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US Firms Linked to Colombia Militias

June 30th, 2007 - by admin

Josh Meyer and Chris Kraul / Los Angeles Times – 2007-06-30 23:07:05


WASHINGTON (June 29, 2007) — A former paramilitary soldier told a congressional panel Thursday that several US companies provided financial support to illegal militias accused of killing Colombian civilians.

Edwin Guzman, a former Colombian army sergeant who later became a paramilitary member, testified that his military units were responsible for guarding the property of the Birmingham, Ala.-based Drummond coal company, which has extensive operations in Colombia.

Guzman said that the Colombian military also worked closely with right-wing paramilitary units housed on Drummond premises in a joint effort to protect the company and its coal shipments from leftist guerrillas.

Drummond provided company vehicles, gasoline and other supplies to the paramilitary group United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, or AUC, Guzman said.

It has been illegal for US companies to provide financial assistance to the AUC since September 2001, when the US government designated it as a terrorist organization. But Guzman told members of three House Foreign Affairs Committee panels that protection agreements between the outlawed groups and corporations were commonplace.

“Drummond is not the only company paying for the services of the paramilitaries. There are many other companies that are paying,” Guzman said through an interpreter. “I hope the members of the Congress investigate these things further because every time we raise these things in Colombia, they try to erase our testimony any way they can.”

Allegations Denied
Drummond has denied the allegations and told lawmakers Thursday that it could not comment on Guzman’s allegations due to a pending civil court case that alleges the company was behind the slayings of three union leaders in 2001.

The chairmen of two of the subcommittees, Reps. Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.) and William D. Delahunt (D-Mass.), said the four-hour hearing was only the first step in what they hope to be an aggressive investigation of whether US corporations were underwriting violence in Colombia by paying protection money to paramilitary groups.

Both lawmakers cited the case of Chiquita Brands International Inc., which recently acknowledged paying nearly $2 million to the AUC and the left-wing Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, to protect the company’s banana-growing operations and employees in Colombia. Chiquita agreed to pay $25 million in fines to settle a Justice Department investigation, admitting to doing business with US-designated terrorist organizations. The FARC also is listed as a terrorist group.

The Democratic leadership in Congress, citing such concerns, has begun reexamining Plan Colombia, the billiondollar anti-drug and anti-terrorism program that has been in place since 2000.

Two of the union leaders, Victor Orcasita and Valmore Locarno were pulled off a company bus and killed. Gustavo Soler, who replaced Locarno as union president, was killed in a similar fashion seven months later.

Guzman testified Thursday that Colombian army training “tells us that we have to attack the leftists in any way we can, and that unions are guerrilla groups and we have to attack them by legal and illegal means.”

But he stopped short of telling the lawmakers that the military conspired with paramilitary groups to kill the union workers, or other civilians. And he said he had “no evidence on how Drummond gave money to the paramilitaries.”

Union Seen as a Threat
In his prepared remarks, Guzman went further, however, saying that an AUC commander, whom he identified as “Cebolla,” told him that paramilitaries were responsible for the slayings of Locarno and Orcasita. He said paramilitaries and the Colombian army shared the opinion that the Drummond miners union “represented a subversive organization and consequently a legitimate military target.”

“I must confess that we in the military viewed the murders of Valmore Locarno and Victor Orcasitos in early 2001 as military victories,” Guzman said. “I do not have that opinion today, but I did back then as a consequence of my military training.”

Guzman also said in the statement that the AUC killed many civilians on and around the Drummond property, and that he was ordered while in the military to help cover up any links between their deaths and the coal company.

Engel said the allegations against Drummond, if true, “would be an extremely serious violation of our laws…. It appears that we have only scratched the surface of US corporate malfeasance in Colombia.”

Maria McFarland, a Colombia specialist for the New York-based Human Rights Watch, testified Thursday that 2,515 Colombian trade unionists have been killed since 1986, nearly two-thirds of them by paramilitary groups.

In March, Colombian Atty. Gen. Mario Iguaran said in an interview that his office was investigating claims by a government witness now in jail that Drummond paid paramilitaries to kill the three union leaders.

The witness is believed to be Rafael Garcia, a former official of the Department of Administrative Security, Colombia’s equivalent of the FBI, who previously accused former department director Jorge Noguera of providing paramilitaries with information on union leaders who later were killed.

In an interview with The Times last year, Drummond’s Colombia chief, Augusto Jimenez, denied the charges.

Some 230 Afghan Civilians Killed in Attacks by Interventionist Troops
Granma International

KABUL, June 20 (PL).—At least 230 civilians, including 60 women and children, have been killed in attacks by U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan since last January, according to criticisms by non-governmental organizations (NGO) working in this capital.

However, the UN mission in Kabul gave the number of civilian deaths as 380 for the first four months of 2007 alone, the result of military operations by foreign or Afghan forces.

A communiqué from the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief (ACBAR) confirms that the use of “air attacks, bombardments and indiscriminate attacks” in populated areas without targets “violates international humanitarian principles and human rights.”

ACBAR brings together 97 humanitarian organizations, both national and international, that are present in the Central Asian Islamic country where, to date, more than 2,400 people have died as a result of the violence.

Translated by Granma International

Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

1.8 Million Veterans Get No Health Care

June 30th, 2007 - by admin

Caleb T. Maupin / Workers World – 2007-06-30 22:52:40


(June 29, 2007) — Rosa Luxemburg, the Polish-born revolutionary and courageous opponent of imperialist war, wrote of soldiers returning to Germany after World War I that they had “sacrificed the most blood and goods” but that they “return to need and misery, while billions has been heaped in the hands of a few.”

She would say the same thing today about US. soldiers.

The young men and women who, often out of basic economic need, sign up for the military are betrayed. Recruiters patrol the poor and oppressed neighborhoods bearing promises of veterans’ benefits. Capitalist politicians brag about how much they “support the troops.”

But regardless of their rhetoric, regardless of recruiters’ empty promises, there are currently in the US 1.8 million veterans who have no health insurance or any access to medical care, according to the Washington Post of June 21.

It seems that, even if young people donate their bodies to the rulers of this country, they still can’t get what is guaranteed to everyone in socialist countries and even in some capitalist ones: healthcare provided to the people free of charge.

It was already a scandal that 45 million people in the US are without any health coverage. Now, at this time when every big shot professes to love the troops who are fighting the rich man’s war, it is doubly scandalous that even veterans can’t get health services.

The Post article added: “The ranks of uninsured veterans have increased by 290,000 since 2000, said Stephanie J. Woolhandler, the Harvard Medical School professor who presented her findings yesterday before the House Committee on Veterans Affairs. About 12.7 percent of non-elderly veterans—or one in eight—lacked health coverage in 2004, the most recent year for which figures are available, she said, up from 9.9 percent in 2000.”

Some of these veterans are eligible for Veterans Administration care, but there are no VA hospitals or facilities near them. The government has closed many down recently—just as veterans with multiple problems have been returning home.

Another recent study, conducted by Dr. Drew A. Helmer for the Baylor College of Medicine, discovered that, in a group of 56 veterans returned from Iraq and Afghanistan, the average was four physical health concerns for each one, and that 55 percent also had mental health issues. The study was published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Perhaps this callous disregard for veterans should not be surprising. Under capitalism, workers are laid off when their work is no longer profitable; public housing is reduced as homelessness rises; cuts are made to food stamp services; schools are crumbling and classrooms are packed even as the incomes of the super-rich soar into the stratosphere.

In a system based on profit, when people are no longer useful tools for those who crowd the halls of power, they will be cast aside as useless, no matter how many promises must be broken. The only recourse for veterans is to organize and use their skills to fight back.

Articles copyright 1995-2007 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

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Bush’s Mafia Whacks the Republic

June 29th, 2007 - by admin

Robert Parry / Consortium News – 2007-06-29 23:15:31


(June 20, 2007) — In years to come, historians may look back on US press coverage of George W. Bush’s presidency and wonder why there was not a single front-page story announcing one of the most monumental events of mankind’s modern era – the death of the American Republic and the elimination of the “unalienable rights” pledged to “posterity” by the Founders.

The historians will, of course, find stories about elements of this extraordinary event – Bush’s denial of habeas corpus rights to a fair trial, his secret prisons, his tolerance of torture, his violation of Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches, his “signing statements” overriding laws, the erosion of constitutional checks and balances.

But the historians will scroll through front pages of the New York Times, the Washington Post and every other major newspaper – as well as scan the national network news and the 24-hour cable channels – and find not a single story connecting the dots, explaining the larger picture: the end of a remarkable democratic experiment which started in 1776 and which was phased out sometime in the early 21st century.

How, these historians may ask, did the U.S. press corps miss one of history’s most important developments? Was it a case like the proverbial frog that would have jumped to safety if tossed into boiling water but was slowly cooked to death when the water was brought to a slow boil?

Or was it that journalists and politicians intuitively knew that identifying too clearly what was happening in the United States would have compelled them to action, and that action would have meant losing their jobs and livelihoods? Perhaps, too, they understood that there was little they could do to change the larger reality, so why bother?

