TBR News July 31, 2010

Jul 31 2010

The Voice of the White House

            Washington, D.C. July 31, 2010: “Although the Obama people are directly responsible for the enormous WikiLeaks possession and release of at least 100,000 classified, but not too classified, government documents relating to the Afghan war, they are now facing a growing disbelief on the part of, rightfully, suspicious citizenry. The Internet, the bane of Obama and Cass Sunstein’s existence, has put a spoke in their attempt to discredit the war, blame it on the previous, Repubican, administration, use this as an excuse to gain popular (and Congressional) support for a rapid withdrawal, not only from Afghanistan but Pakistan as well. India, who is now becoming more useful, hence more friendly, to America’s needs, is furious with Pakistan assaults on their country and the only reason India has not physically attacked their Muslim neighbor is because of the massive presence of Americans, military, diplomatic and CIA in that country. Selected documents reflect all these needs. While the documents themselves are original, their content is selected, not random. Interesting that Obama and Sunstein, minority members, so dislike a medium that had attacked their respective ethnic groups and yet turn to it in times of need. What is the old saying? “God and soldiers we implore/ In times of need (but not before)’.”

The Political Spinning of the WikiLeaks Release: Anti-war Whistleblowing or War Propaganda

July 30, 2010

by Larry Chin
Global Research,

          Since the release of classified US military papers by WikiLeaks, the material has been aggressively spun by various political factions. Meanwhile, virtually no attention has been devoted to investigating the source of this “leak”, or questioning the agenda behind it.

             According to the Associated Press, a US official who spoke on condition of anonymity stated that the US government is not certain who “leaked” the 91,000 documents to the online whistle blowing web site.

            Unlike a previous WikiLeak exposing the murder of Iraqi civilians in a US airstrike, , nobody has been apprehended, arrested or pressured by the Pentagon, the CIA or any US agency.

            The White House has expressed no intense concern. It did not block the release or deny the material. Government officials, led by President Obama, have almost casually dismissed the expose as nothing new.

            The major mainstream newspapers that had full early access to the material—The New York Times, Der Spiegel and the Guardian—also had ample time to frame and steer the discourse surrounding it, and (particularly in the case of the White House-friendly New York Times) conduct damage control.

Leak as anti-war fodder

            The new material obviously adds to what is already known for years: US forces are mired in a dirty and horrific war, and committing atrocities and war crimes. Corruption is rampant, allies are despicable and untrustworthy, and there appears no end in sight.

            For critics of US policy, the expose reinforces their tired call for the war to end. However, the value of these particular papers (in terms of turning public opinion against the war) is questionable. This is not a potent high-level Pentagon Papers-type leak, and today’s society is a far cry from the 1970s.

            Today’s acquiescent, ignorant and grossly manipulated mass populace—one that fully embraces and supports the manufactured “war on terrorism”—wholeheartedly supports any and all means to “prevent another 9/11”. A decade of Bush-Cheney criminality and mass murder failed to trigger any interest from a general US population that has been shocked into servitude, and further brain-addled by ubiquitous corporate right-wing media. Another day, another massacre.

Leak as imperial war propaganda

            Where the WikiLeaks papers gain significance is in the detail revealed about the operations of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI) and, more specifically, the manner in which leading government figures and the media have interpreted these items.

            The ISI is being accused of “undercutting” US operations, “conspiring with’ and aiding the “powerfully resurgent” Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, aiding the killing of US forces, and organizing “networks of militants” across the region. An all-out propaganda attack against Pakistan led by the White House is underway.

             Essentially, Pakistan is being branded as a terrorist state and a worthy target of military attack, along with Iran, which is also fingered by the WikiLeak for backing Taliban militants within Afghanistan.
            Hamid Gul, former ISI chief and major regional player, accuses the US of orchestrating the expose to shift attention away from the US government’s “own failings”, in order to “force Pakistan’s hand on policy in Afghanistan”.

             According to Gul “they the Americans want to bash Pakistan, at this time to come up with this leak. I refuse to believe it is not on purpose.”

            The Obama administration, eager for a pretext to escalate the Central Asia/Middle East (resource) war into Pakistan and Iran, has certainly found ammunition with the WikiLeak expose.

            Perhaps not coincidentally, the “leak” occurred just prior to a new $33 billion/30,000 troop surge for Afghanistan was signed in the US Congress, and ahead of a possible military attack on Iran, which former CIA Director Michael Hayden says is “inexorable”.

The glaring omission

            As accusations and attacks on Pakistan and its “terrorist ISI” rise in intensity, not one mainstream media report mentions the fact that the ISI is a virtual branch of the CIA, and one that operates on behalf of Anglo-American policy.

            It is fact that the ISI, with full Anglo-American direction, has long been a driving force behind “Islamic militants” and “terrorists” throughout the world, including “Al-Qaeda”. The CIA and ISI have cooperatively fomented instability and tension throughout Central Asia and the Middle East, playing all sides for geostrategic gain. This “strategy of tension” is one of the hallmarks of the “war on terrorism”. The ISI was also directly involved with the false flag operation of 9/11.

             According to Michel Chossudovsky:

             “The ISI actively collaborates with the CIA. It continues to perform the role of a ‘go-between’ in numerous intelligence operations on behalf of the CIA. The ISI directly supports and finances a number of terrorist organizations, including Al Qaeda.”

If the ISI is responsible for terrorism, the funding and aiding of “Islamic militants”, and the killing of US forces, logic dictates that its big brethren—the CIA and officials in Washington—are also guilty and involved.

            The manner in which the ISI is under fire, while omitting any mention of the ISI’s guiding superiors in Washington speaks to a deliberate anti-Pakistan/pro-US bias.

            Whose political weapon?

            Until the source of this WikiLeak is revealed, along with the motive for the “leak”, all that remains is a political Rohrschach Test, open to interpretation.

            The ultimate beneficiary is whatever faction controls the interpretation.

            In the end, only Pakistan and Iran have been politically damaged, while the Obama administration has a new pretext to escalate and intensify its continuing resource war.


The Ruling Elite Called

July 30, 2010

by Jim Quinn

The Burning Platform

I just got off the horn with the Ruling Elite. We had an emergency conference call and to tell you the truth, they ain’t happy. You little people are not responding the way you are supposed to. A significant portion of you are not getting more optimistic because they tell you to. Instead of just reading the headline on Bloomberg that durable goods orders skyrocketed in June, you actually read the details that said durable goods orders plunged. It is getting difficult for the ruling elite to keep the masses sedated and dumbed down. These damn bloggers, with their facts and critical thinking, are throwing a wrench into the gears. Obama and his crack team are working round the clock to lock down the internet, but it will take time. Not that they are totally dissatisfied. They’ve been able to renovate their penthouses and purchase new mansions in the Hamptons with the billions in bonuses you supplied through TARP. The $1.2 trillion supplied by your children and grandchildren to buy up toxic mortgages off their balances sheets was a godsend. They will never call you suckers, to your face.

Their spirits were buoyed by the 2,600 pages DONK (Dodd/Frank) financial reform bill. So many loopholes, so little time. Obama and his crack team of Obamanistas in the White House, supported by their mouthpieces in the mainstream media, have been able to easily manipulate the non-thinking masses into believing this bill would have stopped the last financial crash and will stop the next one. The Ministry of Truth has been working overtime utilizing Federal Reserve paid shill economists like Alan Blinder and Mark Zandi to perpetuate the myth that the actions taken in the last 18 months have averted a Depression, saved 8 million jobs, created a long-lasting recovery, wiped out Swine Flu, and earned Paul Krugman a nobel prize in fiction.

This is where we have a problem. The worshippers of Keynes, that rule the country, are pissed off at you. Don’t you realize that government spending of your money, borrowed from the Chinese, with the bill passed to your grandchildren, was supposed to reinvigorate your animal spirits. They handed you other people’s money to buy cars and homes and what do you do? You stop buying cars and homes as soon as they stop paying you to buy cars and homes. You ungrateful bastards. Bennie has been hugely successful at ruining the retirements of millions of grandmothers by paying them .20% on their money market accounts while forcing mortgage rates for 30 years down to 4.5%. And still you don’t buy houses. Timmy has instructed Fannie Mae to make home loans to anyone with a pulse who can make an X on a piece of paper. No money down, no proof of income, no assets. Just like the good old days. Still you don’t buy houses. What is wrong with you?

The criminal banking elite have more than bent over backwards to get this economy humming. They have patiently stood by while you haven’t made your mortgage payments for two years while still residing in the house. They’ve pretended to go along with the brilliant HAMP (Home Affordable Modification Program) plan, masterminded by the rocket scientists in the White House. Just because virtually no one has been able to qualify for the plan and the redefault rate is 75%, doesn’t mean it hasn’t worked wonders for the economy. The awesome part of not making people pay their mortgages is that they were able to make payments on their credit cards. That allowed the mega elite banks to pretend that consumers are flush and relieve their loan loss reserves while not writing off the bad mortgages and reporting billions in profits for the 2nd Quarter. It is good to be the ruling elite.

The ruling elite are letting you slide on your mortgages and you have the gall to withdraw $20 billion from U.S. equity funds and not buy into this fake stock rally. Don’t you realize that when the stock market goes up, the economy follows? Everyone knows this. But, instead you sit on the sidelines and refuse to invest in the stock market. The super computers of the mega-banks are getting tired of trading with each other and single-handedly making the stock market appear safe. Just because the ruling elite have vaporized $10 trillion of your net worth in the last two years, you hold a grudge? Remember the mantra “Stocks For the Long Run” that the ruling elite burned into your brains through CNBC and the rest of the shillstream media? Why are you so suspicious of our advice. Ignore the fact that the S&P 500 today is at the exact level it reached on March 24, 1998. They meant the really really long term.

            Here is the message from the ruling elite to you ignorant masses: Debt got us into this mess and it sure as hell is going to get us out. They have convinced the mainstream media that the reason the economy is sputtering is because the average Joe is not doing their part. This crazy concept of saving for a rainy day seems to be catching on. This is very dangerous. Savings could lead to investment and long-term stability. The ruling elite will have none of that foolishness. The mainstream media is telling you that this new found austerity will push us back into recession. The talking heads continue to pound away that you have reduced your spending too much, when anyone with a calculator and half a brain (Krugman doesn’t make the cut) can determine that the decrease in consumer debt outstanding is completely the result of write-offs by the mega elite banks. Consumers are living off their credit cards at this point.

The military industrial complex continues to do the heavy lifting for this economy. If they weren’t blowing up bridges, power plants and orphanages in foreign countries and then rebuilding them at ten times the expected cost, how would they possibly spend $895 billion per year. It ain’t easy to waste that kind of money annually. Whenever some crazy dude like Ron Paul questions the need to spend as much as the rest of the world combined on the military, some potential terrorists are captured in the nick of time and the threat level is raised to Orange (thanks Tom Ridge). The “professional” journalists on the major networks then do their part in this farce by spreading fear among the general population. Rinse and repeat.

