PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A college student returning to school after the winter break fell victim to a prank at Philadelphia’s airport by a Transportation Security Administration worker who pretended to plant a plastic bag of white powder in her carryon luggage.
The worker is no longer employed by the TSA after the incident this month, a spokeswoman said.
Rebecca Solomon, 22, a University of Michigan student, wrote in a column for her campus newspaper that she was having her bags screened on Jan. 5 before her flight to Detroit when the employee stopped her, reached into her laptop computer bag and pulled out the plastic bag, demanding to know where she had gotten the powder.
In the Jan. 10 column for The Michigan Daily, she recounted how she struggled to come up with an explanation, wondering if it was bomb-detonating material slipped in by a terrorist or drugs put there by a smuggler.
”He let me stutter through an explanation for the longest minute of my life,” Solomon wrote. ”Tears streamed down my face as I pleaded with him to understand that I’d never seen this baggie before.”
A short time later, she said, the worker smiled and said it was his.
The worker ”waved the baggie at me and told me he was kidding, that I should’ve seen the look on my face,” she said.
Solomon said she asked to speak to a supervisor and filled out a complaint, and during that process was told that the man was training TSA workers to detect contraband. Two days later, she said, she was told he had been disciplined.
”I had been terrified and disrespected by an airport employee,” she said. ”He’d joked about the least funny thing in air travel.”
There was no answer Saturday at a telephone listing for Solomon at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. An e-mail message seeking comment from her was sent Saturday by The Associated Press, and a telephone message was left at her parents’ home in suburban Philadelphia.
TSA spokeswoman Suzanne Trevino said late Saturday that the employee was no longer with the agency but did not say whether he had been fired or quit, referring only to ”disciplinary action” taken by the TSA. She also declined to identify the worker or his job title, citing privacy laws. She said she did not know whether his actions would be subject to criminal charges.
”The behavior exhibited by this TSA employee was highly inappropriate and unprofessional,” Trevino said in a statement. Source:NY Times.
Filed under News | Tagged: | Posted by Mike Conner
The UK government has announced a ban on the export to Iraq and Afghanistan of some so-called “bomb detectors”.
It follows an investigation by the BBC’s Newsnight programme which found that one type of “detector” made by a British company cannot work.
The Iraqi government has spent $85m on the ADE-651 and there are concerns that they have failed to stop bomb attacks that have killed hundreds of people.
The ban on the ADE-651 and other similar devices starts next week.
“There is nothing to program in these cards. There is no memory. There is no microcontroller. There is no way any form of information can be stored”
Dr Markus Kuhn
Sidney Alford, a leading explosives expert who advises all branches of the military, told Newsnight the sale of the ADE-651 was “absolutely immoral”.
“It could result in people being killed in the dozens, if not hundreds,” he said.
Questions were raised over the ADE-651, following three recent co-ordinated waves of bombings in Baghdad.
Thirty-nine-year-old Aqeel Yousif Yaqoub was caught in a bomb at Iraq’s Justice Ministry last October.
The blast left him with injuries to his face and limbs, and damaged his take-away falafel store.
“If they were effective,” he asked, “how did the suicide car bomb reach this area?”
And an attack in December killed over 120 people, prompting Iraqis to ask how the bombs could have got through the city’s security.
Attention is increasingly focusing on the ADE-651, the hand-held detector now used at most checkpoints in Baghdad.
‘Glorified dowsing rod’
Iraq has bought thousands of the detectors for a total of $85m (£52m).
The device is sold by Jim McCormick, based at offices in rural Somerset, UK.
The ADE-651 is in use at most checkpoints in Baghdad
The ADE-651 detector has never been shown to work in a scientific test.
There are no batteries and it consists of a swivelling aerial mounted to a hinge on a hand-grip. Critics have likened it to a glorified dowsing rod.
Mr McCormick told the BBC in a previous interview that “the theory behind dowsing and the theory behind how we actually detect explosives is very similar”.
He says that the key to it is the black box connected to the aerial into which you put “programmed substance detection cards”, each “designed to tune into” the frequency of a particular explosive or other substance named on the card.
He claims that in ideal conditions you can detect explosives from a range of up to 1km.
The training manual for the device says it can even, with the right card, detect elephants, humans and 100 dollar bills.
Anti-theft tag inside
Claims of such almost magical technical abilities would almost be comic, if the potential consequences were not so serious.
“Sometimes when I drive through checkpoints, the device moves simply because I have medications in my handbag. Sometimes it doesn’t – even when I have the same handbag”
Umm Muhammad, retired Iraqi schoolteacher
Dr Kuhn said it was “impossible” that it could detect anything at all and that the card had “absolutely nothing to do with the detection of TNT”.
“There is nothing to program in these cards. There is no memory. There is no microcontroller. There is no way any form of information can be stored,” he added.
The tags which are supposed to be the heart of such an expensive system cost around two to three pence.
“These are the cheapest bit of electronics that you can get that look vaguely electronic and are sufficiently flat to fit inside a card,” Dr Kuhn told Newsnight.
The ADE-651 has been sold to a range of Middle Eastern countries and as far afield as Bangkok for eye-watering prices.
The device is sold by Jim McCormick, based at offices in Somerset
Iraq paid around $40,000 for each device.
No Western government uses them.
The promotional material for the ADE-651 claims it is powered only by the user’s static electricity.
Iraqis themselves are sceptical about the device.
“They don’t work properly,” Umm Muhammad, a retired schoolteacher said. “Sometimes when I drive through checkpoints, the device moves simply because I have medications in my handbag. Sometimes it doesn’t – even when I have the same handbag.”
The BBC has learned that following the December bombings, the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has ordered an investigation into the bomb detectors, expected to report any day now.
Concern over the use of dowsing rods to detect bombs was first raised by American sceptic, James Randi.
Mr Randi has confirmed to the BBC that he is still offering Mr McCormick $1m if he can prove that the ADE-651 works.
In 1995, the Sandia national labs and the FBI raised the alarm over a dowsing rod device called the Quadro Tracker which they described as “a fraud” and the FBI warned: “All agencies should immediately cease using the device.”
In 1999, the FBI put out another alert: “Warning. Do not use bogus explosives detection devices.”
There have been three recent co-ordinated waves of bombings
In 2002, a test by Sandia labs in the US found that a similar dowsing rod device, called the Mole detector, did not work and performed “no better than a random selection process”.
They concluded that it did not work and that it looked “nearly identical” to the Quadro Tracker.
Last month, a senior Iraqi officer involved in bomb-prevention defended the ADE-651.
Major General Jehad al-Jabiri, who appeared at a press conference with Mr McCormick following the December explosions, said he did not “care about Sandia” and knew more about bombs than the Americans:
“Whether it’s magic or scientific, what I care about is it detects bombs,” he said.
