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Corporatism and Fascism
Corporatism and Fascism
"The Obama administration is spending upwards of 90 percent of all U.S. funds in Afghanistan on military operations -- and what Eikenberry is seeking would add up to mere drops in the bucket compared to what Afghanistan really needs for “development and reconstruction.” Nor is the U.S. government in any moral or logistical position to effectively supply such aid."
Disputes are raging within the Obama administration over how to continue the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan. A new leak tells us that Washington’s ambassador in Kabul, former four-star general Karl Eikenberry, has cautioned against adding more troops while President Hamid Karzai keeps disappointing American policymakers. This is the extent of the current debate within the warfare state.
During a top-level meeting November 11 in the White House, the Washington Post reports, President Obama “was given a series of options laid out by military planners with differing numbers of new U.S. deployments, ranging from 10,000 to 40,000 troops. None of the scenarios calls for scaling back the U.S. presence in Afghanistan or delaying the dispatch of additional troops.”
No doubt there are real tactical differences between Eikenberry and the U.S./NATO commander in Afghanistan, Stanley McChrystal, the ultra-spun brainy spartan who wants to boost the current U.S. troop level of 68,000 to well over 100,000 in the war-afflicted country. But those policy disputes exist well within the context of a permanent war psychology. Read more.
We've seen corporations use "free trade" agreements to quietly camouflage their push for exploitable labor in broader arguments about globalization. What we haven't seen is corporate special interests openly push for U.S. regulators to openly allow companies to sell goods made with child and slave labor...until now.
Check out this report from Inside U.S. Trade (no link- subscription required) - it's straight from the I Shit You Not File:
Business groups are worried by the potential effects of provisions banning the import of all goods made with convict labor, forced labor, or forced or indentured child labor that were included in a customs bill sponsored by Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and Ranking Member Charles Grassley (R-IA)...
These groups are examining the ramifications of the bill's provisions, especially in light of the bill's requirements that a newly created office in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) annually report to Congress on the volume and value of goods made with child labor, forced labor or convict labor that have been stopped at the border.
Business sources say this reporting requirement could cause DHS to more actively seek out imported products made with child labor, forced labor or convict labor...
One source did expect a push from lobbyists closer to the Finance Committee markup of the bill, and speculated that U.S. industry groups and foreign governments could form ad hoc coalitions to help send a united message. Read more.
In the aftermath of the 2007 Nisour Square massacre in Baghdad by operatives working for Blackwater, top company officials including then-president Gary Jackson "authorized secret payments of about $1 million to Iraqi officials that were intended to silence their criticism and buy their support," according to the New York Times. Seventeen Iraqis were killed and more than twenty others wounded in the shooting, prompting the Iraqi government to announce it would ban the company from Iraq with officials vowing to prosecute the shooters. Blackwater, however, remains in Iraq to this day.
According to the Times, "Four former Blackwater executives said in interviews that Gary Jackson, who was then the company president, had approved the bribes, and the money was sent from Amman, Jordan, where Blackwater 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." The Times notes that the bribes "would have been illegal": Read more.
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.
For drone freaks (and these days Washington seems full of them), here's the good news: Drones are hot! Not long ago -- 2006 to be exact -- the Air Force could barely get a few armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the air at once; now, the number is 38; by 2011, it will reputedly be 50, and beyond that, in every sense, the sky's the limit.
Better yet, for the latest generation of armed surveillance drones -- the ones with the chill-you-to-your-bones sci-fi names of Predators and Reapers (as in Grim) -- whole new surveillance capabilities will soon be available. Their newest video system, due to be deployed next year, has been dubbed Gorgon Stare after the creature in Greek mythology whose gaze turned its victims to stone. According to Julian Barnes of the Los Angeles Times, Gorgon Stare will offer a "pilot" back in good ol' Langley, VA, headquarters of the CIA, the ability to "stare" via 12 video feeds (where only one now exists) at a 1.5 mile square area, and then, with Hellfire missiles and bombs, assumedly turn any part of it into rubble. Within the year, that viewing capacity is expected to double to three square miles.
