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TBR News June 18, 2010

Jun 18 2010

 

The Voice of the White House

             Washington, D.C., June 18, 2010: “As if to add insult to injury, there is now what is laughingly called a ‘highly classified’ report circulating inside the Beltway that states, with some detailed authority, that powerful, right-wing Likudists from Israel are now funding the very far right groups in the United States. I say ‘laughingly ‘ here because there are no secrets inside the Beltway and even the most secret of documents is usually all over the town by dawn each day.

            These recipients  would include, but is mostly, the Palin and Paul types but also, and this is not funny, the wierdos who think God has given man the right to carry his AK 47 semi-automatic rifle into banks or onto public transportation and thinks that a march on Washington, fully armed, is called for.

            I can just see an immense horde of fat men crammed into ill-fitting camouflage thongs waddling up Pennsylvania Avenue waving their surrogate penises in the air and singing ‘Columbia the Gem of the Ocean’ at the top of their lungs.

             Actually, many in positions of knowledge are well aware of this flow of money (coming from Toronto banks in Canada) and are torn between exposing it to the public and being shit on by militant Jewish groups for their ‘anti-Semitism.’

            Why are our Oldest and Best Friends doing this disruptive behavior?

            Why, I am glad you asked.

            The report states, based on intercepted telephone conversations, that many far right people in Israel feel that America has not support their desire to bomb Tehran or to rush to support Israel over the recent act of maritime piracy and murder that unfolded over the Gaza relief expedition. I think that if Israelis can fund our enemies, we can fund theirs.

            Why not contribute to the Hamas Early Retirement Fund or the Hezbollah Fireworks and Barbecue Night.”

             Remember, children, that whatsoever a man soweth, that also shall he reap. And the Bible is never wrong, is it?”

Elton John aside, Israelis feel growing isolation

June 18, 2010

by Aron Heller

Associated Press

            TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Pounding his piano in blue-tinted sunglasses before nearly 50,000 screaming fans, Elton John took center stage in a battle over Israel’s image.

The legendary British rocker’s concert on Thursday night followed a string of cancellations by artists like Elvis Costello and the Pixies. Resisting a growing wave of calls from pro-Palestinian activists to boycott the Jewish state, John gave Israelis a rare reason to smile amid their increasing sense of international isolation.

Ain’t gonna stop me from coming here, baby,” he told the cheering crowd in Tel Aviv, saying he believed music should spread peace and bring people together: “That is what we do. We do not cherry-pick our consciences, OK?” he added, in an apparent swipe at the artists who have canceled concerts in Israel.

John’s concert was notable precisely because Israel seems to be losing the battle against the country’s isolation worldwide. That isolation was exacerbated after Israel’s May 31 naval raid on a flotilla trying to break the blockade of Gaza spiraled into violence that left nine Turkish activists dead in a clash with troops.

Ecuador, South Africa and Turkey recalled their ambassadors and Nicaragua broke off diplomatic relations following the raid. Vietnam put off a visit by Israel’s president, Greece suspended a military exercise and Swedish dockworkers launched a weeklong boycott of Israeli ships and goods. Even the United States, Israel’s closest ally, criticized the raid and forced Israel to set up a panel with two foreign observers to investigate the raid.

Many in Israel, including in the country’s leadership, have concluded that the war over world opinion is lost, said Israeli commentator Ronen Bergman. He said the “siege mentality” mindset was dangerous, particularly for a nation seeking to rally world support against what Israel sees as an existential threat — Iran’s nuclear program.

Many in Israel blame the country’s public diplomacy mechanism for not explaining itself properly and for being outmaneuvered in the media, but Bergman said this largely misses the point. “The problem is not with the marketing. The problem is with the product and the product is damaged. You can’t market occupation,” Bergman said, referring to Israel’s 43 years of control over the Palestinians.

A small French cinema chain postponed a showing of an Israeli comedy and replaced it with a documentary about an American student crushed to death by an Israeli army bulldozer during a 2003 Gaza protest, drawing condemnations from some French newspapers and French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand.

Israeli singer Dana International was scheduled to perform at a gay pride parade in Spain, but saw her concert canceled due to pressure from pro-Palestinian organizations.

Musicians like Costello and the Pixies bowed to online pressure and canceled gigs in Israel. John was targeted as well, but vowed to play on.

“I have always believed that music inhabits a world set apart from politics, religious differences or prejudice of any kind,” he said in a statement before coming to Tel Aviv.

Amid the swell of condemnations that have followed the flotilla deaths, Israel has tried to fight back by posting video clips showing its soldiers being attacked by the Turkish activists and reaching out to individuals around the world to help present its case.

A group of Israelis posted a hit YouTube clip — viewed by more than 2 million people — parodying the flotilla activists as terrorists posing as peace activists. “We Conned the World,” they sang with weapons in hands, to the tune of “We Are The World.”

But those efforts seem to have had little effect, and that, in turn, has led many Israelis to feel that getting a fair shake internationally has become a lost cause.

“There is a point where even Israelis who are critical of their government say, ‘The world has gone mad and the fact that everyone thinks one thing doesn’t make it right,'” said Eytan Schwartz, an Israeli activist who launched a Facebook campaign to urge John not to cancel his appearance.

“We earned a lot of the criticism, but it is not about that,” he said. “This is about a double standard, about being hypocritical.”

Former dovish lawmaker Yossi Beilin said Israelis should be glad they are held to a higher standard. “God forbid if people would look at Israel the way they look at Pakistan or Somalia or Sudan or Kyrgyzstan,” he said.

Public polls showing support for the government’s handling of the flotilla affair and the rejection of its critics highlights the gap between how the Israeli society views itself and how the rest of the world does. Israelis overwhelmingly see the naval blockade of Gaza, aimed at keeping weapons from reaching the territory’s Hamas militant rulers, as justified. To most, the flotilla was a violent provocation that endangered the lives of soldiers sent to stop the Gaza-bound boats.

Israeli efforts to divert the international discussion from the occupation of the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza have largely failed.

Israel’s leadership now seems to be changing course.

On Thursday, the same day Elton John performed, Israel agreed to ease its land blockade on Gaza and allow more goods in. Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel must present a “daring and assertive political initiative” to emerge from its isolation, Barak’s office said.

Beilin, a veteran peace negotiator, said Israel’s isolation was even more acute in the 1970s and improved only when it made peace with Egypt in 1979. He said the current situation was reversible with a sincere peace effort.

“The fact that we are so isolated needs a solution and the solution will not be by telling ourselves that we are OK,” he said. “If we do not initiate something with the peace process, we are doomed.”

