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- AFIB No. 823, May 16, 2007 -








What we are therefore seeing today, then, is not the enactment of law to protect us. On the contrary, at face value, the state is manipulating and abusing the process of law in order to systematically erode, deface and ultimately eliminate the rule of law entirely. And in its place, what is being established is the ability of the state to consolidate policies of social control, to control and intervene in the life of the public at will, with impunity, and without accountability. For now, we can call this process, a process of totalization. ... But what is happening is, obviously, not exclusive to Britain, although one might suggest in certain issues Britain is leading the way. What is happening represents a disconcerting phenomenon that cuts across the liberal democracies of the United States, Britain and Western Europe. In all these liberal democracies, similar types of anti terror legislation have been, and are being, actively pursued and enacted by Western states. In other words, these two essential processes which we described above in application to Britain -- the broadening of the scope of the state's arsenal of social control policies; and the narrowing of the decision-making base in determining the implementation of such policies to a centralized executive incubated from external oversight -- are also occurring in all the major Western liberal democracies. -- Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, "Whose War On Terror? Reclaiming Our Rights," The Cutting Edge, December 3, 2006,

Contents: Number 823

 01. COUNTERPUNCH [Petrolia, CA]: The Final Showdown: Mumia Case Reaches its Climax.
 02. WORLD SOCIALIST WEB SITE [Oak Park, MI]: After resignation of Gonzales deputy: Bush Justice Department Cover-Up Unraveling.
 03. THE NATION [New York]: Agent of Intolerance.
 04. THE CUTTING EDGE [London]: The Strategy of Tension.
 05. HISTORY NEWS NETWORK [Seattle]: Hitler's Carmaker: How Will Posterity Remember General Motors' Conduct? (Part 4).
 06. ATLANTIC FREE PRESS [London]: See No Evil: Somalia Sinks Into the Pit as the World Looks Away.

AFIB #822: May 13, 2007

AFIB #821: May 9, 2007

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- Tuesday, May 15, 2007 -


The Final Showdown




The case of death row prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal, now a quarter of a century long, is heading to a climax this Thursday in a hearing before a three-judge panel of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia. It is a hearing that could result in a new trial for the Philadelphia journalist and former Black Panther, or possibly in a new date with the executioner.

The wide range of possible outcomes of this hearing results from the fact that Abu-Jamal and the Philadelphia District Attorney have filed cross-appeals in the case. Abu-Jamal, convicted in 1982 for the 1981 slaying of white Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner during an arrest of Abu-Jamal's younger brother William, is appealing his conviction. He is arguing that his jury was unconstitutionally purged of black jurors by the prosecutor, who used peremptory challenges to bar 10 or 11 black jurors from being seated, though all had said that they could vote for a death penalty. He is also appealing his conviction on the ground that the prosecutor, Joseph McGill, improperly diminished the jury's sense of responsibility for their verdict by telling them that a guilty verdict would "not be final" since there would be "appeal after appeal."

The DA's office, meanwhile, has appealed a 2001 decision by Federal District Judge William Yohn overturning Abu-Jamal's death sentence-a ruling that if sustained, converts Abu-Jamal's penalty to life in prison without possibility of parole.

It is impossible to second-guess what the three judges sitting on this appeal will decide on any of the claims before them, but looking at their prior decisions, all three of the judges, who include Chief Judge Anthony Scirica and Judge Robert Cowen, both Reagan appointees, and Judge Thomas Ambro, a Clinton appointee have, during their time on the Third Circuit, overturned capital convictions based upon the same claim Abu-Jamal is making about race-based exclusion of jurors by the prosecution.

In his federal habeas appeal of his conviction-the so-called Batson claim regarding jury bias -- Abu-Jamal's attorneys noted that in a city that is 44 percent African-American, his jury initially had only three black members (one was removed before the start of the trial, under questionable circumstances also possibly relating to judicial bias, leaving only two).

Abu-Jamal further presented evidence that his mostly white jury was the result of a pattern of racism in the city's justice system. Prosecutor McGill, who used 11 of his permitted 15 peremptory challenges (challenges to bar jurors for which no reason has to be provided), to remove black jurors otherwise qualified to sit, had a record over the course of six capital cases between 1977 and 1986, of striking 74 percent of potential black jurors while striking only 25 percent of white jurors. Furthermore, defense data show that over the same period, during which Ed Rendell was Philadelphia's district attorney, prosecutors working under his direction collectively used their peremptory challenges to eliminate black jurors 58 percent of the time, compared to only 22 percent of the time for white jurors.

If the appellate court decides that this damning statistical evidence shows or suggests a pattern of racism in jury selection, it would be bound to either order a new trial, or to remand the case back to Judge Yohn for a full hearing on the jury bias issue.

This would appear to offer Abu-Jamal his best chance for a new trial. If the judges vote the way each of them has voted in other similar cases, it could happen.

A second possibility for a new trial would be McGill's clearly inappropriate summation to the jury, in which he essentially told them to forget about "proof beyond a reasonable doubt," and which the judge, who still posthumously holds the national record for death penalty convictions (31), allowed to go unchallenged. Many a death sentence has been overturned for just such prosecutorial misconduct, but to date, neither the Third Circuit nor the US Supreme Court has overturned a conviction on the basis of such comments. Still, it remains a possible avenue for a reversal and a new trial.

A third avenue of federal appeal by Abu-Jamal argues that his initial appeal of his conviction, called a Post-Conviction Relief Act (PCRA) hearing, was constitutionally flawed because the judge-the same Albert Sabo who tried him originally-was biased in favor of the prosecution. Local newspaper editorials made that observation during the hearing. But more importantly, the PCRA hearing transcript shows that Sabo refused to grant any subpoenas to the defense to compel witness testimony, and that the judge repeatedly cut off lines of questioning of witnesses by defense attorneys when it appeared they were about to undermine the case. One witness who told of being pressured to lie at the trial, found herself arrested in the courtroom immediately following her testimony, while she was still on the witness stand. She was led off in handcuffs with the judge's blessing on a check-kiting charge, despite a pledge by her attorney to have her appear on the charge-normally a routine procedure. If the appellate panel rules in favor of this claim, Abu-Jamal would not get a new trial, but would get a reopened or a new PCRA, probably in federal instead of state court. At such a hearing, new evidence of innocence could be presented, and witnesses from the original trial and the earlier PCRA hearing could be further questioned and old testimony challenged.

Abu-Jamal, while still held in solitary confinement on Pennsylvania's death row at the insistence of Philadelphia District Attorney Lynn Abraham, is at this moment not facing the death penalty. Federal District Judge Yohn ruled in 2001 that a poorly worded jury verdict form and equally poor instructions from Judge Sabo during the trial's penalty phase left jurors thinking, incorrectly, that they could consider no mitigating circumstances in deciding on his sentence unless they all agreed on it. In fact, under current law, if any one juror finds a mitigating circumstance, it has to be weighed in their collective decision, which must itself be unanimous for a death penalty. While it is unlikely that the Third Circuit judges will overturn Judge Yohn's revocation of Abu-Jamal's death sentence, which was well reasoned and based upon solid US Supreme Court precedent, the DA's office is making the effort, claiming that the precedent doesn't apply in his case.

In fact, over the course of Abu-Jamal's more than two-decade-long appeals process, the courts have shown a willingness to create special exceptions that apply only to Abu-Jamal.

One example of what might be called "The Mumia Rule" occurred in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The state's top judges in 1986 overturned a death sentence in 1986 where McGill, the same prosecutor in Abu-Jamal's case, had made the same closing statement to jurors at the conclusion of a murder trial presided over by Judge Sabo, the same trial judge who presided in Abu-Jamal's case. The state's top court, declaring that the prosecutor's language had "minimize[ed] the jury's sense of responsibility for a verdict of death," ordered a new trial. Three years later in 1989, despite this precedent, the Court reversed itself, though, upholding Abu-Jamal's conviction. Eleven years later, Pennsylvania's highest court reversed track again, barring such language by prosecutors "in all future trials."

Another example of this judicial "special handling" where Abu-Jamal's case is concerned, involves the right of allocution -- the right of the convicted to make a statement without challenge before sentencing. One month before initially upholding Abu-Jamal's conviction in March 1989, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a ruling stating the right of allocution is of "ancient origin" and any failure to permit a defendant to plead for mercy required reversal of sentence. Abu-Jamal's appeal claimed Judge Sabo, by allowing the prosecutor to question Abu-Jamal on the stand after the convicted defendant had made such a statement to jurors, violated his allocution right during the '82 trial. The state's high court, however -- for the first time in its history -- ruled that the "right of allocution does not exist in the penalty phase of capital murder prosecution."

This flip-flopping on allocution, acceptable language for prosecutors and other legal precedents led Amnesty International to conclude in its 2000 report on Abu-Jamal's case that the state's highest court improperly invents new standards of procedure "to apply it to one case only: that of Mumia Abu-Jamal."

Justice, that is to say, has not always been blind in this case.

Indeed, the Abu-Jamal case has always been as much about politics as it has been about law. During his sentencing hearing, Prosecutor McGill, over the strenuous objection of the defense, read from and questioned Abu-Jamal about a 12-year-old Philadelphia Inquirer article written about him when he had been just 15, in which he had quoted Mao Tse-tung as saying "power flows from the barrel of a gun." Although Abu-Jamal made it clear in the actual article, and during questioning by the prosecutor, that he was using that line to refer to the power of the police in Philadelphia in the early 1970s, the prosecutor told jurors that the child's words had referred to killing police.

Since the trial, the Fraternal Order of Police, the national police union, has openly lobbied hard for Abu-Jamal's execution, endorsing judicial candidates who favor the death penalty, while opposing those who oppose it, and holding annual demonstrations supporting his death, and even working successfully to prevent Abu-Jamal from having his commentaries from prison broadcast on Philadelphia radio stations. On the other side, a movement condemning Abu-Jamal's conviction and demanding his freedom or a new trial has spread around the globe.

Such political action has certainly played a role in the decisions made by Pennsylvania's politicized judges, all of whom are elected and must periodically return to face voters. But the prevailing view among attorneys is that such political pressures play a lesser role in the federal court system, where judges are generally better qualified and are appointed for life, and particularly at the appellate level, where most judges remain until they retire or die.

One indication that the appellate court may not be so vulnerable to political pressure came in 1998, in a case brought by Abu-Jamal protesting the opening of his lawyer's correspondence with him in prison. Prison authorities had opened his lawyers' mail in 1995 and, learning of his defense strategy for an upcoming PCRA hearing, passed the news along to then Gov. Tom Ridge, who rushed through a death warrant. This meant Abu-Jamal was facing an execution date only weeks from the hearing-a situation Judge Sabo repeatedly used as an excuse for rushing the proceeding. The Third Circuit ruled that opening of inmates' legal mail was illegal. The Third Circuit also ruled in Abu-Jamal's favor in a case establishing his First Amendment right to write and publish from prison.

And so this case, which began one cold dark morning in December 1981, now moves to what could be the final confrontation.

However the three judge panel rules, history is likely to be made this Thursday in the legal showdown between Abu-Jamal's attorney Robert R. Bryan and Assistant District Attorney Hugh Burns, and by Third Circuit Judges Scirica, Ambro and Cowen.

Dave Lindorff is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His book of CounterPunch columns titled "This Can't be Happening!" is published by Common Courage Press. Lindorff's newest book is "The Case for Impeachment", co-authored by Barbara Olshansky. He can be reached at:

Linn Washington, Jr. is a columnist for the "Philadelphia Tribune" and is an associate professor of journalism at Temple University.

Copyright 2007. All rights reserved. CounterPunch is a project of the Institute for the Advancement of Journalistic Clarity.



Published by the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI)



- Wednesday, 16 May 2007 -


After resignation of Gonzales deputy



News & Analysis: North America

By Patrick Martin

The resignation of deputy attorney general Paul J. McNulty Monday is another blow to the Bush administration's efforts to maintain the cover-up of the circumstances behind the firing of eight US attorneys and the forced resignations of several others. The resignation came only hours after the Washington Post reported new evidence that the US attorneys were fired as part of a deliberate campaign by Republican political operatives to instigate phony "vote fraud" prosecutions and intimidate Democratic voters.

While McNulty made the politically obligatory claim that he was leaving his position after only 18 months on the job because of the "financial realities" of putting his children through college, there is no doubt that his departure is directly connected to the mushrooming scandal over the firing of the federal prosecutors, and the ensuing finger-pointing within top administration circles.

With his departure, every top Justice official directly involved in the firings last December has left the department, with the exception of their ultimate boss, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. McNulty ran the day-to-day operations of the department and participated, along with Gonzales, in the December 8 meeting that ratified the list of seven prosecutors to be dismissed (an eighth was removed earlier).

His resignation follows the ouster of Kyle Sampson, Gonzales' chief of staff, who drew up the list to be fired; Monica Goodling, Gonzales' counselor, a 34-year-old Christian fundamentalist who served as the main liaison between Gonzales and the White House; and Michael Battle, the Justice Department official who worked as the direct supervisor of the 93 US attorneys and actually carried out the firings. According to a confidential memorandum leaked to the press last week, Gonzales delegated his hire-and-fire authority for most political appointees to Sampson and Goodling, both young and inexperienced in legal affairs, but well connected in right-wing Republican circles.

The next step in the investigation is likely to be congressional testimony by Goodling, who had refused to answer any questions, citing her Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination. The House Judiciary Committee approved a grant of immunity, with the support of 32 of the 40 members, an indication of widespread disaffection with Gonzales even among congressional Republicans. A federal judge ratified the grant of immunity May 11, and Goodling is expected to testify before the Memorial Day recess.

Democratic congressional leaders have focused attention largely on the actions taken by Justice Department officials in carrying out the firings, including conflicting and obviously false statements, rather than exploring the actual political purpose of the purge. This is in part due to the systematic refusal of Gonzales and other officials to admit the US attorneys were dismissed for political reasons. But it also reflects Democrats' fear of raising fundamental issues of democratic rights that might spark much broader public interest in the scandal. Most press coverage has followed suit.

The Washington Post article published Monday, under the headline, "Voter-Fraud Complaints by GOP Drove Dismissals," is an exception to that pattern. The article--not placed on page one, despite its explosive political thrust--began, "Nearly half the US attorneys slated for removal by the administration last year were targets of Republican complaints that they were lax on voter fraud, including efforts by presidential adviser Karl Rove to encourage more prosecutions of election-law violations, according to new documents and interviews."

The article noted that Rove and other officials had targeted five US attorney districts, all in key battleground states, where aggressive prosecution of vote-fraud cases, whatever the merits of the charges, might serve Republican political interests. The five were Kansas City, Missouri; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; New Mexico; Nevada; and Washington state. Three of the five US attorneys were fired and a fourth, Todd Graves of Missouri, was forced to resign. Only the US attorney in Milwaukee, Steven Biskupic, kept his job, because he had a powerful Republican patron, Congressman James Sensenbrenner, then chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

The Post article notes that state Republican parties and the White House have pushed aggressively for stricter voter-identification requirements and other rules restricting access to the franchise throughout the period since the 2000 presidential election.

Such tactics contributed heavily to depressing the Democratic vote in Florida, bringing Bush close enough to carrying the state that the Supreme Court could intervene and tip the election to the candidate who actually lost it. And they played a role in Bush's reelection victory in 2004, particularly in Ohio. Republican operatives hoped to use similar methods to turn anti-Bush voters away from the polls in the November 2006 congressional election.

While the issue of failure to prosecute vote-fraud cases was known to have played a role in the firing of two of the US attorneys, the Post noted, "it was not clear until last week that Biskupic came close to being fired, that Graves had been asked to resign or that Justice officials had highlighted Nevada as a problem area for voter fraud."

The article continued, "New information also emerged showing the extent to which the White House encouraged investigations of election fraud within weeks of November balloting. Rove, in particular, was preoccupied with pressing Gonzales and his aides about alleged voting problems in a handful of battleground states, according to testimony and documents. Last October, just weeks before the midterm elections, Rove's office sent a 26-page packet to Gonzales's office containing precinct-level voting data about Milwaukee."

As it happened, no immediate action was taken, at least in part because of Justice Department rules barring the public launching of cases just before an election that might have an effect on its outcome--which clearly was the purpose of Rove's intervention. But only a month after the Republican electoral debacle, the politically-suspect US attorneys were purged en masse.

Deputy attorney general McNulty served as a right-wing legal thug for two decades, including chief counsel and communications director for the House impeachment proceedings against President Bill Clinton, then chief advocate for the confirmation of John Ashcroft as attorney general in 2001. Ashcroft then appointed him US attorney for the eastern district of Virginia, where he handled the high-profile prosecutions of John Walker Lindh and Zaccarias Moussaoui, before being promoted to the number two spot in the Justice Department.

That even such a figure should run afoul of the White House is an indication of the insularity of the clique running the Bush administration.McNulty is blamed for having inadvertently instigated a political firestorm around the firings when he told a congressional committee in February that the dismissed US attorneys had been removed for "performance issues," suggesting they were fired for incompetence. This comment provoked the fired prosecutors, who had largely remained silent, to begin speaking out, triggering extensive media coverage and further congressional hearings.

The deputy attorney general particularly angered the White House when he admitted that the US attorney for Little Rock, Arkansas had been removed, not for performance, but because Karl Rove wanted to fill the post with a political crony.

Now that he has chosen to leave, the Bush administration has lost not a moment in seeking to scapegoat McNulty for the firings. Within hours, Gonzales was telling reporters that McNulty had the main role in selecting those to be discharged. This followed weeks in which Gonzales has claimed--repeatedly and under oath--that he could not remember who had drawn up the list for the purge, except that he was sure it was not Bush, Cheney or Rove!

