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FBI Organizes Almost All US Terror Plots

August 31st, 2011 - by admin

Russia Today

 – 2011-08-31 00:36:59

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article28933.htm

SAN FRANCISCO (August 24, 2011) — The Federal Bureau of Investigation employs upwards of 15,000 undercover agents today, ten times what they had on the roster back in 1975.

If you think that’s a few spies too many — spies earning as much as $100,000 per assignment — one doesn’t have to go too deep into their track record to see their accomplishments. Those agents are responsible for an overwhelming amount of terrorist stings that have stopped major domestic catastrophes in the vein of 9/11 from happening on American soil.

Another thing those agents are responsible for, however, is plotting those very schemes.

The FBI has in recent years used trained informants not just to snitch on suspected terrorists, but to set them up from the get-go. A recent report put together by Mother Jones and the Investigative Reporting Program at the University of California-Berkley analyses some striking statistics about the role of FBI informants in terrorism cases that the Bureau has targeted in the decade since the September 11 attacks.

The report reveals that the FBI regularly infiltrates communities where they suspect terrorist-minded individuals to be engaging with others. Regardless of their intentions, agents are sent in to converse within the community, find suspects that could potentially carry out “lone wolf” attacks and then, more or less, encourage them to do so. By providing weaponry, funds and a plan, FBI-directed agents will encourage otherwise-unwilling participants to plot out terrorist attacks, only to bust them before any events fully materialize.

Additionally, one former high-level FBI officials speaking to Mother Jones says that, for every informant officially employed by the bureau, up to three unofficial agents are working undercover.

The FBI has used those informants to set-up and thus shut-down several of the more high profile would-be attacks in recent years. The report reveals that the Washington DC Metro bombing plot, the New York City subway plot, the attempt to blow up Chicago’s Sears Tower and dozens more were all orchestrated by FBI agents. In fact, reads the report, only three of the more well-known terror plots of the last decade weren’t orchestrated by FBI-involved agents.

The report reveals that in many of the stings, important meetings between informants and the unknowing participants are left purposely unrecorded, as to avoid any entrapment charges that could cause the case to be dismissed. Perhaps the most high-profile of the FBI-proposed plots was the case of the Newburgh 4.

Around an hour outside of New York City, an informant infiltrated a Muslim community and engaged four local men to carry out a series of attacks. Those men may have never actually carried out an attack, but once the informant offered them a plot and a pair of missiles, they agreed. Defense attorneys cried “entrapment,” but the men still were sentenced to 25 years apiece.

“The problem with the cases we’re talking about is that defendants would not have done anything if not kicked in the ass by government agents,” Martin Stolar tells Mother Jones. Stolar represented the suspect involved in a New York City bombing plot that was set-up by FBI agents. “They’re creating crimes to solve crimes so they can claim a victory in the war on terror.” For their part, the FBI says this method is a plan for “preemption,” “prevention” and “disruption.”

The report also reveals that, of the 500-plus prosecutions of terrorism-related cases they analyzed, nearly half of them involved the use of informants, many of whom worked for the FBI in exchange for money or to work off criminal charges. Of the 158 prosecutions carried out, 49 defendants participated in plots that agent provocateurs arranged on behalf of the FBI.

Experts note that the chance of winning a terrorism-related trial, entrapment or not, is near impossible.

“The plots people are accused of being part of — attacking subway systems or trying to bomb a building — are so frightening that they can overwhelm a jury,” David Cole, a Georgetown University law professor, tells Mother Jones. Since 9/11, almost two-thirds of the cases linked to terrorism have ended with guilty pleas. “They don’t say, ‘I’ve been entrapped,’ or, ‘I was immature,’ ” a retired FBI official remarks.

All of this and those guilty pleas often stem for just being in the right place at the wrong time. Farhana Khera of the group Muslim Advocate notes that agents go into mosques on “fishing expeditions” just to see where they can get interest in the community. “The FBI is now telling agents they can go into houses of worship without probable cause,” says Khera. “That raises serious constitutional issues.”

From the set-up to the big finish, the whole sting operation is ripe with constitutional issues such as that. A decade since 9/11, however, the FBI is reaching through whatever means it can pull together to keep terrorists — or whom they think could someday become one — from ever hurting America.

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

US Outsourced Libya Regime Change

August 31st, 2011 - by admin

Hadeel Al-Shalchi and Rami Al-Shaheibi / Associated Press – 2011-08-31 00:36:09

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article28927.htm

NATO, Sleeper Cells Drove Rebels’ Tripoli Push



BENGHAZI, Libya (August 24, 2011) — They called it Operation Mermaid Dawn, a stealth plan coordinated by sleeper cells, Libyan rebels, and NATO to snatch the capital from the Moammar Gadhafi’s regime’s hands. It began three months ago when groups of young men left their homes in Tripoli and traveled to train in Benghazi with ex-military soldiers.

After training in Benghazi, the men would return to Tripoli either through the sea disguised as fishermen or through the western mountains. “They went back to Tripoli and waited; they became sleeper cells,” said military spokesman Fadlallah Haroun, who helped organize the operation. He said that many of the trained fighters also stayed in the cities west of Tripoli, including Zintan and Zawiya, and waited for the day to come to push into the capital.

Operation Mermaid Dawn began on the night of August 21 and took the world by surprise as the rebels sped into the capital and celebrated in Green Square with almost no resistance from pro-Gadhafi forces. Haroun said about 150 men rose up from inside Tripoli, blocking streets, engaging in armed street fights with Gadhafi brigades, and taking over their streets with check points.

