week to throw out the charges.

In a statement, the United Nations working group on the use of mercenaries said the case underscored the need for "credible oversight" of private security companies working for the United States and other governments in war zones.

Baghdad and Washington must cooperate to resolve the killings committed at a Baghdad traffic circle in September 2007, with "those responsible fully held accountable," it said.

The Blackwater incident highlighted the Pentagon's growing use of private forces in war zones and, for Iraqis, came to symbolize what they saw as a disregard for their lives on the part of foreign forces in the country.

Private guards protecting U.S. personnel were given immunity from prosecution in Iraqi courts following the 2003 U.S. invasion. Read more.

Did the CIA Deploy a Blackwater Hit Team in Germany?

Did the CIA Deploy a Blackwater Hit Team in Germany?
By Jeremy Scahill | Nation

German prosecutors have launched a preliminary investigation into allegations that the CIA deployed a team of Blackwater operatives on a clandestine operation in Hamburg, Germany, after 9/11 ultimately aimed at assassinating a German citizen with suspected ties to Al Qaeda. The alleged assassination operation was revealed last month in a Vanity Fair profile of Blackwater's owner Erik Prince.

The magazine reported that after 9/11, the CIA used one of Prince's homes in Virginia as a covert training facility for hit teams that would hunt Al Qaeda suspects globally. Their job was find, fix, and finish: "Find the designated target, fix the person's routine, and, if necessary, finish him off," as the magazine put it.

According to Vanity Fair, one of the team's targets was Mamoun Darkazanli, a naturalized German citizen originally from Syria. Darkazanli has been accused by Spain of being an Al Qaeda supporter with close ties to the alleged 9/11 plotters who lived in Hamburg. The Blackwater/CIA team "supposedly went in 'dark,' meaning they did not notify their own station--much less the German government--of their presence," according to Vanity Fair. "[T]hey then followed Darkazanli for weeks and worked through the logistics of how and where they would take him down." Authorities in Washington, however, "chose not to pull the trigger." Read more.

"An Absolute Bargain": Blackwater Settles Massacre Lawsuit by Paying Families of Dead Iraqis $100,000 Each

"An Absolute Bargain": Blackwater Settles Massacre Lawsuit by Paying Families of Dead Iraqis $100,000 Each
Blackwater says it is "pleased" with the outcome.
By Jeremy Scahill, Rebel Reports | Alternet

Two sources with inside knowledge of Blackwater’s settlement with Iraqi victims of a string of shootings, including the Nisour Square massacre, have confirmed to me that Blackwater is paying $100,000 for each of the Iraqis killed by its forces and between $20-30,000 to each Iraqi wounded. One source said it was "an absolute bargain" for Blackwater. Based on the number of dead and injured named in the civil lawsuits, the total amount paid by Blackwater is likely in the range of $5 million. Blackwater has made more than $1.5 billion in “security” contracts in Iraq alone since 2003.

Blackwater’s owner, Erik Prince, recently said his company is spending $2 million a month in legal fees to battle civil and criminal cases and investigations.

Blackwater released a statement saying the company was "pleased" with the ruling. “This enables Xe’s new management to move the company forward free of the costs and distraction of ongoing litigation, and provides some compensation to Iraqi families,” the company said, using its new moniker, Xe.

The Nisour Square massacre was the single deadliest incident involving private US forces in Iraq. Seventeen civilians were killed and more than 20 wounded by Blackwater forces in a shooting the US military labeled a “criminal” action. Among the dead were women and children and some victims were shot in the back as they fled Blackwater’s gunfire. Read more.

Shock Study: 12% of Kids Sexually Abused In Government Custody

Shock Study: 12% of Kids Sexually Abused In Government Custody
By Daniel Tencer | Raw Story

Some 12 percent of minors held in government custody are sexually abused, and in some facilities the rate reaches a stunning one in three children, says a report released Thursday by the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

The first-ever National Survey of Youth in Custody found that no less than 10 percent of the 26,550 juveniles being held in detention facilities in the US are abused by staff at the facility, while another 2.6 percent report abuse at the hands of other inmates.

Among the facilities studied were six identified to have rates of sexual abuse as high as three in 10. According to the Associated Press, those six facilities are Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility in Indiana; Corsicana Residential Treatment Center in Texas; Backbone Mountain Youth Center in Swanton, Maryland; Samarkand Youth Development Center in Eagle Springs, North Carolina.; Cresson Secure Treatment Unit in Pennsylvania; and the Culpeper Juvenile Correctional Center, Long Term, in Mitchells, Virginia.

"The widespread sexual abuse of children in juvenile facilities shows that public officials either aren't paying attention or can't be bothered to do the right thing," said Jamie Fellner, senior counsel for Human Rights Watch. "The high rates of victimization are powerful testimony to the failure of governments to safeguard the boys and girls in their care." Read more.

