Saturday, July 11, 2009

Who Knew?: CIA Lied To Congress

The CIA Lied to Congress
by John Nichols

In May, at a point when congressional Republicans and their amen corner in the media were attempting to defend the Bush-Cheney administration's torture regime, their primary defense was: Pelosi knew. The spin held that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, as a member of the House Intelligence Committee, had in 2002 been secretly briefed
about the use of harsh interrogation techniques on terror suspects.

Pelosi said the Central Intelligence Agency had failed to inform her about the character and extent of the harsh interrogations. Pelosi accused the CIA of "misleading the Congress of the United States."

In late June, CIA Director Leon Panetta admitted in secret testimony to Congress that the agency had concealed information and misled lawmakers repeatedly since 2001.

Republican senators screamed: "It's outrageous that a member of Congress should call a terror-fighter a liar," howled Missouri Senator Kit Bond, the vice chair of the Senate intelligence committee. "It seems the playbook is, blame terror-fighters. We ought to be supporting them."

CIA officials denied lying to Congress and the American people, and that seemed to be that. "Let me be clear: It is not our practice or policy to mislead Congress," said CIA Director Leon Panetta. That is against our laws and values."

But, now, we learn that, in late June, Panetta admitted in secret testimony to Congress that the agency had concealed information and misled lawmakers repeatedly since 2001. Some of the details of Panetta's testimony are contained in a letter from seven House Democrats to Panetta that was released Wednesday morning.

In the letter, the members (Anna Eshoo of California, Alcee Hastings of Florida, Rush Holt of New Jersey, Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, Adam Smith of Washington, Mike Thompson of California and John Tierney of Massachusetts) wrote: "Recently you testified that you have determined that top CIA officials have concealed significant actions from all members of Congress, and misled members for a number of
years from 2001 to this week."

The letter continued: "In light of your testimony, we ask that you publicly correct your statement of May 15, 2009."

Pelosi's critics are claiming that Panetta's admission does not resolve the debate about whether the speaker was lied to in briefings about harsh interrogations.

What does the CIA say? That's where things seem to get confusing -- but, as we'll see, not too confusing. Panetta "stands by his May 15 statement," CIA spokesman George Little claimed after the letter from the House members was released. The problem is that Little also said:

"This agency and this director believe it is vital to keep the Congress fully and currently informed. Director Panetta's actions back that up. As the letter from these...representatives notes, it was the CIA itself that took the initiative to notify the oversight committees."

So, officially, CIA director Panetta stands by his statement that:

"It is not our practice or policy to mislead Congress." But...Panetta's spokesman is seemingly rather proud that "it was the CIA itself that took the initiative to notify the oversight committees" that the agency had -- in the words of the House members -- "misled members for a number of years from 2001."

Can we reconcile these statements? Yes. Panetta, who has only headed the CIA since February of this year says that "it is not our practice or policy to mislead Congress." But he tells Congress that it was in fact the consistent practice of the CIA to lie to Congress during the Bush-Cheney years.

So what are we left with? Perhaps a measure of vindication for Pelosi, but the speaker's wrangling with the Republicans is a distraction from the fundamental revelation. Far more important is Panetta's reported admission that his agency has "concealed significant actions" and "misled members of Congress."

No matter what anyone thinks of Pelosi or waterboarding, there is a clear case for dramatically expanding congressional oversight of the CIA. Of course, more House and Senate members should have access to briefings -- and should have the authority to hold CIA officials (and their White House overseers) to account for deliberate deceptions.

But that ought not be the first response to the latest news.

Step one must be to get to the bottom of exactly what the CIA was lying about. Did it have anything to do with the case for invading and occupying Iraq? Afghanistan? Torture?

CIA defenders will claim that some secrets must be kept. Perhaps. But the Congress and the American people have a right to know the broad outlines of the deception -- and the extent to which it may have warped, and may continue to warp, U.S. policy.

John Nichols is Washington correspondent for The Nation magazine.

Copyright © 2009 The Nation -- distributed by Agence Global

Release Date: 09 July 2009
Word Count: 747
Rights & Permissions Contact: Agence Global, 1.336.686.9002,

Off the Table: The Truth of America

Practically on the Table
by Ralph Nader

A few days ago, a citizen asked the progressive legislator from California, Congressman Henry Waxman why he took his name off the list of about Eighty House sponsors of single-payer health insurance? Mr. Waxman replied: "it [H.R. 676] isn't going to happen."

In early January and last year, Americans who believe in Presidential accountability for constitutional, statutory and treaty violations asked Democrats in Congress-"If not impeachment, why not at least a resolution of censure of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney?" The uniform reply was "It's not practical."

These lawmakers-Democrats all, who are the majority in Congress and who agree with these questioners-keep saying "It's not going to happen" or "It's not practical."

"It's just not practical" to provide a federal minimum wage equal to that in 1968, inflation adjusted, which would be $10 an hour.

"It's not going to happen" to get comprehensive corporate reform at a time when a corporate crime wave and the Wall Street multi-trillion dollar collapse on Washington, on taxpayers and on the economy is tearing this country apart. A little regulatory tinkering is all citizens are told to expect.

"It's just not practical" to give workers, consumers and taxpayers simple facilities for banding together in associations with their own voluntary dues to defend these interests in the corporate occupied territory known as Washington, D.C.

Last year, the excuse was a Bush veto. So the Democrats didn't even try to advance reforms they believe in, knowing Bush and his Republican Party would stonewall. What's the excuse this year with Obama in the White House?

After all, it was only a year and a half ago when nominating and then electing an African-American President was "not going to happen, was not practical."

But since it did happen, why aren't these and many other long overdue beneficial redirections and efficiencies happening for the American people? Why aren't there rollbacks, at least, of the Bush-driven inequities and injustices that have so damaged the well-being of working people?

Why isn't a simpler and more efficient carbon tax more "practical" than the complex corruption-prone, corporatized cap and trade deal driven by Goldman Sachs and favored by most Democrats? The avaricious tax cuts for the super-wealthy are still there.

The statutory ban on Uncle Sam negotiating volume discounts on medicines purchased by the federal government are still there. Taking the huge budgets for the Bush wars in Iraq and Afghanistan off their annual fast track, and putting them a meaningful House and Senate Appropriations Committee hearing process has not happened.

Face it, America. You are a corporate-controlled country with the symbols of democracy in the constitution and statutes just that-symbols of what the founding fathers believed or hoped would be reality.

Even when the global corporate giants come to Washington dripping with crime, greed, speculation and cover-ups, and demand gigantic bailouts on the backs of taxpayers and their children, neither the Republicans nor the now majority Democrats are willing to face them down.

The best of America started with our forebears who faced down those who told them "it's not going to happen," or "it's not practical" to abolish slavery, give women the right to vote, elevate the conditions of workers and farmers, provide social security and medicare, make the air and water less polluted and so on. These pioneers, with grit and persistence, told their members of Congress and Presidents-"It is going to happen."

To paraphrase the words of a great man, the late Reverend William Sloan Coffin, it is as if those legendary stalwarts from our past, knowing how much more there is to achieve a practical, just society, are calling out to us, the people today, and saying "get it done, get it done!"

Ralph Nader [1] is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His most recent book is The Seventeen Traditions [2].

d'Aquino: Who Would be King of Kanada

MP says d'Aquino's been Canada's 'unofficial PM for 15 years'
by Bea Vongdouangchanh
The Hill Times, July 6, 2009

When the CCCE talks, the government listens, say lobbyists and insiders.

When former deputy prime minister John Manley takes over as president-designate and CEO of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives on Oct. 19, he will be heading one of the most powerful blue-chip lobby organizations in the country with more than $800-billion in revenues.

The CCCE has played an influential role in the country's fiscal, taxation, trade, energy, environmental, competitiveness and corporate governance issues for decades. When the CCCE talks, the government listens, say lobbyists and insiders.

Outgoing CCCE president and CEO Thomas d'Aquino was Canada's "unofficial Prime Minister for the last 15 years" because of the amount of influence the lobby organization representing the country's largest businesses had over public policy, says NDP MP Pat Martin.

Canadian Council of Chief Executives Lobby Registration

*Description of the organization's activities:*

The Canadian Council of Chief Executives is a non-partisan and not-for-profit organization and the senior voice of Canadian business on public policy issues in Canada and internationally.

*Organization's membership or classes of membership:*

Members are the chief executive officers of 150 of the largest Canadian corporations. Three ex-officio members are the elected heads of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Manufacturers And Exporters and the Conseil du Patronat du Quebec.