According to the transcript of his comments Monday, Gonzales now says, "you have to remember at the end of the day, the recommendations reflected the views of the Deputy Attorney General. He signed off on the names, and he would know better than anyone else, anyone else in this room. Again, the Deputy Attorney General would know best about the qualifications and experiences of the minds--it's a community--and he signed off on the names."

At a May 10 hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, Gonzales testified under oath that he had no idea who selected the names on the list submitted to him by his chief of staff Kyle Sampson.

This stance provoked a question from committee chairman John Conyers of Detroit: "Tell me, just tell me how the US attorney termination list came to be and who suggested putting most of these US attorneys on the list and why? Now, that should take about three sentences."

Gonzales replied that Sampson "presented to me what I understood to be the consensus recommendation" of the department's "senior leadership," but refused to name a single name. Only four days letter, however, Gonzales announced to the world "McNulty made me do it," after his deputy submitted his resignation.

Copyright 1998-2007 World Socialist Web Site. All rights reserved.






Web Exclusive

May 16, 2007


Jerry Falwell, found unconscious in his office Tuesday, expired at age 73, spent much of his life hurling maledictions, and it is probably best to let him speak for himself. He was, after all, a preacher.

In 1984, Falwell called the gay-friendly Metropolitan Community Church "a vile and Satanic system" that will "one day be utterly annihilated and there will be a celebration in heaven." Members of these churches, Falwell added, are "brute beasts." Falwell initially denied his statements, offering Jerry Sloan, an MCC minister and gay rights activist $5,000 to prove that he had made them. When Sloan produced a videotape containing footage of Falwell's denunciations, the reverend refused to pay. Only after Sloan sued did Falwell cough up the money.

Falwell uttered countless epithets over his long life--in 1999 he warned that Tinky Winky, a character on the children's show Teletubbies, might be gay--but his most infamous remark arrived on the morning of 9/11, after the terrorist attacks, when he proclaimed, "I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say, 'You helped this happen.'"

Though Falwell's influence waned in his twilight years--his approval rating among evangelicals, according to a 2006 Pew Poll, had drifted downward to 46 percent--his well-publicized gaffes continued to make him one of the most recognizable figures of the Christian right. While the names of evangelical heavies like Focus on the Family founder and chairman James Dobson and Family Research Council president Tony Perkins are unknown to most people, Falwell's pudgy visage remains the symbol of the culture war his apostles have inherited. As Perkins wrote of Falwell in a newsletter after his death, "He was a pioneer whose legacy, marked by courage and candor, blazed the trail for all men and women of conviction to engage--boldly--on the great questions of our day."

But for Falwell, the "questions of the day" did not always relate to abortion and homosexuality--nor did they begin there.

Decades before the forces that now make up the Christian right declared their culture war, Falwell was a rabid segregationist who railed against the civil rights movement from the pulpit of the abandoned backwater bottling plant he converted into Thomas Road Baptist Church. This opening episode of Falwell's life, studiously overlooked by his friends, naively unacknowledged by many of his chroniclers, and puzzlingly and glaringly omitted in the obituaries of the Washington Post and New York Times, is essential to understanding his historical significance in galvanizing the Christian right. Indeed, it was race--not abortion or the attendant suite of so-called "values" issues--that propelled Falwell and his evangelical allies into political activism.

As with his positions on abortion and homosexuality, the basso profondo preacher's own words on race stand as vivid documents of his legacy. Falwell launched on the warpath against civil rights four years after the Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision to desegregate public schools with a sermon titled "Segregation or Integration: Which?"

"If Chief Justice Warren and his associates had known God's word and had desired to do the Lord's will, I am quite confident that the 1954 decision would never have been made," Falwell boomed from above his congregation in Lynchburg. "The facilities should be separate. When God has drawn a line of distinction, we should not attempt to cross that line."

Falwell's jeremiad continued: "The true Negro does not want integration.... He realizes his potential is far better among his own race." Falwell went on to announce that integration "will destroy our race eventually. In one northern city," he warned, "a pastor friend of mine tells me that a couple of opposite race live next door to his church as man and wife."

As pressure from the civil rights movement built during the early 1960s, and President Lyndon Johnson introduced sweeping civil rights legislation, Falwell grew increasingly conspiratorial. He enlisted with J. Edgar Hoover to distribute FBI manufactured propaganda against the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and publicly denounced the 1964 Civil Rights Act as "civil wrongs."

In a 1964 sermon, "Ministers and Marchers," Falwell attacked King as a Communist subversive. After questioning "the sincerity and intentions of some civil rights leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Mr. James Farmer, and others, who are known to have left-wing associations," Falwell declared, "It is very obvious that the Communists, as they do in all parts of the world, are taking advantage of a tense situation in our land, and are exploiting every incident to bring about violence and bloodshed."

Falwell concluded, "Preachers are not called to be politicians, but soul winners."

Then, for a time, Falwell appeared to follow his own advice. He retreated from massive resistance and founded the Lynchburg Christian Academy, an institution described by the Lynchburg News in 1966 as "a private school for white students." It was one among many so-called "seg academies" created in the South to avoid integrated public schools.

For Falwell and his brethren, private Christian schools were the last redoubt. Rather than continue a hopeless struggle against the inevitable, through their schools they could circumvent the integration entirely. Five years later, Falwell christened Liberty University, a college that today funnels a steady stream of dedicated young cadres into Republican Congressional offices and conservative think tanks. (Tony Perkins is among Falwell's Christian soldiers.)

In a recent interview broadcast on CNN the day of his death, Falwell offered his version of the Christian right's genesis: "We were simply driven into the process by Roe v. Wade and earlier than that, the expulsion of God from the public square." But his account was fuzzy revisionism at best. By 1973, when the Supreme Court ruled on Roe, the antiabortion movement was almost exclusively Catholic. While various Catholic cardinals condemned the Court's ruling, W.A. Criswell, the fundamentalist former president of America's largest Protestant denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, casually endorsed it. (Falwell, an independent Baptist for forty years, joined the SBC in 1996.) "I have always felt that it was only after a child was born and had a life separate from its mother that it became an individual person," Criswell exclaimed, "and it has always, therefore, seemed to me that what is best for the mother and for the future should be allowed." A year before Roe, the SBC had resolved to press for legislation allowing for abortion in limited cases.

While abortion clinics sprung up across the United States during the early 1970s, evangelicals did little. No pastors invoked the Dred Scott decision to undermine the legal justification for abortion. There were no clinic blockades, no passionate cries to liberate the "pre-born." For Falwell and his allies, the true impetus for political action came when the Supreme Court ruled in Green v. Connally to revoke the tax-exempt status of racially discriminatory private schools in 1971. Their resentment was compounded in 1975, when the Internal Revenue Service attempted to revoke the tax-exempt status of Bob Jones University, which forbade interracial dating. (Blacks were denied entry until that year.) Falwell was furious, complaining, "In some states it's easier to open a massage parlor than to open a Christian school."

Seeking to capitalize on mounting evangelical discontent, a right-wing Washington operative and anti-Vatican II Catholic named Paul Weyrich took a series of trips down South to meet with Falwell and other evangelical leaders. Weyrich hoped to produce a well-funded evangelical lobbying outfit that could lend grassroots muscle to the top-heavy Republican Party and effectively mobilize the vanquished forces of massive resistance into a new political bloc. In discussions with Falwell, Weyrich cited various social ills that necessitated evangelical involvement in politics, particularly abortion, school prayer and the rise of feminism. His implorations initially fell on deaf ears.

"I was trying to get those people interested in those issues and I utterly failed," Weyrich recalled in an interview in the early 1990s. "What changed their mind was Jimmy Carter's intervention against the Christian schools, trying to deny them tax-exempt status on the basis of so-called de facto segregation."

In 1979, at Weyrich's behest, Falwell founded a group that he called the Moral Majority. Along with a vanguard of evangelical icons including D. James Kennedy, Pat Robertson and Tim LaHaye, Falwell's organization hoisted the banner of the "pro-family" movement, declaring war on abortion and homosexuality. But were it not for the federal government's attempts to enable little black boys and black girls to go to school with little white boys and white girls, the Christian right's culture war would likely never have come into being. "The Religious New Right did not start because of a concern about abortion," former Falwell ally Ed Dobson told author Randall Balmer in 1990. "I sat in the non-smoke-filled back room with the Moral Majority, and I frankly do not remember abortion ever being mentioned as a reason why we ought to do something."

As the Christian right gradually transmuted its racial resentment into sexual politics, Liberty University began enrolling nonwhite students and Thomas Road Baptist Church integrated. In the irony of ironies in 2006, at Justice Sunday III, a rally for the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, a man who belonged to a white-only "eating club" at Princeton University, Falwell haltingly rose to sing "We Shall Overcome." Beside him stood Martin Luther King Jr.'s niece, Alveda King, an evangelical antiabortion activist.

On the day of Falwell's death, Republican presidential frontrunners fell over one another to memorialize him. Arizona Senator John McCain, who in the 2000 presidential campaign had called Falwell an "agent of intolerance," then spoke at the 2006 graduation ceremony at Liberty University, praising Falwell as "a man of distinguished accomplishment who devoted his life to serving his faith and country."

Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor whose Mormon faith is listed as a cult by Falwell's Southern Baptist Convention, hailed him as "an American who built and led a movement based on strong principles and strong faith.... The legacy of his important work will continue through his many ministries where he put his faith into action."

Rudy Giuliani, the thrice-married prochoice former New York City mayor, gay rights advocate and erstwhile cross-dresser, was also profuse in his praise of Falwell. "He was a man who set a direction," Giuliani said. "He was someone who was not afraid to speak his mind. We all have great respect for him."

The gushing eulogies of Falwell by leading GOP presidential hopefuls demonstrated the preacher's earthly limitations and his enduring influence. Under Falwell's guidance, the Christian right subsumed much of the Republican apparatus and now holds the key to the presidential nominating process. McCain, Romney and Giuliani may never see eye-to-eye with Falwell, even in heaven, but in the end they paid fealty at his grave.

They're all Jerry's kids now.

Max Blumenthal is a Puffin Foundation writing fellow at the Nation Institute based in New York City. His work has appeared in The Nation, Salon, The American Prospect and the Washington Monthly. He is a research fellow for Media Matters for America.

Copyright 2007 The Nation






Deep, critical commentary and analysis exposing the causes and consequences of

the new "War on Terror"

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

By Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed

We are at War against International Terrorism, defending our Values and our Civilization.

Western anti-terror legislation does not allow the state to be considered in any way culpable for terrorist activities. As far as our elected representatives are concerned, terrorism is a problem of loosely associated groups of reactionary fanatics "attacking our freedoms". The assumption, never explicitly stated for then it would be revealed, and easily and permanently ridiculed, is that the state is innocent, immune to indulging in such barbaric practices. Written into the rule of law itself, this assumption posits the state as a paternal Fuhrer, a God figure whom we must all entrust our lives and liberties to.

Yet whichever way you look at it, international terrorism has its origins in the state itself. There are many ways of understanding this, but perhaps the most pertinent for our purposes is contemporary history. We don't need to go very far back either. Only twenty odd years, to the era of the Cold War, when we were also getting Trigger-Happy trying to defend the "Free World" from the "Evil Empire" of International Communism, as Ronald Reagan put it so aptly.

The "strategy of tension" denotes a highly secretive series of interconnected covert operations conducted jointly by the CIA and MI6 largely in Western Europe during the this period. Well-documented by several respected historians, confirmed by official inquiries, and corroborated by former intelligence officials, the "strategy of tension" is one of those unsavoury moments in contemporary history that we don't learn about in school, or even university.

My favourite book on the subject, and the most authoritative in my view, is Dr. Daniele Ganser's NATO's Secret Armies: Operation Gladio and Terrorism in Western Europe (2004). Published in the UK as part of the "Contemporary Security Studies" series of London-based academic press Routledge, Ganser's study is the first major historical work to bring the "strategy of tension" into the mainstream of scholarship.

During the Cold War, indeed through to the late 1980s, the United States, United Kingdom, and Western European governments and secret services, participated in a sophisticated NATO-backed operation to engineer terrorist attacks inside Western Europe, to be blamed on the Soviet Union. The objective was to galvanize public opinion against leftwing policies and parties, and ultimately to mobilize popular support for purportedly anti-Soviet policies at home and abroad -- most of which were really designed to legitimize brutal military interventions against nationalist independence movements in the "Third World".

Ganser was a Senior Researcher at the Center for Security Studies in the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, before he moved to Basel University to teach history. Citing the transcripts of European parliamentary inquiries; the few secret documents that have been declassified; interviews with government, military and intelligence officials; and so on, Ganser shows how intimately the British were involved.

In fact, it wasn't even an American idea -- it was very much ours. The strategy of tension began on the order of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who in July 1940 called for the establishment of a secret army to "set Europe ablaze by assisting resistance movements and carrying out subversive operations in enemy held territory." (p. 40) By 4th October 1945, the British Chiefs of Staff and the Special Operations branch of MI6 directed the creation of what Ganser describes as a "skeleton network" capable of expansion either in war or to service clandestine operations abroad: "Priority was given in carrying out these tasks to countries likely to be overrun in the earliest stages of any conflict with the Soviet Union, but not as yet under Soviet domination." (p. 41) In the ensuing years, Col. Gubbins' Special Operations branch of MI6 cooperated closely with Frank Wisner's CIA covert action department Office of Policy Coordination (OPC) on White House orders, and in turn coordinated US and UK Special Forces, to establish stay-behind secret armies across western Europe. (p. 42)

Among the documents Ganser brings to attention is the classified Field Manual 30-31, with appendices FM 30-31A and FM 30-31B, authored by the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) to train thousands of stay-behind officers around the world. The field manual was published in the 1987 parliamentary report of the Italian parliamentary investigation into the terrorist activities of "P2", the CIA-MI6 sponsored Italian anti-communist network. As Ganser observes: "FM 30-31 instructs the secret soldiers to carry out acts of violence in times of peace and then blame them on the Communist enemy in order to create a situation of fear and alertness. Alternatively, the secret soldiers are instructed to infiltrate the left-wing movements and then urge them to use violence." In the manualâ¤s own words:

"There may be times when Host Country Governments show passivity or indecision in the face of Communist subversion and according to the interpretation of the US secret services do not react with sufficient effectiveness... US army intelligence must have the means of launching special operations which will convince Host Country Governments and public opinion of the reality of the insurgent danger. To reach this aim US army intelligence should seek to penetrate the insurgency by means of agents on special assignment, with the task of forming special action groups among the most radical elements of the insurgency... In case it has not been possible to successfully infiltrate such agents into the leadership of the rebels it can be useful to instrumentalise extreme leftist organizations for one's own ends in order to achieve the above described targets... These special operations must remain strictly secret. Only those persons which are acting against the revolutionary uprising shall know of the involvement of the US Army..." (p. 234-297)

The existence of this secret operation exploded into public controversy when in August 1990 upon the admissions in parliament by Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti, the existence of 'Gladio' was exposed as a secret sub-section of Italian military-intelligence services, responsible for domestic bombings blamed on Italian Communists. Ganser documents in intricate detail how a subversive network created by elements of western intelligence services -- particularly that of the US and UK -- orchestrated devastating waves of terrorist attacks blamed on the Soviet Union, not only in Italy, but also in Spain, Germany, France, Turkey, Greece, i.e. throughout western Europe. Despite a number of European parliamentary inquiries; an European Union resolution on the Gladio phenomenon; NATO's close-doors admissions to European ambassadors; confirmations of the international operation from senior CIA officials; and other damning documentary evidence; NATO, the CIA and MI6 have together consistently declined to release their secret files on the matter.

The Strategy of Tension simply isn't part of our historical consciousness. Very few historians of the Cold War are fully conversant with it, let alone academics working in international relations and political science. This is despite the fact that it played an instrumental role in physically constructing a threat, projected into the USSR, which did not ultimately exist. Ipso facto, the Strategy of Tension belongs to the waste-bin of history.

The immense fear and chaos generated by the impact of the Operation Gladio phenomenon throughout western Europe was instrumental in legitimizing the interventionist policies of the Anglo-American alliance in the South, throughout the Cold War period. Although the Soviet Union was supposed to be the real threat and source of terror, and thus the ultimate object of the over 70 military interventions conducted since 1945 [see William Blum's Killing Hope (London: Zed, 1995)] the Soviet threat was in fact actively exaggerated deologically -- and even physically constructed through clandestine operations -- to mobilize the comprehensive militarization of western societies. This does not mean that many government officials did not believe their own propaganda. But we now know that there was a secretive sub-section of the Western intelligence community, known only to very few members of elected governments, that was involved in this.

The number of people who were killed across the "Third World" as a consequence of this militarization process is shocking, its implications genuinely difficult to absorb. According to Dr. J. W. Smith, a US development economist who runs the Institute for Economic Democracy in Arizona, in our glorious self-evidently noble fight to defend the "Free World" from imminent Soviet attacks, invasions, and general inconceivably irrational hell-bent pure evilness, Western states:

"...were responsible for violently killing 12 to 15 million people since WW II and causing the death of hundreds of millions more as their economies were destroyed or those countries were denied the right to restructure to care for their people. Unknown as it is, and recognizing that this has been standard practice throughout colonialism, that is the record of the Western imperial centers of capital from 1945 to 1990" [Smith, Economic Democracy: The Political Struggle of the 21st Century (2003)]

12 to 15 million people from 1945 to 1990.

