â€¨TOKYO (April 25, 2011â€¨) — The Japanese government has made an unconscionable decision to increase the allowable radiation dose for children attending school in Fukushima Prefecture to 20 MilliSieverts/year — or 2 rems/year.
This is 20 times the allowable standard for the public in the US — and 20 times above the previous allowable standard in Japan. And at the same time, the Japanese government is planning to evacuate additional towns in Fukushima Prefecture because residents would be exposed to 20 MilliSieverts/year!
This double standard makes no sense. Nor does treating children the same as adults: children are more suspectible to radiation effects than adults. Our Japanese colleagues have set up an emergency petition calling for a reversal of this decision. They will be presenting the petition to government officials on April 30.
Important: please note that after signing, you will be sent an e-mail to confirm your signature. Please watch your inbox/spam box for this e-mail, and click the link on it to ensure your signature is recorded!
Chernobyl+25â€¨NIRS action page now lists actions in 18 states for tomorrow’s Chernobyl anniversary and for upcoming days and weeks. Several more actions will be posted to the page later today — so check tonight and tomorrow morning for the action nearest you!
Note: if your group is planning actions this Spring, please get the information to us as early as possible so we can help publicize. Make sure to include your group name; date, time and location of the action; and contact information. If you have a flyer or poster, send us a copy of that too.
Don’t forget about tomorrow’s Virtual March on Washington! To participate, just send a photo of yourself (and friends!) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Go here to see the current slideshow and download a sign you can hold for your photo. We’ll be presenting this virtual march to the Blue Ribbon Commisson on America’s Nuclear Future. Make sure your voice is seen!
Note: the Fukushima petition and Virtual March are open to people in every country. A reminder of the new position available at NIRS: The job description and application instructions are posted here.
Michael Mariotte is the â€¨Executive Director of the â€¨Nuclear Information and Resource Service â€¨email@example.comâ€¨www.nirs.org
Petition Deadline April 30! Green Action Japan
Citizens will be meeting with the Japanese government on Monday May 2, and will submit the signatures gathered. We will report back the results to you on this blog. Please tell us where you are from, as we are looking for the support of the international community. Thanks for your interest and participation!
We the undersigned ask you to join us in signing our petition, to be presented to the Japanese Government.
Emergency Statement and Demands
We urgently demand the withdrawal of the Japanese Governmentâ€™s inhumane decision to force 20mSv per year radiation exposure onto children.
On April 19th, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) notified the Board of Education and related institutions in Fukushima Prefecture the level of 20 millisieverts per year (mSv/y) as a Radiation Safety Standard for schools in Fukushima Prefecture. This is the standard to be used for school grounds and buildings. The Government has indicated that 20mSv/y is equivalent to 3.8 microSv per hour measured outdoors.
3.8 microSv/h is roughly 6 times [the 0.6 microSv/h] of “Radiation Controlled Areas” (0.6 microSv/h or more). The Labour Standards Act prohibits those under the age of 18 from working under these conditions. Forcing children to be exposed to such radiation doses is an exceedingly inhumane decision. Therefore, we condemn this in the strongest terms.
20 mSv/y is comparable to the [legally] recognized dose for inducing leukemia in nuclear power plant workers. It is also comparable to the maximum dose allowed for nuclear power plant workers in Germany.
In addition, this 20mSv standard [for Japanese children] does not take into account the fact children have higher sensitivity to radiation than adults, nor does it take into account any internal radiation exposure.
Currently, according to the radiation monitoring conducted at elementary and middle schools within Fukushima Prefecture, more than 75% of these schools have contamination levels comparable to “Radiation Controlled Areas” (0.6 microSv/h or more). Further, roughly 20% of the schools fall within “Individual Exposure Controlled Areas” (2.3 microSv/h or more) and are in an extremely dangerous situation.
The level set by the Japanese Government at this time amounts to coercion of this dangerous situation upon children, and, can interfere with voluntary measures by schools to minimize exposure.
MEXT states that 20mSv/y is based on the recommendation Pub.109 by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) as well as on the reference levels in the band of 1 to 20 mSv/y as “Post Emergency Situation” Standards from the ICRP statement released on March 21st. The latter means MEXT has adopted the maximum level.
As of April 21st, there has been no substantive information disclosure by the Japanese Government on the decision-making process for establishing these standards. Moreover, no explanation has been given concerning why the Government has neither taken the sensitivity of children into consideration nor internal radiation exposure into account. The contents of the consultation held between MEXT and the Nuclear Safety Commission (NSC) are not disclosed, and the situation remains extremely opaque.
We demand the following of the Japanese Government:
â€¨- Retraction of the “20mSv/y” standard for children.
â€¨- Disclosure of the names of experts, who deemed “20mSv/y” for children to be safe.
Note:â€¨At the governmental negotiation held on April 21st, it became evident that the Nuclear Safety Commission (NSC) concluded the 20mSv/y standard for children as “Permissible” without undertaking any formal consultation. Moreover, on April 22nd, the Commission reported to the office of Mizuho FUKUSHIMA, member of the Japanese Diet, House of Councillors that no minutes (records) exist of the 5 Nuclear Safety Commission membersâ€™ deliberation leading to the 20mSv/year standard.
References:â€¨Expert comments cited from the articles on the establishment of the 20mSv/y standard (“Fukushima-Katastrophe — Japan legt hohe Strahlengrenzwerte fÃ¼r Kinder fest” or “Japan’s MEXT sets High Exposure Limits for Children”), Der Spiegel, April 21st, 2011.â€¨(See comparison to German workers.)â€¨http://www.spiegel.de/wissenschaft/mensch/0,1518,758410,00.html
Edmund Lengfelder (Otto Hug Radiation Institute), â€œThe cancer risk will visibly rise in the future. By setting these standards, the government will steer clear of any liability legally, however not morally.â€â€¨
This petition is organized by:â€¨
Green Action, Greenpeace Japan, Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center, Citizens Against Fukushima Aging Nuclear Power Plants (Fukuro-no-Kai), Osaka Citizens Against the Mihama, Oi, and Takahama Nuclear Power Plants (Mihama-no-Kai), Friends of the Earth Japan
For further inquiries, please contact: Green Action, â€¨Suite 103, 22-75 Tanaka Sekiden-choâ€¨Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8203 Japanâ€¨Tel: +81-75-701-7223â€¨firstname.lastname@example.org
Friends of the Earth Japan, â€¨3-30-8-1F Ikebukuro Toshima-ku Tokyo 171-0014, Japanâ€¨TEL: +81-3-6907-7217â€¨email@example.com
WASHINGTON (April 28, 2011) — Mr Obama was preparing last night to announce that Leon Panetta, the current Central Intelligence Agency director, would take over the Pentagon in July. Replacing him at the CIA’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia will be General David Petraeus, current commander in Afghanistan.
“Petraeus is an inspiring figure and has more breadth and acumen that almost any other general,” said a former CIA officer. “But he’s an Army man through and through.
“Panetta’s an accomplished bureaucrat whose only national security experience has been at CIA. Now he’ll be in charge of a military engaged in multiple wars. It makes you wonder the President thinks spying and fighting is the same thing.”
The other two pieces of the national security jigsaw will see Gen John Allen of the US Marine Corps take over from Gen Petraeus in Kabul in September and Ryan Crocker, former US ambassador to Iraq, become the top American diplomat there.
Although the appointments have provoked grumbling from some CIA veterans, they have been broadly welcomed by Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill as representing continuity and rewarding experience and expertise.
Robert Gates, the current US Defense Secretary, in post since 2006 and the only member of President George W Bush’s cabinet to keep his job under Mr Obama, was another former CIA director.
Gen Petraeus, the most celebrated military officer in the US since Gen Colin Powell when he was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the 1991 Gulf War, will retire from the US Army to take up his CIA post, in part to blunt concerns about the militarisation of intelligence.