And policemen manning checkpoints in Baghdad have told the BBC that you need to be relaxed to use the ADE-651 and that it does not work properly if the user is stressed or has a high heart rate.
In other words, the message which has got through to the frontlines is – if it does not work, blame the operator not the device.
Mr McCormick declined our request to interview him for this report, but late last year he told the BBC that he has been selling products like the ADE-651 for over a decade and that he has sold 6,000 of them to around 20 countries.
They are in use everywhere from Thailand to Pakistan and Lebanon.
“For a British company to be selling a piece of technology that is useless when it’s meant to be saving lives is abhorrent,” Lou McGrath, chief executive of the charity, Mines Advisory Group, told Newsnight.
Jamie delivers an appreciation of the life of the White genius, Edwin Howard Armstrong, the greatest inventor in the history of radio communications. We look at Armstrong’s life, from his birth in Manhattan in 1890 until his death by suicide in 1954, in Manhattan. We also scrutinize the media monopolist David Sarnoff, whose gangster tactics of government corruption and endless lawsuits broke the great genius and good man Armstrong, and caused the hopelessness that led him to step out of his 13th floor window in Manhattan.
The American Third Position Party (A3P) is a new political party that purports to represent the interests of the white American majority. As such, it is a refreshing change from the standard Republicrat/Democan one-party system and gives hope that, finally, the political system can be used to further our specific group interests.
These are early days and one cannot make any definitive conclusions about A3P at this point. However, some progress has been made, and the party has put forth some initial positions on major issues, so it is worthwhile to examine these. Readers are urged to look at A3P’s program and policies. I have no major disagreement with their stance on crime, economy, education, etc. Instead, I would like to take a closer look at two of their major policy initiatives. Emphasis added to all quotes.
The following summarizes the party’s key positions on immigration:
To safeguard our identity and culture, and to maintain the very existence of our nation, we will immediately put an indefinite moratorium on all immigration. Recognizing our people’s right to safety, and respecting the sanctity of the rule of law, we will immediately deport all criminal and illegal aliens. We believe, too, that American citizenship should be exclusive and meaningful. As such, the American Third Position will end the practice of automatic birthright-citizenship for children of illegal aliens. To restore, with civility, the identity and culture of our homeland, we will provide incentives for recent, legal immigrants to return to their respective lands.
This is good – stopping the influx, deportation of illegals, and an end to the concept of “anything goes” birthright citizenship. Even more impressively, the possibility of repatriation of “recent, legal immigrants” is brought up – the only instance of an American political party raising the “R” issue. I would like even more – a more comprehensive repatriation program for example, but this is a good start. Also:
Immigration affects our culture. It affects the way we feel, act, and operate within a community. It affects whether or not we can have actual communities at all. It affects our welfare and livelihood in ways that are immeasurable, aside from the efforts we go to in protecting against it. Immigration erodes our culture and sense of identity. In cities where many cultures meet, there is an atmosphere of hostility. Neighborhoods become atomized, and a true community is never established.
True and good, but it’s not only culture. Not surprisingly, I would like to have seen a more explicitly Salterian mention of the actual physical, demographic, biological effects of immigration. They add:
While we accept that ethnic minorities are, and will always be, part of America, we want our will to be observed and exercised as it should be, and as it should have been. We have a right to sovereignty and to exercise our will as a people. We want an America that is recognizable to us, one that we can feel comfortable in. We believe that this desire is not unique to our nation or our own people, and we believe that all people’s have a right to sovereignty. Accordingly, we will stop all immigration into America, except in special cases. To help restore our national identity, we will offer generous grants to recent immigrants who have a desire to return to their countries of origin. While this can be easily repositioned by a media who is hostile to our people or to a political establishment who relies on recent immigrants for votes, we only mean to create a system of mutual benefit, where the wills of both parties are observed and respected, as they should be. Wherever a recent immigrant has a need to get back home but is without the resources to do as much, we will lend a helping hand.
I don’t know about the first set of phrases, but I understand that this party needs to navigate within the streams of the politically possible – for now – and that a too radical program at first may be difficult. A contrasting argument would be that it’s a mistake to start off too moderate. An initial moderate stance may “lock in” this moderation and prevent future shifts toward more radical positions since, having attracted a mass of more moderate supporters at the beginning, the party would be loathe to lose that support by shifting towards more radical solutions to the pressing problems of race, culture, and nation. Truth be told, I’m more supportive of the latter mindset – that it is better to lay your cards on the table at the beginning and build in depth with more revolutionary support. Of course, the assumption here is that the A3P leadership and I actually agree on these more radical ideals. It may be that our vision is not congruent, and that the party program is what it is because that’s what the party leaders want it to be. And, of course, A3P leadership has the right to formulate their own party’s positions as they see fit. I merely make suggestions and offer some contrary views.
This is important; I am a very strong supporter of space exploration (both manned and unmanned). This is part of Western Man’s Faustian soul, will yield important information and discoveries, and, hopefully, eventually lead to Western Man’s expansion into, and colonization of, space (assuming of course we are not first Third Worldized out of existence). That the A3P has included space exploration as a key part of their program is therefore encouraging and demonstrates a willingness to look at long-term objectives, and also the ability to look beyond the standard “right-wing fare” (immigration, economy, crime, etc.).
One point though is that they should go beyond space exploration and put together a broader position on overall science and Technology. In other words they should also: encourage the development of alternative and novel sources of energy, promote advances in biomedical research (which should include not only basic research and that aimed at disease therapeutics, but also research on race and eugenics), stimulate development of advanced computing, and encourage continued and expanded research into the fabric of the universe and of reality itself (e.g., astronomy and, especially, both theoretical and applied advanced physics, cosmology, etc). Further, Americans need to be in the lead of what can be called “global disaster abatement” – research aimed at investigating and, if possible, preventing asteroid strikes, super volcano eruptions, pandemics, environmental degradation, etc. While some of the latter may seem like “science fiction,” that is more a function of our limited knowledge and imagination than it is to any real limitation of the possibilities.
The A3P can also state an interest in Western cultural artifacts – an interest in opposing the current “Winter” of our High Culture, and its sewer-like degraded atmosphere, with a contrasting encouragement of Western cultural rebirth and the creation of a civilization that can make us, our ancestors, and our posterity proud.
In summary, there is some more work to be done and I hope that a bit of constructive criticism will be appreciated. However, all in all, A3P seems at this point to be a very positive development, and I wish them well.
A major concern is that the landscape of “movement” history is littered with the scattered remnants of past projects that, initially, looked promising and generated enthusiasm, but quickly petered out due to lack of progress and direction, infighting, the action of infiltrators and agent provocateurs, diminished interest of activists with short attention spans, and the ability of the establishment to use a variety of methods to thwart nationalist progress. We can hope that things will be different this time.