But why did the armed Gadhafi troops melt away when the rebels drove through? Fathi Baja, head of the rebel leadership’s political committee, said it was all thanks to a deal cut with the head of the batallion in charge of protecting Tripoli’s gates, the Mohammed Megrayef Brigade. His name was Mohammed Eshkal and he was very close to Gadhafi and his family. Baja said Gadhafi had ordered the death of his cousin twenty years ago.

“Eshkal carried a grudge in his heart against Gadhafi for 20 years, and he made a deal with the NTC — when the zero hour approached he would hand the city over to the rebels,” said Haroun. “Eshkal didn’t care much about the revolution,” said Haroun. “He wanted to take a personal revenge from Gadhafi and when he saw a chance that he will fall, he just let it happen.”

But Haroun said he still didn’t trust Eshkal or the men who defected so late in the game. Haroun said that he didn’t trust any of the defectors who left Gadhafi’s side so close to August 20.

”They lived knew his days were numbered so they defected, but in their hearts they will always fear Gadhafi and give him a regard,” he said. Haroun said NATO was in contact with the rebel leadership in Benghazi and were aware of the date of Operation Mermaid Dawn.

“Honestly, NATO played a very big role in liberating Tripoli — they bombed all the main locations that we couldn’t handle with our light weapons,” said Harouin.

Analysts have noted that as time went on, NATO airstrikes became more and more precise and there was less and less collateral damage, indicating the presence of air controllers on the battlefields. Targeted bombings launched methodical strikes on Gadhafi’s crucial communications facilities and weapons caches. An increasing number of American hunter-killer drones provided round-the-clock surveillance as the rebels advanced.

Diplomats acknowledge that covert teams from France, Britain and some East European states provided critical assistance. The assistance included logisticians, security advisers and forward air controllers for the rebel army, as well as intelligence operatives, damage assessment analysts and other experts, according to a diplomat based at NATO’s headquarters in Brussels. The diplomat spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue.

Foreign military advisers on the ground provided key real-time intelligence to the rebels, enabling them to maximize their limited firepower against the enemy. One US official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, said the Qatari military led the way, augmented later by French, Italian and British military advisers. This effort had a multiple purpose, not only assisting the rebels but monitoring their ranks and watching for any al-Qaida elements trying to infiltrate or influence the rebellion.

Bolstering the intelligence on the ground was an escalating surveillance and targeting campaign in the skies above. Armed US Predator drones helped to clear a path for the rebels to advance.

Baja said as the time for Operation Mermaid Dawn came close to execution, NATO began to intensify their bombing campaign at Bab al-Azizya and near jails where weapons were stored and political prisoners were held. And then the people rose up.

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

UN ‘Plan for Post-Gaddafi Libya’ Leaked

August 31st, 2011 - by admin

Inside Story / Al Jazeera – 2011-08-31 00:35:41

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/americas/2011/08/20118291127750603.html

UN ‘Plan for Post-Gaddafi Libya’ Leaked
Al Jazeera

NEW YORK (August 29, 2011) — A leaked document apparently detailing United Nations preparations for its role in post-Gaddafi Libya reveals plans for the world body to deploy military observers and police officers to the North African country.

The 10-page document, apparently written by a special UN team led by Ian Martin, the former British head of Amnesty International, was obtained and published by Inner City Press, the UN watchdog website.
The document outlines plans for UN-assisted elections in the next six to nine months.

It also calls for the deployment of 200 unarmed military observers and 190 UN police officers to serve as trainers. But it says such a deployment would only be implemented if it was requested by Libyan authorities and authorised by the UN Security Council.

“If requested by the Libyans and authorised by the Council, the UN could contribute to confidence-building and to the implementation of agreed military tasks, through unarmed UN military observer (UNMOs).

“Such confidence-building might be necessary for the troops of the Gaddafi government which will find themselves under the control of hostile forces. The UNMOs might also act as some deterrence against ill treatment of the former enemy by rogue elements.”

It also calls for the deployment of 61 civilian staff who will also be stationed in Libya in the first three months, both at a headquarters in Tripoli and at an office in Benghazi.

The UN is pushing for the creation of an interim government ahead of the polls.

“If the stablisation of Tripoli after the collapse of the Gaddafi government becomes such a major challenge that the transitional authorities seek more robust international assistance, this is a task clearly beyond the capacity of the UN,” the plan states.

“In this situation, the only viable option to ensure a safe environment in Tripoli are the transitional authorities themselves, with the advice of those who are already assisting or advising them.

“The Security Council’s ‘protection of civilians’ mandate implemented by NATO forces does not end with the fall of the Gaddafi government, and there, NATO would continue to have some responsibilities.”

Ban Ki-Moon, the UN Secretary General, has called on the international community to work together to restore order in Libya and for an end to fighting in the country.


Libya’s Biggest Hurdle:
As rebels gain further control of the capital Tripoli we ask, what is the biggest challenge facing the country?

Inside Story / Al Jazeera

(August 26, 2011) — The interim government has moved from Benghazi to Tripoli and is urging the world to release billions of dollars in frozen Libyan assets. The National Transitional Council (NTC) want action, not words. The head of the NTC is in Europe lobbying for aid that is urgently needed for nation-building and economic recovery. But is this the biggest hurdle facing the future of Libya?

Inside Story, with presenter Hazem Sika, discusses with Farhat Bengdara, the former governor of Libya’s central bank; Hans Meier-Ewert, the executive vice-president, German Africa Business Association; and Shadi Hamid, the research director at the Brookings Doha Centre.


The Cost of Libya’s Revolution
Counting the Cost / Al Jazeera

(August 26, 2011) — After 42 years, Muammar Gaddafi’s rule is considered all but over. But while the fighting goes on, the opposition National Transitional Council (NTC) is taking its first steps to becoming a fully fledged government. To be effective in that role it needs money and if things go well for the NTC, it may just have that, and a whole lot more.