But despite the precedents and the fact that Gen Petraeus will don a business suit for work, this is the first time in 28 years that a CIA director has gone straight to the Pentagon and it is more than 60 years since a US Army officer has become America’s top spy.
There was a 13-year gap between Mr Gates’s leadership of the CIA and his appointment to head the Pentagon while Gen Hayden was a long-time intelligence specialist, in stark contrast to Gen Petraeus’s mainstream military career.
CIA paramilitary officers work on the ground in Afghanistan and elsewhere alongside US Special Forces teams. There has been very close co-ordination between the CIA and military over drone strikes in Pakistan, a campaign stepped up by Mr Obama and with which Gen Petraeus is intimately familiar.
Gen Petraeus is said to have discreetly lobbied for the CIA post but some Republicans and military officers view Mr Obama’s selection of him for the intelligence job as a way of neutralising a rival.
Some White House officials view Gen Petraeus as having been too close to Mr Bush and there were fears among Democrats that he could challenge Mr Obama for the presidency in 2012.
The most natural job for Gen Petraeus would have been Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff but Mr Obama did not consider him for this because he feared the general might become an alternative source of power, as Gen Powell appeared to be after the Gulf War.
CIA’s Leon Panetta ‘to become new defense secretary’
US military musical chairs with Gen Petraeus to become head of CIA
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
Tripoli Bishop: This War ‘Makes No Sense’; the Italian Govt Should ‘Resign’ Asia News & Global Research
(April 29, 2011) — Bombs strike Tripoli throughout the night. Residents are desperate, running into the streets, appealing to the Pope to stop the war. “If the war continues, the gap between the Libyan and Italian peoples could get bigger, with unforeseeable consequences,” the apostolic vicar says.
Tripoli (AsiaNews) — “NATO’s war makes no sense. People want peace. What have people done to deserve all this?” asks Mgr Giovanni Innocenzo Martinelli, apostolic vicar of Tripoli. “Targeting military objectives” is crazy because “bombs are striking everywhere,” the prelate said. “We cannot sleep and people are panicking,” he added. “Just last night, there were some explosions just a few kilometres from our area.”
The situation is desperate and the West should stop the war, Mgr Martinelli urged. “We can see women and children crying in the streets. Many Muslim women have come to church crying, asking the Pope to stop the conflict,” the prelate said.
“Bombs solve nothing. NATO and the rebels must stop the military intervention and accept diplomatic talks with the regime,” he explained.
The prelate is also very critical of the positions taken by the Italian government. After backing Gaddafi and his regime for years, now Rome has decided to take part in the air strikes.
“If this is the government’s choice, it would be better for everyone that it resign,” the bishop said.
“How can anyone say that everything is normal and right? If the war continues, the gap between the Libyan and Italian peoples could get bigger, with unforeseeable consequences.”
BEIJING (April 28, 2011) — Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya was interviewed by Xu Jingjing for a feature article about the impasse in war on Libya for Life Week, a major Chinese magazine based in Beijing.
The interview for Life Week discusses the impasse in the war and how it is part of the strategy of the Pentagon and NATO to divide Libya. The interview also discusses the roles of Turkey and Germany as well as EU plans to send peacekeepers. The economic importance of Misurata is also emphasised.
What follows is the English transcript of the 26 April 2011 interview.
XU JINGJING: It seems the Western Coalition has slowed down their moves in the past three weeks. In your analysis, what are the reasons for the impasse?
XNAZEMROAYA: The impasse in Libya is calculated. The US and NATO want to maintain a strategic stalemate between the Libyan government in Tripoli and the Transitional Council in Benghazi. They are using this strategic stalemate to manipulate both Tripoli and Benghazi. The more desperate and tired both Tripoli and Benghazi become, the more they will turn to the US and its NATO partners to end the conflict.
The Transitional Council will also make more deals with the US and the EU. The Libyan regime in Tripoli will plead with the US and the EU to end the war and also make concessions. The US and the EU want the two sides in Benghazi and Tripoli to be dependent on Washington and Brussels as the arbiters of Libya.
The end result will be that Libya will transform itself into what the US and Western Europe want it to become since the end of the Second World War in 1945.
The US and EU goal is to turn Libya into a divided country. This is what the US and the EU are experts at doing. They are experts at turning people against one another and breaking countries.
They divided the Arabs who should be one country or at the most five Arab countries. They helped divide the people of India. They divided the Southern Slavs in the Balkans. They divided the people of Southeast Asia. They have worked to divide the island of Taiwan from mainland China. They worked to make Ukraine fight with Russia.
With Israel and Saudi Arabia they divided the Palestinians and Lebanese politically. Now the US and the EU are intent upon further dividing the Arabs as well as creating divisions in the African and South American countries. And they continue to work to divide the Muslims by identifying them as Shias or Sunnis. They are also working very hard to divide Russia, Iran, and China.
Before 1951, the US, France, Italy, and Britain all had agreements amongst themselves to divide Libya into spheres of influence and even tried to prevent Libya from becoming a united and independent country.
These imperialist powers originally wanted Libya to be three separate territories. The Libyan people bitterly opposed this.
Washington, London, and Paris even held talks with the Soviet Union on establishing three U.N. mandates called trusteeships in Libya. One of these mandates would be in Cyrenaica under British control, another mandate in Fazzan under French control, and one in Tripolitania under Italian control. The US would oversee all of them. But the Soviets had different ideas and wanted a mandate in Tripolitania or to share it with Italy.
Finally no agreements could be made and due to this Libya emerged as an independent country after debate at the UN.
When the US, Britain, France, and Italy agreed to give Libya independence they agreed to do it if Libya became a federal state under King Idris. Idris was made the head of State of Libya by the British and colonial powers and under the federal system the other smaller emirs would run Cyrenaica and Fazzan and would be the unelected representatives of these two territories.
In Tripolitania, which was the area where most of the Libyan population was concentrated, the Libyan representatives would be selected by the people. But under a federal system that gave equal weight to Tripolitania, Cyrenaica, and Fazzan. The Libyan peopleâ€™s selected officials would be turned into a minority amongst the emirs and sheikhs.
In the federal system that Washington wanted, the unelected emirs representing the smaller populations of Cyrenaica and Fazzan would be the majority in the Libyan National Assembly. What the US and its allies were trying to do was to extinguish any form of self-determination by the Libyans. Washington and its partners were trying to turn Libya into a sheikhdom or emirate like Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, and the UAE.
Today the US and the EU are on the road towards forcing a new federal system in Libya or dividing the country under at least two administrations in Tripoli and Benghazi. These countries are also the forces that are pushing for a tribal conflict in Libya, which would turn the country into a second Yugoslavia. The tribal fighting in Libya would spill outside the borders of Libya into the rest of Africa, from West Africa to Central Africa and East Africa.
XU JINGJING: Is political bargaining behind the impasse? In your analysis, how will the countries allot obligations in the war and the interests after the war?
XNAZEMROAYA: The British have outlined a scheme where the Arab members of this coalition against Libya will send their troops into Libya or finance a massive army of foreign mercenaries.
A partially privatized ground invasion of Libya will take place. In this regard, the British want Arab countries like Qatar and the UAE to finance British and US mercenaries in Libya. Like the British did in Omar many years ago, London is even going to allow members of the British military to temporarily leave their positions to work or fight in Libya as mercenaries. This is why the US was against including in UN Resolution 1973 any article permitting the legal persecution of foreign mercenaries that are not parties to the International Criminal Court.
While the US has been responsible for leading the attack on Libya, it will be the Western Europeans who will manage the occupation.
The EU now wants to occupy Libya. They will do this under the mandate of a peacekeeping force. This will only divide Libya. It will be under the eyes of an EU peacekeeping force that the two governments in Benghazi and Tripoli will drift more and more apart. Most probably Libya will be governed separately or under a federalist system.
