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Posts Tagged ‘Bush

America’s Failure in Haiti: First, the Good News

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The good news is that — despite the current investments of $87 billion in Iraq + $65 billion in Afghanistan + 115,000 troops  in Iraq, + 98,000 troops in Afghanistan — the United States still has enough troops on hand to eke out a military presence in Haiti.

The bad news is that, for all its military might, the U.S. is impotent when it comes to delivering humanitarian aid. This may be because U.S. SouthCom (short for U.S. Southern Command), which is in charge of operations in Haiti, has never been intended, nor equipped, to handle actual humanitarian crises, even as it flies under the flag of humanitarian and peacekeeping missions. Quite the contrary.

The job of U.S. SouthCom and its five brothers in the “Unified Combatant Command” — U.S. NorthCom, Africom, CentCom, EuCom and PacCom —  is to is to provide a more efficient means for warring. Tasked with “global security,” these various commands oversee specific theaters on the world stage (see map below).  By no coincidence, the U.S. deems this task most urgent in the oil, gas and pipeline strategic countries around the globe — hence the neat overlap between the map, below, and the global “energy profiles” map, seen here.

That this latter “energy profiles” map reflects  a grand total of zero for Haiti ‘s oil, gas and coal production is both a blessing and a curse for this country.

Unified Combatant Command Map

The Blessing

The blessing is that Haiti has, so far, been spared the invasion of a large U.S. SouthCom military occupation; spared the fate of, say, Africa, where U.S. Africom’s stated mission is to “develop a stable environment on the continent to promote civil society and improved quality of life for the people there.”

To this end, the U.S. has a long history in Africa of bribing corrupt dictators, toppling democratically elected leaders, waging faux wars on terror, and providing funding, training and weaponry to the guerrilla armies that fight our clandestine and proxy-wars, so that we may destabilize governments, create civil war and — ultimately — seize control of the country’s oil, gas or other minerals. In the paths of these covert wars are the victims of America’s crimes — genocide in Sudan, rape and murder and other crimes against humanity in Somalia.

This is not to say that Haiti has been spared the rod of U.S. intervention. Au contraire. After all, there is the sugar industry to exploit, not to mention the risk — which has only grown in the wake of the earthquake — that Haiti could be transformed into a second Cuba, with the country potentially falling under the rule of our arch enemy, Venezuela, with whom we are covertly warring against to seize control of South American oil and pipelines in South America (via SouthCom’s fake war on drugs and faux war on terror in Colombia and Ecuador, but that’s another story).

The blessing is that, lacking oil or gas, there’s been no need to raise false flags over Haiti; no need to occupy the country and wage a faux war on terror.

The Curse

The curse is that — through all the political coups and exploitations (many of them orchestrated by the U.S.) and natural disasters that have repeatedly driven this impoverished nation to its knees with chronic starvation, disease, homelessness and oppression — the plight of Haitian citizens has been invisible to the United States.

Unlike Africa, where certain charitable NGOs are funded by the oil and defense industry to provide the humanitarian aid to the victims of our pillaging and plundering, the citizens of Haiti have been left to their own devices — left homeless, suffering from disease and malnutrition, forced to subsist on a diet of mud cakes made from clay and water dipped from potholes.  Unlike Africa — where the promise of protection, food, shelter and medical care to a brutalized population of sick, starving, scared, homeless people is an excellent tool for coercing cooperation and compliance — there is no such incentive in Haiti.

In this context, the U.S. aid effort to Haiti makes better sense.

Within 3 days, the U.S. was able to dispatch 10,000 troops to Haiti, with another 2,000 expected to arrive any minute. The international community has poured billions in donations to the earthquake victims. Organizations such as the International Red Cross, the United Nations and Doctors Without Borders and others have poured their full weight of their resources into Haiti.

Or, at least, they’ve tried.

Turns out, U.S. SouthCom, which has taken control of the airport in Haiti, has been denying airport access to these organizations. Just yesterday, Doctors Without Borders was denied landing to deliver the much-awaited inflatable hospital. Red Cross and Médecins Sans Frontières have also been denied access, as have France, Cuba and Brazil, prompting global criticism toward the U.S. and accusations that the U.S. is exploiting this tragedy for political motives.

Meanwhile, a mere mile away from this same airport, rats are feeding on the diapers of elderly nursing home residents, who have been without food, water or medical care since the earthquake. One-by-one, these elderly residents are dying, after which the rats can presumably begin feeding on their bodies, as well.

To those of us who simply don’t understand the logistics of getting aid to people, the incompetence of the U.S. aid effort in Haiti seems criminal. To those of us who don’t understand the “security concerns” of working in a disaster zone, it doesn’t make sense why a contingent of armed SouthCom troops could not be dispatched to hoof the 20-minute walk to provide food, water and basic medical care — or to, perchance, shoo away the rats feeding on the feces of the dwindling number of nursing home residents who are still, against all odds, clinging to life.

Nor does it make sense that, with an army 10,000 strong and counting — a military specifically trained and equipped to provide “security” around the globe —  the U.S. has not yet felt secure enough to provide aid to these nursing home residents, much less to the hundreds of thousands of victims of this tragedy, a mere 5 miles from the airport.

For the record, I’ve already done the math. It takes 1,320 people to make a human chain one-mile long. Half of the 12,000 troops could be used to make a 5-mile long human chain to pass the food and water from the airport to Port-au-Prince. Of the remaining troops, 3,000 could be used to guard the human chain (that’s approx. one guard for every two soldiers). The rest of the troops, roughly 2,500 of them, could be put to work dispensing food & water and shooing rats from the bodies of the living dead. Might even be a few to spare toward the long-overdue effort of digging survivors out of the rubble.

Granted, the human chain may be somewhat of an over-simplification, but it’s a hell of a lot better starting point than doing absolutely nothing except blaming our failure to act on a lack of infrastructure or on security concerns.

Let them eat cake

The good news is that, in addition to the 12,000 troops, President Obama has also dispatched two former U.S. presidents — Bill Clinton and George W. Bush — to help oversee this aid effort. Both presidents are well-versed in providing security to those oil, gas and pipeline strategic locations around the globe, once they’ve mysteriously disintegrated into civil war. Perhaps these ex-presidents can offer their expertise in Haiti, now that its people have grown so desperate for food and water that they’re now resorting the violence the U.S. has been predicting (and blaming for their lack of action) for the past 6 days since the earthquake.

If nothing else, the U.S. can put those 12,000 troops to good use, providing security for these ex-U.S. presidents. Too, there is some hope that Bush can redeem himself for his criminal failure to provide aid to the victims of Katrina. The icing on the cake would be if Obama could finally prove, once and for all, that his dream of bipartisanship was not just another pipe dream.

As for the earthquake victims in Haiti, Obama has already promised them, “You will not be forsaken, you will not be forgotten.” These folk just need to be patient. Once Clinton and Bush arrive — and the stagecraft has been properly set — America will unveil its most generous aid effort, proving that the U.S. is, indeed, the most caring nation on the planet. To those who would ascribe political motives or grandstanding to Obama’s efforts, shame on you.

As Obama said in his promise to the people of Haiti 5 days ago, “In this, your hour of greatest need, America stands with you.”

Patience, Haiti. While America was unfortunately not able to be there during your hour of greatest need, we will be there soon. Promise. And if we don’t make it in time, please assure that elderly gentleman writhing in the dirt beside the fallen nursing home that soon, soon, America will have your country up and running again. Soon, you can pull yourselves up from that dirt, scoop it into your hands and — mixed with a little rainwater — bake it into the clay cakes that will have to sustain you once the troops, the ex-presidents, and the photo-ops depart.

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Written by canarypapers

January 18, 2010 at 11:12 am

The Bush-Obama Doctrine: A 12-Step Program for Seizing Control

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Patting Ourselves on the Back

Shortly before Christmas, President Obama called Yemen President, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to congratulate his success in their recent air strikes.  On the surface, this would seem odd, since Obama was the one who ordered the deployment of the U.S. missiles and drones that successfully blew apart upwards of 80 to 100 human beings, many of them collateral damage, as they’re called  — the innocent men, women and children who were killed during the pre-Christmas blitzes. Odder, still, are the mixed messages that came from the White House in the wake of the air strikes. In one breath, we were told that President Obama ordered the  bombings (which is, yes, every bit as odd as if some foreign president were to order air strikes on U.S citizens to retaliate for our leaders’ terrorist acts). In the next breath, we were told that America could neither confirm nor deny a U.S. role in the air strikes. “We are not going to get into any details at this point,” one US official said.

Odd.

But if you consider the source for a moment, it begins to make better sense.

The Strange Case of Doctor Obama and Mr. Bush

There are two Americas, you see. One is the idealized America. This is the America that created the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights; the America that finally found the gumption, even if it was an act of self-preservation, to put an end to slavery. This is the America that initiated the New Deal during the Great Depression; the America that — 45 years ago this week — waged a War on Poverty and created programs such as Medicare and Head Start and, for a while, made progress in dismantling the cycle of illiteracy, poverty and oppression; the America that passed the Voting Rights and Civil Rights Acts; the America that created national parks and has at times, despite opposition, persevered to protect the environment. This is the America that drafts historic documents professing our aspirations to the democratic ideal that all men are created equal, endowed with certain unalienable Rights, among these life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This is the America that voters overwhelming voted for in the fall of 2008.

The other America, our alter ego, is not quite the stuff of lofty, historic documents but, instead, weaves history from the shadows. Our alter ego is, for lack of a better word, the real America. This is the America that was secreted to North American shores with the Puritans and unleashed onto the Salem witch hunts; the America that justified the industry of kidnapping and selling human beings into slavery; this is the America that turned a blind eye to the Red Shirts and to Jim Crow law; this is the America that stonewalled anti-lynching laws; the America that violently fought to preserve slavery then, 100 years later, violently fought to preserve segregation; this is the America that replaced slave code with black code with Jim Crow with racial code; the America that dismantled Johnson’s War on Poverty and told us that greed and ostentatiousness were sterling qualities, if not inalienable Rights. This is the America that touts the values of democracy, then overthrows democratically elected leaders so that we may install corrupt dictators of our choosing; the America that sleeps in the shadows with Pol Pot, Pinochet, Rios Mont,  Noriega, Sadaam Hussein and Osama bin Laden; the America that simultaneously demonizes, yet arms, trains and funds war criminals from Israel to Afghanistan and Colombia; the America that trades arms, drugs and money to bankroll our crimes against humanity, then pretends under oath to not recall these deeds.

On special occasions, our alter ego parades its idealized twin, vociferously waving flags and extolling the virtues of our Constitution, our Bill of Rights, our Declaration of Independence, while secretly loathing and warring against both the spirit and letter of the law contained within these documents.

