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Corporatism and Fascism


Corporatism and Fascism

Doubletalk on Afghanistan: War is Peace; Escalation is Withdrawal

Doubletalk on Afghanistan: War is Peace; Escalation is Withdrawal
The Peace Movement Is Stepping it Up
By Kevin Zeese | Voters for Peace

If I ever get cancer, I want Barack Obama to tell me I’m dying. He could probably convince someone like me who does not believe in the supernatural that death is life.

He certainly did his best on Tuesday night to convince the American public that war means peace, and escalation means withdrawal.

Rep. Kucinich on Afghanistan War: “We’re Acting Like a Latter Day Version of the Roman Empire”

Rep. Kucinich on Afghanistan War: “We’re Acting Like a Latter Day Version of the Roman Empire”
By Amy Goodman | Democracy NOW!

As President Obama unveils his plan to escalate the war in Afghanistan, we speak with Ohio Congressmember Dennis Kucinich. “The United States is going deeper and deeper into debt,” says Kucinich. “We have money for Wall Street and money for war but we don’t have money for work…for healthcare. We have to start asking ourselves, ‘Why is it that war is a priority but the basic needs of people in this country are not?’” Read more.

Abolish the Fed and Return Money Creation Power to Congress

Abolish the Fed and Return Money Creation Power to Congress
By Stephen Lendman

In her extraordinary book, "Web of Debt," financial writer Ellen Brown tells "the shocking truth about our money system, (how it) trapped us in debt, and how we can break free." She quotes banker/developer Reed Simpson saying:

"Credible evidence (reveals) a world (banking) power elite intent on gaining absolute control over the planet and its natural resources, including its subservient human (ones)." It's the Bilderberg Group classless society idea of rulers, serfs, and no middle class by controlling the world's money. What Baron MA Rothschild (1818 - 1874) meant by saying:

"Give me control over a nation's currency and I care not who makes its laws." Today it applies globally.

Money is bankers' "lifeblood,....fear (their) weapon." Ill-used, they'll "enslave nations and ensure perpetual wars and bondage." Brown explained all and proposed a solution.

Dick Cheney Slams President Obama For Projecting ‘Weakness’

Dick Cheney slams President Obama for projecting ‘weakness’
By Mike Allen & Jim Vandehei | Politico.com

 

Cheney was asked if he thinks the Bush administration bears any responsibility for the disintegration of Afghanistan because of the attention and resources that were diverted to Iraq. “I basically don’t,” he replied without elaborating....

“One of their top people will be given the opportunity — courtesy of the United States government and the Obama administration — to have a platform from which they can espouse this hateful ideology that they adhere to,” he said. “I think it’s likely to give encouragement — aid and comfort — to the enemy.”...

Cheney said he is increasingly persuaded by the notion that Obama “doesn’t believe in American exceptionalism — the idea that the United States is a special nation, that we are the greatest, freest nation mankind has ever known.”...

Iraq’s going significantly better because of the decisions we made in the Bush administration — the surge and so forth,” the former vice president added.Read more.

McGovern Brothers Issue West Point Candlelight Vigil Speech

West Point Candlelight Vigil for Obama Afghanistan Speech | December 1, 2009
Presentation by Larry McGovern | Westchester County for Peace and Justice

Thank you for inviting me to speak.

My brothers Ray and Joe collaborated with me on this statement.

* * *

In one brief year, President Barack Obama has left a trail of shattered dreams, culminating in his option for more war in Afghanistan.

Shattered dreams are nothing new. Four weeks before he was murdered, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. reminded us that life is full of shattered dreams.

At the same time, he insisted that it is our job to hold those dreams tight to our hearts and do our best, in the time given us, to make real the dream of peace.

Four decades ago, as another war raged in Vietnam, Dan Berrigan explained—explained, not excused—the lack of committed peacemakers. He said:

War Fraud Whistleblowers Under Wraps

War Fraud Whistleblowers Under Wraps
By Dina Rasor | Truthout

Recently, the Congressional Research Service released an amazing statistic – it will cost one million dollars a year to support one soldier for one year in Afghanistan.