The US and the EU have now helped create a new Central Bank in Benghazi and a new National Oil Company in Benghazi. The US probably wants to militarily position itself in Libya and maybe even in the future try to establish its AFRICOM headquarters in Libya.
Wall Street and the big Western European banks will also run Libyaâ€™s finances. The energy sector will be shared by the US and the EU, with the inclusion of Qatar as a reward to the Emir of Qatar. The Emir of Qatar is already responsible for the agreements with the new National Oil Company in Benghazi and Al Jazeera has also helped create the Transitional Councilâ€™s media stations.
XU JINGJING: Do you see any dissent among the countries in the Coalition fighting with Gadaffi? Do they have different purpose and national interest?
XNAZEMROAYA: I do not see any evidence for major dissent amongst the US and its allies. Any dissent that exists could only occur between the US-British sides and the French-German sides. These are the twin pillars of NATO. Everyone else in NATO basically follows one of these sides.
It has been said that Germany and Turkey have opposing views with the US, Britain, and France. And Rome is somewhere in the middle. But the actions of the officials of these states speak louder than what they claim. The German government supported the war from the start. Because the German people would not allow it, Berlin could not join the attack on Libya directly. What the German government did is send more military resources to Afghanistan so that more NATO resources could go to Libya.
Both Turkey and Germany could have stopped NATO from being used if they were really against the war. Turkey is also where one of the operational headquarters for the war is. Turkey is also the administrative authority at the airport in Benghazi and helping in the naval operations against Libya.
Yes, there are differing interests within the US-British and French-German sides, particularly with regard to the control of the energy reserves in Libya and North Africa. Unlike the US, the EU countries are dependent on Libyan energy, especially Italy. It is in their strategic interest to control oil and gas reserves in North Africa.
If the US and London gain major control over these energy reserves, they will control the economic security of the EU. But I believe that the US and the EU are working as partners in North Africa and actually coordinating operations against China and Chinaâ€™s allies in Africa.
XU JINGJING: The fighting in the city of Misurata grabs most of the attention now. What do you think about the importance of the city? How will the result of the fighting in Misurata influence the moves of the Libyan opposition?
XNAZEMROAYA: The city of Misurata is the Shanghai of Libya. For the Transitional Council it will be a major economic prize. It is an important industrial and trade base for Libya and Africa. Some of Africaâ€™s largest companies are there, including the Libyan Iron and Steel Company. Misurata is also a major shipping port. Many Libyan national companies and industries have their company operations and headquarters in Misurata and the surrounding district.
These are the reasons why Germany and the EU want to send their military forces into Misurata under the excuse of peacekeeping. The EU wants to send soldiers there for purely economic and strategic reasons and not because of any humanitarian reasons. The EU force is composed of the same countries that are in NATO. They are just using another name. The difference between the EU force and NATO is only technical.
What is also ridiculous is that the countries that want to send their soldiers as peacekeepers are combatants in this war. In fact, because NATO went to war through a collective decision, anyone that is a part of NATO is a combatant. This includes Germany. This should disqualify the entire EU force as peacekeepers in Libya. You need uninvolved third parties that are not combatants as peacekeepers.
Countries like China, Algeria, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Russia, Iran, Belarus, Brazil, Malaysia, and Venezuela should send peacekeepers. The Russians and their military partners in the post-Soviet space could all play a major role as peacekeepers. Even the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) could play a role.
It is in the strategic interest of China and its allies to make sure that Libya is not colonized or victimized like NATO-occupied Afghanistan. The events in Libya are prerequisites for the Western military alliance towards isolating and confronting Iran, Russia, and China in Eurasia.
XU JINGJING: Do you think the US is still the decisive actor? Why?
XNAZEMROAYA: Yes, without a doubt I do.
To answer that question let us first define the coalition which is involved in this war of aggression against Libya. The Pentagon transferred the military operations to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization after a few days. Thus, the war is officially being conducted by NATO. Some other countries like Qatar, Jordan, the UAE, and Sweden are also partners under the command of NATO.
So before I examine NATO, let us look at another Cold War military alliance called the Warsaw Pact. Washington and Western Europe used to criticize the old Soviet Union by saying that the Warsaw Pact was basically a fake organization, namely that in reality it was just the Soviet Red Army.
In other words, Bulgaria, Romania, East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Albania had no real force within the Warsaw Pact and the Warsaw Pact was just the Soviet Union acting under the shield of multilateralism in Eastern Europe. I will not argue this point.
NATO is far more complicated than the Warsaw Pact and not run by one country. The US, Britain, France, and Germany are the pillars of NATO and they are the real decision makers in Brussels. Turkey due to the legacy of Kamal Ataturk also exercises some independence in NATO. Everyone else either follows the US and Britain or they follow France and Germany. But under all this, NATO is just a more advanced Warsaw Pact. The US should look in the mirror. Washingtonâ€™s argument about the Warsaw Pact also applies to itself in NATO.
Today NATO is not too different from how the US characterized the Warsaw Pact as being the Soviet Union under a multilateral flag. NATO itself and the Pentagonâ€™s commanders say that NATO is almost completely formed by the US military. In other words NATO is the US military padded by Britain, France, Germany, Turkey, Canada, Italy, and some other European countries as auxiliaries.
The US fights the wars and then gets these countries to go and occupy the defeated country and privatize its economy under foreign control. When it comes down to it, NATO is really the US military with the political support and financing of these other countries. Senator McCain and the US Senate just a few weeks ago demanded that the rest of NATO finance the US for the war against Libya. Most the other members of NATO are actually US satellites.
NATO without the US would never even have been able to fight Yugoslavia or have invaded Afghanistan, let alone launch any devastating war against the Libyans. Just look at the role that the US played in bombing Libya. It did most the bombings and heavy work. What is happening is that the US is hiding behind an image of multilateralism with NATO. It does not want to appear as if it is in charge.
Washington is afraid of public opinion. This is why Obama, Clinton, and Gates publicly pretended the US government was against the no-fly zones until the last moment when the real US objectives became transparent. At the same time that the Obama Administration was saying they were against no-fly zones, the US was mobilizing to attack Libya. Paris and London just played the lead roles on the public stage.
I want to also make one last and very important point. President Obama, Prime Minister Cameron, and President Sarkozy are all hiding behind NATO, because NATO is an international organization that escapes any form of political accountability.
There is no voting constituency of people that NATO can be held accountable towards. The US and Britain can bomb Libya with NATO for months and claim that it is in NATOâ€™s hand and that NATO is in charge of the war. Thus Obama, Cameron, and Sarkozy are all trying to escape political accountability as politicians to the public through letting NATO fight the war and hiding behind it.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
LONDON (April 28, 2011) — British troops could be deployed to the Libyan border to guard refugees fleeing the Gaddafi regime, Liam Fox signaled yesterday.
The Defence Secretary spoke out following the flight of more than 30,000 civilians — mainly ethnic Berbers — into neighboring Tunisia. Many have been given shelter by local communities, but others are living in makeshift camps.
Although the Government has repeatedly stressed it would not send ground troops into Libya, Dr Fox suggested UK soldiers could be dispatched to its border with Tunisia to enforce “safe havens” protecting refugees from attacks by Gaddafi’s troops.
Giving evidence to the Commons defence select committee, he was asked whether sending forces to the border area would be within the terms of the UN resolution authorising military action in Libya.
Dr Fox replied: “That is something where we would have to seek advice on a case by case basis from the Attorney General.” He added: “That is not a question we have yet put to the Attorney General, but I accept it is something we may have to look at.”
After the Cabinet was warned this week to prepare for the “long haul” in Libya, Dr Fox acknowledged that the conflict could last months.
“It is essential that the international community gives a very clear signal to the Libyan regime that our resolve isn’t time-limited,” he told the committee. But he denied suggestions that the conflict had become a military stalemate with neither side possessing the firepower to deliver a knock-out blow.