When politicians such as Michelle Bachmann and Sarah Palin talk about the “real America,” this is the one to which they are referring — our alter ego — the America of Westwood Pegler, Joseph McCarthy, Lee Atwater and Karl Rove; the secret America of Richard Nixon, Oliver North, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George Bush Jr. and Sr. This is the America that believes that the ends (money, oil, gas, gold, diamonds, titanium, etc.) justify the means (death squads, torture, extraordinary rendition, buying corrupt leaders, dealing in drugs, funding and arming terrorists, genocide, covert wars, and bending & breaking the spirit and the letter of the law). This is the America of Dick Cheney. Turns out, this is also — much to the dismay of the American voters — the America of Barack Obama.

Given the source, then, Obama’s congratulatory call to Yemen President is not really so odd. The mixed messages coming from the White House are understandable, given the inherent difficulty of keeping the facts straight on those occasions when necessity summons our alter from the shadows to perform front and center on the world stage. Americans will surely forgive Obama, too, for his lack of recall on who actually ordered the bombings. After all, we are engaged in a (call it what you will) war on terror, which means anything goes.

Bonfire of the Panties

According to the official version of the story, our best intelligence tells us that there are “credible threats” being waged against our interests in Yemen. As proof, we need look no further than the outrage being expressed by the Yemen people over the bombings, followed in quick succession by the underpants bomber. The official version, however, has neatly ignored three other facts that have been alleged to be part of the story: (1) that a well-dressed Indian man tried to assist the underpants bomber to board the plane without a passport in Amsterdam, (2) that one, possibly two men videotaped the flight from Amsterdam to Detroit, and (3) that a second man from this same flight was arrested at the airport after being fingered by bomb-sniffing dogs, while waiting in the room with the other passengers who had been sequestered for questioning in Detroit.

Regardless of the facts, it is clear to anyone watching the news or listening to our president that Yemen is — as accused — a hotbed of al Qaeda danger, intent on attacking American “interests” in the area.

What has not been made clear is the exact nature of our “interests” in the area. Sure, we have embassies there. And these embassies have been the target of threats for decades now. Why the sudden impetus for a pre-emptive strike on the people of Yemen? It can’t be oil. After all, as the media has repeatedly and painstakingly tutored us over the past week or so, Yemen is slated to run out of oil in 10 years. This proves that the recent air strikes and the underpants bomber are not, as the more skeptical among us have become conditioned to automatically suspect, another war for oil.  Therefore, it must indeed be true: Yemen has replaced Afghanistan (and, later, Iraq) as the new world hub of terrorist activity.

Either that, or its the gas.

According to a 2007 issue of the Oil and Gas Journal, Yemen’s proven natural gas reserves totaled 16.90 trillion cubic feet.  Construction began in 2005 to build the $4.1 billion plant to liquefy the natural gas for shipment, with Hunt Oil (part of the Bush-Cheney rat pack) holding a 17.2% stake in the project and poised to share with Asia two-thirds, or 4.5 million tons of Yemen’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports per year. The first LNG shipments reportedly left Yemen within the last 2 months. Also integral to U.S. “interests” in Yemen is, of course, its location (location, location) on the Bab el-Mandeb Strait that connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden, through which the U.S. must pass to ferry its loot.

The Yemen LNG deal is similar, albeit not nearly as lucrative as the LNG deal tentatively struck in Iraq via the 2008 “‘Heads of Agreement” with Shell, (aka “the Shell gas agreement rip-off”), set to be finalized after the Iraqi elections in early 2010. This agreement would give Dick Cheney’s partners in crime at Shell full control of all the Iraqi gas wealth in the south for 25 years. Add to this whatever other progress the Cheney rat pack has made with privatizing Iraqi gas and oil, plus the various PSAs, PSCs, TSAs and other acronyms that now form the jewels in America’s crown in the wake of our heroic battle with al Qaeda in Iraq, and you have what George W. Bush might call, “Mission Accomplished.”

Our pipe dreams in Afghanistan are a bit more complex and yet to be fully hammered out, but the tentative arrangement is to send a surge some 30,000 troops who will be deployed at strategic locations along the pipeline in time for the TAPI construction start sometime in late 2010 or early 2011.

Regardless of the ends, the means are more or less the same, no matter what the country — Iraq, Afghanistan, Colombia, Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan or Yemen. The blueprint works something like this:

The Bush-Obama Doctrine (or, A 12-Step Program for Seizing Control of  a Country’s Assets)

  1. Determine what you want from the country (e.g. control of oil, gas and other minerals, and/or control of pipelines and shipping lanes).
  2. Build a case for a war on terror.
  3. If there is no terrorist group in the country, just make something up. Your paid AIPAC counterterrorism experts can help you with this by fabricating evidence of  terrorism and terrorist plots. Alternately, you can create a terrorist/insurgent/rebel presence by  staging a pre-emptive, covert war, which will not only destabilize the government, but will cause a spike in violence that can be blamed, rightly or not, on al Qaeda. (NOTE: Sometimes a terrorist attack — either “real” or thwarted — can help to rally a stubborn American public into supporting a war. Here, your pals at the CIA and the aforementioned counterterrorism experts at SITE, IntelCenter and MEMRI will be invaluable, as they can raise false flags faster than you can say, “underpants,” plus manufacture the necessary evidence, such as fake audios, videos and intercepted terrorist communications to substantiate the terrorist attacks and/or threats).
  4. Direct your media to report 24-7 on the official story, giving them ample fodder for speculation and fearongering. Stick to your story no matter what. And don’t worry if your facts don’t add up, or if the only leaks you can provide are from White House sources and military officials who are “only authorized to speak on the condition of anonymity.” As Dick Cheney proved, when it comes to terrorism, people are so easily scared, that they will view any threat of a terrorist plot as credible, no matter how flimsy the set-up.
  5. Ignore people who complain that the facts don’ t match up. If witnesses come forward and dispute the official story(as the Haskells and others did with the underpants bomber story), either forbid them to talk, (in the interest of national security) or ignore them. This way, no one will listen to them but the alternative and “fringe” media, which will brand these witnesses as crackpots or conspiracy theorists.
  6. Pat yourselves on the back as you watch Congress and the American people — as if on cue — begin waving flags, thumping Bibles and demanding war.
  7. Escalate the existing war, meting out both clandestine and overt efforts as Congressional funding and oil/gas-field strategy dictate.
  8. When international humanitarian and civil rights groups express outrage at the massive human suffering (genocide, ethnic cleansing, violence, brutality, murder, rape, starvation, disease, etc.) we’ve inflicted on the innocent citizens of the country, either blame it on the terrorist/insurgents/rebels, or declare the accusations to be nothing but a bunch of liberal propaganda lies. If Amnesty International or any of your other enemies accuses you of war crimes, label them naive terrorist appeasers.
  9. Grease the requisite palms to foster the creation of a specialized NGO humanitariaGn relief agency, and/or utilize some of the existing Christian relief agencies (such as Save the Children,  CARE and others who similarly funded by the defense industry) to respond to the humanitarian crisis in the country. The promise of protection, food, shelter and medical care to a brutalized population of sick, starving, scared, homeless people is an excellent tool for coercing  cooperation and compliance. Too, these relief agencies are very efficient at re-directing their contributions into the “right” pockets.
  10. When the citizens in the attacked country fight back (aka “playing right into your hands”) label them terrorists, insurgents and/or rebels, which will neatly vindicate your justifications for going to war in the first place.
  11. Escalate the war to crush the terrorists/insurgents/rebels.
  12. Repeat steps 10 and 11 until you’ve achieved your goal (see Step 1).

Or fester like a sore…

Once upon a time, Barack Obama conjured dreams of our forefathers, of the men upon whose shoulders he stood. He spoke to the American dream — to that idealized notion of a country and a people who aspire to do good things, to live up to that democratic ideal that all men are created equal, endowed with certain unalienable Rights, among these life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This is the America that voted Obama into office, and this is the America that will suffer the repercussions of his turncoat presidency. But it was, for a time, a lovely dream, wasn’t it?

America simply cannot continue on this path. The need to drastically change our energy policy is no longer a debatable proposition. It is not a question of whether, but how; not a question of if, but when. For the sake of our security, our economy, our jobs and our planet, the age of oil must end in our time. Barack Obama, May 2007

Our cause is just, our resolve unshaken.Barack Obama, speaking in early December, 2009, on his decision to deploy a surge in Afghanistan

America will forgive Obama for omitting words such as liquefied natural gas, profit sharing agreements, TAPI, pipelines, death squads, mercenary armies, torture, war crimes, or extraordinary renditions to CIA black sites in Yemen in his Nobel Peace Prize speech and in his recent statements on Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, Israel, Iraq and Afghanistan. We’ll forgive him, too, for neglecting to mention crimes against humanity in the soaring rhetoric of his lovely speeches. After all, we are embroiled in a war on terror. This is no time to quibble over semantics.

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by Mantis Katz for the canarypapers

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FOR A CLOSER LOOK:

American Everyman Blog – An informative compendium of well-researched information contained in 3 articles from the author’s “Understanding the Panty Bomber Mythology” series:

Library of Congress (Federal Research Division) Country Profile: Yemen, August 2008 (see page 11 for info on Yemen’s proven natural gas reserves plus info on 2/3 split (4.5 million tons per year) slated to be exported to the U.S. and Asia beginning in 2009)

The Public Record: Halliburton, KBR Plead Guilty to Cheney-Era Bribery Charges (February 2009) Article detailing the bribes paid by Cheney-Halliburton-KBR and Shell to the notoriously corrupt Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha and some of his subordinates to win a lucrative construction contract for a natural gas liquefaction plant.

Voltaire.net’Nigerian Terrorist Patsy Yet Another CIA Ploy in US-backed Buildup of al Qaeda in Yemen Civil War’ (includes video)

Voltaire.net – Interview with Webster Tarpley : “The War on terror is a myth” Webster Tarpley’s analysis of U.S. imperialism and the events since 9-11, including Obama’s war on Pakistan and on the geopolitical relationships between the U.S., Russia, Iran, Pakistan and China.

Voltaire.netAfricom’s Covert War in Sudan: Under the Guise of Humanitarian Intervention (by Keith Harmon Snow)

Canarypapers: The U.S. War Machines Leaves an Ugly Slick of Oil & Blood Takes a closer lo0k at Africom and the coincidence of alleged al Qaeda activity near the shipping channels, mineral mines and oil/gas fields where, for years now, the clandestine U.S. wars on terror have been reaping lucrative deals for the Cheney rat pack.

Radio Free Europe: U.S. Airport Terminal Closed Over Security Alert U.S. authorities temporarily closed a terminal at the Newark, New Jersey, airport in the eastern United States after a man walked through a screening checkpoint exit into the secure side of the terminal without apparently undergoing a security check. (RHETORICAL QUESTION ON THE ABOVE ARTICLE: Are we to believe that a man simply walked past security at the screening checkpoint? Does any one who’s been to an airport in recent years actually believe this story?)