Many people have thrown a lot of money at the uprising in Libya, but now comes the time to find yet more money to rebuild the country and its economy. There is a lot of work to do in getting Libya back on its feet, but the Transitional Council could be in an incredibly strong position: Libya has oil, it has no debts, and it has frozen assets worth between $110 billon and $150 billion.

Counting the Cost can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Friday: 2230; Saturday: 0930; Sunday: 0330; Monday: 1630.

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

CIA Attempts to Censor Book on 9/11

August 31st, 2011 - by admin

Scott Shane / The New York Times & The New Yorker Magazine – 2011-08-31 00:31:03

CIA Demands Cuts in Book About 9/11 and Terror Fight
Scott Shane / The New York Times

WASHINGTON (August 25, 2011) — In what amounts to a fight over who gets to write the history of the Sept. 11 attacks and their aftermath, the Central Intelligence Agency is demanding extensive cuts from the memoir of a former FBI agent who spent years near the center of the battle against Al Qaeda.

The agent, Ali H. Soufan, argues in the book that the CIA missed a chance to derail the 2001 plot by withholding from the FBI information about two future 9/11 hijackers living in San Diego, according to several people who have read the manuscript. And he gives a detailed, firsthand account of the CIA’s move toward brutal treatment in its interrogations, saying the harsh methods used on the agency’s first important captive, Abu Zubaydah, were unnecessary and counterproductive.

Neither critique of the CIA is new. In fact, some of the information that the agency argues is classified, according to two people who have seen the correspondence between the FBI and CIA, has previously been disclosed in open Congressional hearings, the report of the national commission on 9/11 and even the 2007 memoir of George J. Tenet, the former CIA director.

Mr. Soufan, an Arabic-speaking counterterrorism agent who played a central role in most major terrorism investigations between 1997 and 2005, has told colleagues he believes the cuts are intended not to protect national security but to prevent him from recounting episodes that in his view reflect badly on the CIA.

Some of the scores of cuts demanded by the CIA from Mr. Soufan’s book, The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against Al Qaeda, seem hard to explain on security grounds.

Among them, according to the people who have seen the correspondence, is a phrase from Mr. Soufan’s 2009 testimony at a Senate hearing, freely available both as video and transcript on the Web. Also chopped are references to the word “statio”” to describe the CIA’s overseas offices, common parlance for decades.

The agency removed the pronouns “I” and “me” from a chapter in which Mr. Soufan describes his widely reported role in the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, an important terrorist facilitator and training camp boss. And agency officials took out references to the fact that a passport photo of one of the 9/11 hijackers who later lived in San Diego, Khalid al-Midhar, had been sent to the CIA in January 2000 — an episode described both in the 9/11 commission report and Mr. Tenet’s book.

In a letter sent Aug. 19 to the FBI’s general counsel, Valerie E. Caproni, a lawyer for Mr. Soufan, David N. Kelley, wrote that “credible sources have told Mr. Soufan that the agency has made a decision that this book should not be published because it will prove embarrassing to the agency.”

In a statement, Mr. Soufan called the CIA’s redactions to his book “ridiculous” but said he thought he would prevail in getting them restored for a later edition.

He said he believed that counterterrorism officers have an obligation to face squarely “where we made mistakes and let the American people down.” He added: “It saddens me that some are refusing to address past mistakes.”

A spokeswoman for the CIA, Jennifer Youngblood, said, “The suggestion that the Central Intelligence Agency has requested redactions on this publication because it doesn’t like the content is ridiculous. The CIA’s pre-publication review process looks solely at the issue of whether information is classified.”

She noted that under the law, “Just because something is in the public domain doesn’t mean it’s been officially released or declassified by the US government.”

A spokesman for the FBI, Michael P. Kortan, declined to comment.

The book, written with the assistance of Daniel Freedman, a colleague at Mr. Soufan’s New York security company, is scheduled to go on sale Sept. 12. Facing a deadline this week, the publisher, W. W. Norton and Company, decided to proceed with a first printing incorporating all the CIA’s cuts.

If Mr. Soufan ultimately prevails in negotiations or a legal fight to get the excised material restored, Norton will print the unredacted version, said Drake McFeely, Norton’s president. “The CIA’s redactions seem outrageous to me,” Mr. McFeely said. But he noted that they are concentrated in certain chapters and said “the book’s argument comes across clearly despite them.”

The regular appearance of memoirs by Bush administration officials has continued a debate over the facts surrounding the failure to prevent 9/11 and the tactics against terrorism that followed. In former Vice President Dick Cheney’s memoir, set for publication next week, he writes of the harsh interrogations that “the techniques worked.”

A book scheduled for publication next May by José A. Rodriguez Jr., a former senior CIA official, is expected to give a far more laudatory account of the agency’s harsh interrogations than that of Mr. Soufan, as is evident from its tentative title: “Hard Measures: How Aggressive CIA Actions After 9/11 Saved American Lives.”

Government employees who hold security clearances are required to have their books vetted for classified information before publication. But because decisions on what should be classified can be highly subjective, the prepublication review process often becomes a battle. Several former spies have gone to court to fight redactions to their books, and the Defense Department spent nearly $50,000 last year to buy and destroy the entire first printing of an intelligence officer’s book, which it said contained secrets.

The CIA interrogation program sharply divided the CIA and the FBI, whose director, Robert S. Mueller III, ordered agents to stop participating in the program after Mr. Soufan and other agents objected to the use of physical coercion. But some CIA officers, too, opposed the brutal methods, including waterboarding, and it was their complaint to the CIA’s inspector general that eventually led to the suspension of the program.