New documents presented in federal court in Washington, D.C. reveal deep ties (more than was known) between Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Dr. Stewart David Nozette, an American astronomer accused of spying for Israel.
Dr. Stewart David Nozette. (AP)
The media here covered his arrest on October 19, 2009 and then interest waned, though the American media are still monitoring the case.
Two attorneys in the counterespionage unit of the U.S. Department’s of Justice National Security division, Deborah Curtis and Heather Schmidt, presented documents found on the scientist’s computer. One document, titled “Proposed Operations for 2005-2006,” referred to the need to carry out “a penetration of NASA,” the U.S. space agency.
Another document, according to the prosecution, shows Nozette attempted to obtain highly confidential material by using his high-level security clearance and infiltrating other people’s computers.
Other documents mention the names of Yossi Weiss and Yossi Fishman. Weiss is a former project manager and today the deputy CEO of IAI and head of the company’s missile and space division. Fishman was the IAI’s representative in the U.S. and is today the CEO of ODF Optronics.
Fishman told Haaretz he knew Nozette the way he knew other Americans employed by the IAI at the time as consultants. “We did not engage in any kind of spying activity or information gathering, perish the thought. The relationship was business as usual.”
The IAI is not mentioned specifically by name in the documents. It is referred to as a foreign company or as a space company owned by the Israeli government.” Background talks with administration officials indicate the references are indeed to IAI.
The indictment and the documents indicate that Nozette was employed for nine years as an IAI consultant. Versions vary as to how much he was paid, from $170,000 to $225,000. His direct superior was Israel Aircraft Industries International, a U.S.-registered company.
The FBI searched Nozette’s home and computer and found additional proof of his connection to Israel. He visited here several times, but did not report this – as is required by his high security clearance. The FBI confiscated letters he wrote to Israelis, reports he forwarded to the IAI, a map of Israel, photos of assorted places in Israel, a Hebrew-language catalog of archaeological artifacts and other items.
Nozette, 52, of Chevy Chase, Maryland, was arrested after FBI surveillance that included wiretapping and undercover photography. The operation followed the former astronomer’s interrogation on suspicion of tax evasion and defrauding the U.S. government. Nozette worked out plea bargain with the Justice Department; he admitted to fraud and accepted a sentence of up to three years in jail, plus a fine of $265,000. His jail term would have started in November, but he was arrested on the new and more serious charge of espionage.
Nozette, who was born in Chicago, has Jewish parents but there is no evidence he ever went to synagogue or Jewish community centers. His neighbors said he was “a Zionist” but without evidence attesting to this. From a young age, his interest was science. He studied at the University of Arizona and earned a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Immediately, in 1983, he went to work for U.S. agencies, including NASA, the Pentagon and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory near San Francisco, which focuses on nuclear weapons. By virtue of these positions, he enjoyed a very high security clearance. One of the important studies he participated in found water at the Moon’s southern pole. Nozette subsequently left government work and set up a private company as a consultant to firms in India and the IAI. The latter continues to refuse, vehemently, to address this embarrassing episode, which apparently has not done damage to the company.
Nozette was not the only person employed by the company as a consultant. Over the years, the IAI as well as other Israeli defense-related industries operating in the U.S., such as Elbit and Rafael, hired as consultants dozens of Americans, mainly retired former army officers and senior officials.
Today as well, the IAI and its subsidiaries in the U.S. continue to do business there and to cultivate ties. It is rather clear to them, and this is indeed fairly routine business practice, that to obtain contracts and win grants from the U.S. administration, doors must be opened. For that, people with connections are needed to open those doors. This was one of Nozette’s assignments. Against this backdrop he apparently tried (among other things) to help the “penetration” of NASA. IAI, which produces space missile launchers, satellites and other space technologies, hoped to win contracts and development grants and enter joint ventures.
While he was being investigated for fraud, Nozette told a friend he would be willing to work for the Mossad. This information, along with the fact that he was a consultant to the IAI, led the FBI to suspect Nozette of being a Mossad agent, or at least psychologically ready to be one. So a sting operation was set up. An FBI agent pretending to be a Mossad agent met with Nozette and asked him for information. Nozette reportedly agreed, supplied information and received $11,000. These contacts were documented.
The indictment does not mention Israel nor has the administration made any complaints. Nevertheless Israel since its establishment systematically conducted spying missions on U.S. soil – for around a quarter of a century. Primarily, it was nuclear and technological-military spying.
The Jonathan Pollard case brought an end to all spying activities; there is a clear directive from prime ministers, defense ministers, Military Intelligence chiefs and the Mossad on this matter. But the U.S. media and the administration officials have a hard time believing Israel on this subject, and the Nozette case does not contribute to clearing the atmosphere of suspicion regarding future intentions.
WASHINGTON – In a decision with profound implications for the U.S. political system, a bare majority of the Supreme Court Thursday ruled that the government cannot limit spending by corporations on advertisements in support of individual political candidates in federal elections.
The 5-4 decision in ‘Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission’, which drew immediate criticism from the White House, found that such limits violated the Constitution’s First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of speech.
“When Government seeks to use its full power, including the criminal law, to command where a person may get his or her information or what distrusted source he or she may not hear, it uses censorship to control through,” wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy in an opinion that was joined by the Court’s four most right-wing justices, including Chief Justice John Roberts, “This is unlawful.”
“The government may regulate corporate political speech through disclaimer and disclosure requirements, but it may not suppress that speech altogether,” he concluded in an argument that drew a harsh dissent from his four more-centrist colleagues.
Critics of the decision, led by President Barack Obama himself, called the decision a serious threat to the health of U.S. democracy.
“With its ruling today, the Supreme Court has given a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics,” Obama, who taught Constitutional law at the University of Chicago.
“It is a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans,” he said, adding that he will work with Congress to “develop a forceful response.”
Fred Wertheimer, the nation’s most prominent citizen-advocate of campaign finance reform and currently head of Democracy 21, called the decision a “disaster for the American people.”
“It will unleash unprecedented amounts of corporate ‘influence-seeking’ money on our elections and create unprecedented opportunities for corporate ‘influence-buying’ corruption,” he wrote in a New York Times online commentary, adding that the decision will propel corporations “to new heights of importance on our political system.”
Other analysts called the decision audacious, if not hypocritical, particularly in light of the right-wing majority’s ritual criticism of so-called “activist” judges who allegedly interpret the Constitution in ways that its authors did not necessarily intend or contemplate but that are consistent with their “liberal” political views.
“This matches or exceeds Bush v. Gore in ideological or partisan overreaching by the court,” wrote Michael Waldman, who heads the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s School of Law, in a reference to the Court’s widely criticised 2000 decision that halted a recount of the vote in Florida that year, effectively sending George W. Bush to the White House.
