TBR News December 6, 2010

Dec 05 2010

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C., December 4, 2010: “Initially, I had thought Julian Assange to be a cross between a gadfly and a fraud but two weeks ago, a friend, name unknown, sent me eight discs containing much, if not all, of the so-called DoS cables and much on certain American banks that he is in the process of releasing to the public. Reading this over was a revelation because it would be an impossibility to fake so much material and some of the material I have seen elsewhere. Now, as the full impact of Julian’s work has spread around the world, sheer panic has set in all over Washington and parts of northern Virginia. I note the captive media is braying for Julian’s arrest or assassination, an indicator of what their bosses really want. Julian is an Aussie and how Holder could try him for treason sounds like something out of Alice in Wonderland. The real culprits here are the fumbling fools that pack the ranks of both the CIA and the Department of State. What these releases have done is to expose the arrogant and crude methodology of American diplomacy and we have not heard the end of this yet. And if the CIA or other official American agencies, kill Assange, they will be making an instant martyr of him and the huge body of other documents, obviously copied out and disseminated, will certainly emerge to a much more receptive audience. But then, of course, our policies, like our agencies, are run by stupid and arrogant individuals who, in the private sector, would be fortunate to get jobs cleaning the lavatories at MacDonalds.”

Target: Pakistan

December 1, 2010

by Michael Kane

In 1962 India and China fought a war over disputed territory in the Himalayas. India was generally acknowledged to have been humiliated by the Chinese military and to have definitively lost this war. China tested its first atomic device in 1964, launched its first long-range missile in 1966, and tested a hydrogen bomb in 1967. Alarmed, India instituted an emergency nuclear weapons program and tested its first device in 1974. China, to counter the new Indian nuclear capability, shared nuclear technology with India’s enemy Pakistan, and when Pakistan developed the capability to test a weapon, refrained from doing so under pressure from the USA, but detonated its first nuclear devices in May 1998 in response to several Indian tests the same month

· At present, Pakistan is estimated to have about 50 atomic fission nuclear devices, and India is estimated to have about 100 atomic fission and nuclear fusion (hydrogen bomb) devices.

· India has 1.2 billion people, of whom 200 million are Muslim, more Muslim citizens than in all of Pakistan (170 million.)

· The Indian government is extremely concerned about religious animosities in its population. It is terrified of a religious civil war or of religiously-inspired civil unrest. It is desperate to keep its 200 million Muslims pacific. India could very easily engage Pakistan militarily and certainly defeat it on the field but internal disturbances by her Muslim population could become a disaster

· India is intensely interested in better relations with the USA. The two countries possess the world’s second and third largest populations, a common language (English), the world’s two largest parliamentary democracies, both offspring of British colonialism, and both having Magna Carta and the constitutional rule of law as their heritage. This makes them natural allies. Further, India wants at the very least, American support, tacit or open, for any military action against Pakistan.

· Pakistan is extremely corrupt, has a history of oscillating between military dictatorships and corruptly elected governments, is steadily becoming more Muslim fundamentalist, (financed and instigated by Saudi Arabia,) and is a thorn in the side of the USA, which is rapidly developing warmer and warmer relations with India.

· The United States has maintained cordial relations with Pakistan only because of  Pakistan’s active assistance in the 1980s to funnel arms to the CIA-created Mujahedeen in Afghanistan to attack the USSR, and get revenge for the USSR’s forensic support for North Vietnam during the Vietnam War from 1964 to 1975.

· After the fall of the USSR, the U.S.lost interest in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Also Pakistan’s explosion of six nuclear devices in May 1998 in retaliation for India’s five nuclear tests earlier that month caused suspension of military cooperation between the USA and Pakistan, the end of Pakistani officer training in the USA, and the breakdown of former military cooperation between the U.S. and Pakistan. By September 11, 2001, personal military friendships between higher echelons of U.S.military and Pakistani military had seriously lapsed. Pakistan’s military had turned instead towards former Mujahedeen, now ruling Afghanistan as the Taliban. By 2001, the higher levels of Pakistani military and ISI had become heavily infiltrated by fundamentalist Muslims.

· Following 9/11/2001, the USA accused Pakistan, off the record, of complicity by the Pakistani ISI in the planning and foreknowledge of the 9/11 attack, and threatened Pakistan in the most severe terms of extremely dire consequences if Pakistan did not sever ties with the Taliban, and cooperate by allowing the USA to use its port facilities, its airspace, and its territory to launch a war against the Taliban in landlocked Afghanistan.

· The U.S. now in 2010 desperately wants to declare victory and withdraw from Afghanistan under whatever pretext will allow it to save face and not be seen to have lost a war which is wasting immense amounts of U.S. money and lives, and with no possibility of success.

· The Pakistani military also wants the U.S. to leave Afghanistan so it can exert its influence unhindered in Southern Afghanistan (Sunni Muslim Pashtuns,) stronghold of the Taliban with which it has such warm relations.

· India is also only waiting for the Americans to leave Afghanistan so it can counter Pakistan and exert its influence in Northern Afghanistan (Tadjiks, Uzbeks, Turkmens, and Shiites allied with Iran,) without danger of harming American personnel, military or civilian.

· Over the past decade, Pakistan has been very foolish in continuing to deliberately provoke its much larger and far more powerful neighbor, India. They have fought many wars, most of them over the disputed and partitioned territory of Kashmir, and all instigated by Pakistan:

· In addition, there have been many skirmishes and exchanges of artillery fire across the Line of Control in Kashmir between the forces of both countries.

· In addition, there have been innumerable terrorist attacks inside India over the years, costing hundreds of lives, including a brazen attack on the Indian Parliament in New Delhi in December 2001 even as the U.S. war in Afghanistan was ongoing. The latest incident was the 2008 attack in Mumbai in which 182 were killed, recently (July 2010) blamed by the Indian Interior Minister on Pakistan’s ISI as the instigator and controller of that operation.

· In every instance of Pakistani terrorism against India, or where the CIA has received prior information of a planned attack by the ISI or one of the Pakistani terrorist organizations, the United States has instigated a flurry of State Department and high-level military interventions between the two countries in order to avert another armed conflict, which would inevitably spill over into Afghanistan and involve US military forces in a crossfire situation between two powers supposedly both allied with the U.S..

· There are between 40 and 50 terrorist and/or extremist organizations operating in Pakistan with the implicit approval of the Pakistani powers

· There are three sources of power in Pakistan:

1.The well-educated, wealthy, western-oriented, terminally corrupt, and secularly inclined financial elite, which includes the intelligentsia in law and academia, who regard the rest of their national compatriots with distaste and contempt, and

2.the Pakistani Army, whose lower ranks are poorly educated but whose senior ranks are well educated and related by blood to the financial elites, and which is pragmatically inclined to treat with the masses of fundamentalist Muslims, and

3.The poorly educated and financially exploited masses of Islamic fundamentalists, who have received their minimal education at one of Pakistan’s 40,000 madrassas (religious schools, almost all funded by Wahhabist Saudi Arabia). Worth noting: In 1947 there were only 189 madrassas in Pakistan. The expansion of fundamentalism and building of madrassas began and accelerated during the dictatorship of supposed US ally General Zia al-Huq from 1977 to 1988.

· The U.S. Army War College on several occasions has postulated a conflict between India and Pakistan, and in every case it culminates in an all-out nuclear war between the two opponents. The scenario generally goes as follows: India retaliates for a terrorist attack with a bombing campaign inside Pakistan, which then retaliates in kind and also mobilizes its army along the border, prompting India to do the same. Alternatively, India does not retaliate initially, but mobilizes its army and moves it to the border, and Pakistan does the same. Live fire then ensues across the border between the armies, and one side or the other advances into hostile territory. India then begins to push the Pakistani Army back some distance into Pakistani territory, as it has done in every conflict to date, and Pakistan, rather than accept another defeat, uses nuclear weapons against Indian Army forces on its own territory. India then retaliates in kind, using nuclear weapons against Pakistani Army forces inside Pakistan, and Pakistan then retaliates by using nuclear weapons against Indian forces inside Indian territory. The exchange of bombs then progresses from military targets to railway termini and military camps within or next to civilian cities, and an all-out nuclear war against civilian cities results.

· The Obama Administration in the U.S. wants desperately  to get out of Afghanistan, but is concerned that this would lead to a takeover of Pakistan by the overwhelming numbers of Islamic fundamentalists in that country. The concern is not for the likely grisly fate of the financial elites at the hands of the fundamentalists, but for the fate of Pakistan’s atomic weapons.

· There are nightmares in Washington about the possibility of an Islamic Republic of Pakistan doling out atomic bombs to terrorist organizations, and to other Islamic countries surrounding Israel. More immediate and important would be a nuclear detonation in an American city, with the possibility of more to come. It goes without saying that such terrorist acts would cause complete chaos and the shutdown of the entire US economy, and in consequence the economy of the entire world. It would cause the shutdown of the domestic banking system in major cities, as well as the international banking system which funnels through New York. Food shortages, power failures, panic, terror, anarchy, and a complete breakdown of civilization are not unlikely outcomes.

· The financial and governmental elites of Pakistan at present are treated with much dignity and respect by the American government, military, and intelligence community, but in reality they are regarded as corrupt petty oligarchs, richly deserving of their ultimate fate of violent extermination by the unwashed masses. A very few of the most powerful among them, who have taken the precaution to liberally grease important palms and make important acquaintances in America, will be given asylum, but the vast majority are expected to eventually perish in highly unpleasant ways. Not a single tear will be shed for them in Washington.