As for the broader public, did the fear and anger generated by the 9/11 attacks so overwhelm the judgment of Americans that they didn’t care that President Bush had offered them a deal with the devil, he would promise them a tad more safety in exchange for their liberties?

And what happened to the brave souls who did challenge Bush’s establishment of an authoritarian state? Why, the historians may wonder, did the American people and their representatives not rise up as Bush systematically removed honorable public servants who did their best to uphold the nation’s laws and principles?

One could go down a long list of government officials who were purged or punished for speaking up, the likes of Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill, Army Gen. Eric Shinseki, counterterrorism adviser Richard Clarke, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson and Deputy Attorney General James Comey.

The Taguba Purge

Yet possibly the most troubling case was revealed in mid-June by The New Yorker’s investigative reporter Seymour M. Hersh, the case of Army Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba, who investigated the abuses of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison and issued a tough report that prevented the scandal from being swept entirely under the rug.

Rather than thank Taguba for upholding the honor of the U.S. military, the Bush administration singled out this hard-working, low-key general for ridicule, retribution and forced retirement in early 2007.

In an interview with Hersh, Taguba described a chilling conversation he had with Gen. John Abizaid, head of Central Command, a few weeks after Taguba’s report became public in 2004. Sitting in the back of Abizaid’s Mercedes sedan in Kuwait, Abizaid quietly told Taguba, “You and your report will be investigated.”

“I’d been in the Army 32 years by then,” Taguba told Hersh, “and it was the first time that I thought I was in the Mafia.”

It was also an early indication that Taguba’s military career was nearing its end. In January 2006, Gen. Richard Cody, the Army’s Vice-Chief of Staff, called Taguba and without pleasantries or explanation told Taguba, “I need you to retire by January 2007.”

So, the general who had violated the omerta code of silence was banished from Bush’s Mafia.

Hersh wrote that the sensitivity over Taguba’s report went beyond its graphic account of physical and sexual abuse of Iraqis detained at Abu Ghraib; it also brought unwanted attention to a wider pattern of criminal acts committed with the approval of President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

“The administration feared that the publicity would expose more secret operations and practices,” including a special military task forces or Special Access Programs set up to roam the world and assassinate suspected terrorists, Hersh wrote.

Hersh quoted a recently retired CIA officer as saying the task-force teams “had full authority to whack – to go in and conduct ‘executive action,'” a phrase meaning assassination.
“It was surrealistic what these guys were doing,” the ex-officer told Hersh. “They were running around the world without clearing their operations with the ambassador or the [CIA] chief of station.” [New Yorker, June 25, 2007, edition]

In other words, President Bush not only had arrogated to himself the right to snatch people off the street and lock them up indefinitely without trial but he had dispatched assassins around the world to eliminate alleged “bad guys.”

The bigger picture – the stark and grim image of what had transpired over the past half dozen years in the name of the American people – was that the United States could no longer claim to be a nation of laws and liberties. It had become a country governed by a criminal mob deploying an unsavory collection of capos, consiglieres and hit men.

In this view, George W. Bush was no longer President of a Republic but Godfather of the world’s most intimidating crime syndicate. But that was a reality that the U.S. news media could not afford to acknowledge in real time, though it might become the unavoidable conclusion of future historians.

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com. He is also author of a 1999 book, Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth.’

Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

The CIA’s Project MOCKINGBIRD: Ongoing Covert Control of the Media

June 29th, 2007 - by admin

Alex Constantine / Totse.com – 2007-06-29 23:12:19


(June 30, 2007) — Who Controls the Media?

Soulless corporations do, of course. Corporations with grinning, double-breasted executives, interlocking directorates, labor squabbles and flying capital. Dow. General Electric. Coca-Cola. Disney. Newspapers should have mastheads that mirror the world: The Westinghouse Evening Scimitar, The Atlantic-Richfield Intelligentser.

It is beginning to dawn on a growing number of armchair ombudsmen that the public print reports news from a parallel universe — one that has never heard of politically-motivated assassinations, CIA-Mafia banking thefts, mind control, death squads or even federal agencies with secret budgets fattened by cocaine sales — a place overrun by lone gunmen, where the CIA and Mafia are usually on their best behavior. In this idyllic land, the most serious infraction an official can commit —is a the employment of a domestic servant with (shudder) no residency status.

This unlikely land of enchantment is the creation of MOCKINGBIRD.

It was conceived in the late 1940s, the most frigid period of the cold war, when the CIA began a systematic infiltration of the corporate media, a process that often included direct takeover of major news outlets.

In this period, the American intelligence services competed with communist activists abroad to influence European labor unions. With or without the cooperation of local governments, Frank Wisner, an undercover State Department official assigned to the Foreign Service, rounded up students abroad to enter the cold war underground of covert operations on behalf of his Office of Policy Coordination.

Philip Graham, a graduate of the Army Intelligence School in Harrisburg, PA, then publisher of the Washington Post, was taken under Wisner’s wing to direct the program code-named Operation MOCKINGBIRD.

“By the early 1950s,” writes formerVillage Voice reporter Deborah Davis in Katharine the Great, “Wisner ‘owned’ respected members of the New York Times, Newsweek, CBS and other communications vehicles, plus stringers, four to six hundred in all, according to a former CIA analyst.”

The network was overseen by Allen Dulles, a templar for German and American corporations who wanted their points of view represented in the public print. Early MOCKINGBIRD influenced 25 newspapers and wire agencies consenting to act as organs of CIA propaganda. Many of these were already run by men with reactionary views, among them William Paley (CBS), C.D. Jackson (Fortune), Henry Luce (Time) and Arthur Hays Sulzberger (N.Y. Times).

Activists curious about the workings of MOCKINGBIRD have since been appalled to find in FOIA documents that agents boasting in CIA office memos of their pride in having placed “important assets” inside every major news publication in the country. It was not until 1982 that the Agency openly admitted that reporters on the CIA payroll have acted as case officers to agents in the field.

“World War III has begun,” Henry’s Luce’s Life declared in March, 1947. “It is in the opening skirmish stage already.” The issue featured an excerpt of a book by James Burnham, who called for the creation of an “American Empire,” “world-dominating in political power, set up at least in part through coercion (probably including war, but certainly the threat of war) and in which one group of people … would hold more than its equal share of power.”

George Seldes, the famed anti-fascist media critic, drew down on Luce in 1947, explaining that “although avoiding typical Hitlerian phrases, the same doctrine of a superior people taking over the world and ruling it, began to appear in the press, whereas the organs of Wall Street were much more honest in favoring a doctrine inevitably leading to war if it brought greater commercial markets under the American flag.”

On the domestic front, an abiding relationship was struck between the CIA and William Paley, a wartime colonel and the founder of CBS. A firm believer in “all forms of propaganda” to foster loyalty to the Pentagon, Paley hired CIA agents to work undercover at the behest of his close friend, the busy grey eminence of the nation’s media, Allen Dulles. Paley’s designated go-between in his dealings with the CIA was Sig Mickelson, president of CBS News from 1954 to 1961.

The CIA’s assimilation of old guard fascists was overseen by the Operations Coordination Board, directed by C.D. Jackson, formerly an executive of Time magazine and Eisenhower’s Special Assistant for Cold War Strategy. In 1954 he was succeeded by Nelson Rockefeller, who quit a year later, disgusted at the administration’s political infighting. Vice President Nixon succeeded Rockefeller as the key cold war strategist.

“Nixon,” writes John Loftus, a former attorney for the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations, took “a small boy’s delight in the arcane tools of the intelligence craft – the hidden microphones, the ‘black’ propaganda.” Nixon especially enjoyed his visit to a Virginia training camp to observe Nazis in the “special forces” drilling at covert operations.

One of the fugitives recruited by the American intelligence underground was heroin smuggler Hubert von Bl_cher, the son of A German ambassador. Hubert often bragged that that he was trained by the Abwehr, the German military intelligence division, while still a civilian in his twenties.

He served in a recon unit of the German Army until forced out for medical reasons in 1944, according to his wartime records. He worked briefly as an assistant director for Berlin-Film on a movie entitled One Day …, and finished out the war flying with the Luftwaffe, but not to engage the enemy – his mission was the smuggling of Nazi loot out of the country. His exploits were, in part, the subject of Sayer and Botting’s Nazi Gold, an account of the knockover of the Reichsbank at the end of the war.

In 1948 he flew the coop to Argentina. Posing as a photographer named Huberto von Bleucher Corell, he immediately paid court to Eva Peron, presenting her with an invaluable Gobelin tapestry (a selection from the wealth of artifacts confiscated by the SS from Europe’s Jews?). Hubert then met with Martin Bormann at the Hotel Plaza to deliver German marks worth $80 million. The loot financed the birth of the National Socialist Party in Argentina, among other forms of Nazi revival.