I have to repeat these figures to myself to absorb their implications.

Repeat these figures to yourself.

Six million Jews in the Second World War, and now 12 to 15 million innocents in the post-WWII period. The former in the name of German lebensraum. The latter in the name of the free market.

Yet as a society, as a Civilization, we are oblivious, utterly blind, to our historic complicity in the systematic destruction of "Other" societies who fail to conform to our (deluded) self-image of universal prosperity.

It is a blindness with which we remain afflicted.

Consider Blair's rendition of the "War on Terror" in early 2007, as "a clash not between civilizations", but rather "about civilization." The War on Terror is therefore a continuation of "the age-old battle between progress and reaction, between those who embrace the modern world and those who reject its existence."

And what is this "progress", this "modernity" that should be embraced? The "progress" that slaughtered millions of men, women and children across continents, in Nicaragua, El Salvador, in Somalia, Rwanda, in Kenya, Malaya, in Oman, Iraq, etc. etc. (in no particular order and with significant omissions)?

If this is modernity then I must be a backward, semi-feudal ignoramus. Along with most of the population of the entire world. But then, who cares what the world says? Bush, Blair, and their enlightened ilk are no doubt the modern civilized ones. As long as they do what they think is right. Right???

Copyright 2007 Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed




How Will Posterity Remember General Motors' Conduct? (Part 4)



'Because the Past is the Present, and the Future Too'

May 14, 2007

By Edwin Black

The epilogue of the tumultuous saga of General Motors during the New Deal and Nazi era is still being written.

In 1974, a generation after World War II, the company's controversial history was resurrected by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on Antitrust and Monopoly.

GM and Opel's collusion with the Nazis dominated the opening portion of the subcommittee's exhaustively documented study, which mainly focused on the company's conspiracy to monopolize scores of local mass transit systems in the United States.

The report's author, Judiciary Committee staff attorney Bradford Snell, used GM's collaboration with the Third Reich as a moral backdrop to help explain the automakers' plan in more than 40 cities, to subvert popular, clean-running electric public transit and convert it to petroleum-burning motor buses.

The Senate report, titled American Ground Transport, was released shortly after the Arab-imposed 1973 oil shock -- and it accused GM of significantly contributing to the nation's petroleum woes through its mass-transit machinations.

GM had been convicted in 1949 of leading a secret corporate combine that funded a front company called National City Lines that systematically replaced electric trolleys with oil-guzzling motor buses across America. After Snell's report was presented, GM immediately went on the counterattack, denying Snell's charges about both its domestic conduct and its collusion with the Nazis, and demanding that the Senate Judiciary Committee cease circulating its own report. That, of course, did not happen.

But following the release of the Snell report, the automaker then created its own 88-page rebuttal report titled, "The Truth About American Ground Transport," whose entire first section, as it turns out, had nothing to do with American ground transport. It was headlined: "General Motors Did Not Assist the Nazis in World War II."

Thus, GM's involvement with Nazi transportation in Germany juxtaposed with its conspiracy to convert electric mass transit at home became inextricably linked by virtue of the Senate's investigation, the company's own rebuttal and the compelling historical parallel between the company's conduct in the United States and its conduct in Germany.

GM further demanded that the Senate never permit its own report, American Ground Transport, to be distributed without GM's rebuttal attached. The Senate agreed -- a rare move indeed. Snell, however, labeled the GM rebuttal a document calculated to mislead historians and the public.

Yet another generation later, in the late 1990s, GM's collaboration with the Nazis was again resurrected when Nazi-era slave laborers threatened to sue GM and Ford for reparations. At the time, a GM spokesman told a reporter at The Washington Post that the company "did not assist the Nazis in any way during WWII." The effort to sue GM and Ford was unsuccessful, but both Ford and GM, concerned about the facts that might come to light, commissioned histories of their Nazi-related past.

In the case of Ford, the company issued its 2001 report, compiled by historian Simon Reich, plus the original underlying documentation, all of which was made available to the public without restriction. Ford immediately circulated CDs with the data to the media. Researchers and other interested parties may today view the actual documents and photocopy them. The Reich report concluded, among other things, that Ford-Werke, the company's German subsidiary, used slave labor from the Buchenwald concentration camp in 1944 and 1945 and functioned as an integral part of the German war machine. Ford officials in Detroit have publicly commented on their Nazi past, remained available for comment, apologized and have generally helped all those seeking answers about its involvement with the Hitler regime.

As for GM, it commissioned eminent business historian Henry Ashby Turner Jr. in 1999 to conduct an internal investigation and report his findings. Turner, author of several favorably reviewed books, including "German Big Business and the Rise of Hitler," was well known for, among other things, his insistence that big business did not make a pivotal contribution to the rise of Hitlerism.

GM, however, declined to release Turner's internal report or discuss the company's Nazi-era or New Deal-era history or archival holdings when contacted by this reporter. In February 2006, corporate spokeswoman Geri Lama twice refused to give this reporter the location of the company archive. In November of this year, Lama was again asked for an on-the-record response. She said she was referring the question to "staffers," but after more than a week, no reply had been received.

GM has maintained a special combative niche in the annals of American corporate history, achieving a reputation for suppressing books, obstructing access to archival records and frustrating critics from Ralph Nader to Bradford Snell. GM attorneys even fought efforts by longtime company president and chairman Alfred P. Sloan himself to publish his own memoirs, although the autobiography was finally published in 1964 after a long court fight.

In July 2005, Turner published the book "General Motors and the Nazis: The Struggle for Control of Opel, Europe's Biggest Carmaker" (Yale University Press). The book features 158 chapter text pages of carefully detailed and footnoted information, plus notes, an index and a short appendix. Although the book has been reviewed, BookScan, which tracks about 70 percent of retail book sales for the publishing industry, reported in late October that only 139 copies of the Turner book had been sold to the key outlets monitored by the service since the publication's release.

In his book, Turner, relying on his work as GM's historian, disputed many earlier findings about GM's complicity with the Nazis, concluding that charges that GM had collaborated with the Nazis even after the United States and Germany were at war "have proved groundless." Turner rejects "the assumption that the American corporation did business in the Third Reich by choice," asserting, "Such was not the case." Turner also states that GM had no option but to return wartime profits to its stockholders, since "the German firm prospered handsomely from Hitler's promotion of the automobile and from the remarkable recovery of the German economy."

However, Turner does state explicitly that "by the end of 1940 more than ten thousand employees at Opel's Russelsheim plant were engaged in producing parts for the Junkers bombers heavily used in raining death and destruction on London and other British cities during the air attacks of the Battle of Britain." Turner also condemns GM for taking the Opel wartime dividends, which included profits made off of slave labor. He writes, "But regardless of who [in the GM corporate structure] decided to claim that tainted money, its receipt rendered GM guilty, after the fact, of deriving profit from war production for the Third Reich made possible in part from the toil of unfree workers."

Aware that questions would arise about his relationship with GM, Turner's book states in its preface: "This book was not commissioned by General Motors. It was written after the documentation project was completed and without any financial support from GM. Its contents were seen by no one at GM prior to publication. It is therefore an independent undertaking by the author, who bears sole responsibility for its contents."

Turner did not respond to voice mail and e-mail messages seeking information about his sponsored GM history project, his subsequent book or other relevant topics.

The GM Opel documents assembled for the company's probe and Turner's commissioned examination were digitized on CD-ROMs and donated to Yale's Sterling Memorial Library, where the collection is categorized as being "open to the public." In point of fact, the obscure collection can only be viewed on a computer terminal; print-outs or digital copies are not permitted without the written consent of GM attorneys.

Sterling reference librarians, who are willing to make the collection available, complained to this reporter as recently as October that they do not know how to access the digitized GM materials because of a complicated and arcane database never before encountered by them. One Sterling reference librarian answered a question about the document by declaring, "I have spoken to two reference librarians. No one knows anything about it [the GM Opel Collection], no one is in charge of it. No one knows how to access it."

Yale archivist Richard Szary, who supervised the accession of the collection, said that for the approximate half-decade that the documents have been on file, he knows of only "one or two" researchers other than this reporter who have had access to the papers. Szary, who was previously said to be the only Yale staffer who understood how to access the materials, facilitated this reporter's on-site access. He has since left Yale. By late November, however, in response to an inquiry by this reporter, a senior Sterling librarian said her staff would "figure out how to make it available" by reviewing technical details.

Simon Reich, who compiled Ford's Hitler-era documents, bristled at the whole idea. "Ford decided to take a very public, open and transparent route," he stated. "Any serious researcher can go into the [Henry Ford] archive, see the documents in paper form, and have them copied. Compare and contrast this with the fact that GM conducted a very private study and the original hard-copy documentation upon which the study was made has never been made available, and today cannot be copied without the GM legal department's permission."

Between the unpublished GM internal investigation, the restricted files at Yale and the little-known insights offered in Turner's book, the details of the company's involvement with the Hitler regime have remained below the radar.

Nonetheless, GM's impact in both the United States and the Third Reich was monumental.

On Jan. 15, 1953, company president Charlie Wilson was nominated to be Secretary of Defense, a job that would ultimately see him usher in the era of the interstate highway system. At Wilson's confirmation hearings, Sen. Robert Hendrickson (R-N.J.) pointedly challenged the GM chief, asking whether he had a conflict of interest, considering his 40,000 shares of company stock and years of loyalty to the controversial Detroit firm. Bluntly asked if he could make a decision in the country's interest that was contrary to GM's interest, Wilson shot back with his famous comment, "I cannot conceive of one because for years I thought what was good for our country was good for General Motors, and vice versa. The difference did not exist. Our company is too big."

Indeed, what GM accomplished in both America and Nazi Germany could not have been bigger.

Mr. Black is the author of the award-winning IBM and the Holocaust and the recently published Internal Combustion: How Corporations and Governments Addicted the World to Oil and Derailed the Alternatives. Click here for his website,

Copyright 2007 Edwin Black and History News Network




Somalia Sinks Into the Pit as the World Looks Away



'Hard Truths for Hard Times'

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

by Chris Floyd

How bad is the situation in Somalia, the third target of George W. Bush's "Terror War" take-downs? It's "worse than Darfur," says the UN's humanitarian chief, John Holmes.

Holmes, a former top British diplomat, told the Telegraph that "In terms of the numbers of people displaced, and our access to them, Somalia is a worse crisis than Darfur or Chad or anywhere else this year."

The sheer number of refugees in Somalia -- approximately 400,000 -- is still smaller than the two million or more who have fled their homes in Darfur, but as the Telegraph notes:

"The speed and size of the exodus from Mogadishu has eclipsed the emergency in the western Sudanese province, where there are established camps run by international aid agencies. There are no such camps in Somalia, an east African country already on its knees after 16 years of clan fighting and no central government.

"Most of those who have fled in recent weeks, including women, children and the elderly, are camping in fields in areas surrounding Mogadishu, without access to food, shelter, clean water or medicines.

"The few medical relief agencies operating in the region, including Medecins Sans Frontieres and the International Committee of the Red Cross, have reported fears of cholera outbreaks.

"'We are only reaching maybe 35 to 40 per cent of those in need because of difficulties of access and security and of our presence on the ground,' Mr Holmes said in Nairobi yesterday."

Where did these refugees come from? They were driven from their homes by the "regime change" operation greenlighted by the Bush Administration late last year. The Bushists employed the American-trained and -funded military of the repressive Ethiopian dictatorship plus an alliance of Somali warlords and gangsters as a proxy force to overthrow the first stable government in Somalia in the past 15 years -- the Islamic Courts Council. Bush also contributed U.S. airstrikes -- on civilians -- and U.S. Special Forces troops to the aggression. (See "Black Hawk Rising: CIA Warlords Take Control in Mogadishu" for more information and links.)

The Council -- a coalition of moderate and hardline grassroots Islamic courts -- stood in the way of the implantation of the more pliable warlord-gangster faction that the Bushists wanted to bring to power. There's oil to be had in Somalia -- and its new Bush-installed masters have duly announced that they will pursue an "oil law" just like the American-authored measure in Iraq, opening up the country like a can of sardines to foreign oil barons. Meanwhile, Somalia's strategic position in the Horn of Africa makes it a key linchpin for the Administration's "Africom" -- the new "unified command" to oversee America's burgeoning military involvement in Africa. (And oh yes; there were supposed to be some of them al-Qaedniks hiding out in Somalia; in fact, Bush killed dozens of Somali civilians in bombing raids on fleeing civilians in an attempt to knock off a couple of the alleged dastards. He failed, of course; but at least the men, women and children who had their guts ripped out and their heads blown off and their limbs torn from their bodies died in a good cause.)

The Somali "regime change" op intensified last month when Bush's Ethiopian proteges launched a ferocious attack on resistance forces in the capital of Mogadishu. Tanks and artillery rained shells on residential areas, killing hundreds of people and driving hundreds of thousands more from the city. Many fled toward Kenya, where most were turned away, and others were captured by Kenyan security forces and American agents, then "rendered" to torture chambers in Ethiopia. The victims included a pregnant Swedish woman and a New Jersey man.

But don't worry, neither of them were white, so it's OK. If they had been of paler hue, of course, perhaps the Bush-backed bloodbath would have attracted more than a modicum of carefully massaged notice in the American media. But not even the "progressive" blogosphere paid much attention to this new "War on Terror" atrocity. Most of them seemed more preoccupied with what Jonathan Chait said about them in the New Republic -- a topic of supreme importance, to be sure, and far more interesting than the same old yadda yadda yadda about human suffering over in Africa somewhere, especially if George Clooney is not around.

Yet even if Clooney-less human suffering doesn't move the punditry of print and pixel, you'd think the long-term strategic considerations raised by this murderous "intervention" in Africa would spark some interest. With the establishment of Africom, with its cozying up to the vicious dictatorship in Ethiopia -- and the even more repressive regime in oil-rich Equitorial Guinea (as Crossed Crocodiles notes) -- the Bush Administration has well and truly launched us on a new "Great Game," this time between the United States and China, in a bid to dominate Africa's energy resources. We are in for some down and dirty times in Africa over the ext decades, and the Bush-backed war in Somalia -- with its brutality, lies, ruin, death and murder -- is just a curtain-raiser.

Chris Floyd is the Editor and co-founder of Atlantic Free Press. He is an American journalist now based in Great Britain and the UK correspondent for For 10 years, he wrote the weekly Global Eye political column for The Moscow Times and St. Petersburg Times. His writings also appear in The Nation, Columbia Journalism Review, The Baltimore Chronicle, The Bergen Record and elsewhere around the world. His book, Empire Burlesque, is published by Expathos Books.

Copyright 2007 Atlantic Free Press

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News * Analysis * Research * Action



- AFIB No. 822, May 13, 2007 -







At the height of the opium trade during the Taliban regime, roughly 70 percent of the global supply of heroin originated from Afghanistan. In the wake of the US-led invasion, Afghanistan accounts for more than 85 percent of the global heroin market. In turn, the latter represents a sizeable fraction of the global narcotics market, estimated by the UN to be on the order of $400-500 billion a year. ... Intelligence agencies and powerful business syndicates, which are allied with organized crime, are competing for the strategic control over the heroin routes. The multi-billion dollar revenues of narcotics are deposited in the Western banking system. Most of the large international banks, together with their affiliates in the off-shore banking havens, launder large amounts of narco-dollars. ... Behind the trade in narcotics, there are powerful financial interests. The productive system underlying the Golden Crescent heroin market is protected by a US-sponsored regime in Kabul. US foreign policy serves these interests. Geopolitical and military control over the multibillion dollar drug routes constitutes a (hidden) strategic objective, comparable, in some regards, to the militarization of oil pipeline routes out of Central Asia. -- Michel Chossudovsky, America's "War On Terrorism" [Pincourt, QC: Global Research, 2005] pp. 228-229.

Contents: Number 822

 01. WORLD SOCIALIST WEB SITE [Oak Park, MI]: Cheney Threatens Iran from U.S. Aircraft Carrier in Persian Gulf.
 02. LABOUR PARTY PAKISTAN [Lahore]: Government, MQM Responsible for Karachi Killings.
 03. ASIA TIMES ONLINE [Hong Kong]: Opium Clouds Before an Afghan Storm.
 04. THE CUTTING EDGE [London]: Inside the Crevice: 7/7 and the Security Debacle.
 05. WAYNE MADSEN REPORT [Washington, D.C.]: Hookergate Involves Fired U.S. Attorney.
 06. HARPER'S MAGAZINE [New York]: Washington Insiders Lend Helping Hand to "Princess of Uzbeks."
 07. ATLANTIC FREE PRESS [London]: Parting Shot: Blair Jails Two to Shield "Madman" Bush.
 08. McCURTAIN DAILY GAZETTE [Idabel, OK]: Journalist J.D. Cash Dies.

AFIB #823: May 16, 2007

AFIB #821: May 9, 2007

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- Saturday, 12 May 2007 -





News & Analysis: Middle East: Iran

By Bill Van Auken

Underscoring the essential objective of his Middle East tour, US Vice President Dick Cheney used the deck of the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis in the Persian Gulf Friday to deliver a bellicose threat against Iran.

"With two carrier strike groups in the Gulf, we're sending clear messages to friends and adversaries alike, we'll keep the sea lanes open," Cheney said in a speech delivered to ranks of sailors assembled on the deck in the over-100-degree heat. With the carrier sailing barely 150 miles off of the Iranian coast, the US vice president declared, "We'll stand with others to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons and dominating the region."