Salon: Cruise Missile Attacks in Yemen by Glenn Greenwald

LA Times: Yemen Dismisses al Qaeda Threat as “Exaggerated”

St. Pete for Peace: This site has a host of links detailing Obama’s statements, stances and “accomplishments” throughout his political career

Telegraph UK: Abu Ghraib abuse photos ‘show rape’ – Photographs of alleged prisoner abuse which Barack Obama is attempting to censor include images of apparent rape and sexual abuse, it has emerged.

Washington Post: U.S. announces more security aid to Yemen; Britain to host meeting on nation Typical media article that parrots the official story.

ThinkProgress: Hersh: Cheney ‘Left A Stay Behind’ In Obama’s Government, Can ‘Still Control Policy Up To A Point’ Article on Seymour Hersh interview with Terry Gross (NPR). Quote from interview:

“They call it a stay behind. It’s sort of an intelligence term of art. When you leave a country and, you know, you’ve driven out the, you know, you’ve lost the war. You leave people behind. It’s a stay behind that you can continue to contacts with, to do sabotage, whatever you want to do. Cheney’s left a stay behind. He’s got people in a lot of agencies that still tell him what’s going on. Particularly in defense, obviously. Also in the NSA, there’s still people that talk to him. He still knows what’s going on.”

Asia Times: Big Oil’s ‘secret’ out of Iraq’s closet Article that untangles the web of lucrative oil, gas and pipelines deals that have emerged from the U.S. wars on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan

Dennis Kucinich interview in which he proposes to restore the constitutionally mandated role of Congress in declaring (or not) war.

Lastly, consider these words — any of which would not sound at all odd coming from the mouth of Barack Obama:

Five days or five weeks or five months, but it certainly isn’t going to last any longer than that. It won’t be a World War III…. It has nothing to do with oil, literally nothing to do with oil. It has nothing to do with the religion…. People say ‘Where’s the smoking gun?’ Well, we don’t want to see a smoking gun from a weapon of mass destruction. With a weapon of mass destruction you’re not talking about 300 people or 3,000 people being killed, but 30,000 or a hundred thousand.”” — excerpts from Donald Rumsfeld’s CBS interview in November 2002 (4 months before the start of the Iraq war) explaining both the brevity of the impending war, along with the insistence that the impending pre-emptive strikes were about weapons of mass destruction, period. Not oil.

If we were to allow our enemies to prevail in Iraq, the violence that is now declining would accelerate — and Iraq would descend into chaos….  Out of such chaos in Iraq, the terrorist movement could emerge emboldened — with new recruits, new resources, and an even greater determination to dominate the region and harm America. An emboldened al Qaeda with access to Iraq’s oil resources could pursue its ambitions to acquire weapons of mass destruction to attack America and other free nations. — George W. Bush March 2008

For us to walk away from Iraq I think would have at least that bad an effect, probably worse, because if al Qaeda were to take over big parts of Iraq, among other things, they would acquire control of a significant oil resource. Iraq has almost 100 billion barrel reserves, producing 2.5-3 million barrels of oil a day. If you take a terrorist organization like al Qaeda and give it that kind of revenue, there’s no telling the amount of trouble they could get into.– Dick Cheney April 2008

The United States pursues no claim on Iraq’s territory or resources.Barack Obama, February 2009

UPDATED: The U.S. War Machine Leaves an Ugly Slick of Oil & Blood

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UPDATE — DECEMBER 31, 2009: The post below, originally published on July 26, 2008, was written as an outcropping of our disgust over the genocide and ethnic cleansing taking place in the United States’ brutal covert war in Somalia. We never finished this post and never will (see note at bottom of this page). However, the information herein continues to be as relevant today as it will be tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. (Think Obama constitutes a change from the Bush Administration’s warmongering for oil under the guise of fighting terrorism? Think again.)

Many Americans would be surprised to know that, throughout the course of our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. has also been busy with wars elsewhere in the world. Only, we don’t call them wars. We call them things like peacekeeping missions, nation-building or “low intensity conflicts.” Or, as is the case in Colombia, where the U.S. is at work wresting control of oil pipelines and trying to destabilize the bordering oil-rich countries, such as Venezuela, while demonizing the leaders of these countries, we call it a “war on drugs” — even as the U.S. is the pusher man working out of Colombia, using the proceeds from our drug sales to fund our war machine in South America. (Think about it. Has cocaine ever been cheaper or more available than since Clinton and Bush began their war on drugs in Colombia? The same is true of heroin in the Afghanistan drug trade). And we don’t, as a rule, fight these wars ourselves. Instead, we buy off corrupt dictators and/or destabilize and overthrow democratically elected leaders and install corrupt dictators of our own choosing. Then we build armies for them — funding, training and arming these paramilitaries to the tune of millions, so that they can fight our various covert and proxy wars on terror around the globe, which are, coincidentally, in the most mineral-strategic countries on the planet — from South America to Africa and the Middle East. It is no coincidence that the U.S. is the world’s largest arms supplier, our war machine generating loyalties, death and destruction in over 174 states and territories.


These wars are given little scrutiny on the media radar, even as they’re claimed to be part of the larger war on terror — or, in the case of, say, Sudan, they fly under the guise of humanitarian efforts. Much like Somalia, Yemen is not so strategic for its oil reserves, but for its natural gas reserves. Oh, and there’s also that matter of its location (location, location). Specifically, Somalia and Yemen are located across from each other, like mirrors, on either side of the opening from the Bab el-Mandeb Strait. This strait connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden through which our oil and gas laden ships must pass.The U.S. has been covertly warring for years to control this shipping lane. As such, news stories — past present and future — on Ethiopia, Djibouti, Yemen, Somalia and, yes, pirates are inseparable from this larger story, a story about a superpower that will use any ruse to get what it wants, up to and including climbing in and out of bed with friends, enemies and even the terrorists we claim to be fighting.

As for the collateral damage from our clandestine wars — genocide, ethnic cleansing and untold millions of human lives ground into starvation, disease, misery, death and civil war — America alternately ignores and feigns outrage. When it becomes strategically feasible and/or necessary, the U.S. military steps out of the shadows, setting up high-profile military installations, so that we may help these poor victims, or protect them from the “bad guys,” with whom we may or may not still be in bed. This is the story being replayed in countries throughout the world. Yemen is no exception.

Considering that during the months before 9-11, the FBI had their finger on the pulse of the pre-9-11 terrorist network in Yemen (to which the Bush Administration was in
“ignore” mode), it is curious that U.S.has subsequently enjoyed the sort of relationship with Yemen over the past 8 years, where we could rendition detainees there to be tortured at our CIA black sites in Yemen. Which makes it somehow ironic that the media is using the Yemen connections of the recent underwear bomber, Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab
/AbdulMutallab, to help us recall and re-ignite our anger over 9-11. It seems the American public is now being signaled that it’s time to switch from from ignore-mode to the outrage-mode being feigned by our leaders. This is, of course, our cue, as patriotic, freedom-loving Americans to rally behind our pre-Christmas bombing campaign waged on the innocent men, women and children in Yemen, which promises to be an ongoing campaign in the war formerly known as Bush’s war on terror. It is no coincidence that this latest bombing campaign was already underway when the underpants bomber boarded the plane for America. Nor is it a coincidence that the trail of the underpants bomber is littered with questions that, for the official record, go unasked and unanswered.

Such has been the nature of America’s war on terror, beginning with 9-11. Our leaders can afford to be arrogant and sloppy because, truth be known, the U.S. is untouchable. We encourage those interested in these stories to do their own research. This page is a good starting point. Our apologies that we cannot finish our own effort out, and for any dead links on this page.


An odd coincidence: Pick any oil-rich spot on the globe, and you will find the U.S. engaged in the war on terror.

In this vein, why has there been such a preponderance of al Qaeda terrorists (or, rather, a preponderance of **propaganda about **al Qaeda) surrounding the oil fields of the world over the past 7 years?

The current war in Iraq is not the first U.S. war for oil. Nor is it the first war for oil that has claimed massive civilian casualties, which were then concealed by the U.S. media. This is the first war for oil, however, fought on the grounds that a foreign country posed a direct threat to the U.S. — false grounds — which our government intentionally deceived us into believing. This is also the first war for oil fought under the mantle of spreading freedom and democracy, even as the U.S. government funds and arms both sides in a civil war: Shiites against Sunnis and Sunnis against Shiites — who then terrorize, torture, slaughter and commit ethnic cleansing of the very Iraqi populations we’re supposedly fighting to “save” from the evil terrorists. There’s a term for the type of warfare being waged by the U.S. in Iraq. It’s called war crimes.


That the American people have not demanded accountability from Congress, and have largely remained silent about the atrocities of this war – whether through complacent ignorance or sheer disbelief that our government could actually commit such atrocities — has only served to condone this war and the policies of this administration. Our collective silence has, in effect, given Bush-Cheney carte blanche to wage other wars on terrorism – wars now being fought in countires throughout the world, with scarcely a mention in the U.S. media.

Unknown to most Americans is that dozens of countries throughout the world have now been accused of harboring al Qaeda terrorists. Unknown to most Americans is that the Bush-Cheney Administraion is and has been waging clandestine wars in these countries, under the banner of “fighting terrorism,” sometimes called “peacekeeping missions” and “nation-building.” Unknown to most Americans is that we are currently spending millions of dollars in each of these countries, to fight mere handsful of alleged al Qaeda terrorists, whose existence — in many instances — is based on “intelligence” as leaky as the intelligence that sent us to war in Iraq. The potential and the reality (as seen in both Iraq and Afghanistan) is that these wars result in “chasing needles by burning haystacks,” as entire populations of innocent civilians are brutalized by the Bush-Cheney war machine , as it pursues small handsful of terrorists, who may or may not even exist.

In Iraq, alone, the Bush-Cheney war machine left in its wake over 4 million “displaced” Iraqi citizens — driven from their homes through violence and ethnic cleansing. From this point forward, if there were any questions left regarding the true intention of the U.S. forces, one need look no further than the billions of U.S. dollars spent building the enormous network of permanent U.S. bases over the past 7 years. These mega-bases have been built with every U.S. lifestyle amenity imaginable — from Baskin Robbins to Burger King, from miniature golf to swimming pools, from Hertz Rent-a-Car to department stores, and from football stadiums to movie theatres — not to mention air-conditioning, satellite internet access, cable television and international phone service.
The average Iraqi citizen has not enjoyed some of these amenities — such as electricity, food, water, shelter, sanitation and health care — since the days of Saddam Hussein. Ironically, construction on the permanent U.S. bases in Iraq proceeded swiftly toward completion, while U.S. work on to restore the most rudimentary of services for Iraqis — such as water purification, food, health care and electricity — fell to the wayside.