So, we now find ourselves at the edge of the abyss again. The ruling elite have a great plan. It involves more debt, more stimulus, more printing, more accounting fraud, more pain for the masses, and of course more bonuses for Wall Street. If you, the little people, will just follow this 10 step plan, the ruling elite will be just fine:

Stocks are undervalued according to the same “experts” who told you they were undervalued in October 2007. Take out a loan and buy mega-banks stocks, commercial real estate developers, and bankrupt car companies.

General Motors, in a brilliant strategic coup, has bought  “subprime” auto loan company Americredit. What else does a government/union owned car company need? The fact that GMAC has lost $10 billion of taxpayer funds in the last year shouldn’t worry you about your investment in GM. If you can’t sell cars to people with no income, no job and no prospects for repaying the seven year 0% loan, who can you sell a car to. When the government pays Goldman Sachs millions to convince you to buy the stock of GM in its Fall IPO, ask no questions and just buy buy buy.

Ignore the fact that Citicorp, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo would be declared insolvent if the FASB had not caved into threats from the Federal Reserve and Treasury. Just buy their stocks. Trust Wall Street.

Enough austerity already. You haven’t bought a new HDTV in six months. It’s like you’ve been living in a 3rd world country. If you have any equity left in your house, borrow against it and buy something big and glitzy. Make sure you show it off to your shallowest neighbors. They will go out and buy something bigger and glitzier on credit. Before you know it we have a recovery. Keynesianism 101.

Stop frequenting financial blogs like Naked Capitalism, Credit Writedowns, Dollar Collapse, Market Oracle, 321Gold, Jesse’s Cafe Americain, Of Two Minds, Zero Hedge, Mike Shedlock, or Barry Ritholtz. These sites will just shower you with facts, analysis and truth. Watch CNBC, Fox, MSNBC and the other corporate media to get the ruling elite approved view of the world.

If you are currently renting or living in your mother’s basement, have no job, no savings and no prospects, Fannie Mae wants to put you in your very own house. Mortgage payments are optional. The 50% of Americans that pay taxes will gladly fund your new abode.

If you are approaching the 99th week of unemployment, have no fear. The ruling elite will use the MSM to run hundreds of sob stories about only two years on the dole being immoral and cruel. The White House will present a study from “impartial” economists that proves that extending unemployment benefits to 156 weeks will create or save 3 million jobs.

The stress of this recession has been too much. You need to whip out that credit card and book a trip to Disney World or Dollywood. Worry about funding that 401k sometime in the future.

Unquestioningly accept the fact that Iran is an imminent threat to your safety and liberty. Support the obliteration of this evil nation based upon information provided by the CIA (WMD slamdunk) and the Israelis.

Lastly, call your Congressman and tell them to extend the tax cuts for the rich. As you have probably concluded, the ruling elite are rich. They don’t like paying taxes. That is why they employ thousand of tax lawyers. Since the expiration of the Bush tax cuts will hurt the ruling elite the most, a full court press of disinformation is in order.

The ruling elite expect you to comply without question. Have they ever led you astray before?


July was the deadliest month for U.S. forces in Afghanistan

July 30, 2010

by Robert H. Reid


           KABUL, Afghanistan – Three U.S. troops died in blasts in Afghanistan, bringing the death toll for July to at least 63 and surpassing the previous month’s record as the deadliest for American forces in the nearly 9-year-old war.

The three died in two separate blasts in southern Afghanistan the day before, a NATO statement said Friday. It gave no nationalities, but U.S. officials said all three were Americans. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity pending notification of kin.

U.S. and NATO commanders had warned casualties would rise as the international military force ramps up the war against the Taliban, especially in their southern strongholds in Helmand and Kandahar provinces. President Barack Obama ordered 30,000 reinforcements to Afghanistan last December in a bid to turn back a resurgent Taliban.

British and Afghan troops launched a new offensive Friday in the Sayedebad area of Helmand to try to deny insurgents a base from which to launch attacks in Nad Ali and Marjah, the British military announced. Coalition and Afghan troops have sought to solidify control of Marjah after overrunning the poppy-farming community five months ago.

In Kabul, a crowd threw stones and set fire to an SUV after a traffic accident Friday in which two Afghans were killed and two were injured, according to traffic official Abdul Saboor. SUVs are associated with foreigners, but Saboor said the occupants of the vehicle fled the scene.

The tally of 63 American service member deaths in July is based on military reports compiled by The Associated Press. June had been the deadliest month for both the U.S. and the overall NATO-led force. A total of 104 international service members died last month, including 60 Americans.

The American deaths this month include Petty Officer 2nd Class Justin McNeley from Kingman, Arizona, and Petty Officer 3rd Class Jarod Newlove, 25, from the Seattle area. They went missing last week in Logar province south of Kabul, and the Taliban announced they were holding one of the sailors.

McNeley’s body was recovered there Sunday, and Newlove’s body was pulled from a river Wednesday evening, Afghan officials said. The Taliban offered no explanation for Newlove’s death, but Afghan officials speculated he died of wounds suffered when the two were ambushed by the Taliban.

The discovery of Newlove’s body only deepened the mystery of the men’s disappearance nearly 60 miles (100 kilometers) from their base in Kabul. An investigation is under way, but with both sailors dead, U.S. authorities remain at a loss to explain what two junior enlisted men in noncombat jobs were doing driving alone in Logar — much of which is not under government control.

Newlove’s father, Joseph Newlove, told KOMO-TV in Seattle he too was baffled why his son had left the relative safety of Kabul.

“He’s never been out of that town. So why would he go out of that town? He wouldn’t have,” he said.

Senior military officials in Washington, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case, said the sailors were never assigned anywhere near where their bodies were found.

A NATO official in Kabul shot down speculation the two were abducted in Kabul and driven to Logar — the same province where New York Times reporter David Rohde was kidnapped in 2008 while trying to make contact with a Taliban commander. Rohde and an Afghan colleague escaped in June 2009 after seven months in captivity, most spent in Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan.

Samer Gul, chief of Logar’s Charkh district, said the two sailors, in a four-wheel drive armored SUV, were seen Friday a week ago by a guard working for the district chief’s office. The guard tried to flag down the vehicle, carrying a driver and a passenger, but it kept going, Gul said.

Gul said there is a well-paved road that leads into the Taliban area and suggested the Americans may have mistaken that for the main highway — which is much older and more dilapidated.

Elsewhere, violence continued Friday.

Four Afghan civilians were killed and three were injured when their vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb in Zabul province of southern Afghanistan, provincial spokesman Mohammed Jan Rasoolyar said. When police arrived at the scene, Taliban fighters opened fire. One insurgent was killed, the spokesman said.

In Kandahar, a candidate in September’s parliamentary election escaped assassination Friday when a bomb planted on a motorcycle exploded, city security chief Fazil Ahmad Sherzad said. The Interior Ministry said a woman and a child were killed and another child was wounded.


Associated Press Writers Mirwais Khan in Kandahar and Amir Shah in Kabul contributed to this report.

146 Votes Away from Afghanistan Exit

July 27, 2010

by Tom Andrews


The secret documents released Sunday by WikiLeaks provide 92,000 additional reasons why Congress should stop the US war in Afghanistan. It will take 146 votes on the floor of the House to do so. Call your Representative now at (888) 493-5443 and tell them to vote no on the war funding bill HR 4899

            It was July 1 when 162 Members of the House voted for Congressman Jim McGovern’s amendment requiring an exit strategy with a time certain for US combat troops to be withdrawn.  The leaked documents underscore why the open ended military commitment to the second most corrupt government on earth, the Karzai government, makes no sense. Under the rules of the House, if these 162 House Members hold their ground today and vote against sending an additional $33 billion for this endless war, the motion to pass the appropriation will be defeated.

The WikiLeaks documents demonstrate why those 162 Members of the House were so right in casting their vote against an open ended military commitment to the government of Afghanistan. As the New York Times editorial page says this morning:

“But the most alarming of the reports were the ones that described the cynical collusion between Pakistan’s military intelligence service and the Taliban. Despite the billions of dollars the United States has sent in aid to Pakistan since September 11, they offer powerful new evidence that crucial elements of Islamabad’s power structure have been actively helping to direct and support the forces attacking the American-led military coalition.

And then there is the previously hidden report by the US Civil Affairs Office,  detailing why the insurgency strategy is doomed to fail:  “The people of Afghanistan keep loosing (sic) their trust in the government because of the high amount of corrupted government officials. The general view of the Afghans is that the current government is worst (sic) than the Taliban.” This makes any counterinsurgency strategy mission impossible to achieve regardless of the number of soldiers who are sent into harm’s way.

It is unconscionable to send American men and women to Afghanistan to risk their lives for a strategy that is built on quicksand.

It will take one-third of the House to defeat the Supplemental Appropriation under the rules that apply to this vote (it is being brought up through a suspension of the rules which requires the support of at least two-thirds of the Members).  Win Without War has asked its forty member organizations to e-mail their respective members, asking them to contact their Members of Congress and urge them to be one of the 146.

If they do, the House will today take the historic step of saying no to the Supplemental Appropriation for Afghanistan and yes to the US soldiers who they have placed in harm’s way. All that is required is 146 of the 162 McGovern amendment allies to hold their ground and stand tall today.

Tom Andrews, a former Member of Congress from the first Congressional District of Maine, is the National Director of Win Without War, a coalition of forty-two national membership organizations including the National Council of Churches, the NAACP, the National Organization of Women, the Sierra Club, and MoveOn.  He is also co-founder of New Security Action.
Thousands of reasons to leave

By George Friedman

            On Sunday, The New York Times and two other newspapers published summaries and excerpts of tens of thousands of documents leaked to a website known as WikiLeaks. The documents comprise a vast array of material concerning the war in Afghanistan. They range from tactical reports from small unit operations to broader strategic analyses of politico-military relations between the United States and Pakistan. It appears to be an extraordinary collection.

            Tactical intelligence on firefights is intermingled with reports on confrontations between senior US and Pakistani officials in which lists of Pakistani operatives in Afghanistan are handed over to the Pakistanis. Reports on the use of surface-to-air missiles by militants in Afghanistan are intermingled with reports on the activities of former Pakistani intelligence chief Lieutenant General Hamid Gul, who reportedly continues to liaise with the Afghan Taliban in an informal capacity.

The WikiLeaks

At first glance, it is difficult to imagine a single database in which such a diverse range of intelligence was stored, or the existence of a single individual cleared to see such diverse intelligence stored across multiple databases and able to collect, collate and transmit the intelligence without detection. Intriguingly, all of what has been released so far has been not-so-sensitive material rated secret or below.

            The Times reports that Gul’s name appears all over the documents, yet very few documents have been released in the current batch, and it is very hard to imagine intelligence on Gul and his organization, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate, being classified as only secret. So, this was either low-grade material hyped by the media, or there is material reviewed by the selected newspapers but not yet made public. Still, what was released and what the Times discussed is consistent with what most thought was happening in Afghanistan.
The obvious comparison is to the Pentagon Papers, commissioned by the Defense Department to gather lessons from the Vietnam War and leaked by Daniel Ellsberg to the Times during the Richard Nixon administration. Many people worked on the Pentagon Papers, each of whom was focused on part of it and few of whom would have had access to all of it.