(This version CORRECTS figure of YouTube clip viewers to 2 million. )

German Jews ‘inundated’ with requests to join new Gaza aid flotilla

Jewish Voices for a Just Peace seeks second vessel, as dozens more activists ask to take part in aid mission.

June 14, 2010

DPA

            An association of German Jews planning to send a boat with humanitarian aid to break the Gaza blockade is searching for a second vessel, given the high number of requests to travel with the group.

            The group, Jewish Voices for a Just Peace, had originally planned to send one small vessel from an unnamed Mediterranean port in mid-July, with the intention of getting aid past the Israeli-imposed blockade of Gaza. However, spokeswoman Edith Lutz told dpa that “our preparations have been held back somewhat because we have been inundated with requests to travel.”

Lutz said that the first vessel, which could hold up to 14 passengers, was now full and that a further 40 German Jews were seeking to travel aboard a second vessel.

Middle East press rejects “easing” of Gaza blockade

June 18, 2010

BBC News

The announcement by Israel that it will take steps to ease its blockade of the Gaza Strip has been roundly dismissed by the regional Arabic press as a cynical ploy.

            Israel has been under severe international pressure to review its policy towards Gaza since its raid of a flotilla carrying aid to the strip left nine dead. An Israeli government statement said on Thursday that Israel would “liberalise the system by which civilian goods enter Gaza”, but did not specify how this would happen.

             Commentators in the Middle East argued that Israel was seeking only to mollify its critics rather than acting in the interests of lasting peace. Pundits across the region called for the blockade on Gaza to be lifted immediately.

            The Israeli press paid little attention to the announcement, focusing instead on yesterday’s protest by Ultra-Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem.

EDITORIAL IN THE PALESTINIAN AL-QUDS

Israel has decided to take steps toward “easing” the unjust siege it is imposing on the Gaza Strip… Israel will try to convince the world that it has acceded to the demands of the international community. But the world is not blind and knows that the siege is ongoing.

EDITORIAL IN EGYPT’S AL-JUMHURIYAH

Israel’s announcement of a so-called easing of the siege is nothing but a lie… Israel does not want to give up its aggressive expansion plans at any price, even for a peaceful settlement that allows the region’s people to lead a decent and free life.

SUBHI ZU’AYTAR IN SAUDI ARABIA’S AL-WATAN

It is ironic that Israel thinks it can convince the international community that by adopting these measures the residents of the Gaza Strip, who have been living under siege for four years, will enjoy everything they hoped for. It will be more ironic, in the light of Israeli threats against anyone who thinks of taking part in the Freedom Flotillas preparing to sail to Gaza, if the world believes it.

ADNAN ALI IN SYRIA’S AL-THAWRAH

The talk is of “easing” the siege [rather than ending it]… this is nothing more than an attempt to rescue Israel from itself. If Israel succeeds in placating the world’s conscience, excited by the flotilla incident, it is unlikely to lay down a secure basis for the resolution of the current situation, which continues to be a disgrace to humanity.

EDITORIAL IN QATAR’S AL-RAYAH

The decision is an effort to legitimise the “Israeli siege”… the international community has a responsibility to reject this new Israeli ploy and put pressure on Israel to lift the siege completely.

EDITORIAL IN THE UAE’S AL-BAYAN

Everything that is proposed comes under the title of “easing” the siege, which in practice means keeping it but in a “softened” form.

BBC Monitoringselects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.
Transcription of “scrambled” telephone conversation on August 3, 2006

From: Israeli Embassy, Washington D.C. Telephone Number (202) 364-5582.

To unidentified individual at AIPAC, Washington D.C., Telephone Number (202) 639-5201

Commenced 1821 hrs, concluded 1826 hrs.

Speaker A Reuven Azar – Counselor for Political Affairs, Embassy of Israel

Speaker B Unidentified individual located at AIPAC headquarters

A. Well, things are going as well as expected, better perhaps than expected. There is military progress there (Lebanon) and we have wonderful cooperation here.

B. For sure, but don’t forget the dangers in having too much cooperation. All right for this moment but in the long run, this can certainly backfire on us. You know, we are seen as being too much influential with the Bush people.

A. I wouldn’t worry too much about that. The media is certainly not to worry about and most Americans really do not care about things there (Lebanon) The main point is that by the time the U.S. makes itself felt at the UN, we will have accomplished our goals and established the buffer we need.

B. Absolutely but…there is still the future to think about.

A. Who cares? Once we establish the buffer, the rest is just shit. It will all be hidden soon in the coming press reports of Arab ‘attacks’ on the U.S. This is for the voting in November. You know, ‘many Arab groups will for sure attack American targets.’ They (the U.S. Government) will choose so-called target areas where they need the most support. We don’t need to worry about Miami, Skokie or Beverly Hills after all. (Laughter) and this is a little crude but the public here is terribly stupid and the warning  color days worked before, didn’t they?

B. Yes, but there are second thoughts on all of that. If you go to the well too often, there are problems. People lose interest.

A. The British are being such swine about this, aren’t they? They are causing trouble about the bombs these days.

B. Just a few troublemakers. The press here does not cover that and who reads the foreign media? Most Americans can’t read anyway. But there is danger that the U.N. might be motivated to move a peace keeping force into Lebanon and this might negate our purposes. Hezbollah must be utterly wiped out and Syria must be made to realize…with force if necessary…that it cannot supply the terrorists with more Iranian rockets. Maybe an accidental airstrike on Syrian military units could say to them to mind their own business. We have done this before.

A. It is too bad that we cannot teach Tehran a lesson. The ultimate goal would be to have America attack Iran but I am afraid the American military is dead set against this…

B. They are all Jew-haters up there.

A. For sure but we know that Americans  can bomb the shit out of Tehran and hopefully kill off a number of the militants, probably disrupt their atomic program and teach all of the area that the U.S. means business. We support them, they support us. But they cannot send in ground troops and if we did that, our losses would not be borne at home. As it is, there are the usual malcontents bleating about the Lebanon business.

B. They are just afraid they will get a rocket on their house and there are the same ones here. The Lieberman business is not that good, after all. Yes, of course he is a liberal Democrat but his support of us is too obvious. He could be a little critical too. We see the Bush people doing this, just to keep the people quiet. Yes, they say, see, we too are actually critical of Israel….

A. But not too critical, right?

B. No, never that.

A. Too many pictures of dead jerks for example. We need to see more pictures of grieving Israelis, mourning lost sons and children. Can’t we get more of those? Fuck the Arabs.