· Afghanistan is acknowledged as a lost cause, notwithstanding the dismissal of General McChrystal for saying so in public. The recent risible announcement of several trillion dollars of mineral deposits being discovered in Afghanistan is a ploy to make withdrawal easier, supposedly leaving the Afghans to enjoy their profitable future The United States currently has a long-term problem with the disposal of its unneeded stockpile of many thousands of tons of plutonium, at present stored with other high-level nuclear waste at 121 sites around the nation.

· Treaties with the former USSR and its successor, the Russia Republic, have led to the decommissioning of thousands of ICBM warheads and the stockpiling of their fissile material, together with spent fuel rods from many decades of nuclear power station operation. Proposals to accumulate and bury this waste, which will remain deadly dangerous for tens of thousands of years, under Yucca Mountain in Nevada, have been hotly disputed since the administration of President Ronald Reagan, and appear no closer to resolution.

· A proposal is currently being  discussed at the highest levels of the White House, CIA, and Joint Chiefs of Staff, to solve two problems with one stroke, by secretly passing several tons of its surplus plutonium to India when the USA pulls its last troops out of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Depending on the isotope of plutonium and the number of neutrons in the nucleus thereof (238 to 242) a transfer of a mere ten tons would be sufficient for India to build an additional 100 warheads (Pu-142) to 1,000 warheads (Pu-238 or Pu-239).

· The allegedly proposed transfer of fissile material is envisioned to be effected from a commercial vessel operated by the CIA, using as cover the nuclear reactors at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in Trombay on the Indian Ocean. After the handover the material would be funneled to secret reprocessing facilities elsewhere within India.

· It is expected that without the moderating presence of U.S. forces, Pakistan will be unable to resist the temptation to once again provoke India with another massive terrorist attack on the Indian people, military, or government. The timeline for such an event is seen as three years or less from the time when the U.S. withdraws its last troops and suspends its preventive intervention.

· As predicted by the US Army War College, if allowed to run its course this will inevitably culminate in a nuclear war between the two nations, in which Pakistan would exhaust all its weapons in bombing Indian cities, and India, with its present stockpile of warheads, plus its gift of fissile material from the U.S., would be easily able to utterly and permanently destroy the nation of Pakistan, thereby  relieving India of the endless provocations and irritations from its reckless neighbor and long-time bitter enemy ,

· Estimated final casualties are 250 million in India and 140 million in Pakistan. Survivors would number 30 million dispersed in rural villages in Pakistan and thereby escaping the nuclear firestorm, and 950 million people throughout India. Generally prevailing winds would be expected to deposit much of the fallout from Pakistan over northern India. Most of the casualties in India might be expected to be in the northern and western tier of the country, along a line from Mumbai through Gwalior then north to Uttarakhand province.

· If India did, indeed, engage in a mutual nuclear war with Pakistan, and if it were successful, as has been repeatedly predicted, there still remains the question of the divided loyalties of its over 170 million Muslim residents of India. Unless this population were neutralized, it could become a thorn in the side of Indian internal security for years to come. Therefore, it has been suggested that in the event of Pakistan launching nuclear weapons against Indian targets, India herself could, at the same time, launch missile attacks against its own Muslim population centers. This would have to coincide with Pakistani attacks so that the blame would affix to that country.

· The immense cloud of radioactive fallout that could be expected to drift over southern China and is currently seen in Washington as a just punishment for Chinese assistance to Pakistan in developing its nuclear program. Moreover, due to the fact that all merchandise subsequently arriving in the U.S. from China would be more or less radioactive for many years thereafter, the US-Chinese balance of trade would improve to a remarkable degree. Manufacturing jobs would return to America from China, and the US economy would boom.

· The fallout cloud, moving eastwards, would be expected to largely settle into the Pacific before reaching North America, and even more so before arriving in Europe. Fine particulates would be expected to persist in the upper atmosphere for several years, circling the globe, but in light of the minimal rise in background radiation following atmospheric testing from 1945 through 1963, it is not anticipated that the effects on the vast majority of the world’s peoples would be significant. It is felt that any such deleterious effect would be vastly outweighed by the removal of the threat of Pakistani “loose nukes” being traded here and there, and passed from hand to hand, across the Islamic world from Morocco to Indonesia.

· While India has never subscribed to the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, (at the time, as noted, it was building a bomb to counter Chinese capabilities,) the USA did so, and this provides the problem currently under discussion in Washington.

· The CIA and Joint Chiefs have a long history of cold pragmatism, very often in defiance of international law and treaty obligations, while the Obama administration is more idealistically disposed to observe the niceties of morality and legal constraint. The outcome for the world at large, and particularly the inhabitants of the Asian subcontinent, remains to be seen.

Leaked Cables Stir Resentment and Shrugs

December 3, 2010

by Alan Cowell

New York Times

PARIS — In the world of diplomacy, known for its ambiguity and opacity, the WikiLeaks organization says its function is to “keep government open.” But with the release of some 250,000 American diplomatic cables, the outcome may be more ambiguous, closing doors to United States diplomats, turning candor to reticence and leaving many people leery of baring their souls and secrets to American officials.

There is, so far, no evidence of any deep damage to American diplomacy — with many nations, in public anyway, brushing off the sometimes embarrassing revelations. Their own interest in a relationship with the United States, some suggested, trumps momentary awkwardness.

“Relationships between countries don’t get affected on the basis of what one ambassador has allegedly written,” said Qamar Zaman Kaira, the information minister in Pakistan, a nation whose contacts with the United States are at once important, fraught and complex.

But there is no shortage of anger either — in Turkey, Russia, Mexico and elsewhere. “I am worried about the Americans spying; they have always been very interfering,” said President Felipe Calderón of Mexico.

And in an age when years of diplomatic cables can be stored on a single flash drive, it appeared that WikiLeaks might not be alone: Al Akhbar, a Lebanese newspaper that supports the Shiite militant and political group Hezbollah, has been posting documents from eight Arab countries, including Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt and Libya.

On Friday, evidence mounted of at least the beginning of damage to American allies, with officials from Canada and Germany either leaving their jobs or offering to do so as a result of the revelations.

The first casualty of the leaks was Helmut Metzner, the chief of staff to Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle of Germany. Mr. Metzner resigned late Thursday after being identified in one document as a “young, up-and-coming party loyalist” who provided American Embassy officials in Berlin with an account of what were supposed to be confidential negotiations last year to form a new German coalition.

In Canada, there was still no official response on Friday to a reported offer by William Crosbie, the Canadian ambassador in Afghanistan, to resign in advance of publication of a leaked cable recording his views on President Hamid Karzai and his family.

In Germany, leaked cables told a different story, describing events in Berlin that might once have inspired a cold war spy thriller if not for the fact that both players involved — the United States and Germany — are allies in NATO and in many other ways.

According to the cables, negotiations were under way last year to form a coalition between the Christian Democrats, led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Mr. Westerwelle’s Free Democrats.

One cable, quoted in the British newspaper The Guardian, reported how American diplomats relied on “a fly on the wall, a young, up-and-coming party loyalist who was taking notes during the marathon talks” to provide documents and information about the negotiations.

When word of the mole’s existence emerged this week, Mr. Westerwelle reacted dismissively. On Friday, Wulf Oehme, a spokesman for the Free Democrats, said Mr. Metzner had been suspended from his job, though not expelled from the party.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, on a trip to Central Asia and the Middle East, continued to smooth over any tensions with foreign leaders. She traveled on Friday to Bahrain, whose king was quoted in the leaked cables as urging Washington to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons by any means necessary.

Bahrain’s foreign minister, while declining to confirm the remarks attributed to King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, said the Persian Gulf kingdom had repeatedly told Iran that it should not pursue a military nuclear program. None of the comments attributed to the king, he said, contradicted Bahrain’s position.

“Every country in the Middle East has the right for nuclear power for peaceful use,” the foreign minister, Sheik Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa, said after meeting with Mrs. Clinton.

But, he added: “When it comes to taking that power and developing it into a cycle for weapons grade, this is something that we can never accept and we can never live with in this region. We’ve said it to Iran.”

Samples of opinion, from Asia to Europe to Latin America, showed the global reaction to the WikiLeaks cables.

Bernard Kouchner, who until recently was the foreign minister in France, predicted: “We will all terribly mistrust each other. That is the risk.”

A Chinese intellectual, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he feared exposure, said the disclosures had left some Chinese who had had contact with United States diplomats “nervous” about the possibility of persecution by the authorities, who had blocked access in China to the WikiLeaks Web site.

Turkey, the subject of many of the cables, has become increasingly critical of Washington’s handling of the secret material, calling the disclosures the latest blow in the deterioration of the United States’ image as the world’s leading power and questioning how the documents could have been so easily leaked.

Analysts in Britain, which once prided itself on its so-called special relationship with Washington, seemed to acknowledge that the cables reflected the nation’s eroded status in their criticism of British leaders and the British military. Over the past decade, said Prof. Malcolm Chalmers of the Royal United Services Institute, “We all have fewer illusions about just how important the U.K. is anyway.”

The diplomatic revelations also reached into delicate relationships that Washington is seeking to nurture, like in Moscow, where the leaked cables made disparaging references to President Dmitri A. Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin.