This mind-blowing number partly includes the cost of private contractors who have moved into areas of support that have been strictly military in the past. Estimates for the numbers of contractors have been as high as one contractor for every soldier. As President Obama prepares to announce his decision on Afghanistan, the price of this war is also on his mind since he included Peter Orszag, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, in his last war council.

One of the reasons for the high costs of maintaining each soldier is the lack of oversight of private contractor billings over the course of these two wars. The Department of Defense (DOD), and especially the Army, has fought the auditors and the investigators in the military who have attempted to expose fraud, waste, overbillings and other abuses of costs in contractor contracts. The contractors, using contingency contracting, which is similar to the old cost plus contracts, knew that their profits and, more important, their future task orders and contracts would be priced based on what they spend in the beginning of the wars. So the contractor billing meter, especially in labor costs, spun vigorously in the first years of the war with little oversight. When the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) tried to withhold a small percentage of payment from KBR, the largest contractor, because it believed that the billings were excessive and they wanted to scrub the numbers, the Army pushed past the DCAA and paid KBR the excessive costs. This set the tone to let the contractor billings run wild. Read more.

WTO Still Parties Like It's 1999: World Trade Organization Risks Financial 'China Syndrome'

World Trade Organization Risks Financial 'China Syndrome'
WTO STILL PARTIES LIKE IT'S 1999
on 10th Anniversary of the Battle in Seattle
Bankers' scheme to re-open finance casino worldwide
by Greg Palast for Air America's Ring of Fire

Apparently, one meltdown isn't enough for the World Trade Organization. They meet today in Geneva on the tenth anniversary of the "Battle in Seattle," the first mass protest against globalization.

In a special investigation for Air America's Ring of Fire, [listen to the report here or watch the 9-minute film above, and linked here], I recently gained access to several documents from inside the file cabinets of the WTO, the World Bank and other centers of globalization.

According to one marked "Ensure This Text Is Not Made Publicly Available," the big banks, via official trade negotiators, are secretly demanding that emerging nations, starting with Brazil, open their markets to trading in derivatives, credit default swaps and other exotic—and toxic—financial products.

It's not enough that they have brought the US and Europe to their financial knees. Now banks, under the guise of the WTO's free trade treaty, want to expand the casino to the new big emerging powers with their trillion-greenback reserves. A derivatives crash in those markets could easily trigger a financial China Syndrome—a second meltdown from New York to Beijing to Brasília. Read more.

Govt. Investigation Confirms ABC News Report on Secret CIA Prison

Govt. Investigation Confirms ABC News Report on Secret CIA Prison
Lithuanian Investigators Say State Security Helped Arrange "Black Site" For al-Qaeda Suspects
By Matthew Cole and Marl Schone | ABC News

A Lithuanian government investigation has confirmed an exclusive ABC News report that the CIA operated a secret black site prison in the country, according to a report on Lithuanian television.

According to Lithuania's LNK TV, sources have told investigators that state security was involved in coordinating the construction of the prison, and have also provided the code name of the operation to transport terror detainees to the prison. Arydas Anusauskas, head of the parliamentary committee investigating the prison, did not respond to an ABC News request for comment, but has previously said the results of the probe will be made public Dec. 22.

On Nov. 18, ABC News revealed the location of a secret prison, where harsh interrogation techniques were allegedly used on accused al-Qaeda terrorists, in a converted horseback riding facility 20 kilometers northeast of the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius. Where affluent Lithuanians once rode show horses and sipped coffee at an attached café, the CIA installed a hidden concrete structure where it could hold up to eight "high value detainees" at a time, a current Lithuanian government official and a former CIA official told ABC News. Read more.