B. I feel sorry for the American media. Their instincts are to defend dead Arab children…

A. But nits make lice, don’t they? Who mourns dead Israeli children?

B. I’m sure there would be more on this but not enough children are dead.

A. Not yet, anyway.  But if they rocket Tel Aviv…

B. Well, then, for sure.

A. We should have pictures all ready if that happens. Do you think it will?

B. Tehran directs that part of the business. We don’t have as much inside gen on them there…

A. The fucking Russians are on their side.

B. We have always had trouble with those Slavic pricks.  First weapons…

A. The Chinese assholes also do this, don’t forget.

B. No one around here will forget that, be assured. The time will come when we get them too. Say we cut off their oil from the Gulf? What then? They will dance to our tunes then, not Tehran’s.

A. If we had oil…

B. But we do not. The filthy Putin has the oil. They should get rid of him while they are at it. Our people almost had it but he forced them out.

A. They can always come back. The people here would really support this. We put our people back in after we get rid of Putin and then a guaranteed flow of oil to America.

B. And Russia is off the chessboard too.

A. They all want that badly here, too. Cheney is the strongest supporter of cutting the nuts off of Russia. The military here are against fishing in troubled waters.

B. They can’t be replaced, Bush can’t sack them all.

A. Set an example. Sack a few more of the assholes and the rest will shut up. They always do.

B. So, send me your latest list and I’ll see what I can do here.

A. Send someone to pick it up. The mail here is awful. It will take a week if some black doesn’t throw it away or wipe his ass with it.

B. Tomorrow for sure.

(Conversation terminated) 

Turkey: Over 100 Kurdish Rebels Killed in Strikes on Iraq

US ‘Providing Intelligence’ for Attacks

June 18, 2010

CBS News

The Turkish military today said that they had killed over 100 Kurdish rebels in the past month of attacks on northern Iraq’s Kurdistan region, including 20 in the past week.

Most of the deaths came in air strikes against the region, but earlier this week hundreds of Turkish soldiers also briefly marched into Iraqi Kurdistan in “hot pursuit” of rebels, sparking a multi-hour gunbattle.

Turkey’s military has been launching attacks off and on against northern Iraq for years, as has Iran. Both have cited the mountainous border region as a popular hiding place for Kurdish rebels from their own nations, and Turkey says that the US has been providing “intelligence” for the attacks.

Turkey’s clashes are with a group called the PKK, the “Kurdistan Workers’ Party,” which has regularly been launching attacks inside Turkey for years, but is also seen as expanding attacks in recent months. The group is officially listed as a terrorist organization by the US.

 

Call the politburo, we’re in trouble
by Tom Engelhardt

            Mark it on your calendar. It seems we’ve finally entered the Soviet era in America.

            You remember the Soviet Union, now almost 20 years in its grave. But who gives it a second thought today? Even in its glory years that “evil empire” was sometimes referred to as “the second superpower.” In 1991, after seven decades, it suddenly disintegrated and disappeared, leaving the United States – the “sole superpower,” even the “hyperpower,” on planet Earth – surprised but triumphant.

            The USSR had been heading for the exits for quite a while, not that official Washington had a clue. At the moment it happened, Soviet “experts” like Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (then director of the Central Intelligence Agency) still expected the Cold War to go on and on.

            In Washington, eyes were trained on the might of the Soviet military, which the Soviet leadership had never stopped feeding, even as its sclerotic bureaucracy was rotting, its economy (which had ceased to grow in the late 1970s) was tanking, budget deficits were soaring, indebtedness to other countries was growing, and social welfare payments were eating into what funds remained. Not even a vigorous, reformist leader like Mikhail Gorbachev could staunch the rot, especially when, in the late 1980s, the price of Russian oil fell drastically.

            Looking back, the most distinctive feature of the last years of the Soviet Union may have been the way it continued to pour money into its military – and its military adventure in Afghanistan – when it was already going bankrupt and the society it had built was beginning to collapse around it. In the end, its aging leaders made a devastating miscalculation. They mistook military power for power on this planet. Armed to the teeth and possessing a nuclear force capable of destroying the Earth many times over, the Soviets nonetheless remained the vastly poorer, weaker, and (except when it came to the arms race) far less technologically innovative of the two superpowers.

            In December 1979, perhaps taking the bait of the Jimmy Carter administration whose national security adviser was eager to see the Soviets bloodied by a “Vietnam” of their own, the Red Army invaded Afghanistan to support a weak communist government in Kabul. When resistance in the countryside, led by Islamic fundamentalist guerrillas and backed by the other superpower, only grew, the Soviets sent in more troops, launched major offensives, called in air power, and fought on brutally and futilely for a decade until, in 1989, long after they had been whipped, they withdrew in defeat.

             Gorbachev had dubbed Afghanistan “the bleeding wound”, and when the wounded Red Army finally limped home it was to a country that would soon cease to exist. For the Soviet Union, Afghanistan had literally proven “the graveyard of empires”. If, at the end, its military remained standing, the empire didn’t. (And if you don’t already find this description just a tad eerie, given the present moment in the US, you should.)

            In Washington, the George H W Bush administration declared victory and then left the much ballyhooed “peace dividend” in the nearest ditch. Caught off guard by the collapse of the Soviet Union, Washington’s consensus policymakers drew no meaningful lessons from it (just as they had drawn few that mattered from their Vietnam defeat 16 years earlier).

            Quite the opposite, successive American administrations would blindly head down the very path that had led the Soviets to ruin. They would serially agree that, in a world without significant enemies, the key to US global power still was the care and feeding of the American military and the military-industrial complex that went with it. As the years passed, that military would be sent ever more regularly into the far reaches of the planet to fight frontier wars, establish military bases, and finally impose a global Pax Americana on the planet.

            This urge, delusional in retrospect, seemed to reach its ultimate expression in the George W Bush administration, whose infamous “unilateralism” rested on a belief that no country or even bloc of countries should ever again be allowed to come close to matching US military power. (As its National Security Strategy of 2002 put the matter – and it couldn’t have been blunter on the subject – the US was to “build and maintain” its military power “beyond challenge.”)

            Bush’s military fundamentalists firmly believed that, in the face of the most technologically advanced, bulked-up, destructive force around, hostile states would be “shocked and awed” by a simple demonstration of its power and friendly ones would have little choice but to come to heel as well. After all, as the president said in front of a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in 2007, the US military was “the greatest force for human liberation the world has ever known”.

            In this way, far more than the Soviets, the top officials of the Bush administration mistook military power for power, a gargantuan misreading of the US economic position in the world and of their moment.