Looking for Green Shoots in an Economic Desert?

By Dave Lindorff

So much for economic “green shoots.”

The Obama administration and the Federal Reserve, along with the servile corporate media, have been quick to grasp at and trumpet every little suggestion that things might be improving, as they did when the Labor Dept. announced last week that new unemployment claims had dropped to “just” 434,000, from a high of 684,000 in the week ended March 28 or last year.

Or when the Commerce Dept. reported last month that November housing starts had risen by 8.9% compared to the prior month.

Of course, what none of the rosy analysts and politicians mention is that the number of new unemployment claims would be bound to fall even if the economy were getting worse, because so many of the people who are covered by unemployment insurance have been laid off already for months, or even for more than a year already, and so the total pool of those eligible to file claims is much smaller.

Making Their Day

Making Their Day
by digby | Hullabaloo

This story from the Wingnut Examiner is just lethal: Once Obama's target, lobbyist Tauzin now his pet


White House visitor logs dumped late in the week between Christmas and New Year's Eve show that Billy Tauzin, the top lobbyist for the prescription drug industry and once a favorite target of Barack Obama, visited the White House at least 11 times in Obama's first six months in office.

The White House's open door for Tauzin, whom candidate Obama attacked as the embodiment of the revolving door and the corrupt collusion between politicians and industry, further dismantles the myth of Obama as the scourge of special interests. It also bolsters the conclusion that health care "reform" has become a boondoggle for the health industry, especially pharmaceutical companies.

White House visitor logs dumped late in the week between Christmas and New Year's Eve show that Billy Tauzin, the top lobbyist for the prescription drug industry and once a favorite target of Barack Obama, visited the White House at least 11 times in Obama's first six months in office.

The White House's open door for Tauzin, whom candidate Obama attacked as the embodiment of the revolving door and the corrupt collusion between politicians and industry, further dismantles the myth of Obama as the scourge of special interests. It also bolsters the conclusion that health care "reform" has become a boondoggle for the health industry, especially pharmaceutical companies. Read more.

Health Insurers Want You To Keep Smoking, Harvard Doctors Say

Health insurers want you to keep smoking, Harvard doctors say
By Brendan Borrell | Scientific American

Health and life insurance companies in the U.S. and abroad have nearly $4.5 billion invested in tobacco stocks, according to Harvard doctors.

“It’s the combined taxidermist and veterinarian approach: either way you get your dog back,” says David Himmelstein, an internist at the Harvard Medical School and co-author of a letter published in this week’s issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The largest tobacco investor on the list, the 160-year old Prudential company with branches in the U.S. and the U.K., has more than $1.5 billion invested in tobacco stocks. The runner-up was Toronto-based Sun Life Financial, which apparently holds over $1 billion in Philip Morris (Altria) and other tobacco stocks. In total, seven companies that sell life, health, disability, or long-term care insurance, have major holdings in tobacco stock.

Why is it a big deal? “If you own a billion dollars [of tobacco stock], then you don’t want to see it go down,” says Himmelstein, “You are less likely to join anti-tobacco coalitions, endorse anti-tobacco legislation, basically, anything most health companies would want to participate in.” Read more.

Why Is Paul Minor Still Behind Bars?

Why Is Paul Minor Still Behind Bars?
By Brendan DeMelle | Huffington Post

In a recent unanimous decision, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned federal bribery charges against prominent Mississippi trial attorney Paul Minor, offering a ray of hope that Minor will soon be a free man.

Minor has spent the past three years a political prisoner, left to rot in jail after partisan operatives in the Bush administration targeted him for being the top funder of Democratic candidates in Mississippi...

Over the past three years that Minor spent in prison, he endured the loss of his wife Sylvia to brain cancer, a painful ordeal in which he was repeatedly denied release to be by his wife's side by the Bureau of Prisons, a subordinate arm of the DOJ. Paul's right to comfort Sylvia, to say goodbye in her final hours, and even to attend her funeral to deliver the eulogy he wrote about their 40-year marriage together, was stripped by the DOJ. Minor also remained behind bars when his son Paul Jr. was married in October, yet another important family moment this proud father will never get back.

Why was Paul Minor left rotting in jail while Sylvia passed away and Paul Jr. married? And now, with the federal bribery charges tossed out, why is he still behind bars today?

Attorney General Eric Holder had barely gotten his office set up when he ordered the Justice Department to drop charges against former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens based on prosecutorial misconduct, vowing to send a message that misconduct would not be tolerated in President Obama's DOJ.

Yet the American justice system's abhorrent treatment of Paul Minor has often been far more absurd, consistently unjust and shockingly inhumane. So why is Paul Minor continually left to rot in Pensacola federal prison camp? Read more.