*Lobbyists Employed by the Organization:*

San Boutziouvis, vice-president

Thomas d'Aquino, chief executive and president

John Dillon, vice-president

Ross Laver, vice-president

David Stewart-Patterson,executive vice-president

*Policies, Programs and Regulations Lobbied*:

Employment Insurance Act

Innovation: "Policies and programs, including taxation and financing, designed to support increased research and development among Canadian corporations with respect to new technologies, as well as the commercialization of newly discovered technologies"

Goods and Services Tax

Canada-Mexico Partnership

G-8 and G-20 Summits

Trade and Environment: "Input to federal consultations on how to ensure Canada's trade agreements and trade and policies support environmentally sustainable development"

UN Convention on Climate Change

Intellectual Property Protection: "The promotion of stronger laws and regulations to ensure adequate protection of intellectual property in Canada; with respect to amendments and new regulations governing the rights of creators related to copyright, patent and trade marks, and harmonization and strengthening of intellectual property protection internationally"


Income Tax Act

Canada-China Trade

Investment Canada Act

Continental Energy Policy

Corporate governance

Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America

Post-secondary education

National securities regulator

Public service: "Rules and regulations governing the conduct of public servants in their relations with corporations and business associations, processes for consulting with business on the impact of new laws and regulations governing the conduct of business in Canada."

Canada Labour Code

Free Trade Agreement of the Americas

Canada Health and Social Transfer

North American Free Trade Agreement

Parliamentary reform: "Input regarding changes to rules governing Parliament; Senate reform."

Corporate social responsibility

World Trade Organization

Kyoto Protocol

Bill C-288, An Act to ensure Canada meets its global climate change obligations under the Kyoto Protocol.

Canada-Japan Trade

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation

Fiscal and monetary policy

Notice of intent to regulate greenhouse gases and other air emissions

Lobbying Act

Canada-Jordan trade

Bill C-23, Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement .Implementation Act

North American Commission on Environmental Cooperation

Competition Policy

Bill C-257, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code

Old age security

Canada-U.S. border

Health care

Bill C-16, Environmental Enforcement Act

North American Leaders' Summit

Canadian Environmental Assessment Act


Canada-India Trade

North American Commission on Labour Cooperation

UN Commission on Sustainable Development

Cost recovery

Science and technology policy

Bill C-24, Canada-Peru Free Trade Implementation Act

Bill C-10, Budget Implementation Act 2009

Canada Business Corporations Act

Canada-Chile Trade


Bill C-2, The Canada-EFTA Free Trade Agreement .Implementation Act

Internal Trade


Canadian Environmental Protection Act

Electronic Commerce

North American defence

Canada-European Union Relations

Canada Pension Plan


Bill C-415, An Act to Amend the Canada Labour Code: But, lobbying insiders say it's more about the message, than the messenger.

"I think they have almost absolute control and influence. Governments dance when they say, 'dance,' and they jump when they say, 'jump,' " Mr. Martin (Winnipeg Centre, Man.) told /The Hill Times/ last week, adding that Mr. d'Aquino, who has served as the CCCE's head since 1981 has sometimes been "arrogant and smug because he knew damn well it didn't matter a hoot what anybody, any elected official said, he was going to get his way. You cannot compete with the kind of influence the CCCE has."

Mr. Martin said that the Canadian Council of Chief Executives had a "scary amount of control over government policy, major government policies like deregulation, divesting of public interests."

The CCCE, which began in 1977 under the name the Business Council on National Issues, is a "not-for-profit, non-partisan association composed of 150 chief executive officers and entrepreneurs of leading Canadian corporations from all major sectors and regions of the country" which collectively have $3.5-trillion in assets and revenues worth $800-billion.

The CCCE's board of directors announced on June 25 that Mr. d'Aquino would end his 28-year run as the president and CEO and Mr. Manley, former Liberal deputy prime minister, would replace him---as president-designate on Oct. 19, and officially on Jan. 1, 2010.

According to his biography on the CCCE's website, Mr. d'Aquino's leadership helped "play an influential role in shaping the direction of fiscal, taxation, trade, energy, environmental, competitiveness and corporate governance policies in Canada. ... He is acknowledged as one of the private sector architects of the Canada-United States free trade initiative, the North American Free Trade Agreement and of the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America."

International Trade Minister Stockwell Day (Okanagan-Coquihalla, B.C.) noted the upcoming change in CCCE's presidents in an official statement.

"I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to Thomas d'Aquino for his leadership as president and chief executive of the CCCE. His contribution to public policy over the past three decades has led to positive and lasting results, both nationally and internationally. He has played a pivotal role in representing Canadian business interests. I look forward to continuing to work with him until the end of his
mandate," Mr. Day said in a statement on June 26. "The CCCE is a key association of Canada's business leaders that plays an important role in providing expert advice to policy-makers across government on a wide range of business issues, such as Canada-U.S. commercial relations and global trade and investment liberalization."

Lobbying insiders say the sheer size and demographics of the CCCE, governments should and do listen to what they have to say.

Hill and Knowlton lobbyist Don Boudria, a former Liberal MP who represented the riding of Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, Ont., both in opposition and in government for 22 years, said it's "a stretch" to say the CCCE, or Mr. D'Aquino specifically was the "unofficial" government.

"Governments should listen to organizations that create most of the wealth of this country, of course they should. Obviously this organization represents just that, so what they have to say is important. They're the ones who create so many of the jobs, so certainly it would be simply wrong not to listen to what these people have to
say," Mr. Boudria said last week. "Any government that discounted what they had to say would be remiss in their duty, but that doesn't mean, of course, they're the pseudo or unofficial government. That's nonsense."

Leo Duguay, a former Progressive Conservative MP who is a government relations consultant with the Rothwell Group, said Ottawa listens to the CCCE because it represents companies that have $800-billion in revenues.

"If you take that number, it would be four times the Canadian budget so if I were in government and somebody came to me who had a credible message offering to solve problems, I'd be paying attention," Mr. Duguay said.

Moreover, Mr. Duguay said apart from the size of the organization, governments listen to the CCCE because it offers "clear, credible" solutions to various problems facing the business sector.

"I tend to think of codes, so just listen to this little code---message versus messenger, bias versus credibility, solution versus confusion. That's kind of what I think. It isn't so much the messenger, so much as the message, and it's the credibility, and it's the solutions that people offer," he said. "Every government that's been in power has listened to Tom d'Aquino because he brings a clear message of solutions that will help business run."

Another lobbyist, who wanted to remain anonymous, said for the government, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives is a "one-stop shop" for policy advice.

"They [the CCCE] look at economic systems holistically. They're sensitive to global realities. This association is probably well positioned to be a very strong strategic resource to decision makers, regardless of what stripe they are," the lobbyist said. "They do have a voice at the policy table, absolutely they do. But if you look at the organization, they're representing the creators of wealth in society for the most part."

According to its lobby registration, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives is registered to lobby the federal government on more than 60 issues from pieces of legislation to policy proposals and regulations which include everything from international trade, health care, defence, pensions, Parliamentary reform, corporate social responsibility, a private member's bill on replacement workers, and the environment among numerous others.

Mr. Boudria said the number of lobbying issues is an indication of how diverse the group is and why they are an important voice, rather than an indication of how influential and powerful they are on shaping public policy.

Mr. Martin said however that the organization has been successful because Canadian governments have been run by "the two business parties" for which "the leading business lobbyists have been playing the tune for these guys to dance."

Mr. Martin said many of Canada's laws have been designed to favour big business and the influence the council has is "bastardizing democracy" when it should be elected MPs who make the policies.

"[Former prime minister Jean] Chrétien and [former prime minister Paul] Martin and [Prime Minister Stephen] Harper, they just used their Cabinet as a focus group. They really listened to the lobbyists and met behind closed doors. That's who's really running the country, a half a dozen unelected people in the PMO, listening to Thomas d'Aquino and now John Manley, telling the country what it needs to do," Mr. Martin said. "It undermines democracy because the duly elected representatives like myself can't possibly influence the decision making nearly as much as this privileged [group]."

Mr. Duguay said there is nothing wrong with listening to a variety of opinions, especially if they are coming from a large group that represents a significant portion of the population and the economy.

"We're not talking about undue influence, we're talking about people who should be listened to, [just as] Pat Martin should be listened to," he said.

Summa Strategies vice-president Tim Powers said however that the while the CCCE is still a large voice at the public policy table, its influence has declined since its major victory in the North American Free Trade debates.