“We are not paranoiacs, and we do not link Russian-American relations to any leaks,” Mr. Medvedev said on Friday. “However, these leaks are revealing. They show the full measure of cynicism behind the assessments and judgments which prevail in the foreign policy of various nations, in this case the United States.”

Oddly, though, in two places where the leaked cables seemed to have raised some of the most unsettling questions, the response has been muted.

In the Arab world, much of the press is owned by members of the Saudi royal family and tends to avoid topics that could embarrass the kingdom. The cables quoted King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and Persian Gulf leaders as urging the United States to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities, but the response, in the words of Osama Nogali, a spokesman for the Saudi Foreign Ministry, has been to say that the cables “do not concern” the kingdom since they reflect American analysis.

In Kabul, Afghanistan, some business leaders worried that the disclosures could have a more roundabout effect, further undermining American commitment to support the government.

“Afghan corruption is not just an Afghan domestic issue, it is also a U.S. domestic issue because it’s your money,” said Saad Mohseni, the chairman of Moby Group, the largest media company in Afghanistan. “Your tolerance of corruption in our country will raise questions back home in the United States public, the media and even Congress.”

Conversely, some places, notably Israel, saw the WikiLeaks disclosures as helpful, since they seemed to show Arab leaders quietly saying what had long been publicly argued by Israeli leaders — that the region’s main threat was Iran.

“At least on the Iranian issue — and apparently on more than a few other matters — the leaders of the world, including the Arab world, think as we do, but are ashamed to admit it,” said Sever Plocker, a columnist for the newspaper Yediot Aharonot.

Reporting was contributed by Ellen Barry from Moscow; Katrin Bennhold and Scott Sayare from Paris; Michael Slackman and Stefan Pauly from Berlin; Mark Landler from Manama, Bahrain; Edward Wong and Jonathan Ansfield from Beijing; Elisabeth Malkin from Mexico City; Salman Masood from Islamabad, Pakistan; Alissa J. Rubin from Kabul, Afghanistan; Jack Healy from Baghdad; Celia W. Dugger from Johannesburg; Jeffrey Gettleman from Nairobi, Kenya; Robert F. Worth from Sana, Yemen; Sebnem Arsu from Istanbul; Ravi Somaiya from London; and Ethan Bronner from Jerusalem.

US has lost faith in Mexico’s ability to win drugs war, WikiLeaks cables show

American diplomats paint scathing picture of Mexican army, branding it as unfit to combat drug traffickers

December 2, 2010

by Rory Carroll

Guardian.co. uk


The US has lost confidence in the Mexican army’s ability to win the country’s drugs war, branding it slow, clumsy and no match for “sophisticated” narco-traffickers.

Classified diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks also reveal a growing sense of alarm within Mexico‘s government that time is running out in the battle against organised crime and that it could “lose” entire regions.

The memos detail blunders in the fight against drug cartels and a desperate search for a new strategy to save President Felipe Calderón’s administration from a bloodsoaked fiasco.

The assessments, made in a cable to Washington earlier this year, are bleak contrast to Mexican insistence that the state is prevailing in a war declared by Calderón in 2006. Four years later drug-related violence has killed more than 28,000 people and brought cities such as Ciudad Juárez and Tijuana to the brink of anarchy, with mayors, police chiefs and ordinary people gunned down with impunity and beheadings shockingly common.

Geronimo Gutierrez Fernandez, the undersecretary for governance, told US diplomats that “pervasive, debilitating fear” had infected even relatively safe parts of the country. “He expressed a real concern with ‘losing’ certain regions.”

US diplomats painted a scathing picture of Mexico’s armed forces, singling out the army as bureaucratic, parochial, outdated and unfit to combat drug trafficking organisations (DTOs).

“Mexican security institutions are often locked in a zero-sum competition in which one agency’s success is viewed as another’s failure, information is closely guarded, and joint operations are all but unheard of. Official corruption is widespread, leading to a compartmentalized siege mentality among ‘clean’ law enforcement leaders and their lieutenants.”

The cable laments that only 2% of those detained for organised crime-related offences were brought to trial and said the army was “incapable” of processing information and evidence for judicial cases. “It has taken a serious beating on human rights issues from international and domestic human rights organizations, who argue with considerable basis, in fact that the military is ill-equipped for a domestic policing role.”

It was a stinging verdict on the decision of Calderón, a White House ally, to deploy tens of thousands of troops, especially in Ciudad Juárez where narcos ran rings around them.

“The DTOs are sophisticated players: they can wait out a military deployment; they have an almost unlimited human resource pool to draw from in the marginalised neighborhoods; and they can fan complaints about human rights violations to undermine any progress the military might make with hearts and minds.The diplomats also criticised the “dysfunctionally low level of collaboration” between Mexican military and civilian authorities along the border.

They praised Mexico’s navy as a nimbler force which took down the drug lord Arturo Beltrán Leyva but even that risked a downside of making the army, the navy’s institutional rival, more defensive and risk-averse.

The classified cables reveal the depth of US concern about its neighbour and partly explain why in September Hillary Clinton compared Mexico to insurgency-plagued 1980s Colombia and floated the possibility of US troops intervening. Mexican officials indignantly rejected the secretary of state’s comments.

Privately, Gutierrez Fernandez admitted to US officials that Mexico bungled the early phase of the Mérida Initiative, a security pact between the US, Mexico and central America, by focusing too much on equipment rather than competent personnel and institutions.

“Gutierrez went on to say, however, that he now realizes there is not even time for the institution building to take hold in the remaining years of the Calderon administration.” If there was no tangible success within 18 months the next government would have difficulty sustaining the drugs war, said the minister.

Gutierrez and Jorge Tello Péon, the national security system coordinator, said despite setbacks Mexico would “stay the course” and asked the Americans to aid a new strategy focusing on the most violent cities.

“If we could turn around Tijuana, Ciudad Juárez, and one other city such as Culiacán, it would solve 60% of the violence, and send a signal to the Mexican people that the war can be won,” reported the cable. It urged Washington to back the strategy.

The US diplomats noted that Mexico’s president had recognised the failure of army deployments and replaced troops with federal police. “Calderón has openly admitted to having a tough year … and contacts have told (political officers) that he has seemed ‘down’ in meetings.”

Last month, in an interview with the BBC, Calderón insisted that as long as the US remained the biggest consumer of drugs in the world, the terror wrought by the drug cartels in Mexico would continue.

“They [the Americans] have a clear responsibility in this because they are providing the market for the drug dealers and the criminals,” President Calderón said. “They need to do a lot more in terms of reducing the consumption of drugs and to stop the flow of weapons towards Mexico.

Obama and GOPers Worked Together to Kill Bush Torture Probe

December. 1, 2010

by David Corn

Mother Jones

In its first months in office, the Obama administration sought to protect Bush administration officials facing criminal investigation overseas for their involvement in establishing policies the that governed interrogations of detained terrorist suspects. A “confidential” April 17, 2009, cable sent from the US embassy in Madrid to the State Department—one of the 251,287 cables obtained by WikiLeaks—details how the Obama administration, working with Republicans, leaned on Spain to derail this potential prosecution.

The previous month, a Spanish human rights group called the Association for the Dignity of Spanish Prisoners had requested that Spain’s National Court indict six former Bush officials for, as the cable describes it, “creating a legal framework that allegedly permitted torture.” The six were former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales; David Addington, former chief of staff and legal adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney; William Haynes, the Pentagon’s former general counsel; Douglas Feith, former undersecretary of defense for policy; Jay Bybee, former head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel; and John Yoo, a former official in the Office of Legal Counsel. The human rights group contended that Spain had a duty to open an investigation under the nation’s “universal jurisdiction” law, which permits its legal system to prosecute overseas human rights crimes involving Spanish citizens and residents. Five Guantanamo detainees, the group maintained, fit that criteria.

Soon after the request was made, the US embassy in Madrid began tracking the matter. On April 1, embassy officials spoke with chief prosecutor Javier Zaragoza, who indicated that he was not pleased to have been handed this case, but he believed that the complaint appeared to be well-documented and he’d have to pursue it. Around that time, the acting deputy chief of the US embassy talked to the chief of staff for Spain’s foreign minister and a senior official in the Spanish Ministry of Justice to convey, as the cable says, “that this was a very serious matter for the USG.” The two Spaniards “expressed their concern at the case but stressed the independence of the Spanish judiciary.”

Two weeks later, Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) and the embassy’s charge d’affaires “raised the issue” with another official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The next day, Zaragoza informed the US embassy that the complaint might not be legally sound. He noted he would ask Cándido Conde-Pumpido, Spain’s attorney general, to review whether Spain had jurisdiction.

On April 15, Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.), who’d recently been chairman of the Republican Party, and the US embassy’s charge d’affaires met with the acting Spanish foreign minister, Angel Lossada. The Americans, according to this cable, “underscored that the prosecutions would not be understood or accepted in the US and would have an enormous impact on the bilateral relationship” between Spain and the United States. Here was a former head of the GOP and a representative of a new Democratic administration (headed by a president who had decried the Bush-Cheney administration’s use of torture) jointly applying pressure on Spain to kill the investigation of the former Bush officials. Lossada replied that the independence of the Spanish judiciary had to be respected, but he added that the government would send a message to the attorney general that it did not favor prosecuting this case.