More than 25 Organizations Join BORDC’s Coalition Letter on Torture and Transparency

More than 25 Organizations Join BORDC’s Coalition Letter on Torture and Transparency
By Amy E. Ferrer | Bill of Rights Defense Committee

Today, November 24, 2009, a coalition of more than 25 national and regional organizations representing a diverse array of interests wrote to President Barack Obama, calling on him to end continuing secrecy surrounding evidence of torture. Seeking the transparency repeatedly promised by the President, and the accountability for potential crimes required by international law, the coalition urged the administration to reconsider its refusal to disclose evidence of torture.

Specifically, the coalition’s letter requests that President Obama direct the Department of Defense to comply with court orders mandating disclosure of photos documenting detainee abuse, rather than exercise an authority recently granted by Congress to keep them secret. It also “explain[s] why transparency and robust accountability are a strategic national security imperative, and…expose[s] the self-interest of voices counseling against accountability.”

Organizations endorsing the letter represent a wide range of interests, including those of civil liberties supporters, marginalized communities, the peace and justice movement, religious and interfaith communities, medical professionals, and more. Initiated by the Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC), the coalition also includes the Alliance for Justice, American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Center for Constitutional Rights, Coalition for an Ethical Psychology, Code Pink: Women for Peace, Progressive Christians Uniting, Veterans for Peace, and Witness Against Torture. The letter reads, in part: Read more.

Colbert Conservatism and The Military Budget

Colbert conservatism and the military budget
By David Sirota, Syndicated columnist | Seattle Times

Pop quiz: Name the political leader who said the following:

"We must be willing to pull the plug before sinking more dollars into weapons that do not provide what our warriors need."

Now name the leader who said this:

"(W)e cannot track $2.3 trillion in (Pentagon spending) ... We maintain 20 to 25 percent more base infrastructure than we need to support our forces, at an annual waste to taxpayers of some $3 billion to $4 billion ... There are those who will oppose every effort to save taxpayers' money ... Well, fine, if there's to be a struggle, so be it."

I'm willing to bet many self-described "conservatives" guessed Ralph Nader and Dennis Kucinich. I would make that wager based on the enraged response to my recent column about government data showing that our waste-ridden, $600-billion-a-year defense budget will cost about seven times more than the health-care legislation currently before Congress.

In e-mails, letters and Web site comments, right-wingers didn't vent anger at Pentagon profligacy, but at the criticism of Pentagon profligacy — as if brazenly throwing away billions on outdated weapons systems and obsolete military programs is now a "conservative" value.

Notably, the vitriol didn't include contrary numbers disproving the figures I referenced (none exists) — the responses just used Fox News-ish slogans like "the cost of freedom" to deride all criticism of Pentagon spending as unpatriotic ultraliberalism.

Of course, if that's true, then Stephen Colbert's refrain that "reality has a well-known liberal bias" is now less a laugh line than a devastatingly accurate commentary on the deranged terms of America's political discourse. I say that because here are some objective, nonpartisan, nonideological facts: Read more.

Michael Moore Writes An Open Letter to the President: Don't Escalate Afghanistan, The Graveyard of Empires

November 30th, 2009 3:44 AM
An Open Letter to President Obama from Michael Moore

Dear President Obama,

Do you really want to be the new "war president"? If you go to West Point tomorrow night (Tuesday, 8pm) and announce that you are increasing, rather than withdrawing, the troops in Afghanistan, you are the new war president. Pure and simple. And with that you will do the worst possible thing you could do -- destroy the hopes and dreams so many millions have placed in you. With just one speech tomorrow night you will turn a multitude of young people who were the backbone of your campaign into disillusioned cynics. You will teach them what they've always heard is true -- that all politicians are alike. I simply can't believe you're about to do what they say you are going to do. Please say it isn't so.

It is not your job to do what the generals tell you to do. We are a civilian-run government. WE tell the Joint Chiefs what to do, not the other way around. That's the way General Washington insisted it must be. That's what President Truman told General MacArthur when MacArthur wanted to invade China. "You're fired!," said Truman, and that was that. And you should have fired Gen. McChrystal when he went to the press to preempt you, telling the press what YOU had to do. Let me be blunt: We love our kids in the armed services, but we f*#&in' hate these generals, from Westmoreland in Vietnam to, yes, even Colin Powell for lying to the UN with his made-up drawings of WMD (he has since sought redemption).

