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Met Police Turn ‘Big Brother’ For G20 Summit

March 31st, 2009 - by admin

Sky News – 2009-03-31 23:06:33

http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/UK-News/London-G20-Summit-2009-Police-To-Monitor-Citys-CCTV-Cameras-As-Security-Operation-Tightens/Article/200903415252761?f=rss

LONDON (March 31, 2009) — With security fears rising in the build-up to the G20 summit on Thursday, the Metropolitan Police have been given access to more than 3,000 CCTV cameras around London. Scotland Yard’s Central Communications Command in Lambeth, South London, will become the eyes of the city tomorrow when more than 100 officers monitor live links across the capital.

As the world’s most powerful leaders arrive in London, the priority will be to ensure their safety while also keeping an eye on the thousands of protesters expected to turn out. The surveillance team will be managed by a team of 20 senior officers including tactical advisers and counter-terrorism staff.

The team will be backed up representatives from the fire brigade and ambulance service.
The control room will be the hub for co-ordinating the several-thousand strong police force who will work to ensure security throughout the G20 summit.

The huge operation, known as Operation Glencoe, is one of the biggest to have taken place in recent times.

The Liberal Democrats say they will be keeping a close on on the policing of the G20 protests. The party’s justice spokesman, David Howarth, said: “We do not want to see a repeat of the policing of last year’s (climate change) camp at Kingsnorth, which was disproportionate, heavy-handed and provocative.

“I was encouraged to hear the Metropolitan Police talking seriously about proportionality when I met them today. I very much hope the that the rights of the protesters to make their important point peacefully will be fully respected.”

Comments
• It’s interesting to read that the met were reported to have been talking about proportionality, when we all know they just want an excuse to execute people – just because they can away with it. It’s about time individual plod were actually punished every time they start making up the law as they go along. I sometimes wonder who is actually running this country – theiving new labour or acpo………..
Posted By :Steve M Report This

• This will be a field day for the government bully boys, they will block absolutely everything, throw their weight around and generally act like some third world dictatorship army. I am not for violent protest but in a democracy people have a right to make their point and the police are increasingly stamping this out. Sometimes individual plods are making descisions on their own that are downright wrong and contradictory to what people are actually allowed to do. We are dangerously close to a police state.
Oh and for the Government snoopers reading this Hi There !!

Posted By :stephen smith Report This

• To anyone who is going, Please be careful and behave because Im certain that it wont take alot for a police reaction. If it gets nasty then it will mean more justification for snooping laws and they will be just dieing to use the terrorism act against you! You know, the same terrorism act which allows you to be arrested for no good reason and you can be held for no good reason aswell!

Posted By :stevenm Report This

Are London’s Police Preparing for a “Glencoe Massacre”?

March 31st, 2009 - by admin

Wikipedia – 2009-03-31 23:01:00

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massacre_of_Glencoe

The Glencoe Massacre
Wikipedia

The Massacre of Glencoe occurred in Glen Coe, Scotland, in the early morning of 13 February, 1692, during the era of the “Glorious Revolution” and Jacobitism. In Gaelic, the event is named ‘Mort Ghlinne Comhann’ (murder of Glen Coe).

The massacre began simultaneously in three settlements along the glen—Invercoe, Inverrigan, and Achacon—although the killing took place all over the glen as fleeing MacDonalds were pursued. Thirty-eight MacDonalds from the Clan MacDonald of Glencoe were killed by the guests who had accepted their hospitality, on the grounds that the MacDonalds had not been prompt in pledging allegiance to the new monarchs, Mary II and William II. Another forty women and children died of exposure after their homes were burned.

A plot was set in motion which apparently involved John Dalrymple, Master of Stair and Lord Advocate, Sir Thomas Livingstone, commander of the forces in Scotland, and even King William, who signed and countersigned the orders.

In late January or early February 1692, the first and second companies of the Earl of Argyll’s Regiment of Foot, around 120 men, under the command of Captain Robert Campbell were billeted on the MacDonalds in Glencoe, who received them in the hospitable tradition of the Highlands. Most of the regiment was recruited from the Argyll estates, but only a minority actually bore the Campbell name. Others, including many of the officers, came from the Lowlands.

Captain Campbell was related by marriage to old MacIain himself and so it was natural that he should be billeted at the Chief’s own house. Each morning for about two weeks, Captain Campbell visited the home of Alexander MacDonald, MacIain’s youngest son, who was married to Campbell’s niece, the sister of Rob Roy MacGregor.

At this stage, it is not clear that Campbell knew the nature of their mission — ostensibly the purpose of collecting the Cess tax, instituted by the Scots Parliament in 1690. The planning was meticulous enough that they were able to produce legitimate orders to this effect from the very Colonel Hill who had tried to help MacIain complete his oath in the first place, thus dispelling any suspicion the MacDonalds might have felt, although it was also Colonel Hill who issued the orders to begin the massacre two weeks later.

On 12 February, 1692, Captain Drummond arrived. Due to his role in ensuring MacIain was late in giving his oath, Drummond would not have been welcomed. As Drummond was captain of the grenadiers, the 1st company of the regiment, he was the ranking officer, yet did not take command. Drummond was bearing the following instructions for Robert Campbell, from his superior officer, a Major Duncanson.

You are hereby ordered to fall upon the rebels, the McDonalds of Glenco, and put all to the sword under seventy. You are to have a special care that the old Fox and his sons doe upon no account escape your hands, you are to secure all the avenues that no man escape.

This you are to putt in execution at fyve of the clock precisely; and by that time, or very shortly after it, I’ll strive to be att you with a stronger party: if I doe not come to you att fyve, you are not to tarry for me, but to fall on. This is by the Kings speciall command, for the good & safty of the Country, that these miscreants be cutt off root and branch.

See that this be putt in execution without feud or favour, else you may expect to be dealt with as one not true to King nor Government, nor a man fitt to carry Commissione in the Kings service. Expecting you will not faill in the fulfilling hereof, as you love your selfe, I subscribe these with my hand att Balicholis Feb: 12, 1692
(signed) R. Duncanson

For their Majesties service
To Capt. Robert Campbell of Glenlyon

Britain Tightens Security as Leaders Meet for G-20

March 31st, 2009 - by admin

David Stringer / Associated Press – 2009-03-31 22:55:01

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iN5KzC22Xq_I5GeauiIdptE93HCgD978HEV84

LONDON (AP) — Thousands of extra police are patrolling London’s streets ahead of this week’s Group of 20 summit amid fears that terrorists could capitalize on the presence of tens of thousands of unruly protesters to launch an attack.

The convergence of the two threats comes as Britain already is at a “severe” level of alert, meaning security officials believe an attack is highly likely. Bankers are being warned to dress casually — to deflect populist anger aimed their way — and luxury hotels are securing their perimeters for fear they could be targeted.

Concern is particularly high because the last major summit in Britain — the Group of Eight meeting in July 2005 — was marked by deadly suicide attacks on London’s transit network that killed 52 people.

“We will be challenged. We will be stretched,” said Simon O’Brien, a senior police commander responsible for the 7.2 million pound ($10 million) operation to secure the city during the meeting.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators plan four days of protests at sites across London, threatening to overwhelm police and potentially leave the British capital more vulnerable. Britain’s home secretary, Jacqui Smith, said that while no specific plot against the G-20 summit had been identified, terrorists could strike “without warning at any time.”

Michael Clarke, the head of London’s Royal United Services Institute think-tank, said small terrorist groups may use the cover of planned protests by environmentalists, anti-war protesters and labor unions to mount an attack.

“The protests will cause uncertainty and chaos, and if they turn violent could complicate the lives of those police and security service staff who are looking for terrorists,” said Clarke, who sits on British government’s National Security Forum, an advisory panel of security experts.

Police arrested five people in the southern England town of Plymouth 240 miles (385 kilometers) from London on Monday under terrorism laws and recovered a haul of replica weapons, fireworks and activist propoganda. Law enforcement officials said officers are investigating whether the group planned to target the summit.