In 1951, Hubert migrated northward and took a job at the Color Corporation of America in Hollywood. He eked out a living writing scripts for the booming movie industry. His voice can be heard on a film set in the Amazon, produced by Walt Disney. Nine years later he returned to Buenos Aires, then D_sseldorf, West Germany, and established a firm that developed not movie scripts, but anti-chemical warfare agents for the government.

At the Industrie Club in D_sseldorf in 1982, von Blcher boasted to journalists, “I am chief shareholder of Pan American Airways. I am the best friend of Howard Hughes. The Beach Hotel in Las Vegas is 45 percent financed by me. I am thus the biggest financier ever to appear in the Arabian Nights tales dreamed up by these people over their second bottle of brandy.”

Not really. Two the biggest financiers to stumble from the drunken dreams of world-moving affluence were, in their time, Moses Annenberg, publisher of The Philadelphia Inquirer, and his son Walter , the CIA/mob-anchored publisher of the TV Guide.

Like most American high-rollers, Annenberg lived a double life. Moses, his father, was a scion of the Capone mob. Both Moses and Walter were indicted in 1939 for tax evasions totalling many millions of dollars – the biggest case in the history of the Justice Department.

Moses pled guilty and agreed to pay the government $8 million and settle $9 million in assorted tax claims, penalties and interest debts. Moses received a three-year sentence. He died in Lewisburg Penitentiary.

Walter Annenbeg, the TV Guide magnate, was a lofty Republican. On the campaign trail in April, 1988, George Bush flew into Los Angeles to woo Reagan’s kitchen cabinet. “This is the topping on the cake,” Bush’s regional campaign director told the Los Angeles Times.

The Bush team met at Annenberg’s plush Rancho Mirage estate at Sunnylands, California. It was at the Annenberg mansion that Nixon’s cabinet was chosen, and the state’s social and contributor registers built over a quarter-century of state political dominance by Ronald Reagan, whose acting career was launched by Operation MOCKINGBIRD.

The commercialization of television, coinciding with Reagan’s recruitment by the Crusade for Freedom, a CIA front, presented the intelligence world with unprecedented potential for sowing propaganda and even prying in the age of Big Brother. George Orwell glimpsed the possibilities when he installed omniscient video surveillance technology in 1948, a novel rechristened 1984 for the first edition published in the US by Harcourt, Brace.

Operation Octopus, according to federal files, was in full swing by 1948, a surveillance program that turned any television set with tubes into a broadcast transmitter. Agents of Octopus could pick up audio and visual images with the equipment as far as 25 miles away.

Hale Boggs was investigating Operation Octopus at the time of his disappearance in the midst of the Watergate probe.

In 1952, at MCA, Actors’ Guild president Ronald Reagan – a screen idol recruited by MOCKINGBIRD’s Crusade for Freedom to raise funds for the resettlement of Nazis in the U.S., according to Loftus – signed a secret waiver of the conflict-of-interest rule with the mob-controlled studio, in effect granting it a labor monopoly on early television programming. In exchange, MCA made Reagan a part owner.

Furthermore, historian C. Vann Woodward, writing in the New York Times, in 1987, reported that Reagan had “fed the names of suspect people in his organization to the FBI secretly and regularly enough to be assigned ‘an informer’s code number, T-10.’ His FBI file indicates intense collaboration with producers to ‘purge’ the industry of subversives.”

No one ever turned a suspicious eye on Walter Cronkite, a former intelligence officer and in the immediate postwar period UPI’s Moscow correspondent. Cronkite was lured to CBS by Operation MOCKINGBIRD’s Phil Graham, according to Deborah Davis.

Another television conglomerate, Cap Cities, rose like a horror-film simian from CIA and Mafia heroin operations. Among other organized-crime Republicans, Thomas Dewey and his neighbor Lowell Thomas threw in to launch the infamous Resorts International, the corporate front for Lansky’s branch of the federally-sponsored mob family and the corporate precursor to Cap Cities.

Another of the investors was James Crosby, a Cap Cities executive who donated $100,000 to Nixon’s 1968 presidential campaign. This was the year that Resorts bought into Atlantic City casino interests. Police in New jersey attempted, with no success, to spike the issuance of a gambling license to the company, citing Mafia ties.

In 1954, this same circle of investors, all Catholics, founded the broadcasting company notorious for overt propagandizing and general spookiness. The company’s chief counsel was OSS veteran William Casey, who clung to his shares by concealing them in a blind trust even after he was appointed CIA director by Ronald Reagan in 1981.

“Black radio” was the phrase CIA critic David Wise coined in The Invisible Government to describe the agency’s intertwining interests in the emergence of the transistor radio with the entrepreneurs who took to the airwaves. “Daily, East and West beam hundreds of propaganda broadcasts at each other in an unrelenting babble of competition for the minds of their listeners. The low-price transistor has given the hidden war a new importance,” enthused one foreign correspondent.

A Hydra of private foundations sprang up to finance the propaganda push. One of them, Operations and Policy Research, Inc. (OPR), received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the CIA through private foundations and trusts. OPR research was the basis of a television series that aired in New York and Washington, D.C. in 1964, Of People and Politics, a “study” of the American political system in 21 weekly installments.

In Hollywood, the visual cortex of The Beast, the same CIA/Mafia combination that formed Cap Cities sank its claws into the film studios and labor unions. Johnny Rosselli was pulled out of the Army during the war by a criminal investigation of Chicago mobsters in the film industry. Rosselli, a CIA asset probably assassinated by the CIA, played sidekick to Harry Cohn, the Columbia Pictures mogul who visited Italy’s Benito Mussolini in 1933, and upon his return to Hollywood remodeled his office after the dictator’s.

The only honest job Rosselli ever had was assistant purchasing agent (and a secret investor) at Eagle Lion productions, run by Bryan Foy, a former producer for 20th Century Fox. Rosselli, Capone’s representative on the West Coast, passed a small fortune in mafia investments to Cohn. Bugsy Seigel pooled gambling investments with Billy Wilkerson, publisher of the Hollywood Reporter.

In the 1950s, outlays for global propaganda climbed to a full third of the CIA’s covert operations budget. Some 3, 000 salaried and contract CIA employees were eventually engaged in propaganda efforts. The cost of disinforming the world cost American taxpayers an estimated $265 million a year by 1978, a budget larger than the combined expenditures of Reuters, UPI and the AP news syndicates.

In 1977, the Copely News Service admitted that it worked closely with the intelligence services — in fact, 23 employees were full-time employees of the Agency.

Most consumers of the corporate media were – and are – unaware of the effect that the salting of public opinion has on their own beliefs. A network anchorman in time of national crisis is an instrument of psychological warfare in the MOCKINGBIRD media. He is a creature from the national security sector’s chamber of horrors.

For this reason, consumers of the corporate press have reason to examine their basic beliefs about government and life in the parallel universe of these United States.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Turkey Warns of Plans to Invade Northern Iraq

June 29th, 2007 - by admin

Michael Howard / The Guardian – 2007-06-29 23:01:42


SULAYMANIYA (June 30, 2007) — Turkey has prepared a blueprint for the invasion of northern Iraq and will take action if US or Iraqi forces fail to dislodge the guerrillas of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) from their mountain strongholds across the border, Turkey’s foreign minister Abdullah Gul has warned.

“The military plans have been worked out in the finest detail. The government knows these plans and agrees with them,” Mr Gul told Turkey’s Radikal newspaper. “If neither the Iraqi government nor the US occupying forces can do this [crush the PKK], we will take our own decision and implement it,” Mr Gul said.

The foreign minister’s uncharacteristically hawkish remarks were seen as a response to pressure from Turkey’s generals, who have deployed some 20,000-30,000 troops along the borders with Iraq, and who are itching to move against the rebels they say are slipping across the border to stage attacks inside Turkey.

Among other things, Turkish military planners have been working on a scheme to establish a buffer zone on Iraqi soil to try to stop the rebels’ movements.

The US and the EU regard the PKK as a terrorist outfit, but Washington is nervous of any military operations by its Nato ally that could destabilise Iraq’s Kurdistan region. There are fears too that any instability in the north could play into the hands of Iran, facing growing problems with its own Kurdish population.

The PKK, which has had a presence in the remote border areas of Iraq since the 1980s, has about 2,000-3,000 guerrillas on Iraqi soil. Their camps are dotted along the densely wooded ravines and in some of the regions’ many caves high up in the limestone peaks. They remain out of reach of Iraq’s Kurdish authorities, who fought unsucessfully alongside Turkey in the 1990s to oust them from their bases.

Authorities in Ankara say the PKK, which declared a unilateral ceasefire last year, are behind recent bombings in the cities of Ankara, Izmir and Diyarbakir, as well as attacks on Turkish security forces in the mostly Kurdish south-east.

So far the Turkish military have confined themselves to shelling across the border and raids by units of special forces. In separate remarks yesterday, Mr Gul said, however, that Turkey was also considering air strikes against the PKK’s bases in the Iraqi Kurdish mountains.

He said that, unlike a cross-border incursion involving troops and tanks, air raids would need no prior parliamentary approval. The Turkish parliament is in recess until national elections on July 22.