            Ellsberg did not give the Times the supporting documentation; he gave it the finished product. By contrast, in the WikiLeaks case, someone managed to access a lot of information that would seem to have been contained in many different places. If this was an unauthorized leak, then it had to have involved a massive failure in security. Certainly, the culprit should be known by now and his arrest should have been announced. And certainly, the gathering of such diverse material in one place accessible to one or even a few people who could move it without detection is odd.

            [US Army intelligence analyst Private First Clas Bradley E Manning, 22, who was charged in May with illegally downloading classified material in relation to leaked video of a deadly helicopter attack in Baghdad, is believed to have had access to the leaked Afghan reports that were posted on the WikiLeaks website this week, according to the Los Angeles Times and other reports. Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell described Manning as a “person of interest” in the most recent WikiLeaks disclosures, the LA Times reported.]

            Like the Pentagon Papers, the WikiLeaks (as I will call them) elicited a great deal of feigned surprise, not real surprise. Apart from the charge that the Lyndon Johnson administration contrived the Gulf of Tonkin incident, much of what the Pentagon Papers contained was generally known. Most striking about the Pentagon Papers was not how much surprising material they contained, but how little. Certainly, they contradicted the official line on the war, but there were few, including supporters of the war, who were buying the official line anyway.

            In the case of the WikiLeaks, what is revealed also is not far from what most people believed, although they provide enormous detail. Nor is it that far from what government and military officials are saying about the war. No one is saying the war is going well, though some say that given time it might go better.

            The view of the Taliban as a capable fighting force is, of course, widespread. If they weren’t a capable fighting force, then the United States would not be having so much trouble defeating them. The WikiLeaks seem to contain two strategically significant claims, however. The first is that the Taliban are a more sophisticated fighting force than has been generally believed.

            An example is the claim that Taliban fighters have used man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) against US aircraft. This claim matters in a number of ways. First, it indicates that the Taliban are using technologies similar to those used against the Soviets. Second, it raises the question of where the Taliban are getting them – they certainly don’t manufacture MANPADS themselves.

            If they have obtained advanced technologies, this would have significance on the battlefield. For example, if reasonably modern MANPADS were to be deployed in numbers, the use of American airpower would either need to be further constrained or higher attrition rates accepted. Thus far, only first- and second-generation MANPADS without infrared counter-countermeasures (which are more dangerous) appear to have been encountered, and not with decisive or prohibitive effectiveness. But in any event, this doesn’t change the fundamental character of the war.

Supply lines and sanctuaries

What it does raise is the question of supply lines and sanctuaries. The most important charge contained in the leaks is about Pakistan. The WikiLeaks contain documents that charge that the Pakistanis are providing both supplies and sanctuary to Taliban fighters while objecting to American forces entering Pakistan to clean out the sanctuaries and are unwilling or unable to carry out that operation by themselves (as they have continued to do in North Waziristan).

            Just as important, the documents charge that the ISI has continued to maintain liaison and support for the Taliban in spite of claims by the Pakistani government that pro-Taliban officers had been cleaned out of the ISI years ago. The document charges that Gul, the director general of the ISI from 1987 to 1989, still operates in Pakistan, informally serving the ISI and helping give the ISI plausible deniability.

            Though startling, the charge that Islamabad is protecting and sustaining forces fighting and killing Americans is not a new one. When the United States halted operations in Afghanistan after the defeat of the Soviets in 1989, US policy was to turn over operations in Afghanistan to Pakistan.

            United States strategy was to use Islamist militants to fight the Soviets and to use Pakistani liaisons through the ISI to supply and coordinate with them. When the Soviets and Americans left Afghanistan, the ISI struggled to install a government composed of its allies until the Taliban took over Kabul in 1996.

            The ISI’s relationship with the Taliban – which in many ways are the heirs to the anti-Soviet mujahideen – is widely known. In my book, America’s Secret War, I discussed both this issue and the role of Gul. These documents claim that this relationship remains intact. Apart from Pakistani denials, US officials and military officers frequently made this charge off the record, and on the record occasionally. The leaks on this score are interesting, but they will shock only those who didn’t pay attention or who want to be shocked.

            Let’s step back and consider the conflict dispassionately. The United States forced the Taliban from power. It never defeated the Taliban nor did it make a serious effort to do so, as that would require massive resources the United States doesn’t have. Afghanistan is a secondary issue for the United States, especially since al-Qaeda has established bases in a number of other countries, particularly Pakistan, making the occupation of Afghanistan irrelevant to fighting al-Qaeda.

            For Pakistan, however, Afghanistan is an area of fundamental strategic interest. The region’s main ethnic group, the Pashtun, stretch across the Afghan-Pakistani border. Moreover, were a hostile force present in Afghanistan, as one was during the Soviet occupation, Pakistan would face threats in the west as well as the challenge posed by India in the east. For Pakistan, an Afghanistan under Pakistani influence or at least a benign Afghanistan is a matter of overriding strategic importance.

            It is therefore irrational to expect the Pakistanis to halt collaboration with the force that they expect to be a major part of the government of Afghanistan when the United States leaves. The Pakistanis never expected the United States to maintain a presence in Afghanistan permanently. They understood that Afghanistan was a means toward an end, and not an end in itself. They understood this under George W Bush. They understand it even more clearly under Barack Obama, who made withdrawal a policy goal.

            Given that they don’t expect the Taliban to be defeated, and given that they are not interested in chaos in Afghanistan, it follows that they will maintain close relations with and support for the Taliban. Given that the United States is powerful and is Pakistan’s only lever against India, the Pakistanis will not make this their public policy, however. The United States has thus created a situation in which the only rational policy for Pakistan is two-tiered, consisting of overt opposition to the Taliban and covert support for the Taliban.

            This is duplicitous only if you close your eyes to the Pakistani reality, which the Americans never did. There was ample evidence, as the WikiLeaks material shows, of covert ISI ties to the Taliban. The Americans knew they couldn’t break those ties. They settled for what support Pakistan could give them while constantly pressing them harder and harder until genuine fears in Washington emerged that Pakistan could destabilize altogether.

            Since a stable Pakistan is more important to the United States than a victory in Afghanistan – which it wasn’t going to get anyway – the United States released pressure and increased aid. If Pakistan collapsed, then India would be the sole regional power, not something the United States wants.

            The WikiLeaks seem to show that, like sausage-making, one should never look too closely at how wars are fought, particularly coalition warfare. Even the strongest alliances, such as that between the United States and the United Kingdom in World War II, are fraught with deceit and dissension. London was fighting to save its empire, an end Washington was hostile to; much intrigue ensued.

            The US-Pakistani alliance is not nearly as trusting. The United States is fighting to deny al-Qaeda a base in Afghanistan while Pakistan is fighting to secure its western frontier and its internal stability. These are very different ends that have very different levels of urgency.

            The WikiLeaks portray a war in which the United States has a vastly insufficient force on the ground that is fighting a capable and dedicated enemy who isn’t going anywhere. The Taliban know that they win just by not being defeated, and they know that they won’t be defeated. The Americans are leaving, meaning the Taliban need only wait and prepare.

            The Pakistanis also know that the Americans are leaving and that the Taliban or a coalition including the Taliban will be in charge of Afghanistan when the Americans leave. They will make certain that they maintain good relations with the Taliban. They will deny that they are doing this because they want no impediments to a good relationship with the United States before or after it leaves Afghanistan.

            They need a patron to secure their interests against India. Since the United States wants neither an India outside a balance of power nor China taking the role of Pakistan’s patron, it follows that the risk the United States will bear grudges is small. And given that, the Pakistanis can live with Washington knowing that one Pakistani hand is helping the Americans while another helps the Taliban. Power, interest and reality define the relations between nations, and different factions inside nations frequently have different agendas and work against each other.

            The WikiLeaks, from what we have seen so far, detail power, interest and reality as we have known it. They do not reveal a new reality. Much will be made about the shocking truth that has been shown, which, as mentioned above, shocks only those who wish to be shocked. The Afghan war is about an insufficient American and allied force fighting a capable enemy on its home ground and a Pakistan positioning itself for the inevitable outcome. The WikiLeaks contain all the details.

            We are left with the mystery of who compiled all of these documents and who had access to them with enough time and facilities to transmit them to the outside world in a blatant and sustained breach of protocol.

            The image we have is of an unidentified individual or small group working to get a “shocking truth” out to the public, only the truth is not shocking – it is what was known all along in excruciating detail. Who would want to detail a truth that is already known, with access to all this documentation and the ability to transmit it unimpeded? Whoever it proves to have been has just made the most powerful case yet for withdrawal from Afghanistan sooner rather than later.

(Published with permission from STRATFOR, a Texas-based geopolitical intelligence company. Copyright 2010 Stratfor.)


Foreclosures up in 75 percent of top U.S. metro areas

July 29, 2010

by Lynn Adler


          NEW YORK  Foreclosures rose in 3 of every four large U.S. metro areas in this year’s first half, likely ruling out sustained home price gains until 2013, real estate data company RealtyTrac said on Thursday.

Unemployment was the main culprit driving foreclosure actions on more than 1.6 million properties, the company said.

“We’re not going to see meaningful, sustainable home price appreciation while we’re seeing 75 percent of the markets have increases in foreclosures,” RealtyTrac senior vice president Rick Sharga said in an interview.

Foreclosure actions — which include notice of default, scheduled auction and repossession — in the first half rose in 154 of the 206 metro areas with populations 200,000 or more.

“We’re not going to see real price appreciation probably until 2013,” said Sharga. “We don’t see a double dip in housing but we think it’s going to be a long painful recovery for the next three years.”

Nine of the 10 areas slammed hardest by the foreclosure tidal wave improved from the first half of 2009, suggesting a peak at rates that are still up to five times the national average, RealtyTrac said in its midyear 2010 metropolitan foreclosure report.

Cities with the 20 highest foreclosure rates were all in Florida, California, Nevada and Arizona.

As long as unemployment hovers near 10 percent and unrelenting foreclosures hang over the market, prices cannot stage a lasting comeback. Home prices are about 29 percent lower, on average, than peaks set four years ago.

“If unemployment remains persistently high and foreclosure prevention efforts only delay the inevitable, then we could continue to see increased foreclosure activity and a corresponding weakness in home prices in many metro areas,” RealtyTrac chief executive James J. Saccacio said in a statement.

Home prices rose in May for the second month, still propped up by the crush of demand for homebuyer tax credits that ended April 30, according to Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller indexes.

But that momentum will not last, economists agree.

Unemployment and wage cuts are chipping away at confidence and could slice average prices as much as 10 percent before a gradual climb resumes, many housing experts predict.

Sharga said the recent nominal price increases suggest that lenders so far have managed the distressed property flow well and buyers are bidding for those houses when they do get listed for sale.

Banks will take over at least a record 1 million mortgages this year, RealtyTrac estimated earlier this month, noting that more than 5 million loans are seriously delinquent and face foreclosure.

More than 3 million households are seen getting at least one foreclosure notice this year, and this record will be surpassed slightly at the peak of next year, RealtryTrac expects.