Pointing to opposition gains in Misrata, Italyâ€™s promise to join the action and Kuwaiti financial support for the rebels, he insisted: “Politically, economically, militarily, we are moving forward.” He added that the speed and scale of the degradation of the regime’s military capability was “about as far from a stalemate as I could describe.”
The Defence Secretary also rebuffed suggestions that sending ten British military advisers to Benghazi to help rebel leaders would pave the way to arming the opposition forces.
He repeated his warning that the regime’s command and control centre in Tripoli was a legitimate target for air strikes — even if it was home to Col. Gaddafi and his family. It was not, he told MPs, a “holiday villa,” but a “military estate where there happens to be accommodation.” Despite the spending squeeze, he insisted the cash would be found to sustain operations in Libya for as long as it took.
“It is very important that these issues are discussed but it is more important that we send a clear message in the current mission that we are not going to be limited by pounds, shillings and pence but we have the resolve to see through the mission. It is very important that we do not signal, at any point, that we may waver in our commitment to what we are trying to achieve in Libya.”
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
(April 11, 2011) — Amateur footage recently posted on the Internet shows American troops firing live ammunition on Iraqi prisoners during a riot in a US detention facility in Iraq back in January 2005.
The footage shows US forces using disproportionate force and live rounds against prisoners at the US prison facility Camp Bucca located in Iraq. The Iraqi detainees were protesting the American troops’ desecration of Islam’s holy book, the Qur’an.
At the time, the US military tried to cover up the bloodshed, saying the riot happened when the prisoners confronted a search for contraband in the prison. But the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) later revealed that the real cause of the riot was the desecration of the Holy Qur’an by US troops.
Four prisoners were shot dead and five others wounded during the violence.
In 2008, the US military revealed that it held a total of around 20,000 detainees, some 17,000 of whom at Camp Bucca near Basra in southern Iraq, and more than 3,000 others at Camp Cropper in the capital Baghdad.
Iraq Rejects US Demand for Longer Military Presence in Country Teheran Times
TEHRAN (April 13, 2011) — The Iraqi government officially turned down a call by the US Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, for a longer US military presence in the country. Speaking to the Fars News Agency in Baghdad on Monday, Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said that Gates had raised the demand in a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
“Mr. Maliki rejected Gates’ demand, saying that Iraq will deal with the issue based on the security pact (signed between Washington and Baghdad),” Dabbagh added.
Media reports said that the US defense secretary pressed senior Iraqi officials Friday to decide whether they want US troops to remain in the country beyond their scheduled departure in the yearend.
In a meeting with US troops on Friday, Gates said his three-day visit to Iraq had been “all about” whether American boots will remain on the ground in Iraq beyond the current Dec. 31 withdrawal deadline.
During the course of his trip, Gates met with Iraq’s top leaders — Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq, President Jalal Talabani and Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani.
Meantime, Sabah Barzandi, a member of the parliament of Iraq’s Kurdistan region, denied media reports that Iraqi Kurds have asked for a longer US military presence in the country’s autonomous region of Kurdistan.
Speaking to FNA Barzandi stressed that based on the security pact, Iraq’s central government is the sole authority to decide the US forces’ presence on Iraqi soil, reminding that Kurdistan’s representatives have also approved and endorsed the pact.
“The security pact is the reference for dealing with the issue of the US (military) presence,” the Kurdish lawmaker noted.
“It is not related to Iraq’s Kurdish officials and they have no role in the US forces’ stay or exit. It is up to the central government to decide on the issue,” Barzandi said.
Meantime, Tens of thousands of Iraqi people rallied on Saturday in Baghdad to mark the eighth anniversary of the US occupation, demanding its troops to leave Iraq.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
Gaza Civilians Wounded in Israeli Attack At least four Palestinians, including two children, are injured in an Israeli tank fire on central Gaza Al Jazeera
GAZA (April 29, 2011) — At least four people, including children, have been injured in an Israeli tank fire in central Gaza, Israeli and Palestinian sources said.
Witnesses said the Israeli army fired at least three rounds at an area east of the Al-Bureij refugee camp, wounding several Palestinians.
Hamas officials said Israeli forces fired in the direction of a home after darkness fell on Thursday.
Medical workers said four people including a woman and two children had been taken to a hospital with slight injuries.
The Israeli military confirmed the incident, saying it targeted fighters “identified as planting an explosive near a border security fence” and that “uninvolved civilians were apparently injured in this incident”.
“Israeli tanks fired shells at terrorists and hit them as they were about to place explosive devices near the security barrier” between the Gaza Strip and Israeli territory, a military spokesman said.
Thursday’s incident comes just days after rival governments Hamas and Fatah agreed to end their dispute. Israel rejected the Palestinian unity deal saying it could derail the peace process.
The attack shattered a shaky truce achieved after a spate of cross-border violence earlier this month.
Nineteen Palestinians in Gaza were killed this month in retaliatory Israeli strikes launched after Hamas claimed responsibility for shooting at an Israeli school bus, critically wounding an Israeli teenager who later died of his injuries.
The fighting died down after the United Nations and other officials achieved an unofficial truce about two weeks ago.
Israeli Leaders Reject Palestinian Unity Deal Israeli leaders rule out talks with any Palestinian government including Hamas after rival factions agree unity deal Al Jazeera
(April 28, 2011) — Israeli leaders have ruled out negotiations with any Palestinian government that includes Hamas following a Palestinian unity deal between rivals Hamas and Fatah.
Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, convened his security cabinet on Thursday, while Israeli President Shimon Peres called the rapprochement a “grave mistake that will prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state and will sabotage chances of peace and stability in the region”.
Al Jazeera speaks to Khaleda Jarrar, a member of the PFLP, about what the unity agreement between Fatah and Hamas might actually mean.
In an interview with Israeli military radio, Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s foreign minister, said the Palestinian deal had “crossed a red line” for Israel.
The comments come a day after Hamas and Fatah reached an initial unity deal in Cairo to end a four-year-old dispute that left Fatah controlling the West Bank and Hamas controlling Gaza. The Palestinians claim both territories for a future independent state.
The Egyptian-brokered deal, which took many by surprise, has revived hopes of ending bitter infighting that weakened the Palestinians politically and killed dozens in violent clashes and crackdowns.
The Palestinian plan calls for the formation of a joint caretaker government to prepare the way for elections next year. The Palestinians say the move is a step toward independence.
Prospects for Peace
Khaleda Jarrar, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, told Al Jazeera that the latest development represented an opportunity for Palestinians.
“I think it is a good opportunity for reconciliation, especially with the Arab revolutions around and the Palestinian youth movement which has started to pressure both Fatah and Hamas to really put an end to the divisions.
“This time we hope that it will be a real reconciliation, it will work because of the changes [in the region] and the internal pressure from the Palestinian people,” she said.
With a breakdown in peace talks with Israel, the Palestinians have been campaigning to get the United Nations to recognise Palestinian statehood in September, with or without a peace deal.
Peres said he feared Hamas would ultimately take over the West Bank after a Palestinian election and that the influence of Iran, which supports Hamas would be strengthened as a result.
But Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, stressed he would retain control over foreign policy.
He added that he remained ready to talk peace with Netanyahu if Israel halted its settlement construction on occupied lands and said the caretaker government would not include Hamas activists.
“The people will be independents, technocrats, not affiliated with any factions,” Abbas told a group of Israeli businessmen and retired security chiefs.
He said the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), which he heads and to which Hamas does not belong, would still be responsible for “handling politics, negotiations”.
“Dislike, agree or disagree (with Hamas) — they’re our people. You, Mr Netanyahu (are) our partner,” Abbas, speaking in English, told his Israeli audience.