Around 5,000 police — some armed with Taser stun guns — will guard London, and an extra 35,000 will be on standby for the summit on Thursday. Some will be stationed at the summit venue in London’s docks district, with others protecting swank hotels and the sleek glass towers of the city’s financial district.

Following November’s seaborne attack on Mumbai, India’s financial center, extra patrol boats will guard the steel gray waters of the River Thames, and police frogmen will scour the river’s length for floating bombs.

Police will tap London’s network of 10,000 CCTV cameras to monitor protests, while an army special forces unit will be on alert to respond.

Protesters have threatened to train their anger on the city’s financial center, urging demonstrators to “Bash A Banker” and “Storm The Banks” in leaflets promoting their rallies.

Banks and hotels have prepared for attempted raids or sieges on their buildings, said Pepe Egger, a senior security analyst at London’s Exclusive Analysis Ltd.

He said that unlike previous summits — including demonstrations outside a G-8 summit in Genoa, Italy in 2001 — most protests in London will be away from the actual meeting venue at the city’s ExCel center.

“The interesting thing is that the protesters are unlikely to target the G-20 delegates, their anger is not directed at the G-20 itself. They will target the banks and the financial district,” Egger said.

Anger at bankers is high in both Britain and the United States, where some of the public funding to rescue stricken banks has been used to pay staff bonuses. The home of Fred Goodwin, the ex-head of Britain’s Royal Bank of Scotland, was attacked last week.

Banks have told staff to dress in causal clothes on Wednesday and Thursday, to forgo cigarette breaks outside bank headquarters, and to cancel all but their most critical meetings.

“I’m pretty worried,” said Luke Keyser, a 28-year-old banker at the Royal Bank of Scotland. “We’ve already been told to dress down. If we want to, we can work from home.”

Associated Press Writer Martin Benedyk contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

The Challenge of Policing the G20

March 31st, 2009 - by admin

Dominic Casciani / BBC News – 2009-03-31 22:47:52

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7971212.stm

LONDON (March 30, 2009) — Police officers spend their professional lives trying to play down the public order implications of demonstrations – it’s in their interests to keep things calm. But the enormous logistical challenges of providing the world’s leaders with security, amid widespread expectation of substantial protests, has led the capital’s top officers to issue exceptional warnings about this week’s G20 meeting in London.

Last week, Commander Simon O’Brien, one of the senior officers involved in planning the events, said the capital was about to see an “almost unprecedented level of activity” with seven officially notified demonstrations – and potentially many more they don’t know about.

It’s little wonder that Scotland Yard is describing the G20 policing plan as one of the largest, most challenging and complicated public order operations it has ever devised.

Events begin on Monday with the three-day state visit to the UK by the President of Mexico. At the same time, thousands of officials from the other G20 delegations will be arriving in London.

On Wednesday, large “direct action” events are predicted in the Square Mile (although by no means guaranteed) in the shape of the over-lapping “Fossil and Financial Fools Day” protests and the “G20 Meltdown”. At the same time, the seemingly well-resourced Climate Camp group says its supporters will try to build a tent city in the middle of one of London’s busiest roads to protest against the carbon trading market.

Meanwhile, a couple of miles away, the Stop the War coalition will march from the US Embassy to Trafalgar Square. And then as evening approaches, there’s the small matter of Wembley turning on the floodlights for England’s World Cup qualifier against Ukraine.

As for Thursday, the day of the G20 itself, all police can honestly say at the moment is that the picture is “still emerging.” And did we mention that London is a city where there might be a few people trying to get to work and back? So when officers describe this coming week as a “fluid and dynamic situation”, that’s something of an understatement.

The security strategy for all of this boils down to something that resembles a three-dimensional ever-changing puzzle. The Met needs to be prepared for a virtually unlimited number of scenarios.

Some 84,000 police man-hours have been allocated to the entirety of Operation Glencoe, the G20 security strategy. All police leave has been cancelled in London for Wednesday and Thursday. Six police forces are part of the £7.5m security plan. The Metropolitan Police is naturally leading – but also calling in colleagues from the City of London and British Transport Police.

Outside of the M25 motorway, officers from Bedfordshire, Essex and Sussex will have critical roles in securing the arrival and transfer of delegations to their virtual bunkers in embassies and hotels.

Don’t expect to see President Barack Obama waving from his bomb-proof limousine; he’ll walk down the steps of Airforce One at Stansted Airport and board his presidential helicopter for the short hop to the West End. Inside the capital, police will co-ordinate the movement of these entourages and create a sterile environment at the Excel centre, base for the talks in East London’s Canning Town.

The security arrangements at Excel are so rigorous that Newham Council is warning some residents will find it difficult to get into their own homes. Three Docklands Light Railway stations will close, along with the roads nearest the centre. Pedestrian access will be severely limited and residents will need to carry two forms of identification.

Old Faces
Police intelligence suggests the return of “some old faces” to the protest scene – although officers will not be drawn publicly on what that means. The level of activity on the net, and its style, suggests a re-emergence of groups which share the aims and tactics of some of the anti-globalisation protesters who turned to violence in 2000 and 2001.

While the Met has tried-and-tested tactics to deal with violence, its strategy for the street occupation promised by the Climate Camp is more difficult to call. Scotland Yard will not be drawn on how it will respond if the camp turns into something significant, other than its commanders have “flexible plans”. It admits that its overall plans are being informed by the wealth of information now being posted online by the protest organisers.

This internet activity is also helping City firms decide how to prepare. Firms spoken to by the BBC were reluctant to go on the record about any of their specific plans.

Many have turned to private security consultants, who, in turn, are keeping a watchful eye on any specific threats that emerge online. At present, City of London Police are telling firms to cancel unnecessary meetings and deliveries, beef up building security and keep a low profile.

Unpredictable
Each year the Met deals with about 4,500 events requiring visible public order policing. They range from innocuous Boy Scout marches through to the recent angry scenes outside Israel’s embassy. Police believe that if there is a big turn-out on Wednesday and Thursday, the vast majority of people will peacefully make their voices heard.

Past experience suggests unorthodox and imaginative street events can be inconvenient – but also benign. The unknowable factor is the demonstrator bent on violence. The police will be determined to avoid the internationally embarrassing scenes of the 2001 G8 in Genoa in which one protester was killed and hundreds more injured.

So with three days to go, the police say their message to protesters is clear. “Come forward and make contact with us so we can make sure that your [legitimate] aims are achieved,” says Commander O’Brien. “But there are groups that by their very ethos won’t talk to us. The groups which enter dialogue with us, we will facilitate [their events].

“We will not tolerate anyone breaking the law, be it by attacking buildings, people or our officers. We are looking to police peaceful protest. We don’t talk in terms of riots. If anyone wants to come to London to engage in crime or disorder, they will be met with a swift and efficient policing response.”

OFFICIAL ADVICE TO CITY FIRMS
# Cancel meetings
# No entry without ID
# Check ID outside buildings first
# Minimise entry and exits
# Review external smoking areas
# Check CCTV equipment
# Don’t antagonise protesters Source: City of London Police

G20 LONDON SUMMIT
# World leaders will meet later this week in London to discuss measures to tackle the downturn. See to the G20 summit.
# The G20 countries are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the US and the EU.

© BBC MMIX

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Housing the Homeless in Abandoned Military Bases

March 31st, 2009 - by admin

Office of Housing and Urban Development & The Washington Post & The New York Times – 2009-03-31 00:59:39

http://209.85.173.132/search?q=cache:a-k09JvBI2UJ:www.hud.gov/offices/cpd/homeless/programs/brac/guide/guide.pdf+military+bases+homeless&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us#3

Guidebook on Military Base Reuse and Homeless Assistance
Office of Community Planning and Development
Office of Special Needs Assistance Programs

(July 2006) — For more than four decades, the US Department of Defense (DoD) has closed or realigned military installations to reduce overhead, enhance readiness and modernization, and adjust to the realities of changing international relations. The resulting impact on surrounding communities is often dramatic.