So now you feel backed into a corner. 30 years ago this past Thursday (Thanksgiving) the Soviet generals had a cool idea -- "Let's invade
Afghanistan!" Well, that turned out to be the final nail in the USSR coffin.

There's a reason they don't call Afghanistan the "Garden State" (though they probably should, seeing how the corrupt President Karzai, whom we back, has his brother in the heroin trade raising poppies). Afghanistan's nickname is the "Graveyard of Empires." If you don't believe it, give the British a call. I'd have you call Genghis Khan but I lost his number. I do have Gorbachev's number though.

More Arrests in America's War on Islam

More Arrests in America's War on Islam
By Stephen Lendman

A November 24 "hatemail" underscores the issue, titled "Muslims in America - violent clashing of cultures, basic incompatibility of Western thought and Muslim theocracy," then quoting Denver radio talk show host Peter Boyles (know.com) saying:

"Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims."

Not Jews, not Christians, not Hindus, not Buddhists, or persons from any of the lesser known religions, just Muslims with no understanding that Islam teaches love, not hate; peace, not violence; charity, not selfishness; and tolerance, not terrorism; or that Islam, Christianity and Judaism have common roots.

Yet according to Pat Robertson, Monday, November 9 on his 700 Club:

"Islam is a violent - I was going to say religion - but it's not a religion. It's a political system. It's a violent political system bent on the overthrow of governments of the world and world domination."

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.

Obama Never Consider Diplomacy in Afghanistan

OBAMA NEVER CONSIDERED DIPLOMACY IN AFGHANISTAN
By Sherwood Ross

The military-industrial complex will support Obama’s escalation of these wars in order to cash in on those lucrative defense contracts valued at $700 billion a year while good jobs in other sectors of the U.S. economy, starved for investment capital, continue to shrink; while cities continue to decline; while handgun massacres become commonplace in our schools and offices; while homeowners are forced into the streets; while start-ups can’t get loans; and while Wall Street loots the Treasury. In short, Obama is propelling the once great USA toward Third World status.

After initially injecting 21,000 troops into Afghanistan allegedly to stave off imminent defeat, President Obama Tuesday will tell war-weary Americans why he seeks 35,000 more. If he gets them, the U.S. force there will exceed 100,000.

Washington has been pressuring its NATO allies to pour in more fighters even though Europeans don’t want any part of it. The New York Times reported Nov. 25th the U.S. is asking NATO for 10,000 more troops above the 45,000 already in place. That could bring total Allied forces to about 150,000. Toss in 70,000 private contractors and the total force soars to over 200,000. Yes, Afghanistan is shaping up as another Viet Nam.

Obama apparently never seriously considered ending the war diplomatically. Recall his blustering campaign rhetoric about defeating the Taliban; recall the public commitment last December of Defense Secretary Robert Gates to strengthen military bases in Afghanistan. Gates was the Bush official Obama continued in office.

Even as polls show a majority of Americans want U.S. forces out of Afghanistan and that Americans do not believe the war is worth fighting, President Obama---a former editor at the CIA front Business International Corporation in 1983-84---embraces a position in line with the long-held CIA view the U.S. must control the Middle East’s energy resources. It was the CIA that overthrew Iran in 1953 after Tehran nationalized its oil production, depriving British Petroleum of its lucrative swindle. Afghanistan is valued today for the oil and gas pipelines the U.S. wants built there, no matter what other reasons Obama gives.

President Obama Issued Final Orders on Afghanistan Strategy in Sunday Meeting

President Obama Issued Final Orders on Afghanistan Strategy in Sunday Meeting
The President Will Announce His New Af-Pak Strategy to the Nation on Tuesday
By Jake Tapper and Huma Khan | ABC News

President Obama met with members of his war council Sunday night to lay out his orders on a new strategy for Afghanistan, which he will announce to the nation Tuesday evening.