The Black Banners traces the origins and growth of Al Qaeda and describes the role of Mr. Soufan, 40, a Lebanese-American, in the investigations of the East African embassy bombings of 1998, the attack on the American destroyer Cole in 2000, 9/11 and the continuing campaign against terrorism.

Starting in May, FBI officials reviewed Mr. Soufan’s 600-page manuscript, asking the author for evidence that dozens of names and facts were not classified. Mr. Soufan and Mr. Freedman agreed to change wording or substitute aliases for some names, and on July 12 the bureau told Mr. Soufan its review was complete.

In the meantime, however, the bureau had given the book to the CIA Its reviewers responded this month with 78-page and 103-page faxes listing their cuts.


The CIA, Censorship, and National Security
The New Yorker

(August 26, 2011) — In its cynical decision to censor the memoir of former FBI Special Agent Ali Soufan, the CIA is seeking to punish a critic and to obscure history. The punitive nature of the savaging of Soufan’s book is evident in the agency’s demand that he remove the personal pronouns “I” and “me” in an attempt to delete Soufan’s heroic and entirely humane interrogations of major Al Qaeda figures.

Much of what Soufan says in his book is not new; I published similar revelations in The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 and in the pages of The New Yorker (“The Agent,” July 10, 2006). My colleague Jane Mayer has covered the CIA torture story extensively in this magazine and in her book The Dark Side, also documenting details of Soufan’s account. The agency made no effort to restrain those publications, nor accused them, as it’s accusing Soufan’s memoir, of releasing classified information that compromises national security.

There is an issue of national security that needs redress, however, and that is the failure of the CIA to provide it. One major focus of the agency’s censorship efforts has to do with the agency’s decision to hide from the FBI the fact that two Al Qaeda operatives, Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khaled al-Midhar, arrived in America in January, 2000.

The CIA learned of their presence in March of that year, eighteen months before 9/11. The bureau had all the legal authority it needed to tap their phones, follow them, and clone their computers. The likelihood is that 9/11 could have been prevented if the CIA had done what it was legally required to do; that is, to inform the bureau that terrorists were on American soil.

For a decade now, the agency has successfully avoided a reckoning with its own culpability in letting this tragedy transpire. Now that it has raised the issue once again in its blatant attempt to erase history, it’s time to hold the CIA accountable.

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

NATO Nations Set to Reap Spoils of in Libya War



August 31st, 2011 - by admin

Rachel Shabi / Al-Jazeera – 2011-08-31 00:03:42

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article28955.htm

(August 26, 2011) — It looks like the more telling news on Libya has migrated to the business pages. With jubilant reporting of Gaddafi’s imminent downfall seizing headlines, it’s the financial pages that have the clinical analysis. So, for instance, it is in this section that the Independent reports a “dash for profit in the post-war Libya carve up”.

Similarly, Reuters, under the headline, “Investors eye promise, pitfalls in post-Gaddafi Libya” noted that a new government in that country could “herald a bonanza for Western companies and investors.”

Before Tripoli has completely fallen, before Gaddafi and his supporters have stepped down and before the blood dries on the bodies that have yet to be counted, Western powers are already eyeing up what they view us just rewards for the intervention.

There are no more illusions over how far NATO forces exceeded the UN security resolution that mandated its campaign. For months, NATO officials insisted it was operating within brief — an air campaign, designed to protect civilians under threat of attack. But now it is described as an “open secret” that NATO countries were operating undercover, on the ground.

Add to that the reluctance to broker a negotiated exit, the practice of advising, arming and training the rebels, and the spearheading of an escalation in violence and it looks like NATO’s job morphed from protecting civilians to regime change.

Oil for Regime Change
And there’s a reason for this sudden rush of honesty over its involvement. As alluded to by the Economist, each country’s contribution to the NATO effort in Libya is expected to have some impact on how much of the spoils it gets in the looming post-war period.

The French Le Figaro newspaper is keen to talk up Libya as “Sarkozy’s war”, while the British Telegraph drops references to the involvement of British military and intelligence officers, including MI6 and the RAF.

Aiding the Libyan rebel forces of the National Transitional Council has created a debt of gratitude. In the context of responsibility for what happens next in Libya, an anonymous British official told the Economist that NATO’s involvement in the Libyan uprising means that: “Now we own it.”

As Reuters reports, “Western companies look well positioned as billions of dollars in oil exploration and construction contracts come up for grabs as part of the reconstruction effort.”

Leaving aside the massive profits from the rebuilding that Libya is now going to need, there are vast oil spoils to distribute. The Libyan oil industry produced 1.6 million barrels a day prior to the war. The country is thought to have 46 billion barrels of reserves — the largest in Africa.

Winners and Losers
And this is what the information manager at the rebel-controlled Arabian Gulf Oil Company, Libya’s largest oil producer, had to say about who it now intends to trade with: “We don’t have a problem with Western countries like the Italians, French and UK companies. But we may have some political issues with Russia, China and Brazil.” Those last three countries weren’t involved in the NATO mission in Libya.

None of that is to bemoan the downfall of a terrifying dictator who has kept Libyans crushed and brutalised for decades. Gaddafi’s demise is welcome; the courage of Libyans who fought his regime is staggering and only a stone would fail to be moved by their celebration of freedom now.

But it does not negate those factors to point out that NATO countries have not previously seemed bothered by the bloodiness of this dictator’s 42-year-rule — or that the striking feature of the West’s relationship to the Middle East has been its cynical alliances with repressive rulers, propped up to shut down their populations while opening up resources to foreign access.