Many communities have successfully converted these former installations to civilian uses such as parks and other recreational facilities, business centers, market-rate housing, affordable housing, and transitional housing for homeless persons. Since the late 1980s, the base closure process and the role of local communities in planning for their transition to civilian use have evolved significantly.

In 1987, Congress enacted the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act. Title V of that Act made serving the homeless the first priority for use of all surplus Federal properties, including military installations. Congress did not anticipate the scope of military base closures and realignments nor how the Title V priority of the McKinney Act would affect reuse of the installations.

In 1988, the Secretary of Defense chartered the first Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC Commission). The BRAC Commission recommended closing 86 installations and the partial closure or realignment of 59 others. The Base Closure and Realignment Act of 1990 established the first independent commission “to provide a fair process that will result in the timely closure and realignment of military installations inside the United States.”

This law authorized the creation of an independent BRAC Commission to recommend installation realignments and closures in 1991, 1993, 1995, and now 2005.

Early in the 1990s, most individuals involved in base reuse concluded that Title V of the McKinney-Vento Act did not adequately address all multiple interests related to large parcels of surplus Federal properties such as military bases.

Therefore, in 1994, DoD; the U.S. Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Veterans Affairs (VA),
and Health and Human Services (HHS); the General Services Administration (GSA); and homeless assistance providers and other community groups recommended changes to the McKinney Act that led to enactment of the Base Closure Community Redevelopment and Homeless Assistance Act of 1994 (the Redevelopment Act).

The Redevelopment Act, which was amended in 1996, remains in effect and governs the 2005 installation realignments and closures.

The President approved the 2005 BRAC Commission recommendations on September 8, 2005. Those approved recommendations were sent to the Congress on September 23, 2005 and became law on November 9, 2005.


Military Bases May Be Used For Homeless
The Washington Post

WASHINGTON (February 3, 1993) — The Clinton administration is drafting a plan to use decommissioned military bases and other suitable federal facilities to house the homeless, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros said yesterday.

Cisneros said he and other government officials are working “to present to the president a plan that he could announce as an executive order urging the cooperation of all federal resources on the homeless problem.”

“Not all military bases that are being decommissioned make sense” because of their location, he said on NBC’s “Today” program. “But there are any number that are near …


Fight to House Homeless at Old Missile Base Turns Nasty
Robert Hanley / The New York Times

(August 28, 1990) — Someone poured gasoline outside Sgt. Johnnie Peters’s home at a defunct Nike missile site here last week in another expression of vandalism and hostility surrounding a plan to turn the old military base and its 36 bungalow-style homes into a project for the homeless.

The Pentagon has declared the site surplus in a cost-cutting move, and a nasty political and personal fight has ensued between town officials and an anti-poverty agency that is sponsoring the plan for the homeless.

Windows of the empty military housing have been spray-painted, mailboxes and trash cans have been stolen, and men driving past at night with bullhorns have shouted at the last five National Guard families on the base to get out.

Town officials theorize that neighbors who want to see the base bungalows razed and middle-income housing built may be behind the vandalism.

Two Other Bases Affected
Similar plans for the homeless have been proposed at other surplus former Nike bases in Mahwah, N.J., and Westport, Conn. But tensions in Tappan are the highest. Until the 1960’s, the three bases were part of a defensive missile ring around New York City.

The hostility here has stunned Sergeant Peters and four other Guard families left on a post that resembles a ghost town. Sergeant Peters, who has been in the New York National Guard for 15 years and whose husband has been hospitalized, says the community is indifferent to their plight.

”If the community cares about us, help us,” she said. ”Military people can’t function under conditions such as these. You don’t have your freedom. Where’s their heart? I need to know – where do I go? This is America. What do I do?” The five Guard families here are not the only ones in the region on the verge of being made homeless for the sake of the civilian homeless.

Deadline in Mahwah
At the surplus base in Mahwah, seven New Jersey National Guard families face a Sept. 15 deadline to leave unless Bergen County, which has proposed housing the homeless at the site, the military and Mahwah officials can untangle themselves from a bureaucratic Catch 22.

Bergen County wants the seven Guard families to live with homeless people it would place at the base under a Federal law, the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act, which gives the homeless top priority on surplus Federal property.

But the military, apparently concerned about image, will not permit its personnel to live in projects for the homeless created under the McKinney Act. However, they would be permitted in developments that included some homeless people but created under different auspices.

”Military people cannot qualify for housing under the McKinney Act,” said one military official familiar with the Mahwah case. ”The only way the soldiers can stay is if the town buys the property for affordable housing.”

Decision in Westport
Westport resolved the status of its old Nike base in that fashion. After negotiations, a advocacy group for the homeless withdrew its McKinney Act application for the site, and Westport agreed to buy it and its 16 military homes, with 13 homes set aside for low-and moderate-income residents and the three others for the homeless.

The plan will not go into effect until 11 military families now on the site are transferred to new posts by 1993.

Bergen officials say they are considering withdrawing their McKinney Act applications. Mahwah would then be clear to buy or lease the land from the Pentagon for an affordable-housing project for elderly and young people squeezed out of the private market and for Guard families unable to find new housing.

Like the five families in limbo in Tappan, the seven in Mahwah say they cannot afford private rental housing on their military housing allowance, which ranges from $500 to $700, depending on rank.

‘We Don’t Understand’
”We’re devastated,” said Sgt. Robert Vuinovich, a New Jersey National Guard member for 18 years who has a wife and two teen-aged children. ”We work for the state and Federal Government, and we don’t understand why they’re putting us on the outside. But we’ve been fighting this since January, and we’re going to go down fighting.”

After the Nike missiles were phased out, the 36 homes in Tappan and the 24 in Mahwah were filled by recruiting sergeants for the regular military branches and full-time National Guard sergeants who run the administrative and training affairs of Guard companies. All the regular military personnel at Tappan and Mahwah have been transferred to new duty stations and homes, and Guard personnel with nearby families have moved in with them.

The remaining 12 families are isolated now.

”My family is in South Carolina,” Sergeant Peters said. ”That’s 856 miles from here.”

Leasing of Site Approved
A New York National Guard housing official, Maj. Richard Vargus, said the five Tappan families had rejected military housing at either Fort Hamilton in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn or Fort Totten in Bayside, Queens, in hopes that the Town of Orangetown would obtain the site and allow them to remain.

But the fate of the old base is now embroiled in a bitter struggle between Orangetown officials and Joseph J. Lundy, head of a private anti-poverty group, the Rockland Community Action Council.

The council has a McKinney Act application, approved by the Federal Department of Health and Human Services, to lease the site and put 36 homeless families there. Mr. Lundy expects that monthly state aid of about $3,200 for each of the 36 families would give the council, as the landlord, net annual income of about $1 million.

Mr. Lundy’s plan drew stiff opposition in Orangetown, a community with a long tradition of self-reliance and abhorrence of Federal grants. Amid the opposition, Mr. Lundy offered a compromise on the 36 houses if the McKinney application was withdrawn: 17 houses would be preserved as affordable homes for town volunteer firemen and Civil Service workers, 14 would be set aside for Guard families, and five would be for the homeless.

Compromise Talks Collapse
Orangetown officials accepted that ratio but rejected Mr. Lundy’s plan to keep control of the land and his refusal to restrict the five houses for the homeless to local residents.

Compromise talks have collapsed. The Rockland County Department of Social Services has withdrawn its support of the council’s McKinney application, citing concern about creation of a ”welfare ghetto” and Mr. Lundy’s $1 million income projection from a 36-unit project for the homeless.

”All he talks about is money and control,” an Orangetown Councilman, Thomas J. Swift, said of Mr. Lundy.