“In that case, the court reached into the political process to hand the election to one candidate. Today it reached into the political process to hand unprecedented power to corporations,” wrote Waldman.
Efforts to limit corporate influence in national elections date back to the Progressive Era and the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt more than a century ago when Congress banned corporations from making direct contributions to federal candidates.
Due to loopholes and a lack of enforcement, however, that and subsequent legislation proved largely ineffective. It was not until the 1974 Watergate scandal that Congress passed new legislation designed to regulate campaign contributions in a more comprehensive manner enforced by the newly created Federal Election Commission (FEC).
In response, wealthy individuals, corporations, labour unions, and other groups resorted to spending so-called “soft money” – direct contributions to political parties and advocacy groups that often used this new flow of money to run “attack ads” against opposing candidates and other forms of partisan promotion — in order to circumvent the new limits.
To deal with this new problem, Congress approved the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, better known as the McCain-Feingold law after its two main Senate sponsors. In addition to limiting the flow of “soft money”, the Act banned the airing of corporate- or union-financed broadcast ads and similar “electioneering communication” for or against specific candidates in the run-up to federal primary and general elections.
In the case decided Thursday, Citizens United, a right-wing, corporate-funded advocacy group, had produced a 90-minute attack video entitled “Hillary: The Movie” aimed against the presidential aspirations of then-Sen. Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primaries in 2008.
The FEC found that the video’s broadcast violated the McCain-Feingold ban, and Citizens United took the case to court. The lower court sustained the FEC’s finding, and the case was appealed upwards, eventually reaching the Supreme Court.
The Court, which first heard arguments last March, asked the parties to return six months later to address whether the Court should overrule two its previous decisions – one in 1990 and the second in 2003 – that upheld restrictions on corporate contributions in support or opposition to specific candidates.
Recognising the potentially far-reaching impact of the decision, a host of groups and relevant individuals filed “Friend of the Court” briefs.
Corporate groups, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; labour unions, and powerful lobby groups, including the National Rifle Association, called for the Court to rule the McCain-Feingold ban unconstitutional, while good-governance organisations, such as Public Citizen and People for the American Way, and states with similar campaign-finance laws, urged that it be upheld.
Much like the Gore v. Bush decision, those members of the Court who were nominated by Republican presidents since the party turned sharply to the right under Ronald Reagan voted to strike down the ban as unconstitutional, while those appointed by Democrats — plus John Paul Stevens who was nominated by Gerald Ford in 1975 – voted to uphold it.
It was the 89-year-old Stevens, who is widely considered the most-liberal member of the Court, who wrote the 90-page dissent.
“The court’s ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions around the nation,” he warned, noting that it ignored “rules of judicial restraint” and constituted “a rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have recognized a need to prevent corporations from undermining self-government since the founding and who have fought against the distinctive corrupting potential of corporate electioneering since the days of Theodore Roosevelt.”
With the notable exception of Sen. John McCain, Republicans in Congress praised the decision, with Senate Minority Leader calling it an “important step in the direction of restoring the First Amendment rights of these groups by ruling that the Constitution protects their right to express themselves about political candidates and issues up until Election Day.”
Democrats, on the other hand, were almost universally critical. “The bottom line is, the Supreme Court has just pre-determined the winners of next November’s election,” said New York Sen. Charles Schumer. “It won’t be the Republicans or the Democrats, and it won’t be the American people; it will be Corporate America.”
Jamie focuses on Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, whose birthday is today, January 21. We also salute our White ancestors who on Jan. 26, 1788 landed in Australia with the First Fleet. In our show, Jackson’s life and that of the First Fleet connect, as Jackson’s grandfather was transported as an indentured servant to the American colonies just as the members of the First Fleet were also transported.
The FBI illegally collected more than 2,000 U.S. telephone call records between 2002 and 2006 by invoking terrorism emergencies that did not exist or simply persuading phone companies to provide records, according to internal bureau memos and interviews. FBI officials issued approvals after the fact to justify their actions.
E-mails obtained by The Washington Post detail how counterterrorism officials inside FBI headquarters did not follow their own procedures that were put in place to protect civil liberties. The stream of urgent requests for phone records also overwhelmed the FBI communications analysis unit with work that ultimately was not connected to imminent threats.
A Justice Department inspector general’s report due out this month is expected to conclude that the FBI frequently violated the law with its emergency requests, bureau officials confirmed.
The records seen by The Post do not reveal the identities of the people whose phone call records were gathered, but FBI officials said they thought that nearly all of the requests involved terrorism investigations.
FBI general counsel Valerie Caproni said in an interview Monday that the FBI technically violated the Electronic Communications Privacy Act when agents invoked nonexistent emergencies to collect records.
“We should have stopped those requests from being made that way,” she said. The after-the-fact approvals were a “good-hearted but not well-thought-out” solution to put phone carriers at ease, she said. In true emergencies, Caproni said, agents always had the legal right to get phone records, and lawyers have now concluded there was no need for the after-the-fact approval process. “What this turned out to be was a self-inflicted wound,” she said.
Caproni said FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III did not know about the problems until late 2006 or early 2007, after the inspector general’s probe began.
Documents show that senior FBI managers up to the assistant director level approved the procedures for emergency requests of phone records and that headquarters officials often made the requests, which persisted for two years after bureau lawyers raised concerns and an FBI official began pressing for changes.
The FBI acknowledged in 2007 that one unit in the agency had improperly gathered some phone records, and a Justice Department audit at the time cited 22 inappropriate requests to phone companies for searches and hundreds of questionable requests. But the latest revelations show that the improper requests were much more numerous under the procedures approved by the top level of the FBI.
FBI officials told The Post that their own review has found that about half of the 4,400 toll records collected in emergency situations or with after-the-fact approvals were done in technical violation of the law. The searches involved only records of calls and not the content of the calls. In some cases, agents broadened their searches to gather numbers two and three degrees of separation from the original request, documents show.
Bureau officials said agents were working quickly under the stress of trying to thwart the next terrorist attack and were not violating the law deliberately.
FBI officials said they are confident that the safeguards enacted in 2007 have ended the problems. Caproni said the bureau will use the inspector general’s findings to determine whether discipline is warranted.
The internal memos were obtained from a government employee outside the FBI, who gained access to them during the investigations of the searches. The employee spoke on the condition of anonymity because the release was unauthorized.
After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the need to get information quickly and connect the dots was considered paramount throughout the federal government. The failure to obtain timely and actionable information has been a recurrent theme in the U.S. counterterrorism effort, up to and including the recent shootings at Fort Hood, Tex.