The next day, April 16, 2009, Attorney General Conde-Pumpido publicly declared that he would not support the criminal complaint, calling it “fraudulent” and political. If the Bush officials had acted criminally, he said, then a case should be filed in the United States. On April 17, the prosecutors of the National Court filed a report asking that complaint be discontinued. In the April 17 cable, the American embassy in Madrid claimed some credit for Conde-Pumpido’s opposition, noting that “Conde-Pumpido’s public announcement follows outreach to [Government of Spain] officials to raise USG deep concerns on the implications of this case.”

Still, this did not end the matter. It would still be up to investigating Judge Baltasar Garzón—a world-renowned jurist who had initiated previous prosecutions of war crimes and had publicly said that former President George W. Bush ought to be tried for war crimes—to decide whether to pursue the case against the six former Bush officials. That June—coincidentally or not—the Spanish Parliament passed legislation narrowing the use of “universal jurisdiction.” Still, in September 2009, Judge Garzón pushed ahead with the case.

The case eventually came to be overseen by another judge who last spring asked the parties behind the complaint to explain why the investigation should continue. Several human rights groups filed a brief urging this judge to keep the case alive, citing the Obama administration’s failure to prosecute the Bush officials. Since then, there’s been no action. The Obama administration essentially got what it wanted. The case of the Bush Six went away.

Back when it seemed that this case could become a major international issue, during an April 14, 2009, White House briefing, I asked press secretary Robert Gibbs if the Obama administration would cooperate with any request from the Spaniards for information and documents related to the Bush Six. He said, “I don’t want to get involved in hypotheticals.” What he didn’t disclose was that the Obama administration, working with Republicans, was actively pressuring the Spaniards to drop the investigation. Those efforts apparently paid off, and, as this WikiLeaks-released cable shows, Gonzales, Haynes, Feith, Bybee, Addington, and Yoo owed Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton thank-you notes.

David Corn is Mother Jones‘ Washington bureau chief. For more of his stories, click here. He’s also on Twitter and Facebook. Get David Corn’s RSS feed.

State Dept. Bars Staffers from WikiLeaks, Warns Students

December 3, 2010-


The U.S. State Department has imposed an order barring employees from reading the leaked WikiLeaks cables. State Department staffers have been told not to read cables because they were classified and subject to security clearances. The State Department’s WikiLeaks censorship has even been extended to university students. An email to students at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs says: “The documents released during the past few months through Wikileaks are still considered classified documents. [The State Department] recommends that you DO NOT post links to these documents nor make comments on social media sites such as Facebook or through Twitter. Engaging in these activities would call into question your ability to deal with confidential information, which is part of most positions with the federal government.”

Report: Criminals smuggle up to $39 billion in drug money, US stops $41 million

December 1, 2010

by Diana Washington Valdez

El Paso Times

The Government Accountability Office is calling for urgent action to stop cross-border currency smuggling after federal officials seized $41 million in cash in a little more than a year.

U.S. Sens. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., and Max Baucus, D-Mont., asked the GAO last year to examine the transportation of bulk cash proceeds from drug sales in the United States to Mexico or Canada. After finishing its investigation, the GAO produced its findings in the report, “Moving Illegal Proceeds.”

According to the report, the National Drug Intelligence Center estimates that criminals smuggle between $18 billion and $39 billion each year across the Southwest border alone.

Between March 2009 and June 2010, after Customs and Border Protection was asked to step up efforts to stem the flow of bulk cash, U.S. agents seized about $41 million in illicit bulk cash leaving the United States at border crossings.

Because Customs and Border Protection does not conduct full-time inspections of outbound traffic, and because other measures are lacking, only a fraction of the illicit cash flow is seized.

The GAO report said technology is creating new money laundering concerns. One of the examples cited is stored value cards. These are prepaid cards loaded with value or currency that are used to move illegal proceeds across the border and around the world.

Unlike with cash, there are no laws in place that require border-crossers to declare the value of prepaid cards they may be transporting.Mobile phones are also being used with greater frequency to conduct money transactions that may be difficult to detect.

Roger Maier, spokesman for Customs and Border Protection in El Paso, said that as of August of this year, CBP had seized $40.9 million in illicit southbound cash along the Southwest border, a 16.1-percent increase over the same period during the previous year.

“We do not typically comment on the number, frequency or duration of outbound operations, although they have increased,” Maier said.

The Mexican government has complained that cash and weapons that flow south of the border enable drug cartels to conduct the kind of bloody battles that have killed thousands of people in Mexico.

The GAO report said arms as well as cash are being seized at the border.

“In June 2010, officers conducting outbound operations at the San Luis, Arizona, port of entry seized a large sport utility vehicle, 114 grenades, and over 2,500 rounds of various types of ammunition,” the report said.

Sen. Bingaman of New Mexico said “this report makes clear that we can’t solve this problem unless we improve our border infrastructure and technological capabilities. Doing so would make it possible for us to seize billions of dollars per year and deprive drug traffickers of the proceeds that finance their deadly operations.”

Diana Washington Valdez may be reached at dvaldez@elpasotimes.com; 546-6140.

El Paso Times staff writer Daniel Borunda contributed to this story.

Difficult enforcement

· U.S. agents seize only a fraction of the illicit bulk cash leaving the country, officials say. Some of the reasons why include:

· Infrequent outbound traffic inspections. Although every vehicle entering the United States goes through an inspection checkpoint, Customs and Border Protection does not conduct full-time inspections of outbound traffic

· Technology. Prepaid cards are being used to move illegal proceeds, and mobile phones are also being used with greater frequency to conduct money transactions.

Cracks in the wilderness of mirrors

December 4, 2010

by Pepe Escobar
Asia Times

The temptation to see WikiLeaks as a neo-Baudelairean artificial paradise – the marriage of libertarian anarchism and cyber-knowledge – could not be more seductive. Now no more than 40 people are helping founder Julian Assange, plus 800 from the outside.

All this with a 200,000 euro (US$264,000) annual budget – and a nomad home base. WikiLeaks spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson maintains that this is still a “gateway for whistleblowers”, where sources are unidentified and even unknown. You can get a whistleblower to show the emperor has no clothes with just 200,000 euros – just as someone, be him Osama bin Laden or not, could usher the real “new world order” in on 9/11 with $500,000.

Daniel Ellsberg, who broke the Pentagon Papers in 1971, sees Assange as a hero. For vast swathes of the United States establishment, he is now public enemy number one – an unlikely echo of bin Laden. He may be now in southeast England, contactable by Scotland Yard, and about to be arrested at any minute courtesy of an Interpol mandate based on his being wanted in Sweden. Canadian scholar Marshall McLuhan may be doing the twist in his media tomb; if the media are the message, when you can’t eliminate the message why not eliminate the media?

The book of sand

Let’s examine Assange’s crime. Here he is, in his own words, in “State and Terrorist Conspiracies”:

To radically shift regime behavior we must think clearly and boldly for if we have learned anything, it is that regimes do not want to be changed. We must think beyond those who have gone before us, and discover technological changes that embolden us with ways to act in which our forebears could not. Firstly we must understand what aspect of government or neo-corporatist behavior we wish to change or remove. Secondly we must develop a way of thinking about this behavior that is strong enough to carry us through the mire of politically distorted language, and into a position of clarity. Finally we must use these insights to inspire within us and others a course of ennobling, and effective action.

So Assange understands WikiLeaks as an anti-virus that should guide our navigation across the distortion of political language. If language is a virus from outer space, as William Naked Lunch Burroughs put it, WikiLeaks should be the antidote. Assange basically believes that the (cumulative) revelation of secrets will lead to the production of no future secrets. It’s an anarchic/romantic/utopian vision.

It’s vital to remember that Assange configures the US essentially as a huge authoritarian conspiracy. American political activist Noam Chomsky would say the same thing (and they wouldn’t want to arrest him for it). The difference is that Assange deploys a combat strategy: he aims to corrode the ability of the system to conspire. That’s where the metaphor of the computer network fits in. Assange wants to fight the power of the system, treating it as a computer choking in the desert sands. Were he alive, it would be smashing to see the great Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges penning a short story about this.

On top of writing his own “Book of Sand”, Assange is also counter-attacking the Pentagon’s counter-insurgency doctrine. He’s not in “tracking-the-Taliban-and taking-them-out” mode. This is just a detail. If the conspiracy is an electronic network – let’s say, the (foreign policy) Matrix – what he wants is to strike at its cognitive ability by debasing the quality of the information.

Here intervenes another crucial element. The ability of the conspiracy to deceive everyone through massive propaganda is equivalent to the conspiracy’s penchant for deceiving itself through its own propaganda.

That’s how we get to the Assange strategy of deploying a tsunami of leaks as a key actor/vector in the informational landscape. And that takes us to another crucial point: it doesn’t matter whether these leaks are new, gossip or wishful thinking (as long as they are authentic). The – very ambitious – mother idea is to undermine the system of information and thus “force the computer to crash”, making the conspiracy turn against itself in self-defense. WikiLeaks believes we can only destroy a conspiracy by rendering it hallucinatory and paranoid in relation to itself.

All this also takes us farther into crucial territory. The bulk of the cablegate-inspired global-talk-show tsunami has totally missed the point. Once again, it doesn’t matter that most cables are gossip – trashy tabloid stuff. See it as Assange’s way of illustrating how the conspiracy works. He is not interested in journalistic scoops (as much as his media partners, from the Guardian to Der Spiegel may be); what he wants is to strangle the nodes that make the conspiracy possible – to render the system “dumb and dumber”.