Greeted with Caution
The UN’s Mideast envoy, Robert Serry, and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton greeted the unity deal with caution, stressing the need to promote peace.
“We will study the detail of this agreement and discuss with colleagues in the EU and in the region,” Ashton said.
Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, said Palestinian unity would promote peace.
“Those who want peace and want democracy must support Palestinian reconciliation,” he said.
Rivalries between the two Palestinian factions began in 2006 after Hamas won parliamentary elections in Gaza and the West Bank. A short-lived unity government collapsed into civil war the following year, and Hamas seized power in Gaza.
The Palestinian factions are set to meet next week in Egypt and the official signing ceremony will take place before May 10, said Azzam al-Ahmad, head of the Fatah delegation.
Israel has held peace talks with the Fatah-led government. But those negotiations have been frozen since September, with Abbas refusing to negotiate while Israel expands settlements in the West Bank.
Husam Zomlot, the Fatah spokesperson, said Abbas is embarking on a new strategy. “But of course he is not waging a war against either Israel or the West,” he added.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
50,000 American Casualties in Afghanistan, Iraq Tom Haden / The Peace and Justice Resource Center
(April 26, 2011) — According to US Troop Casualties from Oct. 7, 2011 through April 26, 2011 (all data courtesy DoD), some day soon, the number of American dead and wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq will surpass the 50,000 mark. As of today, that total is 49,182.
+5,998 American troops have died.
+43,184 American troops have been officially wounded.
+ An additional 54,592 have required medical evacuation out of combat theaters Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, and New Dawn.
The result, a sum total 103,774 US troops — a conservative minimum not including: the walking wounded; those suffering from traumatic brain injury; attempted or successful suicides; or civilian contractors — are casualties of these long wars.
Following the military’s surge in Afghanistan, American casualty rates have significantly worsened. 610 of the 1,546 US troop fatalities have occurred since 2009, along with 6,260 of the 11,110 total wounded during the same time frame.
(April 26, 2011) — For more than one year, the Pentagon has been soliciting favorable public relations from the mainstream media and think tanks over its military surge in Kandahar. All that PR went down the Rabbit Hole on April 25, 2011 as nearly 500 Taliban prisoners escaped through a tunnel dug under Kandaharâ€™s prison.
The White House, Congress and media should seize the opportunity to examine the stream of propaganda emanating for months about the US success in “the spiritual homeland of the Taliban,” and whether they have been manipulated in a “psy-ops” campaign to promote a favorable image of the surge. [See Michael Hastings’ article, “Another Runaway General,” in Rolling Stone magazine, February 23, 2011]
The escape is the second since 2008, when 1,200 Taliban prisoners were liberated in an attack on the same prison. Since 2008, the US has deployed an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan, more than half to southern Taliban strongholds in Kandahar and Helmand provinces.
The truth appears to be that the US war has gone from bad to worse. The prison escape is not only a huge psychological boost for the Taliban, but frees hundreds of fighters for the “spring offensive” now underway. It also blows a hole in any US claims of having secured the province. And it suggests that the Afghan security forces, on whom US policy depends, were directly engaged leaving cell doors open and leading the detainees into the tunnel.
A December 2011 survey of Afghan residents in Kandahar and Helmand showed 79 percent demanding the withdrawal of foreign troops by this summer or earlier. Three-quarters of Afghans in the same poll supported negotiations with the Taliban, and two-thirds favored Taliban leaders holding political office. The poll of Kandahar and Helmand residents offered “a rare dose of hopefulness,” according to the Washington Post. [December 6, 2010]
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
Sarah Phalen / San Francisco Bay Guardian – 2011-04-29 00:33:13
Spies in Blue A secret memo indicates that SF cops may be working as FBI spies — with no local oversight
SAN FRANCISCO (April 26, 2011) — San Francisco cops assigned to the FBI’s terrorism task force can ignore local police orders and California privacy laws to spy on people without any evidence of a crime.
That’s what a recently released memo appears to say — and it has sent shockwaves through the civil liberties community.
It also has members of the S.F. Police Commission asking why a carefully crafted set of rules on intelligence gathering, approved in the wake of police spy scandals in the 1990s, were bypassed without the knowledge or consent of the commission.
“It’s a bombshell,” said John Crew, a long-time police practices expert with the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California.
The ACLU obtained the document April 4 under the California Public Records Act after a long battle. It’s a 2007 memorandum of understanding outlining the terms of an agreement between the city and the FBI for San Francisco’s participation in the Joint Terrorism Task Force.
And, according to Crew, it effectively puts local officers under the control of the FBI. “That means Police Commission policies do not apply,” Crew said. “It allows San Francisco police to circumvent local intelligence-gathering policies and follow more permissive federal rules.”
Veena Dubal, a staff attorney at the Asian Law Caucus, agreed: “This MOU confirms our worst fears,” she said.
Dubal noted that in the waning months of the Bush administration, the FBI changed its policies to allow federal authorities to collect intelligence on a person even if the subject is not suspected of a crime. The FBI is now allowed to spy on Americans who have done nothing wrong — and who may be engaged in activities protected by the First Amendment.
FBI activity under this new “assessment” category has since come under fire, and a recent report in The New York Times showed that the FBI has conducted thousands of assessments each month, and that these guidelines continue under Obama.
And if the feds do control San Francisco police policy, then the San Francisco cops could be spying on innocent people — a dramatic change from longstanding city policy. “The MOU is disturbing,” Police Commission member Petra DeJesus told the Guardian. “The department is assuring us that local policies are not being violated — but it looks as if it’s subject to interpretation.”
It’s the latest sign of a dangerous trend: San Francisco cops are working closely with the feds, often in ways that run counter to city policy.
And it raises a far-reaching question: With a district attorney who used to be police chief, a civilian commission that isn’t getting a straight story from the cops, and a climate of secrecy over San Francisco’s intimate relations with outside agencies, who is watching the cops?
SPIES LIKE US
San Francisco has a long — and ugly — history of police surveillance on political groups. SFPD officers spied on law-abiding organizations during the 1984 Democratic National Convention; kept files in the 1980s on 100 Bay Area civil, labor, and special interest groups; and carried out undercover surveillance of political groups focused on El Salvador and Central America.
Those abuses led the Police Commission to develop a departmental general order in 1990 known as DGO 8.10. The local intelligence guidelines require “articulable and reasonable suspicion” before SFPD officers are allowed to collect information on anyone.
Even those rules weren’t enough to halt the spies in blue. In 1993, police inspector Tom Gerard was caught spying on political groups — particularly Arab American and anti-apartheid organizations and groups Gerard described as “pinko” — and selling that information to agents for the Anti-Defamation League.
As the ACLU and Asian Law Caucus noted in a December 2010 letter to Cdr. Daniel Mahoney: “That scandal was not just about the fact that peaceful organizations and individuals were being unlawfully spied upon and their private information sold to foreign governments, but that the guidelines adopted in 1990 had never been fully implemented by SFPD. No officers had been trained on the new guidelines and no meaningful audit had ever been implemented.”
Over the years, the commission has tried to keep tabs on police intelligence and prevent more spy scandals. The general order mandates that local police officials have to request general authority from a commanding officer and the chief to investigate any activity that comes under First Amendment protections — and must specify in the request what the facts are that give rise to this suspicion of criminal activity. The order also states that the chief can’t approve any request that doesn’t include evidence of possible criminal activity.
Those requests are reviewed monthly by the Police Commission and there are annual audits of the SFPD files to monitor compliance — so the notion that the local cops are joining the FBI spy squad without commission oversight is more than a little disturbing.
Officials with the FBI and SFPD are doing their best to reassure the local community that there’s nothing to worry about. But so far their replies seem to duck questions about whether FBI guidelines trump local policies. For example, the MOU states that “when there is a conflict, [task force members] are held to the standard that provides the greatest organizational benefit.”