Las Vegas had the country’s highest metro foreclosure rate in the first half of the year, with 6.6 percent of its housing units, or one in 15, getting a filing. The number of properties getting a notice, however, fell 9 percent from the same period last year.

Who Is Behind the 25,000 Deaths In Mexico?

by Charles Bowden and Molly Molloy

The Nation

With at least 25,000 people slaughtered in Mexico since President Felipe Calderón hurled the Mexican Army into the anti-cartel battle, three questions remain unanswered: Who is being killed, who is doing the killing and why are people being killed? This is apparently considered a small matter to US leaders in the discussions about failed states, narco-states and the false claim that violence is spilling across the border.

President Calderón has stated repeatedly that 90 percent of the dead are connected to drug organizations. The United States has silently endorsed this statement and is bankrolling it with $1.4 billion through Plan Mérida, the three-year assistance plan passed by the Bush administration in 2008. Yet the daily torrent of local press accounts from Ciudad Juárez makes it clear that most of the murder victims are ordinary Mexicans who magically morph into drug cartel members before their blood dries on the streets, sidewalks, vacant lots, pool halls and barrooms where they fall dead, riddled with bullets. Juárez is ground zero in this war: more than one-fourth of the 25,000 dead that the Mexican government admits to since December 2006 have occurred in this one border city of slightly over 1.5 million people, nearly 6,300 as of July 21, 2010. When three people attached to the US Consulate in Ciudad Juárez were killed in March this year, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the murders “the latest horrible reminder of how much work we have to do together.”

Just what is this work?

No one seems to know, but on the ground it is death. Calderón’s war, assisted by the United States, terrorizes the Mexican people, generates thousands of documented human rights abuses by the police and Mexican Army and inspires lies told by American politicians that violence is spilling across the border (in fact, it has been declining on the US side of the border for years).

We are told of a War on Drugs that has no observable effect on drug distribution, price or sales in the United States. We are told the Mexican Army is incorruptible, when the Mexican government’s own human rights office has collected thousands of complaints that the army robs, kidnaps, steals, tortures, rapes and kills innocent citizens. We are told repeatedly that it is a war between cartels or that it is a war by the Mexican government against cartels, yet no evidence is presented to back up these claims. The evidence we do have is that the killings are not investigated, that the military suffers almost no casualties and that thousands of Mexicans have filed affidavits claiming abuse, often lethal, by the Mexican army. 
Here is the US policy in a nutshell: we pay Mexicans to kill Mexicans, and this slaughter has no effect on drug shipments or prices.

This war gets personal. A friend calls late at night from Juárez and says if he is murdered before morning, be sure to tell his wife. It never occurs to him to call the police, nor does it occur to you. 

A friend who is a Mexican reporter flees to the United States because the Mexican Army has come to his house and plans to kill him for writing a news story that displeases the generals. He is promptly thrown into prison by the Department of Homeland Security because he is considered a menace to American society.

On the Mexican side, a mother, stepfather and pregnant daughter are chased down on a highway in the Valle de Juárez, and shot in their car, while two toddlers watch. On the US side, a man receives a phone call and his father tells him, “I’m dying, I’m dying, I’m dead.”  He hears his sister pleading for her life, “Don’t kill me. No don’t kill me.” He thinks his niece and nephew are dead also, but they are taken to a hospital, sprayed with shattered glass. The little boy watched his mother die, her head blown apart by the bullets. A cousin waits in a parking lot surrounded by chainlink and razor-wire on the US side of the bridge for the bodies to be delivered so that he can bring them home. The next day, the family takes to the parking lots of two fast-food outlets in their hometown of Las Cruces, New Mexico, for a carwash. Young girls in pink shorts and T-shirts wave hand-lettered signs. They will wash your car and accept donations to help bury their parents and sister, to buy clothes for two small orphans. “This was just a family,” says cousin Cristina, collecting donations in a zippered bag. She says they are in shock, the full impact of what happened has yet to sink in. So for now, they will raise the money they need to take care of the children. An American family. 

Or, you visit the room where nine people were shot to death in August 2008 as they raised their arms to praise God during a prayer meeting.  Forty hours later, flies buzz over what lingers in cracks in the tile floor and bloody handprints mark the wall. This was the scene of the first of several mass killings at drug rehab centers where at least fifty people have been massacred over the past two years in Juárez and Chihuahua City. An evangelical preacher who survived the slaughter that night said she saw a truckload of soldiers parked at the end of the street a hundred yards from the building and that the automatic rifle fire went on for fifteen minutes.
Or you talk with a former member of the Juárez cartel who is shocked to learn of a new cabinet appointment by President Calderón because he says he used to deliver suitcases of money to the man as payment from the Juárez cartel.

The claim that ninety percent of the dead are criminals seems at best to be self-delusion. In June 2010, El Universal, a major daily in Mexico City, noted that the federal government had investigated only 5 percent of the first 22,000 executions, according to confidential material turned over to the Mexican Senate by the Mexican Attorney General.  What constituted an investigation was not explained. 

On June 21, Cronica, another Mexico City paper, presented a National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) study that examined more than 5,000 complaints filed by Mexican citizens against the army. Besides incidents of rape, murder, torture, kidnapping and robbery, the report described scenes like the following: “June 1, 2007, in the community of La Joya de los Martinez, Sinaloa de Leyva: Members of the Army were camped at the edge of the highway, drinking alcoholic beverages. Two of them were inebriated and probably under the influence of some drug. They opened fire against a truck that drove along the road carrying eight members of the Esparza Galaviz family. One adult and two minors died…The soldiers arranged sacks of decomposing marijuana on the vehicle that had been attacked and killed one of their own soldiers, whose body was arranged at the crime scene to indicate that the civilian drivers had been the aggressors and had killed the soldier.” 

The CNDH also names the army as responsible for the shooting deaths of Martin and Brayan Almanza Salazar, aged 9 and 5, on April 3, 2010, as they traveled to the beach in Matamoros with their family. The only thing noteworthy about these cases is that they ever became public knowledge. Many more victims and survivors remain silent—afraid to report what has happened to them to any Mexican official or news reporter. 
Such incidents pass unnoticed in the US press and apparently do not capture the attention of our government. Nor does the fact that in the midst of what is repeatedly called a war against drug cartels by both the American and Mexican governments and press, Mexican soldiers seem immune to bullets. With over 8,000 Mexicans killed in 2009 alone, the army reported losses of thirty-five that year. According to Reporters Without Borders, a total of sixty-seven journalists have been killed in Mexico since 2000, while eleven others have gone missing since 2003. Mexico is now one of the most dangerous places in the world to be reporter. And possibly the safest place in the world to be a soldier.

When there is a noteworthy massacre, the Mexican government says it proves the drug industry is crumbling. When there is a period of relative peace, the Mexican government says it shows their policy is winning. On the night of July 15, a remote-controlled car bomb exploded in downtown Juárez, killing at least three people—a federal policeman, a kidnap victim dressed in a police uniform and used as a decoy and a physician who rushed to the scene from his private office to help dozens of people injured in the blast.  A graffiti message attributed the blast to the Juárez cartel and claimed it as a warning to police who work for the Sinaloa cartel.

On July 20, the Mexican ambassador to the United States, Arturo Sarukhan, minimized the Juárez bombing, saying that it was not aimed indiscriminately at civilians and that it did not indicate any escalation in violence. He parroted the declaration of Mexican Attorney General Arturo Chávez that the motivation for the bombing is economic, not ideological, and that “we have no evidence in the country of narco-terrorism.” US Ambassador to Mexico Carlos Pascual also indicated that this violence in Mexico, which also included a grenade attack on the US Consulate in Nuevo Laredo a few months ago, “is disturbing but has not reached the level of terrorism.” We are supposed to believe in their evidence that 90 percent of the dead are criminals, but that they have no evidence at all of narco-terrorism? This, despite numerous incidents of grenades and other explosives being used in recent attacks in the states of Michoacan, Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas, Guerrero, Sonora and many other places in Mexico. And that “armed commandos” dressed like soldiers and wielding high-powered machine guns are witnessed at the scenes of hundreds of massacres documented since 2008.

No one asks or answers this question: How does such an escalation benefit the drug smuggling business which has not been diminished at all during the past three years of hyper-violence in Mexico? Each year, the death toll rises, each year there is no evidence of any disruption in the delivery of drugs to American consumers, each year the United States asserts its renewed support for this war. And each year, the basic claims about the war go unquestioned. 
Let us make this simple: no one knows how many are dying, no one knows who is killing them and no one knows what role the drug industry has in these killings. There has been no investigation of the dead and so no one really knows whether they were criminals or why they died. There have been no interviews with heads of drug organizations and so no one really knows what they are thinking or what they are trying to accomplish. 

It is difficult to have a useful discussion without facts, but it seems to be very easy to make policy without facts. We can look forward to fewer facts and more unquestioned and unsubstantiated government claims. Such as the response by General Felipe de Jesús Espitia, commander of the Joint Operation Chihuahua, to a 2008 report by El Diario de Juárez that one out of three Juárez citizens believed the army occupation of the city had accomplished little or nothing. “Those who feel this way, it is because their interests are affected or because they are paid by the narco-traffickers,” he said. “Who are these citizens?”

General Jorge Juárez Loera, the first commander of the Joint Operation Chihuahua, put it this way: “I would like to see reporters change their articles and instead of writing about one more murder victim, they should say, ‘one less criminal.’ ”

The Drug Culture and Political Repression in Mexico

July 20, 2010


From a Department of State report dated June 7, 2010, we report that:drug trafficking in Mexico has taken control of the judicial, the executive and the military of that country.


Embassy of the United States, Mexico City

                                                                                             June 7, 2010

To: Acting Director, Office Western Hemisphere Affairs

cc: John Feeley- Deputy Chief of Mission–
       Gustavo Delgado -Minister Counselor for Political Affairs

Subject: Background of past and present drug smuggling centered in Mexico

            Drug traffickers in Mexico have become so powerful that they have “penetrated” the protective shield of official institutions whose purpose is to fight them. Historical research in the Mexican case does not support the assumption of two separate fields: drug trafficking and its agents, on one side, and the State on the other. Moreover, since the beginning of the 1990s, the illegal trade is definitely proven to be related to powerful Mexican political agents in the production and importation/trafficking regions.

            Today, 2010, the most significant areas of drug, and human immigrant exports to the United States are: Sinaloa ,Quintana Roo, Baja California, Oaxaca, Colima, Sonora, Baja California, and Tamaulipas  In specific, major heroin  trafficking routes are from Jalisco, Guerrero, Nayarit, Sinaloa, Durango and Michoacán to Baja California, from Sinaloa, Nayarit and Michoacán to Sonora; and from Guerrero and Michoacán to Tamaulipas. The routes for opium-based products, mostly from Columbia, begin in Guerrero and D.F. to Baja California. Tijuana, Mexicali and Ensenada, in Baja California.