What we're talking about here is the gaze of the gods, updated in corporate labs for the modern American war-fighter -- a gaze that can be focused on whatever runs, walks, crawls, or creeps just about anywhere on the planet 24/7, with an instant ability to blow it away. And what's true of video capacity will be no less true of the next generation of drone sensors -- and, of course, of drone weaponry like that "5-pound missile the size of a loaf of French bread" meant in some near-robotic future to replace the present 100-pound Hellfire missile, possibly on the Avenger or Predator C, the next generation drone under development at General Atomics Aeronautical Systems. Everything, in fact, will be almost infinitely upgradeable, since we're still in the robotics equivalent of the age of the "horseless carriage," as Peter Singer of the Brookings Institution assures us. (Just hold your hats, for instance, when the first nano-drones make it onto the scene! They will, according to Jane Mayer of the New Yorker, be able to "fly after their prey like a killer bee through an open window.")
And here's another flash from the drone development front: the Navy wants in. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Gary Roughead, reports Jason Paur of Wired's Danger Room blog, is looking for "a robotic attack aircraft that can land and take off from a carrier." Fortunately, according to Paur, the X-47B, which theoretically should be able to do just that, is to make its first test flight before year's end. It could be checking out those carrier decks by 2011, and fully operational by 2025.
Not only that, but drones are leaving the air for the high seas where they are called unmanned surface vehicles (USVs). In fact, Israel -- along with the U.S. leading the way on drones -- will reportedly soon launch the first of its USVs off the coast of Hamas-controlled Gaza. The U.S. can't be far behind and it seems that, like their airborne cousins, these ships, too, will be weaponized.
Taking the Measure of a Slam-Dunk Weapons System
Robot war. It just couldn't be cooler, could it? Read more.
On November 10 President Barack Obama delivered a speech at Fort Hood where five days before 13 soldiers were killed and 29 wounded in a shooting rampage by a U.S. army psychiatrist.
The attack resulted in the largest number of U.S servicemen killed in one day anywhere in the world in almost four and a half year years: 14 Americans were killed in a helicopter crash and a collision in Afghanistan on October 26 of this year but three were Drug Enforcement Agency officials, 11 soldiers. The last day preceding November 5 when military deaths were higher than those at Fort Hood was on June 28, 2005 when 19 troops were killed in Afghanistan.
There is no reason to doubt the sincerity of the sentiments expressed by Obama or to believe that whoever had won the U.S. presidential election last year would not have said something similar.
While mentioning of the dead that "Some had known intense combat in Iraq and Afghanistan," Obama's emphasis, as that of the government and the country's media as whole, was on honoring those who defend America. Especially those who die defending America.
Here’s a shocker: Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the only self-described socialist in the Senate, has put forth the most capitalistic proposal yet for banking reform. The senator’s Too Big to Fail, Too Big to Exist Act proposes that if a firm is so big that its failure would threaten the economy or financial system, it should be broken up, not protected by the promise of a bailout.
That sounds simple and logical, yet none of the competing proposals floating around Capitol Hill — those from the White House or the House Financial Services Committee, or others expected this week from Christopher Dodd, the Senate Banking Committee chairman — have been so explicit in calling for an end to government rescues for private companies.
Of course, Senator Sanders’s bill is intended to be provocative. In two pages it outlines sweeping powers for the Treasury secretary to identify banks, hedge funds and insurers that are too big to fail. Read more.
Sign the Petition to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. Here's part of the text:
Too Big to Fail is Too Big to Exist
Financial institutions that are “too big to fail” played a major role in undermining the American economy and driving our country into a severe recession.
Financial institutions that are “too big to fail” put taxpayers on the hook for a $700 billion bailout and more than $2 trillion from the Federal Reserve in virtually zero interest loans.
Huge financial institutions have become so big that the four largest banks in America (JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Citigroup) now issue one out of every two mortgages; two out of three credit cards; and hold $4 out of every $10 in bank deposits in the country.