Further spelling out his attack on Iran, Cheney declared, "We'll stand with our friends in opposing extremism and strategic threats. We'll disrupt attacks on our own forces." This last remark was an obvious reference to the drumbeat of unsubstantiated US claims that Iran is training and supplying weapons to Iraqi resistance forces attacking American occupation troops. The Bush administration dispatched the two carrier battle groups to the Persian Gulf at the end of last year in a bid to step up military pressure against Iran. Meanwhile, in occupied Iraq, US forces were ordered to seize Iranian diplomatic personnel, some of whom are still being held prisoner there. At the same time, Washington has pressed for the United Nations to impose new sanctions against Iran over its uranium enrichment program. While Tehran has insisted that it is seeking to develop peaceful nuclear power, the Bush administration has charged that Iran is trying to obtain nuclear weapons. Washington has imposed its own unilateral sanctions against Iran and has sought to intimidate Europe into following suit, pressuring banks and corporations there to cut ties with Tehran.

The vow to "keep the sea lanes open" and stop Iran from "dominating the region" are a reflection of Washington's real objectives in the region. It is to impose unchallenged US domination over the region and its vital oil supplies. The massive American naval deployment is aimed at securing a US stranglehold over the Strait of Hormuz, the sea lane through which some 20 percent of the world's oil passes.

Cheney's appearance on the Stennis invited inevitable comparisons to the earlier use of such warships as platforms for the administration's war speeches. It was in March 2002 that the American vice president landed on the same carrier to deliver a speech to a captive uniformed naval audience in which he vowed that the US would take "decisive" action to "prevent terrorists, and regimes that sponsor terror, from threatening America or our friends and allies with weapons of mass destruction."

In his speech Friday, Cheney noted his presence on the same warship five years earlier, but, not surprisingly, offered no explanation for the absence of weapons of mass destruction and terrorist ties that the administration fabricated to justify its unprovoked invasion of Iraq in March of 2003.

And, of course, little more than four years ago President Bush flew out to a returning aircraft carrier off the California coast to announce--before a huge banner declaring "Mission Accomplished"--that "major combat operations in Iraq have ended" and American had "prevailed."

Cheney's speech seemed to unintentionally mock that now infamous assertion. Four years later, with US casualties steadily mounting, he declared, "We want to complete the mission, get it done right and return with honor." He tried to convince the Stennis crew members that "the American people do not support a policy of retreat," despite poll after poll indicating that the overwhelming majority of the US population is in favor of pulling all American forces out of Iraq.

"It's not easy to serve in this part of the world," Cheney told the sailors. "It's a place of tension and many conflicts."

Indeed, the American vice president knows whereof he speaks, having come to the region to whip up tensions and lay the groundwork for another armed conflict. With the US intervention in Iraqi having sunk into a bloody disaster, he and other elements within the Bush administration see the expansion of the war--this time against Iran--as a possible means of extricating US imperialism from its deepening strategic crisis in the region, as well as of rescuing the administration from political disintegration and ignominy at home.

While Cheney began his six-day, five-nation tour of the Middle East with a surprise visit to Iraq, his two days in the US-occupied country amounted to little more than a photo-op and showing of the flag designed for domestic political consumption. While going through the motions of pressuring the US-backed Iraqi regime to meet Washington's "benchmarks" for "political progress" in Iraq, Cheney is well aware that the Iraqi regime is largely powerless and incapable of making any major changes without risking collapse.

Far more important, from Washington's standpoint, is Cheney's effort to shore up the shaky alliances with key Arab regimes in order to further its militarist operations in the region.

US-Saudi tensions

The most critical of these is the long-standing US ties with the Saudi monarchy. Cheney is set to meet with Saudi King Abullah on Saturday in the northwestern desert town of Tabuk, a provincial capital.

The vice president's trip was reportedly organized at the end of last month in response to mounting signs that the Saudi regime has grown increasingly agitated over the deepening debacle that Washington has created in the region.

In March, Saudi King Abdullah expressed the displeasure of Saudi Arabia's ruling family over the disaster in Iraq by using a speech to the Arab League summit to describe the US presence in the country as an "illegitimate foreign occupation."

Further signaling the mounting displeasures of the monarchy, last month Abdullah abruptly cancelled a trip to Washington for a White House dinner, apparently out of anger over the failed US policy in Iraq.

And there have been indications that the Saudi regime is failing to toe the American line in the Middle East. In March, Abullah hosted a state visit by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, while a month earlier, the monarchy brokered the Mecca Agreement, forging a "unity government" between the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas and Fatah, thereby breaking with Washington's--and Israel's--campaign to keep Hamas isolated.

During his last trip to Saudi Arabia in November, Abdullah reportedly told the American vice president that if US occupation troops were to pull out of Iraq, the Saudi regime would consider providing financial support to Iraq's Sunni population to wage a civil war against the country's Shiites.

Cheney has reportedly been sent to Saudi Arabia to assure the monarchy that the Bush administration has no intention of withdrawing US troops from Iraq as long as it stays in office, and to seek its assistance in pressuring Sunni parties in Iraq to remain in the Maliki government and to support the speedy approval of a draft oil law that would open up the country's petroleum reserves to exploitation by American-based energy conglomerates.

The American message may not find ready acceptance, however. As David Ignatius, the Washington Post foreign affairs columnist wrote this week, "Saudi sources say the king has given up on the ability of Iraq's Shiite prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, to overcome sectarian divisions and unite the country. The Saudi leadership is also said to believe that the current US troop surge is likely to fail, deepening the danger of all-out civil war in Iraq."

According to Ignatius, the Saudi monarchy favors Maliki's ouster and his replacement by former interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, the long-time CIA asset and former Baathist, described by some critics as "Saddam without the mustache." Washington, he reports, opposes such a new attempt at "regime change," fearing it would only deepen the chaos and mass opposition to the US occupation.

The friction between Washington and the Saudi regime has its source in what is seen by the Saudis and other Arab rulers as the untenable contradiction in US policy, which is based on propping up a Shia-dominated Iraqi regime with close ties to Iran, while at the same time seeking to isolate Iran, roll back its influence in the region and prepare for possible war against the country.

As investigative journalist Seymour Hersh reported in the New Yorker earlier this year, the CIA has collaborated closely with the Saudis in covert operations directed at undermining the Shia political movement in Lebanon, Hezbollah, including through the promotion of Sunni Islamist groups sympathetic to al-Qaeda. According to Hersh, these operations' "clandestine side has been guided by Cheney."

Also on Cheney's itinerary are meetings with United Arab Emirates President Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Egypt's President Hosni Mobarak and the Jordanian monarch, King Abdullah, where he is expected to pound the same war drum against Iran while seeking the aid of these regimes and their intelligence services in quelling the insurgency in Iraq.

Cheney's trip comes on the heels of last week's international conference on Iraq held at the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. Media reports on the conference were dominated by speculation about a possible US diplomatic opening towards Iran and Syria to facilitate an end to the chaos in Iraq--something that was never substantiated in the furtive encounters between US officials and their Iranian and Syrian counterparts.

The American vice president's speech on the aircraft carrier and his secret talks with Arab monarchs and despots points to the real thrust of US policy in the region, which is founded on the continued and escalating use of militarism in Iraq and potentially against Iran.

One indication of the seriousness of the threat of a new war came from Bahrain, where the emirate's official news service reported that the local regime has been drawing up contingency plans to deal with Iranian missile strikes and sabotage attacks in the event of a US war against Iran. The kingdom hosts the headquarters of the US Fifth Fleet.

"We at the Interior Ministry have made plan to deal with the possible threats," Bahraini Interior Minister Rashid Bin Abdullah Al Khalifa told the agency. Last month, the Bahraini regime conducted a joint emergency response exercise with US forces based on the scenario of an Iranian missile attack.

Copyright 1998-2007 World Socialist Web Site. All rights reserved.



For a Democratic Socialist Pakistan

40 Abbot Road

Lahore, Pakistan



- Sunday, 13 May 2007 -





Red salute to martyrs of democracy Musharraf, Sindh Governor, CM should resign

A judicial inquiry be set up to probe killings LPP to observe Black Day and support General Strike

Lahore (PR)--The Labour Party Pakistan (LPP) strongly condemns the thug violence employed by the MQM, in collaboration with the government, thus costing scores of precious lives in Karachi on May 12.

In a press release issued here, LPP Secretary General Farooq Tariq while holding Musharraf regime, Sindh government and MQM responsible for the killings in Karachi, has paid tributes to the political activists who laid their lives for the cause of democracy as well as independence of judiciary and valiantly faced the bullets.

He also announced to observe the Black day on the call of ARD and appealed to the workers, trade unions and masses to observe a general strike on Monday.

He said: 'The government and it's political pet MQM have been hand in glove in perpetuating violence in order to derail the democracy movement further triggered by the dismissal of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry'.

He demanded an immediate resignation of general Musharraf, Sindh governor and chief minister.

He said hundreds of thousands of pro-democracy workers received Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry on GT Road, dozens of rallies have been held by advocates and activists all across the country since March 9 and nowhere even a stone was cast. 'The blood is on the hands of federal as well as Sindh government and MQM leadership. A judicial inquiry should be conducted to probe the killings and culprits be brought to justice', he demanded.

Paying tributes to the democracy martyrs, he said movements grow when watered by the blood of martyrs. He vowed to continue the democracy struggle on the platform of his party in collaboration with other democratic and progressive forces.






South Asia

May 11, 2007

By Philip Smucker

LASHKAR GAH, Helmand province - Both the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the Taliban have promised the world major military offensives in southern Afghanistan. The NATO-led alliance is sending thousands of soldiers into the fray to preempt the Taliban Ghazwatul Badr uprising that has been announced with a centurion call for thousands of fighters and suicide bombers to ready their ammunition belts.

Yet although Afghanistan is well into its balmy spring, the battlefield in southern Afghanistan has entered a twilight zone of cloak-and-dagger assassinations with only limited clashes.

The poppy harvest is only now ending, and growing doubts about Afghanistan's future have infested the parched valleys and high mountains passes. The Taliban have not gone on a blazing warpath, and that makes everyone a little more nervous.

In the latest political development, the upper chamber of the Afghan Parliament (Meshrano Jirga, or House of Elders) voted this week to begin dialogue with Taliban fighters to persuade them to accept the Afghan government.

A draft law says a distinction should be made among Afghan Taliban, Pakistani Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters. It also seeks an end to military operations by foreign forces unless they come under attack or have first consulted the Afghan National Army.

The bill still has to be passed by the Wolesi Jirga (People's Assembly), the lower house of Parliament, and signed by President Hamid Karzai before becoming law. Similar approaches to the Taliban have failed in the past. The move follows a law providing an amnesty from war crimes committed over nearly three decades of civil war.

Meanwhile, as the time-bomb ticks toward more fighting, the rag-tag Afghan insurgency is fast morphing into a 21st-century guerrilla movement.

Born out of the ashes of civil war and the US Central Intelligence Agency's unrefined efforts to stimulate a jihad against the Soviet Union in the 1980s, the Taliban are significantly changed from their days in power across Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001.

More than anything, the once-xenophobic, home-grown movement is now a part of a global jihad. Operatives inside and outside the country mix and match battlefield tactics and information strategy to fit the moment.

Announcing the Taliban's "full contacts" with the larger struggle in Iraq last year, one of the Taliban's senior field commanders, Mullah Dadullah, stated, "We are united against the infidel - we are in the same trench." Dadullah later announced that he had sent some of his own foot soldiers to fight in Iraq.

Leading analysts of global terrorism believe that the Afghan "exchanges" are value-added capabilities in the realm of both "hearts and minds" and fighting skills.

The transformation of the Taliban provides a study in how a local insurgency has re-emerged as a force for al-Qaeda's global interests. Western diplomats and Afghan experts monitoring the Taliban contend that it is increasingly difficult to differentiate between the international and the local aspects of the insurgency.

"The Taliban [movement] is now a part of an internationalized jihad," said Waheed Mujda, an Afghan writer who served as a deputy minister in the Taliban's government between 1997 and 2001 and later wrote a tell-all book about the movement.

"The largest contributing factor to this internationalization has been the US attack on Iraq and a growing sense that Muslims across the Islamic world are fighting the same aggressor, the US and its allies. The Taliban's war has now moved outside the boundaries of Afghanistan and is part of a global struggle."

Videos from training camps inside Afghanistan and also in Pakistan suggest that al-Qaeda's trusted Arabs have resumed their venerated roles as military trainers for the Taliban. But apart from numerous cameo appearances in joint al-Qaeda-Taliban training videos, these senior al-Qaeda figures remain almost invisible on the battlefield, according to Afghan security and intelligence officials.

Afghan and other Islamic militants travel clandestinely among Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq and also "wave" to one another over the Internet. In one recent video, Abu Laith al-Libbi, a senior Libyan trainer for the Taliban in Afghanistan, sends a message of encouragement to Iraqi insurgents from a training base in Kunar province. His work in Afghanistan and his close affiliation with al-Qaeda operatives in Iraq suggest strong cross-pollination between anti-American insurgencies in the two countries.

Taliban tactics, which as late as last spring involved wild frontal attacks with hundreds of fighters on US and allied positions, have further morphed to fit al-Qaeda's vision of a successful jihad: spelling a notable and new preference for suicide bombing, improvised explosive devices, and assassinations of key figures, with a stress on "NATO collaborators".

The Taliban's re-emergence as a formidable foe in the sphere of public opinion and on the battlefield in Afghanistan has paralleled al-Qaeda's own equally stunning revival in Pakistan. The symbiosis has been years in the making. A nascent al-Qaeda capitalized on the Taliban's own success in the late 1990s when the religious zealots seized control of Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden's organization used the Taliban's own power base to launch his vision of a global jihad, which included dozens of training camps that served jihadis from around the world.

The Taliban have made some unexpected strides on the public relations front. Analysts put this down to the militant religious movement's ability to capitalize on the failures of the Karzai regime.

"The Taliban's comeback is one of the greatest examples I can think of [of] a ruling regime snatching defeat from the jaws of victory," said Saad Mohseni, an Australian-Afghan journalist and the owner of Afghanistan's largest private media conglomerate. "The Taliban [are] engaged in more of a rescue mission than anything else. They are admired for providing security."

But other analysts believe the Taliban should be given far more credit for their own real successes in the sphere of Afghan public opinion. A movement that once mangled its own media operations is now regularly featured in the independent Afghan media for its press statements and military gains - so much so that officials from the government of US-backed Karzai now threaten to muzzle the free press in their own country for being - in part - too sympathetic toward "the enemy".

The Taliban's military chief and local media star, Dadullah, who personally oversees the same kinds of showmanship beheadings of foreigners and locals made infamous by al-Qaeda in Iraq's dead leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, puts on a tough, defiant face that is admired by some and despised by others.

Taliban leaders frame their actions and arguments against what they say is a far more brutal US-led "global war on terror". The Taliban, mimicking al-Qaeda's own websites and video-production wing, Al-Sahab, now produce daily news pieces covering events in Afghanistan and the Muslim world and slick videotapes that depict the lives of young militants in religious schools and in al-Qaeda-led training camps inside Afghanistan and in neighboring Pakistan.

Despite the Taliban's growing "globalization", the Afghan-centric nature of the fight in the trenches remains very much the same. Afghan security officials working in the Taliban's operational heartland say they rarely catch foreign militants dead or alive in the insurgency's ranks. That is because the actual foot soldiers fighting in Afghanistan are almost all still Afghans or Pakistani Pashtuns (ethnic brethren divided by the British Raj-imposed Durand Line).

Even suicide bombers, once a rarity and carefully selected from outside the region, are increasingly originating in South Asia, say senior Afghan intelligence officials.

NATO planners, particularly the British in Helmand, are aware of the Taliban's machinations. Dealing with them is another trick entirely. Helmand province is now a nexus for both Taliban and NATO operations. A drive past poppy fields on freshly paved roads is a race to dodge NATO-Taliban firefights as well as avoid kidnappings that have left journalists and drivers beheaded in recent weeks.

Unarmed Taliban fighters can be seen in the fields assisting villagers as they scrape oozing opium paste from the buds of poppy flowers. The estimated US$3 billion opium and heroin trade is heavily taxed, say residents. Government eradicators, who appear to have surrendered to the inevitability of this year's predicted bumper crop, demanded stiff fees for not destroying the crop several weeks ago. In addition, Afghan landowners with poppy fields just outside the ancient city of Lashkar Gah say they are paying a zakat, or religious tax, to Taliban insurgents, which is used to support the movement and buy arms.

So in addition to massive support from al-Qaeda's strengthened base across the border in Pakistan, including financial ties inside leading Sunni states bordering the Persian Gulf, al-Qaeda is financially sound on the ground in Afghanistan.

Cracking the nexus of drugs and terror amounts to fighting two wars at once. "The Taliban's Tier 2 members, mostly farmers and villagers, [are] usually doing it for the money," said Lieutenant-Colonel Charlie Mayo, the NATO spokesman in Helmand province. "We don't really want to fight Tier 2 - if we don't have to. If we are able to push the Tier 1 out, we can provide breathing space for economic development without Taliban intimidation."

But distinguishing the hardened ideologues from mere poppy farmers with Kalashnikovs is easier said than done. Helmand's provincial police chief, Nabi Jan Mulla Kheal, said he now favors the US government's own efforts to persuade NATO allies to allow Taliban-controlled poppy fields to be eradicated by chemicals sprayed from the air. But other Afghan officials as well as locals in the capital, Lashkar Gah, say aerial spraying would only drive more poor Afghans into the waiting arms of the Taliban.

Philip Smucker is a commentator and journalist based in South Asia and the Middle East. He is the author of Al-Qaeda's Great Escape: The Military and the Media on Terror's Trail (2004).