It is exactly this track record — of being a corrosive influence and a self-interested broker — that has made Middle Eastern countries wary of any Western intervention in the tide of revolutions now sweeping the region. Libyan rebels asked for help, but were wary of what was viewed as a necessary alliance with Western forces. It does the flow of Arab uprisings a disservice to now glorify NATO’s mission. A liberal intervention for humanitarian ends may be the comfortable hook; but securing assets and resources, as usual, is the real goal.

Follow Rachel Shabi on Twitter at: @rachshabi

Rachel Shabi is a British journalist specialising in the Middle East and the author of the award-winning book, Not the Enemy — Israel’s Jews from Arab Lands. Her reports from Jerusalem were shortlisted for this year’s Orwell prize for political journalism.

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

Pentagon Wasted $30 Billion in Iraq and Afghanistan

August 31st, 2011 - by admin

Paul Thompson / The Daily Mail – 2011-08-31 00:01:20

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2031509/Pentagon-wasted-30BN-Iraq-Afghanistan-720m-late-fees-forgetting-return-shipping-containers.html

Pentagon Wasted $30 Billion in Iraq and Afghanistan and ‘More than $720 Million on Late Fees for Forgetting to Return Shipping Containers’

LONDON (August 29, 2011) — The Pentagon spent more than $30 billion on contracts and grants in Iraq and Afghanistan, a report has revealed, while $720 million of the money was wasted on fees for shipping containers, which it failed to return on time.

The amount of money squandered over the past ten years amounts to at least one in every six dollars spent, records to be released in full on Wednesday show.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that military officials underestimated the amount of time they would need to rent out 20-foot-long containers used to ship equipment overseas — resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars thrown away on embarrassing late fees.

The huge waste has emerged from a report to be submitted to Congress on Wednesday by the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan. The report outlines a number of embarrassing examples of reckless overspending on needless contracts.

For example, $40 million was spent on a prison in Iraq, which was ultimately not completed because the country did not need it. The commission’s co-chairmen also noted a $300 million power plant in Kabul, which relied on sustained funding and expertise which the region could not be left to provide for itself.

The late fees for containers were spent because shipping companies charge up to $2,200 each time a container fails to arrive back at their depot on time. Charges levied in a similar way a customer has to pay a late fee when returning a DVD or library book. Many of the containers remain in Iraq and Afghanistan while running up a daily charge that have amounted to more than $70 million a year – or an average of $1.3million a week.

Late fees peaked in 2004 at $128million a year after the invasion of Iraq and the massive security operation in the wake of the downfall of Saddam Hussein. Four years later, with troops pulling out of Iraq, that figure dropped to $17million, according to records obtained by USA Today.

But with thousands of more troops now in Afghanistan as part of President Obama’s surge to contain Taliban extremists the amount paid in “late” fees went back up to $30 million for 2010.

Defence spending has come under intense scrutiny as budgets are squeezed following the debt crisis. The annual budget for the military is $553billion but cuts are expected as the Pentagon are forced to trim back on expensive projects.

Military analysts said the Pentagon should have kept a closer eye on the spending and likened the late fees to payments charges by libraries for overdue books. ‘This is real money,’ said John Pike, executive director of Globalsecurity.org, a defence policy group.

Winslow Wheeler, a defence analyst at the Center for Defense Information, accused Pentagon chiefs of failing to manage their budgets correctly. ‘These are the kinds of things that happen when people are asleep at the wheel,’ he said.

Military officials attribute the decline in late fees since 2004 to better management, use of more government-owned shipping boxes and caps on the cost of buying delinquent containers. Contracts have also been modified in recent years to limit how much the government pays before it owns the container.

The rates the military pays for late fees compare favorably with those paid by private companies moving cargo.

Figures obtained by USA Today show that if the military fails to return a container, a rent-to-own arrangement requires it to pay the shipper nearly $7,400 for a 20-foot container worth $3,200. Maersk Line Limited is one of the top recipients of late fees, according to the Pentagon.

‘When a container is not returned in a timely manner, carriers miss the opportunity to serve a customer,’ said company spokesman Kevin Speers. ‘Detention fees are a common incentive to prompt the on-time return of containers similar to late-fees on a car or movie rental.’

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

Al Gore: Climate Denial Must Go the Way of Racism

August 30th, 2011 - by admin

Brian Merchant / Tree Hugger – 2011-08-30 01:12:07

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2011/08/al-gore-climate-denial-racism.php

BROOKLYN, New York (August 29, 2011) — Every time I watch Al Gore speak, I’m perplexed anew: how is this mild-mannered, Southern-drawling former Vice President still one of the most polarizing figures in politics? How does this man still rile up hordes of haters simply by making uber-innocuous statements?

(I found that out the hard way, when I uploaded a YouTube clip of Al Gore discussing how women’s empowerment could help fight climate change, and it sparked a right-wing frenzy) But, like clockwork, his logical, soft-spoken ruminations on climate change are again stirring up the hornet’s nest.

After an interview with FearLess TV, the headlines and blog links were blazing: “Gore: Global warming skeptics are this generation’s racists!” “Al Gore: Denial=Racism!”

As usual, however, the content of his message was hardly worth the outraged bluster.

Gore was describing the mechanism by which change began to stir in the national consciousness on civil rights issues, when he described the following scene. (Via the Daily Caller):

“I remember, again going back to my early years in the South, when the Civil Rights revolution was unfolding, there were two things that really made an impression on me,” Gore said. “My generation watched Bull Connor turning the hose on civil rights demonstrators and we went, ‘Whoa! How gross and evil is that?’ My generation asked old people, ‘Explain to me again why it is okay to discriminate against people because their skin color is different?’ And when they couldn’t really answer that question with integrity, the change really started.”