Mr. Lundy said he now planned a project entirely for the homeless.

”I wanted a win-win situation for everybody,” Mr. Lundy said. ”I got my nose bloodied. My training is as a businessman with a social conscience, and my job is making capitalism and the economic system work for the benefit of the poor.’

Photos:
• Plans to turn a defunct Nike missile site at Tappan, N.Y., into a project for the homeless may leave Sgt. Johnnie Peters without the home she has lived in for 14 years. She and four families are living on the former National Guard post. (pg. B1);
• The Tappan post resembles a ghost town today, and the families there say they cannot afford private rental housing on their military allowances. (Alan Zale for The New York Times);
• map of Orangetown, New York showing location of Missile Base. (pg. B4)

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

The Battle Over Bases: Bush’s Plan to Close 300 US Bases

March 31st, 2009 - by admin

David Vine / Antiwar.com – 2009-03-31 00:31:33

http://www.antiwar.com/orig/vine.php?articleid=14383

(March 11, 2009) — In 2003 and 2004, President George W. Bush announced his intention to initiate a major realignment and shrinkage of what his administration described as an economically wasteful and outdated U.S. overseas basing structure.

The plan was to close more than a third of the nation’s Cold War-era bases in Europe, South Korea, and Japan. Troops were to be shifted east and south, to be closer to current and predicted conflict zones from the Andes to North Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. Over a planned six to eight years, as many as 70,000 U.S. troops and 100,000 family members and civilians would return to bases in the United States.

In place of big Cold War bases, the Pentagon would focus on creating smaller and more flexible “forward operating bases” and even more austere “lily pad” bases across the so-called “arc of instability.” Guam and Diego Garcia were readied for major expansions, building on pre-9/11 plans.

The plan quickly faced resistance and criticism, most prominently from the Congressional Budget Office and a congressional commission on overseas bases, both of which questioned the costs associated with closing bases and moving troops. Since that time little of the original plan has been implemented.

In Germany, the military still maintains 268 installations, including massive bases at Ramstein and Spangdahlem; the planned removal of two army brigades is now in doubt after the commander of the army’s forces in Europe recently called for them to stay in Germany. In Japan, the planned move of 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam may be delayed beyond a 2014 target date.

The only notable shift has been in South Korea, where U.S. troops left the demilitarized zone and moved from Seoul to expanded bases south of the capital, aided by the South Korean government’s violent seizure of land from villagers in Daechuri.

Rather than shrinking since the announced reorganization, the overseas base network has for the most part expanded in scope and size, as a result of the Bush administration’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and its broader efforts to assert U.S. geopolitical dominance in the Middle East, Central Asia, and globally.

Since the invasions of 2001 and 2003, the United States has created or expanded bases in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Georgia, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Kuwait. In Iraq and Afghanistan, there may be upward of 100 and 80 installations, respectively, with plans to expand the basing infrastructure in Afghanistan as part of a troop surge.

In Eastern and Central Europe, installations have been created or are in development in Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, and the Czech Republic, and are contributing to rising tensions with Russia. In Africa, as part of the development of the new African Command, the Pentagon has created or investigated the creation of installations in Algeria, Djibouti, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, and Uganda.

In the Western Hemisphere, the United States maintains a sizable collection of bases throughout South America and the Caribbean, with the Pentagon exploring the creation of new bases in Colombia and Peru in response to its pending eviction from Manta, Ecuador.

In total, the Pentagon claims it has 865 base sites outside the 50 states and Washington, D.C. Notoriously unreliable, this tally omits bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, among other well-known and secret bases.

A better estimate is 1,000. While ultimately the motivation behind the Bush reorganization plan was the neoconservative dream of endless U.S. global domination, the previous administration was right to criticize the basing network as outdated, bloated, and profligate. In the midst of an economic crisis, there has never been a more critical time to dramatically shrink the U.S. web of overseas bases.

Reprinted with permission from Foreign Policy in Focus.

Copyright 2008 Antiwar.com

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

The Worldwide Network of US Military Bases & Personnel

March 31st, 2009 - by admin

Jules Dufour / Global Research – 2009-03-31 00:28:16

http://www.globalpolicy.org/empire/intervention/2007/0701worldwide.htm

The Worldwide Network of US Military Bases
The Global Deployment of US Military Personnel

(July 1, 2007) — The Worldwide control of humanity’s economic, social and political activities is under the helm of US corporate and military power. Underlying this process are various schemes of direct and indirect military intervention. These US sponsored strategies ultmately consist in a process of global subordination.

Where is the Threat?
The 2000 Global Report published in 1980 had outlined “the State of the World” by focussing on so-called “level of threats” which might negatively influence or undermine US interests. Twenty years later, US strategists, in an attempt to justify their military interventions in different parts of the World, have conceptualised the greatest fraud in US history, namely “the Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT). The latter, using a fabricated pretext constitutes a global war against all those who oppose US hegemony. A modern form of slavery, instrumented through militarization and the “free market” has unfolded.

Major elements of the conquest and world domination strategy by the US refer to:

1) the control of the world economy and its financial markets,

2) the taking over of all natural resources (primary resources and nonrenewable sources of energy). The latter constitute the cornerstone of US power through the activities of its multinational corporations.

Geopolitical Outreach: Network of Military Bases
The US has established its control over 191 governments which are members of the United Nations. The conquest, occupation and/or otherwise supervision of these various regions of the World is supported by an integrated network of military bases and installations which covers the entire Planet (Continents, Oceans and Outer Space). All this pertains to the workings of an extensive Empire, the exact dimensions of which are not always easy to ascertain. Known and documented from information in the public domaine including Annual Reports of the US Congress, we have a fairly good understanding of the strucuture of US military expenditure, the network of US military bases and the shape of this US military-strategic configuration in different regions of the World.

The objective of this article is to build a summary profile of the World network of military bases, which are under the jurisdiction and/or control of the US. The spatial distribution of these military bases will be examined together with an analysis of the multibillion dollar annual cost of their activities. In a second section of this article, Worldwide popular resistance movements directed against US military bases and their various projects will be outlined. In a further article we plan to analyze the military networks of other major nuclear superpowers including the United Kingdom, France and Russia.

I. The Military Bases
Military bases are conceived for training purposes, preparation and stockage of military equipment, used by national armies throughout the World. They are not very well known in view of the fact that they are not open to the public at large. Even though they take on different shapes, according to the military function for which they were established; they can broadly be classified under four main categories :

a) Air Force Bases (see photos 1 and 2);

b) Army or Land Bases;

c) Navy Bases and

d) Communication and Spy Bases.

Air Base of Diego Garcia located in the Indian Ocean
Reference : http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Diego_Garcia_%28satellite%29.jpg

Diego Garcia. An Aerial View of two B-52 and six Kc-a135
Reference : http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/facility/images/diego-garcia-ims7.jpg

II. More than 1000 US Bases
And/or Military Installations

The main sources of information on these military installations (e.g. C. Johnson, the NATO Watch Committee, the International Network for the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases) reveal that the US operates and/or controls between 700 and 800 military bases Worldwide. In this regard, Hugh d’Andrade and Bob Wing’s 2002 Map 1 entitled “U.S. Military Troops and Bases around the World, The Cost of ‘Permanent War'”, confirms the presence of US military personnel in 156 countries. The US Military has bases in 63 countries. Brand new military bases have been built since September 11, 2001 in seven countries. In total, there are 255,065 US military personnel deployed Worldwide.

These facilities include a total of 845,441 different buildings and equipments. The underlying land surface is of the order of 30 million acres. According to Gelman, who examined 2005 official Pentagon data, the US is thought to own a total of 737 bases in foreign lands. Adding to the bases inside U.S. territory, the total land area occupied by US military bases domestically within the US and internationally is of the order of 2,202,735 hectares, which makes the Pentagon one of the largest landowners worldwide (Gelman, J., 2007).