Copyright 2007 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved.






Deep, critical commentary and analysis exposing the causes and consequences of

the new "War on Terror"

Friday, May 11, 2007

By Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed

After the verdict of the crevice trial announced on 30th April, which convicted five British Muslim defendants of plotting to carry out terrorist attacks in the UK, the spotlight has been on MI5's handling of connections between the crevice plotters and the alleged 7/7 bombers, Mohamed Sidique Khan and Shahzad Tanweer.

In an official statement on its website, the security service claims that Khan and Tanweer were "never identified during the fertiliser plot investigation because they were not involved in the planned attacks. Rather, they appeared as petty fraudsters in loose contact with members of the plot. There was no indication that they were involved in planning any kind of terrorist attack in the UK."

Thanks to the investigations of a number of British journalists, we now know that MI5 has been somewhat economical with the truth. Richard Watson of BBC Newsnight, Vikram Dodd at the Guardian, and David Leppard at the Sunday Times, among others have obtained evidence from security sources showing that Scotland Yard and MI5 had indeed identified Khan, by name, at latest around six months prior to 7/7, via his car registration. This is also confirmed by a Crown Prosecution Service document that came up in the course of the crevice trial.

Other interesting tidbits also surfaced in that trial about what was known about Khan. Contradicting the notion that he was only believed to be a petty criminal, the Crown also wanted to produce evidence at the beginning of the trial about Khan's attendance at an al-Qaeda training camp in Pakistan, as early as 2003. In the words of the trial judge, the evidence was supposed to prove "that the purpose of the training camp was to plan and cause explosions in the UK." At this time, Khan was already under surveillance, and indeed MI5 knew that he was "fully versed in how to make bombs" by the time he returned to the UK in summer that year (Sunday Times 22.1.06)

Intelligence leaks also suggest that Khan was directly involved in the fertiliser bomb plot. MI5 surveillance tapes obtained by journalists showed him contributing to attack plans with the fertiliser bomb plotters, and that he was involved in "late-stage" discussions about the plot, while repeatedly expressing his own desire to participate in al-Qaeda terrorist activity. (Sunday Times 14.5.06)

In fact, contradicting the British official narrative entirely, French security officials are insisting that the 7/7 suspects had "belonged to the same network as the Britons of Pakistani origin who were partially arrested in Great Britain in March 2004" in Operation Crevice. Out of the total number of terrorist suspects "identified by the British only eight were arrested and five escaped", according to a senior French police officer in Liberation (14.7.05). Among the five suspects at large, say the French, was Mohamed Sidique Khan.

Khan seemed to surface everywhere. He came up again when MI5 was investigating the unimaginable series of plots (the dirty bomb project, the limousine gas project, etc.) hatched by Dhiren Barot, also convicted of plotting terrorist attacks in the UK. The Luton cell under Barot was, according to security officials, also linked to Khan. (ABC News, 14.7.05)

Given this extensive track record of apparent terrorist activities and connections in multiple plots linked by authorities to al-Qaeda, the stated reasons for why Khan was dropped just don't add up. All the evidence available to MI5, according to the aforesaid intelligence leaks, shows that the security services knew that Khan did indeed have direct knowledge of, and was involved in, terrorist activity in the UK.

But the new evidence that has come to light after the crevice trial additionally shows that Khan was indeed under ongoing MI5 surveillance. A British security source told this author that Khan was monitored all the way through to May 2005. Further, a document disclosed by prosecution lawyers to the defence before the commencement of the crevice trial cited MI5 surveillance recordings of Tanweer "discussing bombings and using the internet to make such a bomb," as late as "two weeks before" 7th July 2005. (Guardian, 3.5.07)

So why didn't the security services pick up any further information about the 7/7 plot, especially considering that not only Khan and Tanweer, but all four London bombers had been "watched by intelligence officers a year before" the attacks according to security sources cited in the Mirror (3.11.05)? Indeed, MI5's insistence that Khan was only viewed as peripheral has also been torpedoed by its own officers. Last year, British security sources told BBC News (30.3.06) that:

"... the security services had been so concerned about him [Sidique Khan] they had planned to put him under a higher level of investigation. MI5 officers assigned to investigate the lead bomber in the 7 July attacks were diverted to another anti-terrorist operation sources have now told BBC News."

Why was an assessment that Khan needed to be prioritized, by officers on the ground monitoring him, rejected by senior officers? Did it have something to do with the possibility, mentioned by Charles Shoebridge, a 12-year veteran Metropolitan Police detective and Royal Military Academy graduate, who told BBC Newshour (June 2006):

"The fact that that has been so consistently overlooked it would appear by the security service MI5, to me suggests really only one of two options. Either, a) we've got a level of incompetence that would be unusual even for the security services. But b) possibly, and this is a possibility, that this man Khan may even have been working as an informant for the security service. It is difficult otherwise to see how it can be that they've so covered his tracks in the interim."

Indeed, the evidence in the public record suggests significant intelligence about the London bombings was obtained in advance, yet clearly it was not acted upon. In the year before 7/7, MI5 and MI6 had received just under a dozen credible warnings of an impending terrorist attack, many from foreign allied intelligence services, including vital clues as to date, target and even timing. The Americans flagged-up the London Underground as a prime target, the Saudis pinpointed July 2005 as the deadline for the attack, the Pakistanis pointed at UK-based extremist networks in which Khan participated, while the French and Spanish gave general warnings of an imminent strike. Many of these warnings emphasized the threat from cells allegedly linked to al-Muhajiroun. Yet MI5 continues to pretend that it received no warning whatsoever of the London bombings.

So why is MI5 being economical with the truth? The service's increasing defensiveness, oversensitivity to criticism, and ritual denials of the evidence leaking from its own officers like water from a broken dam, bear witness to the validity of the questions that 7/7 survivors and families, journalists, investigators, opposition MPs and the public at large are asking. But we will never have the answers without an independent public inquiry.

Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed has written three books since the 9/11 attacks tracing the real politics beneath the rhetoric of the War on Terror: The War on Freedom, Behind the War on Terror and The War on Truth. He lives in North London.

Copyright 2007 Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed






"From Deep Inside the Washington Beltway"

May 13, 2007

By Wayne Madsen

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- US District Judge for the District of Columbia Gladys Kessler, a Clinton appointee, has re-issued an order prohibiting DC Madam Deborah Jeane Palfrey from releasing any more phone lists of her Pamela Martin & Associates customers. Secrecy of the phone records has been a priority for DC Assistant US Attorney William Cowden. Palfrey released her 10 years of customer phone records to ABC's "20/20" before Kessler's March order prohibiting such a release took effect. As WMR reported, ABC and Disney, under pressure from the Bush White House, killed the story and stated that there were no "newsworthy" names on the Madam's list. WMR has been informed by three well-placed sources that Vice President Dick Cheney, while a part-time resident of McLean, Virginia and while serving as Halliburton's CEO, was a customer of the DC Madam.

The focus on the DC Hookergate story has now moved to Baltimore, and the firing by the Justice Department in December 2004 of the US Attorney for Maryland, Thomas DiBiagio. DiBiagio was fired, along with a number of other US attorneys, after George W. Bush's re-election for political reasons. One of DiBiagio's public corruption targets was the staff of then-Republican Maryland Governor Bob Ehrlich, some of whom had engaged the services of Madam Palfrey's escorts. The US Attorney's office in Baltimore first became involved in the investigation of the prostitution ring after the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) office and IRS agent Troy Burrus in Baltimore made a criminal referral to the US Attorney's office in Baltimore. Subsequently, an asset seizure warrant for Palfrey's assets was issued. Palfrey and her employees used two telephones in Maryland for their escort business, 301 231-5800 in Rockville, near some of the "mansions" in Potomac, Maryland and Great Falls, Virginia described by "20/20" as the locations in DC where Pamela Martin escorts would pay calls, and 410 244-1818 in Baltimore.

After Ehrlich complained to then-Deputy Attorney General James Comey about the aggressiveness of DiBiagio, the Baltimore-based US Attorney was placed on the firing list in the wake of the 2004 election. David Margolis, an Associate Deputy Attorney General, claimed he did not know about any investigations of Ehrlich's staff by DiBiagio when he informed the number one Justice Department official in Baltimore that the Justice Department had lost confidence in his abilities.

DiBiagio had already witnessed the brutal murder of his Assistant US Attorney Jonathan Luna in December 2003. A husband and father of two, Luna had departed in his vehicle, strangely leaving his cell phone on his desk at his office, and drove a circuitous route through Delaware, New Jersey, and then Pennsylvania before he was found in a creek near the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Denver, PA stabbed to death 36 times, supposedly with his own pen knife. Federal authorities leaned toward a suicide but local investigators treated the death as a homicide. In 2004, DiBiagio claimed he was being pressured to stop his investigation of Ehrlich's staff for links to gambling (particularly the gambling interests of jailed Maryland/DC GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff), prostitution, and other corruption and filed a threat report with the FBI. The Washington Post and Washington Times then reported that Luna was fearful that DiBiagio was going to fire him, which led to Luna's "suicide." It is a charge DiBiagio strongly denied. DiBiagio told the New York Times that the pressure from Ehrlich's office and the Justice Department served "to intimidate my office and shut down the investigations." Maryland Democratic Senator Ben Cardin has asked for an investigation of DiBiagio's firing.

Luna's death on December 4, 2003 was followed a few days later, on December 10, 2003, by the indictment of Maryland State Police Superintendent Ed Norris for using his Executive Protective Unit (EPU), the unit that protects the Governor of Maryland and other state VIPs, to transport prostitutes to various locations, including posh Baltimore and New York City hotels, including the Baltimore Hyatt. Like Palfrey, Norris also came under investigation for tax evasion by the Baltimore IRS office. ABC's 20/20 reported that Madam Palfrey's escorts were also driven to expensive Washington hotels, including the Hay-Adams. Palfrey, herself, has suggested that some of her escorts may have been linked to the case of jailed California Republican Congressman Duke Cunningham, Mitchell Wade's MZM, Inc., and Shirlington Limousine. The limousine service was, according to investigators, involved in transporting escorts to the Watergate and Capitol Hill's Westin Grand Hotel for "poker parties" with top Republican congressmen and CIA officials.

The murder of Luna and the firing of DiBiagio eliminated the threat that the well-heeled customers of the DC/Baltimore prostitution ring, many of them GOP stalwarts, would be exposed prior to the December 2004 presidential election. The attempt by Justice prosecutors and Judge Kessler to limit the criminal case to Palfrey continues the effort to punish the DC Madam and her employees and divert attention away from the customers. In May 2004, at the same time Norris and his chief of staff agreed to a plea deal in the prostitution case and received light sentences, Palfrey came under intense federal investigation. Palfrey claims that she is being scapegoated by the very same people who were her customers.

This past January, after being exposed by the media as running an escort service, Brandy Britton, a PhD and former Associate Professor at the University of Maryland Baltimore Campus was found hanging in her home in Ellicott City, Maryland, a suburb of Baltimore. Britton's home had been foreclosed after she was charged with running a prostitution service using the name "Alexis" and has since been identified from Palfrey's phone lists as one of the Pamela Martin & Associates escorts. Palfrey used the name "Julia." The Bush administration, clearly concerned about a sex scandal that will bring down more than just former Assistant Secretary of State Randall Tobias, is hoping to keep the focus on "Julia" and her employees, and not on "Backseat."

Copyright 2007 Wayne Madsen Report. All rights reserved.







Washington Babylon

May 11, 2007

By Ken Silverstein

On its website, GlobalOptions, a Washington-based corporate security and investigations firm, describes itself as a "private CIA, Defense Department, Justice Department, and FBI, all rolled into one," and says it offers

"attorneys, crisis communications specialists, investigators, former senior policymakers and even commandos who can be mobilized on a moment's notice to protect you, your employees, corporate reputation, bottom line, and share holder value."

The company does not reveal who it works for but pledges "absolute loyalty to our clients, because we believe that clients are the most important people in the world."

According to recently filed court documents, GlobalOptions clients include Zeromax, a Swiss-based holding company widely reported to be the property of Gulnara Karimova, the powerful daughter of Uzbek dictator Islam Karimov. (A well-placed source told me that she exercises control over the company through a chain of individuals, including two whom she directly employed.) Gulnara, like the rest of the Karimov clan, has grown fabulously wealthy through corruption. She's also the subject of an Interpol arrest warrant because she fled the United States with her children after losing a child-custody battle with her ex-husband, an American citizen.

GlobalOptions was founded in 1998 by Neil Livingstone, a former Pentagon and State Department advisor who frequently appears on TV to opine about terrorism. Livingstone was once one of the voices issuing repeated public calls for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, and following the American invasion, GlobalOptions began to offer consulting services to companies doing business in Iraq. Now he calls for destabilizing the Iranian regime. In addition to Livingstone, a host of big name insiders hold top positions at the firm, including former CIA director James Woolsey and former FBI and CIA director William Webster.

GlobalOptions recently went public and a 10-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission says that its "foreign clients operate primarily in Russia and the Caribbean." The Wall Street Journal has reported that GlobalOptions has worked for a Cyprus-based firm called Highrock Holdings, which is controlled by a shady Ukrainian businessman named Dimytro Firtash. "In 2003-2005, Mr. Firtash brokered several billion-dollar deals between Gazprom and the government of Ukraine," the Journal said. "They netted big profits for Highrock--and criticism from the U.S. ambassador to the Ukraine at the time for the deals' lack of transparency ... [I]n a recent lawsuit filed by GlobalOptions against Highrock claiming unpaid bills, the security firm alleged that Mr. Firtash hired GlobalOptions for an unspecified 'special operation' on behalf of a Ukrainian government official."

GlobalOptions is now in the middle of another lawsuit with Livingstone, who left the firm after it went public to start a new company called Executive Action. Because Executive Action provides roughly identical services, GlobalOptions is accusing Livingstone of seeking to steal away its clients. Livingstone explained his position in a letter to clients explaining his departure, which I obtained from court records: "I did not like the bureaucratic and other constraints of a public company, nor was I comfortable with some of the disclosures that have to be made, especially concerning our discreet clients and cases."

Among the documents from that lawsuit is an e-mail to Livingstone from Tom Ondeck, who runs a crisis management unit for GlobalOptions. A recent New York Times story detailed the role played by Ondeck--a disbarred attorney, according to the Times--in bringing a luxury golf resort to Akwa Ibom, a remote, desperately poor state in Nigeria. The letter identified four clients that Ondeck and Livingstone served jointly, and which GlobalOptions planned to keep: Akwa Ibom, Hayground Cove Asset Management, the Motley Rice law firm, and Zeromax. (I called Ondeck at GlobalOptions to ask him about the Zeromax account, but he declined to return my phone call.)

Gulnara, a would-be singer, is considered a possible successor to her father. A story in the Guardian identified $60 million in assets belonging to Gulnara, which included nightclubs, investment holdings, and a recording studio. That is believed to be a very small portion of her overall wealth, which reportedly includes stakes in energy and telecommunications ventures as well. "Uzbek media," said the newspaper, "which are tightly state-controlled, have praised Ms. Karimova for charity works, dubbing her the Princess of Uzbeks." It looks like GlobalOptions is Princess Gulnara's escort to the Washington Ball.

Copyright The Harper's Magazine Foundation. All rights reserved.






'Hard Truths for Hard Times'

Saturday, 12 May 2007

by Chris Floyd

These are days of troubled sleep. As in a dream, you walk familiar streets, living out your ordinary life -- going to work, having love affairs, watching sports, getting the car fixed, worrying about bills, fighting a toothache, taking kids to school, listening to music -- and everything seems as it was before, as it always was; you seem to be what you always were: a free person in a free country. Then some discordant noise reaches your mind; you stir, you open your eyes, and you remember: that's not how it is here anymore.

For citizens in the world's two "leading democracies," the United States and Britain, these rude awakenings come at regular intervals now, piercing through the incessant roar of static from the media engines of sell and spin. A story catches your eye -- usually something buried beneath the "big news" of the day -- and once again you're tumbled from your private concerns into a dreadful realization of where history has taken you: into a strange hybrid world of unfree freedom, where you can say what you want, do what you want -- unless those in power arbitrarily decide that you can't. In 99 cases out of 100, they'll leave you alone (as long as you're white and look non-threatening; if not, that ratio drops considerably). But this liberty is illusory; it no longer has a physical reality, or even a statutory one. It is now a "gift" of the authorities, one which they can bestow -- or revoke -- according to their own, ever-shifting needs and desires.

The idea of arbitrary power beyond all check of law or outside supervision is the sum total of the so-called "Unitary Executive" theory of the Bush Administration, which has put this radical and barbaric idea into practice. It is also undergirds the "crown prerogative" of British governance, where the ancient immunities of the sovereign ("The king can do no wrong" -- or as that proto-unitary executive Richard Nixon once put it: "If the president does it, it's not illegal") have "devolved" upon the prime minister as head of the government. In neither of these endlessly self-celebrating democracies is the consent of the governed or the rule of law the basis for the exercise of power. Otherwise, the leaders of these countries -- the dual lame ducks Bush and Blair -- could not have launched an illegal war or maintained this criminal enterprise year after blood-soaked year. And many of their exercises of arbitrary power have been in aid of masking the true nature of this war.