No doubt cablegate shows how the US State Department seems to be in dumb-and-dumber territory – not even creative enough to do their own versions of “pimp my cable”. This is already an extraordinary victory for an organization different from anything we have seen so far, which is doing things that journalists do or should be doing, and then some. And there will be more, on a major bank’s secrets (probably Bank of America), on China’s secrets, on Russia’s secrets.

Mirror, mirror on the net

The US government and most of corporate media predictably rolled out their defense mechanism, as in “there’s nothing new in these cables“. Some might have suspected that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had ordered American diplomats to spy on their colleagues at the United Nations. Another thing entirely is to have an official cable confirmation. If UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was not such a wimp, he would be throwing a monumental diplomatic fit by now.

And then, at the same time, the US government and virtually the whole establishment – from neo-conservatives to Obama-light practitioners – want to pull out all stops to delete WikiLeaks or, even take out Assange, as George W Bush wanted to do with bin Laden. Grizzly nutjob Sarah Palin says Assange is worse than al-Qaeda. Such hysteria lead an Atlanta radio station to ask listeners whether Assange should be executed or imprisoned (no third option; execution won). Redneck Baptist priest Mike Huckabee, who might have been the Republican contender for president in 2008 and is now a talk-show fixture, goes for execution as well.

Who to believe? These freaks, or two frustrated US federal investigators who told the Los Angeles Times that if WikiLeaks had been active in 2001, it would have prevented 9/11?

French philosophers avid to escape their own irrelevancy foment conspiracy theories, lamenting that WikiLeaks gives the media unprecedented powers; other blame the Internet ogre for gobbling up journalists. That’s the beauty of the leaks – this is the stuff conspiracies are made of.

Under this framework it is very enlightening to listen to what eminent Cold Warrior Zbigniew Brzezinski has to say. He told the US Public Broadcasting Service that cablegate is “seeded” with “surprisingly pointed” information, and that “seeding” is too easy to accomplish.

Example: those cables saying that the Chinese are inclined to cooperate with the US in view of a possible Korean unification under the aegis of South Korea (I debunk this in my previous article, See TheNaked Emperor, Asia Times Online, December 1, 2010).

Dr Zbig says that WikiLeaks may have been manipulated by intelligence services with “very specific objectives”. They could be, as he hints, internal US elements who want to embarass the Barack Obama administration. But he also suspects “foreign elements”. In this case, the first on the list would be none other than the state of Israel.

As conspiracy theories go, this one is a cracker; could WikiLeaks be the head of a real invisible “snake” – a massive Israeli disinformation campaign? Evidence would include cables seriously compromising the US-Turkey relationship; the cumulative cables painting a picture of a Sunni Arab-wide consensus for attacking Iran; and the fact that the cables reveal nothing that demonstrates how Israel has jeopardized US interests in the Middle East over and over again.

In an interview with American talk show host Larry King, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin went Dr Zbig and said this was in fact a manipulation – the cables as a deliberate plot to discredit Russia (this was before Russia clinched the 2018 World Cup; now everyone is drowning in torrents of Stoli and no one gives a damn about cables anymore). Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad said virtually the same thing regarding Iran.

And then there’s the conspiracy that didn’t happen: how come the Pentagon, for all its ultra-high-tech savvy ways, has not been willing, or able, to completely shut down WikiLeaks?

There’s thunderous chatter everywhere on WikiLeaks’ “motives” for releasing these cables. We just need to go back to Assange’s thinking to realize there’s no “motive”. The intellectual void and political autism of America’s diplomats is self-evident; they can only “understand” the Other: the world in terms of good guys and bad guys. The great French-Swiss film director Jean-Luc Godard is 80 this Friday. How fresh if he would shoot a remake of Made in USA, now featuring the perplexity of the system as it contemplates its reflection in a giant, digital mirror.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com.

Foreign contractors hired Afghan ‘dancing boys’, WikiLeaks cable reveals

Episode fuelled Afghan demands that private security firms be brought much more under government control

December 2, 2010

by Jon Boone


A scandal involving foreign contractors employed to train Afghan policemen who took drugs and paid for young “dancing boys” to entertain them in northern Afghanistan caused such panic that the interior minister begged the US embassy to try and “quash” the story, according to one of the US embassy cables released by WikiLeaks.

In a meeting with the assistant US ambassador, a panicked Hanif Atmar, the interior minister at the time of the episode last June, warned that the story would “endanger lives” and was particularly concerned that a video of the incident might be made public.

The episode helped to fuel Afghan demands that contractors and private security companies be brought under much tighter government control. However, the US embassy was legally incapable of honouring a request by Atmar that the US military should assume authority over training centres managed by DynCorp, the US company whose employees were involved in the incident in the northern province of Kunduz.

There is a long tradition of young boys dressing up as girls and dancing for men in Afghanistan, an activity that sometimes crosses the line into child abuse with Afghans keeping boys as possessions.

Although rarely discussed or criticised in Afghanistan, it is conceivable that the involvement of foreigners could have turned into a major public scandal. Atmar himself warned about public anger towards contractors, who he said “do not have many friends” and said they needed far greater oversight.

He also said tighter control was needed over Afghan employees of such companies as well.

“He was convinced that the Kunduz incident, and other events where mentors had obtained drugs, could not have happened without Afghan participation,” the cable said.

Two Afghan policemen and nine other Afghans were arrested as part of investigations into a crime described by Atmar as “purchasing a service from a child”, which the cable said was against both sharia law and the civil code.

He insisted that a journalist looking into the incident should be told that the story would endanger lives, and that the US should try to quash the story. But US diplomats cautioned against an “overreaction” and said that approaching the journalist involved would only make the story worse.

“A widely-anticipated newspaper article on the Kunduz scandal has not appeared but, if there is too much noise that may prompt the journalist to publish,” the cable said.

The strategy appeared to work when an article was published in July by the Washington Post about the incident, which made little of the affair, saying it was an incident of “questionable management oversight” in which foreign DynCorp workers “hired a teenage boy to perform a tribal dance at a company farewell party”.

In fact, the episode was causing palpitations at the top of government, including in the presidential palace.

The cable records: “Atmar said that President Karzai had told him that his (Atmar’s) ‘prestige’ was in play in management of the Kunduz DynCorp matter and another recent event in which Blackwater contractors mistakenly killed several Afghan citizens. The President had asked him ‘Where is the justice?'”

According to a separate cable both incidents helped fuel Afghan government demands “to hold a tighter rein over [private security companies]” – a demand that also led Atmar to offer that the overstretched police should take over protection for military convoys in the south of Afghanistan.

Earlier this year Karzai issued a decree calling for the dissolution of all private security companies by the end of the year, an edict that has since been slightly watered down.

In a meeting between Atmar and the assistant ambassador Joseph Mussomeli, the US diplomat said he was deeply upset by the incident and that the embassy was considering Afghan demands that the US military should beginning overseeing the DynCrop operations.

Privately, however, they knew that such an arrangement was not “legally possible under the DynCorp contract”.

A Financial Neutron Bomb in the Hood

by Tom Engelhardt

We already know that it’s party time for the financial elite who gave real meaning to the phrase “economic meltdown” in 2008, that bonuses are soaring, that corporate profits for the third quarter of 2010 are beyond the stratosphere, and that the corporate chieftains and Wall Street titans of our new gilded age have, as New York Times columnist Bob Herbert wrote recently, “waged economic warfare against everybody else and are winning big time.”

What we know far less about is the degree of the catastrophe they inflicted on the rest of us.  Here’s just one story that should be front-paged in our major newspapers, but for which, at the moment, you have to turn to Dollars and Sense, a modest if intriguing economic publication.  There, Jim Campen, professor emeritus of economics at the University of Massachusetts-Boston and an expert on racial discrimination in mortgage lending, has written a piece entitled, “Update on Mortgage Lending Discrimination: After a Disastrous Detour, We’re Back Where We Started.”

It may not sound like much, but what a horror story it tells.  If you were black or Latino in the 1980s or early 1990s and wanted to buy a home, the odds were that the banks had “redlined” your neighborhood and were denying you mortgage applications at “disproportionately high rates” compared to whites in similar economic circumstances.  In other words, you would have a tough time becoming a homeowner.  Then came those high-cost subprime loans whose fine print ensured that you would never be able to pay them back.  In a case of “reverse redlining,” they were aggressively targeted at black and Latino neighborhoods in numbers strikingly disproportionate to white neighborhoods.  Not surprisingly, when the housing bubble burst, the financial world shuddered, the economy went south, and wave after wave of foreclosures began to sweep across the country, it was black and Latino homeowners suffered the most.

In Boston in 2006, the peak year of the subprime lending boom, Campen discovered that “49% of all home-purchase loans to blacks, and 48% of all home-purchase loans to Latinos, were high-cost loans, compared to just 11% of all loans to whites.”  In the carnage that followed, he informs us, nearly 8% of black and Latino homeowners were foreclosed on, compared to 4.5% of whites.  In other words, while the people TomDispatch Associate Editor Andy Kroll calls “the New Oligarchs” bought Dom Pérignon and celebrated, they had let loose the financial equivalent of a neutron bomb on nonwhite neighborhoods in America. It’s a scandal that should be at the top of the news, rather than highlighted in modest-sized oppositional magazines or websites — and it, in turn, is just a part of a far larger, distinctly un-American scandal that has turned the United States into, as Kroll puts it in his latest piece, “a country of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich.”

Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project, runs the Nation Institute’s TomDispatch.com. He is the author of The End of Victory Culture: a History of the Cold War and Beyond, as well as of a novel, The Last Days of Publishing. His most recent book is The American Way of War: How Bush’s Wars Became Obama’s (Haymarket Books

A Happy Ending to a Raw, but Common, Tale

December 4, 2010

by Joe Nocera

New York Times

Lilla Roberts is a 73-year-old retired physical therapist, a pleasant, engaging woman who moved to this country from Jamaica 46 years ago. In 1988, she bought a small house in Jamaica, Queens, putting down $25,000, and taking out a mortgage for around $120,000. For many years, she religiously made her mortgage payments.

Like most homes in this part of Queens, this one is a little on the ramshackle side: a small, two-story home, part brick, part faded gray siding, with a red awning out front and a large backyard. But she raised her children and several of her grandchildren in this home. Her life’s memories are in this home. It means a lot to her.

“My whole life is here,” she said on Tuesday, when I visited her. “Every penny I ever had I put into this house.”

Ms. Roberts pointed down. “I finished the basement,” she said. She pointed up. “I had to put in new windows and repair all the rotting wood,” she said, referring to an upstairs apartment she rents out.

She pointed toward the back of the house, to the yard beyond her cramped kitchen and her two crowded bedrooms. “I love my garden,” she said. She paused, and then sighed. Between her pension, Social Security and rental income, she said, “I have enough income to pay my mortgage. I would love to enjoy the rest of my life here.”

Sitting across from Ms. Roberts was Elizabeth Lynch, a 30-something lawyer who works for MFY Legal Services. Ms. Lynch is a foreclosure specialist who has spent the last few months trying desperately to keep Ms. Roberts from losing her home. In 2007, a year after a refinancing, Ms. Roberts suffered a temporary setback that caused her to stop paying her mortgage for less than a year. Given her situation — steady income, a history of reliability — you would think that she would be a perfect candidate for a mortgage modification.

Instead, her servicer, Bank of America, foreclosed on the property in late August and handed it off to Fannie Mae, which owned the mortgage. Ms. Roberts first learned this when she saw Fannie Mae’s eviction notice taped to her front door.

As part of her effort to save Ms. Roberts’ house, Ms. Lynch filed a lawsuit to undo the foreclosure, on the grounds that fraud had been committed at various points along the way. Although such suits rarely succeed, a judge agreed to hear the case in early January.

Another part of her effort, though, was to try to create some media interest, which is how I got involved. “With all of the foreclosure cases I have seen,” Ms. Lynch wrote in an e-mail, “this is the one that gets at me the most.”

Truth to tell, Ms. Roberts’s story got to me too. Even putting aside the possibility of fraud, nobody should have to endure what she’s been through. Since March 2008 — that’s right, two and a half years — she has spent nearly $30,000 trying to hold onto her home. She has had to deal with a nasty foreclosure mill law firm, with servicing employees who gave her the runaround and with a foreclosure process that took place behind her back. And she has had to deal with the anxiety of not knowing whether she would be able to keep her home.

Yes, there are people who took out mortgages knowing they could never pay the money back. Ms. Roberts is not one of them. Rather, she is one of the many Americans, mostly poor and lower-middle class, who have been devastated by a system that is as rapacious, uncaring — and sloppy — in tossing people out of their homes as it once was in foisting predatory mortgages on them.

Two days after I spoke with Ms. Roberts, Bank of America and Fannie Mae acknowledged that foreclosing on her home had been a mistake, and they vowed to give her back the house. “We are going to work with her on a loan modification,” a Bank of America spokesman promised.

Yet, while Ms. Roberts’s story has a happy ending, it is hard to get too excited — not when so many others are in the same awful place, losing homes as much because of the system’s callousness as because of their own precarious finances.

Ms. Roberts’s troubles began with the rotting wood and upstairs windows. In 2006, her longtime tenant, who paid her $600 a month, moved out; she needed to fix the apartment before she could get a new tenant. The only way she could afford it was by refinancing her home.

The company that gave her the new mortgage was a now-bankrupt outfit, Mortgage Lenders Network, which a former employee described to me as “one of the bad actors” during the subprime bubble. It is hard to know now what kind of mortgage Ms. Roberts got; although it had a fixed interest rate below 6 percent, Ms. Roberts recalls having very little cash left over after the repairs were made — even though, at more than $300,000, the new mortgage was more than double the size of her original mortgage. Her new monthly payment was around $1,700 a month, a $500 increase. But with a new renter paying $900 a month, she felt it was well within her means.

Sometime in 2007, however, the tenant stopped paying his rent. Thanks to New York’s tough rental laws, she couldn’t easily evict him. Without that $900 a month, she couldn’t make ends meet and still pay her mortgage. Thus it was that in March 2008, she requested a mortgage modification from her servicer, the Wilshire Credit Corporation, a division of Merrill Lynch that specialized in delinquent mortgages.

What happened over the course of the next few years can only be described as Kafka-esque. Wilshire Credit asked her for a hardship letter; she sent one. Nothing happened. Three separate times, Wilshire set up short-term payment agreements — two of which included $7,000 upfront payments — claiming that it would make a decision on a long-term modification once the agreement expired. She paid every penny — to no avail.

Sometimes, when she was between short-term agreements, Wilshire would refuse to take her check. Sometimes, it cashed them. Sometimes she was told her request for a modification had been denied. Other times she was told it was being considered. At one point, the foreclosure mill law firm of Steven J. Baum, which represented Wilshire, tried to get her to waive her legal rights as part of the third short-term agreement. (The firm would not discuss the details of the case on the record.) All the while, behind Ms. Roberts’s back, Wilshire was inching toward foreclosure.

In March 2010, Bank of America, which got Wilshire when it bought Merrill Lynch in 2008, sold the servicing company to I.B.M. As part of the deal, though, it kept Wilshire’s servicing clients.

Was life any better with the mighty Bank of America now servicing her mortgage? Not a chance. Bank of America took her money in May and June. But in July and again in August, a bank employee told her not to send a payment because the bank was close to offering her a new repayment plan. Instead, in late August, the bank foreclosed and turned the property over to Fannie Mae.

After taking on Ms. Roberts’s case, Ms. Lynch uncovered the unseemly back story — a story that is playing out in poor neighborhoods all over the country. She found clear evidence of robosigning. She also discovered that the transfer of the mortgage from Mortgage Lenders Network to Wilshire appeared to have been backdated by two years — making it appear that it took place before M.L.N.’s bankruptcy. Assets cannot be sold by a bankrupt company without the assent of a trustee, thus suggesting that the transfer of Ms. Roberts’s mortgage might have been improper. And she found evidence that Ms. Roberts had never been served with the foreclosure papers — something Ms. Roberts swore to in an affidavit. These are the grounds for her lawsuit.

But as I discovered when I began asking around, the story is even worse than that. Why did Fannie Mae begin eviction proceedings? Because Bank of America claimed, wrongly, that Ms. Roberts was a deadbeat who hadn’t made a mortgage payment since March 2008. When Fannie Mae asked the bank to double-check, Bank of America simply repeated this false information. In other words, Ms. Roberts was being thrown out of her house because of Bank of America’s carelessness.

Stunned at what I was hearing, I sent James Mahoney, a bank spokesman, a copy of Ms. Roberts’s legal complaint, which documented all the payments she’d made over the year. Less than 24 hours later, he called to tell me that the bank had requested a “rescission” of the foreclosure sale to Fannie Mae — and that “this decision is receiving favorable consideration from Fannie.”

To Mr. Mahoney, this reversal showed that Bank of America was trying to do right by homeowners. “We have made 700,000 mortgage modifications this year,” he said. He described the bank’s willingness to give Ms. Roberts a loan modification as a “microcosm of Bank of America’s role” in the foreclosure crisis. I agree that it’s a microcosm, though not necessarily in the same way that Mr. Mahoney does.

To my surprise, when I called Ms. Lynch with the good news late Thursday, she did not jump for joy. Although she was pleased for her client, she was furious at what she saw as Bank of America’s presumption.

“It’s offensive that BofA thinks a foreclosure action, an eviction notice of an elderly woman sitting in her house fearing that she will spend the remainder of her days in a shelter, is some sort of party invitation that can be ‘rescinded,’ ” she wrote in an e-mail. “Their disrespect for the law is appalling. But it is a pattern of behavior that led to this crisis and that is continuing to keep this country in this crisis.”

Let’s face it: Ms. Roberts got a break. Because she had a dogged lawyer, who had the wit to get a New York Times columnist interested in her case, a terrible mistake was uncovered. As a result, an unjustified foreclosure may well be reversed.

But it has to make you wonder how many other people have lost their homes because of similar mistakes. I can’t bear to venture a guess. It’s too sickening to contemplate.

Carmel inferno proves Israel can’t afford war with Iran

December 4, 2010

by Aluf Benn


Just like Israel’s army in the 1973 Yom Kippur war, the emergency services were wholly unprepared to handle a shock on this scale.

The enormous blaze that broke out on the Carmel will be remembered as the Yom Kippur War of the Fire and Rescue Service, who were not prepared to counter a disaster of such magnitude.