The president first told Secretary of State Hillary Clinton his decision by phone on Sunday afternoon, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters today. Obama then met at 5 p.m. with his war council, including Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and National Security Adviser James Jones. At 6 p.m., he spoke via secure video teleconference with U.S. commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal and ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry.

The president "communicated his final decision on the strategy... and issued orders on the strategy's implementation," Gibbs said. Read more.

Let Them Eat Patty Cake

Let Them Eat Patty Cake
by Jeff Huber | Anti-War.com | Submitted by Michael Munk | www.MichaelMunk.com

Are we going to escalate the war in Afghanistan for the sake of saving face? Defense Secretary Robert Gates says we have to stay the course in Afghanistan to deny al-Qaeda a "propaganda win."

A propaganda win, as best I can tell, is a condition where someone can say "nyah, nyah" to us and we can’t say "nyah, nyah" back. Except that wouldn’t be the case if we left Afghanistan. They could say they ran us off. We could say so what, we live in the richest country in the world and you live in Afghanistan.

Gates has proven himself to be a bureaucratic survivalist who knows how to work the system but very little else. He calls Afghanistan the "modern epicenter of jihad." A place "where the Mujahedeen defeated the other superpower," and in his estimation of the Taliban’s thinking, "they now have the opportunity to defeat a second superpower."

One senses that Gates doesn’t exactly understand the difference between al-Qaeda, which by some estimates is down to fewer than a dozen core dudes, and the Taliban, who just want us to quit occupying their country, and the mujahedeen, whom we created to help defeat the Soviets, and the variety pack of other militant outfits that roam around in that part of the globe.

Gates has a narrow perspective on the concept of "defeat." The Taliban — or whoever he perceives to be the "enemy" — can’t defeat us if we leave. They can only defeat us if we stay. Despite what you’ve heard for years, they can’t follow us home. The oceans are too big to swim or jump across. Read more.

Obama Still Doesn’t Grasp Blowback

Obama Still Doesn’t Grasp Blowback
By Ivan Eland | AntiWar.com

Although President Barack Obama has more empathy for the opinions of the Islamic world than his predecessor and seems to vaguely understand that they do affect U.S. security, he doesn’t seem to understand specifically that U.S. meddling in and occupation of Muslim countries inflames Islamic radicals and is the main cause of blowback anti-U.S. Islamist terrorism.

In Afghanistan, Obama has already thrown in more troops and will probably be goaded by the military and conservatives into further escalation. This despite a timeline that appears to indicate that the insurgency grows as a reaction to increased foreign presence in the country. Up until 2005, U.S. forces were stationed mainly in Kabul, and the Taliban presence in Afghanistan was minimal. During 2005, U.S. forces moved out into the rest of the country; strangely (or not so strangely) the Taliban resurgence began in 2006. In other words, escalating the number of U.S. forces has the counterproductive effect of merely escalating the conflict. Read more.

A Simple Plan to Screw Big Banking. Use Cash.

A Simple Plan to Screw Big Banking. Use Cash.
By Chaz Valenza | Op Ed News

Here's a simple plan that will bring Big Banking to its feet: Use Cash.

For decades Big Greed has been selling us the idea that markets are just perfecto! Don't regulate them. Don't even bother chasing down fraud. “The Market” (Angelic Voices: Ahhhhh!) is so beautifully simple even scams cannot long survive.

Let's take the “Wisdom of The Market” stick it up Big Banking's rectum, twist, turn and otherwise shove vigorously and often.

Face it, the cavalry is not coming to the rescue if your name is not Goldman Sachs.

Government of the people, by the people, and for the people is temporarily out-of-order, like a soda machine that is taking dollar bills from customer after customer but relinquishes not one quenching 12 oz. can.