Mr Gul did not rule out the prospect of parliament reconvening before the elections to sanction an incursion. In a fresh bout of sabre-rattling on Wednesday, the chief of staff, General Yasar Buyukanit, asked the government in Ankara to set the parameters for an incursion across the border. “Will we go to northern Iraq just to fight PKK rebels, or, for example, what will we do if we come under attack from local Iraqi Kurdish groups?” Gen Buyukanit said.

The general’s remarks rang alarm bells both in Arbil – the Iraqi Kurdish regional capital – and Baghdad, where they were interpreted as a request to also go after Iraq’s Kurdish authorities, whom Turkey accuses of aiding the PKK fighters.

The Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has until now resisted the demands of his chief of staff. The priority, he argues, should be to tackle the thousands of PKK guerrillas who are already inside Turkey. Observers say the moderate Islamist is loth to put further strain on ties with Washington.

US officials in Baghdad have stressed the need for dialogue to resolve the issue. Iraq’s Kurdish leaders have said they are willing to help mediate. Ankara, however, refuses to recognise the Kurdistan regional government in Iraq.

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007

Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

CIA Terror Bombings, Bob Gates, and The Rise of Hezbollah

June 29th, 2007 - by admin

Michael Schwartz / Huffington Post – 2007-06-29 22:58:05


(June 28, 2007) — Today is a banner day for aficionados of the CIA. After a 15-year Freedom of Information Act struggle, the National Security Archive has finally forced the CIA to reveal the “family jewels” — a 702-page treasure trove of documents characterized in The New York Times as a “catalog of domestic wiretapping operations, failed assassination plots, mind-control experiments and spying on journalists.”

Whether or not you wade through the dense coverage of this frightening archive, we all need to keep our perspective on the role of the CIA in US government activities. While the atrocities reported in the “family jewels” are certainly atrocious in their own right, they are actually a tiny corner of a larger history that includes all manner of crimes against humanity, from mayhem against individuals to full fledged state terrorism.

And there is one thing that the “family jewels” will not reveal: how this decades-long criminal history has impacted international politics. Here is a simple summary: most of the world’s current man-made disasters are in some way or another “blowback” from past crimes committed by the CIA and its brethren in the “intelligence,” “security,” or “defense” apparatuses of the United States government.

Sadly, this includes (of course) the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, also the multiplex crises in the rest of the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, South Asia, East Asia and…wherever.

A good way to see this is to read Roger Morris’ beautifully presented history three part history of the CIA on TomDispatch, which focuses on the ways in which Secretary of Defense Robert Gates shaped and was shaped by his career in the CIA. I will repeat one example Morris’ comprehensive account that captures so much of the way in which the U.S. has created so much of the ugliness that currently disgraces our world.

This a story about Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shia group that successfully fended off what American and Israeli military planners expected to be an overwhelming onslaught of air power, an onslaught that killed thousands, flattened whole cities, and compromised the Lebanon’s infrastructure.

Many of us remember that in 1983, during a previous crisis there, an American military barracks was bombed, killing 241 marines who were part of an international peacekeeping force sent there in 1982. That bombing was, as Morris tells the story “itself a bloody reprisal for earlier American acts of intervention and diplomatic betrayal in Lebanon’s civil war” which had been raging since 1975.

No one in the American intelligence community knew for sure (and no one knows to this day) who was actually responsible for the bombing, but CIA director William Casey decided nevertheless to undertake reprisals. He chose as his target a Shia cleric, Muhammad Husain Fadlallah, “because of his reputation for fiery sermons in favor of social justice and national independence — and because allied spy agencies — Israel’s Mossad, Saudi Arabia’s GID, and Phalangist informers — claimed he led a militant Shiite group that bore responsibility for the attack on the Marines.”

That was enough evidence for Casey to commission an attack on Fadlallah. It was also enough for his top deputy, Robert Gates, Head of the Directorate of Intelligence, and in charge of processing all the best information the Agency could gather. As the rumors of the coming attack on Fadlallah spread through the agency, Gates’ agents tried to warn him about the lack of evidence against the cleric (does this sound familiar?). Here is Morris’ story of their efforts:

“In our shop, we knew what Casey would be looking for in revenge for the barracks bombing and what the Israelis and Saudis were pushing,” related one analyst who would later become a senior Agency official. “We laid out all the unknowables and caveats and how we were being whipsawed [by allied spy agencies], and we sent it upstairs for Gates to give to Casey, and we recommended it be bootlegged to the NSC and White House and even to Defense if it came to that.”

When there was no sign that Gates had done anything with their warning, two of the analysts confronted the deputy director. “This is terrible,” one of them told him.

“We are not here to pick a fight with the boss,” Gates answered dismissively. “I’m not particularly concerned about some set-to in Lebanon.”

The CIA did not just try to assassinate Muhammad Husain Fadlallah. Instead the Agency carbombed his entire neighborhood with an explosion that was felt “miles away in the Chouf Mountains and well out in the Mediterranean.” Whether or not the cleric was the perpetrator, the message would be clear to all concerned: attacks on American marines would result in retribution against the whole offending community.

It was, in short, an act of state terrorism. Eighty-one people were killed and over 200 wounded in the crowded impoverished Bir El-Abed neighborhood where Fadlallah lived. (Fadlallah himself was unhurt — he had been delayed arriving home that evening because he stopped on the street “to speak to an elderly woman.”)

Though this incident was barely news in the US–and there was not even a hint that the CIA had authored the carbombing — the message was received in Bir El-Abed. The next day, “a notice hung over the devastated area where grief-stricken families were still digging the bodies of loved ones out of the rubble. It read: “Made in the USA.””

But the people of Bir El-Abed and the surrounding Shia communities extracted the “wrong” conclusion from this message: instead being overwhelmed by the display of American government slaughter, they set out to develop a countervailing violence of their own:

Among those of Fadlallah’s bodyguards not killed in the explosion, 22 year-old Imad Mugniyah would join the emerging Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah and, over the next decade, as a shadowy chief of security, direct a series of reprisal attacks against Americans in a bloody chain reaction of terror and counter-terror.

Among Fadlallah’s admirers, outraged by the bombing and ever after distrustful of the Americans he had once admired, was a round-faced, 25 year-old theology student of already recognized charisma and organizational skills. He would rise to become Hezbollah’s leader — and, after his forces fought the Israeli invasion of Lebanon to a standstill in the summer of 2006, one of the most popular figures in the Arab world: Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah.

This incident took place 20 years ago, long enough for us to track the connection to current mayhem in Lebanon. The public display of the CIA’s “family jewels” should remind us that the myriad CIA actions chronicled there are not isolated incidents. They are a coordinated system that has delivered violence like that perpetrated in Bir El-Abed to every corner of the world in the past 40 years, in myriad forms and under many disguises.

These actions have ended the lives hundreds of thousands (in Iraq alone!), ruined the lives of millions, and earned the hatred of tens of millions. By now, the impact of our government’s action is so pervasive, that even the most distant and seemingly disconnected acts of violence are in some way consequences of, or reactions to, the activities of the U.S. government.

All in our names. We really need to stop them.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Chávez Hints at Nuclear Future for Venezuela

June 28th, 2007 - by admin

Luke Harding / The Guardian – 2007-06-28 23:29:54


MOSCOW (June 29, 2007) — President Hugo Chávez yesterday hinted that Venezuela could try to become a nuclear power, during a visit to Russia apparently timed to antagonise the White House.

Mr Chávez defended Iran’s right to pursue a nuclear programme and said it might be a good idea if Venezuela eventually did the same thing. Speaking before an audience of communists and other elements hostile to America, Mr Chávez said: “Iran has a right to have a peaceful atomic energy industry, as it is a sovereign country.

“The Brazilian president has declared his atomic energy initiatives, and Brazil has a right to do that as well. Who knows, maybe Venezuela will ultimately follow suit.” Mr Chávez said he wanted a “multi-polar world in which “real freedom” was possible as opposed to “American freedom”, which he characterised as the right to “threaten other nations and destroy cities”.

The Venezuelan leader is on a trip that also includes two other US antagonists, Belarus and Iran. His visit to Moscow comes hours before a meeting in the US between Vladimir Putin and George Bush. The two are holding informal talks on Sunday and Monday at the Bush family estate in Kennebunkport, Maine, with deep divisions over the US’s proposed missile shield in central Europe, the future of Kosovo and US concerns over Russia’s resurgent authoritarianism under Mr Putin.

Kremlin officials yesterday said it was a coincidence that Mr Putin was holding talks with Mr Chávez tomorrow and Mr Bush on Sunday.

But the newspaper Vedomosti suggested the visits were designed to demonstrate Russia’s independence. Others suggested it was Mr Chávez who was making the running. “The timing wasn’t initiated by Russia,” said Viktor Semyonov, an economist at Moscow’s Institute of Latin American Studies. “It all comes from Chávez.