Here’s the Daily Caller’s own clip — watch for yourself and see how ‘controversial’ it is:

Gore is discussing how such a change may need to be stirred in the public consciousness now, how we need to “win the conversation” regarding climate issues. How a youth movement or civil disobedience could expose the fact that there are powerful interests working to sow doubt about what is otherwise a roundly accepted, well-established scientific theory.

He’s discussing how we might pass the tipping point to where public opinion aligns more with the climate scientists than with the politicians and industry interests. To where denying climate change becomes an embarrassing practice.

Something needs to get America to wake up on the issue, he’s saying, and it will likely be young people. And those young people, who are already better educated on climate issues and more concerned about global warming, will start initiating a cultural paradigm shift on the topic:

“Secondly, back to this phrase ‘win the conversation,'” [Gore] continued. “There came a time … when racist comments would come up in the course of the conversation and in years past they were just natural. Then there came a time when people would say, ‘Hey, man why do you talk that way, I mean that is wrong. I don’t go for that so don’t talk that way around me. I just don’t believe that.’ That happened in millions of conversations and slowly the conversation was won.”

Gore is not saying that climate skeptics are as morally deplorable as the racists of yesteryear — just that time and demonstration will render their ideas as obsolete and relegate them to the fringe.

The comparison was to the mechanism that brought change, not to the individuals who prescribed to each viewpoint — social scientists and writers have been comparing climate to civil rights for years.. But that would have been much less fun of an angle for the conservative blogs (and much too heady), so they went with the “If you’re a climate skeptic, Al Gore is calling you racist” slander that was sure to piss off the Tea Partying right.

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

Attack on US Economy Staged by the Fed and ‘Sleeper Cells’ on Wall Street

August 30th, 2011 - by admin

Matthew Cardinale / Inter Press Service – 2011-08-30 00:56:59

http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=104913

First Federal Reserve Audit Reveals Trillions in Secret Bailouts
Matthew Cardinale / Inter Press Service

(August 29, 2011) — The first-ever audit of the US Federal Reserve has revealed 16 trillion dollars in secret bank bailouts and has raised more questions about the quasi-private agency’s opaque operations.

“This is a clear case of socialism for the rich and rugged, you’re-on-your-own individualism for everyone else,” US Senator Bernie Sanders, an Independent from Vermont, said in a statement.

The majority of loans were issues by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRBNY).

“From late 2007 through mid-2010, Reserve Banks provided more than a trillion dollars … in emergency loans to the financial sector to address strains in credit markets and to avert failures of individual institutions believed to be a threat to the stability of the financial system,” the audit report states.

“The scale and nature of this assistance amounted to an unprecedented expansion of the Federal Reserve System’s traditional role as lender-of-last-resort to depository institutions,” according to the report.

The report notes that all the short-term, emergency loans were repaid, or are expected to be repaid.

The emergency loans included eight broad-based programs, and also provided assistance for certain individual financial institutions. The Fed provided loans to JP Morgan Chase bank to acquire Bear Stearns, a failed investment firm; provided loans to keep American International Group (AIG), a multinational insurance corporation, afloat; extended lending commitments to Bank of America and Citigroup; and purchased risky mortgage-backed securities to get them off private banks’ books.

Overall, the greatest borrowing was done by a small number of institutions. Over the three years, Citigroup borrowed a total of 2.5 trillion dollars, Morgan Stanley borrowed two trillion; Merrill Lynch, which was acquired by Bank of America, borrowed 1.9 trillion; and Bank of America borrowed 1.3 trillion.

Banks based in counties other than the US also received money from the Fed, including Barclays of the United Kingdom, the Royal Bank of Scotland Group (UK), Deutsche Bank (Germany), UBS (Switzerland), Credit Suisse Group (Switzerland), Bank of Scotland (UK), BNP Paribas (France), Dexia (Belgium), Dresdner Bank (Germany), and Societe General (France).

“No agency of the United States government should be allowed to bailout a foreign bank or corporation without the direct approval of Congress and the President,” Sanders wrote.

In recent days, Bloomberg News obtained 29,346 pages of documentation from the Federal Reserve about some of these secret loans, after months of fighting in court for access to the records under the Freedom of Information Act.

Some of the financial institutions secretly receiving loans were meanwhile claiming in their public reports to have ample cash reserves, Bloomberg noted.

The Federal Reserve has neither explained how they legally justified several of the emergency loans, nor how they decided to provide assistance to certain firms but not others.

“The main problem is the lack of Congressional oversight, and the way the Fed seemed to pick winners who would be protected at any cost,” Randall Wray, professor of economics at University of Missouri-Kansas City, told IPS.

“If such lending is not illegal, it should be. Our nation really did go through a liquidity crisis — a run on the short-term liabilities of financial institutions. There is only one way to stop a run: lend reserves without limit to all qualifying institutions. The Fed bumbled around before it finally sort of did that,” Wray said.

“But then it turned to phase two, which was to try to resolve problems of insolvency by increasing Uncle Sam’s stake in the banksters’ fiasco. That never should have been done. You close down fraudsters, period. The Fed and FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Commission) should have gone into the biggest banks immediately, replaced all top management, and should have started to resolve them,” Wray said.

Renewed questions about the Federal Reserve have inspired some young activists to organize grassroots protests across the US.

“Since its creation by the US Government in 1913, the Federal Reserve has created so much new money out of thin air that it has destroyed 95 percent of the dollar’s value,” Joseph Brown, a college student and one of the organisers of a recent protest of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, said.

“This hidden inflation tax benefits Wall Street and the government, but hurts the poor and those living on fixed incomes, such as senior citizens, the most,” Brown said.