We asked Mahoney to clarify: does that mean the local cops could be held to the FBI’s standards?
“The San Francisco Police Officer(s) who are assigned to the Joint Terrorism Task Force always have and continue to be required to follow all SFPD’s policies and procedures,” Mahoney replied in a statement.
That’s confusing; do they follow SFPD policies, or obey the MOU?
We asked FBI special agent-in-charge Stephanie Douglas whether SFPD officers are involved in surveillance and “assessments” (that FBI code word for creating spy files on individuals and groups) and whether they are identifying as SFPD or FBI officers.
“The FBI only initiates investigations on allegations of criminal wrongdoing or threats to our national security,” Douglas replied April 21. “Our investigations are conducted in compliance with the Constitution, the laws of the United States, the Attorney General Guidelines, the Domestic Investigation and Operations Guide, and all other FBI policies.”
Okay, that’s typical FBI-speak. Here’s more: “The JTTF is a task force comprised of FBI special agents, agents from other federal agencies, and local police officers who have been officially deputized as federal task force officers (TFOs) who have the power and authority of a federal agent. Because all JTTF TFOs are actually de facto federal agents, they are required to operate under federal laws and policies when involved in a JTTF case.”
So the cops are actually feds. But wait: “Our standard JTTF MOU recognizes, however, that the JTTF TFOs do wear two hats, as it were, and directs JTTF TFOs to follow his or her own agency’s policy when it is stricter than the FBI policy under certain circumstances,” Douglas concluded.
Again: not exactly clear, and not exactly reassuring.
“At some point they need to say whether SFPD officers are engaged in assessments,” Crew said.
These questions have spurred the Police Commission and Human Rights Commission to schedule a joint hearing in May to discuss what the document means, why SFPD never alerted the civilian oversight authorities, and whether a clarifying addendum can be tacked onto the agreement.
SPY FOR US OR LEAVE
The concerns are likely to be intensified by recent developments in Portland, Ore.
Portland dropped out of the Joint Terrorism Task Force in 2005 over concerns that local cops would be violating privacy laws. But in November 2010, the FBI thwarted a bomb plot allegedly linked to terrorists, and city officials came under pressure to rejoin the JTTF.
But Mayor Sam Adams has insisted on language that would bar local cops from doing surveillance and assessments, which, apparently, won’t fly with the feds.
On April 20, Willamette Week, the Portland alternative paper, wrote that Adams “effectively scuttled” Portland’s reentry into its local JTTF because of his anti-spying language.
In an April 19 letter to Adams, US Attorney for Oregon Dwight Holton stated that Adams’ proposal of only allowing officers with the Portland Police Bureau to be involved in investigations and not in FBI assessments was a deal-breaker.
“Unfortunately, as currently drafted, the proposed resolution does not provide a way in which the PPB can rejoin the team,” Holton wrote. “There is a single provision that stands as a roadblock to participation — specifically the provision that seeks to have the City Council delineate only certain investigative steps a task force officer can take part in. Specifically, the resolution seeks to dictate for the JTTF which stages of an investigation task force officers from the [Portland police] can work on.”
“Investigation and prevention of complex crimes and terrorism are typically fluid and fast-moving,” he added. “It makes no sense to ask [Portland police] officers to be in for one part of a conversation, but out for another part of the same conversation as investigators discuss findings from assessments, investigations, etc. in evaluating and addressing terrorist threats in Portland and beyond.”
The message isn’t lost on San Francisco civil liberties activists. If you don’t let your cops join the spy squad, they can’t be a part of the task force.
“It was one thing to join the JTTF 10 years ago when they were operating under guidelines that, while not to the ALCU’s taste, were at least tied to some level of suspicion,” Adams said. “But they have taken their procedures and guidelines and moved them to the far right. It’s one thing to say that it’s necessary for the FBI to do that, and quite another to say that local agencies have to forfeit their own policies — and with no public debate or decision-making.”
ASK THE FEDS FIRST
Further complicating the question of police oversight is the fact that George GascÃ³n, who was police chief when civil liberties groups started asking for a copy of the MOU last fall, refused to turn over the document without asking the feds first.
In a Jan. 4 letter to the ACLU and ALC, Gascon and Mahoney stated that the SFPD could not speak to information about the duties, functions, and numbers of officers assigned to the Joint Terrorism Task Force “without conferring with our partners in the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”
“I am sure you can appreciate the delicate balance we hold in crafting policy that not only supports our mission in the ultimate protection of life, but also in advancing democratic values through collaboration with the communities we serve,” Gascon and Mahoney wrote.
And Gascon is now district attorney.
“It raises the question of accountability,” said Public Defender Jeff Adachi “We want to make sure that police officers working in the city, regardless of whether it be for the feds or the SFPD, are complying with general orders and policies established by the department. But when officers go on an assignment with the feds, we don’t know if they are operating under parameters set by local law.”
Unearthing the FBI’s hitherto clandestine MOU with the SFPD appears to be yet another sign that local police are increasingly being subjected to federal policies not in keeping with local procedures.
As the Guardian previously reported, the 2008 decimation of San Francisco’s sanctuary city legislation and the 2010 activation of the federal government’s controversial Secure Communities program, which both happened during former Mayor Gavin Newsom’s tenure, means that the city of St. Francis now ranks among the top 38 counties nationwide that are deporting “noncriminal aliens.”
Dubal also noted that the FBI came to the SFPD in 1996 asking for help with the task force, but also sought a waiver from the Police Commission so officers could participate without having to follow local rules. “And within two weeks, then Mayor Willie Brown said, not in our town,” Dubal said. “So in 1997, the SFPD said we are not going to join unless we can follow our own rules. And in 2001, when the SFPD joined, it was under an MOU that required them to comply with SFPD rules and was signed in 2002 by then-SFPD Chief [Earl] Saunders.”
Dubal said that after local law enforcement agencies sign an MOU with the FBI, they designate and assign officers to work from FBI headquarters. “In the past, two SFPD officers, paid with San Francisco tax dollars, physically worked in the FBI’s office in a secure room where you can only go if you have security clearance. But they still can’t spy without reasonable suspicion, and they also need audits.”
Crew and Dubal said that in a recent meeting, SFPD officials assured them that local police were following General Order 8.10, but that they are open to creating an MOU addendum to clarify this.
Crew and Dubal remain unsure if the FBI would be agreeable to signing off on that. They note that the FBI has previously stated that its JTTF has sensitive investigations going on so it can’t give the public all the information. “Fine, but the issue is, Are these investigations based on suspicion, or are they based on religious background, associations, ethnicity, and travel patterns?” Dubal said.
They also doubt that the MOU would even have surfaced if not for comments that then SFPD Chief Gascon made, first in October 2009, then in March 2010, that triggered an uproar in the local Muslim, Arab, and Pakistani and Afghani communities.
At the time, Gascon, who has a law degree and graduated from the FBI Academy, had just landed in San Francisco fresh from a stint as police chief for Meza, Ariz., where he drew praise for speaking out against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s inhumane treatment of undocumented immigrants Given this seemingly progressive stance, Gascon shocked civil libertarians in San Francisco when he said he wanted to unearth SFPD’s intelligence unit, which was disbanded amid scandal in the early 1990s.
“We have to realize that in the post-9/11 world, San Francisco is an iconic city, like New York, Washington. and Los Angeles,” Gascon said. “If somebody wanted to make a big statement about something they disliked about America, doing it here would definitely get attention. We need to know what is going on under the surface of the city.”
But Gascon did not say how a revived police spy unit, which had been shut down in large part due to Crew’s work, would operate. And six months later, he upset Bay Area Muslims during a March 2010 breakfast by reportedly saying that the Hall of Justice building was not just susceptible to earthquakes, but also to an attack by members of the city’s Middle Eastern community who could park a van in front of it and blow it up.