“It’s more about money than politics; Chávez is supporting Russia’s rapidly increasing economic presence in Venezuela.”

During his three-day visit to Russia, Mr Chávez is expected to buy more military hardware, including as many as five submarines. He will also tour a helicopter factory and hold talks with Mr Putin tomorrow in Rostov-on-Don.

Last year Mr Chávez spent $3bn (£1.5bn) on Russian arms. But yesterday he said: “We don’t want war. We want peace. There were rumours we came here to buy weapons. This is not the priority of my visit … The priority is cultural interaction and the exchange of ideas.”

But he also boasted of Venezuela’s Russian Sukhoi jets: “When they appeared in the sky over Caracas during a parade on independence day two years ago, then we broke the fetters of dependence on the US.”

In Belarus, Mr Chávez may also discuss a new air defence system, after saying this week that Venezuela’s current system was insufficient. He will then go to Tehran for talks aimed at further deepening ties with Iran.

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007

Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

11 Hostage MPs Killed in Crossfire during Raid on Colombia Rebel Camp

June 28th, 2007 - by admin

Sibylla Brodzinsky / The Guardian – 2007-06-28 23:25:32


BOGOTA (June 29, 2007) — Colombia’s protracted hostage crisis deepened yesterday when it emerged that 11 regional MPs abducted five years ago were killed during a military raid on the camp where they were being held.

The incident, the deadliest yet to involve hostages abducted by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, occurred when an “unidentified military group” attacked a camp last week, according to a rebel statement.

The news appalled a nation inured to the long-running stand-off between FARC and President Alvaro Uribe over 60 hostages abducted by the guerrillas, some of whom have been held for 10 years.

According to the rebel statement, the hostages died in the “crossfire” during a June 18 attack by “an unidentified military group” on the camp in an unspecified part of the country. The hostages were former provincial lawmakers abducted in Cali in 2002 by FARC. One of the deputies survived the raid, the statement said.

Relatives of the hostages gathered in Cali wailed when a national radio station said it had received confirmation of the deaths directly from FARC.

“To the families of the dead, we offer our deepest condolences. We will do all in our power to help them recover the remains as soon as possible,” the FARC statement said.

President Alvaro Uribe called an early morning emergency security meeting to analyse the situation but armed forces chief Gen. Freddy Padilla said in a statement that military intelligence did not have information about the exact whereabouts of the lawmakers and therefore could not have launched rescue operations.

Many families of Colombia’s kidnap victims reject any attempt at a military rescue of their loved ones for fear that they may be killed in the operation. A governor, a former minister and eight officers died in a botched rescue attempt in 2003.

Government officials speculated that the hostages may have been killed in a clash between rebels and outlaw rightwing paramilitary groups. More than 30,000 paramilitary fighters — arch-enemies of FARC- have demobilised in the past three years but rogue groups continue to operate in different parts of the country.

The FARC statement mentions “joint military and paramilitary operations” in the area where the hostages were held. Gaby Cristina Sanchez, wife of one of the hostages, blamed their deaths on the “arrogance of FARC and the government” for not being able to agree on a swap of rebel-held hostages for FARC prisoners.

FARC had been holding 59 high-profile political and military hostages to force the release of rebel prisoners and the demilitarisation of two counties in southern Colombia as a stage for talks about the swap.

The hostages include Ingrid Betancourt, a former presidential candidate who holds dual Colombia-French citizenship, three American defence contractors, as well as dozens of Colombian senators, governors and military officers.

Two of the hostages have escaped from their captors this year, including the current foreign minister and a police officer who spent nine years in rebel hands.

Mr Uribe has repeatedly refused to grant the demilitarised area but this month unilaterally ordered the release from jail of 150 low-ranking rebels and of Rodrigo Granda, the highest-ranking FARC prisoner, in the hope of pressuring the rebels to agree to the swap without the area.

A statement from the FARC secretariat on June 22 insisting on the demilitarisation was followed by a wave of bomb attacks in the Pacific port city of Buenaventura that killed three and inured 30.

Relatives of the lawmakers of Valle del Cauca province last received proof of life in April, just days after the fifth anniversary of the mass kidnap. In video messages for their families, the lawmakers also pleaded with Mr Uribe to grant the demilitarised zone demanded by the rebels.

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007

Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Dragon Skin Body Armour: Will It Protect our Soldiers?

June 28th, 2007 - by admin

Philip E. Coyle, III / World Security Institute – 2007-06-28 23:22:23


Testimony to Congress Concerning Controversial DOD Body Armor Programs
Hon. Philip E. Coyle, III / Senior Advisor, World Security Institute
Before the House Committee on Armed Services

(June 6, 2007) — Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, I very much appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the comparative body armor tests sponsored by NBC and conducted in Germany early last month.

I last appeared before the Air/Land Subcommittee of this full Committee on January 18, 2007. Then as now I provide a description of my affiliations; I do not have a financial conflict of interest in this matter. This declaration constitutes the first section of my prepared statement. I would like to submit my entire statement for the record.

I currently am employed as a Senior Advisor to the non-profit Center for Defense Information, a division of the World Security Institute, a Washington, DC-based national security study center. To help insure our independence, the World Security Institute and the Center for Defense information do not accept any funding from the Federal government, nor from any defense contractors.

From 1994 to 2001 I served in the Pentagon as Assistant Secretary of Defense and Director, Operational Test and Evaluation. In this capacity, I was principal advisor to the Secretary of Defense and the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics on test and evaluation in the DOD. I had OSD OT&E responsibility for over 200 major defense acquisition systems.

From 1959 to 1979, and again from 1981 to 1993, I worked at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Over those 33 years I worked on a variety of high technology programs, and retired from the Laboratory in 1993 as Laboratory Associate Director and deputy to the Director. During the Carter administration I served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Defense Programs in the Department of Energy.

In my current capacity at the Center for Defense Information I provide independent expertise to the media on various defense matters. I have over 30 years of test and test-related experience involving U.S. defense systems and equipment. Knowing my background, NBC invited me to observe side-by-side body armor tests that were conducted by the Beschussamt Mellrichstadt ballistics laboratory in Germany on May 3, 2007.

My role was to observe those tests, to provide advice and commentary where I saw fit, and I neither requested nor received any compensation from NBC for my time spent traveling to the test laboratory nor for observing the tests.

This Committee needs to be open-minded about looking at the questions which the NBC body armor tests have raised.

I say this because you know that body armor is of critical importance to US military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, in the recent past this Committee has not shown itself to be open-minded on issues raised by NBC. I refer to NBC reporting on Active Protection Systems.

The House Armed Services Committee held two hearings to denounce NBC for raising that issue, and those hearings did not engage the specific facts which NBC raised. In the course of those two hearings this Committee received testimony from the US Army which was misleading and, sometimes, just plain wrong.

On the positive side, after those two hearings, Senator John Warner requested an independent study of Active Protection Systems. That study was completed two months ago by the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) and showed that NBC was correct. The IDA study showed that the Trophy Active Protection System was the farthest along, as NBC had reported, and ranked the system which the Army and this Committee favored, the Raytheon “Quick Kill” system, ninth in terms of technical readiness.

In short, the IDA report confirmed that NBC got it right.

With respect to the questions NBC has raised on body armor, I hope this Committee will consider that NBC may have gotten it right again.

The NBC Body Armor Tests ~ The Results
From the outset it was apparent that NBC would not have the capacity to conduct full-scale body armor tests that would capture all of the variables of importance to the US Army. For example, NBC did not conduct tests at high or low temperatures; all the rounds fired in the NBC body armor tests were fired at ambient temperature.

Nevertheless, it was important for NBC to be sure that their tests, although limited, were fair and conducted according to professional standards, which I can attest they were.

The results of the NBC tests — which are summarized on their web site — were significant. The tests showed that the Army’s Interceptor body armor meets minimum US Army requirements, something which I myself noted on camera. The NBC tests also showed that the ballistic protection from Dragon Skin body armor is better.

This testimony now reports on the results of the ballistics tests commissioned by NBC News and conducted on May 3, 2007, in Germany. At NBC’s request, the Beschussamt Mellrichstadt laboratory performed comparative testing of the Army’s body armor, Interceptor, which employs rigid plates inserted into large pockets in an outer vest, against Dragon Skin, a flexible body armor that employs a series of overlapping discs each a little larger in diameter than a silver dollar. The Beschussamt Mellrichstadt Laboratory is well familiar with the specifications governing body armor testing, regularly conducts body armor tests, and has an outstanding reputation as “the BMW” of ballistics testing labs.

Body armor vests are tested against a special kind of soft clay that simulates the resistance of the human body and provides a way to measure blunt force trauma. After each shot, each vest is removed to assess whether or not the bullet has penetrated the body armor, and if not, to measure the blunt shock trauma to a person wearing the vest.

The US Army generally considers a cavity deeper than 44 mm to be a failure, even if the bullet does not penetrate, because the shock can be so great that the wearer of the body armor could die anyway. (The Army standard is 47 mm for certain armor piercing ammunition.) The sternum is a particularly dangerous area for blunt shock trauma as chest bones can be broken and propelled into the heart, lungs, etc. A ruptured spleen, or other damaged organs can be very dangerous, if not fatal, also.