No legislation or regulations are in the offing to cap the rising tide of usury interest rates, curb punishing banking fees on debit cards or curtail demonic payday loans.

Here's the bill of fare:

Credit Card Interest: 30%
Merchant Credit Card Fees: 3.5 - 5%
Merchant Credit Card Receivables Loan: 36 – 97%
Payday Loans: 100 – 500%
Debit Card Overdraft Fees,
Over limit Fees, Late Payment Fees, etc:
Interest Equivalent to 12% - 300% and otherwise unlimited

Throw stones – millions of them. Every plastic transaction denied is a slice in the skin of Big Banking. Read more.

Barack Obama: Manchurian Candidate Version 2.0

By Dave Lindorff

I once wrote an article about former President George W. Bush saying that he was a perfect Manchurian candidate. That is, if his missing year when he was supposed to have been flying fighter jets with the Texas Air National Guard was actually spent in the former Soviet Union being reprogrammed as a covert KGB agent whose job it was to go back to America, win election to the White House, and proceed to destroy the US, he couldn’t have done a better job than he actually did.

Now I wonder whether President Obama might not be a perfect Manchurian Candidate of the Republican Party, or perhaps of some nefarious foreign entity—perhaps the China or the always-enigmatic Al Qaeda. How else to explain policies that have wreaked such destruction on the Democratic Party in Washington and on the nation at large.

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.

Senate Report: Bin Laden Was 'Within Our Grasp'

Senate report: Bin Laden was 'within our grasp'
By Calvin Woodward, Associated Press Writer | Yahoo! News

Osama bin Laden was unquestionably within reach of U.S. troops in the mountains of Tora Bora when American military leaders made the crucial and costly decision not to pursue the terrorist leader with massive force, a Senate report says.

The report asserts that the failure to kill or capture bin Laden at his most vulnerable in December 2001 has had lasting consequences beyond the fate of one man. Bin Laden's escape laid the foundation for today's reinvigorated Afghan insurgency and inflamed the internal strife now endangering Pakistan, it says.

Staff members for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's Democratic majority prepared the report at the request of the chairman, Sen. John Kerry, as President Barack Obama prepares to boost U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

The Massachusetts senator and 2004 Democratic presidential candidate has long argued the Bush administration missed a chance to get the al-Qaida leader and top deputies when they were holed up in the forbidding mountainous area of eastern Afghanistan only three months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Although limited to a review of military operations eight years old, the report could also be read as a cautionary note for those resisting an increased troop presence there now.

More pointedly, it seeks to affix a measure of blame for the state of the war today on military leaders under former president George W. Bush, specifically Donald H. Rumsfeld as defense secretary and his top military commander, Tommy Franks. Read more.

2 Afghans Allege Abuse at U.S. Site

2 Afghans allege abuse at U.S. site
Teenagers say they were interrogated at secretive Bagram holding center
By Joshua Partlow and Julie Tate | Washington Post

Two Afghan teenagers held in U.S. detention north of Kabul this year said they were beaten by American guards, photographed naked, deprived of sleep and held in solitary confinement in concrete cells for at least two weeks while undergoing daily interrogation about their alleged links to the Taliban.

The accounts could not be independently substantiated. But in successive, on-the-record interviews, the teenagers presented a detailed, consistent portrait suggesting that the abusive treatment of suspected insurgents has in some cases continued under the Obama administration, despite steps that President Obama has said would put an end to the harsh interrogation practices authorized by the Bush administration after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The two teenagers -- Issa Mohammad, 17, and Abdul Rashid, who said he is younger than 16 -- said in interviews this week that they were punched and slapped in the face by their captors during their time at Bagram air base, where they were held in individual cells. Rashid said his interrogator forced him to look at pornography alongside a photograph of his mother. Read more.

The Devastating Consequences of the Corporate Health Insurance Bill

The Devastating Consequences of the Corporate Health Insurance Bill
By Shamus Cooke | Counter Punch

Wading through the endless debate over health care has exhausted the patience of most Americans — the zigzags, obscure language, and long-winded discussion is inherently repulsive.