• U.S. Military Troops and Bases around the World. The Cost of «Permanent War» and Some Comparative Data
Source: http://www.unitedforpeace.org/article.php?id=884

• The American Military Bases Around the World (2001-2003)
Source : http://www.globalpolicy.org/empire/intervention/index.htm
Source : http://www.nobases.org

The Map of the World Network “No Bases” (Map 3) reveals the following:
Based on a selective examination of military bases in North America, Latin America, Western Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Japan, several of these military bases are being used for intelligence purposes. New selected sites are Spy Bases and Satellite-related Spy Bases.

The Surface of the Earth
Is Structured as a Wide Battlefield

These military bases and installations of various kinds are distributed according to a Command structure divided up into five spatial units and four unified Combatant Commands (Map 4). Each unit is under the Command of a General. The Earth surface is being conceived as a wide battlefield which can be patrolled or steadfastly supervised from the Bases.

• The World and Territories Under the Responsibility of a Combatant Command or Under a Command Structure
Source : http://www.defenselink.mil/specials/unifiedcommand/

Territories under a Command are: the Northern Command (NORTHCOM) (Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado), the Pacific Command (Honolulu, Hawaii), the Southern Command (Miami, Florida – Map 5), The Central Command (CENTCOM) (MacDill Air Force Base, Florida), the European Command (Stuttgart-Vaihingen, Germany), the Joint Forces Command (Norfolk, Virginia), the Special Operations Command (MacDill Air Force Base, Florida), the Transportation Command (Scott Air Force Base, Illinois) and the Strategic Command (STRATCOM) (Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska).

• The Southern Command
Source : http://www.visionesalternativas.com/militarizacion/mapas/mapabases.htm

NATO Military Bases
The Atlantic Alliance (NATO) has its own Network of military bases, thirty in total. The latter are primarily located in Western Europe:

Whiteman, U.S.A., Fairford, Lakenheath and Mildenhall in United Kingdom, Eindhoven in Netherlands, Brüggen, Geilenkirchen, Landsberg, Ramstein, Spangdahlem, Rhein-Main in Germany, Istres and Avord in France. Morón de la Frontera and Rota in Spain, Brescia, Vicenza, Piacenza, Aviano, Istrana, Trapani, Ancora, Pratica di Mare, Amendola, Sigonella, Gioia dell Colle, Grazzanise and Brindisi in Italy, Tirana in Albania, Incirlik in Turkey, Eskan Village in Soudi Arabia and Ali al Salem in Koweit (http://www.terra.es/actualidad/articulo/html/act52501.htm)

III. The Global Deployment of US Military Personnel
There are 6000 military bases and/ or military warehouses located in the U.S. (See Wikipedia, February 2007). Total Military Personnel is of the order of 1,4 million of which 1,168,195 are in the U.S and US overseas territories.

Taking figures from the same source, there are 325,000 US military personnel in foreign countries:

800 in Africa, 97,000 in Asia (excluding the Middle East and Central Asia), 40,258 in South Korea, 40,045 in Japan, 491 at the Diego Garcia Base in the Indian Ocean, 100 in the Philippines, 196 in Singapore, 113 in Thailand, 200 in Australia, and 16,601 Afloat.

In Europe, there are 116,000 US military personnel including 75,603 who are stationed in Germany. In Central Asia about 1,000 are stationed at the Ganci (Manas) Air Base in Kyrgyzstan and 38 are located at Kritsanisi, in Georgia, with a mission to train Georgian soldiers. In the Middle East (excludng the Iraq war theater) there are 6,000 US military personnel, 3,432 of whom are in Qatar and 1,496 in Bahrain. In the Western Hemisphere, excluding the U.S. and US territories, there are 700 military personnel in Guantanamo, 413 in Honduras and 147 in Canada.

Map 3 provides information regarding military personnel on duty, based on a regional categorization (broad regions of the world). The total number of military personnel at home in the U.S. and/or in US Territories is 1,139,034. There are 1,825 in Europe 114, 660, 682 in Subsaharian Africa, 4, 274 in the Middle East and Southern Asia, 143 in the Ex-USSR, and 89,846 in the Pacific.

IV. The Operational Cost of the
Worldwide Military Network

US defense spending (excluding the costs of the Iraq war) have increased from 404 in 2001 to 626 billion dollars in 2007 according to data from the Washington based Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. US defense spending is expected to reach 640 billion dollars in 2008. (Figure 1 and http://www.armscontrolcenter.org/archives/002244.php ).

These 2006 expenses correspond to 3.7% of the US GDP and $935.64 per capita (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_of-the_United_States).

• 1. U.S. Military Expenditures since 1998
Source : http://www.globalissues.org/Geopolitics/ArmsTrade/Spending.asp

According to Fig 1, the 396 billion dollars military budget proposed in 2003 has in fact reached 417.4 billion dollars, a 73% increase compared to 2000 (289 billion dollars). This outlay for 2003 was more than half of the total of the US discretionary budget. Since 2003, these military expenditures have to be added to those of the Iraq war and occupation The latter reached in March 2007, according to the National Priorities Project, a cumulative total of 413 billion dollars. (http://www.janes.com/defence/news/jdi/jdi050504_1_n.shtml), (http://nationalpriorities.org/index.php?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=182 ). Estimates of the Defense Department budget needs, made public in 2006 in the DoD Green Book for FY 2007 are of the order of 440 billion dollars. (http://www.dod.mil/comptroller/defbudget/fy2007/index.html )

Military and other staff required numbered 1,332,300. But those figures do not include the money required for the “Global World on Terrorism” (GWOT). In other words, these figures largely pertain to the regular Defense budget. A Goldstein of the Washington Post, within the framework of an article on the aspects of the National 2007 budget titled «2007 Budget Favors Defense», wrote about this topic: “Overall, the budget for the 2007 fiscal year would further reshape the government in the way the administration has been striving to during the past half-decade: building up military capacity and defenses against terrorist threats on U.S. soil, while restraining expenditures for many domestic areas, from education programs to train service”

(http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/04/AR2006020401179.html ).

V. US Military Bases to Protect Strategic Energy Resources
In the wake of 9/11, Washington initiated its “Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT), first in Afghanistan and then in Iraq. Other countries, which were not faithfully obeying Washington’s directives including Iran, North Korea, Syria and Venezuela have been earmarked for possible US military intervention. Washington keeps a close eye on countries opposed to US corporate control over their resources.

Washington also targets countries where there are popular resistance movements directed against US interests, particularly in South America. In this context, President Bush made a quick tour to Brazil, Uruguay, Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico «to promote democracy and trade» but also with a view to ultimately curbing and restraining popular dissent to the US interests in the region.

(http://www.voanews.com/spanish/2007-03-08-voa1.cfm)

The same braod approach is being applied in Central Asia. According to Iraklis Tsavdaridis, Secretary of the World Peace Council (WPC):

“The establishment of U.S. military bases should not of course be seen simply in terms of direct military ends. They are always used to promote the economic and political objectives of U.S. capitalism. For example, U.S. corporations and the U.S. government have been eager for some time to build a secure corridor for US.-controlled oil and natural gas pipelines from the Caspian Sea in Central Asia through Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Arabian Sea. This region -has more than 6 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves and almost 40 percent of its gas reserves. The war in Afghanistan and the creation of U.S. military Bases in Central Asia are viewed as a key opportunity to make such pipelines a reality.”

(http://stopusa.be/campaigns/texte.php?section=FABN&langue=3&id=24157 ).

The US. are at War in Afghanistan and Iraq. They pursue these military operations until they reach their objective which they call “VICTORY”. According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deployment_of-the_U.S.-Military), American troops fighting in these countries number 190,000. The “Enduring Freedom” Operation in Iraq alone has almost 200,000 military personnel, including 26,000 from other countries participating to the US sponsored “Mission”. About 20,000 more could join other contingents in the next few months. In Afghanistan, a total of 25,000 soldiers participate to the operation (Map 6 and Map 7).