The measure of this blunt force trauma is called the “BFS” or “Back Face Signature,” that is, the depth of the indentation caused in the clay when a bullet strikes a body-armor vest. NBC quotes the National Institute of Justice when explaining this procedure, “When armor is tested, it is mounted on clay backing material whose consistency is controlled. After the shot, the depth of the clay deformation behind the armor panel is measured and recorded as the BFS.”

The NBC tests consisted of six groups of test firings, involving a total of 31 rounds of ammunition of different types and lethalities.

Test #1 – Dragon Skin Only
Before comparative testing began, a preliminary series of six shots were fired against Dragon Skin only using 7.62 caliber x51 mm M80 rounds. This is called a Level III threat, meaning capable of defending against high-powered rifle ammunition, and both Dragon Skin and Interceptor are NIJ certified at this level. The Army requires that three rounds be defeated; the NIJ requires that 6 rounds be defeated. In this first test series six rounds were fired at Dragon Skin body armor and it stopped all six rounds allowing no penetrations. The back face signatures were well within the Army standard, being 30, 35, 31, 25, 29 and 29 millimeters, respectively.

This test series showed that Dragon Skin could defeat this threat and meet both the Army standard and the tougher NIJ standard.

Test #1a and 1b – First Comparative Tests
From this point forward in this open testimony I do not speak to the specific caliber or construction of each round fired in the NBC sponsored tests. Similarly, in their broadcast and on their website, NBC News did not describe the specific caliber or construction of ammunition used in the tests, because the Army believes that level of detail may assist the enemy. NBC News did, however, share those details with the Army, and the Army itself reported some of those details in an open press conference on May 21.

Test 1a, the first of the comparative test series, consisted of four rounds of a type of armor piercing ammunition fired against an Interceptor Level IV vest with Enhanced Small Arms Protective Inserts (ESAPI plates) installed in an outer vest. Level IV refers to a higher level threat from armor piercing ammunition.

TEST #1a Conducted on INTERCEPTOR Level IV vest with ESAPI Plates

One round of armor piercing ammunition. Results: no penetration and BFS of 30mm_Additional round of armor piercing ammunition. Results: no penetration and BFS of 32mm_Additional round of armor piercing ammunition. Results: no penetration and BFS of 47mm_Additional round of armor piercing ammunition. Results: COMPLETE PENETRATION

This test showed that the Army’s Interceptor body armor meets minimum US Army standards for this type of round at ambient temperature which only require body armor to stop one round of this type of ammunition. However, when taken to a third and fourth round, the blunt force trauma on the third round was high, 47 mm, and on the fourth shot there was a complete penetration of the Interceptor body armor.

Test #1b, the second test series, consisted of six rounds of the same type of armor piercing round as was fired in Test 1a, but now fired against Dragon Skin.

• TEST #1b Conducted on DRAGON SKIN Level IV Vest

1 round of armor piercing ammunition. Results: no penetration and BFS of 23mm_Additional round of armor piercing ammunition. Results: no penetration and BFS of 23mm
Additional round of[armor piercing ammunition. Results: no penetration and BFS of 27mm
Additional round of armor piercing ammunition. Results: no penetration and BFS of 24mm
Additional round of armor piercing ammunition. Results: no penetration and BFS of 23mm
Additional round of armor piercing ammunition. Results: no penetration and BFS of 20mm.

This test showed that Dragon Skin also meets the US Army’s standards for this type of round at ambient temperature. Better still, Dragon Skin allowed no penetrations in six rounds fired, and the blunt force trauma from each was significantly less than with Interceptor. On average, the Back Face trauma signature was 56% greater with Interceptor than with Dragon Skin.

This test also was significant because the Army has indicated that in its test of Dragon Skin last year that Dragon Skin could not defeat this type of ammunition. In the tests that I observed it clearly did, and never failed.

• Tests #2a and #2b – Second Comparative Tests
Test #2a was conducted with a type of armor piercing incendiary ammunition and consisted of six rounds fired at the Army’s Interceptor body armor.

Test #2a Conducted on INTERCEPTOR Level IV vest with ESAPI Plates

One round of armor piercing incendiary ammunition. Results: no penetration and BFS of 34mm
Additional round of armor piercing incendiary ammunition. Results: no penetration and BFS of 41mm
Additional round of armor piercing incendiary ammunition. Results: no penetration and BFS of 37mm
Additional round of armor piercing incendiary ammunition. Results: no penetration and BFS of 43mm
Additional round of armor piercing incendiary ammunition. Results: no penetration but BFS of 51mm (FAILS BFSSTANDARD)
Additional round of armor piercing incendiary ammunition. Results: COMPLETE PENETRATION

This test showed that the Interceptor body armor can stop this type of armor piercing incendiary ammunition, but when taken to a fifth round the blunt force trauma exceeded general Army standards, and the sixth round allowed a complete penetration.

• Test #2b was conducted with the same type of armor piercing incendiary ammunition as in Test 2a but now against Dragon Skin. Six rounds were fired.

• Test #2b Conducted on DRAGON SKIN Level IV Vest

One round of armor piercing incendiary ammunition. Results: no penetration and BFS of 26mm
Additional round of armor piercing incendiary ammunition. Results: no penetration and BFS of 23mm
Additional round of armor piercing incendiary ammunition. Results: no penetration and BFS of 26mm
Additional round of armor piercing incendiary ammunition. Results: no penetration and BFS of 23mm
Additional round of armor piercing incendiary ammunition. Results: no penetration and BFS of 11mm
Additional round of armor piercing incendiary ammunition. Results: no penetration and BFS of 27mm.

This test showed that Dragon Skin can defeat this type of armor piercing incendiary round, as it did six times. There were no penetrations and the depth of the blunt force trauma signature was dramatically less than for Interceptor. On average, in this test series, the Back Face trauma depth was nearly 82% higher for Interceptor than for Dragon Skin.

• Test #3 – Dragon Skin only
• Test #3 was of Dragon Skin alone. The ammunition fired was of a composite nature. The Army does not require its body armor to defend against a bullet of this lethality. Three rounds were fired.

Test #3 Conducted on DRAGON SKIN Level IV Vest
1 round of armor piercing ammunition of a “composite” nature. Results: no penetration and BFS of 22mm_Additional round of armor piercing ammunition of a “composite” nature. Results: no penetration and BFS of 20mm_Additional round of armor piercing ammunition of a “composite” nature. Results: no penetration and BFS of 14mm

This test showed that Dragon Skin can defeat a highly lethal type of armor piercing ammunition. Also notable is that the Back Face trauma signature on these three shots averaged less than 19 mm, less than half of the Army’s standard, a standard which is only required for less lethal types of ammunition.

Army Briefings
Shortly after NBC briefed Brig. Gen. Mark Brown on the results from the NBC sponsored tests, Gen. Brown called to offer me a briefing from his Chief Scientist on the Army tests conducted by H.P. White in May 2006. I accepted, and a few days later Lt. Col. Karl Masters (USA Retired), a senior staff member of Gen. Brown, called to arrange to brief me in California.

In my experience there are PowerPoint briefings and there are PowerPoint Briefings, and it is often advisable to look at the actual data. For this reason, I asked Lt. Col. Masters before he came out to bring the actual test results from the tests conducted last year for the Army. Lt. Col. Masters indicated that he would.

When he arrived, he did not have those test results and said that “the rules had changed,” and that I could not see the test results unless I requested them in writing, which I did later that same day. I received an e-mail from Lt. Col. Masters a few days later saying that he had submitted my request to his chain of command and would advise me of the “outcome of adjudication” as soon as he knew it.

That was three weeks ago and I have not heard anything further.

Lt. Col. Masters told me that the briefing I received was originally prepared for Rep. Marcy Kaptur. The briefing to me was similar to what Brig. Gen. Brown used in his press conference on May 21.

To my understanding, there are discrepancies between the briefing I received and what actually happened. Although I have tried to resolve these discrepancies, without additional data from the Army, that is not possible.

For example, the briefing talks about 48 shots having been fired, but Lt. Col.. Masters first told me 96 shots were fired at Dragon Skin vests in those tests, then later said it was 80 shots. In his May 21 press conference, Gen. Brown said that two shots each had been fired at the front back and sides, which would mean 64 shots fired at 8 vests. I believe the correct number is something like 88. In any case I believe it is not 48 shots as reported to this Committee and in the May 21st press conference.

Lacking the actual test results report, I have not been able to determine which of the 80-odd shots are being counted in the PowerPoint briefings, the conditions under which those shots were taken, or how all the shots were scored.

Also it appears to me that the Army’s PowerPoint briefing is misleading in its comparison of body coverage between the Army’s Interceptor body armor and Dragon Skin manufactured by Pinnacle Armor. In his briefing to me on last years Dragon Skin testing, Lt. Col. Masters told me that Interceptor’s body coverage was compared to Dragon Skin without the armor plates that actually provide the protection. I commented at the time that I thought this was misleading, but got no response.