Counterterrorism In Shambles; Why?

Counterterrorism In Shambles; Why?
By Ray McGovern and Coleen Rowley

Yesterday, a blogger with the PBS’ NewsHour asked former CIA analyst Ray McGovern to respond to three questions regarding recent events involving the CIA, FBI, and the intelligence community in general.

Two other old intelligence hands were asked the identical questions, queries that are typical of what radio/TV and blogger interviewers usually think to be the right ones. So there is merit in trying to answer them directly, such as they are, and then broadening the response to address some of the core problems confronting U.S. counter-terror strategies.

After drafting his answers, McGovern asked former FBI attorney/special agent Coleen Rowley, a colleague in Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) to review his responses and add her own comments at the end. The Q & A is below:

Question #1 – What lapses in the American counter terrorism apparatus made the Christmas Day bombing plot possible? Is it inevitable that certain plots will succeed?

The short answer to the second sentence is: Yes, it is inevitable that “certain plots will succeed.” A more helpful answer would address the question as to how we might best minimize their prospects for success. And to do this, sorry to say, there is no getting around the necessity to address the root causes of terrorism or, in the vernacular, “why they hate us.”

If we don’t go beyond self-exculpatory sloganeering in attempting to answer that key question, any “counter terrorism apparatus” is doomed to failure. Honest appraisals can tread on delicate territory, but any intelligence agency worth its salt must be willing/able to address it.

Delicate? Take, for example, what Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the “mastermind” of 9/11, said was his main motive. Here’s what the 9/11 Commission Report wrote on page 147. You will not find it reported in the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM):

American Justice is Blind, But Her Scales are Rigged

By Dave Lindorff

When it comes to justice in America, the scales definitely badly need a visit by an inspector from the Department of Weights and Standards.

Consider the recent decision by Federal Judge Ricardo Urbina tossing out the federal indictment of five Blackwater (Now Xe) mercenaries for the 2007 slaughter of 14 innocent Iraqis in Baghdad.

The judge found that federal prosecutors had improperly used incriminating statements which he said had been “compelled” from the Blackwater personnel under “threat of job loss.”

John Yoo's Book Agrees With Mine

John Yoo's book, like mine, finds that Obama is keeping Bush's presidential power grab in place or expanding upon it. Of course, I disapprove and Yoo is delighted.

Sue the Bastards: Why are only Republican AGs Threatening Court Action against Health `Reform' Legislation?

By Dave Lindorff

Attorneys General from 13 states--all of them Republicans--are saying that they are going to sue to block the health insurance reform bill if, when it is finally passed, it still includes a measure giving Nebraska an extra $100 million in Medicaid funds. They charge that this “bribe” was used to get Nebraska’s conservative Democratic Senator Ben Nelson to join fellow Democrats to get the Senate’s version of the bill passed.

They’re right to sue. Nebraska shouldn’t get more funds than the rest of the country to finance hospital care for its poorest residents, and Nelson shouldn’t be able to extort the Senate. But the question is why aren’t Democratic attorneys general threatening to sue over this execrable bill?

Lawyer Questions Plan to Tear Down Afghan Prison

Lawyer Questions Plan to Tear Down Afghan Prison
By Associated Press | NY Times

A Pentagon plan to demolish its prison at Bagram, Afghanistan, amounts to destroying evidence in the cases of detainees who say they were tortured there, an attorney said Thursday.

Ramzi Kassem, counsel for a number of Guantanamo and Bagram prisoners, was responding to notification of the planned demolition filed a day earlier with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

The Defense Department plans to finish moving all prisoners by Jan. 19 from the Bagram facility to a new one built nearby, according to the notification filed Wednesday by the Justice Department. Then the Pentagon ''intends to immediately begin the necessary steps for the demolition,'' the document said.

Kassem, also a professor of law at the City University of New York, said the site should be preserved as evidence and as a crime scene.

''What took place at Bagram is at the heart of many, if not most, Guantanamo cases,'' he said in an e-mail. ''That facility is relevant to accounts of torture and coercion raised by many (Guantanamo Bay) prisoners -- and by present Bagram prisoners -- in their various cases before the military commissions and in criminal and habeas proceedings in federal court.'' Read more.

Speaking Events


War Is A Lie: Second Edition
Published April 5, 2016
Tour begins here:

(Invite David Swanson to your town!)


April 11, Washington, DC, 6:30-8:00 p.m. at Busboys and Poets at 5th and K Streets.
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April 12, Baltimore, MD, 7:30 p.m. at Red Emma's.
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April 14, Bellingham, WA, Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship, evening

April 15, Seattle, WA

April 16 Portland, OR




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