Boundless military ambitions

 The attacks of September 11, 2001, that “Pearl Harbor of the 21st century”, clinched the deal. In the space the Soviet Union had deserted, which had been occupied by minor outlaw states like North Korea for years, there was a new shape-shifting enemy, al-Qaeda (aka Islamic extremism, aka the new “totalitarianism”), which could be just as big as you wanted to make it. Suddenly, we were in what the Bush administration instantly dubbed “the global war on terror” (GWOT, one of the worst acronyms ever invented) – and this time there would be nothing “cold” about it.

            Bush administration officials promptly suggested that they were prepared to use a newly agile American military to “drain the swamp” of global terrorism. (“While we’ll try to find every snake in the swamp, the essence of the strategy is draining the swamp,” insisted deputy secretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz two weeks after 9/11.) They were prepared, they made clear, to undertake those draining operations against Islamic “terrorist networks” in no less than 60 countries around the planet.

            Their military ambitions, in other words, knew no bounds; nor, it seemed, did the money and resources which began to flow into the Pentagon, the weapons industries, the country’s increasingly militarized intelligence services, mercenary companies like Blackwater and KBR that grew fat on a privatizing administration’s war plans and the multi-billion-dollar no-bid contracts it was eager to proffer, the new Department of Homeland Security, and a ramped-up, ever more powerful national security state.

            As the Pentagon expanded, taking on ever newer roles, the numbers would prove staggering. By the end of the Bush years, Washington was doling out almost twice what the next nine nations combined were spending on their militaries, while total US military expenditures came to just under half the world’s total. Similarly, by 2008, the US controlled almost 70% of the global arms market. It also had 11 aircraft carrier battle groups capable of patrolling the world’s seas and oceans at a time when no power that could faintly be considered a possible future enemy had more than one.

            By then, private contractors had built for the Pentagon almost 300 military bases in Iraq, ranging from tiny combat outposts to massive “American towns” holding tens of thousands of troops and private contractors, with multiple bus lines, PXs, fast-food “boardwalks”, massage parlors, water treatment and power plants, barracks and airfields. They were in the process of doing the same in Afghanistan and, to a lesser extent, in the Persian Gulf region generally.

            This, too, represented a massive investment in what looked like a permanent occupation of the oil heartlands of the planet. As right-wing pundit Max Boot put it after a recent flying tour of America’s global garrisons, the US possesses military bases that add up to “a virtual American empire of Wal-Mart-style PXs, fast-food restaurants, golf courses and gyms”.

             Depending on just what you counted, there were anywhere from 700 to perhaps 1,200 or more US bases, micro to macro, acknowledged and unacknowledged, around the globe. Meanwhile, the Pentagon was pouring money into the wildest blue-skies thinking at its advanced research arm, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), whose budget grew by 50%.

             Through DARPA, well-funded scientists experimented with various ways to fight science-fiction-style wars in the near and distant future (at a moment when no one was ready to put significant government money into blue-skies thinking about, for instance, how to improve the education of young Americans). The Pentagon was also pioneering a new form of air power, drone warfare, in which “we” wouldn’t be within thousands of miles of the battlefield, and the battlefield would no longer necessarily be in a country with which we were at war.

            It was also embroiled in two disastrous, potentially trillion-dollar wars (and various global skirmishes) – and all this at top dollar at a time when next to no money was being invested in, among other things, the bridges, tunnels, waterworks and the like that made up an aging American infrastructure. Except when it came to victory, the military stood ever taller, while its many missions expanded exponentially, even as the domestic economy was spinning out of control, budget deficits were increasing rapidly, the governmental bureaucracy was growing ever more sclerotic, and indebtedness to other nations was rising by leaps and bounds.

In other words, in a far wealthier country, another set of leaders, having watched the Soviet Union implode, decisively embarked on the Soviet path to disaster.

Military profligacy

            In the autumn of 2008, the abyss opened under the US economy, which the Bush administration had been blissfully ignoring, and millions of people fell into it. Giant institutions wobbled or crashed; extended unemployment wouldn’t go away; foreclosures happened on a mind-boggling scale; infrastructure began to buckle; state budgets were caught in a death grip; teachers’ jobs, another kind of infrastructure, went down the tubes in startling numbers; and the federal deficit soared. 

            A new president also entered the Oval Office, someone (many voters believed) intent on winding up (or at least down) Bush’s wars and the delusions of military omnipotence and technological omniscience that went with them. If George W Bush had pushed this country to the edge of disaster, at least his military policies, as many of his critics saw it, were as extreme and anomalous as the cult of executive power his top officials fostered.

            But here was the strange thing. In the midst of the great recession, under a new president with assumedly far fewer illusions about American omnipotence and power, war policy continued to expand in just about every way. The Pentagon budget rose by Bushian increments in fiscal year 2010; and whilethe Iraq War reached a kind of dismal stasis, the new president doubled down in Afghanistan on entering office – and then doubled down again before the end of 2009. There, he “surged” in multiple ways. At best, the US was only drawing down one war, in Iraq, to feed the flames of another.

            As in the Soviet Union before its collapse, the exaltation and feeding of the military at the expense of the rest of society and the economy had by now become the new normal; so much so that hardly a serious word could be said – lest you not “support our troops” – when it came to ending the American way of war or downsizing the global mission or ponying up the funds demanded of the US Congress to pursue war preparations and war-making.

            Even when, after years of astronomical growth, Gates began to talk about cost-cutting at the Pentagon, it was in the service of the reallocation of ever-more money to war-fighting. Here was how the New York Times summed up what reduction actually meant for America’s ultimate super-sized institution in tough times: “Current budget plans project growth of only 1 percent in the Pentagon budget, after inflation, over the next five years.” Only 1% growth – at a time when state budgets, for instance, are being slashed to the bone. Like the Soviet military, the Pentagon, in other words, is planning to remain obese whatever else goes down.

             Meanwhile, the “anti-war” president has been overseeing the expansion of the new normal on many fronts, including the expanding size of the army itself. In fact, when it comes to the “war on terror” – even with the name now in disuse – the profligacy can still take your breath away.

             Consider, for instance, the $2.2 billion Host Nation Trucking contract the Pentagon uses to pay protection money to Afghan security companies which, in turn, slip some part of those payments to the Taliban to let American supplies travel safely on Afghan roads. Or if you don’t want to think about how Americans tax dollars support the Taliban, consider the $683,000 the Pentagon spent, according to the Washington Post, to “renovate a cafe that sells ice cream and Starbucks coffee” at its base/prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

            Or the $773,000 used there “to remodel a cinder-block building to house a KFC/Taco Bell restaurant”, or the $7.3 million spent on baseball and football fields, or the $60,000 batting cage, or a promised $20,000 soccer cage, all part of the approximately US$2 billion that have gone into the American base and prison complex that Obama promised to, but can’t, close.