Thus we come to the latest shaking of our troubled sleep. While the media world gaped and gabbed about Tony Blair's long-belated announcement of his long-overdue retirement yesterday, a more revealing story was buried beneath the fold or in the back pages -- except in the dogged Independent, which put it on the front page:

"Two jailed for trying to leak details of Blair's talks with Bush"

Tony Blair's ill-fated war with Iraq claimed two more victims yesterday when a civil servant and an MP's researcher were convicted of disclosing details of a secret conversation between the Prime Minister and President George Bush. Last night, MPs, lawyers and civil rights groups described the prosecution as a "farce" and accused the Government of misusing the Official Secrets Act to cover up political embarrassment over the war.

David Keogh, 50, a Cabinet Office communications officer, was today jailed for six months. He passed on an "extremely sensitive memo" to Leo O'Connor, 44, a political researcher who worked for an anti-war Labour MP, Anthony Clarke. O'Connor was today sentenced to three months in jail after an Old Bailey jury found them guilty yesterday of breaching Britain's secrecy laws.

Their trial was carried out under extraordinary secrecy, clamped down even tighter than Britain's continuing series of terror plot trials. The judge wouldn't even allow the press to report Keogh's response "when he was asked in open court what preyed on his mind when he first saw the document," the Guardian reports. What's more, the British press were also forbidden from referring to stories they had previously published about the memo when it first came to light and reports of its contents were being freely discussed. The attorney general -- Blair's old friend Peter Goldsmith, the same legal eagle who infamously reversed his stand on the illegality of the Iraq invasion after a talking to from the Beltway boys, and who most recently quashed a years-long probe into a sex-car-cash bribery scheme between the Saudi royals and the UK's top arms merchant -- draped a retroactive veil of secrecy over the case -- much like the one the Bush gang has used on fired FBI truth-teller Sibel Edmonds after she threatened to expose a nest of high-level treason and corruption. The only

thing the British press could tell the British people about the trial yesterday beyond the sentences handed down -- was the reaction Keogh had given to the police when he was first arrested in 2005. He told them that what he had seen in the memo convinced him that "Bush was a madman."

But what was this document whose very existence posed such a dire threat to the life of the nation that its contents could not even be hinted at in public? It was a four-page record of a White House meeting between George W. Bush and Tony Blair on April 16, 2004. It is known in the trade as the "al-Jazeera Bombing Memo" because in those early news reports -- after Keogh had leaked the document in May 2004 to O'Connor, in the hopes that it would be brought before the people's representatives in Parliament -- at least one part of its contents became widely known; to wit, that Bush had proposed to Blair that they bomb the headquarters of the independent Arabic news agency al-Jazeera in Qatar, as well as agency offices elsewhere.

The context of this criminal proposal is important. In April 2004, the grand Babylonian Conquest was turning into a nightmare. The tortures at Abu Ghraib had just been exposed. (Outrages which, as we now know, were just the barest tip of a massive iceberg: the vast gulag of secret prisons, "disappeared" captives, and "strenuous interrogation techniques" specifically approved by Bush and Rumsfeld). But beyond that scandal -- which was being successfully fobbed off with the "bad apple" defense, and would never be in an issue in the coming presidential election -- there was also, more glaringly, the ongoing bloodfest in Fallujah: the Guernica of the Iraq War.

The attack was launched in retaliation for the killing of four American mercenaries from the politically-wired firm of Blackwater on March 31, 2004 -- another PR hit for the "Mission Accomplished" team in the White House. Fallujah -- a once quiet city whose citizens had rebelled against Saddam Hussein -- had been turned into a hotbed of unrest over the course of the previous year by a heavy-handed American occupation, which included several civilian deaths after occupation troops fired into crowds exercising what they believed was their liberated right to protest. Anger and insurgency took hold in the city, leading to the "Black Hawk Down" style despoliation of the dead mercenaries a year later.

Against the advice of military commanders on the scene, Bush ordered the "pacification" of the city a few days later. But the L'il Commander's attack turned into yet another PR nightmare, spreading death and destruction through civilian areas, causing hundreds of deaths, launching airstrikes into residential areas, closing the city's main hospitals while thousands were suffering -- and failing to dislodge the insurgents who were the ostensible target of the operation. (There were two other main targets, of course: the American people, who were meant to be seduced by the man-musk of the War Leader, and the Iraqi people, who were meant to be terrorized into submission by the shock-and-awe of Fallujah's decimation.)

In addition to the lack of progress on the battleground, Bush was beset by the presence of al-Jazeera correspondents in the city. The agency -- headquartered in Qatar, a staunch U.S. ally -- was a rare independent voice in the Arab world, reporting from all sides and offering a platform for all sides, including Israeli and American officials. It was, in fact, the very kind of thing that Bush claimed he wanted to instill in the Middle East through his invasion of Iraq. But of course, this was just another lie. Al-Jazeera's independence proved inconvenient for the Bushists, who in both Iraq and Afghanistan had sought to impose the greatest degree of message control (and "psy-ops" spin) ever seen in an American war. For both the Bushists and the Blairites, truth was not the first casualty of war; it was a deadly enemy -- an enemy combatant, in fact, to be rendered, disappeared, tortured, killed, like any other gulag captive.

So it was no surprise at all that Bush and Blair would be discussing al-Jazeera during that fretful confab in April 2004. Nor is it any surprise that Bush's answer to the "problem" of an independent Arab news agency would be to kill the ragheads where they stand. He had already demonstrated that wanton violence and mass murder was his preferred option for dealing with problems in the Middle East.

The contents of the controversial memo were actually well-known after it came to light -- and before Blair's buddy Goldsmith lowered the boom. The Daily Mirror, for example, had this report in November 2005:

"President Bush planned to bomb Arab TV station al-Jazeera in friendly Qatar, a 'Top Secret' No 10 memo reveals. But he was talked out of it at a White House summit by Tony Blair, who said it would provoke a worldwide backlash...The attack would have led to a massacre of innocents on the territory of a key ally, enraged the Middle East and almost certainly have sparked bloody retaliation.

"A source said last night: 'The memo is explosive and hugely damaging to Bush. He made clear he wanted to bomb al-Jazeera in Qatar and elsewhere. Blair replied that would cause a big problem. There's no doubt what Bush wanted to do -- and no doubt Blair didn't want him to do it.'

"A Government official suggested that the Bush threat had been 'humorous, not serious'. But another source declared: 'Bush was deadly serious, as was Blair. That much is absolutely clear from the language used by both men.'"

Al-Jazeera's HQ is in the business district of Qatar's capital, Doha. Its single-storey buildings would have made an easy target for bombers. As it is sited away from residential areas, and more than 10 miles from the US's desert base in Qatar, there would have been no danger of "collateral damage".

Dozens of al-Jazeera staff at the HQ are not, as many believe, Islamic fanatics. Instead, most are respected and highly trained technicians and journalists. To have wiped them out would have been equivalent to bombing the BBC in London and the most spectacular foreign policy disaster since the Iraq War itself.

The No 10 memo now raises fresh doubts over US claims that previous attacks against al-Jazeera staff were military errors. In 2001 the station's Kabul office was knocked out by two "smart" bombs. In 2003, al-Jazeera reporter Tareq Ayyoub was killed in a US missile strike on the station's Baghdad centre. The memo, which also included details of troop deployments, turned up in May last year at the Northampton constituency office of then Labour MP Tony Clarke.

This is the kind of thing that filled British papers for weeks. But now, in the brave new world of unfree freedom that Bush and Blair have bestowed upon their subjects, Britons can no longer mention any of this in public. Indeed, the judge in the Keogh case reinforced Goldsmith's earlier ban with a new gag order, decreeing "that allegations already in the public domain could not be repeated if there was any suggestion they related to the contents of the document," the Guardian reports. Anyone who does so can be jailed for contempt. Yes, jailed for repeating in public what has already been published.

During the trial, Blair's top foreign policy wonk, Sir Nigel Sheinwald, offered this notable justification for jailing faithful government servants whose consciences had been shocked into action by the discovery of a plot for mass murder by the "leader of the free world":

In evidence at the trial, Sir Nigel Sheinwald...said private talks between world leaders must remain confidential however illegal or morally abhorrent aspects of their discussions might be.

Quite right, too. After all, if a memo of, say, a summit meeting between Hitler and Mussolini had come to light in, say, 1938, detailing how Hitler had told Mussolini that he was going to, say, kill a few million Jews just as soon as he could lay his hands on them, then obviously such confidences between statesmen should be respected -- and any civil servant who tried to warn the world about this "madman" should obviously be prosecuted.

Blair -- who in his lachrymose and self-pitying resignation speech yesterday again reiterated his pride in standing "shoulder-to-shoulder" with Bush in the slaughter of more than 600,000 innocent human beings in Iraq -- obviously talked his pal down from his murderous rage at al-Jazeera, which is now so respectable that it appears on American cable TV systems. But there was no such consideration for the people of Fallujah. Bush soon called off the attack as the bad PR mounted, but promised that the city would be "pacified" in the end -- after the election. And so it was, without demur from Blair. Just days after Bush had procured office again in November 2004, a second assault -- even more savage than the first, was launched, destroying the city with bombs, shells and chemical fire.

It is entirely typical of our strange days that the arbitrary, draconian power that now characterizes the Anglo-American "democracies" would be used here in an attempt to suppress a political embarrassment -- the revelation of a barbaric idea that never came to fruition -- while the actual physical slaughter of hundreds of thousands of people is openly and unashamedly embraced -- even championed as an act of moral courage, as in Blair's unctuous parting bromide, "Hand on my heart, I did what I thought was right."

So did Pol Pot. So did Stalin. So did Osama bin Laden. So does every madman who vaunts himself beyond the law, and kills in the name of a "higher cause."

Chris Floyd is the Editor and co-founder of Atlantic Free Press. He is an American journalist now based in Great Britain and the UK correspondent for For 10 years, he wrote the weekly Global Eye political column for The Moscow Times and St. Petersburg Times. His writings also appear in The Nation, Columbia Journalism Review, The Baltimore Chronicle, The Bergen Record and elsewhere around the world. His book, Empire Burlesque, is published by Expathos Books.

Copyright 2007 Atlantic Free Press






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May 8, 2007

J.D. Cash, a journalist for this newspaper and radio co-host who won the respect of some of the nation's top investigative journalists even though he worked for only a small newspaper, died Sunday in Tulsa from pneumonia. He had recently marked his 55th birthday.

"He was one-of-a-kind, and our entire county has lost a dear friend," said McCurtain Gazette publisher Bruce Willingham.

"He was driven to seek the truth by his compassion for the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing, and his quest brought him to the attention of media throughout the world, as well as top officials in Washington."

Indeed, Cash's 12 years of stories on the Oklahoma City bombing brought media worldwide to Idabel, including the major networks and National Public Radio, the Wall Street Journal, the New Yorker, and dozens of others, including journalists from England and Germany.

"Cash got the groundbreaking interviews no one else could get," said Willingham. I once spoke to an Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation agent who was absolutely incredulous after one of Cash's early interviews.

"How in the world did he get him to talk?" the agent asked me. "That guy was scared to death. He wouldn't talk to anybody. We could barely get him to talk to us."

Yet in one case after another, Cash was able to get the interviews no one else could get.

"The mainstream press couldn't bring itself to accept J.D.'s stories," said Jerry Bohnen, award-winning news director of KTOK radio in Oklahoma City. "Yet over the years those reports were supported by one of two important things -- either direct interviews with the individuals in question or through documentation obtained by painstaking and patient Freedom of Information requests that J.D. had filed with the various government agencies."

Willingham said Cash risked his life to get some of the stories he wrote, but didn't want people knowing about it.

"For instance, he came home after testifying before the Oklahoma City grand jury, and when he turned on his oven to cook the first time, it exploded. Someone had cut part of the main line and redirected it in such a way that a huge amount of gas was unleashed. He was blown across the room. But he wouldn't even report the incident. He simply said he needed to take better security precautions."

Cash also posed one time as a journalist for Jubilee, a Christian Identity publication, that allowed to get an inside look at Elohim City that a regular journalist wouldn't have been able to get.

"I know some of the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing are aware of this, but many aren't: It was his love for them and his concern that the government wasn't being honest with them that fired his passion to get at the truth," said Willingham.

"One of the real ironies," said Willingham, "is that some people in the Associated Press and the FBI, who at one time showed at least complete disregard if not outright contempt for him, ended up admiring him for his work.

"I'll tell you this: When the final chapter is someday written on the Oklahoma City bombing, people will go back and look at his work over the past 12 years, and they will be amazed."

Private family services are being held in Tulsa. He is mourned by his mother, plus friends, many journalists, and many people in McCurtain County who knew him only by his work.

Copyright 2007 McCurtain Daily Gazette

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- AFIB No. 821, May 9, 2007 -








Two days after the Letelier murder Orlando Bosch flew from Nicaragua to Caracas, where, after passing through immigration on a forged Costa Rican passport, he was met by Luis Posada and Orlando Garcia. By this time Posada had left DISIP [Venezuelan intelligence] to form a private detective agency called Commercial Industrial Investigations that had intimate ties with the secret police. Bosch was welcomed like a visiting dignitary. Garcia took him to meet President Perez and he was feted at a $1,000-a-plate dinner attended by high government officials and Cuban exiles. ... Two weeks after the festivities, on October 6, Cubana Airlines Flight 455, with seventy-three persons aboard including the Cuban national fencing team, left Trinidad, stopped at Barbados, and took off again for Cuba. The plane blew apart in the air, killing all on board. In Miami, calls to the media claimed credit on behalf of CORU and El Condor, an FNLC satellite. -- Warren Hinckle & William Turner, Deadly Secrets: The CIA-Mafia War Against Castro and the Assassination of JFK [New York: Thunder's Mouth Press, 1992] pp. 383-384.


Contents: Number 821

 01. THE CONSORTIUM FOR INDEPENDENT JOURNALISM [Arlington, VA]: Posada Carriles: Bush Sat on Evidence of Cuban Terror.
 02. WORLD SOCIALIST WEB SITE [Oak Park, MI]: British Terror Trial Raises Questions of What MI5 Knew about 2005 London Bombings.
 03. THE MAD COW MORNING NEWS [Venice, FL]: Dusty & 'the boys' II: Secrets of the Black Budget Scandal.
 04. HISTORY NEWS NETWORK [Seattle]: Hitler's Carmaker: From War Profiteering to Undermining Mass Transit (Part 3).
 05. ATLANTIC FREE PRESS [London]: Black Hawk Rising: CIA Warlords Take Control of Mogadishu.

AFIB #823: May 16, 2007

AFIB #822: May 13, 2007

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- Monday, May 7, 2007 -




By Robert Parry

Earlier this year, as accused right-wing terrorist Luis Posada Carriles successfully sought to be freed on bond, the Bush administration possessed secret evidence implicating the 79-year-old Cuban exile in terrorist bombings in Havana a decade ago.

The evidence, an FBI document based on interviews with confidential sources in the late 1990s, linked Posada to a wave of hotel bombings in 1997 that killed an Italian tourist. Administration lawyers have now filed the document in court as part of the illegal immigration case against Posada that is scheduled to resume in Texas on May 11.

On April 19, however, Posada was freed on $350,000 bond and allowed to live in his wife's home in Miami, where many right-wing Cuban exiles regard him as a hero.

The relatively gentle handling of Posada and other right-wing Cubans connected to terrorist acts against the communist government of Fidel Castro is in marked contrast to George W. Bush's harsh treatment of Islamic militants captured during the "global war on terror."

While suspected Islamic terrorists are locked away indefinitely at the U.S. military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and can undergo "alternative interrogation techniques," Posada has been afforded all U.S. legal protections and then some.

Bush has refused to extradite Posada to Venezuela or Cuba, where he is sought on other terrorism charges for masterminding the 1976 mid-air bombing of a Cubana Airliner killing all 73 people on board, including the young Cuban national fencing team.

During a court hearing in Texas on Posada, Bush administration lawyers allowed to go unchallenged testimony from a Posada friend that Posada would face torture if he were returned to Venezuela where he held citizenship and once worked as an intelligence officer. The judge, therefore, barred Posada to be deported there.

After that ruling, Venezuela's Ambassador Bernardo Alvarez accused the Bush administration of applying "a cynical double standard" in the "war on terror." As for the claim that Venezuela practices torture, Alvarez said, "There isn't a shred of evidence that Posada would be tortured in Venezuela."

It now appears the Bush administration also was sitting on evidence implicating Posada in more recent acts of terrorism, the 1997 hotel bombings in Havana.

The Associated Press reported that the FBI document, now filed with the court, cited "confidential sources," including one source saying that two Posada associates at a Guatemalan utility company spoke about plans to assassinate Castro. The source then planted a listening device in an office and picked up conversations about smuggling a "putty-like explosive" into Cuba in the shoes of operatives posing as tourists, the document said.

The source added that another employee of the utility company found 22 plastic tubes in a closet in August 1997 labeled "high-powered explosives, extremely dangerous." The explosives were being mixed into shampoo bottles, the employee said.

According to the AP, the confidential source provided the FBI with a fax about wire transfers from individuals in New Jersey that was signed Solo, one of Posada's aliases. The FBI concluded that at least $19,000 in wire transfers connected to the hotel bombings were sent from the United States to El Salvador and Guatemala to a "Ramon Medina," the code name used by Posada in the 1980s when he worked on the Iran-Contra operations overseen by White House aide Oliver North. [AP, May 4, 2007]


In 1998, in interviews with a New York Times reporter, Posada admitted a role in the Havana bombings, citing a goal of frightening tourists away from Cuba. But Posada later denied making the admissions. He also has denied masterminding the 1976 airliner bombing in collusion with another notorious Cuban exile, Orlando Bosch, who is living in Miami, too, with the help and protection of the Bush family.