Gascon subsequently claimed that he “never referred to Middle Easterners or Arab Americans,” but that he had instead singled out the Afghanistan and Yemen communities because they pose “potential terrorism risks.”
“In light of Gascon’s comments and his desire to resurrect the intelligence unit, people were asking, ‘Is it possible that the SFPD is also doing the same thing?'” Dubal asked, noting that she started getting complaints in 2009 and throughout 2010 about the FBI.
“Folks were saying that the FBI was asking about their religious identity, their family situation, and their political activities,” she recalled. “I certainly saw an upswing in innocent people being contacted. People were saying, ‘What the hell? — the FBI knocked on my door at 5 a.m.'”
COMMUNITIES UNDER SIEGE
A 2011 Human Rights Commission report documents frequent complaints from Arab, Muslim, and South Asian communities facing racial and religious profiling while traveling and unwaraanted interrogation, surveillance, and infiltration by local and federal law enforcement personnel at their homes, places of worship, and workplaces.
The report recommended asking the supervisors and the Police Commission to “ensure that all SFPD officers, including those deputized to the Joint Terrorism Task Force, follow and comply with local and state privacy laws, including DGO 8.10.”
On April 5, the Board of Supervisors voted 10-0 to approve a resolution, sponsored by Sup. Ross Mirkarimi and cosponsored by Sups David Chiu, Eric Mar, David Campos, and John Avalos, to endorse the HRC report.
All this is happening against the backdrop of FBI guidelines that have been loosened twice since September 2011, first by US Attorney General John Ashcroft in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, then by Attorney General Michael Mukasey in the dying days of the Bush administration, and now by the Obama administration.
And as The New York Times reported in March, records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request show that between Dec. 2008 and March 2009, the FBI began 11,667 assessments of people and groups for criminal/terror links, completed 8,605 assessments, and launched more than 400 intensive investigations based on the assessments. The FBI also told the Times that agents continue to open assessments at about the same pace
Crew noted that Mukasey’s guidelines marked the first time since 1976 that the FBI has been allowed to do assessments and collect files without a suspicion that a crime has occurred.
Dubal observed that the most relevant documents to emerge from a recent FOIA request to determine if the FBI has engaged in disturbing intelligence gathering activities are those related to “geomapping.”
“The materials are not particular to Northern California, but they show how FBI maps communities based in ethnic concentrations,” Dubal said.
Dubal also pointed to the case of Yasir Afifi, an Egyptian American student from Santa Clara, who found an FBI tracking device on his car when he took it in for an oil change. In March 2011, CAIR filed suit in Washington, D.C., alleging that the FBI violated Afifi’s First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendment rights by failing to obtain a warrant.
DeJesus recently told the Guardian that the Police Commission was never made aware of the MOU’s existence. “The chief should have checked in with the commission president, at the very least,” she said. “The idea that they were not reporting this to anyone is disconcerting.”
“The SFPD does not have the authority to enter into a secret agreement with the FBI whereby some of its officers are allowed to conduct intelligence operations in violation of the Police Commission’s General Order 8.10,” Crew added.
In a Jan. 25 letter to Mahoney, representatives from the ACLU and the ALC noted that “in the past, the SFPD had not previously deferred to the FBI on whether or how to openly address how San Francisco police officers will be supervised and held to well-established and painstakingly and collaboratively crafted San Francisco general orders.”
“These are low-level investigations that require no criminal predicate, meaning that when initiating an assessment, FBI agents can conduct intrusive forms of investigation without any criminal suspicion,” Dubal said. “These include interviewing innocent Americans, infiltrating organizations, using open source data to spy and surveil, going into religious centers such as mosques to spy and surveil, and recruiting and using informants.”
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
To Defense Secretary Robert Gates:
Stop the Secrecy and Allow Official Visits to Bradley Manning
We call on you [Sign Petition Here] to stop obstructing official visits to PFC. Bradley Manning. Marine confinement rules clearly state that people â€œconducting official government business, either on behalf of the prisoner or in the interest of justice,â€ can be allowed â€œofficial visits.â€ Rep. Dennis Kucinich is clearly conducting official government business and should be allowed to visit with PFC. Manning, along with officials from the United Nations and Amnesty International.
ACTION: Write to Pfc. Manning
A For Leavenworth mailing address has been released for Bradley Manning. The receptionist at the military barracks confirmed that if someone sends Bradley Manning a letter to that address, it will be delivered to him. Letters can me mailed to:
Bradley Manning 89289
830 Sabalu Road
Fort Leavenworth, KS 66027
WikiLeaks Suspect To Be Housed with Other Inmates John Milburn / Associated Press
FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (April 28, 2011) — The Army private accused of passing classified documents to WikiLeaks was cleared Thursday to live alongside other inmates at a Kansas military prison, a dramatic change from his previous quarters in a Virginia Marine Corps brig where he spent 23 hours a day alone in his cell.
Army Pfc. Bradley Manning passed the lengthy physical and psychiatric evaluation given to new inmates at the Fort Leavenworth prison and received final clearance just before a mid-day media tour of the facility, its commander Lt. Col. Dawn Hilton said. Manning was transferred there last week from the Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Va., where he had been held for the eight months since his arrest.
At Quantico, Manning had to surrender his clothes at night in favor of a military-issued, suicide-prevention smock. Manning’s attorney and supporters said that was unnecessary and argued his living conditions, including his isolation from other inmates, were inhumane.
Jeff Paterson, a member of the Bradley Manning Support Network, said Thursday he was “heartened” by the news that Manning’s conditions were improving.
“In my opinion, there was never an issue of Bradley and suicide. It was Quantico using it as justification for holding him under extreme conditions,” Paterson said. “All of (the treatment) is based on the suicide issue, but it’s not backed up by a single psychiatrist. It’s definitely a very good sign.”
Manning is accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of documents to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, including Iraq and Afghanistan war logs, confidential State Department cables and a classified military video of a 2007 Apache helicopter attack in Iraq that killed a Reuters news photographer and his driver.
Col. Tom Collins, an Army spokesman who traveled to answer questions on the tour, acknowledged the media coverage and international criticism played a role in allowing reporters to tour the prison to see firsthand the conditions under which Manning is being held. No cameras were allowed.
Manning’s new 80 sq.-foot cell has a single, metal bunk, one window, a desk, sink and stool. He is allowed to exercise in the cell and interact with about 10 other pre-trial inmates in a common area, except for during the “lights out” period overnight. He is allowed to eat and exercise with others awaiting trial.
While he can receive unlimited mail, he is only allowed to keep 20 pieces at one time. Manning also can use the library and have visitors under the supervision of guards, and cameras and microphones throughout the prison monitor activities.
His transfer to Leavenworth came a bit more than a week after a UN torture investigator, Juan Mendez, complained that he was denied a request to make an unmonitored visit to Manning. Pentagon officials said he could meet with Manning, but it is customary to give only the detainee’s lawyer confidential visits.
Mendez said a monitored conversation would be counter to the practice of his UN mandate.
Another Manning supporter, Kevin Zeese, said the “real test” would be if UN investigators are able to visit him at Fort Leavenworth. Messages seeking comment left by The Associated Press for Manning’s defense attorney David Coombs were not immediately returned Thursday.
Fort Leavenworth officials last allowed media to see the military prison last October before it opened for inmates. The facility is located on the northernmost edge of the post, near the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks where 450 inmates are serving sentences ranging from five years to life, and six who have been sentenced to death.
“We don’t anticipate doing this again. It is highly unusual that we allow media into a correctional facility run by the Department of Defense,” Collins said. “Then again, we think it’s important that the public understand the conditions of confinement here.”
Eugene R. Fidell, who teaches law at Yale and heads the National Institute of Military Justice in Washington, said he thinks the media tour is a positive step.