            Or what about the US Embassy in Baghdad, that 104-acre (42 hectares), almost three-quarters-of-a-billion-dollar, 21-building homage to the American-mall-as-fortified-citadel? It costs more than $1.5 billion a year to run, and bears about as much relationship to an “embassy” as McDonald’s does to a neighborhood hamburger joint. According to a recent audit, millions of dollars in “federal property” assigned to what is essentially a vast command center for the region, including 159 of the embassy’s 1,168 vehicles, are missing or unaccounted for.

            And as long as we’re talking about expansion in distant lands, how about the Pentagon’s most recent construction plans in Central Asia, part of a prospective “mini-building boom” there. They are to include an anti-terrorism training center to be constructed for a bargain basement $5.5 million in … no, not Toledo or Akron or El Paso, but the combustible city of Osh in southern Kyrgyzstan. And that’s just one of several projects there and in neighboring Tajikistan that are reportedly to be funded out of the US Central Command’s “counter-narcotics fund” (and ultimately out of American taxpayers’ pockets).

            Or consider a particularly striking example of military expansion under Obama, superbly reported by the Washington Post’s Karen DeYoung and Greg Jaffe in a piece headlined, “US ‘secret war’ expands globally as Special Operations forces take larger role.” As a story, it sank without a trace in a country evidently unfazed by the idea of having its forces garrisoned and potentially readying to fight everywhere on the planet.

            Here’s how the piece began:

             Beneath its commitment to soft-spoken diplomacy and beyond the combat zones of Afghanistan and Iraq, the Obama administration has significantly expanded a largely secret US war against al-Qaeda and other radical groups, according to senior military and administration officials. Special Operations forces have grown both in number and budget, and are deployed in 75 countries, compared with about 60 at the beginning of last year.

            Now, without opening an atlas, just try to name any 75 countries on this planet – more than one-third, that is, of the states belonging to the United Nations. And yet US special operatives are now engaging in war, or preparing for war, or training others to do so, or covertly collecting intelligence in that many countries across Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America. Fifteen more than in the Bush era.

             Whatever it is or isn’t called, this remains Bush’s “war on terror” on an expansionist trajectory. DeYoung and Jaffe quote an unnamed “senior military official” saying that the Obama administration has allowed “things that the previous administration did not”, and report that Special Operations commanders are now “a far more regular presence at the White House” than in the Bush years.

            Not surprisingly, those Special Operations forces have themselves expanded in the first year-and-a-half of the Obama presidency and, for fiscal year 2011, with 13,000 of them already deployed abroad, the administration has requested a 5.7% hike in their budget to $6.3 billion.

            Once upon a time, Special Operations forces got their name because they were small and “special”. Now they are in essence being transformed into a covert military within the military and, as befits their growing size, reports Noah Shachtman of the Wired’s Danger Room, the army Special Forces alone are slated to get a new $100 million “headquarters” in northern Afghanistan. It will cover about 17 acres and will include a “communications building, Tactical Operations Center, training facility, medical aid station, Vehicle Maintenance Facility … dining facility, laundry facility, and a kennel to support working dogs … Supporting facilities include roads, power production system and electrical distribution, water well, non-potable water production, water storage, water distribution, sanitary sewer collection system, communication manhole/duct system, curbs, walkways, drainage and parking.”

            This headquarters, adds Shachtman, will take a year to build, “at which point, the US is allegedly supposed to begin drawing down its forces in Afghanistan. Allegedly.” And mind you, the Special Operations troops are but one expanding part of the US military.

Creeping gigantism

            The first year-and-a-half of the Obama administration has seen a continuation of what could be considered the monumental socialist-realist era of American war-making (including a decision to construct another huge, Baghdad-style “embassy” in Islamabad, Pakistan). This sort of creeping gigantism, with all its assorted cost overruns and private perks, would undoubtedly have seemed familiar to the Soviets. Certainly no less familiar will be the near decade the US military has spent, increasingly disastrously, in the Afghan graveyard.

            Drunk on war as Washington may be, the US is still not the Soviet Union in 1991 – not yet. But it’s not the triumphant “sole superpower” anymore either. Its global power is visibly waning, its ability to win wars distinctly in question, its economic viability open to doubt. It has been transformed from a can-do into a can’t-do nation, a fact only highlighted by the ongoing BP catastrophe and “rescue” in the Gulf of Mexico. Its airports are less shiny and more Third World-like every year.

            Unlike France or China, it has not a mile of high-speed rail. And when it comes to the future, especially the creation and support of innovative industries in alternative energy, it’s chasing the pack. It is increasingly a low-end service economy, losing good jobs that will never return.

            And if its armies come home in defeat … watch out.

            In 1991, the Soviet Union suddenly evaporated. The Cold War was over. Like many wars, it seemed to have an obvious winner and an obvious loser. Nearly 20 years later, as the US heads down the Soviet road to disaster – even if the world can’t imagine what a bankrupt America might mean – it’s far clearer that, in the titanic struggle of the two superpowers that we came to call the Cold War, there were actually two losers, and that, when the “second superpower” left the scene, the first was already heading for the exits, just ever so slowly and in a state of self-intoxicated self-congratulation.

            Nearly every decision in Washington since then, including Obama’s to expand both the Afghan War and the “war on terror”, has only made what, in 1991, was one possible path seem like fate itself.

            Call up the politburo in Washington. We’re in trouble.

Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project, runs the Nation Institute’s TomDispatch.com. He is the author of The End of Victory Culture, a history of the Cold War and beyond, as well as of a novel, The Last Days of Publishing. He also edited The World According to TomDispatch: America in the New Age of Empire (Verso, 2008), an alternative history of the mad Bush years. His latest book is The American Way of War: How Bush’s Wars Became Obama’s (Haymarket Books), 

 

Abuse of meds sends as many to ER as illegal drugs

June 17, 2010

by Mike Stobbe 

Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) — For the first time, abuse of painkillers and other medication is sending as many people to the emergency room as the use of illegal drugs.

In 2008, ERS saw an estimated 1 million visits from people abusing prescription or over-the-counter medicines — mostly painkillers and sedatives. That was about the same number of visits from those overdosing on heroin, cocaine and other illegal drugs, according to a government report released Thursday.

Only five years earlier, illegal drug visits outnumbered those from legal medications by a 2-to-1 margin.