"That was their high-water mark," he said. "John Manley is a very credible guy, this will certainly help them get the attention they want. Manley's experience will also help the group how best to position themselves going forward if they want to regain the glory of the late '80s."

Mr. Powers said that the council is one of many influential business associations, for example the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, led by former Progressive Conservative defence minister Perrin Beatty, the Retail Council of Canada, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and the Canadian Manufacturers Association are equally influentially and "have their own degrees of heft. No one group dominates."

Moreover, he said, "Certainly with this [Conservative] government and the [former Liberal Jean] Chrétien government 'Main Street' has had arguably more success than 'Bay Street' in pushing policy. Tom d'Aquino's skill as an advocate was building a brand and the perception of a brand that allowed him to develop an aura of influence. Depending on your audience sometimes that is more important than anything else."

For his part, Mr. Martin said he fears under Mr. Manley, the group will target pensions in a negative way. "I think they've got pensions in their cross hairs and god help Canadian workers if we let them succeed," he said. "They've pretty much declared war on pensions already. In the auto crisis they tried to vilify the very notion of pensions, calling them 'legacy costs' and blaming greedy pensioners for management's own sloth and ineptitude. I think that this is likely one of Manley's key marching orders as new head honcho of the CCCE."

Others, such as the lobbying insider who did not want to be named, said Mr. Manley is an "inspired choice" to lead the organization.

The Hill Times

Friday, July 10, 2009

News Dissector: CEO's on Parade

Is Obama Another FDR Or Herbert Hoover, More On War

Want to see Dick Fuld in prison stripes? Angelo Mozillo in solitary? Join the crowd. A conversation with top legal minds on who will and who won’t be prosecuted—and why. “We, the Jury” - A conversation with top legal minds on who will and who won’t be prosecuted—and why.READ FULL STORY HERE

I have seen this quote published on other sites. I am pleased to “echo” it here:

QUOTE OF THE DAY: h/t To UnderNews:

“I suppose that every man who has looked on at the game has been struck by the remarkable way in which politics deteriorate the moral tone of everyone who mixes in them.” [Emphasis mine, DS.]

The deterioration is far more marked than in any other occupation I know, except the turf, stock-jobbing, and gambling. I imagine the reason in each case to be the same. It is the curse of politics that what one man gains, another man loses. On such conditions you can create not even an average morality. Politicians as a class must be as mean as card-sharpers, turf-men, or Wall Street curb-stone operators. There is no respectable industry in existence which will not average a higher morality.”

— Henry Adams, in an 1881 letter to Henry Cabot Lodge who had just lost election to the Massachusetts State Senate.


It was another day of violence in Iraq (scroll down for a clip of an insurgent video) and fighting continued in the streets of Iran where thousands defied police. There have been threats there and in China that people causing “instability” will be killed. China has another earthquake, 300 dead. The House shut down a resolution supporting Michael Jackson that was mocked on the NY Times Op-Ed Page, and LA Detectives will investigate his suspected drug use. Health Care Bill Stalled for Now as Democrats oppose some provisions. Study says 1 in 3 breast cancer patients overtreated. Obama was in Rome pushing poorer nations to promote global warming.

Back home:

House Intel Chair: CIA Has Misled Us for Years

Pamela Hess, The Associated Press:

“Democrats are accusing senior CIA official “of repeatedly misleading Congress, but Republicans say the allegations are just political maneuvering to protect House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The accusations come as lawmakers prepare to debate intelligence legislation - a bill President Barack Obama has threatened to veto.”

Obama’s Rollback Strategy: Honduras, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan (and the Boomerang Effect) By James Petras

The recent events in Honduras and Iran, which pit democratically elected regimes against pro-US military and civilian actors intent on overthrowing them can best be understood as part of a larger White House strategy designed to rollback the gains achieved by opposition government and movements during the Bush years. READ FULL STORY HERE

IS IT FAIR TO COMPARE PRESIDENT OBAMA WITH HERBERT HOOVER? Harper’s Magazine thinks so in a “must” read:

QUOTE: “The best indications now are that he will fail, because he will be unable—indeed he will refuse—to seize the radical moment at hand.

Every instinct the president has honed, every voice he hears in Washington, every inclination of our political culture urges incrementalism, urges deliberation, if any significant change is to be brought about. The trouble is that we are at one of those rare moments in history when the radical becomes pragmatic, when deliberation and compromise foster disaster. The question is not what can be done but what must be done.” READ FULL STORY HERE


Portfolio: Lead Us. Please. The Reeducation Of Timothy Geithner:

Growing up is hard to do—especially in public. After his disastrous start, the Treasury secretary is scrambling to learn on the job. But how long can we afford to wait? READ FULL STORY HERE

Eliot Spitzer: Redemption Tour by Matt Malone Emerging from exile after his own scandal, New York’s former top cop speaks his mind


“If most of these people get off, which company would be most likely to face criminal charges?

AIG. I said for years that AIG is the center of the web. When we started investigating AIG and challenging [former CEO] Hank Greenberg, it was unambiguous to me that what we were seeing was evidence of a deeply problematic structure.” READ FULL STORY HERE

China: Xinjiang Crisis Deepens

So far, no world leader has publicly condemned the massive crackdown by Chinese security forces in Urumqi or challenged Beijing’s claim that its heavily-armed troops are there to maintain social order and prevent further ethnic conflict.


Is Israel Already at War With Iran?

Israel may have already started a war against Iran’s nuclear program - not with bunker busting bombs and cruise missiles, but with computers.


The police said on Thursday there was no reason to reopen a phone-tapping investigation in spite of a political firestorm over allegations that journalists working for the News of the World had hacked into the phones of thousands of politicians and celebrities.

But questions were still being directed at News International, the paper’s parent and part of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, to answer allegations that it had paid £1m to three people from the world of football in settlement of damages claims concerning the alleged hacking. MPs are to launch their own inquiry.

This entry was posted on Friday, July 10th, 2009 at 5:39 am and is filed under Daily Dissections. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

Iraq's New Dirty War

The Dirty War

Thursday 09 July 2009

by: Dahr Jamail, t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki looks at the coffins of Harith al-Ubaidi and his brother-in-law. Harith al-Obaidi, leader of the Iraqi Accordance Front, the largest Sunni bloc in the Iraqi Parliament, was shot dead. (Photo: Reuters Pictures)

On Friday, June 12, Harith al-Obaidi, leader of the Iraqi Accordance Front, the largest Sunni bloc in the Iraqi Parliament, was shot dead outside a mosque just minutes after giving a sermon condemning the Maliki government for human rights abuses. Obaidi, who was a leader in the opposition movement against the government and had strong support among both Sunnis and the Shi'ite bloc loyal to the cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, was a long-time advocate for human rights and a staunch critic of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Only the day before, Obaidi had given a speech in parliament calling for the resignation of top government officials for their ties to human rights abuses in Iraq. In addition, the neighborhood where the mosque he had given the sermon was located had several checkpoints, thus begging the question of how a gunman could have made his way, undetected, to the mosque.

In the wake of this assassination, Maliki has ordered the creation of a committee to investigate the death of this influential human rights advocate. The day after Obaidi was killed, Maliki went so far as to attend his funeral.

Many would consider both these acts to be smokescreens for Maliki's - and possibly even US - complicity. US action in Iraq since the invasion was launched appears to favor the creation of a client state in Iraq along lines similar to those in Egypt, Jordan and Colombia. In any case, one essential element of that equation seems to be military and/or paramilitary forces answerable to, and supporting, the US-backed head of state.

Let's be clear - Maliki has been supported by the US as the leader of Iraq since his installation. In January 2005, I was in Baghdad for the elections that formed an Iraqi Parliament, which then elected Iraq's first prime minister under US occupation - that man was Ibrahim al-Jaafari. Jaafari wasn't exactly toeing the US/UK line in Iraq, so it wasn't long until then-US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her UK counterpart Jack Straw rushed to Baghdad to set things straight. Just after their visit, Jaafari was out and Maliki was in. No democracy was involved in this process.

In a recent article titled "Iraq's New Death Squad" for The Nation by independent journalist Shane Bauer, we are provided with an inside view of Maliki's iron fist, which has come in the form of the Iraq Special Operations Forces.