A Crude Awakening

Despite what we, in America, hear on the evening news, the words ‘victory’ and ’success’ do not belong in the same sentence with the word ‘Iraq.” The situation in Iraq is one of humanitarian crisis. Five years into the U.S. invasion of their country, Iraq is now deemed, the worst humanitarian crisis in the Middle East since 1948. Human rights and relief agencies throughout the world (International Red Cross, Amnesty International, Oxfam) have described the situation as “disasterous,” as a “dire humanitarian crisis,” calling Iraq, “one of the most dangerous countries in the world…. a place of carnage and despair.” Our vice-president, Dick Cheney, recently described Iraq as a “successful endeavor,” a sentiment we hear echoed daily from our mainstream U.S. media. Would the American public be silent, if they knew that we are waging similar wars in dozens of countries?
Question: When is a war a war?
Is it a war, if it’s called a ‘low-intensity conflict’? Is it a war, if only a small number of U.S. military troops are sent in? And is it a war, if the soldiers are from private mercenary armies hired through U.S. corporations? And is it a war, if our military funds, trains and arms rogue armies to fight these wars? Is it a war if the military’s stated purpose is ‘peacekeeping’ or to lend humanitarian aid? And what if it’s a little of each? Is it a war?
The answers lie in the oil fields: If U.S. military engagement and/or aid results in the U.S. gaining control of a country’s oil/mineral profits — at the expense of the native populations, who suffer impoverishment, torture, ethnic cleansing and/or genocide as a result of our actions — then that military engagement is, indeed, a war. It is a war for oil.  
Curious to know just how many wars are being fought for oil, we decided to take a head count of each and every country where the U.S. is fighting the war on terror. Our bet is that each and every one is also, ultimately, a war for oil. Whether the resulting silence from this truth is deafening, or not, is anyone’s guess.

Pick a Continent, Any Continent…

Say, Africa. Although Africa is but one stop on Dick Cheney’s proposed world tour for oil, it’s a good place to start, since the entire continent stands to be devoured, beginning with its name. Renamed in February 2007 (for military purposes only, mind you) Africa is now called the U.S. African Command (USAFRICOM or AFRICOM). As shown on this map, USAFRICOM was created from the existing United States European Command (USEUCOM), United States Central Command (USCENTCOM) and United States Pacific Command (USPACOM). Whatever that means. It is with some haste, then, that we inventory the African countries involved in Bush-Cheney’s global war on terror.

Lost in all the flurry of Bush’s February 2007 announcement of the surge in Iraq was his concurrent announcement of another surge — this one on the continent of Africa. Having neatly accomplished ‘Iraqi solutions for Iraqi problems’ in their war for oil distribution in Iraq, Bush-Cheney — poised, now, to undertake another empire — easily won congressional approval for “African solutions to African problems.” aka, U.S.AFRICOM: the U.S. African Command and its military arm ACOTA. A Department of Defense military operation, AFRICOM was created by Bush-Cheney to enhance our efforts to bring peace and security to the people of Africa. Started in October 2007, and set to be fully operational by September 30, 2008, AFRICOM is installing military commands in a total of 53 African countries – that’s all of Africa, except Egypt.

In an August 2007 congressional briefing, State and Defense Department officials emphasized to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that AFRICOM’s aim is to boost cooperation on anti-terrorism and peacekeeping activities, and programs that promote regional stability. In this same briefing, Theresa Whelan, Deputy Assistant for African affairs, echoed this sentiment — assuring Congress that AFRICOM is focused on security, not combat. On the heels of this assurance, however, she nonetheless cautioned: ” I would anticipate that there would be an increase in the amount of exercises we conduct and other military-to-military cooperation activity.”

Many in Africa are understandably suspicious. Believing, perhaps, that past is prologue — the majority of countries are protesting the presence of AFRICOM, as are many individuals around the world, including some high-profile activists, such as Danny Glover , who consider the ongoing U.S.-British militarization of Africa to be little more than a strategy toward gaining control of Africa’s natural resources, most notably its oil. As one critic noted: “Peace operations” and “nation building” are what the military and the mercenaries call their activities. But just like Bush’s “healthy forests” and “clear skies” initiatives, the names mean the opposite of what they do.


The Oil Fields of Africa: Black Gold, Texas Tea

The conundrum the Bush-Cheney Administration faces in Africa is the same all the world over: how to pry the mineral rights from the rightful owners — the African people, in this case — while convincing Congress and the American public that our presence is purely benevolent? The events of September 11th provided an easily path: wage war on terror. This path is all the easier in Africa, where so many countries are already under the control of corrupt, suppressive dictators, whose loyalties are easily purchased.

The tactics used by Bush-Cheney are generally the same, however, no matter what the county. First, they make a case for terrorism in the country – preferably al Qaeda. Then, and not necessarily in this order, they (1) provide U.S. military assistance to fight terrorism, (2) accuse any one who disagrees with the U.S. military presence of being a terrorist insurgent, (3) incite existing cultural tensions toward divisiveness or civil war, (4) fund and arm the “goods guys” and/or the “bad guys” (aka terrorists) to physically remove — through either ethnic cleansing and sometimes genocide — the native populations living on the lands around the oil fields and pipelines, (5) if these populations protest, label them as terrorist insurgents.

Throughout each step of the process, U.S. oil interests are expanded and secured — under the guise of “economic development” for the host country. When all is said and done, however, it is the U.S. who owns the controlling interests in their oil fields. Of course, by the time AFRICOM was created, Bush-Cheney had already done the legwork, having identified terrorist influences in most of the oil-rich African countries set to receive AFRICOM’s military commands. And in a few countries — such as Somalia and Sudan — they’d already accomplished steps 1 through 5.

_____________________________

As an aside, a smattering of quotables on the topic:

After the end of the Cold War, U.S. policy toward Africa was driven by President George H. W. Bush’s vision of a “New World Order.” …. President Bush announced in his 2006 State of the Union Address his intention to “to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025,” …. analysts estimate that Africa may supply as much as 25% of all U.S. oil imports by 2015. — from the Report for Congress, “Africa Command: U.S. Strategic Interests and the Role of the U.S. Military in Africa,” March 10, 2008.

Today that new world is struggling to be born, a world quite different from the one we’ve known. A world where the rule of law supplants the rule of the jungle. — From President George H.W. Bush’s speech, “Toward a New World Order,” delivered before the nation and a joint session of Congress, September 11, 1990

Along with Latin America, West Africa is expected to be one of the fastest growing sources of oil and gas for the American market. African oil tends to be of high quality and low in sulfur, making it suitable for stringent refined product requirements, and giving it a growing market share for the refining Centers on the East Coast of the U.S.Dick Cheney, May 16, 2001

In the aftermath in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, it is increasingly clear that the United States ignores Africa at its peril….The continent’s failed states and huge swaths of ungoverned territory offer sanctuary to terrorist groups.American Enterprise Institute May 2004 conference bulletin: Leave No Continent Behind: U.S. National Security Interests in Africa

Oh, and one other dirty little secret from 5,000 years of history: Ethnic cleansing works. Armed Forces Journal, June 2006. “Blood Borders: How a Better Middle East Would Look,” by Ralph Peters

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It is easy to understand, then, the fears of African citizens, who feel helpless to the incoming U.S. military presence in their countries. Some in America know this same helplessess, as we’ve seen war protesters branded as terrorist sympathizers or “homegrown terrorists” in recent years. The difference between Americans and Africans is that we do not have a history (up to this point, anyway) of being forced from our homes by the U.S. military, or of witnessing the mass slaughtering of our families, neighbors, communities, of whole towns of people, who protested the policies of the U.S. government. The fear of these African countries is understandable, then, as America’s war on terror turns its calculating eye toward the oil fields of Africa.

U.S. Oil & Mineral Claims vs. Terrorist Claims in Africa:
An Alphabetical Compendium of Coincidences
 
**Benin (important for its proximity to Nigeria oil and its political-economic relationship w/ECOWAS)
**Burkina Faso (important for its proximity to Nigeria oil and its political-economic relationship w/ECOWAS)
**Cape Verde (important for its proximity to Nigeria oil and its political-economic relationship w/ECOWAS)
Guinea-Bissau
**Lesotho
Liberia
**Madagascar
**Malawi
**Mali
**Mozambique
**Namibia
Niger
Senegal
Sierra Leone
Swaziland
**Tanzania
Togo
Zambia
Zimbabwe
** these countries receive aid through compacts with the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a U.S. government corporation, created by Bush in 2002, to “undercut terrorism by attacking poverty overseas.” While most of these countries lack significant oil reserves, their geographical & political relationships with oil-rich countries lends a strategic importance to U.S. interests in Africa.
* * *
 
 
EDITOR’S NOTE: Our original idea with this post was to document every mineral/gas/oil-rich country in the world where the U.S. is engaged in various military operations. Frankly, the task is too disgusting to continue. To anyone interested in such things, just google to find which countries have rich reserves of oil and gas (or gold, diamonds and other minerals). Then google the name of any of these countries + “al Qaeda” or “insurgents” or “Dick Cheney” or “U.S. military,” or “USNORTHCOM” or “Blackwater,” or “mercenary armies,” or the name of either Bush Jr. or Sr.
Dig just a little, and you will find the U.S. in the thick of it, secretly funding covert and proxy wars, arming and training paramilitaries. You can also google terms such as: genocide, ethnic cleansing, humanitarian crisis, starvation, rape, death squads, disease, etc. and find your way to the U.S. through the back door, so to speak. One notable exception to the rule will be Darfur, where China beat us to the punch. In Sudan, however, the U.S. and China seem to be in partnership, each country jockeying for their fair share of oil and carnage.
Depending on the country, you may also find a “war on drugs,” particularly in South America, but also in Afghanistan. This is how the U.S. funds some of it’s illegal wars, as there is only so much money that can be hoodwinked out of Congress to fund our covert wars. But drug money is only one of the many ways the U.S. gets around the inconvenience of laws that forbid us to provide military aid to countries engaged in genocide, torture, renditions, illegal imprisonments and so on.

The (Unfinished) Story of Majid Khan, Dick Cheney and the Torture Memos

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FROM THE UNPUBLISHED ARCHIVES: This post is among several unpublished, unfinished drafts — all of them works-in-progress, when I set them aside to speak out on behalf of other issues. The news in America is relentlessly bad, and it’s only getting worse. It’s difficult for the average person to stand still long enough to make sense of one horror story, before another one overtakes it. Torture is promising to be an ongoing horror — past, present and future.  And I remain unconvinced that the Obama Adminstration has done enough — or intends to do enough — to ensure, “Never again.”

In this vein, we should never stop shedding light on all the terrorist acts Dick Cheney committed under the false flag of fighting terrorism. We should never stop demanding that Cheney and his gang be held accountable for their war crimes. Even as this post is unfinished, it holds value as a reference tool for shedding light onto the complex legal sleights-of-hand Cheney used to “legalize” torture.