Just five banks in America (JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley) own a staggering 95% of the $290 trillion in derivatives held at commercial banks. Derivatives are risky side bets made by Wall Street gamblers that led to the $182 billion bailout of AIG, the $29 billion bailout that allowed JP Morgan Chase to acquire Bear Stearns, and the collapse of Lehman Brothers.
The concentration of ownership in the financial services industry has resulted in higher bank fees and interest rates that consumers are forced to pay for credit cards, mortgages and other financial products. Read more, sign the petition.
Read both pages of Sen. Sanders' proposed legislation.
On September 11, 2001, my office building, the World Trade Center, was attacked by al Qaeda, a murder cult of Saudi Arabians, funded by Saudi Arabians. And so, in response to the Saudis' attack, America invaded ... Afghanistan. Like, HUH?
And here we go again. New York Times headline last Friday: "Pakistani Army, In Its Campaign In Taliban Stronghold, Finds A Hint Of 9/11."
Google it and you'll find the Times report repeated and amplified 5,785 times more.
Taliban = 9/11. Taliban = 9/11. Taliban = 9/11.
Your eyelids are getting heavy. Taliban = 9/11. Taliban = 9/11.
It's the latest hit from the same crew that brought you Saddam = 9/11 and its twin chant, Saddam = WMD, Dick Cheney's chimerical tropes which the New York Times' Judith Miller happily channeled to the paper's front page.
And they're at it again.
Every war begins with a lie. Read more.
The Iraqi Oil Ministry on Thursday said it has awarded a consortium led by Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell PLC the right to develop the West Qurna-1 oil field, representing the first American-led team gaining access to the country's oil patch.
The pact is the latest in a series of deals Iraq has recently signed or initialed with some of the world's biggest oil companies. Earlier this week, Iraqi officials completed a final agreement with BP PLC and China National Petroleum Corp. and an initial agreement with a consortium led by Italy's Eni SpA. U.S. oil company Occidental Petroleum Corp. participated as a junior partner in the Eni-led team.
The Exxon-Shell team, combining two of the world's biggest publicly listed oil companies, had been seen as the favorite to win the contract, which calls for the consortium to boost production at the already-pumping field in southern Iraq in exchange for a per-barrel fee. Among the three competitors, it offered the highest production target for the field, the Oil Ministry said. Read more.
The Supreme Court of the United States will soon announce a major decision on our lightly controlled system of campaign funding. Will it retain some limitations on corporate influence or will the court blow the lid off and cause a perpetual flood of unrestricted corporate contributions?
An additional outcome may surprise and shock the public.
If the Supreme Court overturns the lower court's decision, foreign nationals, corporations, and governments with partial ownership of U.S. corporations will, in effect, end up contributing to and influencing U.S. candidates in federal elections.
The American Constitution Society for Law and Policy invites you to read:
Beyond Citizens United v. FEC: Re-Examining Corporate Rights
An Issue Brief by: Jeffrey D. Clements
ACS is pleased to distribute "Beyond Citizens United v. FEC: Re-Examining Corporate Rights," an Issue Brief by Jeffrey D. Clements, an attorney in private practice who specializes in litigation and appeals with the Clements Law Office, LLC. One of the most highly anticipated decisions of the Supreme Court's 2009-2010 term will be the Court's resolution of Citizens United v. FEC. In this campaign finance law case, the Court is considering overruling two of its earlier decisions - Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce and McConnell v. FEC - that upheld the constitutionality of restrictions on corporate political spending at the state and federal levels. Drawing on arguments he made in an amicus brief filed in Citizens United on behalf of five non-profit citizens groups, Mr. Clements argues that, "[w]hether or not the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United explicitly addresses 'corporate rights' under the Constitution, a holding that overrules Austin and McConnell would rest on the remarkable - and erroneous - assumption that the Constitution provides corporations with First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment rights equivalent to those of people for purposes of political expenditures."
"What!" you say. "By using captives, parent companies undercut the free enterprise system and deprive businesses of the right to compete in the market. That sounds like socialism!"--except that when corporations do it, no one screams that Sweden is taking over.