• Petroleum and International Theatre of War in the Middle East and Central Asia
Source : Eric Waddell, The Battle for Oil, Global Research, 2003

• American Bases Located in Central Asia
Source : http://www.heartland.it/map_centro_asia_ring.html

• Oil Fields in Latin America
Source : http://www.visionesalternativas.com/militarizacion/mapas/mapahegem.htm

VI. Military Bases Used for the Control of
Strategic Renewable Resources

US Military Bases in foreign countries, are mainly located in Western Europe: 26 of them are in Germany, 8, in Great Britain, and 8 in Italy. There are nine military installations in Japan (Wikepedia). In the last few years, in the context of the GWOT, the US haa built 14 new bases in and around the Persian Gulf.

It is also involved in construction and/or or reinforcement of 20 bases (106 structured units as a whole) in Iraq, with costs of the order of 1.1 billion dollars in that country alone (Varea, 2007) and the use of about ten bases in Central Asia. The US has also undertaken continued negotiations with several countries to install, buy, enlarge or rent an addional number of military bases. The latter pertain inter alia to installations in Morocco, Algeria, Mali, Ghana, Brazil and Australia (See Nicholson, B., 2007), Poland, Czech Republic (Traynor, I., 2007), Ouzbekistan, Tadjikistan, Kirghizstan, Italy (Jucca, L., 2007) and France.

Washington has signed an agreement to build a military base in Djibouti (Manfredi, E., 2007). All these initiatives are a part of an overall plan to install a series of military bases geographically located in a West-East corridor extending from Colombia in South America, to North Africa, the Near East, Central Asia and as far as the Philippines (Johnson, C., 2004). The US bases in South American are related to the control and access to the extensive natural biological , mineral and water resources resources of the Amazon Basin. (Delgado Jara, D., 2006 and Maps 9 and 10).

• The Biological Wealth of Latin America
Source : http://www.visionesalternativas.com/militarizacion/mapas/mapahegem.htm

• Freshwater Resources in Latin America
Source : http://www.visionesalternativas.com/militarizacion/mapas/mapahegem.htm

VII. Resistance Movements
The network of US military bases is strategic, located in prcximity of traditional strategic resources including nonrenewable sources of energy. This military presence has brought about political opposition and resistance from progressive movements and antiwar activists. Demonstrations directed against US military presence has developed in Spain, Ecuador, Italy, Paraguay, Uzbekistan, Bulgaria and in many other countries. Moreover, other long-termer resistance movements directed against US military presence have continued in South Korea, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Philippines, Cuba, Europe, Japan and other locations.

The Worldwide resistance to US foreign military bases has grown during the last few years. We are dealing with an International Network for the Abolition of US Military Bases. Such networks’ objective is to broadly pursue disarmament, demilitarization processes Worldwide as well as dismantle US military bases in foreign countries. The NO BASES Network organizes educational campaigns to sensitize public opinion. It also works to rehabilitate abandoned military sites, as in the case of Western Europe. These campaigns, until 2004, had a local and national impact.

The network is now in a position to reach people Worldwide. The network itself underscores that “much can be gained from greater and deeper linkages among local and national campaigns and movements across the globe. Local groups around the world can learn and benefit from sharing information, experiences, and strategies with each other”

(http://www.no-bases.org/index.php?mod=network&bloque=1&idioma=en )

“The realisation that one is not alone in the struggle against foreign bases is profoundly empowering and motivating. Globally coordinated actions and campaigns can highlight the reach and scale of the resistance to foreign military presence around the world. With the trend of rising miniaturization and resort to the use of force around the world, there is now an urgent and compelling need to establish and strengthen an international network of campaigners, organisations, and movements working with a special and strategic focus on foreign military presence and ultimately, working towards a lasting and just system of peace»

(http://www.no-bases.org/index.php?mod=network&bloque=1&idioma=en )

The Afghanistan and Iraq wars have, in this regard, created a favourable momentum, which has contributed to the reinforcement of the movement to close down US military bases in foreign countries: “At the time of an International anti-war meeting held in Jakarta in May 2003, a few weeks after the start of the Iraq invasion, a global anti-military Bases campaign has been proposed as an action to priorize among global anti-war, justice and solidarity movements»

(http://www.no-bases.org/index.php?mod=network&bloque=1&idioma=en).

Since then, the campaign has acquired greater recognition. E-mail lists have been compiled (nousbases@lists.riseup.net and nousbases-info@lists.riseup.net ) that permit the diffusion of the movement members experiences and information and discussion exchanges. That list now groups 300 people and organizations from 48 countries. A Web site permits also to adequately inform all Network members. Many rubrics provide highly valuable information on ongoing activities around the World.

http://www.no-bases.org/index.php?mod=network&bloque=1&idioma=en

In addition, the Network is more and more active and participates in different activities. At the World Social Forums it organized various conferences and colloquia. It was present at the European Social Forum held in Paris in 2003 and in London in 2004 as well as at the the America’s Social Forum in Ecuador in 2004, and at the Mediterranean Social Forum in Spain in 2005.

One of the major gatherings, which was held in Mumbai, India, in 2004, was within the framework of the World Social Forum. More than 125 participants from 34 countries defined the foundations of a coordinated global campaign. Action priorities were identified, such as the determination of a global day of action aiming at underscoring major issues stemming from the existence of US military bases. The Network also held four discussion sessions at the Porto Alegre Social Forum in 2005. One of those pertained to the financing of the Network’s activities. It is important to recall that the Network belongs to the Global Peace Movement. Justice and Peace organizations have become more sensitized on what was at stake regarding US military bases. .

• Social and Resistence Movements in Latin America
Source : http://www.visionesalternativas.com/militarizacion/mapas/mapahegem.htm

The Quito and Manta International Conference,
Ecuador, March 2007

A Network World Conference for the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases was held at Quito and at Manta, Ecuador, from March 5 to 9 2007

(http://72.14.205.104/search?q=cache:SmEvQwFUeiAJ:www.abolishbases.org/pdf/CalltoEcuadorFlyer-Francais.pdf+R%C3%A9seau+mondial+des+bases+militaires&hl=fr&gl=ca&ct=clnk&cd=3&lr=lang_fr ).

The objective of the Conference was to underscore the political, social, environmental and economic impacts of US military bases, to make known the principles of the various Anti-Bases movements and to formally build the Network, its strategies, structure and Action Plans. The main objectives of the Conference were the following:

– Analyze the role of Foreign Military Bases and other features of military presence associated to the global dominance strategy and their impacts upon population and environment;

• Share experiences and reinforce the built solidarity resulting from the resistance battles against Foreign military Bases around the World;

• Reach a consensus on objectives mechanisms, on action plans, on coordination, on communication and on decision making of a Global Network for the abolition of all Foreign military Bases and of all other expressions of military presence; and

• Establish global action plans to fight and reinforce the resistance of local people and ensure that these actions are being coordinated at the international level.

Conclusion
This article has focused on the Worldwide development of US military power. The US tends to view the Earth surface as a vast territory to conquer, occupy and exploit. The fact that the US Military splits the World up into geographic command units vividly illustrates this underlying geopolitical reality. Humanity is being controlled and enslaved by this Network of US military bases. . The ongoing re-deployment of US troops and military bases has to be analyzed in a thorough manner if we wish to understand the nature of US interventionism in different regions of the World.

This militarisation process is charactersied by armed aggression and warfare, as well as interventions called “cooperation agreements”. The latter reaffirmed America’s economic design design in the areas of trade and investment practices. Economic development is ensured through the miniaturization or the control of governments and organizations. Vast resources are thereby expended and wasted in order to allow such control to be effective, particuarly in regions which have a strategic potential in terms of wealth and resources and which are being used to consolidate the Empire’s structures and functions.