A fair comparison would measure how much coverage each of the vests provided. The disadvantage of the Army’s system is there are gaps in the front, back and sides where bullets can get through. Pinnacle’s Dragon Skin armor covers the whole torso.

In the briefing the Army presented to me, and in the briefing which Brig. Gen. Brown gave to the press on May 21, the Army stressed the overlapping nature of the discs in the Dragon Skin body armor, and showed how at some points two discs overlap, and at other points three discs overlap, leaving a portion of every disc where there is no overlap.

The Army asserted that Dragon Skin could not be effective because over about 50% of the vest the discs are not overlapped. As Gen. Brown stated in his May 21 press conference, “So what you see, the laws or probability and statistics will take hold in the live-fire test. There’s probably a 50 percent probability of impact in a single-disk coverage area.” Gen. Brown went on to suggest that a single disc could not stop armor piercing ammunition.

If this were true, Dragon Skin would have failed in a significant fraction of the ballistic tests in Germany, and it did not. In the tests of Dragon Skin that I observed there were no penetrations whatsoever, not by armor piercing rounds, not by armor piercing incendiary rounds, and not by an even tougher threat. And as I noted earlier the blunt force trauma with Dragon Skin was less than with Interceptor.

The Army has launched a powerful defense of its Interceptor system, and in its May 21 press conference had a very convincing display with two scales that showed Dragon Skin to be heavier. However, in the body armor tests which NBC sponsored in Germany, the ballistics laboratory weighed each vest before each shot series. There was a difference, the Dragon Skin panels were about a pound per side heavier, but nothing like the 19.5 pound difference shown by the Army.

A fair weight comparison would be of vests of the same size, designed to defeat the same threats, allowing the manufacturer to trade off the weight of the outer tactical vest with weight in the ceramic armor to achieve the best overall protection for the US military. This is an example of how difficult it can be to compare test results a year apart, conducted under different circumstances, even when all that is involved is a simple comparison of weights.

Given the NBC test results, the continuing refusal of the Army to undertake side-by-side testing is puzzling. When NBC News reporter Lisa Myers asked Gen. Brown whether the Army would do side-by-side testing, Gen. Brown said that the Army doesn’t do side-by-side testing but “tests to a standard.”

Of course they test to a standard, but NBC News tested both vests to the Army’s standard and Dragon Skin performed better. Side-by-side testing means testing both types of body armor under the same conditions, according to the same scoring rules, in short, a level playing field.

In his recent press conference, Gen. Brown said that he had “all the money and all the leadership support” he needed “to get body armor and to get improvements to body armor.” He also said that the Army is “never satisfied with the status quo,” and that the Army is “always looking for the next best thing.” And that if there is “something better out there, we’re going to buy it — after we’ve live-fire tested it.”

If this is true, doing fair, contemporary side-by-side tests should not be a problem.

I am not saying that Interceptor doesn’t provide good protection. Nor is retired Army Gen. Wayne Downing, who observed the tests with me. He noted on camera, as did I, that Interceptor performed well during the NBC News tests. But Dragon Skin was better, notably against multiple rounds and in reducing blunt force trauma, which can kill even if a bullet doesn’t actually penetrate the vest.

Dragon Skin Advantages
From the body armor tests that I observed in Germany, Dragon Skin appears to have five advantages, advantages in which I would think the Army and this Committee would be interested. Those advantages appear to be:

1. Dragon Skin is flexible and conforms better to the contours of the human body, which is also helpful for female soldiers.

2. Dragon Skin covers more of the torso and does not leave gaps.

3. Dragon Skin is better against multiple shots.

4. Dragon Skin reduces blunt force trauma. The depth of cavities caused in the test clay by shots fired at Dragon Skin were often half as deep as the cavities caused in the clay during the Interceptor tests.

5. Dragon Skin performed perfectly, allowing no penetrations, and defeated six rounds of a particularly deadly ammunition threat which US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan may face.

Mr. Chairman, the controversy over the most effective body armor for the US Army has been brewing for a long time and was not started by NBC. NBC, ABC, CBS, The Discovery Channel, The History Channel, and the National Geographic Channel, that I know of, have all either aired programs on this controversy or plan to do so. This does not count the scores of print media sources who have reported on the body armor controversy.

Even “YouTube” has pictures of Dragon Skin body armor testing on the internet, and Wikipedia has posted a carefully documented description of the history of this controversy. Some news organizations have shown successful ballistic tests of Dragon Skin body armor conducted on behalf of other agencies, such as police departments.

In addition, officials with the FBI, the CIA, the US Marshall Services, the GSA, the US Navy, the US Air Force, the Federal Protective Services, the Department of State, the Department of Energy, and the US Coast Guard have all bought or placed orders for Dragon Skin.

So also have private security firms that provide security protection for high ranking officials in Iraq or other dangerous places.

Mr. Chairman, since the original NBC programs aired, the Army has tried to discredit the NBC body armor tests, and to defend the results from the Army tests conducted last year, first in briefings to Members of Congress, then in an open press conference on May 21, and also in briefings to this Committee. The tests conducted by H.P. White for the Army in May 2006, and the NBC tests conducted this year can probably never be compared one for one. Too much time has passed since the tests a year ago, and the Army is overly invested in proving NBC wrong.

The best way to resolve this matter would be for the US Army Test and Evaluation Command to conduct comparable side-by-side tests of both Interceptor and Dragon Skin body armor. Those tests should be overseen by an independent third party such as the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation. This is what the Senate Armed Services Committee has called for, and I hope the House Armed Services will join the Senate to call for a fair, balanced, and refereed body armor testing program.

I would be pleased to take any questions you might have.

Was Gen. Pace Fired for Refusal to Back Nuclear War?

June 28th, 2007 - by admin

Lawrence Korb / Center for Defense Information & Paul Craig Roberts – 2007-06-28 23:12:37


Lost Professionalism: The Firing of Pace Tramples Civil-Military Relations
Lawrence Korb / Center for Defense Information

The decision by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates not to renominate Gen. Peter Pace to a second two-year term as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) because of the possibility of a difficult confirmation hearing may have some short-term benefits for the Bush administration by sparing it another re-examination of its failed policies in Iraq. But the long-term damage to civil-military relations and military professionalism will be substantial.

Career military officers are expected to give their civilian superiors their best professional advice on how to implement the policies that these elected or appointed civilians pursue. And once these civilians decide upon a policy, the military professionals must support the policy or resign.

The failure of the Bush policies in Iraq in particular and in the Middle East in general are numerous. But the president’s strategy has failed not because of tactical mistakes made by the military but because of fundamental strategy flaws. To put it bluntly, the invasion of Iraq has failed not because it was a good policy poorly implemented. Rather, it was a flawed policy that was based upon an unrealistic appraisal of the situation.

For the past six years as vice chairman and then chairman of the JCS, Gen. Pace has supported this policy before Congress and the public. If anything, he has been too deferential to his civilian superiors, particularly former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

It is now clear that the former secretary of defense meddled too much in military matters and that he should have given more deference to military professional advice in the tactical and operational realms.

If Secretary Gates had said that he wanted his own person as chairman, rather than the one he inherited from Rumsfeld, that would have been perfectly appropriate. Indeed, that is one of the reasons that the chairman and vice chairman of the JCS, unlike the service chiefs, are appointed for two years instead of four. But Gates said he intended to give Pace the customary two-year reappointment but changed his mind when it became clear that the Marine general would face a contentious reconfirmation hearing.

And why would the hearings become contentious? Not because of anything Pace said or did but because of the misrepresentations of the president and his appointees. Moreover, Pace was confirmed unanimously as chairman in September 2005, after four years as vice chairman, some 36 months after the invasion of Iraq. By then it was already clear that the administration had cherry-picked the intelligence and had underestimated how long and difficult the war would be.

Gates claims that he is throwing Pace overboard for the good of the country. Nonsense. Pace is being sacrificed to spare the administration further embarrassment.

The president and his top advisers no doubt saw what a difficult time Gen. George Casey had before the Senate when he was promoted from commander of the forces in Iraq to Army chief of staff.

Many members of Congress also share blame for this undermining of military professionalism. If the Senate is upset at the Bush administration’s mishandling of the war, it should hold the civilians making those decisions accountable. Who is more responsible for the debacle in Iraq, Condoleezza Rice or Gen. Pace? Yet Dr. Rice was confirmed for what will most likely be a four-year stint as secretary of state after botching the job of national security adviser and making several misleading comments about the threat that Saddam posed. Remember the mushroom cloud?

Pace will be the first chairman since Maxwell Taylor in 1964 not to receive the second two-year appointment. But Gen. Taylor was not fired. After serving 21 months as chairman, Taylor reluctantly agreed to President Johnson’s request that he become U.S. ambassador to South Vietnam when Henry Cabot Lodge left the post to run for president.