“Frankly, the military confinement and correction system has been very little studied,” Fidell said. “I’ve long thought it’s overdue for more scrutiny. Anything that sheds light will help allay concerns among the public and let people move onto more substantial matters.” The prison has about 150 inmates, which consolidated operations from Fort Sill, Okla., and Fort Knox, Ky.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
(April 27, 2011) — Kevin Zeese, Executive Director and co-founder of VotersForPeace, discusses the successful efforts of activists and alternative media to bring Bradley Manning international attention; the pro-Manning “hecklers” at a pricey Obama fundraising event in San Francisco; the decentralized “democratized media” ready to fill the void left by the thoroughly discredited mainstream media; and the groundbreaking WikiLeaks model of disseminating government information to the public.
Listen to the broadcast by clicking on the MP3 here.(17:55 minutes).
Kevin Zeese has served as the Executive Director of Democracy Rising, is an attorney, and a long term peace advocate. He took a leave from VotersForPeace for most of 2006 while he was running for the US Senate in Maryland. Zeese was a founding member of the Montgomery County Coalition Against the War in Maryland and has worked with various non-profit organizations on peace, justice, and democracy issues since 1978.
Factbox: A Look at Costs of Afghan War to US Taxpayers Susan Cornwell / Reuters
WASHINGTON (April 26, 2011) — Tucked into the recent spending bill that kept the government from shutting down was some $110 billion for the war in Afghanistan. That’s more than in any other year since the conflict began, although the Obama administration hopes to start winding it down this year.
President Barack Obama plans to begin drawing down his force of 97,000 US soldiers in Afghanistan in July, although the size and nature of that drawdown remains unclear.
Here are a few facts about the costs of the Afghan war to US taxpayers:
COSTS SO FAR
Congress has appropriated $386 billion so far for the war in Afghanistan, where the United States in 2001 supported the toppling of the Taliban after the September 11 attacks, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says. CBO is the budget analyst for Congress.
The total to date includes $38 billion for training and equipping Afghan military and police units. The goal is to leave behind security forces that can take on fighting the Taliban as US forces start to leave.
But some recent events, including a massive jailbreak at an Afghan-run jail in Kandahar and a mob attack on a UN compound in Mazar-i-Sharif, have raised doubts about Afghan security capabilities.
COMPARISON WITH IRAQ, COST OF BOTH WARS
The $110 billion being spent in Afghanistan in fiscal 2011 is more than double the $44 billion being spent in Iraq this year, CBO says. Two years ago, the relationship was the other way around; then, Iraq carried the far bigger price tag.
Afghanistan became the more expensive battleground in 2010 after Obama sent a surge of 30,000 more forces there and started drawing troops down in Iraq.
Nonetheless, over the years, the United States has spent almost twice as much money in Iraq as in Afghanistan. CBO says the total for the Iraq operations is about $752 billion since the United States went to war there in 2003, compared to the $386 billion for Afghanistan since 2001.
When operations in Iraq and Afghanistan are combined together and some “other” costs are added, US taxpayers have spent $1.26 trillion on both wars, CBO says.
That total excludes about $8 billion in spending for medical care and benefits for survivors of the two wars by the Department of Veterans Affairs, CBO says.
FOREIGN AID AND CIVILIAN SURGE
Foreign aid, including development assistance to Afghanistan managed by the State Department and US AID, has totaled some $25.1 billion since 2002, a recent report by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) says. CRS prepares reports on issues that US lawmakers ask it to probe.
Development aid increased in recent years as part of a “civilian stabilization strategy” by the Obama administration. The idea is to foster economic growth and improve basic services so Afghans feel they will have a better future with the Afghan government, rather than the Taliban.
The Obama administration has asked for another $4.3 billion for these purposes in fiscal 2012. With some lawmakers trying to cut overseas aid to reduce the US government deficit, General David Petraeus, the top US military commander in Afghanistan, has warned that failure to adequately fund civilians working alongside his forces could “jeopardize accomplishment of the overall mission.”
COSTS PER SOLDIER, AND THE FUTURE
Costs per troop per year in Afghanistan have grown from $507,000 in 2009 to $667,000 in 2010 and $697,000 this year, the Congressional Research Service says.
Some would argue this reflects the effect of deploying additional troops, mounting more operations and expanding infrastructure, the CRS said in a March report.
Future expenses are a question mark, partly because troop levels are uncertain. Obama says he wants to start withdrawing troops in mid-2011, but that will depend, in part, on conditions on the ground.
Iraq costs should continue winding down sharply, if the remaining 47,000 US troops there are withdrawn as planned by the end of this year.
(April 25, 2011) — Again and again, just when you think you’ve reached maximum possible cynicism about politics, you discover that, actually, you haven’t been cynical enough. It’s almost always worse than you think.
You’ve probably heard that what President Obama trumpeted as “the biggest annual spending cut in history” was nothing of the sort.The purported cuts — $38 billion from a federal budget $1.4 trillion in the red — were pathetic enough at face value.
But according to the Congressional Budget Office, the real total for this year is only $352 million — with an “m.” That, it turns out, wasn’t even enough to cover the first six days of bombing Libya, which cost roughly $400 million.
Two fruitless and expensive wars weren’t enough, apparently, so we’ve now added a third.
We got dragged into Libya by our NATO allies, who aren’t competent to run a proper airwar against a crumbling Third-World autocracy, and are now complaining that we’re not doing more to bail them out.
It gets worse: Would you believe that we’re in this mess largely because of the machinations of a preening French intellectual with friends in high places?
France, you’ll recall, was especially eager for war: first to recognize the rebel “government,” and first to fire shots over Benghazi. “France has decided to play its part before history,” President Nicolas Sarkozy pompously intoned.(Upon hearing that, a friend wisecracked, “How long now till Gaddafi rolls into Paris?”).
Credit or blame goes to French celebrity-philosopher Bernard Henri-Levy, who, “in the space of roughly two weeks,” the New York Times reports, got “a fledgling Libyan opposition group a hearing from the president of France and the American secretary of state, a process that led both countries and NATO into waging war.”
Who is Bernard Henri-Levy (BHL)? He’s heir to an industrial fortune, and a crusading socialist who favors open-collared shirts, stylishly long locks and “humanitarian” wars. One critic summed up BHL’s persona tartly: “God is dead, but my hair is perfect.”
Henri-Levy’s 2006 book, American Vertigo: Traveling America in the Footsteps of Tocqueville, was so condescending about America’s “derangements,” “dysfunctions” and “hyperobesity,” it roused NPR’s Garrison Keillor to a fit of patriotic ire. The normally placid “Prairie Home Companion” host called BHL “a French writer with a spatter-paint prose style and the grandiosity of a college sophomore.”
And yet, BHL — clever boy — helped entangle this fat, silly country in a conflict that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates admits “isn’t a vital interest for the US.” You can’t make this stuff up.
Since we turned command over to NATO, the British and French have been running short on laser-guided munitions and pleading with the US to do more heavy lifting.
But if our NATO allies can’t get the job done, maybe it’s because they’ve become military “welfare queens,” free-riding off America’s lavish defense budgets. The US now accounts for nearly 75 percent of NATO members’ overall military spending.
What are we doing in NATO anyway? Maybe it made sense in 1949 to put aside our distrust of “entangling alliances” in order to confront the Soviet threat.But that threat disappeared two decades ago.
Today, the alliance’s main functions seem to be forcing the US taxpayer to subsidize Europe’s generous welfare states, and periodically embroiling us in conflicts, like Kosovo and Libya, that we’d be smarter to avoid.
There are lessons to be learned from the Libyan debacle. For us, the main lesson is that NATO long ago outlived its usefulness.For Europe, it’s that foreign adventurism doesn’t come cheap.If you think these things are worth doing, pay your own way, and finish the fights you start.
Examiner Columnist Gene Healy is a vice president at the Cato Institute and the author of The Cult of the Presidency.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.