Before 9/11, FBI agents ordinarily gathered records of phone calls through the use of grand jury subpoenas or through an instrument know as a national security letter, issued for terrorism and espionage cases. Such letters, signed by senior headquarters officials, carry the weight of subpoenas with the firms that receive them.
The USA Patriot Act expanded the use of national security letters by letting lower-level officials outside Washington approve them and allowing them in wider circumstances. But the letters still required the FBI to link a request to an open terrorism case before records could be sought.
Shortly after the Patriot Act was passed in October 2001, FBI senior managers devised their own system for gathering records in terrorism emergencies.
A new device called an “exigent circumstances letter” was authorized. It allowed a supervisor to declare an emergency and get the records, then issue a national security letter after the fact.
The procedure was based on a system used in the FBI’s New York office in the days immediately after the Sept. 11 suicide hijackings, officials said.
On Jan. 6, 2003, then-FBI Assistant Director for Counterterrorism Larry Mefford issued a bureau-wide communique authorizing the new tactic, saying the bureau’s telephone analysis unit was permitted in “exigent circumstances . . . to obtain specialized toll records information for international and domestic numbers which are linked to subjects of pending terrorism investigations.”
The e-mail called this new method of gathering phone records “imperative to the continuing efforts by the FBI to protect our nation against future attacks,” even as it acknowledged the phone records of many people not connected to a terrorism investigation were likely to be scooped up.
The 2003 memo stated that the new method “has the potential of generating an enormous amount of data in short order, much of which may not actually be related to the terrorism activity under investigation.”
Within a few years, hundreds of emergency requests were completed and a few thousand phone records gathered. But many lacked the follow-up: the required national security letters.
Two individuals began raising concerns.
Special Agent Bassem Youssef, the new supervisor of the communications analysis unit that gathered the records, began to receive complaints from phone companies that they had not received documentation to show the searches were legal.
Youssef, a longtime counterterrorism investigator, had earlier fallen out of favor with FBI management as he pursued a whistleblower claim that he had been wrongly retaliated against and denied promotion because of his ethnicity.
He raised questions in spring 2005 with his superiors and the FBI general counsel’s office about the failure to get national security letters. E-mails show he pressed FBI managers, trying to “force their hand” to implement a solution.
Youssef’s attorney, Stephen Kohn, said Monday that he could not discuss the specifics of the investigation except to confirm that his client cooperated with the inspector general. FBI officials said they could not discuss the conduct of individual employees.
The communications analysis unit asked Kopistansky to “draw up an NSL” to cover the search, but she was unable to get superiors to tell her which open terrorism case it involved. The request “has to specify why the numbers are relevant to an authorized investigation,” she said.
An employee in the communications analysis unit wrote back that most of the emergency requests he received “come from upper mgmt. I don’t always receive documentation or know all the facts related to the number, which is a problem for me when I try to get the NSL.”
Kopistansky persisted, demanding an open terrorism case file for the legal rationale. “I am sure you know it is true and Gary Bald knows it’s true, but it needs to be reflected on a piece of paper,” she wrote.
Two months later, Kopistansky was still unable to issue a national security letter to comply with the FBI rules.
By March 2005, Kopistansky and Youssef were discussing a worsening “backlog” of other cases where no national security letters had been issued and growing concerned that exigent letters were being abused, e-mails show.
The generic files were to cover such broad topics as “threats against transportation facilities,” “threats against individuals” and “threats against special events,” the e-mails show.
Eventually, FBI officials shifted to a second strategy of crafting a “blanket” national security letter to authorize all past searches that had not been covered by open cases.
A November 2006 e-mail chain indicates that then-FBI Assistant Director for Counterterrorism Joseph Billy signed the blanket national security letter. But when FBI lawyers raised concerns about it, he wrote back that he did not remember signing.
“I have no recollection of signing anything blanket. NSLs are individual as far as I always knew,” Billy wrote Caproni on Nov. 7, 2006.
Billy did not immediately respond to a message left at his office on Monday. Kopistansky and Bald, reached by phone Friday, said they could not comment without FBI approval. Mefford did not return calls.
In all, FBI managers signed 11 “blanket” national security letters addressing past searches, officials told The Post.
Although concerns about their legality first arose in December 2004, exigent searches continued for two more years. Youssef’s unit began limiting the number of exigent letters it signed between summer 2005 and spring 2006, seeking more assurances the requests could be covered by a national security letter, the memos show.
Phone record searches covered by exigent letters ended in November 2006 as the Justice Department inspector general began investigating.
Among those whose phone records were searched improperly were journalists for The Washington Post and the New York Times, according to interviews with government officials.
The searches became public when Mueller, the FBI director, contacted top editors at the two newspapers in August 2008 and apologized for the breach of reporters’ phone records. The reporters were Ellen Nakashima of The Post, who had been based in Jakarta, Indonesia, and Raymond Bonner and Jane Perlez of the Times, who had also been working in Jakarta.
Solomon, a former Post reporter and Washington Times editor, is a freelance journalist. Johnson is a Post staff writer.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is in Washington Wednesday to lobby for $6.9 billion in federal funds. The governor needs the money to help fill an almost $20 million budget hole and stave off cuts to services.
In this Jan. 8 photo, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger discusses his proposed 2010-11 state budget during a news conference in Sacramento, Calif. He is in Washington Wednesday to lobby for $6.9 billion in federal funds to help plug part of the state’s $19.9 billion budget deficit. [Rich Pedroncelli/AP]
Los Angeles–California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger started calling himself the “Collectinator” shortly after his election in 2003. He had campaigned on becoming the “guy who would get the Feds to give California more money.”
Six years later, Mr. Schwarzenegger is in Washington hoping to collect $6.9 billion in federal funds to help plug part of the state’s $19.9 billion budget deficit. On Wednesday, the governor met with the California congressional delegation and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
Schwarzenegger’s case for more federal help rests on arguments that California gets unfair treatment from Washington. But political analysts say that argument hasn’t worked yet, and are skeptical about the governor’s chances.
“The likelihood that California receives $7 billion in additional federal funds is low,” says Jessica Levinson, political reform director with the Center for Governmental Studies. “While the governor forcefully contends that Californians send more money to Washington than they get back, and that Californians are owed billions, this argument has not been a successful one [before].”
California currently gets 78 cents back in federal services for every dollar it sends to Washington, according to Schwarzenegger.
But this math has been disputed even by other Californians. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) of California has noted that with the $85 billion allocated in federal stimulus funds last year, the state may be getting closer to $1.45 back from Washington.
US Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D) of California told KQED Public Radio Wednesday, “The whole premise that somehow California is being disproportionately treated is just false.”
Mr. Schwarzenegger is asking for $5 billion for healthcare for the poor and welfare assistance, $1 billion for special education programs, $95 million for foster care, and reimbursement for the $880 million cost of housing prison inmates that are undocumented immigrants.