Not only did the Bush administration take a dive during Posada's deportation hearing by letting the Venezuela torture claim go unchallenged, but also it ignored Bosch's statement a year ago, when he justified the 1976 mid-air bombing in a TV interview with reporter Manuel Cao on Miamiâ¤s Channel 41.

"Did you down that plane in 1976?" Cao asked Bosch.

"If I tell you that I was involved, I will be inculpating myself," Bosch answered, "and if I tell you that I did not participate in that action, you would say that I am lying. I am therefore not going to answer one thing or the other."

But when Cao asked Bosch to comment on the civilians who died when the plane crashed off the coast of Barbados, Bosch responded, "In a war such as us Cubans who love liberty wage against the tyrant [Fidel Castro], you have to down planes, you have to sink ships, you have to be prepared to attack anything that is within your reach."

"But don't you feel a little bit for those who were killed there, for their families?" Cao asked.

"Who was on board that plane?" Bosch responded. "Four members of the Communist Party, five North Koreans, five Guyanese." [Officials tallies actually put the Guyanese dead at 11.]

Bosch added, "Four members of the Communist Party, chico! Who was there? Our enemies..."

"And the fencers?" Cao asked about Cuba's amateur fencing team that had just won gold, silver and bronze medals at a youth fencing competition in Caracas. "The young people on board?"

Bosch replied, "I was in Caracas. I saw the young girls on television. There were six of them. After the end of the competition, the leader of the six dedicated their triumph to the tyrant. ... She gave a speech filled with praise for the tyrant.

"We had already agreed in Santo Domingo, that everyone who comes from Cuba to glorify the tyrant had to run the same risks as those men and women that fight alongside the tyranny." [The comment about Santo Domingo was an apparent reference to a strategy meeting by a right-wing terrorist organization, CORU, which took place in the Dominican Republic in 1976.]

"If you ran into the family members who were killed in that plane, wouldn't you think it difficult?" Cao asked.

"No, because in the end those who were there had to know that they were cooperating with the tyranny in Cuba," Bosch answered.

CIA Files

Beyond Bosch's incriminating statements about the Cubana Airlines bombing, other evidence of his and Posada's guilt is overwhelming.

Declassified U.S. documents show that soon after the Cubana Airlines plane was blown out of the sky on Oct. 6, 1976, the CIA, then under the direction of George H.W. Bush, identified Posada and Bosch as the masterminds of the bombing.

But in fall 1976, Bush's boss, President Gerald Ford, was in a tight election battle with Democrat Jimmy Carter and the Ford administration wanted to keep intelligence scandals out of the newspapers. So Bush and other officials kept the lid on the investigations. [For details, see Robert Parry's Secrecy & Privilege.]

Still, inside the U.S. government, the facts were known. According to a secret CIA cable dated Oct. 14, 1976, intelligence sources in Venezuela relayed information about the Cubana Airlines bombing that tied in anti-communist Cuban extremists Bosch, who had been visiting Venezuela, and Posada, who then served as a senior officer in Venezuela's intelligence agency, DISIP.

The Oct. 14 cable said Bosch arrived in Venezuela in late September 1976 under the protection of Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez, a close Washington ally who assigned his intelligence adviser Orlando Garcia "to protect and assist Bosch during his stay in Venezuela."

On his arrival, Bosch was met by Garcia and Posada, according to the report. Later, a fundraising dinner was held in Bosch's honor. "A few days following the fund-raising dinner, Posada was overheard to say that, 'we are going to hit a Cuban airplane,' and that 'Orlando has the details,'" the CIA report said.

"Following the 6 October Cubana Airline crash off the coast of Barbados, Bosch, Garcia and Posada agreed that it would be best for Bosch to leave Venezuela. Therefore, on 9 October, Posada and Garcia escorted Bosch to the Colombian border, where he crossed into Colombian territory."

In South America, police began rounding up suspects. Two Cuban exiles, Hernan Ricardo and Freddy Lugo, who got off the Cubana plane in Barbados, confessed that they had planted the bomb. They named Bosch and Posada as the architects of the attack.

A search of Posada's apartment in Venezuela turned up Cubana Airlines timetables and other incriminating documents.

Posada and Bosch were charged in Venezuela for the Cubana Airlines bombing, but the case soon became a political tug-of-war, since the suspects were in possession of sensitive Venezuelan government secrets that could embarrass President Andres Perez.

Lost Interest

After the Reagan-Bush administration took power in Washington in 1981, the momentum for fully unraveling the mysteries of anti-communist terrorist plots dissipated. The Cold War trumped any concern about right-wing terrorism.

In 1985, Posada escaped from a Venezuelan prison, reportedly with the help of Cuban exiles. In his autobiography, Posada thanked Miami-based Cuban activist Jorge Mas Canosa for providing the $25,000 that was used to bribe guards who allowed Posada to walk out of prison.

Another Cuban exile who aided Posada was former CIA officer Felix Rodriguez, who was close to then-Vice President George H.W. Bush. Rodriguez then was handling secret supply shipments to the Nicaraguan contra rebels, a pet project of President Ronald Reagan.

After fleeing Venezuela, Posada joined Rodriguez in Central America and began using the code name "Ramon Medina." Posada was assigned the job of paymaster for pilots in the White House-run contra-supply operation.

When one of the contra-supply planes was shot down inside Nicaragua in October 1986, Posada was responsible for alerting U.S. officials to the crisis and then shutting down the operation's safe houses in El Salvador. Even after the exposure of Posada's role in the contra-supply operation, the U.S. government made no effort to bring the accused terrorist to justice.

By the late 1980s, Orlando Bosch also was out of Venezuela's jails and back in Miami. But Bosch, who had been implicated in about 30 violent attacks, was facing possible deportation by U.S. officials who warned that Washington couldn't credibly lecture other countries about terrorism while protecting a terrorist like Bosch.

But Bosch got lucky. Jeb Bush, then an aspiring Florida politician, led a lobbying drive to prevent the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service from expelling Bosch. In 1990, the lobbying paid dividends when Jeb's dad, President George H.W. Bush, blocked proceedings against Bosch, letting the unapologetic terrorist stay in the United States.

In 1992, also during George H.W. Bush's presidency, the FBI interviewed Posada about the Iran-Contra scandal for 6 1/2 hours at the U.S. Embassy in Honduras.

Posada filled in some blanks about the role of Bush's vice presidential office in the secret contra operation. According to a 31-page summary of the FBI interview, Posada said Bush's national security adviser, Donald Gregg, was in frequent contact with Felix Rodriguez.

"Posada ... recalls that Rodriguez was always calling Gregg," the FBI summary said. "Posada knows this because he's the one who paid Rodriguez' phone bill." After the interview, the FBI agents let Posada walk out of the embassy to freedom. [For details, see Parry's Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & Project Truth.]

More Attacks

Posada soon returned to his anti-Castro plotting.

In 1994, Posada set out to kill Castro during a trip to Cartagena, Colombia. Posada and five cohorts reached Cartagena, but the plan flopped when security cordons prevented the would-be assassins from getting a clean shot at Castro, according to a Miami Herald account. [Miami Herald, June 7, 1998]

The Herald also described Posada's role in a lethal 1997 bombing campaign against popular hotels and restaurants inside Cuba. The story cited documentary evidence that Posada arranged payments to conspirators from accounts in the United States.

"This afternoon you will receive via Western Union four transfers of $800 each ... from New Jersey," said one fax signed by SOLO, a Posada alias.

Posada landed back in jail in 2000 after Cuban intelligence uncovered a plot to assassinate Castro by planting a bomb at a meeting the Cuban leader planned with university students in Panama.

Panamanian authorities arrested Posada and other alleged co-conspirators in November 2000. In April 2004, they were sentenced to eight or nine years in prison for endangering public safety.

Four months after the sentencing, however, lame-duck Panamanian President Mireya Moscoso -- who lives in Key Biscayne, Florida, and has close ties to the Cuban-American community and to George W. Bush's administration -- pardoned the convicts.

After the pardons and just two months before Election 2004, three of Posada's co-conspirators -- Guillermo Novo Sampol, Pedro Remon and Gaspar Jimenez -- arrived in Miami to a hero's welcome, flashing victory signs at their supporters.

While the terrorists celebrated, U.S. authorities watched the men -- also implicated in bombings in New York, New Jersey and Florida -- alight on U.S. soil. Washington Post writer Marcela Sanchez noted in a September 2004 article about the Panamanian pardons that "there is something terribly wrong when the United States, after Sept. 11 (2001), fails to condemn the pardoning of terrorists and instead allows them to walk free on U.S. streets." [Washington Post, Sept. 3, 2004]

Posada reportedly sneaked into the United States in early 2005 and his presence was an open secret in Miami for weeks before U.S. authorities did anything. The New York Times summed up Bush's dilemma if Posada decided to seek U.S. asylum.

"A grant of asylum could invite charges that the Bush administration is compromising its principle that no nation should harbor suspected terrorists," the Times wrote. "But to turn Mr. Posada away could provoke political wrath in the conservative Cuban-American communities of South Florida, deep sources of support and campaign money for President Bush and his brother, Jeb." [NYT, May 9, 2005]

Only after Posada called a news conference to announce his presence was the Bush administration shamed into arresting him. But even then, the administration balked at sending Posada back to Venezuela where the government of Hugo Chavez -- unlike some of its predecessors -- was eager to prosecute.

The Posada-Bosch cases point to one unavoidable and unpleasant conclusion: that the Bush family regards terrorism -- defined as killing civilians for a political reason -- as justified or at least tolerable in cases when their interests match those of the terrorists.

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His new book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at It's also available at, as is his 1999 book, Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth.'

Copyright 2007 The Consortium for Independent Journalism



Published by the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI)



- Wednesday, 9 May 2007 -





News & Analysis: Europe: Britain

By Julie Hyland

Following a series of damning revelations during the trial of seven men for their roles in the alleged "fertiliser bomb plot," the government is continuing to dismiss calls for an independent inquiry into the July 7, 2005, London bombings.

Last week, Omar Khyam, Waheed Mahmood, Jawad Akbar, Salahuddin Amin and Anthony Garcia were jailed for life for conspiring to cause explosions likely to endanger life between January 1, 2003, and March 31, 2004. Two other men, Nabeel Hussain and Shujah Mahmood, were found not guilty after one of the longest-running anti-terror trials in the world. Operation Crevice involved 3,644 witness statements and 105 prosecution witnesses. The jury took a record 27 days to deliberate their verdict.

The seven were accused of purchasing 600 kg of ammonium nitrate (used as fertiliser) and storing it in a London unit in preparation for a major bomb attack in Britain. The 13-month hearing heard transcripts of the accused discussing potential targets including the Bluewater Shopping Centre in southern England and nightclubs.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair described the trial and its outcome as a "triumph" for Britain's intelligence services and denounced those accusing the police of making strategic errors as "nay-sayers."

His comments were part of a sustained offensive by the police, government and much of the media to quash renewed demands for an independent inquiry into the July 7 bombings, after the trial heard fresh evidence that two of the ringleaders of the explosions on London Underground trains and a bus--Mohammed Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer--had been known to the intelligence services at least five months before they made their attack.

On May 1, survivors and relatives of those killed on July 7 delivered a letter to the Home Office calling for an "independent and impartial public inquiry" into the attack. Prime Minister Tony Blair rejected their demand and insisted MI5 was doing an "amazing job." An inquiry would only divert resources from the fight against terrorism, Blair claimed.

In an unprecedented move, MI5 published a reply to criticisms on its website, "Rumours and Reality--the facts behind the myths," whilst the press rolled into action to defend the intelligence agency. The Guardian editorialised, "An inquiry might rake over old failings, not current ones. It could add to the pressures on those policing terrorism. Carried out in private, it might not even do much to reassure the public...."

Whilst acknowledging that mistakes had been made, the editorial continued, "A one-off inquiry into an investigation that succeeded much more than it failed is not the way to make it better."

Writing in the Independent, Deborah Orr Deborah complained, "The last thing we need, in the wake of the Operation Crevice verdict, is an elaborate inquiry, which would simply be another way of throwing money away."

In the same newspaper, Howard Jacobson argued, "I wonder how many of those calling for this inquiry were busy telling us not all that long ago that there was no terrorism for our security services to police. An invention of our respective governments--Blair's and Bush's--the lot of it."

Disparaging the questions raised over the real purpose of Bush and Blair's "war on terror," he continued, "is that a 'sorry' I hear amid the accusations that we have not been sufficiently vigilant? A sorry from those who thought vigilance was uncalled for and sinister?"

Such a pose of self-serving triumphalism will do nothing to quell the questions raised by the Old Bailey hearing, and their grave implications for democratic rights.

Most damning of all is the revelation that MI5 was well aware of the identities of several of those of went on to carry out the July 7 bombings and their involvement in terror activities, but decided not to follow them up.

The trial heard that, several months before the accused were arrested, police had been tipped off by the storage unit as to the quantity of fertiliser being held on its premises. Having replaced the fertiliser with a harmless substance, a plainclothes police officer was stationed at the reception whilst hidden surveillance cameras recorded everyone attending the facility.

"Operation Crevice" was therefore intended as a massive information-gathering exercise. The court heard how the probe uncovered 55 individuals known to have associated with the plotters, of whom 15 were considered "essential" targets. Yet, Khan and Tanweer were "parked up" with the remainder--i.e. treated as non-urgent cases. This is despite MI5 recording meetings between Khan and Tanweer on four occasions in 2004 with Omar Khyam, described at the Old Bailey as the ringleader of the fertiliser plot.

The court also heard how Khan was amongst several of the accused that had attended a terrorist camp in the Afghan border region in July 2003, and that anti-terror police had investigated two cars linked to him, five months before the July 7 bombings. Yet, despite having his name and address, no follow-up was made.

MI5 claims that this was because the two had not been heard discussing terrorist acts and "appeared as petty fraudsters." But in transcripts of bugged conversations played in court, Khan is heard discussing attending a terror training camp and conducting financial scams in preparation for what his co-conspirator describes as "a one-way ticket."

Neither has MI5 been able to explain why it omitted sending surveillance pictures of Khan to the FBI during its interrogation of the so-called Al Qaeda "supergrass" (informer) Mohammed Junaid Babar, who gave evidence for the prosecution.

MI5's claims regarding Khan and Tanweer are, moreover, contradicted by a 37-page document compiled for the Crown Prosecution Service, which was revealed by the Sunday Times on May 6.

According to the newspaper, the CPS document states that "MI5 surveillance showed the pair [Khan and Tanweer] 'were concerned with intended terrorist activity' when they met with a gang planning a bombing at the Bluewater shopping centre in Kent."

It also states that Kahn was "identified" six months before he carried out the July 7 bombings.

It is proof that Khan and Tanweer had been identified by the intelligence services months before July 7 that has particularly angered survivors of the London explosions. At the time, then-Home Secretary Charles Clarke had claimed those involved were "clean skins"--i.e., unknown to the police and intelligence services--whilst Blair told parliament, "I know of no intelligence specific enough" to have prevented the attacks.

The Times notes that only last week, current Home Secretary John Reid had told MPs that that "neither Khan nor Tanweer were 'known' to the security services until after July 7. He later said police and security services had 'no records on them.'"

The Times added that the CPS document "argues that meetings between the two men and the fertiliser plotters in 2004 were so significant they should have been brought to the jury's attention."

Evidence that MI5 had been able to identify Khan and Tanweer has also led to accusations that it withheld information from parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee.

The ISC report issued in May 2006 stated that none of the July 7 bombers had been "named and listed" as potential terror threats. It stated that although MI5 had come across Khan and Tanweer "on the peripheries" of other investigative operations, their identities were unknown.

The ISC was also not shown surveillance photographs of the meetings between Khan, Tanweer and Omar Khyam. Security officials have said this was not necessary, as members of the ISC were aware of the links. "The reason they were not shown them is because it didn't add to the facts. If they had felt the need to ask to see them, they would have asked," one source was reported as stating.

The ISC is a toothless body, appointed by the prime minister and responsible directly to him. It is for this reason, and to divert demands for a more far-ranging independent inquiry, that Blair established his 2005 investigation. It is for the same reason that the ISC has meekly said it will "look again" at information revealed during the trial.

In addition to the damning evidence of MI5's foreknowledge of Khan and Tanweer's involvement in terror plots, the fertiliser trial has raised many other fundamental questions.

In the same leader cited above, the Guardian revealed that "restrictive limits on reporting" over the last 13 months meant that the "story of Operation Crevice...will come as a surprise to almost everyone outside the narrow circle of politicians and security professionals who--together with those present in court--were aware that one of the most remarkable trials in British criminal history had been underway."

On what grounds were such restrictions imposed, and for whose purposes? The Guardian does not say. In a separate article, the newspaper also noted that the ISC's 2006 findings were "written under restrictions to avoid prejudicing the trial of the fertiliser bomb plotters." In other words, the findings of the only "investigation" into July 7 were themselves subject to even further restrictions.

Then there are the allegations made during the trial that Britain's security services had sanctioned the torture in Pakistan of one of the accused, Salahuddin Amin.

A British citizen, Amin was arrested and interrogated in Pakistan for 10 months, during which he alleges he was beaten and flogged, threatened with an electric drill, and forced to listen to the screams of others being abused before confessing to his involvement in a bomb-making conspiracy.

He has accused MI5 of directing his abuse--alleging that he was visited on at least 10 occasions during his detention by MI5 officers, and that one of his interrogations may have been filmed for Britain's security forces who were simultaneously questioning his co-accused in London. Amin was eventually freed in Pakistan, having been told that he had been "cleared in England" and could leave the country. He was arrested as soon as his plane landed at Heathrow.