              Methamphetamine production areas are:Baja California, México and Jalisco, the most important, but also Sonora, Tamaulipas, Michoacán, Nayarit, Sinaloa and Durango

            Prior to the 1990s , domestic Mexican cultivators and wholesale smugglers [opium-based products from Columbia] were not autonomous players; their success depended on political protection. They did not buy politicians; rather, politicians obliged them to pay a sort of “tax”. If they didn’t pay, their business was over. The power was on the political side. Politicians decided who, when, where and how. Drug trafficking was supported from within the power structure. How could drug traffickers have penetrated a political structure that created and protected them, a political structure they were subordinated to? They were its creatures.

            The strategies of political control on drug trafficking have changed throughout the years. Before the 1940s, governors of producing and trafficking states had the power to control illegal business in their territories. After 1947, anti-drug agents and the military had direct responsibility in fighting traffickers and the possibility of being institutional mediators between traffickers and political power. Neither traffickers nor mediators were autonomous: they were both subordinated to political power. The cracking down of the ancient regime has provoked cascade effects on the different levels of the power structure pyramid. Lethal disputes among the state party political families have disrupted the mechanisms of political control over institutional mediations between traffickers and political power. Institutional mediators (police and military) and traffickers can now be more autonomous than ever and capable of playing for their own interests. A political pact for a democratic transition would help to prevent the negative effects of a collapsing system and increase the probabilities for keeping the social control, under different conditions, of drug trafficking, considering the realistic impossibility of eradicating drugs from the planet and stopping once and forever the curiosity and appetite of human beings for mind-altering substances.

            It is important to note that, since the beginning of the drug business, the best known drug traffickers in Mexico were related in special official reports in Mexico and the U.S.A. to high ranking politicians. More precisely, these politicians were suspected of being directly involved in the illegal trade and even of controlling it. In that scenario, free-lancers or outsiders would not have any chances to build up their own networks and succeed in their efforts. The political system emerged after the Mexican revolution was a state party system, a social pyramid with the President at the top, concentrating powers over the legislative and the judicial branches. Governors’ fidelity [ most of them military officers formed on the battlefields ] was in many cases assured in exchange of a certain liberty to do any kind of business. The limits were the President’s will, their own entrepreneurial capacity, and their ethical dispositions. In that context, drug trafficking was just another profitable business that could be achieved by powerful members of the “revolutionary family”, because of the political positions occupied by some of them at a given moment. Controlled, tolerated or regulated by mighty politicians in northern states, drug trafficking seems to have been a business that was developed from within the power structure, and drug traffickers do not give the impression of having emerged as an early autonomous specialized social group, but rather as a new class of outlaws that depended closely on political and police protection and was banned from political activity, according to recent U.S.A. and Mexican archives and newspaper archives investigations.

Since the prohibition years in the twenties until 1947, governors from northern states where illicit plants were cultivated have had an important [and sometimes direct] role in controlling drug trafficking and traffickers. After 1947, the DFS and the Federal Judicial Police (Policía Judicial Federal-PJF, depending on the PGR) as well as the army, became, more than before, the institutions responsible for fighting against the forbidden trade. Imputations on governors were transmuted into indictments against members of those institutions, protecting governors from an eventual political pressure because of drug affairs and leaving police agents and the military assuming the consequences of the dangerous and structural liaisons with drug traffickers. In a way, this new structure created an institutional mediation between drug traffickers and the political powers, groups who previously had a direct line of communication.

On one hand, the drug business grew very quickly during the war years and did not stop in the aftermath. More social agents belonging to the power structure placed in strategic positions where business was booming had the possibility of making quick and easy profits, and so they did. But, on the other hand, police agents and the military also had the role of preventing drug traffickers from becoming completely autonomous or getting so wild as to go beyond certain limits of socially and historically tolerated violence, and by doing so, to draw unwelcome and unwanted attention from the United States authorities. As long as the outlaws were politically controlled, federal agents could get a piece of the cake, not so big as to become autonomous themselves, and certainly not without sharing profits with their superiors in the political structure. That was the rule in order to secure impunity.

For many reasons, the state of Sinaloa has become a paradigmatic case in the study of drug trafficking in Mexico. Articulated since the end of the nineteenth century to the economy of California and Arizona in the U.S.A., the opium produced in that state followed the same route as certain agricultural products that were exported via the Pacific railroad. Chinese immigrants and local producers and traders, mostly but not exclusively from the mountains of Badiraguato (a municipal division of the state of Sinaloa) transported their merchandise to the border cities of Nogales, Mexicali and Tijuana. Criminals by law, they were merchants, some of them from wealthy families, peasants, adventurers, and middle class people, living in cities and towns where everybody knew each other, who decided to tempt the devil and tried to make quick money to get rich, to capitalise their legal business, or to earn a living living. Those who persisted and specialised in drug trafficking, those who became professionals, They created dynasties, transmitted their know-how to the successive generations and succeeded in founding a source of permanent drug trafficking leaders to manage the business nation-wide. In the long term, they appear as a kind of oligopoly: they have been leading the most important drug trafficking groups since the beginning of prohibition; the power of the groups has not followed the six-year political cycles; and they have never shown any interest in organizing themselves in politics, as Carlos Lehder, Pablo Escobar and the Extraditables did in Colombia.

There was an early process of “naturalisation” of drug trafficking in some regions of Mexico. Anybody could be a trafficker. A brother, a cousin, a friend, a neighbour, a friend�s friend. In rural areas with few people in the villages it was very easy to know who cultivated illegal plants. They needed legal cultures to survive, and illegal ones to live a better life. An important and interesting reason to accept the coexistence with traffickers was the absence of drug use and abuse, specially opium and its derivatives. They produced for the market abroad, not for local consumption, except perhaps for marijuana which was used for medical or recreational purposes. Another reason was the level of violence. In small towns, it was more difficult, although not impossible, to resort to violence because almost all the inhabitants were related. There was room for everybody in the drug business, so it was not necessary to fight to death to get a share of the market. Traffickers ethics were more related to the logic of the economy than to law or religion. Besides, in their experience, police agents and the military, representing the state and in charge of destroying illegal plants and chasing traffickers, were sometimes really doing their job and other times promoting the business and trying to make a profit like everybody else. Trust and respect became relative values. ……

.           Drug trafficking [ mostly opium ] via aircraft was so intense that the Minister of Communications and Public Works decided to suspend commercial flights in some airfields in Sinaloa, Sonora, Chihuahua and Durango in 1953, and closed the Aviation School in Culiacán. A former pilot and flight instructor at that time recognized having transported opium on his plane very often; however, he said, national airline companies (Aeronaves de México) had done it on a bigger scale.

            It is estimated that there are three hundred clandestine airfields in northern Mexico, near the U.S./Mexico border. Mexico has taken the place formerly occupied by Cuba in the “transatlantic narcotic trafficking. According to some American anti-narcotics officials from San Diego, 75 or 80 percent of the heroin and almost all of the marijuana introduced to the U.S.A. comes via Mexico. Most of the opium-based drugs are refined in Columbia from raw opium from Afghanistan. Assassination of high ranking police officers was a sign of changing times. Older drug traffickers, suspected of the killing of the chief of the Judicial Police in Sinaloa in 1969 refused the accusations and blamed younger traffickers who did not respect the old rules of the game (i.e. not to mess with a higher hierarchy of the police forces and not to use the city as battlefield)..

            For the first time in Mexico-U.S.A. relations, members of the political elite were publicly linked to drug affairs by American authorities. This was nothing new for many people in Mexico, especially in those regions where illegal plants had been cultivated for decades and drug trafficking had become an industry. Nothing has been proved throughout the years, but it is also true that the Judicial power has not been efficient nor independent from the Executive. Political opposition in a state party system has been symbolic. The only political force the Mexican government has ever listened to, in drug matters, is the U.S.A. government. Multiple reports sent by American anti-narcotics agents to Washington since the 1910s show how much they knew and learned about drug production, trafficking, and traffickers-officials relations in Mexico. The drug issue has not always been a relevant point in the American political agenda. The cumulative knowledge of anti-narcotics agencies has been used to put pressure on Mexican governments when needed. The “war on drugs” declared by President Reagan in the 80s, and continued during the second Bush administration, enhanced the power of “drug warriors” who did not hesitate to use their information to damage the political elite image and credibility. They waited until one of their agents was killed, but they knew it long before.

Money laundering

            The insertion of illicit money into the legal economy is an old practice in the world of crime. At the end of the seventies and the beginning of the eighties, Columbian and Mexican drug traffickers deposited cases of cash in American banks without any problem. They transferred the money to Colombia or to fiscal paradises throughout the world.

  • In 1986, the U.S. government approved laws requiring banks to report every deposit of ten thousand dollars or more 
  • The United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances of 1988 proposed to consider money laundering as a serious criminal offence, recommended national governments not to use bank secrecy as an alibi to impede legal acts against it, and asked for international co-operation.
  • In December 1988, the Committee on Bank Regulations and Supervision Practices, formed by central banks representatives and supervising authorities from Belgium, France, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Holland, Sweden, Switzerland, Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States, adopted a resolution to prevent the criminal use of the bank system for money laundering purposes.
  • On July 1989, the G-7 and the president of the European Community Commission established in Paris the Financial Action Task Force to combat money laundering. They proposed 40 recommendations concerning the enhancement of legal national systems, the reinforcement of the financial system, and international co-operation.
  • A report of the Department of State in 1996  remarked on the inadequate controls of Mexico’s banking and financial system to avoid money laundering. Mexico was perceived as one of the most important money laundering centers in the Western Hemisphere.


            U.S. pressure on drug production and drug related corruption would continue, sooner or later, on legislation reforms. Mexican officials discussed the need for laws on organised crime and money laundering since 1995. In 1995, working groups from the PGR and the U.S.A. Attorney General’s Office met four times to arrange co-operation agreements on law enforcement and mutual legal help. PGR, INCD, and Army officials received assistance and technical advice from the U.S.A. government.

            The federal Law against Organized Crime, November 7, 1996, became the legal frame for the decisions taken by the Secretariat of the Treasury and Public Credit concerning the “recycling of resources of illicit origin” . The new criteria obliged financial institutions to register “relevant operations”, meaning operations of ten thousand dollars or more.

            In November 1995, then-Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, calculated that the world’s money laundering was something between $300 and $600 billion a year. In the U.S.A. the figure was $100 billion from drug trafficking. Richard Small, from the Federal Reserve, said the U.S.A. was the first money launderer in the world. He calculated a figure of $100-300 billion a year for that country . PGR officials estimated Mexican traffickers profits to be $30 billion in 1994  (four times the oil revenues the same year, 7.1% of the GNP, and almost five times the international reserves). U.S.A. authorities figures were $8-30 billion a year circulating in Mexican banks in 1996.(2.38-8.96% of the GNP). Since 1997, figures such as these were not permitted to be published.

            Since money laundering became a political issue, U.S.A. and Mexican officials have frequently accused each other’s country of being a paradise for this kind of illegal business. Impossible to calculate on a scientific basis, speculations about the amount of dirty money circulating in the local or world economy have been used as a political weapon. The U.S. government has used controversial ways to prove money laundering activities in other countries. An example was “Operation Casablanca”, a three-year undercover operation led by the U.S.A. Customs Service, a “six-country money-laundering investigation involving Mexican banks and drug-smuggling cartels”  from Cali and Ciudad Juárez.