“For us to get stuck with the bill of incarceration of undocumented immigrants of $900 million is unfair,” he said in a statement before leaving for Washington. “We are going to fly to Washington and fight for that money.”
He tried to foreshadow his intentions last week in a letter to the California congressional delegation.
“After cutting programs, temporarily raising taxes and instituting reforms in nearly every program in state government to reduce current spending and contain future costs, we must seek permanent relief from unfunded federal mandates and reimbursement formulas that shortchange California taxpayers,” he wrote.
The single biggest inequity in federal funding, Schwarzenegger says, is the way the federal government calculates the reimbursement rate for the Medicaid program. “Congress pays California a lower rate for its share of the federal Medicaid program than it pays most other state,” he says in his letter, adding, “If Congress simply treated states equally, more than $1.8 billion in California tax dollars could be spent here at home to balance our budget instead of being sent to Florida, New Mexico and Texas to balance theirs.”
In addition, the governor says California is owed $700 million in unpaid reimbursement for Medicare disability determination payments. The reimbursements are owed due to a Social Security Administration error that resulted in the state paying for individuals who should have been covered by Medicare, he says.
Budget in the balance
But these arguments aren’t likely to work, say analysts – and that could put his proposed budget in deep trouble. The governor has said he will be forced to cut some essential services if he doesn’t get the money he needs.
“It is hard to underscore the depth of breadth of funding cuts necessary for California to balance its budget without federal funds,” says Ms. Levinson. “The ability of many Californians to obtain food, shelter and medical care certainly hangs in the balance.”
Schwarzenegger’s arguments about inequitable treatment haven’t worked before, says Jean Ross, executive director of the California Budget Project, a Sacramento-based, nonpartisan policy research group. “[A]nd there’s no indication that Congress will look more kindly on this approach in 2010.”
“To win the support of Congress, our governor should be going to Washington arm in arm with the 45 other governors who are also facing shortfalls this year,” she says.
While some groups like Change.org, see this study as a rallying cry for regulatory action and boycott, others on both sides of the GMO issue think the study results itself are not clear and shouldn’t be accepted wholeheartedly. The IJBS is not a peer-reviewed journal, and the work was not an independent analysis of the effects of the GM corn on rats. Rather, it was a full interpretation of all of the samples of rats in the 90-day study that Monsanto itself sponsored. After analyzing the data, the European researchers came to the conclusion:
“Effects were mostly concentrated in kidney and liver function, the two major diet detoxification organs, but in detail differed with each GM type. In addition, some effects on heart, adrenal, spleen and blood cells were also frequently noted. As there normally exists sex differences in liver and kidney metabolism, the highly statistically significant disturbances in the function of these organs, seen between male and female rats, cannot be dismissed as biologically insignificant as has been proposed by others. We therefore conclude that our data strongly suggests that these GM maize varieties induce a state of hepatorenal toxicity.[...] These substances have never before been an integral part of the human or animal diet and therefore their health consequences for those who consume them, especially over long time periods are currently unknown.”
Discover notes that Greenpeace, an activist environmental group sponsored the scientists’ research — they had to sue to obtain the raw data in the first place, and that the IJBS is relatively obscure. Leading nutrition professor Dr. Marion Nestle wrote on her blog about the study, “I found the paper extremely difficult to read, in part because it is written in exceptionally dense and opaque language, and in part because it presents the data in especially complicated tables and figures.” Monsanto claims that the study employed “non-traditional statistical methods to reassess toxicology data from studies conducted with MON 863, MON 810 and NK603 corn varieties” and that the IJBS paper reaches “unsubstantiated conclusions.”
The IJBS study itself strenuously suggests more testing over two years rather than 90 days to evaluate the long-term health impacts, and by independent researchers rather than Monsanto itself. The study also points out that Monsanto conducted the study only once rather than multiple times, and only tested one species — rats — and emphasizes that testing on more mammals of this GM maize is needed to reach any kind of conclusion on safety. This maize is used as both animal feed and for human consumption.
According to the FDA’s website, the agency concludes that genetic engineering that occurred in the maize varieties, MON 810, NK603, MON 863 was not different enough from past approved products and did not need a pre-market review. The FDA essentially takes Monsanto’s word that the company had done adequate testing to ensure its safety, as shown clearly in this letter. Several countries in Europe, such as Germany and France, have recently banned GM crops, specifically MON 810 after it had been approved for consumption in the European Union.
Furthermore, there are no laws requiring companies to label if their products contain GMOs. Even food labeled “Organic” that is processed with multiple ingredients must only be 95% organic, leaving loopholes for obscure ingredients that are genetically modified to be included. HuffPost Blogger and Eco Etiquette columnist Jennifer Grayson has written a comprehensive article detailing the ways to avoid genetically modified foods in light of the fact that there are no labeling requirements in the US.
So the facts are as follows: We eat corn and corn derivatives that have been genetically modified, which has been banned for being unsafe in other countries — the FDA has not done independent testing on the health effects of at least three types of corn that we are eating, and have instead taken Monsanto’s word for the fact that they are safe. Monsanto resisted releasing their data to independent researchers — environmental groups had to sue to get it. Once it was released and analyzed by one group of scientists, they wrote a dense study in a non-peer reviewed journal and found statistically significant amounts of organ failure in the rats in Monsanto’s own study. Consumers often have no way of knowing clearly if they are eating genetically modified food.
Jamie highlights two political parties: the BNP and the A3P. Nick Griffin’s British National Party endeavors to express the real wishes of White Britain. America’s brand-new (founded Jan. 5, 2010) American Third Position does the same for White America. Both parties rely upon the Internet and World Wide Web to bypass the lamestream media blockade of truth and reality. In that light, today’s show looks at the first effort ever to make ALL of human knowledge available for free on the Web, Wikipedia.
In Part 1, Tom and Mr. de Benoist discuss the awkward label, the European “New Right”, and the confusion that this label creates, particularly in the USA. They also reflect on the present cultural climate in Europe and America along with its political implications. The show includes:
A description of the New Right; its origins and its current perspectives. Alain eloquently explains how “New” is more important than “Right”, and emphasizes the importance of ideas over insignificant political categories.
The semantic distortions connected with the labels “Liberal” and “Conservative”; how the terms “Left” and “Right” were born out of modernity and have since lost their meaning as we step fully into postmodernity.
Alain elaborates on the major themes in his book On Being a Pagan. Among these are the polytheistic mindset versus its monotheistic counterpart, and the advocacy of cultural pluralism as opposed to multiculturalized “sameness.”