We could capture the same sweet deal if we cut out the middleman and insure ourselves. Single-payer health insurance, or at least, a public option, is the counterpart to captive insurance for us peons who get cancer instead of billion-dollar bonuses and $2,000 co-pays for ambulance rides instead of junkets on corporate jets. Under a public option, the government would act as our own wholly owned subsidiary--our nonprofit, low-overhead captive insurer....Instead of calling public health insurance pull-the-plug-on-granny socialism, we could take a page from the corporate handbook, and call it captive.
Here's what corporations know, but don't want you to find out: Private insurance is for suckers.
Armies of healthcare industry flacks, lobbyists and bought-and-paid-for legislators rant that nonprofit, public insurance is a slippery slope to socialist hell, will limit your choice of physicians to Doc Watson and Dr. Kevorkian, and bankrupt the country. But, in fact, most U.S. Fortune 500 companies wouldn't touch private insurance with a 10-foot colonoscope.
When they need to insure their financial health against fire, terrorism, and liability lawsuits sparked by defective products and polluting factories that kill people, they don't call State Farm. Instead, corporations routinely insure themselves by creating a "captive" insurance company as a wholly-owned subsidiary. "The parent company is insuring its own risk," says Sandy Bigglestone, of Vermont's Captive Insurance division.
But when we the people need health insurance against the high cost of staying alive, we, or our employers, pay private insurers--corporations that are more devoted to protecting their profits than our health. The premiums we pay go not only for our pills and treatments, but also for lobbyists (on whom the health insurance industry currently spends $1.4 million per day for the U.S. Congress alone), campaign contributions, stratospheric executive salaries, private jets, lawyers hired to fight legitimate claims, and, of course, profits. Read more.
Pentagon pursuing new investigation into Bush propaganda program
By Brad Jacobson | Raw Story
The Pentagon’s Office of Inspector General is conducting a new investigation into a covert Bush administration Defense Department program that used retired military analysts to produce positive wartime news coverage.
Last May, the Inspector General’s office rescinded and repudiated a prior internal investigation’s report on the retired military analyst program, which had been issued by the Bush administration, because it “did not meet accepted quality standards for an Inspector General work product.” Yet in recent interviews with Raw Story, Pentagon officials who took part in the program were still defending it by referencing this invalidated report.
Gary Comerford, Inspector General spokesman for the Defense Department, told Raw Story last week that his office is conducting an investigation into the retired military analyst program and confirmed that the investigation began during the summer. Read more.
America the Betrayed
By Richard Cook
...Whitman a hero to the Beatniks of the 1950s who tried to rediscover an authentic American voice in the streets and on the roads and highways of this great land. The spirit of Whitman was surely present through the rebellion of the 1960s, when America’s young men and women rose up and fought the Establishment to stop the Vietnam War and bring civil rights to racial minorities.
The Establishment fought back with a vengeance and, through the most egregious betrayal in history, reduced the world’s greatest industrial democracy to the pathetic shadow of its former self we are today.
The first thing the Establishment did was destroy the industrial job base by shipping millions of good jobs to China and other Third World nations, where slave laborers could be forced to churn out consumer products at a fraction of the cost of similar work done by American workers. Read more.
ScienceDaily (Nov. 4, 2009) — Nearly half of all American children will reside in a household receiving food stamps at some point between the ages of 1 and 20, according to a report in the November issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.
Health Care Premiums Also Used for Lavish Salaries, Luxury Items, Underwriters
West Virginia Democrat Wants Transparency in Insurer Health Care Spending
By Kate Snow, Elizabeth Tribolet and Suzan Clarke | ABC News
A significant portion of health insurance premiums go not for actual medical care but for private jets, generous CEO salaries and underwriters who decide when to drop patients who become too expensive, according to a Senate committee report.
Sen. John D. Rockefeller, D-W.Va., chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, wrote to 15 of the biggest health insurance companies in August, asking them to provide information on how much of policyholders' monthly premiums was spent on medical care versus the amount that went to administrative costs and company earnings.
Such figures are known in insurance industry-speak as "medical loss ratios." But when insurance companies balked, saying the information was confidential and proprietary, Rockefeller's investigators went digging through public documents and found that much of policyholder premiums was going to nonmedical costs.