In other words, the number of ER visits from medication abuse doubled, said Peter Delany of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

“It’s a pretty startling jump,” Delany said. He led a team that worked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the report.

Painkillers and sedatives clearly drove the trend. ER visits for the painkillers oxycodone and hydrocodone more than doubled from 2004 to 2008. And cases from one kind of tranquilizer nearly doubled.

The estimates are based on emergency room data from more than 200 U.S. hospitals. Many of the cases may be overdoses, but some may come from mixing drugs or combining them with alcohol, Delany said.

Health officials are not sure why painkiller abuse rose so dramatically. But the number of prescriptions has been increasing, so some of those who ended up in ERs may have gotten their medicine legally.

The authors did not estimate how many of the ER patients died. A CDC report last year found that the rate of drug-related deaths roughly doubled from the late 1990s to 2006, and most of the increase was attributed to prescription opiates such as the painkillers methadone, Oxycontin and Vicodin.

“The abuse of prescription drugs is our nation’s fastest-growing drug problem,” Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, said in a statement.

The use of painkillers has grown in recent years as doctors tried to correct the traditional undertreatment of pain, and pharmaceutical companies ramped up marketing of new pain medications.

But many doctors and patients don’t fully recognize the medications’ dangers, said Susan Foster, a vice president at Columbia University’s National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse.

“People believe they’re safer because they’re prescribed by doctors and approved by the FDA,” she said.

The report is being published this week in a CDC publication, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

___

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 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 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 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 http://www.shop.conversationswiththecrow.com/Conversations-with-the-Crow-CWC-GD01.htm:

             Here is the third chapter:

Conversation No. 3

Date: Saturday, February 24, 1996

Commenced: 1:30 PM (CST)

Concluded: 2:11 PM (CST)

GD: Good afternoon, Robert. Been to church today?

RTC: And good afternoon to you. Not today. Have you?

GD: I’ve been in many churches in my life but for the architecture, not the services.

RTC: I’ve never asked you, Gregory but are you Catholic?

GD: In taste, Robert, but not in faith. I told Bender[1] what you had to say about the UFOs but did not credit you. I called you a senior intelligence official.

RTC: I appreciate that. What did he say?

GD: A subject that will be covered but in its place. Your point of view is that there were so-called official saucers used by the military and unofficial ones that no one knows anything about. Correct?

RTC: Correct.

GD: But by unofficial I don’t mean Russian.

RTC: Yes.

GD: I don’t suppose there’s paper on this?

RTC: The Air Force would have it but we don’t. We had nothing to do with it but it was common knowledge that there were visitors not from this world.

GD: I don’t want to spend much time on this because if I do, the critics will jump on it and claim I’m a Flying Saucer Nut. They already hate me and this would only give them more ammunition.

RTC: When I read your first book, didn’t I tell you this would happen? You can’t claim you were surprised.

GD: Yes, but they are so fucking stupid, pardon the French. ‘Oh hello Mr. Douglas! My name is Edgar Quince and I’m a reporter for TIME magazine. We were really thrilled to read your landmark book on the Gestapo fellow and we want to do an interview with you. Do you have any documents proving he worked for the CIA? We could put you on the cover of TIME! Wouldn’t that be exciting? We could fly a team out to see you tomorrow. And we want to see any CIA papers. By the way, what’s your home address?’ When I said stupid, that’s a typical example.

RTC: Well, they really aren’t all that bright, unfortunately. Don’t forget, Gregory, I had to deal with the media for years. Cord and Frank did the publishing companies and I worked with media corporate. We had a death grip on them. Couldn’t and wouldn’t print a word if we told them not to or ran puff pieces we wanted out.

GD: My late grandfather told me that once a newspaper man, always a whore.

RTC: Let’s call them sluts, not whores. We rarely paid them and they just did it to make us happy.

GD: That’s a difference without much of distinction, Robert. Did you have to take a shower after each and every meeting? Use Lysol to get off the stench?

RTC: I’ve had to work with business executives, Gregory, and they’re worse. Believe me, the Mafia are more to be trusted. Don’t forget I was raised in Chicago and my father was a cog in the Kelly-Nash machine so I got to know some of the mob people.

GD: My grandfather was a Chicago banker and I remember him saying once that the Ambassador belonged in Alcatraz along with his crime partner Capone.

RTC: Your grandfather was right. Kennedy was tied up with the Chicago mob in the liquor business. Capone got crossed by Kennedy and put out a hit on him. Kennedy took the next train to Chicago with a satchel filled with large denomination bills. Paid Capone back the money with great interest and Alfonso forgave him.

GD: Some history we have never heard before.

RTC: How did your grandfather know about this? Was he involved?

GD: No. He was involved with the Merchandise Mart and I guess that’s where he met Kennedy. Grandfather said he was an unconvicted bootlegger.

RTC: True enough. Joe wanted to run his oldest for the White House but Roosevelt put a spoke into that plan. Franklin wanted to die in office…

GD: Which he did…

RTC: And the eldest son had a fatal accident in England.

GD: I know. I covered that in the first book.

RTC: The kid was supposed to pilot a plane full of explosives to a German V bomb base, parachute out and let the plane blow it up. Churchill, ever a good friend when Franklin was alive and giving him support, arranged for a radio station near the airfield to send out a trigger code and blew young Kennedy into cat meat. One hand washes the other, doesn’t it?

GD: Bloodthirsty amoral shits, all of them. Mueller told me once that when a man has achieved a certain elevation, morality goes down the tube. I remember his exact words. ‘Morality and ethics are excellent norms but not effective techniques.’

RTC; I met him several times. An impressive man to be sure. Speaking of Mueller, I ran into someone several days ago at the National Archives. A wonderful man and a great supporter of your book.

GD: I didn’t think I had great friends inside the Beltway. Who was it? Corson?

RTC: No, that butt-licking Wolfe. Sidled up to me and went on about how evil you were and how much damage you were doing to his friends at the CIA. And probably were a secret Nazi who longed to shove Jews into the ovens. He wants to think that the CIA loves him but he’s just another stool pigeon to them. They give gift pens to ones like that.

GD: He’s always so nice to me but I trust him as far as I could throw him by his ears.

RTC: I wouldn’t. Anything you say to him, goes straight to Langley.

GD: Tell me I’m surprised. Wolfe’s as subtle as a fart in a spacesuit, but I keep filling him full of entertaining stories. I should send him a box of dignity pants before every phone session. Did you know that he got a top secret document for me out of the Archives? It was a ’48 Army General Staff report on top Nazis, listed as war criminals, that they and your people hired and brought over here?