Bauer writes:

"The Iraq Special Operations Forces (ISOF) is probably the largest special forces outfit ever built by the United States, and it is free of many of the controls that most governments employ to rein in such lethal forces. The project started in the deserts of Jordan just after the Americans took Baghdad in April 2003. There, the US Army's Special Forces, or Green Berets, trained mostly 18-year-old Iraqis with no prior military experience. The resulting brigade was a Green Beret's dream come true: a deadly, elite, covert unit, fully fitted with American equipment, that would operate for years under US command and be unaccountable to Iraqi ministries and the normal political process. The ISOF is at least 4,564 operatives strong, making it approximately the size of the US Army's own Special Forces in Iraq. Congressional records indicate that there are plans to double the ISOF over the next "several years."

According to Bauer, control of the ISOF was slowly transferred by US Special Forces to the Iraqis in 2007, but it wasn't put under the command of the Defense or Interior Ministry. Rather, "the Americans pressured the Iraqi government to create a new minister-level office called the Counter-Terrorism Bureau," Bauer writes, "Established by a directive from Iraq's prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, the CTB answers directly to him and commands the ISOF independently of the police and army. According to Maliki's directive, the Iraqi Parliament has no influence over the ISOF and knows little about its mission."

Untold numbers of politically motivated murders have followed as a result. Regular assassinations and detentions of al-Sahwa (US-created Sunni militia that Maliki had opposed from the beginning) members have been ongoing for years. Last August, the ISOF raided the provincial government compound in Diyala, while backed by US Apache helicopters, and arrested a member of Iraq's main Sunni Arab political party. In December, the ISOF arrested more than 30 Interior Ministry officials who were believed to be opponents of Maliki's Dawa Party. In March, the ISOF arrested a leader of the Sahwa.

Michael Knights, a Lafer Fellow at the Washington Institute and head of its Iraq program, told Bauer that he believes the Maliki government had developed a "culture of direct control" and the people running the ISOF at regional levels are "personally chosen loyalists or relatives of Maliki. It reminds me of Saddam.... The prime minister is looking for re-election, and there are not that many restraints on his ability to target political opponents, as [his government] has been doing with the Sadrists for years now."

Thus, the stage is set for an indefinite amount of bloodletting across Iraq. A cursory glance at the week from June 6 through June 13 provides several examples of this dirty war. For a dirty war it is, as the opponents of Maliki, and the occupation, and the Sahwa, are sure to respond in kind to any violence visiting them.

On June 8, a gunman was killed while attacking a checkpoint in Fallujah, and on the same day, five "suspects" were captured. The next day, two policemen were wounded during a bombing in Fallujah, a bicycle bomb wounded another seven, and six more "suspects" were detained from around the city. June 10 found police forces in Diyala province, during three different operations, arresting five people "affiliated with armed groups" around Baquba. It is worth remembering that long-time reasons given by the Maliki government for arresting Sahwa members have been that they are "affiliated with armed groups" or for having had taken part in resistance operations against occupation forces. On June 12, two policemen were arrested in Mosul in connection with an attack on Americans in February, while gunmen raided the home of an Iraqi army officer in Balad Ruz, killing his 17-year-old daughter and wounding his wife.

In total, it was another typical week in occupied Iraq, one that found 95 Iraqis killed and another 176 wounded. At least two US soldiers died in Iraq, and another died by hanging himself in the backyard of his childhood home due to not having recovered from having seen "his sergeant blown to pieces. He saw the bodies of half of the men in his platoon torn apart. Heads were cut off and limbs severed."

The US occupation of Iraq has killed as many as 1,320,110 Iraqis and at least 4,312 US soldiers, and as usual, there appears to be no end in sight.


Dahr Jamail, an independent journalist, is the author of "Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq," (Haymarket Books, 2007). Jamail reported from occupied Iraq for eight months as well as from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Turkey over the last four years.

I also highly recommend this excellent new piece by Professor Michael Schwartz, author of War Without End: The Iraq War in Context:

Colonizing Iraq
The Obama Doctrine?
By Michael Schwartz

Here's how reporters Steven Lee Myers and Marc Santora of the New York Times described the highly touted American withdrawal from Iraq's cities last week:

"Much of the complicated work of dismantling and removing millions of dollars of equipment from the combat outposts in the city has been done during the dark of night. Gen. Ray Odierno, the overall American commander in Iraq, has ordered that an increasing number of basic operations - transport and re-supply convoys, for example - take place at night, when fewer Iraqis are likely to see that the American withdrawal is not total."

Acting in the dark of night, in fact, seems to catch the nature of American plans for Iraq in a particularly striking way. Last week, despite the death of Michael Jackson, Iraq made it back into the TV news as Iraqis celebrated a highly publicized American military withdrawal from their cities. Fireworks went off; some Iraqis gathered to dance and cheer; the first military parade since Saddam Hussein's day took place (in the fortified Green Zone, the country's ordinary streets still being too dangerous for such things); the U.S. handed back many small bases and outposts; and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki proclaimed a national holiday - "sovereignty day," he called it.

Continue reading here.

** Dahr Jamail's MidEast Dispatches **
** Visit Dahr Jamail's website **

Dahr Jamail's new book, The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, is now available for pre-order.

Pre-order book here

As one of the first and few unembedded Western journalists to report the truth about how the United States has destroyed, not liberated, Iraqi society in his book Beyond the Green Zone, Jamail now investigates the under-reported but growing antiwar resistance of American GIs. Gathering the stories of these courageous men and women, Jamail shows us that far from "supporting our troops," politicians have betrayed them at every turn. Finally, Jamail shows us that the true heroes of the criminal tragedy of the Iraq War are those brave enough to say no.


US Occupation of Iraq Continues Unabated

Monday 06 July 2009

by: Dahr Jamail, t r u t h o u t | Perspective

At Camp Victory, Vice President Joe Biden speaks to soldiers. (Photo: Khalid Mohammed / Reuters)

"Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind."
- George Orwell

On July 4 in Baghdad, Vice President Joe Biden, who campaigned with Barack Obama on a platform of ending the occupation of Iraq, found himself in one of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's lavish buildings, the Al-Faw Palace. While one of Saddam Hussein's thrones sat on the side of the room, Biden presided over a swearing-in ceremony for 237 soldiers, who were becoming US citizens. Speaking of the ceremony, Biden said, "We did it in Saddam's palace, and I can think of nothing better. That S.O.B. is rolling over in his grave right now." Perhaps the irony of both the scene and his statement were lost to Biden. For if Saddam Hussein was rolling in his grave, the reason would have less to do with one of his palaces being used as a naturalization center for US soldiers, and more to do with the fact that the US government has no intention of withdrawing from Iraq anytime soon.

We have passed the June 30 deadline that, according to a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) signed between US Ambassador Ryan Crocker and Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari on November 17, 2008, was the date all US forces were to have been withdrawn from all of Iraq's cities. Today, however, there are at least 134,000 US soldiers in Iraq - a number barely lower than the number that were there in 2003. In addition, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates testified on June 9 that the United States would maintain an average of at least 100,000 troops in Iraq through fiscal year 2010.

The SOFA is a sieve, and the number of US military personnel in Iraq is remaining largely intact for now. Add to the 134,000 US soldiers almost the exact number of military contractors (132,610 and increasing), 36,061 of which, according to a recent Department of Defense report, are US citizens.

While the military and most corporate media would like you to believe that from now on no US soldiers will step foot in Iraqi cities, US military patrols in them are ongoing and will continue.

In addition, there has been an assumption that all US military bases within Iraqi city limits would be moved. For example, US Army Forward Operating Base Falcon, home to 3,000 US troops, is clearly within the city limits of Baghdad. But US military officials, working with Iraqis in the US-supported Iraqi government, have other ideas. "We and the Iraqis decided it wasn't in the city," a military official told the Christian Science Monitor. Thus, city lines are redrawn, to the convenience of the US military, to render certain bases and forward operating bases "outside" of Iraqi cities.

While military commanders claim to have handed over 142 military outposts around Iraq to the Iraqis, US troops will continue to occupy 320 other outposts around Iraq.

Meanwhile, the Democratically controlled Congress just passed a war-spending bill that allocated over $100 billion more for the ongoing occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, and the military (and military contractors) in Iraq is busily expanding and augmenting new bases in rural areas of Iraq. In fact, they are even building new bases in Iraq.

Furthermore, at least 50,000 troops will remain in Iraq until at least the end of 2011, despite the fact that, according to the SOFA, all US "combat" forces will leave Iraq by December 31, 2011.