The insurance industry has long pointed to federal data that says about 87 percent of every dollar that people spend on premiums goes toward actual medical care, but Rockefeller's investigators found the average for the top six insurance companies is closer to 82 cents on the dollar for medical care.
That five-point difference represents billions of dollars.
And when investigators broke down the information by insurance type, they found that people who buy individual insurance from those companies rather than being part of a small or large business, get the least bang for their buck.
On average just 74 cents of every premium dollar for individual coverage goes to medical care. Read more.
By Dave Johnson, CAF
The Supreme Court may decide as soon as tomorrow on the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case involving a corporate-funded anti-Hillary smear ad. It is likely the conservative-dominated activist court will overturn precedent and rule in favor of removing restrictions on corporate spending in elections, with terrible consequences. The 5-4 ruling will say that large companies injecting vast sums to sway election results is “free speech.” Imagine, vocal cords on a Cayman Islands post office box!
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.
Washington, DC: On Thursday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce sent a letter (http://tr.im/CQCf) to an internet provider threatening legal action if it did not shut down the Yes Men parody website, (http://tr.im/CQCu) because the website falsely portrays the Chamber’s position on global warming. However, in its letter, the Chamber falsely inflated its membership by 1,000 percent and falsely alleged copyright infringement. http://tr.im/CQFu The Yes Men lawyers strongly opposed this take-down demand and the site remains up at www.chamber-of-commerce.us.
The Obama administration has clung for so long to the Bush administration’s expansive claims of national security and executive power that it is in danger of turning President George W. Bush’s cover-up of abuses committed in the name of fighting terrorism into President Barack Obama’s cover-up.
We have had recent reminders of this dismaying retreat from Mr. Obama’s passionate campaign promises to make a break with Mr. Bush’s abuses of power, a shift that denies justice to the victims of wayward government policies and shields officials from accountability.
Welcoming for a War Criminal in Canada; Activists Protest George W. Bush in Edmonton | Common Dreams
While former U.S. president George W. Bush talked about democracy inside a downtown Edmonton conference centre on Tuesday, hundreds of protesters were outside exercising their right to free speech with signs, songs and screams.
"Stop the killing, stop the war," the protesters chanted to the beat of a drum. They held signs that said "Bush is a war criminal;" "Bush lied, 1,000s died;" and "Canada is not Bush Country."
Several dozen police officers kept protesters away from the front of the Shaw Conference Centre and as the crowd grew, metal barricades went up between the police and the crowd.
Marilyn Gaa, who holds both American and Canadian citizenship, held a three-metre-tall black-clad Grim Reaper with a sign on his back that said: "GWB I am your biggest fan" and on the front, "Thanks for 8 great years."
"For the eight years that George Bush was president I was profoundly ashamed and alarmed and angry and now it seems so unfair that he's making a world tour trying to share his 'wisdom' and make a lot of money," said Gaa. Read more.
Judge Refuses to Dismiss War Crimes Case Against Blackwater
By Jeremy Scahill | The Nation
On Wednesday, a federal judge rejected a series of arguments by lawyers for the mercenary firm formerly known as Blackwater seeking to dismiss five high-stakes war crimes cases brought by Iraqi victims against both the company and its owner, Erik Prince. At the same time, Judge TS Ellis III sent the Iraqis' lawyers back to the legal drawing board to amend and refile their cases, saying that the Iraqi plaintiffs need to provide more specific details on the alleged crimes before a final decision can be made on whether or not the lawsuits will proceed.
"We were very pleased with the ruling," says Susan Burke, the lead attorney for the Iraqis. Burke, who filed the lawsuits in cooperation with the Center for Constitutional Rights, is now preparing to re-file the suits. Blackwater's spokesperson Stacy DeLuke said, "We are confident that [the plaintiffs] will not be able to meet the high standard specified in Judge Ellis' opinion."