            For the Treasury Department, it was “the culmination of the largest, most comprehensive drug money-laundering case in the history of U.S.. law enforcement.” They arrested 112 people and seized $35 million in “illegal drug proceeds”. The banks implicated were Bancomer, Confía, and Serfín. People arrested worked for those banks and others such as Banamex, Bital, Banoro, Banpaís, Banorte, Promex, Santander, Banco Bilbao Vizcaya, Bancrecer, Interacciones, Unión, etc..

            Former U.S.. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin said: “By infiltrating the highest levels of … international drug trafficking…, customs was able to crack the elaborate financial schemes the drug traffickers developed to launder the tremendous volumes of cash acquired as proceeds from their deadly trade”. From the U.S.A. perspective it was a success. For Carlos Gómez y Gómez, president of the National Bankers Association, it was not a proof of banks’ policy but of individual deviant actions. U.S  officials from the White House, the Department of State and even the DEA, have said they were not informed about the operation until the last moment.. President Zedillo replied it was a violation of bilateral agreements and sovereignty, and added that he would try to have the U.S. agents extradited for trial in Mexico. Trent Lott, then the. Senate majority leader, sent a tough letter to Zedillo criticizing his position and intention . Rosario Green, Secretary of International Relations said confidence and co-operation were damaged. She urged the parties to talk and re-establish confidence and co-operation . Diplomatic notes and protests from different social groups did not change anything. The U.S.A. government maintained its position and would not assure that no further undercover operations would be launched again.


            Drug trafficking in Mexico began as a response to U.S.A. opium demand. Production areas and border cities were key places where a new social group emerged. The business was profitable enough to attract the interest of mighty politicians. People who tried autonomous strategies for smuggling did not last very long or just survived modestly. Big business needed official protection. Already at the start, drug traffickers depended upon other political economy players. Every time there was a drug scandal, governors from producer or border states were the first in line to be suspected of being involved. Information from Mexican and U.S.A. archives gives support to the idea that newspaper notes identifying northern governors were well-founded. In the logic of the post-revolutionary political system, governors’ freedom to do any kind of business, legal or illegal, was limited by the president’s will and their own ethical inclinations.

The power of the presidency, the monopoly of politics by the state party, the subordination of the legislative and judicial spheres to the executive, and the lack of organized political opposition, created the conditions for developing drug trafficking from within the power structure. Before the Second World War, not a single suspected governor was ever formally accused or investigated. However, in the aftermath of the war when disputes arose between elite political groups, the drug issue was used to damage a governor’s image. Nothing was proved because there were no formal accusations, nor any investigation, just political negotiations. Suspicions remained in the public opinion.

             Controlled, protected or tolerated by the political power, drug trafficking has continued to function under a new scheme.. There are more players in every camp, and more money. Without any changes in the political system and a growing demand for drugs in the U.S., PJF and DFS agents, as well as the military who have more responsibilities in drug destruction campaigns, are simultaneously fighting to helping smugglers supply the demand, controlling them to restrain their autonomy, and getting a share of the profits and all this in exchange for their mediation role between drug traffickers and the political power, their silence and their disposition to serve as scapegoats to protect their political masters.

            It should be noted that in one point in time, the DFS espionage services were very useful for the U.S. government. For many years DFS illegal activities were never publicly criticized by the American government. Much stricter U.S. drug policies changed the era of mutual cooperation. However, the PJF structure remained, and so did another important element of the mediation scheme.

The Mexican government is now making it the practice of assisting any of their citizens who are infected with HIV into immigration, legal or otherwise, into the United States. The rationale behind this move is that Mexico finds itself unwilling and unable to foot the astronomical medical costs involved in the treatment of this disease. Also being assisted in entering the United States are numerous cases of Mexican citizens ill with drug-resistant TB and many persons with debilitating mental diseases such as schizophrenia. These de facto expulsions are in addition to assisting its impoverished citizens to leave the country. By various and diverse methods, including free transportation to the border areas, Mexico has successfully managed to get rid of over 20,000,000 of its poor. Further, many of these send money back to their families in Mexoco in U.S. dollars, thus further enriching the sagging Mexican economy.

            At the present time, a number of southern Mexican states, most notably Guerrero, Oaxaca, and Chiapas, continued to suffer politically motivated violence. The Government generally respects the human rights of its citizens, although serious problems remained in some areas, and some states present special concerns. Major abuses include extrajudicial killings, disappearances, torture, illegal arrests, arbitrary detentions, poor prison conditions, lengthy pretrial detention, lack of due process, corruption and inefficiency in the judiciary, illegal searches, violence against women, discrimination against women and indigenous persons, some limits on worker rights, and extensive child labor in agriculture and in the informal economy. Vigilante killings, attacks against journalists, and attacks and threats to human rights monitors are also problems.

            The Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) launched no violent attacks in 1996. On 16 February EZLN representatives signed an agreement in southeastern Chiapas with the Mexican Government on the rights of indigenous people and made a commitment to negotiate a political settlement. Peace talks between the Government and the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) stalled in September 1996 following disagreement regarding the implementation of agreements signed in February 1996 on indigenous rights. However, intense informal contacts continued through January 1997.

            The army and the EZLN have not clashed since the Government unilaterally declared a cease-fire on January 12, 1994. As part of continuing unrest in Chiapas, on December 22 an armed group allegedly organized by the PRI mayor massacred 45 indigenous persons in the village of Acteal, which increased already high tensions in the state. President Zedillo immediately ordered his Attorney General to conduct a thorough investigation. This investigation resulted in the arrest of persons allegedly connected to the massacre and continued at year’s end.

            On  January 1, 2006 Mexico’s Zapatista rebels emerged from their jungle hideout to begin a six-month nationwide tour in a bid to influence this year’s presidential elections. Rebel leader Subcomandante Marcos led the Zapatistas into the city of San Cristobal de las Casas ,riding a motorcycle, to the cheers of thousands of supporters. The rebels planned to visit every Mexican state to build support for the country’s indigenous people and the poor ahead of the July 2006 vote.

            The ski mask-wearing rebel leader – who prefers to be called “Delegate Zero” – says the rebels will avoid big rallies and concentrate on building ties with ordinary workers. The tour began on the 12th anniversary of the Zapatista’s bloody uprising demanding greater rights for Indians, and autonomy for the Chiapas region.

                Given the virtual collapse of the central government and its terrorization by the drug lords, the southern provinces are actively planning military-style actions in aid of their break-away desires and it is to be noted that the military organization and local political support of the movements has reached a level where serious consequences can easily be anticipated.


Temporary Closure of U.S. Consulate General in Ciudad Juarez,Mexico

From the U.S. Department of State

Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, July 29, 2010 –The U.S. Consulate General in Ciudad Juarez has closed to review its security posture. The facility will be closed all day on Friday, July 30, and remain closed until the security review is completed.  Crime in Mexico continues to occur at a high rate, and it can often be violent, especially in Mexico City, Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez, Nuevo Laredo, Acapulco, and the states of Sinaloa and Durango. Other metropolitan areas have lower, but still serious, levels of crime. The low rates of apprehension and conviction of criminals also contribute to Mexico’s high crime rate. U.S. citizen victims of crime in Mexico are encouraged to report incidents to the nearest police headquarters and to the nearest U.S. consular office.

Editor’s Comment:


            The UNITED STATES INFORMATION AGENCY (USIA) is an independent foreign affairs agency within the executive branch of the U.S. government. USIA explains and supports American foreign policy and promotes U.S. national interests through a wide range of overseas information programs. The agency promotes mutual understanding between the United States and other nations by conducting educational and cultural activities. USIA maintains 190 posts in 142 countries. Overseas, USIA is known as USIS, the U.S. Information Service. Pursuant to the Foreign Affairs Reform and Restructuring Act of 1998, USIA will be integrated into the Department of State on October 1, 1999. Penn Kemble is Acting Director.

While the legates in U.S. diplomatic missions are members of the FBI, the personnel of the USIA come from the Central Intelligence Agency


            This is the only office in the U.S. government responsible for advising the President, Secretary of State, and other foreign affairs policymakers on foreign public opinion about the U.S. and its policies. The research staff commissions public opinion surveys in nearly every country. It also provides twice-daily reports on foreign media commentary around the world on various issues that is provided to officials throughout the government.


            The overseas operations of USIA are mainly carried out by its 520 Foreign Service officers who are assigned to American missions abroad. With guidance, support and material from Washington headquarters, they manage educational, cultural, and information programs in support of American foreign policy objectives and greater mutual understanding between the U.S. and foreign societies.


            The U.S. Embassy in Mexico is located at Paseo de la Reforma 305, 06500 Mexico, DF. U.S. mailing address: Box 3087, Laredo, Texas 78044-3087; tel. (from the U.S.): (011) (52) 555-080-2000; Internet: http://mexico.usembassy.gov/eng/main.html


Arizona preparing appeal of immigration ruling

July 29, 2010

by Bob Christie 

Associated Press

           PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona is preparing to ask an appeals court to lift a judge’s ruling that put most of the state’s immigration law on hold in a key first-round victory for the federal government in a fight that may go to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Gov. Jan Brewer called Wednesday’s decision by U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton “a bump in the road” and vowed to appeal.

Paul Senseman, a spokesman for Brewer, said Arizona would ask the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco later Thursday to lift Bolton’s preliminary injunction and to expedite its consideration of the state’s appeal.

Bolton indicated the government has a good chance at succeeding in its argument that federal immigration law trumps state law. But the key sponsor of Arizona’s law, Republican Rep. Russell Pearce, said the judge was wrong and predicted the state would ultimately win the case.

Opponents of the law said the ruling sends a strong message to other states hoping to replicate the law.

“Surely it’s going to make states pause and consider how they’re drafting legislation and how it fits in a constitutional framework,” Dennis Burke, the U.S. attorney for Arizona, told The Associated Press. “The proponents of this went into court saying there was no question that this was constitutional, and now you have a federal judge who’s said, ‘Hold on, there’s major issues with this bill.'”

He added: “So this idea that this is going to be a blueprint for other states is seriously in doubt. The blueprint is constitutionally flawed.”

In her temporary injunction, Bolton delayed the most contentious provisions of the law, including a section that required officers to check a person’s immigration status while enforcing other laws. She also barred enforcement of parts requiring immigrants to carry their papers and banned illegal immigrants from soliciting employment in public places — a move aimed at day laborers that congregate in large numbers in parking lots across Arizona. The judge also blocked officers from making warrantless arrests of suspected illegal immigrants.

“Requiring Arizona law enforcement officials and agencies to determine the immigration status of every person who is arrested burdens lawfully present aliens because their liberty will be restricted while their status is checked,” said Bolton, a Clinton administration appointee who was assigned the seven lawsuits filed against Arizona over the law.

Other provisions that were less contentious were allowed to take effect Thursday, including a section that bars cities in Arizona from disregarding federal immigration laws.

The 11th-hour ruling came just as police were preparing to begin enforcement of a law that has drawn international attention and revived the national immigration debate in a year when Democrats are struggling to hold on to seats in Congress.