A July 30 referendum vote on the SOFA is scheduled to take place in Iraq. Despite attempts by the Obama administration to postpone the referendum, it appears as though the vote will take place. Considering the fact that according to recent polls, 73 percent of Iraqis oppose the presence of US forces, the referendum, if legitimate, will put the Obama administrations long-term plans for Iraq in jeopardy as the vote could force US forces out of Iraq as they would no longer be under the legal "protection" of the SOFA.

Although we can only speculate as to whether the referendum will actually reflect the will of the Iraqi people, there will be one of two outcomes:

1. Due to Kurdish and Sunni opposition to the withdrawal of US forces, Maliki postpones the referendum. The US, which is also interested in maintaining the SOFA, supports Maliki in the delay they (Obama administration) have previously pushed for.

2. The Maliki regime overcomes this opposition and does not interfere with the carrying out of the vote or the results of the referendum, which will most likely reflect the will of the Iraqi people to have US forces withdraw from Iraq completely. This would mean the Maliki regime does not want US forces to remain in Iraq, feels strong enough to finally stand on its own and is prepared to settle scores with the formerly US-backed Sahwa forces (Sunni militia), to establish absolute control in Baghdad.

Regardless of the outcome, it is clear that Iraq is further down the road of Balkanization, a plan that Biden has supported for years -to have Iraq split into three rump states. There is already evidence for this - for as Iraqi refugees in Syria and Jordan have been forced to return home due to funding to support them having been cut due to the Maliki regime pressuring hosting countries, as well as the UN, to have them return. Those returning have been unable to return to their homes. Instead, they are being forced to relocate to either Sunni or Shia areas. Moreover, the Iraqi government has been making no effort to help them return to their original homes, which indicates the Maliki regime is interested in supporting the Balkanization of Iraq.

Nevertheless, again we find the US policy of long-term, indefinite occupation of Iraq to be at loggerheads with the will of the vast majority of the Iraqi people.

From June 28 to July 5, at least 82 Iraqis were killed and 225 wounded, which amounts to another typical week of US occupation of their country. Let us watch how the Obama administration reacts to the referendum at the end of this month, since President Obama is clearly not interested in withdrawing from Iraq anymore than he is interested in a withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Dahr Jamail, an independent journalist, is the author of "Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq," (Haymarket Books, 2007). Jamail reported from occupied Iraq for eight months as well as from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Turkey over the last four years.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Red Rum: Rio Tinto Busted in China

LONDON (Reuters) - Four employees of global mining giant Rio Tinto in Shanghai have been detained by Chinese authorities, the firm said on Tuesday.

Rio, which last month scrapped a $19.5 billion deal with Chinese state-owned metals group Chinalco, said it was unclear why the employees were detained on Sunday.

"It appears four employees from Rio Tinto's Shanghai office have been detained for questioning by the Chinese authorities," spokesman Nick Cobban said.

"We haven't been able to make contact with them since and we've asked the Chinese authorities for an explanation and we're haven't received anything from them."

Three of the four being detained by the Public Security Bureau are Chinese citizens, the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper reported.

The fourth is an Australian passport holder, it said, citing a government source, and said the Australian government is demanding that Beijing grant consular access.

Rio's Cobban said the Shanghai office is mainly a sales and marketing office for Rio, the world's second biggest iron ore producer, which is listed in London and Sydney.

"Obviously China is a very big market for us particularly in terms of iron ore, so we have quite a significant presence in China." He declined to give the employees' names or nationalities.

"Rio Tinto intends to co-operate fully with any investigation the Chinese authorities may wish to undertake and has sought clarification on what has occurred," the company said in a statement.

On June 5, Rio announced it had dumped plans for a landmark investment from Chinalco and instead decided to seal an iron ore joint venture with rival BHP Billiton.

Several days later, China's official Xinhua news agency slammed Rio Tinto's "perfidy" for scrapping the deal.

Rio has been locked in difficult talks with China's huge steel sector, the biggest customer for Rio's iron ore. Rio has refused to give in to Chinese demands for a bigger cut in contract prices and has been shipping material on the spot market.

(Reporting by Pratima Desai and Eric Onstad; editing by Jason Neely)

Honduras: Big Stakes Down South

High Stakes in Honduras

July 08, 2009 "Counterpunch" When rallying in the streets of Tegucigalpa for the ousted President Manuel Zelaya, Alejandra Fernandez, a 23-year-old university student told a journalist why she supported Zelaya: "He raised the minimum wage, gave out free school lunches, provided milk for the babies and pensions for the elderly, distributed energy-saving light bulbs, decreased the price of public transportation, made more scholarships available for students." Others gathered around to mention the roads and schools in rural areas the president had created.

"That's why the elite classes can't stand him and why we want him back," Alejandra explained. "This is really a class struggle."

But it's not just because of these relatively progressive reforms that Zelaya enacted that he deserves our support. Nor is it simply because this democratically-elected leader was ousted in a repressive coup led by right-wing oligarchs and military officials trained at the infamous torture and counterinsurgency school, the School of the Americas, now known as Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, based in Georgia.

He also deserves our support because he was ultimately overthrown in response to his plans to organise a popular assembly to rewrite the country's constitution.

According to Central American political analyst Alberto Valiente Thoresen, Honduras's current constitution, written in 1982, "was the product of a context characterised by counter-insurgency policies supported by the US government, civil façade military governments and undemocratic policies." In an assembly made up of elected representatives from various political parties and social sectors, a new, likely more progressive and inclusive constitution could have a lasting impact on the country's corrupt politicians, powerful sweatshop owners and repressive military institutions.

Many commentators have said that Zelaya sought to re-write the constitution to extend his time in office. Yet nothing indicates that that was the case. Leading up to the coup, Zelaya was pushing for a referendum on 28 June in which the ballot question was to be: "Do you agree that, during the general elections of November 2009 there should be a fourth ballot to decide whether to hold a Constituent National Assembly that will approve a new political constitution?" This non-binding referendum - not plans from Zelaya to expand his power – was enough to push right wing and military leaders to organise a coup.

If the Honduran people approved the formation of a constitutional assembly in November, it would likely take years – as it did recently in Bolivia – to rewrite the document. Zelaya would not be president as he would not be running in the upcoming elections. His term in office finishes in January 2010, too short a time to complete a national assembly's rewriting of the constitution.

Given that it was the call for the constituent assembly that led to the coup, it appears that the coup leaders are more worried about an assembly in which the people could re-write their own constitution, than Zelaya himself. Clearly it's the Honduran oligarchs, rather than Zelaya, who are more interested in concentrating and conserving their own power.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Zelaya in Washington today, and one development was that Costa Rica's president Oscar Arias will act as mediator for the return of Zelaya. But there still is plenty of room for improvement in the US's stance. The Obama administration should listen to Zelaya's demands rather than impose preconditions for US support. And it should avoid bullying Zelaya into dropping his plans for the new constitution, or limiting any progressive reforms he may want to enact upon returning to office. The Honduran people should decide what course Zelaya should take, not the Obama administration and certainly not any right wing junta.

Although the Obama administration has been critical of the coup and relatively supportive of Zelaya, it should go much further. Some clear signs that Washington backs Zelaya would be withdrawing the US ambassador from the country, following in the footsteps of the other nations that have condemned the coup. The US should also cut off all of its aid to the rogue government, and end all military aid to the country. These actions would put pressure on the already weak military and send a clearer message to the region that, at this point, Washington is entirely against the coup, and willing to respect demands from Latin American leaders, all of whom have called for Zelaya's reinstatement.

This past Sunday, after his plane was turned back upon trying to land in Honduras, Zelaya told reporters: "the United States, which has tremendous power, should take action. Specifically, the strongest government in economic matters, in aspects of the sphere of the dollar, for us is the United States. If they decide to live with the coup, then democracy in the Americas is over."

Benjamin Dangl is currently based in Paraguay and is the author of "The Price of Fire: Resource Wars and Social Movements in Bolivia" (AK Press). He edits, a website on activism and politics in Latin America, and, a progressive perspective on world events. Email: Bendangl(at)gmail(dot)com.

Details About Cheney's 2004 Interview With Patrick Fitzgerald

DOJ Reveals Details About Cheney's Interview With Patrick Fitzgerald

Tuesday 07 July 2009

by: Jason Leopold, t r u t h o u t | Report

In early fall 2003, as the scandal over leaking a covert CIA officer's identity was exploding, President George W. Bush claimed not to know anything about the leak and called on anyone in his administration who had knowledge to come "forward with the information so we can find out whether or not these allegations are true."

How disingenuous the president's appeal was has been underscored again by a new Justice Department court filing sketching out the contents of the 2004 interview between special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald and Vice President Dick Cheney.