Judge Ellis, a Reagan appointee with a mixed record on national security issues, rejected several of the central arguments Blackwater made in its motion to dismiss, namely the company's contention that it cannot be sued by the Iraqis under US law and that the company should not be subjected to potential punitive damages in the cases. The Iraqi victims brought their suits under the Alien Tort Statute, which allows for litigation in US courts for violations of fundamental human rights committed overseas by individuals or corporations with a US presence. Ellis said that Blackwater's argument that it cannot be sued under the ATS is "unavailing," adding that corporations and individuals can both be held responsible for crimes and torts. He said bluntly that "claims alleging direct corporate liability for war crimes" are legitimate under the statute.
Ellis also rejected Blackwater's argument that "conduct constitutes a war crime only if it is perpetrated in furtherance of a 'military objective' rather than for economic or ideological reasons." Ellis said that under Blackwater's logic "it is arguable that nobody who receives a paycheck would ever be liable for war crimes. Moreover, so narrow is the scope of [Blackwater's] standard that it would exclude murders of civilians committed by soldiers where there was no legitimate 'military objective' for committing the murders."
"What is important here is that the judge is saying that violations of war crimes can be committed by private people or corporations," says Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights. He said Ellis's ruling is "an affirmation of the precedent set by CCR thirty years ago" when it brought the first successful Alien Tort suit in 200 years "that those who engage in violations of fundamental human rights abroad can be held liable in the US." Ellis's ruling, he says, "is sympathetic to the idea that the Blackwater case is an appropriate use of the law." Read more.
Pentagon Instructs Officials to Cancel Contracts with ACORN. The Problem: They Don't Exist
While the DoD targets a community group that does no business with the Pentagon, actual corporate crooks go un-confronted and continue to rake in $ billions in contracts.
By Jeremy Scahill | Rebel Reports
While the DoD sends out memos regarding an organization that it does not contract with, the Pentagon currently does business with a slew of corporate criminals whose billions of dollars in annual federal contracts make the $53 million in government funds received by ACORN over the past 15 years look like, well, acorns. The top three government contractors—all of them weapons manufacturers—committed 109 acts of misconduct since 1995, according to the Project on Oversight and Government Reform. In that period, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin and Boeing paid fines or settlements totaling nearly $3 billion. In 2007 alone, the three companies won some $77 billion in federal contracts. There has been no letter sent around to federal agencies instructing them to cancel contracts with these companies that have ripped off taxpayers and engaged in a variety of fraudulent activities with federal dollars.
On Tuesday night, US Undersecretary of Defense Shay Assad, the Pentagon’s top contracting official, sent a memo to the commanders and directors of all branches of the military instructing them to cease all business with the embattled community organization ACORN and to take “all necessary and appropriate” steps to prevent future contracts with the organization. Assad’s brief memo [PDF] contained the two-page guidelines issued October 7 by Peter Orszag, the director of the Office of Management and Budget. Orszag’s guidelines were issued following the passage of Congressional legislation aimed at “defunding ACORN.”
Orszag’s guidelines were sent on October 7 to “the heads of Executive Departments and Agencies” and instructed them to “immediately commence all necessary and appropriate steps” to comply with the terms of the Defund ACORN Act. These include: no future obligation of funds, suspension of grant and contract payments and no funding of ACORN and its affiliates through Federal grantees or contractors. “Your agency should take steps so that no Federal funds are awarded or obligated” to ACORN, wrote Orszag.
While the DoD memo sent by Assad is basically a formality initiated by Orszag’s guidelines to all federal agencies, it is nonetheless remarkable given that ACORN is not a Defense Department contractor. According to an ACORN spokesperson, the group has not received Pentagon funds, nor has the community group even considered applying for such funds. “Of course we were hoping to win the contract to build the B-1 bomber, but we didn’t get that one,” says Brian Kettering, ACORN’s Deputy Director of National Operations, sarcastically. “This is all just silly, but the travesty here is that once again the witch-hunt against ACORN continues while there is a total neglect of [the misconduct] of the likes of Blackwater and Halliburton.” Read more.
Rape Victim's Choice: Risk AIDS or Health Insurance?
By Danielle Ivory | Huffington Post
Christina Turner feared that she might have been sexually assaulted after two men slipped her a knockout drug. She thought she was taking proper precautions when her doctor prescribed a month's worth of anti-AIDS medicine.