The setting up of the International Network for the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases turns out to be an extraordinary means to oppose the miniaturization process of the Planet. Such Network is indispensable and its growth depends on a commitment of all the People of the World. It will be extremely difficult to mobilize them, but the ties built up by the Network among its constituant resistence movements are a positive element, which is ultmately conducive to more cohesive and coordinated battle at the World level.

The Final Declaration of the Second International Conference against Foreign Military Bases which was held in Havana in November 2005 and was endorsed by delegates from 22 countries identifies most of the major issues, which confront mankind. This Declaration constitutes a major peace initative. It establishes international solidarity in the process of disarmament. .

(http://www.csotan.org/textes/texte.php?type=divers&art_id=267 ). References

About the Author: Jules Dufour is President of the United Nations Association of Canada (UNA-C) – Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean branch and Research Associate at the Center for Research on Globalization (CRG). He is Emeritus Professor of Geography at the University of Quebec, Chicoutimi. In 2007, Professor Jules Dufour became Chevalier de l’Ordre national du Québec, a distinction conferred by the Quebec government, for his contributions to World peace and human rights, his numerous scholarly writings and the work he accomplished in the context of national and international commissions on issues pertaining to regional development, human rights and the protection of the environment.

More Information on Empire?
More General Analysis on Economic Expansion
More General Analysis on US Military Expansion and Intervention

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

UK Troops begin Iraqi Withdrawal

March 30th, 2009 - by admin

BBC News – 2009-03-30 23:04:54

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/7973403.stm

LONDON (March 31, 2009) — British forces will officially begin their withdrawal from Iraq on Tuesday as the UK’s top general in the south of the country hands over to a US general. Major General Andy Salmon will transfer authority for what will become Multi-National Division South to US Major General Michael Oates.

Most of Britain’s 4,000 troops will leave by 31 May, the official end-of-combat date. About 400 will stay after that, either in HQ roles or to train the Iraq Navy.

‘Heads Held High’
Major General Salmon says much has been achieved over the past six years. He told the BBC: “We’ve helped deliver security, we’ve set the conditions for social and economic development and I think we can leave with our heads held high”.

The US role in southern Iraq will be slightly different, focussing more on training the Iraqi police, and keeping open the supply route between the south and Baghdad.

The BBC’s defence correspondent Caroline Wyatt says US soldiers are now a visible presence in Basra, with British troops handing over many of the buildings and duties at the camp as they pack up after six years in Iraq.

But Lt Colonel AJ Johnson, the American taking over the job of liaising with the Iraqi Army at Basra Operations Centre, says there will not be much difference in the US approach in Basra – which means ensuring the Iraqi Army and police remain the most visible presence on the streets here.

Lt Colonel Johnson told the BBC: “The bottom line, the aim of the transition itself is to make sure it’s seamless and that there’s generally no perception that the US army is here and they are going to do things different than the British did when they were here.”

The Americans are also reducing their numbers, with two brigades due to leave the province of Al-Anbar, once the heartland of Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

However, the bulk of US troops are not due to leave until the end of 2011.

© BBC MMIX

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Ex-State Dept. Lawyer Condemns Bush Policies

March 29th, 2009 - by admin

Andrew O. Selsky, Associated Press – 2009-03-29 23:04:54

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/03/28/MN2H16OCN0.DTL

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (March 28, 2009) — A former State Department lawyer responsible for Guantanamo-related cases said Friday that the Bush administration overreacted after 9/11 and set up a system in which torture occurred.

Vijay Padmanabhan is at least the second former Bush administration official to publicly label “enhanced interrogation techniques” as torture. He said the administration was wrong in its entire approach when it sent detainees to the remote Navy base and declared it out of reach of any court.

“I think Guantanamo was one of the worst overreactions of the Bush administration,” Padmanabhan said. He added that other overreactions included extraordinary renditions, waterboarding that occurred at secret CIA prisons and “other enhanced interrogation techniques that would constitute torture.”

The criticisms from Padmanabhan, the department’s chief counsel on Guantanamo litigation, are among the harshest yet made by a former Bush administration insider.

President George W. Bush always denied the United States tortured anyone. The government has acknowledged that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-described plotter of Sept. 11, and a few other prisoners were water boarded at secret CIA prisons before being taken to Guantanamo, but the Bush administration insisted that all interrogations were lawful.

Padmanabhan said he believes these tactics – which the International Committee of the Red Cross has also described as torture – were approved because the White House was shocked by the Sept. 11 attacks.

The first Bush administration official to publicly describe these acts as torture, Susan J. Crawford, is the military official in charge of trying Guantanamo Bay detainees. She said in January that the United States tortured a Saudi detainee in 2002, preventing her from bringing him to trial.

Padmanabhan said the Bush administration’s position invited a Supreme Court clash, which it lost when the justices ruled that Guantanamo detainees do have the right to contest their detention in US courts.

Padmanabhan, who now teaches at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York, said there was plenty of dissent when detention policy was being formulated. But he said attorney-client privilege prevents him from describing what positions he advocated at the State Department.

Echoing comments made by Lawrence Wilkerson, another former State Department official, Padmanabhan said many of the men brought to Guantanamo were innocent.

A total of almost 800 men have been held at the military base in Cuba since the detention center opened in January 2002. The number has boiled down to 240, and there are proportionately fewer innocent men there now, Padmanabhan said, with most having “some connection to al Qaeda or the Taliban.”

He says it was misguided for the administration to insist that the detainees were not subject to the Geneva Conventions or US or international law. The Bush administration argued that the detainees wore no uniforms, fought under no nation’s flag and violated the rules of war, and therefore deserved no Geneva Conventions protections.

In one of his first official acts, President Obama said the detainees have rights under the Geneva conventions.

The State Department declined to comment on the substance of Padmanabhan’s comments.

© 2009 Hearst Communications Inc.

Secret Memos Point to Bush Treason; Spanish Court Mulls Trials for Bush Officials

March 29th, 2009 - by admin

Naomi Wolf / AlterNet & BBC News – 2009-03-29 23:03:40

http://www.alternet.org/story/133273/

Do the Secret Bush Memos Amount to Treason?
Top Constitutional Scholar Says Yes

Naomi Wolf / AlterNet

WASHINGTON (March 25, 2009) — In early March, more shocking details emerged about George W. Bush legal counsel John Yoo’s memos outlining the destruction of the republic.

The memos lay the legal groundwork for the president to send the military to wage war against US citizens; take them from their homes to Navy brigs without trial and keep them forever; close down the First Amendment; and invade whatever country he chooses without regard to any treaty or objection by Congress.

It was as if Milton’s Satan had a law degree and was establishing within the borders of the United States the architecture of hell.

I thought this was — and is — certainly one of the biggest stories of our lifetime, making the petty burglary of Watergate — which scandalized the nation — seem like playground antics. It is newsworthy too with the groundswell of support for prosecutions of Bush/Cheney crimes and recent actions such as Canadian attorneys mobilizing to arrest Bush if he visits their country.

The memos are a confession. The memos could not be clearer: This was the legal groundwork of an attempted coup. I expected massive front page headlines from the revelation that these memos exited. Almost nothing. I was shocked.

As a non-lawyer, was I completely off base in my reading of what this meant, I wondered? Was I hallucinating?

Astonished, I sought a reality check — and a formal legal read — from one of the nation’s top constitutional scholars (and most steadfast patriots), Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which has been at the forefront of defending the detainees and our own liberties.

Here is our conversation:

Naomi Wolf: Michael, can you explain to a layperson what the Yoo memos actually mean?’

Michael Ratner: What they mean is that your book looks moderate in respect to those issues now. This — what is in the memos — is law by fiat.

I call it “Fuhrer’s law.” What those memos lay out means the end of the system of checks and balances in this country. It means the end of the system in which the courts, legislature and executive each had a function and they could check each other.

What the memos set out is a system in which the president’s word is law, and Yoo is very clear about that: the president’s word is not only law according to these memos, but no law or constitutional right or treaty can restrict the president’s authority.