Though the Obama administration continues to balk at releasing the full contents of the Cheney interview, it did reveal that Bush and Cheney were in contact about the scandal, including what is described as "a confidential conversation" and "an apparent communication between the Vice President and the President."

The filing in a federal court case also makes clear that Cheney was at the center of White House machinations rebutting criticism from former US Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who charged in summer 2003 that the Bush administration had "twisted" intelligence to justify invading Iraq in March 2003. While seeking to discredit Wilson, administration officials disclosed to reporters that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, worked for the CIA.

Bush and his subordinates then sought to deny a White House hand in the leak. White House press secretary Scott McClellan later apologized for his role in the deception in his 2008 book, "What Happened," saying that Bush and four other high-ranking officials caused him to lie to the public in clearing Bush's political adviser Karl Rove and Cheney's chief of staff I. Lewis Libby of any responsibility for the Plame leak.

"I had unknowingly passed along false information," McClellan wrote. "And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, Vice President Cheney, the president's chief of staff [Andrew Card], and the president himself."

Eventually, the cover-up led to the prosecution of Libby, who was found guilty in 2007 of four counts of perjury and obstruction of justice, but Bush commuted Libby's 30-month prison sentence.

When Fitzgerald's investigation came to a close with only that one prosecution, questions were raised about his reasoning for not bringing legal action against Bush, Cheney, or other senior officials implicated in the leak and cover-up. Those questions led to Congressional requests for the Bush-Cheney interviews and to the current Freedom of Information court case.

In its new court filing, the Obama administration opposed release of the Cheney interview, but described the topics discussed. Besides the contacts with Bush, the filing referenced Cheney's questions to the CIA about its decision to send Wilson to Africa in 2002 to investigate - and ultimately refute - suspicions that Iraq was seeking yellowcake uranium from the African country of Niger.

Cheney also was asked about his role in arranging a statement by then-CIA Director George Tenet taking responsibility for including a misleading claim about the African uranium in Bush's 2003 State of the Union address, and Cheney's discussions with Libby and other White House officials about how to respond to inquiries regarding the leak of Plame's identity, the court filing said.

Fitzgerald also questioned Cheney about his participation in the decision to declassify parts of a 2002 National Intelligence Estimate regarding Iraq's alleged WMD. It ultimately fell to Bush to clear selected parts of the NIE so they could be leaked as part of the White House campaign to disparage Wilson.

Obama's Resistance

A public interest group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, is seeking access to Fitzgerald's interview with Cheney under the Freedom of Information Act and now has confronted refusals from both the Bush administration and the Obama administration.

Though President Obama declared a new era of openness when he entered the White House in January, he has recently had his administration's lawyers resist releasing information about the secret dealings of the Bush administration.

In the CIA leak case, Justice Department lawyers claimed that disclosing Cheney's interview might discourage future government officials from cooperating with criminal inquiries.

"In any such investigation, it will be important that White House officials be able to provide law enforcement officials with a full account of relevant events," said Lanny Breuer, assistant attorney general for the criminal division.

"Baseless, partisan allegations that easily could be investigated and dismissed through voluntary interviews now may have to be investigated through the specter of the grand jury process. In addition, if law enforcement interviews are routinely subject to public disclosure, there could be a significant risk of politicization of law enforcement files and investigations, which could undermine the integrity and effectiveness of, and public confidence in, those investigations."

Last month, during a court hearing on the case, Justice Department attorney Jeffrey Smith told the judge that release of the transcript might open Cheney to ridicule from late-night comics and thus could discourage other White House officials from cooperating with government prosecutors.

"If we become a fact-finder for political enemies, they aren't going to cooperate," Smith said during a court hearing. "I don't want a future Vice President to say, 'I'm not going to cooperate with you because I don't want to be fodder for The Daily Show.'"

When asked by US District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan whether the Obama administration was standing behind the refusal of Bush's Justice Department to release the transcript, Smith answered, "This has been vetted by the leadership offices.... This is a department position."

Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said, "It is astonishing that a top Department of Justice political appointee is suggesting other high-level appointees are unlikely to cooperate with legitimate law enforcement investigations. What is wrong with this picture?"

Fitzgerald told a Congressional committee last year that the interviews he conducted with Cheney and Bush in 2004 were not protected by grand jury secrecy rules, nor were there any prearranged agreements to keep the interview transcripts secret.

The insistence on keeping the interviews secret arose late in the Bush administration when Congress sought the transcripts. Bush's Justice Department cited executive privilege and national security in refusing to turn them over as well as the speculation about the effect on future White House cooperation with investigations.

The Obama administration has now taken up that banner while also adding concerns about possible comic use of the transcripts.

More CIA Delays

The CIA leak case was only one of two examples this week of the Obama administration going back on its word about government transparency.

On Thursday, the Justice Department said it would not release until the end of the summer a CIA inspector general's report that was believed to have been sharply critical of the Bush administration's torture program. Even then, the Justice Department said there is no guarantee that any part of the report would be declassified.

The announcement was made following several previous delays in the long-running court case between the CIA and the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to gain access to the report and other documents related to the treatment of prisoners.

The Justice Department, acting on behalf of the CIA, previously told US District Court Judge Alvin Hellerstein that the agency would re-evaluate whether the report's contents could be at least partially released by June 19. The CIA then requested two extensions - to June 26 and then July 1.

"The Report poses unique processing issues," the Justice Department said in a letter on Thursday. "It is over 200 pages long and contains a comprehensive summary and review of the CIA's detention and interrogation program.

"The Report touches upon the information contained in virtually all of the remaining 318 documents remanded for further review. Although the Government has endeavored in good faith to complete the review of the Special Review Report first, as we have gone through the process, we have determined that prioritizing the Report is simply untenable....

"We have determined that the only practicable approach is to first complete the review of the remaining 318 documents, and then apply the withholding determinations made with respect to the information in those documents to the Special Review Report....One month into that process, we have concluded that we must review all of the documents together, and that the review will take until August 31, 2009."

ACLU Objections

The ACLU, in a letter to Hellerstein, said it "strenuously" opposes the two-month delay, which would amount to "a fourth extension" of the original deadline.

Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU's National Security Project, said the CIA "has already had more than five months to review the inspector general's report, and the report is only about two hundred pages long."

"We're increasingly troubled that the Obama administration is suppressing documents that would provide more evidence that the CIA's interrogation program was both ineffective and illegal," Jaffer said. "President Obama should not allow the CIA to determine whether evidence of its own unlawful conduct should be made available to the public. The public has a right to know what took place in the CIA's secret prisons and on whose authority."

Amrit Singh, an ACLU staff attorney who has been working on the case, said it's "apparent that the CIA report is not being delayed for legitimate reasons, but to cover up evidence of the agency's illegal and ineffective interrogation practices....

"It is time for the President to hold true to his promise of transparency and once and for all quash the forces of secrecy within the agency. The American public has a right to know the full truth about the torture that was committed in its name."


Jason Leopold is editor in chief of The Public Record,

Vancouver Olympics Get in Touch with Fascist Past

Olympics Getting in Touch with Its Fascist Past
by C. L. Cook

As the countdown to Vancouver's suspension of democracy ticks closer to the Big Day the traveling five rings circus comes to town, even journalists tied to the corporate friends of the games are voicing concern.

It seems the sacrifices liberal democracies such as Canada must make in return for the somewhat dubious honour of hosting the Olympics are adding up to a decidedly undemocratic few weeks in February, and perhaps beyond.

Already, Vancouver's unhoused are being unceremoniously shuffled along out of the city, while social activists opposed to the illegal behaviour of both the city and its various police forces are being visited in their homes and when they're out and about by representatives of federal and local police. Still, none dare call it the birth of the Police State.

Meanwhile, the Vancouver Olympics Committee (VANOC), already used to acting as a power unto itself, (undoubtedly buoyed by their impunity in the face of the burgeoning fiscal fiasco behind the coming games) has taken to issuing press releases announcing the "legal" areas Vancouverites and the expected national and transnational objectors to the effects the quadrennial show has on civil society will be permitted to protest.

A puzzled police spokesperson reacted to questions about the questionable edict issued by VANOC saying, "Protest is legal anywhere in Canada, so I don't understand what they mean by "legal" protest areas."

Well of course, the permissible protest zone is nothing new to anyone conscious during the eight year-long anti-democratic Bush stomp on freedoms guaranteed in the American Constitution. Though it's admittedly a new and unwelcome notion for Canadians.

What's Canada Got to Do with It?