The ruling was anxiously awaited in the U.S. and beyond. About 100 protesters in Mexico City who had gathered at the U.S. Embassy broke into applause when they learned of the ruling via a laptop computer. Mariana Rivera, a 36-year-old from Zacatecas, Mexico, who is living in Phoenix on a work permit, said she heard about the ruling on a Spanish-language news program.

“I was waiting to hear because we’re all very worried about everything that’s happening,” said Rivera, who phoned friends and family with the news. “Even those with papers, we don’t go out at night at certain times there’s so much fear (of police). You can’t just sit back and relax.”

More demonstrators opposed to the law planned to gather Thursday, with the Los Angeles-based National Day Laborer Organizing Network and the immigrant-rights group Puente saying they would march from the state Capitol.

Demonstrations also were planned for outside Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s office, said activist Salvador Reza.

Lawmakers or candidates in as many as 18 states say they want to push similar measures when their legislative sessions start up again in 2011. Some lawmakers pushing the legislation said they would not be daunted by the ruling and plan to push ahead in response to what they believe is a scourge that needs to be tackled.

Arizona is the nation’s epicenter of illegal immigration, with more than 400,000 undocumented residents. The state’s border with Mexico is awash with smugglers and drugs that funnel narcotics and immigrants throughout the U.S., and the influx of illegal migrants drains vast sums of money from hospitals, education and other services.

“We’re going to have to look and see,” said Idaho state Sen. Monty Pearce, a second cousin of Russell Pearce and a supporter of immigration reform in his state. “Nobody had dreamed up, two years ago, the Arizona law, and so everybody is looking for that crack where we can get something done, where we can turn the clock back a little bit and get our country back.”

Kris Kobach, the University of Missouri-Kansas City law professor who helped write the law and train Arizona police officers in immigration law, conceded the ruling weakens the force of Arizona’s efforts to crack down on illegal immigrants. He said it will likely be a year before a federal appeals court decides the case.

“It’s a temporary setback,” Kobach said. “The bottom line is that every lawyer in Judge Bolton’s court knows this is just the first pitch in a very long baseball game.”

In the meantime, other states like Utah will likely take up similar laws, possibly redesigned to get around Bolton’s objections.

“The ruling … should not be a reason for Utah to not move forward,” said Utah state Rep. Carl Wimmer, a Republican from Herriman City, who said he plans to co-sponsor a bill similar to Arizona’s next year and wasn’t surprised it was blocked. “For too long the states have cowered in the corner because of one ruling by one federal judge.”

The core of the government’s case is that federal immigration law trumps state law — an issue known as “pre-emption” in legal circles and one that dates to the founding of America. In her ruling, Bolton pointed out five portions of the law where she believed the federal government would likely succeed on its claims.

The Justice Department argued in court that the law was unconstitutional and that allowing states to push their own measures would lead to a patchwork of immigration laws across the nation and disrupt a carefully balanced approach crafted by Congress.

Arizona argues that the federal government has failed to secure the border, and that it has a right to take matters into its own hands.

For now, the federal government has the upper-hand in the dispute, by virtue of the strength of its arguments and the precedent on the pre-emption issue. The Bush administration successfully used the pre-emption argument to win consumer product cases, and judges in other jurisdictions have looked favorably on the argument in immigration disputes.

“This is clearly a significant victory for the Justice Department and a defeat for the sponsors of this law,” said Peter Spiro, a constitutional law professor at Temple University who has studied immigration law extensively. “They will not win on this round of appeals. They’ll get a shot after a trial and a final ruling by Judge Bolton.”


Associated Press Writers Paul Davenport and Jacques Billeaud contributed to this

White House proposal would ease FBI access to records of Internet activity 

July 29, 2010  

by Ellen Nakashima –

Washington Post

            The Obama administration is seeking to make it easier for the FBI to compel companies to turn over records of an individual’s Internet activity without a court order if agents deem the information relevant to a terrorism or intelligence investigation.

            The administration wants to add just four words – “electronic communication transactional records” – to a list of items that the law says the FBI may demand without a judge’s approval. Government lawyers say this category of information includes the addresses to which an Internet user sends e-mail; the times and dates e-mail was sent and received; and possibly a user’s browser history. It does not include, the lawyers hasten to point out, the “content” of e-mail or other Internet communication.

            But what officials portray as a technical clarification designed to remedy a legal ambiguity strikes industry lawyers and privacy advocates as an expansion of the power the government wields through so-called national security letters. These missives, which can be issued by an FBI field office on its own authority, require the recipient to provide the requested information and to keep the request secret. They are the mechanism the government would use to obtain the electronic records.

            Stewart A. Baker, a former senior Bush administration Homeland Security official, said the proposed change would broaden the bureau’s authority. “It’ll be faster and easier to get the data,” said Baker, who practices national security and surveillance law. “And for some Internet providers, it’ll mean giving a lot more information to the FBI in response to an NSL.”

            Many Internet service providers have resisted the government’s demands to turn over electronic records, arguing that surveillance law as written does not allow them to do so, industry lawyers say. One senior administration government official, who would discuss the proposed change only on condition of anonymity, countered that “most” Internet or e-mail providers do turn over such data.

            To critics, the move is another example of an administration retreating from campaign pledges to enhance civil liberties in relation to national security. The proposal is “incredibly bold, given the amount of electronic data the government is already getting,” said Michelle Richardson, American Civil Liberties Union legislative counsel.

            The critics say its effect would be to greatly expand the amount and type of personal data the government can obtain without a court order. “You’re bringing a big category of data – records reflecting who someone is communicating with in the digital world, Web browsing history and potentially location information – outside of judicial review,” said Michael Sussmann, a Justice Department lawyer under President Bill Clinton who now represents Internet and other firms.

Privacy concerns
            The use of the national security letters to obtain personal data on Americans has prompted concern. The Justice Department issued 192,500 national security letters from 2003 to 2006, according to a 2008 inspector general report, which did not indicate how many were demands for Internet records. A 2007 IG report found numerous possible violations of FBI regulations, including the issuance of NSLs without having an approved investigation to justify the request. In two cases, the report found, agents used NSLs to request content information “not permitted by the [surveillance] statute.”

            One issue with both the proposal and the current law is that the phrase “electronic communication transactional records” is not defined anywhere in statute. “Our biggest concern is that an expanded NSL power might be used to obtain Internet search queries and Web histories detailing every Web site visited and every file downloaded,” said Kevin Bankston, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which has sued AT&T for assisting the Bush administration’s warrantless surveillance program.

            He said he does not object to the government obtaining access to electronic records, provided it has a judge’s approval.

            Senior administration officials said the proposal was prompted by a desire to overcome concerns and resistance from Internet and other companies that the existing statute did not allow them to provide such data without a court-approved order. “The statute as written causes confusion and the potential for unnecessary litigation,” Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said. “This clarification will not allow the government to obtain or collect new categories of information, but it seeks to clarify what Congress intended when the statute was amended in 1993.”

            The administration has asked Congress to amend the statute, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, in the fiscal year that begins in October.

             Administration officials noted that the act specifies in one clause that Internet and other companies have a duty to provide electronic communication transactional records to the FBI in response to a national security letter.

            But the next clause specifies only four categories of basic subscriber data that the FBI may seek: name, address, length of service and toll billing records. There is no reference to electronic communication transactional records.

Same as phone records?
            The officials said the transactional information at issue, which does not include Internet search queries, is the functional equivalent of telephone toll billing records, which the FBI can obtain without court authorization. Learning the e-mail addresses to which an Internet user sends messages, they said, is no different than obtaining a list of numbers called by a telephone user.

             Obtaining such records with an NSL, as opposed to a court order, “allows us to intercede in plots earlier than we would if our hands were tied and we were unable to get this data in a way that was quick and efficient,” the senior administration official said.

            But the value of such data is the reason a court should approve its disclosure, said Greg Nojeim, senior counsel at the Center for Democracy and Technology. “It’s much more sensitive than the other information, like name, address and telephone number, that the FBI gets with national security letters,” he said. “It shows associational information protected by the First Amendment and is much less public than things like where you live.”

            A Nov. 5, 2008, opinion from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, whose opinions are binding on the executive branch, made clear that the four categories of basic subscriber information the FBI may obtain with an NSL were “exhaustive.”

            This opinion, said Sussmann, the former Clinton administration lawyer, caused many companies to reevaluate the scope of what could be provided in response to an NSL. “The OLC opinion removed the ambiguity,” he said. “Providers now are limited to the four corners of what the opinion says they can give out. Those who give more do so at their own risk.”

            Marc Zwillinger, an attorney for Internet companies, said some providers are not giving the FBI more than the four categories specified. He added that with the rise of social networking, the government’s move could open a significant amount of Internet activity to government surveillance without judicial authorization. “A Facebook friend request – is that like a phone call or an e-mail? Is that something they would sweep in under an NSL? They certainly aren’t getting that now.”

Source: www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2010/07/28/AR2010072806141_pf.html  

Attacking the edges of secure Internet traffic

July 30, 2010

by Jordan Robertson  

Associated Press

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Researchers have uncovered new ways that criminals can spy on Internet users even if they’re using secure connections to banks, online retailers or other sensitive Web sites.

The attacks demonstrated at the Black Hat conference here show how determined hackers can sniff around the edges of encrypted Internet traffic to pick up clues about what their targets are up to.

It’s like tapping a telephone conversation and hearing muffled voices that hint at the tone of the conversation.

            The problem lies in the way Web browsers handle Secure Sockets Layer, or SSL, encryption technology, according to Robert Hansen and Josh Sokol, who spoke to a packed room of several hundred security experts.

Encryption forms a kind of tunnel between a browser and a website’s servers. It scrambles data so it’s indecipherable to prying eyes.

SSL is widely used on sites trafficking in sensitive information, such as credit card numbers, and its presence is shown as a padlock in the browser’s address bar.

SSL is a widely attacked technology, but the approach by Hansen and Sokol wasn’t to break it. They wanted to see instead what they could learn from what are essentially the breadcrumbs from people’s secure Internet surfing that browsers leave behind and that skilled hackers can follow.

Their attacks would yield all sorts of information. It could be relatively minor, such as browser settings or the number of Web pages visited. It could be quite substantial, including whether someone is vulnerable to having the “cookies” that store usernames and passwords misappropriated by hackers to log into secure sites.

Hansen said all major browsers are affected by at least some of the issues.

“This points to a larger problem — we need to reconsider how we do electronic commerce,” he said in an interview before the conference, an annual gathering devoted to exposing the latest computer-security vulnerabilities.

For the average Internet user, the research reinforces the importance of being careful on public Wi-Fi networks, where an attacker could plant himself in a position to look at your traffic. For the attacks to work, the attacker must first have access to the victim’s network.

Hansen and Sokol outlined two dozen problems they found. They acknowledged attacks using those weaknesses would be hard to pull off.

The vulnerabilities arise out of the fact people can surf the Internet with multiple tabs open in their browsers at the same time, and that unsecured traffic in one tab can affect secure traffic in another tab, said Hansen, chief executive of consulting firm SecTheory. Sokol is a security manager at National Instruments Corp.