Equally important is the need to continually shed light onto the victims of the Cheney-era war crimes. Many of these victims — if not most — are believed to be innocent. And who’s to say otherwise? Few have ever been officially charged with a crime and none have been permitted the basic right of a trial — their every effort to do so having been defeated by Team Cheney’s devious legalese, which is still a de facto part of American law. The number of these victims is seemingly countless. Majid Khan is but one of these human souls left to rot in jail, his guilt long ago sealed by accusations and confessions extracted under torture.

My apologies for not finishing this post, and for any loose ends I didn’t tie up.

The (Unfinished) Story of Majid Khan

Dick Cheney and his torture regime are like the vampire in the B-grade movie that refuses to die. Until someone drives a stake through its heart — that is, until the Department of Justice sees fit to take the gloves off and conduct an honest investigation into Cheney’s regime of corruption and torture — the monster will continue to re-injure our country, our laws, our integrity, our standing in the world. Not to mention the victims, whose stories are the stuff of nightmares. Problem is, the more time passes, the easier it becomes for Dick Cheney and daughter, Liz (who is — mark my words — being groomed to run for the vice-presidency in 2012), to re-write history and for the American public to then blindly accept their bill of goods. But, make no mistake, the rest of the world — the good, the bad and the ugly — aren’t buying.

Obama’s refusal to acknowledge America’s war crimes and hold these criminals acountable is not only short-sighted — permitting this history to exist unimpeded and ripe to repeat itself — but it also makes  Obama party to the crimes.  Obama’s neglect does not abrogate the DOJ from their duty to investigate these crimes to the fullest extent of the law. But that’s not how things are done in America today. Ultimately, it is up the American people to demand this. Perhaps we can pencil this fight into our busy agendas, somewhere between our battle for health care reform our own personal struggles with the collapsing American economy.

I want to be absolutely clear with our people and the world: the United States does not torture. — George W. Bush, September 6, 2006

By the time George Bush uttered those words, he was (technically, anyway) correct. That is, according to the precise letter of the law, as interpreted by Dick Cheney’s crackerjack team of attorneys at the Dept. of Justice Office of Legal Council (OLC) and published in the four Bybee and Bradbury memos, dating from August 2002 and May 2005. According to Team Cheney, we never did torture, and even if we did, the point was moot. Here’s why, according to the Bybee and Bradbury memos:

  • Intention is nine-tenths (plus one-tenth) of the law: Unless the interrogators intended to inflict pain and suffering, it was not torture. And since the specific intention of the interrogators was to gather intelligence — and not to inflict pain and suffering, per se — it was not technically torture.
  • Location, location, location: Under the terms Article 16 in the Geneva Convention Against Torture (CAT), the torture prohibitions apply specifically to “territories under [United States] jurisdiction.” To ascertain whether we were in compliance with this treaty obligation, the memo authors repeatedly consulted dictionary definitions of “territory” and “jurisdiction,” which neatly supported their argument that it is was not illegal for the U.S. to torture prisoners, so long as the torture took place in non-U.S. territories. Thus, the network of secret black site prisons around the globe (e.g. Afghanistan, Poland, Syria, Morocco, Thailand, etc.) where torture took place were determined to be, technically, legal, as were enhanced interrogations on any ships not registered with the U.S.  (see pages 17-21 in the May 30, 2005 Bradbury Memo)
  • Look that up in your Funk & Wagnalls: An existing U.S. Senate reservation states the the U.S. is bound to the obligations of the Geneva Convention Against Torture “only insofar as the term ‘cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment'[ means [that] prohibited by the Fifth, Eigth and/or Fourteenth Amendments to Constitution of the United States.” Scrutinizing the language of this reservation, Team Cheney again consulted the dictionary for clarity on the precise definitions of key words and terms, such as “torture” and “calculated” and “severe physical suffering” and “severe mental pain or suffering” and “prolonged mental harm.” After careful consideration of the dictionary definitions, they concluded that  the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, were legal. Waterboarding cannot be considered “severe physical suffering” because, according to the dictionary, for distress to be “severe,” the intensity and duration of the distress must be taken into account. The memo explains that, by definition, waterboarding does not constitute “severe physical suffering,” since (a) the physical distress of waterboarding ends as soon as the session is over, and since (b) these sessions were, by their estimation, brief (with the maximum time set at 12 minutes per day, total, of actual waterboarding per day, with each session to last no longer than 40 seconds.) A similar argument is used to explain why waterboarding does not cause “prolonged mental harm,” as the length of these sessions do not conform to the dictionary definition of “prolonged.” You’d have to read the memos to appreciate the beauty of these definitions, as they apply to the blow-by-blow legalization of torture, as construed in these memos. Here are a few examples, as they apply to each of the following Constitutional Amendments:
    • 8th Amendment – This amendment protects against the infliction of “cruel and unusual punishments.” As the memo argues, however, this amendment only applies after an individual has been convicted of a crime. Thus, the memo concludes that “Because the high-value detainees on whom the CIA might use enhanced interrogation techniques have not been convicted of any crime, the substantive requirements of the Eighth Amendment would not be relevant here.” Accordingly, so long as the due process is denied ( per the provisions of the 14th Amendment, below) then a detainee could be detained forever, being subjected all the while to “cruel and unusual punishments.”
    • 5th Amendment — Unlike the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, the Fifth Amendment allows that NO person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law. Setting aside the dictionary for a moment, the memo’s authors turned to case law, citing a 1952 ruling, which stated that the due process component of the 5th Amendment protects, specifically, against executive action that “shocks the conscience.” And to determine whether an action “shocks the conscience,” it is necessary to determine whether it is “arbitrary in the constitutional sense,” which, in turn, depends on whether the action is justifiable “in the service of a legitimate government objective.” The memo authors devote several pages to this concern before ultimately determining waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques do not “shock the conscience” and therefore do not violate the 5th amendment.  Building on this argument, the memo asserts that — since aliens (non-U.S. citizens) are not entitled to Fifth Amendment rights outside of the sovereign territory of the United States — it is not illegal to subject aliens to “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”so long as this takes place in the above mentioned black prison sites. This argument was no doubt used to justify the extraordinary rendition of Canadian citizen Mahar Arar to Syria. (To be sure, since the Constitution technically only applies to U.S. citizens, it stands to reason (and this is painstakingly spelled out in the Bybee-Bradbury memo) that it is perfectly legal to subject non-U.S. citizens to “cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.” )
    • Fourteenth Amendment — While this amendment provides that “No State shall deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law,” this provision does not *technically* apply in the District of Columbia, which is coincidentally where the White House is located. This gave the Bush-Cheney Administration additional license, as if they needed it, to deprive anyone they jolly well pleased — from American citizens to aliens — of life, liberty or property, without due process of law.

In other words, (according to the authority of Dick Cheney and his crackerjack team of lawyers) there are no domestic or international laws to prohibit the U.S. from torture, illegal detainment, extraordinary rendition or the denial of due process. Which brings me to the case of Majid Khan.

It is only appropriate (since his incarceration and torture would have been deemed illegal in pre-Bybee-Bradbury years) that his name is physically present in these memos. In the May 30, 2005 Bradbury memo, if you look at the 2nd paragraph on page 10, you’ll find his name. Look closely, because the words “Majid Khan” — much like the actual person — have been partially obliterated by the ubiquitious redactions.

In broad brushstrokes, the story of Majid Khan  can be given in two sentences: Majid Khan, a legal U.S. resident from Baltimore, was arrested in 2003, based on accusations from a torture victim, who has since acknowledged giving false information under torture, simply to make the torture stop. Majid Khan has spent the past 6 years — and counting — in prison, without charges, during which time he, himself, has been reportedly subjected to torture, under which he confessed to crimes he never committed.

Majid Khan is seen in year in high school in Baltimore, Maryland. Khan, 27, is now jailed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Majid Khan is seen in 1999 during his senior year in high school in Baltimore, Maryland. Khan, 27, is now jailed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Again, my apologies to Majid Khan and his family for not finishing this post. I hope that this post will be a starting point for others to take an interest in his story.  By all appearances, Mr. Khan is an innocent man: he has yet to be charged with any crime — much less been granted the basic right of a trial — and, as such, appears to be guilty of nothing more than getting mired in the web of Dick Cheney’s deceitful war on terror.

Below is a synopsis of Majid Khan’s story, quoted from the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change. CCR has been actively involved in litigation on behalf of many Guantanamo detainees, including Mr. Khan, whom they’ve represented since Sept. 2006, a timeline of which can be found here, at the CCR website, along a list of PDF files of their actions throughout this case:

Mr. Khan was kidnapped in 2003 while visiting relatives in Pakistan, imprisoned in secret CIA detention for three-and-a-half years and subjected to “alternative interrogation methods” that amount to torture. He has never been formally charged with a crime.

Majid Khan had immigrated with his family to the United States in 1996. They settled in Baltimore, where he attended Owings Mills High School, graduating in 1999. Majid was granted legal asylum in the U.S. in 1998 and subsequently worked for the State of Maryland. In 2002, he went to Pakistan to get married and then came home to the United States to continue working. Shortly after returning to his wife in Pakistan, Majid and other relatives were kidnapped from their residence.

In the middle of the night, on March 5, 2003, individuals identified as Pakistan security officials pounded on the door of the home of Majid’s brother in Karachi, and rushed into the flat. The family members at home included Majid, his brother, his brother’s wife and their month-old daughter. As the family was trying to wake up, the officials hooded and bound them before placing them in a vehicle. They were all taken to an unknown location.

Majid’s sister-in-law and infant niece were imprisoned for about a week. Pakistan officials imprisoned his brother for approximately one month. When Majid’s brother was released, officials threatened him not to make any public statements or inquire after Majid. As a result of the threats, Majid’s family in Baltimore and Karachi waited anxiously and fearfully for his return. He was never released or heard from again.

Back home in the U.S., Majid’s family cooperated with U.S. authorities in every way they could; Majid’s older brother, a U.S. citizen, was interviewed hundreds of times by the FBI and he asked repeatedly about Majid’s whereabouts. Nonetheless, Majid’s family did not learn he was in U.S. custody or even that he was alive until a news reporter knocked on their door and told them President Bush announced Majid’s name in a speech before the nation on September 6, 2006.

Majid now has a young daughter he hasn’t seen.