Daphne Bramham, writing for Canwest Global organ, The Vancouver Sun relates the case of Canadian university professor, Chris Shaw. Shaw is the author of the book, 'Five Ring Circus,' an unflattering look at the history of the modern games. Bramham relates an incident where the professor was assailed in a Vancouver cafe by police. Days later, she writes, Shaw was intercepted and detained by police at London's Heathrow airport. Shaw was in London to speak on the topic of the games at a conference convened in Coventry. London will be the next fortunate host after Vancouver of the Summer games in 2012.

According to Bramham, Vancouver city councillor, Ellen Woodsworth says she knows of more than a dozen citizens identified as "anti-Olympics activists" tracked down and "contacted" by police last month.

These casual visits paid on those having committed no crime began earlier in the year when undercover police questioned citizens expressing concerns about the negative effects on the city's poor to city council. It seems a tactic better suited to last Olympics host, China than Canada. But then, when the Olympics blow into town, local laws go out the window.

Says councillor Woodsworth, "I was appalled. That was intimidation and a real breach of the promised protection under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms."

Freedom Schmeedom

The modern Olympics may have once had pure motives, but since Hitler's co-opting of the games in 1936, making of it a torchlit paean to Naziism and preview of his global designs, the games represent nothing more than the overriding of nearly three centuries of democratic traditions by a gathering of international elite. The athletes seem little more than a trifle, like the bull in the ring, for the greater goal of the spectacle.

If Canadians must be herded into pre-approved protest pens, then so be it. If the fun and games mean spending more than a billion dollars on "security" and the making of the city an armed camp run by the military and police, then so be it.

A City is Not Enough

But, it's not just the city that will enjoy the fallen fruits of past presenter Herr Hitler. Writing for the staid Globe and Mail of Toronto, Caroline Alphonso reveals VANOC's attempts to make of its own Canada's Border Service.

According to Alphonso, the protectors of world sport would have the guardians of the 49th parallel inform to them any athletes found to be carrying banned performance-enhancing chemicals in their carry-on luggage.

Alphonso quotes a statement released by VANOC's doping Czar Jeremy Luke. Luke puts his organization's demands on Canadian law enforcement this way;

"VANOC is unequivocally opposed to doping in sport and is working collaboratively with many partners to help insure doping-free Games in 2010. As a key partner, the Government of Canada's leadership and commitment to the issue of doping are critical to helping VANOC meet this goal."

Well, okay then.

Perhaps the Canadian government can provide a colour guard to serve as referees too? Clearly, there aren't any more pressing problems in need of police intercession in the country.

Besides driving the poor from the city limits, and making many working poor give up there suddenly too expensive renovated rentals, and putting the city in the poor house, these Olympics, as with its at least twenty predecessor extravaganzas, promises to leave Vancouver with nothing more than the sweeping up duties, while Canada's judiciary busily buries the nation's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.


Canadians Shouldn't Accept Repressive Olympic Security

VANCO Seeks Access to BorderSearches

Olympic Security Force of 16,500 Prepares

Honduras Rising

Honduras Risisng
by C. L. Cook
Incredibly, Hillary Clinton is not supporting the reinstatement of ousted Honduran president Mel Zelaya, but is urging he sit down to talks with the generals that overthrew the country's democratic system.

Ahmadinejad has nothing on these guys!

Of course, the American intelligence "community" has known about the coup for months, and they must have known too, neither the Secretary of State nor now paragon of democracy, President Obama would complain much about returning Central America to those good ole Banana Republic days.

Find more here.

The Real News has this on that:

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Saving Net Neutrality in Canada

All-star team to testify before CRTC to save the open Internet
Submitted by Steve Anderson on Tue, 07/07/2009 - 11:46.
Press Release: For Immediate Release July 7, 2009

On Thursday July 9, coalition members along with network experts will be appearing before the CRTC at the “traffic management” hearing in Gatineau, Quebec to make the case for Net Neutrality. is also highlighting how people and organizations are using the Internet to bring the hearing to people across the country. will make its public interest presentation along with Internet experts Dr. David Reed of MIT, Dr. Andrew Odlyzko of the Minnesota Internet Traffic Studies (MINTS) project, and Bill St. Arnaud, Chief Research Officer for CANARIE Inc., Canada’s Advanced Internet Development Organization. Dr. Reed and Dr. Odlyzko who will be flying to join Bill St. Arnaud, David Fewer, Acting Director at CIPPIC, and Steve Anderson, National Coordinator of and Campaign for Democratic Media.

Earlier this year, a formal submission was presented to the CRTC traffic management hearing on behalf of the broad based coalition and all Canadians. The submission included testimony from network engineers illustrating that Internet Service Providers have no technical need to unilaterally limit access to online services and content.

Over the past six months, the CRTC has received well over 11,000 comments calling for the regulator to preserve the open Internet. The decisions made by the CRTC will signal Canada's digital path and have serious implications for privacy, innovation, security, consumer choice and creativity. is encouraging people to follow the hearing at where there will be daily updates and postings about the ongoings of the hearing. People can also get involved via live twitter posts from CIPPIC, along with Michael Geist, and who will also be making twitter and blogposts about the hearing.

Key links for the hearing:

For more information contact:

Steve Anderson
Co-founder and CDM
(604) 837-5730

David A. Fewer
Acting Director
The Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy & Public Interest Clinic
Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa
(613)562-5800 ext. 2558

About is a coalition of citizens, businesses, and public interest groups fighting to protect our Internet's level playing field.

About CIPPIC: CIPPIC is the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, Canada’s only technology law clinic. CIPPIC was established in 2003 at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law, Common Law Section. CIPPIC’s mandate is to advocate for balance in policy and law-making on issues arising out of new technologies.

About CDM: CDM is a network of public interest organizations and people pushing for media democracy in Canada.

To Serve and Protect?

Monday, July 06, 2009

The Raids on the Resistances Bookstore

The Raids on the Resistances Bookstore
Zionist Fanatics Practice Serial Vandalism in Paris



Thousands of books drenched in cooking oil – that is the latest exploit of the Zionist fanatics who regularly attack property and people in Paris and get away with it.

In the early afternoon of Friday, July 3, five men, mostly masked, stormed into the “Resistances” bookstore located in a quiet residential neighborhood of the 17th arrondissement in northwest Paris. To the startled women working in the shop, as well as two customers, they announcing that they were from the Jewish Defense League and began ripping books off shelves and tables, dousing them heavily with cooking oil, and then smashing four computers before leaving rapidly in a waiting vehicle.

The bookstore is owned and operated by Olivia Zemor and Nicolas Shashahani, who are also the leaders of the very active militant group CAPJPO-EuroPalestine (CAPJPO stands for Coordination des Appels pour une Paix Juste au Proche Orient). In addition to a wide collection of books on the Middle East and other subjects, including fiction, the bookstore has a reading room and a lending library, gives courses in English and Arabic, and possesses a modest but well-attended auditorium where authors are invited to speak.

Two and a half years ago, on December 7, 2006, a similar attack squad threw teargas grenades into the bookstore as a crowd was gathering to listen to the late Israeli author Tanya Reinhart and her companion, the Israeli poet Aharon Shabtai. On that occasion, Shashahani had to be treated for effects from the teargas but material damage was slight. This time, the entire shop is a shambles, with countless ruined books, and damage runs to tens of thousands of euros, according to Shashahani.

But, he stresses, this is only one in “hundreds of violent actions” carried out by the French version of the banned US Jewish Defense League in recent years. There is no reason to expect them to stop so long as they can count on indulgence on the part of French authorities and the silence of the mainstream media. The vandalism on the Resistances bookstore was reported by the French news agency AFP, but the dispatch was apparently carried only by the small tabloid Le Parisien and not by the major newspapers, much less by television. Usually, almost the only people who are informed about such events are in the politically active circles targeted for intimidation.

The general public remains ignorant of these aggressions, while it is regularly informed by television of even relatively minor acts of anti-Semitism – some of them imaginary (as the famous case a few years ago of the young woman who totally invented a story of being the victim of an “anti-Semitic assault” by blacks in the suburban commuter train in order to get attention from her family, and got the attention of everyone in France all the way up to the President of the Republic). Real “anti-Semitic acts” occur, but most are no more organized than school-yard insults. However, the publicity they receive serves to keep alive the notion that the very existence of Jews is under perpetual threat – the basic alibi used by the Jewish Defense League. The false claim that “the French government does nothing to protect Jews” is used as a pretext for aggressive “self-defense”.