Their talk isn’t the first time researchers have looked at ways to scour secure Internet traffic for clues about what’s happening behind the curtain of encryption. It does expand on existing research in key ways, though.

“Nobody’s getting hacked with this tomorrow, but it’s innovative research,” said Jon Miller, an SSL expert who wasn’t involved in the research.

Miller, director of Accuvant Labs, praised Hansen and Sokol for taking a different approach to attacking SSL.

“Everybody’s knocking on the front door, and this is, ‘let’s take a look at the windows,'” he said. “I never would have thought about doing something like this in a million years. I would have thought it would be a waste of time. It’s neat because it’s a little different.”

Another popular talk at Black Hat concerned a new attack affecting potentially millions of home routers. The attack could be used to launch the kinds of attacks described by Hansen and Sokol.

             Researcher Craig Heffner examined 30 different types of home routers from companies including Actiontec Electronics Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc.’s Linksys and found that more than half of them were vulnerable to his attack.

He tricked Web browsers that use those routers into letting him access administrative menus that only the routers’ owners should be able to see. Heffner said the vulnerability is in the browsers and illustrates a larger security problem involving how browsers determine that the sites they visit are trustworthy.

The caveat is he has to first trick someone into visiting a malicious site, and it helps if the victim hasn’t changed the router’s default password.

Still: “Once you’re on the router, you’re invisible — you can do all kinds of things,” such as controlling where the victim goes on the Internet, Heffner said.


The 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 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 eighteenth chapter:

Conversation No. 18

Date: Wednesday, June 26, 1996

Commenced: 11:15 AM CST

Concluded: 11:40 AM CST

RTC: I did some digging in the archives, through the kindness of a friend, and dug up the story about your Vancouver caper. The Vancouver Sun had a running account of it. My God, what an uproar you caused! Mounties here and there, mass arrests, utter Christmas chaos in the shops. Wherever did you come up with such an idea, Gregory?
GD: From the German Operation Bernhard, Robert. They counterfeited the British pound note, destroyed its value, made millions in the process and did a good deal to bankrupt Britain after the war. The confidence in the almighty pound was gone. I figured that if the Canadians could gleefully steal all my money, I could teach them all a lesson in manners.

RTC: You surely did that. How much did you get out of it?
GD: Nothing. No, I take that back. They stole four dollars and ten cents from me and I got four dollars and ten cents back. I didn’t do it to make money, Robert. I did it to teach them a lesson and I think I succeeded. Besides, I got my money back.

RTC: It cost the Canucks millions.

GD: So what? I never counterfeited the money and I never took a penny from the money. All I did was to walk around Vancouver at the height of the Christmas season, scattering money here and there. So much in the Sally Ann pots, so much for the Hare Krishna people, so much in public lavatories, telephone booths, retail stores and finally, in a wild orgy of joy, scattering the money out of the back of a friend’s van all over the town. And on a windy night at that. Twenties all over like leaves in early autumn. Oh my and the next day, small children, finding the money, rushed to candy or comic book stores and were promptly arrested. Hysteria reigned. And what was left over from my charitable scatterings was tossed by myself off the roof of my downtown hotel, late at night and in a good wind coming up Granville Street from the water. Oh yes, I did have my fun. I got to visit all my Canadian friends, treat them all to wonderful dinners in return for all the dinners they gave me and give them the pure Christmas tide joy of tossing tens of thousands of dollars worth of fake Canadian money all over town. Yes, it was entertaining and instructive.

RTC: Instructive?

GD: To see the growing hysteria on the television and to hear the constant hooting of police sirens as another 90 year old grandmother was dragged off to the cooler because she found a stack of my little children in a phone booth and was using them to buy Christmas presents. Lawyers were frantic, families hysterical, the police completely beyond their depth and Ottawa in a frenzy. They said it was the biggest counterfeiting ring in Canadian history and the press was split between deciding whether Chinese drug dealers or the Mafia were responsible.  But there was even more fun later on.

RTC: You were caught.

GD: For a time, but I got out from under it. But the thing I do remember the best and savor on cold winter nights when I have no money, and naturally, no friends, is the thought of my dear friends in the Secret Service.

RTC: Now, given what you did, I can’t imagine you could call them that. They certainly couldn’t say that about you.

GD: No, I suppose not. You see, I was working on a new book down at the same print shop that had turned out the Canadian money in the first place. The owner, as I found out, was a convicted child molester named Temple. He did call himself Church from time to time but that is neither here nor there. Poor Temple had a loose mouth and bragged to some black fellow he was trying to impress and that one ran to the Feds. So one day, when I came in to work on the light table, I was introduced to two creatures known as Bob and Joe. They were introduced to me as members of the Mafia. How entertaining, Robert. I know Mafiosa and they are all Sicilians, not strange people that looked like they escaped from Arkansas. Mafia my ass. Anyway, one had a wire that a blind man would have seen, a box under his shirt. And as subtle as a fart in a bathtub. I remember one of them getting me off to one side and asking me about the joys of counterfeiting. Of course I made both of them in about thirty seconds but did enjoy myself. I told Bobby, off the record, that I had a friend working at Treasury who stole bearer bonds and flogged them to me at pennies apiece.

RTC: Jesus…

GD: Ah, yes, and his eyes bugged and his tongue hung out. What did I do with them? Bobby asked me. Did I keep them at home? Oh no, I told him with a wink. I sold them. To whom he wanted to know. To the KGB people who used them to finance their North American spy rings.

RTC: Merciful Christ, Gregory. You did that? You aren’t pulling my leg?
GD: No, I was pulling his. I also told him I was selling the bonds to a major criminal family in London, the Minge family.

RTC: Never heard of them.

GD: Oh they do exist, or the name is well known to the London people. So later, I learned from my lawyer, the Secret Service got ahold of their representative at the London Embassy and had him ask Scotland Yard about this. As I understand it, that one told some official that his people were interested in London Minges. The official responded by saying ‘What do think I am? A bloody pimp?’ You see, a ‘minge’ is Cockney for a woman’s delicate parts. Also used to denote streetwalkers.

RTC: (Loud and prolonged laughter) You’ll be the death of me with your chronicles, Gregory.

GD: Well, it took a while to find out about this but when the Federal courthouse people heard about it, it made for many days of merriment. The Secret Service was not entertained. I often wondered what would have happened if the Brits rounded up some old hookers and sent them to the Embassy? Little boys would have been more effective. You know about the State Department people. They weren’t happy but later, after I dissed the charges, the Canadians tried to lure me back to Canada to put me away for centuries. You see, Robert, I told my lawyer that if I was extradited to Canada, I would tell my friends on the Sun that I was actually working for the CIA who were the sponsors of the Quebec Libré movement and gave them plastique explosive. Of course your Canada Desk actually did support the terrorists and I had chapter and verse on this. So I was not deported and let go.

RTC: Gregory, that was very nasty of you. Of course it was true. Where did you find out about that one?
GD: A former girlfriend told me. She was pissed off at the Agency and I am a very good listener. It saved my ass, Robert. But to get back to the story. They tried to lure me back so I told them they could meet with me at the San Francisco airport and that I could give them the plates for the money which, I might tell you, they never found. So I read in the paper that Nixon was expected in ‘Frisco and I told my new friends from Vancouver that they could just fly down and meet me. I picked the day Richard was flying in and by God, sir, they did come down. In a private plane with, as I was told, restraints on board. My, my what were they going to use these for? Anyway, I called up the airport Hilton and made reservations in the name of Harry Brunser. Just for accuracy, Robert, a Brunser is San Francisco street slang for an anus.

RTC: (Laughter)

GD: Yes, and I got the desk clerk to assign me a room number. I passed this to the Canadians and in due time, they came down in a private plane, drove up to the hotel in a rented car and all went inside. Of course before this happened, I called up the Secret Service and told them French Canadian terrorists were going to fly into San Francisco and shoot Nixon. I said they would be staying at the Hilton under the name of Brunser. I hate to miss good entertainment so I was sitting in the hotel parking lot, wearing a rabat…

RTC: A what?
GD: A rabat. Catholic priests wear them. A priest’s collar and bib. I always wear it with a black suit and rimless glasses. Anyway, up drives the car and into the lobby go my new friends. About two minutes later, after they have mentioned the key word to the primed desk man, two vans full of men in flak vests rushed into the lobby.

RTC: Oh merciful Jesus, if I didn’t know you better….how terrible. But funny.

GD: Yes. The Canadians were all dragged out, yelling and shouting, except for one who put up a fight and pulled a gun. They had him by the arms and legs because he couldn’t walk anymore. And what, they were asked later, were they doing with automatic weapons? And handcuffs? They eventually were allowed to go back to Canada after their plane was put back together and I got a call from my lawyer, a few days later, who indicated that such pranks were not appreciated and a repetition of them might not be nice for me. He did laugh, however.  I understand the judge in my case laughed too. He called me the Professor Moriarty of Northern California.

(Concluded at 11:40 AM 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 “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

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.

The True Believer

by Eric Hoffer

           “Discontent by itself does not invariably create a desire for change. Other factors have to be present before discontent turns into disaffection. One of these is the sense of power.

            Those who are awed by their surroundings do not think of change, no matter how miserable their condition. When our mode of life is so precarious as to make it patent that we cannot control the circumstances of our existence, we tend to stick to the proven and the familiar. We counteract a deep feeling of insecurity by making of our existence a fixed routine. We hereby acquire the illusion that we have tamed the unpredictable. Fisherfolk, nomads and farmers who have to contend with the willful elements, the creative worker who depends on inspiration, the savage awed by his surroundings- they all fear change. They face the world as they would an all-powerful jury. The abjectly poor, too, stand in awe of the world around them and are not as hospitable to change. It is dangerous life we live when hunger and cold are at our heels. There is thus a conservatism of the destitute as profound as the conservatism of the privileged, and the former is as much a factor in the perpetuation of a social order at the latter.

            The men who rush into undertakings of vast change usually feel they are in possession of some irresistible power. The generation that made the French Revolution had an extravagant conception of the omnipotence of man’s reason and the boundless range of his intelligence. Never, says de Tocqueville, had humanity been prouder of itself nor had it ever so much faith in its own omnipotence. And joined with this exaggerated self-confidence ws a universal thirst for change which came unbidden to every mind. Lenin and the Bolsheviks who plunged recklessly into the chaos of the creation of a new world had blind faith in the omnipotence of Marxist doctrine. The Nazis had nothing as potent as that doctrine, but they had faith in an infallible leader and also faith in a new technique. . For it is doubtful whether National Socialism would have made such rapid progress if it had not been for the electrifying conviction that the new techniques of blitzkrieg and propaganda made Germany irresistible.

            Even the sober desire for progress is sustained by faith- faith in the intrinsic goodness of human nature and kn the omnipotence of science. It is a defiant and blasphemous faith, not unlike that held by the men who set out to build “a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven” and who believed that “nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.”  

            Pps 7-8 ‘The True Believer’ by Eric Hoffer, Harpers 1951

No responses yet

Leave a Reply