For more on Majid Khan from the Center for Constituional Rights archives:

Khan v. Bush / Khan v. Gates Synopsis: CCR’s representation of Majid Khan involves two cases: Khan v. Bush is a habeas corpus … of former Baltimore, MD resident and U.S. asylum-holder, Majid Khan, who was transferred from three-years in secret C.I.A. detention to …
Going to See a Ghost: Majid Khan and the Abuses of the ‘War on Terror’ … wrote this op-ed in The Washington Post on CCR client Majid Khan, a former Baltimore resident who was “disappeared” into a CIA …
Redacted Motion to Declare Interrogation Methods Used on Majid Khan Are Torture Cleared By CIA … the government to preserve evidence of Guantanamo detainee Majid Khan’s torture by the CIA, a second motion filed by the Center for … the motion is due to the court on December 20. “Majid Khan was subjected by U.S. personnel to a ruthless program of …
CCR Attorneys Release Revelations of Torture of Former Ghost Detainee Majid Khan Sub Heading: Motion Filed to Preserve Evidence of Majid‘s Torture While at CIA Black Site Last week, a motion that … attorneys filed in the case of former ghost detainee Majid Khan was made public. The heavily redacted motion, which was filed in order to …
Government Declassifies Majid Khan Torture Motion … by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) on behalf of Majid Khan, a former CIA ghost detainee now held at Guantanamo. The motion and its …
Freedom of Information Act: Ghost Detention and Extraordinary Rendition Case … tortured in Syria for nearly a year. CCR also represents Majid Khan, a former resident of Baltimore, Maryland, who was detained in secret for …
Dixon, J. Wells … Yemen. He also represents former Baltimore-area resident Majid Khan, who was imprisoned and tortured in secret CIA “black sites” for more …
CCR Files Important Brief in Khan v. Bush … response to the government’s efforts to deny CCR access to Majid Khan, on whose behalf CCR previously filed a petition of habeas corpus. Mr. …
Gutierrez, Gitanjali … Convening Authority in May 2008.  She also represents Majid Khan, a Baltimore resident and citizen of Pakistan transferred from secret CIA …
CCR Attorney Gives Unprecedented Classified Briefing to Senate Intelligence Committee on Details of CIA Torture Program … provided a thorough account of what was done to CCR client Majid Khan and of the on-the-ground implementation of the CIA’s “enhanced …

Court Orders Government Not to Destroy Torture Evidence … to preserve” evidence relating to Guantanamo detainee Majid Khan, including evidence of his torture by the CIA. The U.S. Court of Appeals …

FAQs: What Are Ghost Detentions and Black Sites … In addition, CCR provides legal representation to Majid Khan, one of the 15 men transferred from secret CIA custody to Guantanamo Bay. …
House Votes to Outlaw Waterboarding … was released on the same day that the government brought Majid Khan, who is represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights, and others to …
CIA Acknowledges It Has More than 7,000 Documents Relating to Secret Detention Program, Rendition, and Torture … of men. These include some of our clients, like Majid Khan, who were known to be in the program. The public needs to know what …

Sources plus more info for further reading:

April 17, 2009 Letter from Attorney General Eric Holder to  Sen. John D. Rockefeller in response to the Senator’s Feb. 2009 request for declassification and release of a narrative regarding advice provided by the CIA on the legality of certain interrogation techniques

World Socialist Website: More Revelations from Bush Torture Memos

Security Dilemmas (A blog dedicated to examining issues of international and national security, international politics, and international law): Legalizing Torture? Part II: The 30 May 2005 Bradbury Memo

Emptywheel/Firedoglake: The Gestation of Bradbury’s Torture Memos

Congressional Research Service: The U.N. Convention Against Torture: Overview of U.S. Implementation Policy Concerning the Removal of Aliens (January 21, 2009)

The United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment: The text

ACLU: FAQs on the U.N. Convention Against Torture

ACLU: On April 16, 2009, the Department of Justice released four secret Bybee-Bradbury Memos, which were used by the Bush-Cheney Administration to justify torture. This page includes links to the texts of the following memos:

  • The Bybee-Memo: An 18-page memo, dated August 1, 2002, from Jay Bybee, Assistant Attorney General, OLC, to John A. Rizzo, General Counsel CIA. [PDF]
  • Bradbury Memo: A 46-page memo, dated May 10, 2005, from Steven Bradbury, Acting Assistant Attorney General, OLC, to John A. Rizzo, General Counsel CIA. [PDF]
  • Bradbury Memo: A 20-page memo, dated May 10, 2005, from Steven Bradbury, Acting Assistant Attorney General, OLC, to John A. Rizzo, General Counsel CIA. [PDF]
  • Bradbury Memo: A 40-page memo, dated May 30, 2005, from Steven Bradbury, Acting Assistant Attorney General, OLC, to John A. Rizzo, General Counsel CIA. [PDF]
    • NOTE: This is the memo where you will find mention of Majid Khan in the 2nd paragraph on page 10, which reads:

More specifically, we understand that KSM [Khalid Sheikh Mohammed] admitted he had tasked Majid Khan with delivering a large sum of money to an al Qaeda associate… Khan subsequentgly identified the associate (Zubair) who was then captured. Zubair, in turn, provided information that led to the arrest of Hambali. the information acquired from these captures allowed CIA interrogators to pose more specific questions to KSM, which led the CIA to Hambali’s brother, al-Hadi. Using information from multiple sources, al-Hadi was captured, and he subsequently identified the Guraba cell…. With the aid of this additional information, interrogations of Hambali confirmed much of what was learned from KSM.

The footnote (#6) to the above section was redacted in entirety, except for this sentence:

We discuss only a small fraction of the important intelligence CIA interrogators have obtained from KSM.

2007 International Red Cross report This ICRC report, dated February 2007, details the treatment of fourteen “high value detainees” in CIA custody. The leaked report was first published by the New York Review of Books. This report cites specific instances of ill-treatment as reported by these 14 detainees. Below are the passages that mention Majid Khan:

  • Prolonged Stress Standing (Section 1.3.2): Ten of the fourteen [detainees] alleged that they were subjected to prolonged stress standing positions, during which their wrists were shackled to a bar or hook in the ceiling above the head for periods ranging from two or three days continuously, and for up to two or more months intermittently. All those detainees who reported being held in this position were allegedly kept naked throughout the use of this form of ill-treatment. For example…. Mr. Majid Khan [was shackled] for three days in Afghanistan and seven days in his third place of detention…. While being held in this position some of the detainees were allowed to defecate in a bucket. A guard would come to release their hands from the bar or hook in the ceiling so that they could sit on the bucket. None of them, however, were allowed to clean themselves afterwards. Others were made to wear a garment that resembled a diaper… Three other detainees specified that they had to defecate and urinate on themselves and remain standing in their own bodily fluids. Of these, on Mr. Bin Lep agreed that his name be transmitted to the authorities.
  • Prolonged Nudity (Section 1.3.6): The most common method of ill-treatment noted during the interiews with the fourteen was the use of nudity. Eleven of the fourteen alleged that they were subjected to extended periods of nudity during detention and interrogation, ranging from several weeks continuously up to several months intermittently. For example…. Mr. Majid Khan alleged that he was kept naked for three days in Afghanistan and for seven days in his third place of detention….. Most of the detainees commented that the provision of clothes was determined by how cooperative they were perceived by the interrogators.
  • Deprivation/Restricted Provision of Solid Food (Section 1.3.12) Eight of the fourteen alleged that they were deprived of solid food for periods ranging from three days to one month.This was often followed by a period with the provision of food was restricted and allegedly used as an incentive for cooperation. Two other detainees alleged that, whilst they were not totally deprived of solid food, food was provided intermittently or provided in restricted amounts. For example…. Mr. Majid Khan alleged that he did not receive any solid food for seven days in Afghanistan.
  • In addition, the dates of the ICRC’s written interventions to the U.S. authorities, requesting information on Majid Khan are given in Annex 2 of this same report.

The Washington Post:

  • Human Beings Without Humanity — (Excerpt: “The profoundly disgusting memos made public yesterday — in which government lawyers attempted to justify flatly unconscionable and illegal acts — provide a depressing reminder of a time when the powerful and powerless alike were stripped of their humanity. These memos gave the CIA the go-ahead to do things to people that you’d be arrested for doing to a dog. And the legalistic, mechanistic analysis shows signs of an almost inconceivable callousness. The memos serve as a vivid illustration of the moral chasm into which the nation fell — or rather, was pushed — during the Bush era. President Obama deserves great credit for defying members of the intelligence community who wanted to keep these memos secret. But in calling for the nation to move on without any further looking back, Obama put his political needs above his moral and legal obligations…..”)
  • Too Embarrassing to Disclose? (Excerpt: “President Obama’s approach to government transparency is disturbingly opaque in places, particularly when it comes to disclosing information about the Bush administration’s torture legacy….”)

Salon.comIs waterboarding torture? Ask the prisoners (November 6, 2007)

Long Excerpt: If senators such as Charles Schumer and Dianne Feinstein have doubts about whether waterboarding is torture, they should — and should be allowed to — interview the men who have likely experienced it in secret CIA detention facilities in American hands.

For example, they should interview Majid Khan, a Baltimore resident abducted and held for years in secret CIA prisons. He was a “ghost detainee” who this past year was among the “reappeared” at Guantánamo.

President Bush himself has clearly stated that Khan was held at a secret CIA facility before being transferred to Guantánamo. Bush also made clear that an “alternative set of procedures” were enforced — procedures widely believed to include waterboarding.

So, was Majid Khan really waterboarded? I don’t know. Khan has been prohibited from speaking to anyone except my colleagues, lawyers at the Center for Constitutional Rights who were finally allowed to visit him recently. One of those attorneys, Gitanjali Gutierrez, and her colleagues have also since been silenced: The government forced them to sign a protective order because Khan knew about “enhanced interrogation techniques.” Likely translation: Khan was tortured and the government is trying to cover it up by silencing him — and even his attorneys….

Those senators are perfectly within their rights and powers to pick up the phone right now and demand to interview Khan and others who were likely tortured at CIA secret sites. They can conduct classified interviews with the lawyers for the Center for Constitutional Rights about their milestone visit with Khan. They can learn exactly what happened to these men. And, if the men were waterboarded, they can learn exactly what the practice entails.

What they will likely hear are descriptions like one written by Henri Alleg, a French journalist who suffered waterboarding during the Algerian war: “I had the impression of drowning, and a terrible agony, that of death itself, took possession of me.”

…. And so the question is extremely simple: Do the men and women who serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee want to know, or not? Do they care about whether our nation has tortured?

….I believe that upon talking to victims of waterboarding any reasonable senator — or citizen — will define it as torture. There is no reasonable disagreement on this point. It was a technique invented in the Spanish Inquisition and used to terrible effect in the centuries since. The only question is whether there is any institution or group of politicians in this nation with the will to stand up for our Constitution, even at the risk of their own political prospects. If there are such men and women, then there is yet hope that our nation will rescue the Constitution from those who would shred it.

This is not a moment for political theater. This is not a moment for politics at all. This is the moment for good and decent leaders to remember that the truth still matters and to act accordingly.