None of Bush’s predecessors in the Oval Office have used the excuse of difficult confirmation hearings to spare themselves political embarrassment at the expense of undermining military professionalism. Gen. Earl Wheeler, who replaced Taylor in 1964, was renominated twice by Lyndon Johnson and once by Richard Nixon despite raging debate in Congress about our policies in Vietnam.

President George H.W. Bush renominated Gen. Colin Powell as chairman in 1991 despite the fact that Bob Woodward’s book, “The Commanders,” guaranteed that hearings would be contentious. Woodward indicated that Powell had been less than forthcoming with the Senate about the advice he gave to the president about the necessity of expelling Iraq from Kuwait by force of arms as opposed to sanctions.

The Bush administration will soon be history. But its treatment of Gen. Pace will affect military professionalism for decades to come and weaken the willingness of the best and brightest officers of the officer corps to take on the post of JCS chairman.

Moreover, it will also make it difficult for Adm. Michael Mullen, who has been nominated for the chairmanship, to be effective, knowing he was the second choice.

Lawrence Korb, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and a senior advisor to the Center for Defense Information, is the author of The Joint Chiefs of Staff: The First Twenty-Five Years.

General Pace Fired to Clear Way for ìNational Emergency,î Iran Nuclear Strike?
Paul Craig Roberts / Global Research

“It is the absolute responsibility of everybody in uniform to disobey an order that is either illegal or immoral.”
— General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
,National Press Club, February 17, 2006.

“They will be held accountable for the decisions they make. So they should in†fact not obey the illegal and immoral orders to use weapons of mass destruction.”
General Peter Pace, CNN With Wolf Blitzer, April 6, 2003

The surprise decision by the Bush regime to replace General Peter Pace as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has been explained as a necessary step to avoid contentious confirmation hearings in the US Senate. Gen. Pace’s reappointment would have to be confirmed, and as the general has served as vice chairman and chairman of the Joint Chiefs for the past six years, the Republicans feared that hearings would give war critics an opportunity to focus, in Defense Secretary Gates words, “on the past, rather than the future.”

This is a plausible explanation. Whether one takes it on face value depends on how much trust one still has in a regime that has consistently lied about everything for six years.

General Pace himself says he was forced out when he refused to “take the issue off the table” by voluntarily retiring. Pace himself was sufficiently disturbed by his removal to strain his relations with the powers that be by not going quietly.

The Wall Street Journal editorial page interpreted Pace’s removal as indication that “the man running the Pentagon is Democratic Senator Carl Levin of Michigan. For that matter, is George W. Bush still President?”

General Retreat
The Wall Street Journal editorial writers’ attempt to portray Pace’s departure as evidence of a weak and appeasing administration does not ring true. An administration that escalates the war in Iraq in the face of public opposition and pushes ahead with its plan to attack Iran is not an appeasing administration. Whether it is the war or Attorney General Gonzales or the immigration bill or anything else, President Bush and his Republican stalwarts have told Congress and the American people that they donít care what Congress and the public think. Bush’s signing statements make it clear that he doesn’t even care about the laws that Congress writes.

A president audacious enough to continue an unpopular and pointless war in the face of public opinion and a lost election is a president who is not too frightened to reappoint a general. Why does Bush run from General Pace when he fervently supports embattled Attorney General Gonzales? What troops does Bush support? He supports his toadies.

There are, of course, other explanations for General Pace’s departure. The most disturbing of these explanations can be found in General Pace’s two statements at the beginning of this article.

In the first statement General Pace says that every member of the US military has the absolute responsibility to disobey illegal and immoral orders. In the second statement, General Pace says that an order to use weapons of mass destruction is an illegal and immoral order.

The context of General Pace’s second statement above (actually, the first statement in historical time) is his response to Blitzer’s question whether the invading US troops could be attacked with Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. But Paceís answer does not restrict illegal and immoral only to Iraqi use of WMD. It is a general statement. It applies to their use period.

On March 10, 2006, Jorge Hirsch made a case that use of nuclear weapons is both illegal and immoral.

Gen. Pace to Troops: Don’t Nuke Iran

Despite the illegality and immorality of first-use of nuclear weapons, the Bush Pentagon rewrote US war doctrine to permit their use regardless of their illegality and immorality. For a regime that not only believes that might is right but also that they have the might, law is what the regime says.

The revised war doctrine permits US first strike use of nuclear
weapons against non-nuclear countries. We need to ask ourselves why the Bush administration would blacken Americaís reputation and rekindle the nuclear arms race unless the administration had plans to apply its new war doctrine.

Senator Joseph Lieberman, a number of neoconservatives, prominent Jewish leaders such as Norman Podhoretz, and members of the Israeli government have called for a US attack on Iran. Most Republican presidential candidates have said that they would not rule out the use of nuclear weapons against Iran.

Allegedly, the US Department of State is pursuing diplomacy with Iran, not war, but Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns gives the lie to that claim. On June 12 Burns claimed that Iran was not only arming insurgents in Iraq but also the Taliban in Afghanistan. Burnsí claims are, to put it mildly, controversial in the US intelligence community, and they are denied not only by Iran but also by our puppet government in Afghanistan. On June 14, Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak told the Associated Press that Burnsí claim has no credibility.

But, of course, none of the administrationís propagandistic claims that set the stage for the invasion of Iraq had any credibility either, and the lack of credibility did not prevent the claims from deceiving the Congress and the American people. As the US media now functions as the administration’s Ministry of Propaganda, the Bush regime believes that it can stampede Americans with lies into another war.

The Bush regime has concluded that a conventional attack on Iran would do no more than stir up a hornetís nest and release retaliatory actions that the US could not manage. The Bush regime is convinced that only nuclear weapons can bring the mullahs to heel.

The Bush regimeís plan to attack Iran with nuclear weapons puts General Pace’s departure in a different light. How can President Bush succeed with an order to attack with nuclear weapons when Americaís highest ranking military officer says that such an order is ìillegal and immoralî and that everyone in the military has an ìabsolute responsibilityî to disobey it?

An alternative explanation for Paceís departure is that Pace had to go so that malleable toadies can be installed in his place.

Paceís departure removes a known obstacle to a nuclear attack on Iran, thus advancing that possible course of action. A plan to attack Iran with nuclear weapons might also explain the otherwise inexplicable “National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive” NSPD-51 AND HSPD-20 that Bush issued on May 9. Bushís directive allows him to declare a “national emergency” on his authority alone without ratification by Congress. Once Bush declares a national emergency, he can take over all functions of government at every level, as well as private organizations and businesses, and remain in total control until he declares the emergency to be over.

Who among us would trust Bush, or any president, with this power?

What is the necessity of such a sweeping directive subject to no check or ratification?

What catastrophic emergency short of a massive attack on the US with nuclear ICBMs can possibly justify such a directive?

There is no obvious answer to the question. The federal governmentís inability to respond to Hurricane Katrina is hard evidence that centralizing power in one office is not the way to deal with catastrophes.

A speculative answer is that, with appropriate propaganda, the directive could be triggered by a US nuclear attack on Iran. The use of nuclear weapons arouses the ultimate fear. A US nuclear attack would send Russian and Chinese ICBMs into high alert. False flag operations could be staged in the US. The propagandistic US media would hype such developments to the hilt, portraying danger everywhere. Fear of the regimeís new detention centers would silence most voices of protest as the regime declares its ìnational emergency.î

This might sound like a far-out fiction novel, but it is a scenario that would explain the Bush regimeís disinterest in the shrinking Republican vote that foretells a massive Republican wipeout in the 2008 election. In a declared national emergency, there would be no election.

As implausible as this might sound to people who trust the government, be aware that despite his rhetoric, Bush has no respect for democracy. His neoconservative advisors have all been taught that it is their duty to circumvent democracy, as democracy does not produce the right decisions. Neoconservatives believe in rule by elites, and they regard themselves as the elite. The Bush regime decided that Americans would not agree to an invasion of Iraq unless they were deceived and tricked into it, and so we were.

Indeed, democracy is out of favor throughout the Western world. In the UK and Europe, peoples are being forced, despite their expressed opposition, into an EU identity that they reject. British PM Tony Blair and his European counterparts have decided on their own that the people do not know best and that the people will be ignored.

As former French PM Valery Giscard d’Estaing told the French newspaper, Le Monde, ìPublic opinion will be led to adopt, without knowing it, the proposals that we dare not present to them directly.î Giscard díEstaing is referring to the resurrection of the rejected EU constitution camouflaged as a treaty.

Giscard díEstaing acknowledges that 450 million Europeans are being hoodwinked. Why should Americans be surprised that they have been and are being hoodwinked?

Americans might have more awareness of their peril if they realized that their leaders no longer believe in democratic outcomes.

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the
Treasury in the Reagan Administration. He is the author of
Supply-Side Revolution : An Insider’s Account of Policymaking in Washington, Alienation and the Soviet Economy and Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economyand is the co-author with Lawrence M. Stratton of
The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Centre for Research on Globalization.<

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