About Alain de Benoist
Alain de Benoist was born on 11 December 1943. He is married and has two children. He has studied law, philosophy, sociology, and the history of religions in Paris, France. A journalist and a writer, he is the editor of two journals: Nouvelle Ecole (since 1968) and Krisis (since 1988). His main fields of interest include the history of ideas, political philosophy, classical philosophy, and archaeology. He has published more than fifty books and three thousand articles. He is also a regular contributor to many French and European publications, journals, and papers (including Valeurs Actuelles, Le Spectacle du Monde, Magazine-Hebdo, Le Figaro-Magazine, in France, Telos in the United States, and Junge Freiheit in Germany). In 1978 he received the Grand Prix de l’Essai from the Academie Francaise for his book Vu de droite: Anthologie critique des idees contemporaines (Copernic, 1977). He has also been a regular contributor to the radio program France-Culture and has appeared in numerous television debates.
In the wake of the Flight 253 provocation, over-hyped terrorism panics, and last year’s Big Pharma and media-engineered hysteria over the H1N1 flu pandemic, President Barack Obama signed Executive Order 13528 on January 11.
Among other things, the Executive Order (EO) established a Council of Governors, an “advisory panel” chosen by the President that will rubber-stamp long-sought-after Pentagon contingency plans to seize control of state National Guard forces in the event of a “national emergency.”
According to the White House press release, the ten member, bipartisan Council was created “to strengthen further the partnership between the Federal Government and State Governments to protect our Nation against all types of hazards.”
“When appointed” the announcement continues, “the Council will be reviewing such matters as involving the National Guard of the various States; homeland defense; civil support; synchronization and integration of State and Federal military activities in the United States; and other matters of mutual interest pertaining to National Guard, homeland defense, and civil support activities.”
Clearly designed to weaken the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 which bars the use of the military for civilian law enforcement, EO 13528 is the latest in a series of maneuvers by previous administrations to wrest control of armed forces historically under the democratic control of elected state officials, and a modicum of public accountability.
One consequence of moves to “synchronize and integrate” state National Guard units with those of the Armed Forces would be to place them under the effective control of United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM), created in 2002 by Bushist legislators in both capitalist parties under the pretext of imperialism’s endless “War on Terror.” At the time, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called USNORTHCOM’s launch “the most sweeping set of changes since the unified command system was set up in 1946.”
The real-world consequences of those changes weren’t long in coming.
Following their criminal inaction during 2005′s Hurricane Katrina catastrophe, the Bush regime sought, but failed, to seize control of depleted Gulf Coast National Guard units, the bulk of which had been sent to Iraq along with equipment that might have aided the recovery. Bush demanded that then Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco sign over control of the Guard as well as state and local police units as the blood price for federal assistance.
At the height of the crisis, Bush cited presidential prerogatives for doing so under the Insurrection Act, a repressive statute which authorizes the President to federalize National Guard units when state governments fail to “suppress rebellion.” How the plight of citizens engulfed by Katrina’s flood waters could be twisted into an act of “rebellion” was achieved when Orwellian spin doctors, aided and abetted by a compliant media, invented a new criminal category to cover traumatized New Orleans residents: “Drowning while Black.”
Fast forward five years. Given the serious implications such proposals would have for a functioning democracy, the media’s deafening silence on Obama’s Executive Order is hardly surprising. Like their role as cheerleaders in the escalating wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, media self-censorship tell us much about the state of affairs in “new normal” America.
Like his predecessors in the Oval Office, stretching back to the 1960s with Pentagon “civil disturbance” plans such as Cable Splicer and Garden Plot, both of which are continuously updated, our “change” President will forge ahead and invest the permanent National Security bureaucracy with unprecedented power.
Under color of the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act, an unsavory piece of Bushist legislative detritus, “The President shall establish a bipartisan Council of Governors to advise the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and the White House Homeland Security Council on matters related to the National Guard and civil support missions.”
The toothless Council, whose Executive Director will be designated by the Secretary of Defense no less, “shall meet at the call of the Secretary of Defense or the Co-Chairs of the Council.”
Will such a Council have veto power over administration deliberations? Hardly. They are relegated “to exchange views, information, or advice with the Secretary of Defense; the Secretary of Homeland Security” and “the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism.”
Additional entities covered by the EO with whom the Governors Council will “exchange views” include, “the Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement; the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Americas’ Security Affairs; the Commander, United States Northern Command; the Chief, National Guard Bureau; the Commandant of the Coast Guard; and other appropriate officials of the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense, and appropriate officials of other executive departments or agencies as may be designated by the Secretary of Defense or the Secretary of Homeland Security.”
In other words, right from the get-go, the Council will serve as civilian cover for political decisions made by the Executive Branch and the security apparat. EO 13528 continues, “Such views, information, or advice shall concern: (a) matters involving the National Guard of the various States; (b) homeland defense; (c) civil support; (d) synchronization and integration of State and Federal military activities in the United States; and (e) other matters of mutual interest pertaining to National Guard, homeland defense, and civil support activities.”
When news first broke last summer of Obama’s proposal to expand the military’s authority to respond to domestic disasters, it was opposed by the National Governors Association (NGA).
Congressional Quarterly reported that a letter sent on behalf of the NGA opposed creation of the Council on grounds that it “would invite confusion on critical command and control issues, complicate interagency planning, establish stove-piped response efforts, and interfere with governors’ constitutional responsibilities to ensure the safety and security of their citizens,” Govs. Jim Douglas, R-Vt., and Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., wrote.
According to their August letter to Paul N. Stockton, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Americas’ Security Affairs, Douglas and Manchin III argued that “without assigning a governor tactical control” of military forces during a natural disaster such as a flood or earthquake, or an unnatural disaster such as a terrorist attack or other mass casualty event, the “strong potential exists for confusion in mission, execution and the dilution of governors’ control over situations with which they are more familiar and better capable of handling than a federal military commander.”
With slim prospects of congressional authorization for the scheme, in fact the 2008 language was removed from subsequent Defense spending legislation, other means were required. Playing bureaucratic hardball with the governors, this has now been accomplished by presidential fiat, further eroding clear constitutional limits on Executive Branch power.
These maneuvers as I have previously written, have very little to do with responding to a catastrophic emergency. Indeed, EO 13528 is only the latest iteration of plans to expand the National Security State’s writ and as such, have everything to do with decades-old Continuity of Government (COG) programs kept secret from Congress and the American people.
Derided by neocons, neoliberals and other corporatists as a quaint backwater for “conspiracy theorists” railing against “FEMA concentration camps,” Continuity of Government, and the nexus of “civil support” programs that have proliferated like noxious weeds are no laughing matter.
Indeed, even members of Congress are considered “unauthorized parties” denied access “to information on COG plans, procedures, capabilities and facilities,” according to a Pentagon document published by the whistleblowing web site Wikileaks, as are the classified annexes of National Security Presidential Directive 51 and Homeland Security Presidential Directive 20 (NSPD 51/HSPD 20). In a new twist on administration promises of transparency and open government, even the redacted version of these documents have been removed from the White House web site.