As disciples of Meir Kahane, the JDL not only favors purifying an enlarged Eretz Israel of Arabs, but wants to bring the fight against Arabs and “Islamofascism” to France itself. Debate is not their style. After training in Israeli martial arts, they carry on their fight by physical means, attacking Arabs, Muslims and defenders of the Palestinian cause. The JDL is an informal group of a few hundred members, rather than a registered organization with a headquarters. The French police, adept at infiltrating every sort of political group, certainly must know who and where they are, but they seem never to be disturbed after one of their raids. Moreover, unless the aggressors identify themselves, victims cannot be sure whether they are being attacked by the LDJ or by Betar, an older Zionist youth organization founded back in 1929 by Vladimir Jabotinsky and close to Likud. Both use similar methods, and probably overlap, although the LDJ, as the more radical of the two, is said to be draining members from Betar.

In the rare cases when Zionist fanatics are actually arrested and put on trial, they are usually treated with uncommon indulgence. In December 2003, a group of pro-Palestinian students were violently attacked by the usual suspects. A Palestinian student suffered grave eye injuries. Faced with lackadaisical police, the students carried out their own investigation, leading to the conviction on September 16, 2004 of one Anthony Attal. He was given a suspended sentence of ten months.

LDJ or Betar members also have the advantage of a “sanctuary” – Israel. On October 25, 2006, a 68-year-old pro-Palestinian radical militant, Ginette Hess Skandrani, was attacked in her own home by three unknown men who beat her savagely, explaining only “you know why”. Hospitalized, her head wounds required several stitches. Last February 4, her aggressors were finally convicted and sentenced, but:

-- one of them, Ruben Colleu, was sentenced to two years in prison, of which 18 months were suspended – but he had already fled to Israel.

-- the second, Stevel Elie, was sentenced to three years in prison – but the French court had already given him permission to go to Israel “to do his military service” in Tsahal.

-- Only the third, Mike Sfez, was still around. Like Colleu, 18 months of his two year sentence were suspended, and the remaining six months could be transformed into social work.

Only recently, large squads of presumed LDJ thugs have attacked theater-goers outside a benefit for children of Gaza and attacked persons of Arab appearance on their way to a meeting of diverse groups scheduled to discuss the “Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions” movement.

The LDJ has its apologists in the police. On June 5, 2006, the head of the small right-wing Christian union “Action Police CFTC”, Michel Thooris, praised the LDJ and Betar for “performing a public service mission by defending people and property”. He was not publicly reprimanded by his big boss, the minister of the Interior at that time, Nicolas Sarkozy.

The double standards of Sarkozy’s tough “law and order” policy are all too obvious. His ostentatious policy switch from a certain traditional French balance in the Middle East to strong support for Israel is only likely to encourage the LDJ in its feeling of impunity. This spring, a commercially successful author, Paul-Eric Blanrue, was unable to publish his book on “Sarkozy, Israel and the Jews” in France, and was obliged to find a publisher in Belgium. Still worse, the usual French distributor of his Belgian publisher refused to distribute the book in France. His press conference in Paris was unattended by any journalist and his book, which carefully documents Sarkozy’s policy of wooing Jewish support in France by aligning with Israel and attacking the “riffraff” in the suburbs, has been ignored by French reviewers.

Even though the market is saturated, there is always room in the media, however, for laments that France’s secular tradition is threatened by the “communitarianism” of… Muslims. The ideological and violent provocations of fanatic Zionists are rarely singled out as the main cause of this disturbing trend. Of course, France’s many militant intellectual Zionists do not resort to the methods of the LDJ and Betar. But the theme of Jewish victimhood, which is constantly present in schools, in cinema, in political discourse and in the media, provides a congenial atmosphere for the pathological violence of the Jewish militias in France, and for the indulgence with which they are treated.

The situation is scarcely improved by the extreme fragmentation of the Palestine solidarity movement in France – which can be seen as just one aspect of the endemic sectarianism of the French left. The various victims of LDJ or Betar violence – such as CAPJPO, Ginette Skandrani, the comedian Dieudonné, etc., etc. – are often not on speaking terms with each other, so that even if they all profess solidarity with Palestine, there is very little or no solidarity between them.

However, one may hope that the July 3 attack on the Resistances bookstore may arouse a broader protest than other recent attacks, quite simply because of the strong connotations of destroying books. A protest demonstration has been called for the evening of Wednesday, July 8, to demand that the government finally ban the JDL, just as it has already been banned in the United States and Israel. This will be an opportunity to show solidarity in resistance to the most active form of fascism in France today.

Diana Johnstone is author of Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions (Monthly Review Press). She can be reached at

Emergency action in solidarity with Honduras

Emergency action in solidarity with Honduras -- no to the coup d'etat!

Monday, July 6, 5 p.m. at the Vancouver Art Gallery (Robson and Hornby), with live reports from Honduras!

On Sunday, well over 100,000 supporters of the democratically-elected President Zelaya gathered to await his return to Honduras. The leaders of the illegal military junta in Honduras refused to allow Zelaya's plane to land, blocking the runways with military vehicles. The coup regime also escalated its repression against the overwhelming presence of support for democracy on the streets of the capital, Tegucigalpa. This included firing on unarmed protesters. So far there are reports of three killed, including one child, and at least 30 wounded.

This coup d'etat must not stand. We urge you to phone U.S. and Canadian government officials -- who have been equivocal at best in their criticisms of the coup -- to pressure for the restoration of democracy and the legitimate government of Honduras. Please make every effort to join the emergency mobilization Monday.

Golpistas, ¡No Pasarán! ... ¡El pueblo hondureños resiste!


Statement in Solidarity with the People of Honduras, by Vancouver based Latin American and allied Organizations

We express our collective outrage and condemn the coup d'état that has taken place in Honduras by leaders of the right wing military junta-that have been trained as mercenaries and dictators in the School of the Americas.

We express our deepest sentiments of solidarity with the people of Honduras, who have taken to the streets to demand their democratically elected president José Manuel Zelaya be allowed to return and finish his term in office. Taking the lead from the people of Honduras, who are defending their democratic rights and the depending of their democratic process, we demand the following from the international community and the Canadian government:

-That they refuse to recognize the de-facto government of Roberto Michelletti or any other government of a similar character.

-That coup leaders recognize President Zelaya as the constitutional president of Honduras and accept his return. If this
does not occur, Canada must withdraw its ambassador, following the example set by Venezuela, Cuba, Mexico, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Nicaragua.

-The immediate lifting of the State of Emergency and the end to all acts of repression again the Honduran people. Canada should demand the liberty of all the democratic leaders that have been detained illegally.

-That Canadian companies active in Honduras, like Gildan Activewear, Goldcorp Inc, Breakwater Resources, and Yamana Gold halt all operations in Honduras until the democratically elected president returns to his post.

- That Canada immediately halt all Free Trade Agreement negotiations with the Central America Four (Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador)

Endorsed by La Surda Latin American Collective, Canada-Bolivia Solidarity committee, Café Rebelde Collective, Coalition against Intervention in Latin America, Hands off Venezuela, Code Pink, Vancouver Socialist Forum,

Emergency Actions for the return of democracy to Honduras!
From July 5-7, pressure politicians to demand the safe return of President Manuel Zelaya to Honduras.
Flood their email, faxes and voicemail!!!!

Contact Information:

Minister of Foreign Affairs: Lawrence Cannon
Tel: (613) 992-5516
Fax: (613) 992-6802

Honduran Embassy in Canada

State Department: 202-647-4000 or 1-800-877-8339
White House: Comments: 202-456-1111
For Updates and Information on Honduras check out:

Not Just Our 21 Kidnapped Passengers

Its Not Just Our 21 Kidnapped Passengers
by Free Gaza

The kidnapping of 21 international human rights workers attempting to deliver needed aid to a besieged people is an outrage, but it is hardly an isolated one.

Since its founding in 1948 the State of Israel has regularly kidnapped and tortured Palestinians, throwing them into forgotten prisons where they can languish for years. Today, over 11,000 Palestinian political prisoners without benefit of due process, some never even charged - men, women, and children endure torture and isolation in Israeli jails, outdoor prison camps, and secret black sites. They come from all walks of life: doctors, journalists, parliamentarians, workers, resistance fighters, homemakers, students and others. They are our sisters and brothers.

From the first night, the Free Gaza 21 have been busy trying to get news out of the prison about the illegality of Israel's actions in relation to themselves and the other inmates inside Ramle Prison who have no voice.

Posted July 06, 2009