Yesterday it turned out that Israel is not prepared for war or a mass terrorist strike that would cause many casualties in the home front. The warning of the outgoing Military Intelligence Chief, Amos Yadlin, that the next war will be a lot more difficult than past experiences, and that Tel Aviv will be a front line, was not translated into the necessary preparation by the authorities assigned the protection of the civilians.
The blaze that continued into the night consumed nearly 10,000 dunams of vegetation.

Under such circumstances, it is best for Israel not to embark on war against Iran, which will involve thousands of missiles being fired on the home front.

After the Second Lebanon War, which exposed how pathetic the civil defense system was, reports were written, exercises were held, but everything broke down under the stress of a real emergency on the Carmel range − an area that already experienced the trauma of Hezbollah missiles.

Yesterday Israel asked for help from Cyprus and Greece, and the air force traveled to France to bring fire retardants to make up for the material that had run out. In war time, it is doubtful whether Israel will be able to rely on the generosity and largess of its neighbors.

Responsibility for the home front is currently divided among three ministries: the Home Front Command and the National Emergency Authority, who are answerable to the Defense Ministry; the police, which is part of the Ministry of Public Security; and the Fire and Rescue Command, which belongs to the Interior Ministry.

Interior Minister Eli Yishai, who is responsible for the firemen and the head of the Fire and Rescue Services, Shimon Romah, were nowhere to be found yesterday. They are obvious candidates for losing their jobs as a result of the disaster.

Each ministry has its own bureaucratic dynamic, and ability to raise funds for equipment and human resources. The firemen are at the bottom of the pile, and have for years struggled to get more resources.

A year ago the firemen went on strike and warned that the system is far from being able to provide for defending the population. According to the firemen’s association, the international standards require one fireman for every 1,000 citizens, and in Israel the ratio is nearly one in 10,000. Over and over the firemen warned that they can’t shoulder the responsibility they are given.

Funding authorized several weeks ago was meant to head-off criticism in a State Comptroller report on the state of the fire departments.

In similar circumstance in the past, organizations that were found lacking were later bolstered with enormous resources. This is what happened to Military Intelligence and the air force following their failures during the Yom Kippur War. This will probably also happen to the Fire and Rescue Services.


Conversations with the Crow

When the CIA discovered that their former Deputy Director of Clandestine Affairs, Robert T. Crowley, had been talking with author Gregory Douglas, they became fearful (because of what Crowley knew) and outraged (because they knew Douglas would publish eventually) and made many efforts to silence Crowley, mostly by having dozens of FBI agents call or visit him at his Washington home and try to convince him to stop talking to Douglas, whom they considered to be an evil, loose cannon.

Crowley did not listen to them (no one else ever does, either) and Douglas made through shorthand notes of each and every one of their many conversation. TBR News published most of these (some of the really vile ones were left out of the book but will be included on this site as a later addendum ) and the entire collection was later produced as an Ebook.

Now, we reliably learn, various Washington alphabet agencies are trying to find a way to block the circulation of this highly negative, entertaining and dangerous work, so to show our solidarity with our beloved leaders and protectors, and our sincere appreciation for their corrupt and coercive actions, we are going to reprint the entire work, chapter by chapter. (The complete book can be obtained by going to:


Here is the forty-eighth chapter

Conversation No. 48

Date: Tuesday, November 26, 1996

Commenced: 1:45 PM CST

Concluded: 2:16 PM CST

GD: Good morning, Robert. Well, I have all my reservations lined up and we should be getting together on the 9th of December. I have hotel reservations and it isn’t too far to the University Club, but I’ll take a cab. About noon?

RTC: Yes, that’s the drill. Now, look, Gregory, if you get there early and then Kimmel and Bill are there, be polite but non-committal with both of them. I should be on time but one never knows. Kimmel is looking for any way to discredit you so be very careful with him. Have you ever met him before?

GD: No, just talked on the phone.

RTC: A tall blonde fellow, a little past his prime but an impressive type. Has a deep, well-regulated voice and likes to overawe people. You won’t be overawed, will you?

GD: I doubt it. I am sure Mueller was twice the man Kimmel is and Heini never overawed me. We got along fine on those grounds.

RTC: Look, can you tell me the name of your hotel?

GD: Certainly. It’s the Capitol Hill Suites. The phone number there is…just a second….202 543-6000 and my reservation number is C 1820CE8. I’ll be checking in on Saturday afternoon and I have a lunch date with Willis Carto on Sunday. He is doing a piece in his paper on the Mueller books and wants to do an interview.

RTC: Fine. OK, here’s what I have in mind. I have all the Warren Commission books, all 26 or so volumes. I have gone through every one of them and made notes all over the pages. You can read my writing very clearly. I have marked up all the irrelevant material, the fake material and the factual material. I think when you come to write about the ZIPPER business, this will be of great help to you. I will have them delivered to you in a sealed box over the weekend. And whatever you do, do not mention this to either Tom or Bill. Just leave the box sealed and take it back with you on the plane. When are you leaving to go back?

GD: The 10th.

RTC: Fine. And I have put together a big packet of material on the ZIPPER business that I will put into a briefcase and bring with me to the Club. After lunch, we can go somewhere and I can give it to you. Everything you want is in there, all original papers, notes, transcriptions and so on. But remember your promise to keep this under your hat until after I’m gone. For some odd reason, Bill and Trento think they are going to get their hands on all this. I never made any concrete promises but when people pester me, I give satisfactory but non-binding comments. None of them would dare to publish a word of any of this and I know you will. I did give Bill a copy, but only a copy, of the Driscoll report and he thinks he has the world by the balls. Anyway, talk about Pearl Harbor and keep Tom happy. Also, try to keep your discussion of Mueller to a bare minimum. Tom is hot on Pearl, but everyone else wants to find out about Mueller. What can you prove, what evidence, if any, do you have of his working for us and so on. I’ve warned you before on all of this but just be vague and go off on a story. But for God’s sake, don’t tell them stories about soap in the soup or things like that. Kimmel has no sense of humor and would try to accuse you of mass poisonings or something. Bill just talks too much.

GD: I appreciate the confidence but since the Mueller book came out, I’ve been bombarded with requests from broken down academics to stop by with their friend, Willy, just to look at my precious documents. I don’t know where they find these people, Robert, but they do not engender any confidence in our precious government. They should really keep their mouths closed or all the flies will get out. No, childish games like that go nowhere. What about the Kennedy buffs, as they call them?

RTC: Almost all of that is in the package for you. You see, we set up a disinformation group to spread confusion and to distract anyone from digging too deeply. You know, the man with the umbrella, the man in the storm drains, the wandering people in the train yards, the third figure on the sixth floor of the book building, Hoover on the roof of a building along with Nixon and the Hunt brothers. And a fake Oswald renting a car or buying a gun. Not to mention the really bad stories, which Hunt made up, of Oswald in Mexico City. God, reams of paper with no end. The truth, which is all there, is much more simple.

GD: Question, Robert. This business with Ruby. Was he involved?

RTC: Well, yes. The Chicago mob, with whom I have family connections, got him to do a job on Oswald. That was a setup. You see, Oswald had nothing to do with the business but was involved in other things for us. If he came to trial, very ugly things could have come out and we couldn’t control a courtroom scene. Better to insure it never went that far.

GD: And Ruby?

RTC: The locals were going to try him and he was starting to sweat the electric chair so he threatened to talk.

GD: But he died in jail. Did you get to him in there?

RTC: Certainly. Ruby died of rampant cancer. As you are aware, Gregory, we can give people fatal heart attacks and cancer is only a little more difficult and problematical. A medical examination, an injection with cells and so on. Ask a good oncologist. It is possible to do this. It takes more time but what did Ruby have? There was no immediate danger of him blabbing, so we pacified him with stories of last minute rescues and let him die.

GD: I was watching the telly and I saw them bring out the rifle. I know a great deal about guns, Robert, and they showed very clear shots of it. Besides, the local cop who found it ran a gun shop and he must have known it was an Argentine Mauser and not a worthless Carcano 6.5mm. Why did they make the change?

RTC: As I recall it, they had ordered the smaller piece through the mail to a fake PO box in Oswald’s fake name. Oswald worked for ONI and used several names.

GD: Not the FBI?

RTC: Oh, no, the ONI. These people won’t allow their people to work for another agency.

GD: Just a point or two. These fake stories….how many of them are yours?

RTC: Gregory, when such things happen and cannot be instantly clarified, the lunatic fringe leaps up waving their arms with all kinds of strange stories. We have the Farrell woman who is their top librarian and we can plant any kind of a distraction we want, but actually, most of the distractions are from the fertile imaginations of self-important people. The Russians must have had a wonderful time with all of this smoke and mirrors. After all, we used Oswald solely because of his Russian connections. We felt it would point right back to them again. We got two birds with one stone. But then the nuts were more interested in people with umbrellas and so on so we stopped pushing the Russian connection. Yes, Lee was in Russia and yes, he was working for the ONI. The Atsugi connection was what got their attention. Oswald was very smart but very abrasive and I notice his wife was the niece of a top MVD man. Figure that one out. Anyway, they are relieved. And besides, if they ever got their hands on ZIPPER, they would make hay. We have to be a little careful here because of the Stalin business. You see, L.P. Beria, their intelligence chief, had come over to our side in the early ‘50s. He built their atomic program, but Stalin was getting senile and very dangerous. Beria knew his days were numbered so he made contact with us and agreed to work with us. Shutting off the cold war, getting Russian troops out of the DDR and so on. This progressed and as he grew more desperate with his sinking star, we hit on the idea of getting rid of Comrade Stalin and setting Beria up in his place. Old L.P. was a sex fiend and loved little girls and boys so it was no problem to keep him in line. And of course the Jewish business cropped up. Stalin used Jews but he hated them and was, in his increasing madness, planning to exterminate them like he had exterminated so many others. Beria was Jewish as was Molotov’s wife so there was general fear that the axe could fall on all of them.