POTENT QUOTABLES:

This is a highly classified area. All I want to say is that there was “before” 9/11 and “after” 9/11. After 9/11 the gloves come off. Nearly three thousand al-Qa’ida terrorists and their supporters have been detained. In Afghanistan the al-Qa’ida who refused to surrender have been killed. The hunt is on. — Cofer Black (former Director of the CIA’s counterterrorism center from 199 to May 2002) in his Sept. 2002 testimony before the House/Senate Intelligence Committee Hearing in their joint investigation into September 11th

The gloves are coming off gentlemen regarding these detainees…. we want these individuals broken. — U.S. Senate Committed on Armed Services report, titled “Inquiry Into the Treatment of Detainees in U.S. Custody” November 2008, pg. 199 [quoting an August 2003 email sent by Capt. William Ponce (the battle captain in the Combined Joint Task Force 7’s Human Intelligence and Counterintelligence Office in Iraq) to interrogation elements in the field, in which he requested they submit “interrogation techniques wish lists.”]

The danger facing us is enormous. The efforts we take to meet it must be just as enormous. The time has come to remove the gloves! We must use our fists now! ….Those who do not understand this fight today will thank us on bended knee tomorrow that we took it! — Joseph Goebbels, from his 1943 speech, “Nation Rise Up and Let the Storm Break Loose”

Making Silk Purses Out of Swine Flu

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 When I was in my twenties, I rented a small house previously occupied by a pig farmer. Fortunately, the only vestige of the former tenant (aside a thick layer of grease about the kitchen) was a subscription to a hog farming magazine, which dutifully arrived every month. I read the things with a mix of engrossment and horror, learning all sorts of curious facts about pig farming. For instance, I never knew before then that — despite the best efforts of pig farmers — a certain percentage of pigs are sent to slaughter with hypodermic needles still imbedded in their flesh, accidentally broken off during the various vaccinations and treatments to which pigs are subjected during their incarceration. From this group, a certain percentage of this needled meat (having slipped under the radar of the metal detectors used in packing plants for this very purpose) arrives at the grocery store, where the meat is then attractively packaged for sale — needle fragments intact. In this same vein, needle sticks were (and still are) one of the most common on-the-job accidents among workers at hog farms, where the same hypodermic needle is repeatedly used on animal after animal. These accidents not only put workers at risk for accidental injection of medications, but also to infection by an antibiotic-resistant strain of bacteria. I never quite saw pork in the same light after reading those magazines. All of this is to say that I’m no newbie to the annals of pig farming.   

DEU VOGELGRIPPE TAMIFLUSo I was unsurprised to learn this week that the World Health Organization — bowing to concerns by pig farmers who are suffering lagging sales due to public fears over eating pig meat — decided on a name change for our most recent pandemic threat:     

Rather than calling this swine flu … we’re going to stick with the technical, scientific name, ‘H1N1 Influenza A,'” said WHO spokesman Dick Thompson.     

Good idea. Simply rename the thing and hope the euphemism will stick. This way, people can feel warm and fuzzy again about eating pigs. This way — even as this latest strain of swine flu threatens to be that much-touted pandemic the officials keep warning will eventually decimate the better part of the human population on this planet — at least the profits of factory farming industries (such as Smithfield, implicated in the Mexico outbreak), won’t suffer too much.

Pssst…. I have an even better idea. Why not just call the virus SIV, as the pig farming industry has been doing for years? Or would calling it something close to HIV just open a whole new can of worms?

What the WHO hopes will get lost in the translation between swine flu and H1N1 Influenza A is the fact that this virus is, indeed, 2-parts pig. It’s such an efficient cocktail of animal DNA, really, that one can’t help but wonder why nature didn’t think of this recipe eons ago: 1-part domestic pig, 1-part Eurasian pig, 1-part chicken and 1-part human DNA. Fact is, no matter how much the WHO shakes, stirs and spins this cocktail, they can’t pretty up the truth that swine flu — just like its sister virus, avian flu — is inextricably linked to factory farming

Or can they? Oddly, the topic of factory farming is almost entirely absent from the evening news and the 24-7 round-robin pageantry of media coverage on this virus, and is utterly nil in the CDC’s dialogue, as they serve their role of public relations liason between the U.S. government and its citizens on matters of public health. They do assure us, tho, how very ordinary this business is of viruses jumping from one species to another. Still, no mention of factory farms (also called CAFOs, or ‘confined animal feeding operations’).  No mention of the curious fact that yet another brand spanking new virus strain has emerged on the scene already immune to two anti-viral medications, amantadine and rimantadine. No questions about how this may have occurred.

The pig farms of my childhood — back in the day when my elementary school class was reading Charlotte’s Web — averaged 53 pigs per farm, with the pigs running freely in open pens, living more or less normal pig lives until the day of slaughter. Today, the average number is 1,000 pigs per farm, described by one writer as “a transition from old-fashioned pig pens to vast excremental hells, containing tens of thousands of animals with weakened immune systems suffocating in heat and manure while exchanging pathogens at blinding velocity with their fellow inmates.”

This can be said of any factory farm operation, whether the commodity is chickens, turkey, fish, cows or pigs.  Animals are warehoused in huge sheds, stacked like cordwood in cages so small that many are forced to spend their entire lives standing up, while others are crammed together in one cage, packed so tightly that they are forced to stand one on top of the other — the result of either method being a population of filthy, stressed animals plagued with disease and deformity, ever-teetering on the brink of death. To this end, farmers utilize a vast aresenal of chemicals, pesticides, hormones, vaccines and drugs, with factory farmed animals consuming 70% of the antibiotics in this country. This enables farmers to house animals in the most crowded, inhumane, feces-ridden, disease-inducing conditions imaginable, while keeping mortality at bay. While costly, these remedies translate to higher profits than the humane animal husbandry practices of yore.  

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Aside from the stomach-wrenching inhumanity that causes most people, upon viewing the reality of these farms, to either become vegetarians or plunge their heads into the sand, there are myriad problems arising from these farms that cannot be wished away, no matter hard we try to ignore them. Choose your poison: 

  • The drugs, hormones, vaccines and pesticides that have been passed from factory-farmed animals into the human food chain over the past several decades have been directly linked to serious human health issues, ranging from immune disorders, to early puberty, to the emergence of drug-resistant diseases, such as MRSA (also known as the flesh-eating disease), which causes 18,000 deaths in the U.S. every years — more deaths, even, than AIDS. 
  • The demand for the cheapest, most profitable feed for these animal populations has resulted in the practice of feeding animal wastes to animals, with the menu of any chicken, turkey, cow or pig (or household dog and cat, for that matter) likely to include a mix of feces, blood, feathers, fur, brains, bone, etc. from any or all of the above. While this feeding practice has been directly tied to the introduction of certain diseases (such as, say, mad cow disease, which rarely goes by its techical, scientific name ‘bovine spongiform encephalopathy’) into the food chain, the practice has yet to be discontinued in the U.S., which is why meat imports from the U.S., like China, have been banned in many countries. 
  • Massive tons of animal waste — from feces, to urine to blood — are routinely, but illegally dumped into the lands and waterways surrounding these farms, resulting in dead zones that extend for miles — not only decimating native flora, fauna and fish, but sickening and killing human beings, as well. For reasons about to be disclosed, our government turns a blind eye to these crimes.
  • The agriculture lobby industry is as powerful as the banking industry lobbyists on Capitol Hill. So powerful, in fact, that when our lawmakers are considering laws to protect the U.S. consumer, they defer to the judgment and ‘science’ provided by lobbyists, who are the most generous contributors to their personal and campaign coffers. Within this system, the CDC, the USDA and the FDA have followed accordingly, evolving to little more than government-funded public relations firms, their role being to polish the images of these industries and provide damage control, as needed, to allay the public’s fears. 

With regard to swine flu, the topic of factory farming is especially pertinent — not only because this virus arrived on the scene already resistant to two anti-viral medications (amantadine and rimantadine), but because it arrived right as a bill was introduced into Congress that implicates the indiscriminate use of antimicrobials by factory farmers in the emergence of drug-resistant human diseases.

Introduced in the Senate by Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and in the House by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) — Congress’ only microbiologist — the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (called H.R. 1549 and S.619, in case you want to weigh in on this issue) intends to phase out the non-therapeutic use of medically important antibiotics on farm animals. Designed to protect human beings, not animals, per se, this bill would nonetheless have the incidental effect of forcing factory farmers to adopt more humane methods of animal husbandry which, by extension, translates to a cut in the profit margin. This promises to be a contentious issue, not only among factory farmers, but among the American public.   

 

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Because, make no mistake, such a bill would force changes upon the American consumer. No more 99-cent fast food sandwiches, layered in a 1-pound medley of sliced pig, cow, turkey and cheese. The cost of the meat in monster burgers would certainly rise, compelling the average American to eat fewer pounds of animal flesh per day.

With so much fodder for conflict, it’s hard to imagine why the mainstream media has sidestepped covering this new bill, seemingly oblivious to its importance in the current dialogue on swine flu. It’s not like they don’t know pig farms exist. I’ve seen several pig farms on the news, all of them peopled with gaggles of happy pigs being doted over by concerned farmers. Here’s one I pulled up off google, designed to allay fears over eating pork, which is a far sight from the reality of these farms: 

Equally absent in the media dialogue are the glaring inconsistencies in the CDC’s public relations blitz around swine flu. For instance:

  • While I understand that fully-cooked meat is essentially sterilized of flu germs, how can the CDC tell us that it”s safe for people to handle raw pork (which is, like any factory-farmed meat, routinely contaminated with bodily secretions from every conceivable part of a pig), considering that, according to the pork industry, swine flu is spread to humans “not just by inhalation of aerosolized virus, but also by eye and nose contact with droplets of respiratory secretions” which is why the industry urges its workers to avoid “hand to face contact,” and to change their clothes and wash-up before going home from work?
  • And what does the CDC mean when it reassures us that “… the current flu cases have been transmitted from person to person, that the swine flu strain is not from the U.S. swine herd and that U.S. pork is safe to eat.” Does that mean that this swine flu strain is from a non-U.S. herd? And does it mean that non-U.S. pork is unsafe to eat? And if this is the case, how’s a consumer to know whether their pork came from the U.S. or China or elsewhere?
  • Does the location of the disease epicenter (Smithfield pig farm in Mexico) have anything to do with the CDC”s advice that it’s safe for Mexicans to travel to the U.S. (e.g. “the cow’s already out of the barn”) while U.S. citizens are advised to exercise caution, traveling to Mexico only by necessity?

Such questions are left to those of us still puzzling over the origin of this latest pandemic threat. One thing is for sure. The answers won’t be found on the evening news, nor in the officious missives of the CDC, USDA, FDA or even in the halls of Congress, well-intentioned as some of its members may be in pushing for the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act — a bill that doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of being passed, so long as the agriculture lobbyists are still writing the laws that regulate their industry. 