The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) audit itself was the result of at least two years of grassroots lobbying. IPS reported in June 2009 a wide bi-partisan coalition of members of Congress had co-sponsored legislation to audit the Federal Reserve.

The audit was ordered as an amendment by Sanders as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act – a major banking overhaul passed by President Barack Obama and the US Congress in 2010.

“I think this (the first ever GAO audit) was a good start to uncovering what the Fed did so that we can begin to determine whether similar actions should ever be permitted again,” Wray wrote, adding, “my preliminary answer is a resounding no.”

The GAO also found existing Federal Reserve policies do not prevent significant conflicts of interest. For example, “the FRBNY’s existing restrictions on its employees’ financial interests did not specifically prohibit investments in certain non-bank institutions that received emergency assistance,” the report stated.

The GAO report noted on Sep. 19, 2008, William Dudley, who is now the President of the FRBNY, was granted a waiver to let him keep investments in AIG and General Electric, while at the same time the Federal Reserve granted bailout funds to the same two companies.

“No one who works for a firm receiving direct financial assistance from the Fed should be allowed to sit on the Fed’s board of directors or be employed by the Fed,” Sanders said.

The GAO is currently working on a more detailed report regarding Federal Reserve conflicts of interest, which is due on Oct. 18, 2011.

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

Army Ranger’s Widow Expelled From Rumsfeld Book Signing

August 30th, 2011 - by admin

Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune – 2011-08-30 00:53:49

http://www.thenewstribune.com/2011/08/27/1798800/rangers-widow-expelled-from-rumsfeld.html

(August 29, 2011) — Two people were removed from a Donald Rumsfeld book signing Friday at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, including the Yelm widow of an Army Ranger who blames the military for her husband’s suicide.

Security officers for the former secretary of defense escorted Ashley Joppa-Hagemann out by the arm, she said Saturday. She and Jorge Gonzalez, the executive director of Coffee Strong, a Lakewood-based anti-war group, confronted Rumsfeld as he promoted his memoir, “Known and Unknown.”

According to an account posted on Coffee Strong’s website: “Mrs. Joppa-Hagemann introduced herself by handing a copy of her husband’s funeral program to Rumsfeld, and telling him that her husband had joined the military because he believed the lies told by Rumsfeld during his tenure with the Bush administration.”

Joppa-Hagemann complained about Rumsfeld’s response Friday to her account of Staff Sgt. Jared Hagemann’s multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan and his death at age 25. Hagemann belonged to the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment.

The website said Rumsfeld’s “only response was to callously quip, ‘Oh yeah, I heard about that.'”

When Joppa-Hagemann continued to blame Rumsfeld, a group of five to six security agents and military police officers reportedly “dragged” them out and told them not to return, according to the Web post.

A base spokesman said Saturday that the pair were causing a minor disturbance. “Two people were quietly and peacefully escorted out of the PX after they caused a disturbance at the book signing,” public affairs officer Bud McKay said.

Joppa-Hagemann said the pair spoke calmly and weren’t trying to make a scene. She should have been allowed to finish talking to Rumsfeld, she said. The pair did take a picture with Rumsfeld after Gonzalez unbuttoned his shirt to reveal an “Iraq Veterans against the War” T-shirt.

Joppa-Hagemann says her husband took his own life to avoid another tour in Afghanistan after Rangers pressured him to drop his plans to leave the military. She has been pushing for a ceremony honoring him. Her efforts were the subject of a front-page story in Thursday’s News Tribune.

She said Jared Hagemann believed when he enlisted that he would be fighting in Iraq for “justice for 9/11” and to find weapons of mass destruction. “All I could do was just really be happy at that moment that I got to tell Donald to his face that he was a liar,” she said in an interview Saturday, “and put a face to a soldier that because of him is no longer alive.”

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

NATO Destroys Yet Another Country

August 29th, 2011 - by admin

M D Nalapat / Pakistan Observer – 2011-08-29 13:03:36

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article28952.htm

(August 26, 2011) — Some years ago, in the Indian site www.bharat-rakshak.com, this columnist had written of the NATO militaries as resembling an army of simians. Such a force — if let loose within a confined space — can create immense damage, but are unable to clean up the resultant mess. This is precisely what the world has witnessed in Iraq.

Despite more than a decade of sanctions that directly resulted in nearly a million extra deaths during that period (because of shortages created by the UN-approved measures), the regime of Saddam Hussein was able to provide food, energy and housing to the people of Iraq, whereas eight years after “liberation” by key NATO members, the country and its population are worse off than before the 2003 invasion that led to the execution of Saddam Hussein.

As for Afghanistan, after a decade of the world’s most modern military force fighting against a ragtag band of insurgents, more than a third of the country is back in the hands of the Taliban, while a fifth of the rest is on the brink of a similar fate. As a consequence of its failure to subdue this force, NATO is desperately clutching at plans for engaging the “moderate Taliban,” an oxymoron if ever one was created.

Serbia has yet to recover from its brief burst of battle with NATO, and now Libya has joined the lengthening list of countries devastated by the attentions of NATO. Clearly, the top brass in a military alliance designed to do battle in Europe against the USSR were reluctant to close shop. They have therefore redesigned NATO as a military instrument with multiple uses, especially against “asymmetric threats,” a term which refers to countries that have ramshackle militaries.

Both Saddam Hussein and Moammar Gaddafy followed the dictates of the NATO powers in surrendering whatever WMD was in their possession, unlike Syria and North Korea, two countries that have been left undisturbed by NATO as a consequence. Clearly, military planners within the alliance are ready for action only against those rivals that have had their conventional capabilities degraded to the point at which they do not represent any significant risk against the alliance.

Had George W Bush and Tony Blair truly believed their own rhetoric about Saddam Hussein having WMD, they would never have sent their armies into Iraq the way they did.