GD: Fouche used this ploy to bring down Robespierre. ‘Oh, you are on the death list’ and so on.

RTC: I didn’t know about that.

GD: There is no new thing under the sun, Robert. How did they kill Stalin? I assume he was well guarded.

RTC: Oh yes, and paranoid as hell. We got some rat poison that works on the blood. What…

GD: Wafrarin.

RTC: Something like that. Got it from people in Wisconsin. Anyway, Beria slipped it into Joe’s booze and off he went with a stroke. Of course he started bleeding from the mouth but no one noticed that and then Beria got in. Did you know that Stalin was going to transport all the Jews in Moscow off to Siberia in the middle of winter and freeze the lot of them to death? Oh yes, and they all joined forces to save themselves. I think rat poison was apt. Stalin was a terrible monster.

GD: He did thin out the Russian population. Did anyone here, besides your people, know about this?

RTC: Eisenhower was noticed on this and jumped at it. Thought it was a wonderful idea. You know, when I told you about the Army plan to attack American targets like aircraft and blowing up buildings and use this as a basis for attacking Castro, old Ike jumped for joy. Kennedy stopped it.

GD: Do you have anything on this?

RTC: The Stalin business? Yes, I do. The Army plan? No, I do not.

GD: Well, at least I know about it. Can I get the Stalin material?

RTC: I can put it into the packet for you. Now getting this to you might be a problem. Kimmel does not like the idea of me taking with you and at the lunch, will watch both of us like a hawk. I think after the lunch, we might go into the Club library.

GD: I have a better idea. I looked at a DC map and I see the National Portrait Gallery is nearby. I have an ancestor whose picture is up there and I always wanted to see it. We could take a cab over there because of your leg and leave Tom and Bill behind.

RTC: Might I ask who the ancestor was?

GD: Certainly. Robert Morris. He was a Philadelphia banker…Weller and Morris…and he financed Washington. They call him ‘Robert the Signer’ because there were other Morris people and he signed the Declaration of Independence.

RTC: That’s impressive. Be sure you mention this to Tom. That’ll get him ever more upset. His ancestors were farmers about the time yours was making history. Oh, yes, that will excite him. Just think, the evil Gregory Douglas is descended from an American hero, a founding father. I’d love to watch his face when you spring this one on him.

GD: It means less than nothing to me what people care about. Yes, and then you can give me your packet away from prying and jealous eyes.

RTC: We can push them into the Club bar, get them started…do you drink, by the way?

GD: No.

RTC: Well, I’ll tell them my doctor said I couldn’t, so off we can go to look at your ancestor. My basic reason, Gregory, for getting you to do this is because it might come out in the future and I really want the American people to know that we had very good reasons for putting ZIPPER in action. It wasn’t just a South American junta. We had very good reasons and I only hope you make it clear that this had a real and solid basis for action. I don’t regret our actions for a minute but in the future, historians ought to have all the facts before they judge. You do see my point?
GD: Of course, and there would be no reason to write this unless I explained why you and your friends undertook such a drastic action. That has to be part of the whole package. An interesting microcosm, Robert, a history of a major assassination plot, capturing world attention, all in a small book and very accurate. Instead of speculating on the sinking of the Maine or who told what to whom before Pearl Harbor, we have it all down nice and crisp and accurate.

RTC: Ah, there, you have the crux of it, Gregory. Now, let us return to our daily lives and look forward to our meeting.

(Concluded at 2:16 PM CST)

Dramatis personae:

James Jesus Angleton: Once head of the CIA’s Counterintelligence division, later fired because of his obsessive and illegal behavior, tapping the phones of many important government officials in search of elusive Soviet spies. A good friend of Robert Crowley and a co-conspirator with him in the assassination of President Kennedy

James P. Atwood: (April 16, 1930-April 20, 1997) A CIA employee, located in Berlin, Atwood had a most interesting career. He worked for any other intelligence agency, domestic or foreign, that would pay him, was involved in selling surplus Russian atomic artillery shells to the Pakistan government and was also most successful in the manufacturing of counterfeit German dress daggers. Too talkative, Atwood eventually had a sudden, and fatal, “seizure” while lunching with CIA associates.

William Corson: A Marine Corps Colonel and President Carter’s representative to the CIA. A friend of Crowley and Kimmel, Corson was an intelligent man whose main failing was a frantic desire to be seen as an important person. This led to his making fictional or highly exaggerated claims.

John Costello: A British historian who was popular with revisionist circles. Died of AIDS on a trans-Atlantic flight to the United States.

James Critchfield: Former U.S. Army Colonel who worked for the CIA and organizaed the Cehlen Org. at Pullach, Germany. This organization was filled to the Plimsoll line with former Gestapo and SD personnel, many of whom were wanted for various purported crimes. He hired Heinrich Müller in 1948 and went on to represent the CIA in the Persian Gulf.

Robert T. Crowley: Once the deputy director of Clandestine Operations and head of the group that interacted with corporate America. A former West Point football player who was one of the founders of the original CIA. Crowley was involved at a very high level with many of the machinations of the CIA.

Gregory Douglas: A retired newspaperman, onetime friend of Heinrich Müller and latterly, of Robert Crowley. Inherited stacks of files from the former (along with many interesting works of art acquired during the war and even more papers from Robert Crowley.) Lives comfortably in a nice house overlooking the Mediterranean.

Reinhard Gehlen: A retired German general who had once been in charge of the intelligence for the German high command on Russian military activities. Fired by Hitler for incompetence, he was therefore naturally hired by first, the U.S. Army and then, as his level of incompetence rose, with the CIA. His Nazi-stuffed organizaion eventually became the current German Bundes Nachrichten Dienst.

Thomas K. Kimmel, Jr: A grandson of Admiral Husband Kimmel, Naval commander at Pearl Harbor who was scapegoated after the Japanese attack. Kimmel was a senior FBI official who knew both Gregory Douglas and Robert Crowley and made a number of attempts to discourage Crowley from talking with Douglas. He was singularly unsuccessful. Kimmel subsequently retired and lives in retirement in Florida

Willi Krichbaum: A Senior Colonel (Oberführer) in the SS, head of the wartime Secret Field Police of the German Army and Heinrich Müller’s standing deputy in the Gestapo. After the war, Krichbaum went to work for the Critchfield organization and was their chief recruiter and hired many of his former SS friends. Krichbaum put Critchfield in touch with Müller in 1948.

Heinrich Müller: A former military pilot in the Bavarian Army in WWI, Müller became a political police officer in Munich and was later made the head of the Secret State Police or Gestapo. After the war, Müller escaped to Switzerland where he worked for Swiss intelligence as a specialist on Communist espionage and was hired by James Critchfield, head of the Gehlen Organization, in 1948. Müller subsequently was moved to Washington where he worked for the CIA until he retired.

Joseph Trento: A writer on intelligence subjects, Trento and his wife “assisted” both Crowley and Corson in writing a book on the Russian KGB. Trento believed that he would inherit all of Crowley’s extensive files but after Crowley’s death, he discovered that the files had been gutted and the most important, and sensitive, ones given to Gregory Douglas. Trento was not happy about this. Neither were his employers.

Frank Wisner: A Founding Father of the CIA who promised much to the Hungarian and then failed them. First, a raging lunatic who was removed from Langley, screaming, in a strait jacket and later, blowing off the top of his head with a shotgun.

Robert Wolfe: A retired librarian from the National Archives who worked closely with the CIA on covering up embarrassing historical material in the files of the Archives. A strong supporter of holocaust writers

Register of the Dead in the Bush/Obama war 10


December 1, 2010

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

1st. Lt. Scott F. Milley, 23, of Sudbury, Mass., died Nov. 30 in Logar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit using small arms fire.  He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Polk, La.

The Department of Defense announced today the death of an airman who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Lt. Col. Gwendolyn A. Locht, 46, of Fort Walton Beach, Fla., was medically evacuated from Kandahar, Afghanistan, on May 22 for treatment of a non-combat related illness.  She died Nov. 16 in Houston, Texas.  Locht was assigned to the 96th Inpatient Operations Squadron, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

The Department of Defense announced today the deaths of six soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.  They died Nov. 29, in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when an insurgent attacked their unit with small arms fire.

Killed were:

Sgt. 1st Class Barry E. Jarvis, 36, of Tell City, Ind.

Staff Sgt. Curtis A. Oakes, 29, of Athens, Ohio.

Spc. Matthew W. Ramsey, 20, of Quartz Hill, Calif.

Pfc. Jacob A. Gassen, 21, of Beaver Dam, Wis.

Pfc. Austin G. Staggs, 19, of Senoia, Ga.

Pvt. Buddy W. McLain, 24, of Mexico, Maine.

They were assigned to the 1st Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.

December 2, 2010

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Cpl. Chad S. Wade, 22, of Bentonville, Ark., died Dec. 1 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.  He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

December 4, 2010

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Sgt. Matthew T. Abbate, 26, of Honolulu, Hawaii, died Dec. 2 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.  He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

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