Only later did she learn that she had made herself all but uninsurable.
Turner had let the men buy her drinks at a bar in Fort Lauderdale. The next thing she knew, she said, she was lying on a roadside with cuts and bruises that indicated she had been raped. She never developed an HIV infection. But months later, when she lost her health insurance and sought new coverage, she ran into a problem.
Turner, 45, who used to be a health insurance underwriter herself, said the insurance companies examined her health records. Even after she explained the assault, the insurers would not sell her a policy because the HIV medication raised too many health questions. They told her they might reconsider in three or more years if she could prove that she was still AIDS-free.
Stories of how victims of sexual assault can get tangled in the health insurance system have been one result of the Huffington Post Investigative Fund's citizen journalism project, which is calling on readers to provide information and anecdotes about the inner workings of the insurance industry. The project aims to uncover details and data that can inform the larger debate over how to fix the nation's health care system. As the Investigative Fund reported in September, health insurance companies are not required to make public their records on how often claims are denied and for what reasons. Read more.
Cheney falsely accuses Obama of ‘libel’ against CIA over torture
By Ron Brynaert | Raw Story
Torture is not torture, according to former Vice President Dick Cheney, and to refer it to as such should be considered libelous. Even if it doesn't actually qualify as libel.
The Washington Times' Amanda Carpenter reports, "Maintaining his stature as one of the most forceful defenders of the Bush Administration's defense policies former Vice President Dick Cheney accused President Obama of committing 'libel' against CIA interrogators on Wednesday" during a speech at the Center for Security Policy.
"In the speech, Mr. Cheney charged that President Obama has 'filled the air with vague and useless platitude' when talking about torture and by calling enhanced interrogation techniques 'torture" he has committed 'libel' against CIA interrogators whom Mr. Cheney described as 'dedicated professionals who acted honorably and well, in our country’s name and in our country’s cause,'" Carpenter adds.
Cheney's full comments Wednesday:
"In short, to call enhanced interrogation a program of torture is not only to disregard the program’s legal underpinnings and safeguards. Such accusations are a libel against dedicated professionals who acted honorably and well, in our country’s name and in our country’s cause. What’s more, to completely rule out enhanced interrogation in the future, in favor of half-measures, is unwise in the extreme. In the fight against terrorism, there is no middle ground, and half-measures keep you half exposed."
As Salon's Glenn Greenwald noted last June, "The U.S. has prosecuted those acts as torture in the past. Multiple media outlets and even the U.S. Government have routinely described those acts as “torture” when used against Americans, rather than by Americans. The tactics are ones we copied from manuals designed to inure our own troops to the torture techniques used by some of the world’s worst tyrants. They resulted in numerous deaths. Until the Bush administration decided to call it something other than 'torture' so that they could do it, nobody had any questions about whether this was 'torture.'" Read more.
Pentagon used psychological operation on US public, documents show
Figure in Bush propaganda operation remains Pentagon spokesman
By Brad Jacobson | Raw Story
In Part I of this series, Raw Story revealed that Bryan Whitman, the current deputy assistant secretary of defense for media operations, was an active senior participant in a Bush administration covert Pentagon program that used retired military analysts to generate positive wartime news coverage.
A months-long review of documents and interviews with Pentagon personnel has revealed that the Bush Administration's military analyst program -- aimed at selling the Iraq war to the American people -- operated through a secretive collaboration between the Defense Department's press and community relations offices.
Raw Story has also uncovered evidence that directly ties the activities undertaken in the military analyst program to an official US military document’s definition of psychological operations -- propaganda that is only supposed to be directed toward foreign audiences.
The investigation of Pentagon documents and interviews with Defense Department officials and experts in public relations found that the decision to fold the military analyst program into community relations and portray it as “outreach” served to obscure the intent of the project as well as that office’s partnership with the press office. It also helped shield its senior supervisor, Bryan Whitman, assistant secretary of defense for media operations, whose role was unknown when the original story of the analyst program broke. Read more.