As mentioned in these columns, Gaddafy’s fate got sealed when he accepted the advice of his Europe-dazzled sons to disarm and place the survival of his regime in the hands of NATO. Since 2003, Muammar Gaddafy dismantled his WMD program, synchronized his intelligence services with that of NATO and generally accepted each of the prescriptions handed over to him.

Had NATO been an alliance that respects reciprocity, all this ought to have made NATO turn as blind an eye to his battle with sections of the population as we have seen in the case of Bahrain, where the ruling family has been given a free hand to sort out the situation.

Instead, the situation changed when Nicholas Sarkozy was informed by French banks that Colonel Gaddafy may withdraw the immense bank deposits of Libya from them to institutions in China, and when he learnt that several contracts that French enterprises were expecting to come to them would vanish because Gaddafy wanted to spend less on French military and other toys and more on social services.

Libya had to be made an example of, lest other Arab governments think of shifting their money elsewhere than within the NATO bloc as a consequence of the loss of $1.3 trillion by the GCC and its people alone because of the financial fraud perpetrated in 2008 by banks and other financial entities headquartered within the NATO bloc.

These days, companies based within NATO are finding it difficult to retain the monopoly position they have enjoyed, sometimes for generations. In particular, Chinese companies are challenging them in numerous markets, as are companies based elsewhere in Asia, including within South Korea and India.

As a consequence, they now rely on military force to retain their privileges. This has been illustrated with commendable transparency in the case of Iraq and Libya. In the latter case, even though the fumes of battle have not ceased (and are unlikely to), oil companies such as ENI and Total are hard at work figuring out the assets they can seize because of the local victories of the Sarkozy-appointed “National Transitional Council.”

Interestingly, even though the NTC is a creation of Paris, the UN has accepted it as the legitimate government of Iraq. Indeed, in the 21st century the UN seems to have regressed into the period between 1919 and 1939, when the League of Nations awarded “mandates” to dominant countries that permitted them to rule weaker ones.

In the past decade, similar mandates have been proferred in the case of Iraq, Kosovo and Afghanistan. In the case of Libya, President Sarkozy’s takeover of the Libyan state via the creation of the NTC has been similarly legitimized by the UN in an astonishing abdication of principle. However, just as in other locations, facts on the ground may not follow the script favored by NATO.

In the case of Libya, this columnist has warned for five months that the NATO intervention would only result in civil war and in the steady destruction of the infrastructure that made Libya one of the more prosperous countries in the region. All this is at risk today, as chaos descends in the form of armed gangs set loose by NATO across the country. Not that there is ever any chance of those responsible for such a catastrophe being held accountable by so-called “international” bodies, most of which are now firmly in the control of the NATO powers in a way that their own economies are not.

Over the past decade, tens of thousands of civilian deaths have resulted from NATO operations, without even a mild protest from the International Court or the Human Rights Council. Such inaction is leading to the same loss of respect for the UN system as took place in the past with the League of Nations, which became seen as being controlled by a small group for their own purposes.

Whether it is Libya or any other country, each has the right to develop its societal dynamic in its own way. Unless a country poses a threat to others, the way Talban-controlled Afghanistan did, it is not legitimate target for international action.

In the case of Libya, since 2003 Colonel Gaddafy disarmed his military of WMD and fully cooperated with the US-led War on Terror. His fate has become a lesson to others who may have been tempted to follow in his path of conciliation with NATO. Small wonder that the other regimes in the sights of NATO — Syria and Iran in particular — are in no hurry to follow the Libyan example.

Rather than seek to finish off a leader who buried the hatchet publicly and fully the way Gaddafy did, NATO would have been better advised to show its magnanimity and its willingness to keep agreements in good faith. That would have acted as an incentive for Syria, Iran and even North Korea to follow suit, thereby making the globe a safer place.

Today, all three states — understandably — have zero faith in the bona fides of the NATO powers, and as a consequence are each going their own way. Combine this with the economic desolation seen within NATO (much of which has been caused by the huge spike in military spending caused by foreign adventures), and overall even the medium-term prognosis for NATO is dim, despite the smiles of congratulation at the advance of NATO proxies into Tripoli.

Unlike during the Vietnam war, when the Pentagon extensively sourced its procurement from Asia, the Bush-Cheney team sought to give US entities a monopoly over the supply of the items needed, even items as militarily inconsequential as toothpaste. The result of such an autarchic policy has been a big increase in spending, with the US alone spending more than a trillion dollars in its wars with Iraq and Afghanistan.

Indeed, we have seen this use of the state machinery to block competition across several sectors. The EU, for example, has banned Indian pharmaceuticals from its market, despite the low cost and high quality of medicines produced in India. Just now, the EU has banned Samsung hi-tech products. A time will come when Asia bans German cars and French defense equipment in retaliation for the frequent bans on Asian products on specious grounds.

The US and the EU cannot protect their way out of economic trouble. They need to give their citizens access to the benefits of a global market, rather than break every canon that they have been preaching for decades. As for NATO, it will soon become clear that while it may be possible to defeat a ramshackle force with the massive use of airpower, that may not translate into monopoly privileges over Libyan oil reserves.

Should China or India come up with better terms than Italian or French companies, the people of Libya will ensure that their government act in a way that protects their interests, rather than only those of NATO. The use of military power for commercial advantage ought to have vanished when the 19th century did. Its reappearance in Iraq and Libya is a worrisome sign that NATO has not learnt the lessons of history.


The writer is Vice-Chair, Manipal Advanced Research Group, UNESCO Peace Chair & Professor of Geopolitics, Manipal University, Haryana State, India.

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

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