But now the dust is starting to settle, and the Congressional vision for health care in the U.S. is emerging. Instead of being “progressive,” it will amount to a massive, corporate-inspired attack on American workers, the elderly, and the poor.

After months of confusion and delay, Congress has shipwrecked the popular energy over health care onto the jagged rock of corporate interests. More spectacularly, health care “reform” is being used as an opportunity to greatly advance corporate influence over social spheres long-dedicated to the working-class — seemingly harmless provisions carry with them enormous implications.

These devils hide in the details of the competing health care bills in Congress; both contain debilitating right-wing policies hidden within a progressive shell. Obama is indeed acting as the agent of change, to the great benefit of the U.S. corporate elite.

And although the final bill has yet to be crafted, there exists general agreements as to what the end version will look like. Americans will be forced to buy shoddy corporate insurance with no limit to the cost, no guarantee of quality, with large premiums and other tricks to further gouge consumers. If a public option emerges in the final bill — by no means a guarantee — it will be shrunken enough to insure very few people (2 percent of the U.S. population).

But it gets worse. How this health care “reform” will be paid for has implications that dwarf the above atrocities. Read more.

Afghans Detail a Secret Prison Still Operating on a U.S. Base

Afghans Detail a Secret Prison Still Operating on a U.S. Base
By Alissa J. Rubin | NY Times

An American military detention camp in Afghanistan is still holding inmates for sometimes weeks at a time and without access to the International Committee of the Red Cross, according to human rights researchers and former detainees held at the site on the Bagram Air Base.

The site consists of individual windowless concrete cells, each lighted by a single light bulb glowing 24 hours a day, where detainees said that their only contact with another human being was at twice-daily interrogation sessions.

The jail’s operation highlights a tension between President Obama’s goal to improve detention conditions that had drawn condemnation under the Bush administration and his desire to give military commanders leeway to operate. In this case, that means isolating certain prisoners for a period of time so interrogators can extract information or flush out confederates.

While Mr. Obama signed an order to eliminate so-called black sites run by the Central Intelligence Agency in January, that order did not apply to this jail, which is run by military Special Operations forces. Read more.

Lobbyists Furiously Lobby White House to Preserve Lobbyist Power

Lobbyists Furiously Lobby White House to Preserve Lobbyist Power By Jake Tapper | ABC News

~Chip's Note: Norm Eisen is special counsel to the president for ethics and government reform. He's taking some bold steps to measure up to his title. Sample Jake Tapper's report below. Well worth a click to ABC for a thorough read - and a click to let his boss at the White House know that you support Norm Eisen's efforts.

 

The Washington Post says the system of these [ITAC - Industry Trade Advisor] committees is "so vast that federal officials don't have exact numbers for its size; the most recent estimates tally nearly 1,000 panels with total membership exceeding 60,000 people."

Norm Eisen wrote that "the White House has informed executive agencies and departments that it is our aspiration that federally-registered lobbyists not be appointed to agency advisory boards and commissions.""...It's the system as a whole that concerns us. It's an indisputable fact that in recent years, lobbyists for major special interests have wielded extraordinary power in this town. The result has been a national agenda too often skewed in favor of the interests that can afford their services."

Eisen suggested that powerful industries are well represented in Washington, DC -- with banking lobbyists paid to "gut meaningful financial reforms," an "army" of health insurance industry lobbyists unleashed to "frustrate" health care reform efforts, oil and gas company lobbyists sent to undermine energy reform all present and accounted for. "But industry representatives shouldn't be given government positions from which to make their case," he wrote. 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.

Torture Evidence Judgment [UK HC]

Torture Evidence Judgment [UK HC]

Al Rawi, et al. v. The Security Service, et al., British High Court, November 18, 2009 [ruling that the government may withhold evidence from seven claimants suing UK intelligence services MI5 and MI6 for their roles in alleged torture at Guantanamo Bay].

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