What Yoo says is that the president’s authority as commander in chief in the so-called war on terror is not bound by any law passed by Congress, any treaty, or the protections of free speech, due process and the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. The First, Fourth and Fifth amendments — gone.

What this actually means is that the president can order the military to operate in the US and to operate without constitutional restrictions. They — the military — can pick you or me up in the US for any reason and without any legal process. They would not have any restrictions on entering your house to search it, or to seize you. They can put you into a brig without any due process or going to court. (That’s the Fourth and Fifth amendments.)

The military can disregard the Posse Comitatus law, which restricts the military from acting as police in the the United States. And the president can, in the name of wartime restrictions, limit free speech. There it is in black and white: we are looking at one-person rule without any checks and balances — a lawless state. Law by fiat.

Who has suspended the law this way in the past? It is like a Caesar’s law in Rome; a Mussolini’s law in Italy; a Fuhrer’s law in Germany; a Stalin’s law in the Soviet Union. It is right down the line. It is enforcing the will of the dictator through the military.

NW: The mainstream media have virtually ignored these revelations, though it seems to me this is the biggest news since Pearl Harbor.

MR: I think that’s right. We had a glimmering of the blueprint for some of this — when they picked up Jose Padilla, the military went to a prison and snatched an American citizen as if they had a perfect right to do so.

Now we can see that these memos laid the legal groundwork for such actions. We knew the military could do this to an individual. We did not know the plan was to eliminate First Amendment constitutional rights for the entire population.

NW: If Bush only wanted these powers in order to prosecute a war on terror, why does he need to suspend the First Amendment? Isn’t that the smoking gun of a larger intention toward the general population?

MR: Part of this plan was actually implemented: for instance, they tried to keep people like Padilla from getting to a magistrate. They engaged in the wiretapping, because according to these memos there was no Fourth Amendment.

They had to be planning some kind of a takeover of the United States to be saying they could simply abolish the First Amendment if the president believed it was necessary in the name of national security. It lays the groundwork for what could have been a massive military takeover of the United States.

Here they crept right up and actually implemented part of the plan, with Padilla, with the warrantless wiretapping. Yet they are saying in the White House and in Congress that it is looking backward to investigate the authors of these memos and those who instructed Yoo and others to write them.

But investigation and prosecutions are really looking forward — to say we need the deterrence of prosecution so this does not happen again.

NW: What about the deployment of three brigades in the US? How should we read that?’

MR: With terrorism as less of a concern to many, but now with the economy in tatters there is a lot more militant activism in US — the New School and NYU student takeovers, protests around the country and strikes are just the beginning. I think governments are now concerned over people’s activism, and people’s anger at their economic situation. I don’t think those brigades can be detached from the idea that there might well be a huge amount of direct-action protest in the US

There could have also been a closer election that could have been stolen easily and then a huge protest. Those troops would have been used to enforce the will of the cabal stealing the election.

NW: As a layperson, I don’t fully understand what powers the memos actually manifest. Are they theoretical or not just theoretical? What power did the memos actually give Bush?

MR: They were probably, in fact almost for sure, written in cahoots with the administration — [Karl] Rove, [Dick] Cheney — to give them legal backing for what they planned or wanted to carry out.

What I assume happened here is people like Cheney or his aides go to the Office of Legal Counsel and say, “We are going to need legal backing, to give a face of legality to what we are doing and what we are planning.” When the president then signs a piece of paper that says, “OK, military, go get Jose Padilla,” these memos give that order a veneer of legality.

If you are familiar with the history of dictators, coups and fascism (as I know you are), they (the planners) prefer a veneer of legality. Hitler killed 6 million Jews with a veneer of legality — getting his dictatorial powers through the Reichstag and the courts.

These memos gave the Bush administration’s [lawless] practices the veneer of legality.

NW: So are you saying that these memos actually created a police state that we did not know about?

MR: If you look at police state as various strands of lawlessness, we knew about some of this lawlessness even before this latest set of memos.

But the memos revealed how massive the takeover of our democracy was to be — that this wasn’t just going to be a few individuals here or there who suffered the arrows of a police state.

These memos lay the groundwork for a massive military takeover of the United States in cahoots with the president. And if that’s not a coup d’etat then, nothing is.

NW: Can I ask something? I keep thinking about the notion of treason. In America now, people tend to read the definition of treason in the Constitution as if they are thinking of a Tokyo Rose or an American citizen acting as an agent for an enemy state — very much a World War II experience of the traitor to one’s country.

But I’ve been reading a lot of 16th and 17th century history, and it seems to me that the founders were thinking more along the lines of English treason of that era — small groups of Englishmen, usually nobility, who formed cabals and conspired with one another to buy or recruit militias to overthrow the crown or Parliament.

The notion that a group might conspire in secret to overthrow the government is not a wild, marginal concept, it is a substantial part of European, and especially British, Renaissance and Reformation-era history and would have been very much alive in the minds of the Enlightenment-era founders. (I just visited the Tower of London where this was so frequent a charge against groups of English subjects that there is a designated Traitor’s Gate.)

So clearly you don’t have to act on behalf of another state to commit treason. The Constitution defines it as levying war against the United States or giving aid and comfort to its enemies. It says nothing about the enemy having to be another state.

When the Constitution was drafted, the phrase “United States” barely referred to a singular country; it referred to a new federation of many united states. They imagined militias rising up against various states; it was not necessarily nation against nation.

Surely, when we have evidence Bush prepared the way to allow the military to imprison or shoot civilians in the various states and created law to put his own troops over the authority of the governors and the national guard of the various states, and when the military were sent to terrorize protesters in St. Paul, [Minn.], Bush was levying war in this sense against the united states?

Hasn’t Bush actually levied war against Minnesota? And if our leaders and military are sworn to protect and defend the Constitution, and there is clear evidence now that Bush and his cabal intended to do away with it, are they not our enemies and giving aid and comfort to our enemies? Again, “enemy” does not seem to me to be defined in the Constitution as another sovereign state.

MR: You are right. Treason need not involve another state. Aaron Burr was tried for treason. I do think that a plan to control the military, use it in the United States contrary to law and the Constitution and employ it to levy a war or takeover that eliminates the democratic institutions of the country constitutes treason, even if done under the president of the United States.

The authority given by these memos that could be used to raid every congressional office, raid and search every home, detain tens of thousands, would certainly fit a definition of treason.

This would be the president making war against the institutions of the United States.

Naomi Wolf is the author of Give Me Liberty (Simon and Schuster, 2008), the sequel to the New York Times best-seller The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot (Chelsea Green, 2007).

In accordance with Title 17 USC. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.


Spain Court Mulls US Torture Case
BBC News

MADRID (March 29, 2009) — Spanish judges have agreed to consider charging six former US officials with providing legal justification for alleged torture at Guantanamo Bay. Human rights lawyers brought the case against the six, who all served under former President George W Bush. Among those named was former defence official Douglas Feith, who said the charges against him “made no sense”.

Spanish courts can prosecute offences such as torture or war crimes even if they occurred in other countries. The former officials – who include ex-Attorney-General Alberto Gonzalez – could face arrest on leaving the US if the courts decide to issue warrants.

The lawyers who brought the case accuse the six of providing legal cover to allow the security services to use techniques of interrogation such as “waterboarding”. They say the methods amounted to torture.

Mr Feith, a former under-secretary for defence, rebuffed the accusations. “The charges as related to me make no sense,” he said. “They criticise me for promoting a controversial position that I never advocated.”

The lawyers took their accusations to Judge Baltasar Garzon, who agreed to allow state prosecutors to decide if the case has merit. Judge Garzon was responsible for bringing a prosecution against former Chilean leader Augusto Pinochet, who was arrested in the UK in 1998. Spain’s courts have also launched investigations over alleged crimes in Argentina, Tibet, El Salvador and Rwanda.

© BBC MMIX

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