But I digress. According to statements by WHO yesterday, while scientists don’t know exactly how H1N1 Influenza A jumped from pigs to humans, they insist that it’s being spread from human to human, NOT  from contact with infected pigs. Got that through your head? “There is no evidence of infection in pigs, nor of humans acquiring infection directly from pigs,” insists WHO (even as this utterly contradicts the news — both  old and new — from the pig farming industry). Further, the WHO warns, “Killing pigs will not help to guard against public or animal health risks, ” and is “inappropriate.” 

Agreed.

But changing the way factory farmers do business is appropriate. Because no matter how strongly the WHO, the CDC and the USDA insist — along with the various other government agencies and entities working in coalition with the pork lobbyists — the fact remains that the agricultural industry has long been putting the human population on this planet at risk for a full-blown pandemic capable of wiping out a huge swath of the human race. That, in itself, is scary enough.

But scarier, still, are those governent entities that are so far off the media’s radar screen, that they’re relegated to the minions of conspiracy theorists. Here reside the darker truths about diseases, such as swine flu — which, itself,  has seen over 60 years of research and development into its use as a biowarfare weapon and has even seen successful trial runs in this capacity, such as the 1971 swine flu outbreak in Cuba, as reported in a January 1977 issue of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Necessity being the mother of invention, there is at least a silver lining to this swine flu scare. A silk purse, if you will. Turns out, the pharmaceutical industry — another of Capitol Hill’s more lucrative lobbyists — will turn a handsome profit on the sale of the anti-viral drug, Tamiflu and on any future vaccines, regardless of whether the pandemic pans out. But that’s a a different story, much as it, too, emanates from swine.   

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by Mantis Katz for the canarypapers

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For more reading:

Pew Commission Report on Industrial Farm Animal Production: FINAL REPORT: Putting Food on the Table: Industrial Farm Animal Production in the U.S. (Executive Summary pdf)  (full report pdf)

Pew Charitable Trusts: Human Health & Animal Farming: Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria in Animals

Rolling Stone: Pork’s Dirty Secret 

Huffington Post: Swine Flu Outbreak – Nature Biting Back at Industrial Animal Production?

PETA article and video: Undercover Investigation Reveals Hormel Supplier’s Abuse of Mother Pigs and Piglets[warning: graphic images]

Biosurveillance: Swine Flu in Mexico: Timeline of Events

Global Research: Flying Pigs, Tamiflu and Factory Farms

Global Research: (2005 article) Who Owns the Rights on Tamiflu: Rumsfeld To Profit From Bird Flu Hoax

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The pig industry’s efforts to defend itself in the wake of the swine flu outbreak:  

Swine Flu: Wrong Name

Industry Stresses Pork is Safe

CDC, USDA Emphasize Pork and Hogs are Safe [Considering the careful PR campaign being devoted to pork safety, I find it curous that there is no explanation in this article to what they mean by “safe handling” of pork meat in the context of pork safety during a swine flu epidemic.] 

 

Capitol Hill Applauds Israel’s War Crimes: Money Buys the Darndest Things

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“Cowardice asks the question – is it safe? Expediency asks the question – is it politic? Vanity asks the question – is it popular? But conscience asks the question – is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it is right.” ~Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In case you missed it, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (so often the running joke between politicians and talking heads) once again stood firmly on the side of right this past week, as he spoke twice on Capitol Hill, arguing for the rule of law from our lawmakers on Capitol Hill. It seems that, in the midst of so much condemnation of Israel’s war crimes by the international community, the Senate and the House felt inspired to draft an official Resolution to pledge their  “unwavering commitment” of support for Israel’s war on Gaza.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s statements were directed — not only toward the contradictory message this resolution sent toward our supposed goal of peace — but to the actual U.S. laws that govern how Israel is allowed to use the billions of American dollars worth of  F-16s, tanks, Apache helicopters, phosphorus shells, depleted uranium, cluster bombs, and so on that Israel is using in violation of the Geneva Convention to commit said war crimes against the mothers, fathers and chilren of Gaza.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Friday, January 9, 2009

Silly Dennis. Will he never learn? We’re not a nation of laws. The tinkering of the past 4 administrations has left us a nation of endorsements,  with the greatest deference given to those with the deepest pockets to fill our politicians’ campaign coffers.

In real-speak, this means that our politicians (now having much in common with trained seals) clap on command — indifferent to right or wrong — their job reduced to authoring (or subcontracting this work to lobbyists) and authorizing bills, resolutions and laws that will best serve their most generous benefactors — oil & energy moguls, media magnates, pharmaceutical & insurance industry titans, financial & banking tycoons, Zionist-AIPAC barons (the latter being of special importance to this week’s resolution, as the Israel Lobby provides upwards of 60% of the campaign contributions to our Democratic lawmakers).   

A little man like Dennis Kucinich doesn’t stand a chance among big men.

Even armed with the law of the land, or with big documents, such as the U.S. Constitition or the Bill or Rights, Dennis Kucinich nearly always comes up short — his voice carrying about as much stature as a blue-bottle fly, buzzing about a putrid feed trough. He is nonetheless to be commended for his ethics, his patriotism and, most certainly, his bravery.

According to Ronnie Lipschutz, professor of politics at UC Santa Cruz, withholding support for pro-Israel, AIPAC measures is not common, and often carries grave political consequences for members of Congress. “They are thinking what are the costs of voting against it, not what are the benefits,” said Lipschutz.

Perhaps this is what inspires statements, such as the one that Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, proclaimed before the vote: “Our resolution reflects the will of the state of Israel and the will of the American people.”

The will of the American people? Au contraire, Mr. Reid. Your resolution reflects the will of your biggest campaign supporters: the giants. In this case, AIPAC.

Because, make no mistake — your resolution passed, despite the will of the American people. Your resolution passed despite the protests of the American people in every major American city. Your resolution passed, despite thousands upon thousands of phone calls, faxes, letters and emails sent by the American people to their Senators in Washington. And, as if it mattered, your resolution passed, despite the United Nations resolution calling for an immediate truce (a resolution passed, no thanks to the U.S., on the same day you passed your resolution of praise for Israel); and your resolution passed despite that Israel has fired on and killed several United Nations workers in Gaza. Your resolution passed despite Israel’s refusal to allow Red Cross workers to reach the wounded women and children of Gaza. Your resolution passed despite that Israel has been repeatedly accused of war crimes and violations of international humanitarian law and the Geneva Convention. These accusations have come from the United Nations (from the onset of this war, up to today) and from humanitarian workers and the Red Cross in a statement released 2 days ago:

The Red Cross “believes that in this instance the Israeli military failed to meet its obligation under international humanitarian law to care for and evacuate the wounded. It considers the delay in allowing rescue services access unacceptable.”

Harry Reid, your resolution does not reflect the will of the American people!

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A wounded Palestinian boy is helped as he arrives at a hospital on January 4 in  Gaza City.

 

Your resolution — and the relative complicity of so many Americans — reflects the success of Israeli-U.S. propaganda campaign.  (Because, you see, the American people don’t know the truth this war. But you do. What’s your excuse?) It also reflects the success of the fearmongering campaigns that you and your esteemed colleagues, most notably George W. Bush & Dick Cheney, have ‘unwaveringly’ perpetuated over the past 8 years — a heaping dollop of which you, yourself, served-up in your rhetorical WWJD-esque question, posed in the final minutes before the passage of this illicit resolution:

“I ask any of my colleagues to imagine that happening here in the United States. Rockets and mortars coming from Toronto in Canada, into Buffalo New York. How would we as a country react?”

And then, as if responding on cue, the trained seals echoed something to the effect of “Hear! Hear!” and “The Israelis are responding exactly the same way we would!” before voting unanimously to approve the resolution.

Of course, there was no mention of war crimes during all this praise, nor in the language of the Senate resolution. Instead, the resolution went onto the House the next day and passed with flying colors, as 390 approved the resolution, 22 voted present, and a pathetically small, but courageous total of 5 voted against it:

Dennis Kucinich (D-OH)
Ron Paul (R-TX)
Maxine Waters (D-CA)
Gwen Moore (D-WI)
Nick Rahall (D-WV)

To this, I have a few rhetorical questions of my own to ask: 

What would the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. do? What would Mahatma Gandhi do?  What would Abraham Lincoln do? Or, to put it more succinctly, what would George W. Bush do?

Americans well-learned the answer to that last question. But what many Americans have yet to learn, is that (the will of the American people be damned) the answer to the question is the same today — and has been for years now — no matter who we turn to in Washington: Bush, Bush, Cheney, Reid, Pelosi, Clinton, Clinton, and so on….

 

And this is especially true in matters of U.S.-Israeli policy because — when you get right down to it —  the same giants who have so generously lined the pockets of Bush-Cheney & Co. over the past 8 years are the same giants who line your pockets, Harry Reid, and who also line the pockets  (or scare the bejeebers out of) all but 5 of our representatives on Capitol Hill — not to mention the past 4 presidents of the United States and, apparently, our current President-Elect.

There Must Be a Special Place in Hell for Those Who Would Vote for McCain, Based on the Color of Obama’s Skin

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On an altar of prejudice we crucify our own, yet the blood of all children is the color of God. — Don Williams, Jr., American poet and novelist

As American voters head off to stand in line for two (or three or five or eight or ten or more) hours today to cast their votes, the question bears repeating: Exactly why would anyone vote for McCain?

We’ve watched over the past two months as Republicans of sound mind and good conscience have jumped ship to Barack Obama, citing, among other things, the differences between Obama’s and McCain’s temperament, judgment, ability to handle crises, the moral tenor of their campaigns and — last but not least — their inclusiveness (or not) within their vision of the American story for ALL Americans: people of every class, race, generation, nationality, across every region of this country. 

Except for the criminally stupid and gullible — those hapless souls who, God bless them, actually believe Sarah’s stump speeches and are convinced that Obama is not only the anti-Christ, but is an Muslim, socialist, abortion-crazed terrorist, bent on turning our country into a communist state and shutting down the coal industry, to boot — who is left to vote for John McCain?  

Only the racists — those voters to whom issues of economy, jobs, education, health care, war and peace take a back seat to the color of a man’s skin. God help us all if the Republican vote stealing campaign trumps the voice of the American people. God help us, because these people have been whipped into such a frenzy by John McCain, Sarah Palin and their sidekick, Joe the Plumber, that they’re ready for blood. Anyone’s blood. And John McCain is just the leader to deliver.

Got War?

Lost in the flurry of the economy over the past 2 months has been discussion on the wars. Not just Iraq, but the wars of the future — those wars we have yet to see. As John  McCain would be the first to tell you, war is his specialty. Peace is not. As Pat Buchanan says in the video, below, about McCain: “He will make Cheney look like Gandhi”

Veterans for Peace: Commie Appeasers or Reality Checks?

What do these veterans of the Vietnam War, the Korean War and the Iraq War have in common?

For Now We See Through a Glass, Darkly

If we learned nothing over the past 8 years, it’s that the only thing worse than a warmonger is an ignorant, dishonest warmonger.