RTC: Could you give me chapter and verse on that one?

GD: I’ll have to dig it out but I will.

RTC: Top secret you say?

GD: Release forbidden by presidential order.

RTC: Probably Truman’s doing. Yes, would appreciate a copy.

GD: No problem.

RTC: What do you plan to do with it?

GD: Publish the contents. Why not?

RTC: Oh somewhere out there a George Brown, actually a top Gestapo official who ran a death camp, is an analyst for the Rand people. You’ll shock his neighbors.

GD: The Gestapo didn’t run any camps but I take your meaning.

RTC: Ah the images of Gestapo men in black overcoats with Dobermans, rounding up screaming Jews and shoving them into the showers is pretty well fixed in the American mind. If it ever gets out the degree and extent of those types we gratefully used, the Jewish community here will scream for months and, worse, use their papers to blast government types.

GD: I doubt that. They don’t want to kill the goose that lays their golden eggs. I see them turning on me as the announcer of matters they would rather ignore. Money and weapons have that effect on people.

RTC: You knew their Stern gang tried to kill Truman once? Harry may have gotten their ball rolling but he stopped shipments of explosives over there to stop the wave of bombings and so on. So they decided to kill him. As I remember, they sent anthrax to Harry in a letter but someone else got it. Kept very quiet. The secret service tracked the doers to Montreal and turned it over to us. We found five of them living in a safe house and nailed all of them. Ironically, they got rid of the bodies by dumping them into a local hog farm where the pigs ate them.

GD: Pigs will do that. I heard a farm person, who raised pigs, once say that his uncle disappeared. He said he went to shit and the hogs ate him. When I worked in Northern California, I could see that that was not really a joke. The outhouses are built on the side of a hill and open in the back. The pigs run wild up there and when they see someone going to the outhouse with a newspaper, they flock to the site. For them, it’s manna from heaven.

RTC: Have you no shame, Gregory? And the other one has escaped to Cuba so we got Battista’s people to ice him. By the way, did you know that the CIA put Castro in office? No? We were tired of Battista and some moron thought Castro would cooperate better with our business interests. He did not and both big business, Alcoa mostly, the mob and the Company tried for years to kill him. You don’t need to write about that if you please.

GD: Fine.

RTC: And the JCS was planning to fake Cuban attacks on American targets to justify a military attack? I didn’t think so. Eisenhower thought it was a wonderful idea but Kennedy killed it. Considering that his father was such a crook, it’s amazing how uncooperative his son was.

GD: You don’t have any paperwork on that on, do you?

RTC: No but believe me, it’s true.

GD: Did that have anything to do with the Kennedy business?

RTC: A contributory factor.

GD: Perhaps sometime we can discuss this.

RTC: Perhaps later.

GD: Eisenhower was a shit after all. He would have let tens of thousands of German POWs starve to death after the war but Truman saved them.

RTC: I went to the Point and under Ike’s picture in the yearbook, it referred to him as a Swedish Jew. I think they were German but you can see why he might have been upset with the Germans.

GD: Well, long ago, the Roosevelt family was Jewish. The name was Campo Rosso, changed to Rosenfeld and then to the Dutch, Roosevelt. I mean that was back in the 1600s but Franklin had a second cousin who was Orthodox until he died. If you dig back far enough, it’s amazing what you find.

RTC: Where did you dig that up?

GD: The Congressional Record, German genealogical agencies and so on. I do dig, Robert, don’t forget that. I never accept anything as fact until I’ve checked it out. The Costello business is an example. Murdered by the Russians? Try his black boyfriend he kept in a flat in Soho. Costello’s own brother was a British naval officer and he refused to take custody of the body. They probably cremated John and shipped the remains back to London. The boyfriend went to the post office and hauled John’s ashes for the last time.

RTC: (Laughter)

GD: Well, it’s apt.

RTC: You are a mean person, Gregory, very mean.

GD: Yes, I am. I once poured water on a drowning man, Robert. I have devastated small children by my revelations about Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. Cruel.

RTC: You’re a social Darwinist, Gregory, just like the rest of us.

GD: I agree but let’s not get the religious freaks exercised by mention of that awful name. The world is only 6,000 years old according to Bishop Ussher, and we dare not even question Holy Writ. I keep away from that when I write because God hath no fury like a Jesus freak deluded. Anyway, sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof and on that uplifting note, I have to take the dog out or he will desecrate the carpet. Regards to the wife.

RTC: Always happy to hear from you, Gregory.

(Concluded at 2:11PM CST)

The Wikileaks Dustup: The Good Humour Column

            Editor: There has been a good deal of self-generated comment of late concerning one  Julian Assange and his website, Wikileaks. The basic thrust of this tempest in a teapot is that the daring and courageous Mr. Assanage, an Australian connected with the expatriate American Jimmy Wales and his Wikipedia, has published some fuzzy pictures purporting to show American military personnel gleefully shooting down unwanted journalists. For this, Mr. Assange has garnered a good deal of publicity, mostly from the sensationalist bloggers and their allies in the conspiracy world. There has been breathless talk about secret Swedish internet sites, Icelandic free zones, nameless but sinister persecutions of the heroic revealer of the terrible truth and, on a lesser scale, many requests for financial assistance. Now, apparently, this assistance has not been forthcoming so the public is urgently informed that Mr. Assange is a marked man.

 

             Unfortunately for this scenario, the U.S. Army conducted an investigation into the charge that Wikileaks posted secret documents

first

            The investigation file is named Wikileaks/Suspected Leakage of Classified Information and was assigned case number 08FEB0824D400075EC and a study of the document, which is in the public  domain, indicates that that a member of the NETWARCOM Security informed NCIS that Wikileaks was hosting classified material. A report was taken by a Reporting Agent (RA) who then contacted a Special Agent involved with FCI (Foreign Counterintelligence Investigations.) The FCI agent informed him the US Army Criminal Investigation Division had been contacted and was conducting their own investigation into the matter.

 

             It was very quickly determined that No Further Reporting [was] Anticipated. The case was closed the same day with no additional investigations having been conducted by any Federal agency from that date.

 

            Why, one asks, would this be so quickly disposed of in light of the allegations of terrible revelations? Quite obviously because competent authority very quickly determined that Mr. Assange has not posted secret material. In point of fact, a close review of the previous web contents of the sporadic Wikileaks quickly discloses that the alleged secret material posted is either not secret or pure invention.