Among other things, the document outlines the serious domestic implications of military participation in national emergency preparedness drills. CRS researchers pointed to the Reagan-era Executive Order 12656 (EO 12656) that “directs FEMA to coordinate the planning, conduct, and evaluation of national security emergency exercises.” EO 12656 defines a national security emergency as “as any occurrence, including natural disaster, military attack, technological emergency, or other emergency that seriously degrades or seriously threatens the national security of the United States.”
Such programs, greatly expanded by the Bush-era Homeland Security Presidential Directive 8 (HSPD-8), also removed from the White House web site, established “a national program and a multi-year planning system to conduct homeland security preparedness-related exercises.” CRS avers, “The program is to be carried out in collaboration with state and local governments and private sector entities.”
The Defense Department’s role during such emergencies were intended to focus “principally on domestic incident management, either for terrorism or non terrorist catastrophic events.” DoD would play a “significant role” in the overall response. Such murky definitions cover a lot of ground and are ripe with a potential for abuse by unscrupulous securocrats and their corporate partners.
The primary DoD entity responsible for “civil support,” a focus of Obama’s EO is USNORTHCOM and its active combat component, U.S. Army North. However, as with almost everything relating to COG and current plans under EO 13528 that propose to “synchronize and integrate State and Federal military activities,” USNORTHCOM’s role is shrouded in secrecy.
As researcher Peter Dale Scott revealed in 2008, when Congressman Peter DeFazio, Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson and Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Christopher Carney sought access to classified COG annexes, their request was denied by the White House. Scott wrote: “DeFazio’s inability to get access to the NSPD Annexes is less than reassuring. If members of the Homeland Security Committee cannot enforce their right to read secret plans of the Executive Branch, then the systems of checks and balances established by the U.S. Constitution would seem to be failing.”
One hammer blow followed another. In 2008, Army Times reported, that the “3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team [BCT] has spent 35 of the last 60 months in Iraq patrolling in full battle rattle, helping restore essential services and escorting supply convoys. Now they’re training for the same mission–with a twist–at home.”
Analyst Michel Chossudovsky commented, “What is significant in this redeployment of a US infantry unit is the presumption that North America could, in the case of a national emergency, constitute a ‘war theater’ thereby justifying the deployment of combat units.” According to Chossudovsky, “The new skills to be imparted consist in training 1st BCT in repressing civil unrest, a task normally assumed by civilian law enforcement.”
“It is noteworthy, the World Socialist Web Site commented, “that the deployment of US combat troops ‘as an on-call federal response force for natural or manmade emergencies and disasters’ … coincides with the eruption of the greatest economic emergency and financial disaster since the Great Depression of the 1930s.”
“Justified as a response to terrorist threats,” socialist critic Bill Van Auken averred, “the real source of the growing preparations for the use of US military force within America’s borders lies not in the events of September 11, 2001 or the danger that they will be repeated. Rather, the domestic mobilization of the armed forces is a response by the US ruling establishment to the growing threat to political stability.”
Since USNORTHCOM’s deployment of a combat brigade on U.S. soil, the capitalist crisis has deepened and intensified. With unemployment at a post-war high and the perilous economic and social conditions of the working class growing grimmer by the day, EO 13258 is a practical demonstration of ruling class consensus when it comes to undermining the democratic rights of the American people.
After all, where the defense of wealth and privileges are concerned corporate thugs and war criminals have no friends, only interests…
The US military plans to double the amount of military equipment it has stockpiled in Israel under a recent agreement with Tel Aviv.
“The deal will double the value of military equipment kept on Israeli soil from 400 million to 800 million dollars,” a Pentagon spokesman, Major Shawn Turner told AFP.
He ruled out the notion that Iran’s nuclear issue was a major factor for the agreement and said that the US Congress initially authorized the expansion in 2007.
“This is not in any way related to Iran or the current situation as the authorization was from 2007,” he stated.
Washington’s staunch ally Israel could have access to the weaponry in a military emergency.
US missiles, armored vehicles, aerial ammunition and artillery ordnance are already stockpiled in Israel. The United States began by stockpiling $100 million worth of military equipment in Israel in 1990.
In December, US President Barack Obama granted $2.775 billion in security aid to Israel. The aid is accompanied by special additions to the Israeli military industries for the development of technologies, particularly in the missile field.
From the kind folks who brought you the Katrina debacle (OK, OK, I know! Mother Nature gave us the hurricane that wiped out New Orleans. But it was the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, that largely gave us the debacle part!) now comes a new act that has millions of home owners up in arms — if not yet water.
Many homeowners are getting notices they must purchase flood insurance for the first time, even though they may live in areas never known to flood….as in, never!
These premiums can cost anywhere from $500 to a few thousand dollars a year. And, in a sweet-heart deal if ever there was one for insurance companies, flood insurance is a requirement for anyone whose mortgage is backed by the federal government. And, yes, more than 50 percent of all mortgages in this country are now guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (who, by the way, ought to be married by now, don’t you think?)
FEMA is relying on new maps drawn up to highlight areas that could — let me repeat that word again, COULD — get flooded in what is called a once-in-a-100-year storm! (“Just because you haven’t experienced a flood in the past, doesn’t mean you won’t in the future” FEMA helpfuly explains on its floodsmart.gov website.)
According to FEMA, a high-risk area has at least a 1 percent annual chance of flooding, which equates to a 26 percent chance of flooding over the life of a 30-year mortgage. Because “changing weather patterns, erosion, and development” can affect floodplain boundaries, the agency explains, it has spent the past several years updating its county-by-county flood risk maps.
Still, that’s hard for many homeowners to swallow, especially if your typical weather concern is drought, not deluge. Here in mostly dry Southern California, one irate local politico told the Los Angeles Times, “I’m a little bit suspect of FEMA in light of their track record.”
Some cities and municipalities across the country are fighting back and, in some cases, FEMA is backing down and delaying or redrawing its maps.
Famous last words on this go to Los Angeles City Councilman Bernard Parks, once chief of the LAPD: “We don’t understand how all of this area becomes a flood zone,” says he. Yeah, good question, Bernie!
To see if your area is deemed a flood risk, consult FEMA’s maps. That is, if you can make heads or tails of them.
Charles Feldman is a journalist, media consultant and co-author of the book, “No Time To Think-The Menace of Media Speed and the 24-hour News Cycle.” Oh, and he doesn’t have flood insurance!
Jamie Kelso discusses the “Top” 100 Radio Talk Show Hosts, including all your “favorites” (har, har) like Limbaugh, Hannity, and Medved. Somehow we manage to transition from talk show hosts to John Brown and Harper’s Ferry by the end of the show.