 

            Those interested in such matters will remember the rise and fall of Messer’s Tom Floccco, Wayne Madsen,Sorcha Fall and the redoubtable Christopher Bolleyn, who fled the country after assaulting a Chicago policeman when  Bolleyn claimed both the Mafia and the FBI were standing on ladders, peering into his kitchen window and driving up and down in front of his house in cars bristling with automatic weapons. 

 

            What is needed here is not action but Prozac and perhaps, if Australia gives the redoubtable and courageous Assange his passport back, he can join Bolleyn in Estonia where the latter is working on a chicken farm..God alone knows what stupendous revelations might emerge from such a monumental union but God has a peculiar sense of humor.

 

Wikileaks founder fears for his life!

June18, 2010

by Simon Lauder

ABC News

The man behind whistleblower website Wikileaks says he is not in a position to record an interview amid claims his life is in danger.

Julian Assange, the Australian-born founder of Wikileaks, is said to be under threat with reports that the site has hundreds of thousands of classified cables containing explosive revelations.

There was an international uproar in April when the website released classified US military video which officials had been refusing to make public for three years.

The leaked video showed a US helicopter crew mistaking a camera for a rocket-propelled grenade launcher before firing on a group of people in Iraq.

Mr Assange has also told his supporters he is planning to release a video of a US air strike in Afghanistan that killed many civilians.

The 2007 video of the US army helicopter shooting civilians has already led to a chain of events which reportedly has Mr Assange in hiding.

A hacker blew the whistle on the US army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning, who allegedly handed that video to Wikileaks.

Mr Manning is now reported to be in custody in Kuwait.

The hacker says Mr Manning bragged to him about having thousands of diplomatic cables that would embarrass US secretary of state Hillary Clinton and several thousand diplomats around the world.

It has since been reported that American officials are searching for Mr Assange to pressure him not to publish the cables.

But an unnamed source in the Obama administration has told Newsweek that the US government is not trying to convince Mr Assange not to release the cables, but it is trying to contact him.

The World Today has also received an email from Mr Assange which says: “Due to present circumstances, I am not able to easily conduct interviews”.

In an email to supporters this week, Mr Assange denies Wikileaks has 260,000 classified US department cables.

But he confirms the website has a video of a US air strike on a village in western Afghanistan in May last year.

The Afghan government said at the time of the attack that 140 civilians died.

Life in danger

Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked Pentagon papers in the 1970s showing government deceit over the Vietnam War, says he believes Mr Assange has reason to keep his whereabouts secret.

“I think it’s worth mentioning [that there is] a very new and ominous development in our country,” he said.

“I think he would not be safe, even physically, entirely wherever he is.

“We have, after all, for the first time ever perhaps in any democratic country… a president who has announced that he feels he has the right to use special operations operatives against anyone abroad that he thinks is associated with terrorism.”

Mr Ellsberg told a US TV network Mr Assange’s life may be in danger.

“I was, in fact, the subject of a White House hit squad in November on May 3, 1972,” he said.

“A dozen Cuban assets were brought up from Miami with orders, quoting their prosecutor ‘to incapacitate Daniel Ellsberg totally’ on the steps of the Capitol.

“It so happens when I was in a rally during the Vietnam war and I asked the prosecutor ‘what does that mean – kill me?’ He said the words were to incapacitate you totally, but you should understand these guys, meaning the CIA operatives, never use the word ‘kill’.”

Professor Amin Saikal, director of the centre for Arab and Islamic studies at the Australian National University, says the US government has strong motivations for keeping video of the strike under wraps.

“That NATO operation in western Afghanistan caused quite a number of civilian casualties which caused outrage among the Afghan leaders,” he said.

“The issue was also raised very strongly in the Afghan parliament.

“I suppose that the American authorities would be very adverse at the release of the video at this point which could cause more problems in the relationship between Afghanistan and Washington.”

As far fetched as Mr Ellsberg’s claim sounds, the national president of Whistleblowers Australia, Peter Bennett, agrees Mr Assange’s life may be at risk.

“There is a lot of money to be made from wars. There is a lot of people who will become very, very wealthy through the course of this Afghan war,” he said.

“To stop anybody raising questions about its conduct would put those profits at risk and profit is a high motivation to stop somebody interfering with those profits.

“It is possible that there are vested interests – military, political and certainly economic, possibly even criminal – who would rather him not release that information.

“There is a serious chance that his wellbeing could be at risk. If I was in his shoes, I would be taking all necessary precautions to make sure that my whereabouts and my wellbeing were being protected.”

 

The

From:       Julian Assange (julian@wikileaks.org)
                You may not know this sender.Mark as safe| Mark as junk
Sent:        Wed 6/16/10 4:10 PM
To:                tbrnews@hotmail.com

FYI:
 
Reykjavik, Iceland; 4:00 UTC, June 16th 2010.
 
The WikiLeaks advised proposal to build an international”new media haven” in Iceland, with the world’s strongestpress and whistleblower protection laws, and a “Nobel” prize for for Freedom of Expression, has unaminously passed theIcelandic Parliament.
 
50 votes were cast in favor, zero against, one abstained. Twelvemembers of parliament were not present. Vote results are availableat http://www.althingi.is/dba-bin/atkvgr.pl?nnafnak=43014
 
One of the inspirations for the proposal was the dramatic August 2009 gagging of of Iceland’s national broadcaster, RUV by Iceland’s then largest bank, Kaupthing:
 
http://wikileaks.org/wiki/Financial_collapse:_Confidential_exposure_analysis_of_205_companies_each_owing_above_EUR45M_to_Icelandic_bank_Kaupthing,_26_Sep_2008
 
Two changes were made to the proposal from its original form as perthe opinion of the parliament’s general affairs committee[http://www.althingi.is/altext/138/s/1329.html]. The first of these altered slightly the wording of the first paragraph so as to widen the arena for research. The second of these added two new items to the list of tasks for the government:
 
– That the government should perform a detailed analysis, especially with respect to operational security, for the prospect of operating data centers in Iceland.
 
– That the government should organize an international conference in Iceland regarding the changes to the legal environment being caused by expansion of cloud computing, data havens, and the judicial state of the Internet.
 
Video footage from the proposal’s vote will be available at:
 
http://www.althingi.is/altext/hlusta.php?raeda=rad20100616T033127&horfa=1
 
http://www.althingi.is/altext/hlusta.php?raeda=rad20100616T033306&horfa=1
 
For details of the proposal and press contacts, please see
http://www.immi.is


[1] R. James Bender  Publisher of Douglas’ four volume works on Heinrich Müller, chief of Hitler’s Gestapo and CIA post-war expert on Communism

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