In court, Amin's counsel, Patrick O'Connor QC--who is helping prepare a civil action against the British government--suggested that both sides in the so-called war on terror had come "to share common standards of illegality and immorality."

What of the role of "supergrass" Babar, who was given immunity from prosecution in Britain after pleading guilty to terrorism offences in a New York court?

Babar said that he faced the death penalty for his role in a conspiracy to kill Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf if he had not collaborated with the FBI. In the US, he also confessed to obtaining ammonium nitrate and aluminium powder for use by the fertiliser plotters, and in court, he testified that he had attended a terrorist training camp in Pakistan in 2003 where he met Khyam, Mahmood, Garcia and Amin.

The BBC reported how Babar had been "well trained" for his role in the trial and had "memorised his statement to the British police, given to counter-terrorism officers while he was in custody in the US, and knew every date and location in the long story of the conspiracy." Under questioning, however, "cracks began to appear in his carefully prepared account," and at the end of his evidence, "the jury themselves sent a note" asking for him to explain again key details of his testimony.

For their part, defence lawyers have accused Babar of being a double agent.

Copyright 1998-2007 World Socialist Web Site. All rights reserved.



03. Dusty & 'the boys' II




World Exclusive

May 7, 2007

By Daniel Hopsicker

A MadCowMorningNews investigation has learned that the company which owned the DC9 airliner caught carrying 5.5 tons of cocaine at an airport in Mexico's Yucatan last year was engaged in other illegal activities as well, including massive "pump and dump" stock fraud involving a network of companies led by scandal-ridden San Diego defense contractor Titan Corp.

Between 2003 and 2005 Titan Corp and a group of allied firms combined to issue a steady drumbeat of phony press releases, announcing multi-million contracts to purchase products which didn't exist, and major deals which never took place, as part of a concerted effort to "pump up" the price of stock in SkyWay Aircraft of St. Petersburg, FL.

The goal was to inflate SkyWay's stock price--the pump--in advance of a massive sell-off--the dump--by company insiders.

The coup de grace was delivered by company principals, who stripped the company's remaining assets before filing bankruptcy through sweetheart deals with officers from other companies in the network.

Companies in The network looted in excess of one billion dollars through financial fraud; the sum easily eclipses the drug trafficking payout generated by moving 5.5 tons of cocaine.

Jeb Bush & "Enterprise Florida"

Several of the companies involved in the SkyWay stock fraud scheme have received extraordinary government assistance at both the state and federal level.

Triton Network Systems, for example, closely-related to SkyWay through shared management, was not exactly a triumph for free enterprise...

Instead, the firm was a "double-dipper." It was founded with money from the CIA, and also pocketed cash from a quasi-public state entity called "Enterprise Florida," controlled by Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

This insider status may help explain why officers and directors of the companies in the network which engaged in blatant stock fraud--not to mention 5.5 ton shipments of cocaine--have been operating with seeming impunity.

CIA moving in on Mob turf?

Some of the companies involved in the SkyWay pump & dump fraud were also implicated in the epic prosecution of major Wall Street brokerage houses by Elliot Spitzer, then the Attorney General of New York State.

Spitzer charged dozens of Wall Street brokers who defrauded unwary investors of tens of millions of dollars. Major brokerage houses paid over one billion dollars in fines to avoid criminal prosecution.

"This is a horror show. And that is why we as prosecutors feel so determined to root out the merger of organized crime and Wall Street," said New York Atty. Gen. Elliot Spitzer.

Spitzer named more than thirty corporations whose stock was run up and then dumped in the scheme. Little attention seems to have been paid to how these companies were chosen.

However three of the companies involved in Spitzer's probe also are part of the network which "busted out" SkyWay: L-3 Communications, Net Command Tech Inc, and Triton Network Systems Inc.

Its called a "get out of jail free" card

According to Mexican authorities, the DC9 airliner busted with 5.5 tons of cocaine made at least seven round trips to Venezuela with stop-overs at airports in Mexico before being caught.

The airliner had even been painted in the familiar blue and white colors used on official U.S. Government aircraft, complete with an official-looking Seal: an impressive-looking American eagle surrounded by the inscription: "Sky Way Aircraft--Protection of America's Skies."

"We never could figure out how they could get away with that," one SkyWay employee told us. "They had the same seal on the fleet of Hummers, and Tampa cops pulled them over and made them take it off."

Yet the DC9 sat on the tarmac at Clearwater-St. Petersburg International Airport less than one hundred yards from the U.S. Coast Guard's major Caribbean air station, with no questions asked or interference from the Coast Guard.

When questioned, officials at the Coast Guard Station refused to comment. An American-registered airliner caught with 5.5 tons of cocaine is not an everyday occurrence, even in Florida. But like Coast Guard officials, top DEA officials were tongue-tied.

We phoned and emailed Oscar Negron, the DEA's press liaison officer in Miami, almost three weeks ago, politely inquiring about the status of the investigation, if any, into the huge seizure.

"Just to let you know," he emailed back, "I am waiting for information from our HQ."

Oscar is presumably still waiting. So are we.

Definition of "milk run"

One reason for the silence may be that the DC9 bust carrying 5.5 tons of cocaine represents an historic opportunity to shine a spotlight on some dark corners of America's Deep Politics and expose the plane's politically well-connected ownership.

Because the DC9's bust is not a romantic tale of daring pilots in drug-laden aircraft skimming the surging waves of the Gulf of Mexico. The days of the cocaine cowboys are long gone, and there is nothing romantic, if there ever was, about their escapades.

The process of flying narcotics into the United States today is no more eventful than flying a commuter jet between Houston and Dallas.

Now they fly airliners. The pilots even wear uniforms.

This is a business story.

The discovery that Skyway's owners were involve in massive financial fraud as well as drug trafficking raises the stakes.

And it raises a question, as well...

Where does all the money go?

Buck Rogers meets Elmer Gantry

SkyWay Aircraft was not a real business, in the sense of being a company engaging in commerce and selling a product for profit. The company didn't have one.

Instead, they boasted a nearly worthless patent that a court last month--citing criminal intent--ruled belonged to another company, Satellite Access Systems.

Glenn Kovar and his son, Brent Kovar, who ran SkyWay as Chairman and President, respectively, also ran Satellite Access Systems (SAS), a scam amazingly similar to SkyWay, with the same result: investors losing millions of dollars.

Like SkyWay, SAS was touting a gee-whiz product: software supposed to enable people to send or receive data by radio wave at 103 times the speed of ultra-fast T1 lines.

If they ever go straight, these guys clearly have enough imagination to found a new science-fiction religion. Scientology, beware.

A lot of bankruptcies, no doubt about it

Of course, the SAS story also ended badly, with the stock trading at about three one-thousands of a penny per share. It then became a wholly owned subsidiary of Corsaire, Inc., which changed its name in 1999 to Net Command Tech Inc.

Net Command also employed the Kovars, as well as other SkyWay principals. The two firms were more than "kissing cousins."

And Net Command was where we first saw the network of corporations to which SkyWay belongs in action, after we came across, for the second time, the name of Frank Musolino, aka Frank Musilino.

In a SkyWay bankruptcy filing we'd discovered his then-unfamiliar name. Frank Musolino was listed as a SkyWay company insider. So Musolino had a (presumably sweet) deal with SkyWay...

Musilino also had deals with SkyWay's sister firm, Net Command Tech Inc., and Triton, and Buzzeo, and...the list goes on.

Cash out early...and often

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has started proceedings to revoke the registration of Net Command Tech Inc.

The SEC says the company has not filed any financial results since 1999.

Net Command flew to a $29.50 high in April, 1999.

Alas, it last traded at just under a penny.

When Net Command Tech went bankrupt, Frank Musolino had already cashed out. He came out smelling like a rose, and made a big payday before the company went belly-up.

So too with Triton Systems. When Triton Network Systems walked the plank, investors lost $200 million.

Not Frank.

Not Frank Musolino

From a Florida newspaper: "Triton Network Systems was liquidated several years ago after raising $250 million in venture capital."

Before going bankrupt Triton issued a press release:

"Triton Network Systems, Inc. (the "Company") has settled a lawsuit with a shareholder, Frank Musolino, resulting in a cash payment to the shareholder of $3.65 million."

Triton was a joint effort between Tampa-based Military Command Technologies Inc. and Lockheed Martin. Triton was the largest recipient of money from Enterprise Florida. Its initial funding from Finova Capital, which has long been another way of saying CIA.

Spitzer was right

Here we recall that Level 3 (which has since purchased Titan) XO Communications and Triton Network Systems Inc. were all cited by Elliot Spitzer, then the Attorney General of New York State, as having been used by Wall Street brokers in "pump and dump" schemes which cost unwary investors tens of millions of dollars.

And this is where things really begin to get interesting.

XO Communications issued press releases touting its purchase of $6.5 million worth of Sky Way products.

XO Communications also issued a press release announcing it was using equipment from Triton Network Systems Inc.

Frank Musolino got a settlement from XO Communications.

On the Internet you can purchase beautifully engraved stock certificates "worth more as a collectible than the redeemable value of the stock" from XO Communications as part of the "Boy, did I get the Wrong Number Package."

The company's stock was around $65 in March 2000. It was recently hovering, the page note, a little bitterly, at around $0.07.

A generic dummy front company

The question of whether there "might could" be a Central Intelligence Agency connection to the DC9 airliner stuffed with 5.5 tons of cocaine is, for some, akin to asking whether the Pope might be Catholic.

An overwhelming body of evidence points directly towards this conclusion. But, even if SkyWay Aircraft was not a CIA front, someone appears to have gone to some little trouble to make them appear as if they were.

* The CIA's In-Q-Tel was set up in 1999. SkyWay's journey to infamy began that same year.

* A Brooklyn attorney named Michael Farkas began setting up dozens of shell companies.

* Farkas even incorporated a company called Shell, Inc.

* One of these shells, which became SkyWay Aircraft, immediately attracted an investment from crooked defense contractor Titan Corp of San Diego, which became a subsidiary of L-3 Communications.

* According to SEC documents, in early February of 2000 Titan put up $72,386 for restricted shares of a shell company Farkas created which later became SkyWay.

* At the time, according to SEC filings, Farkas' company had only one full time employee: himself. He mentions Titan five times in the company's business plan.

How did this happen? What could excited the early interest of a San Diego defense contractor in a two-man corporate shell?

Three years later Titan issued a press release offering to pay $500 million to a company going bankrupt for a product which didn't exist.

Why did Titan Corp. blatantly and fraudulently plump the prospects of a soon-to-be-bankrupt company with no product and no prospects located a continent away?

If the Democrats are serious about taking back the government for the people, this would be a good question to ask, and a good place to start.

Any friend of Brent Wilkes...

A May 13, 2004 press release, since removed from Titan's site, gushed: "We are excited about the possibilities Sky Way Aircraft System technology offers," said Titan's David Stinson.

David Stinson has ties to another figure involved in current scandal: Brent Wilkes.

Before signing on with Titan, Stinson was the executive vice president of Intergraph, whose Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) deal with Brent Wilke's ADCS Inc. first opened the money spigot for which Wilkes is about to go on trial.

Titan is also, of course, the biggest donor to a raft of U.S. Congressmen from Southern California, either convicted (Randy Cunningham) or mentioned as possible targets of the thwarted investigation of fired San Diego U.S. Attorney Carol Lam.

Several top executives of SkyWays Aircraft, the American firm which owned the DC9 in partnership with Royal Sons Inc. of St Petersburg, FL. including the company's President, James Kent, are former members of U.S. military intelligence.

Chairman Glenn Kovar liked to boast about his long-standing ties to the CIA.

Not the smartest spooks in town

The plane's registered owner, "Royal Sons LLC," a Florida air charter company, at one time used the address of a hanger at the Venice Fl. Airport owned by infamous flight school Huffman Aviation. No one at the Venice Airport remembered them.

Of course "Royal Sons" was not the first phantom firm we had discovered hiding inside Huffman Aviation. Britannia Aviation was also "housed" inside the flight school, and was the subject of a major brouhaha in Jerry Falwell's hometown of Lynchburg, Virginia, when the virtually non-existent firm, with total assets of $750, was awarded a fat government contract over a local firm much better qualified.

Then, too, Skyway leased a 70,000 square foot "repair" facility at DFW Airport in Dallas for more than $20,000 a month in a building owned by a Richard Rainwater, called "George W. Bush's biggest supporter" and "the power behind the throne" during Bush's first Presidential campaign.

One of the chief shareholders in SkyWay Aircraft was a private investment bank near Dallas, Argyll Equities LLC, which raised funds for a Mexican industrialist with ties to narcotics traffickers in both the Cali Columbia and Juarez Mexico Cartels.

Secrets of the black box budget

Individuals involved in the operation have extensive and wide-ranging connections to each other which pre-date the brief life span of the company and reveal the outlines of a larger, previously secret organization.

Michael Farkas, the company's founder, for example, has longstanding ties to Adnan Khashoggi and his lieutenant Ramy El-Batrawi, who supplied one of the two DC9's used in the operation, who at one time ran a CIA subsidiary airline used to ferry TOW missiles to the Ayatollah Khomeini's regime in Iran.

Both Khashoggi and El Batrawi are currently on the lam in the $300 million Stockwalk scam, which precipitated what news reports called the "largest brokerage industry failure in more than 30 years."

The fraud involved the stock of GenesisIntermedia, a company incorporated by the long-time attorney of a man once called the biggest drug smuggler in American history, CIA pilot Barry Seal.

Along with GenesisIntermedia, the stock of just two other companies was used to generate fraudulent loans in the scam: Holiday RV Stores and Imperial Credit Industries.

Michael Farkas, founder of SkyWay Aircraft, owns both companies.

Small world.

Now Available! Welcome to Terrorland: Mohammed Atta and the 9/11 Cover-up in Florida, by Daniel Hopsicker, The two-year long investigation into Mohamed Atta & his contacts and associates in Florida. English and German editions. Order a signed copy now; $29.95:

Copyright 2007 Daniel Hopsicker




From War Profiteering to Undermining Mass Transit (Part 3)



'Because the Past is the Present, and the Future Too'

May 7, 2007

By Edwin Black

During the late 1930s, Hitler's persecution of Jews was building to a frenzy even as fears of a war escalated. Nevertheless, General Motors' German automotive subsidiary, Opel, remained a loyal corporate citizen of the Third Reich -- content to obediently do the Nazi regime's bidding, and unstintingly supporting Hitler's program on many fronts. These included economic and employment recovery, anti-Jewish persecution, war preparedness and domestic propaganda. In return, Opel prospered.

Hitler was pleased -- very pleased. In 1938, just months after the Nazis' annexation of Austria, James D. Mooney, head of GM's overseas operations, received the German Eagle with Cross, the highest medal Hitler awarded to foreign commercial collaborators and supporters.

On Nov. 9-10, 1938, shortly after Mooney's decoration, nationwide pogroms broke out in Germany against the Jews -- Kristallnacht. The American public was finally shocked onto its heels by the night of officially orchestrated burning, looting and mob action again Jews.

President Roosevelt recalled America's ambassador, plunging German-American relations to their lowest point since Hitler assumed power. All things American came under special scrutiny in Germany.

By now, the truth about GM's ownership of the Opel car and truck operation was out in the open among Germans. Reich armament officials increasingly directed Opel's output, including mandating that nearly all vehicles be devoted to military use.

These are among the many findings of a JTA investigation. Thousands of pages of decades'-old documents were scrutinized and re-examined to produce this series, which sheds new light on GM's relationship with the Third Reich -- and on the company's activities in America. They reveal that even as GM was helping jump-start the resurgent German military, it was undermining America's electric mass transit, and in doing so helped spawn America's unquenchable thirst for oil. GM has declined comment for this story. The company has steadfastly denied for decades that it actively assisted the Nazi war effort or that it simultaneously subverted mass transit in the United States.

Laissez faire, Sloan-style

In the months leading up to the feared 1939 invasion of Poland, Alfred P. Sloan, GM's president, defended his close collaboration with Hitler. Brushing off attacks for his partnership with a Nazi regime already notorious for filling concentration camps, taking over Austria and now threatening to install the Master Race across Europe, Sloan was stony and proud.

He stated, in a long April 1939 letter to an objecting stockholder, that in the interests of making a profit, GM shouldn't risk alienating its German hosts by intruding in Nazi affairs. "In other words, to put the proposition rather bluntly," Sloan said in the letter, "such matters should not be considered the business of the management of General Motors."

Indeed, in August of 1939, the world wondered when Hitler might invade Poland. During those days, Opel, under the direct day-to-day supervision of GM's senior executive, Cyrus Osborn, played its role in Germany's fast-paced military plans. The company was already manufacturing thousands of Blitz trucks that would become a mainstay of the Reich's upcoming Blitzkrieg.

The German military in early August urgently ordered Blitz truck spare parts to be delivered to Reich bases near the Polish border. Days later in August, nearly 3,000 Opel employees, from factory workers to senior managers, were drafted into the Wehrmacht. Moreover, at about that time, GM's Osborn began evacuating most of the American employees and their families to the Netherlands. Soon, virtually all Opel civilian passenger car sales were eliminated in favor of military orders.

At 6 a.m. on Sept. 1, 1939, Germany launched its Blitzkrieg against Poland, with troops arriving in Blitz trucks manufactured by GM's Opel. The night before, Sloan reportedly told stockholders that GM was "too big" to be impeded by "petty international squabbles," according to a congressional investigation.

Shortly after war broke out in Europe, however, GM executives in Germany tried to distance the American company from its involvement in the brutal German war machine. The Opel board was restructured to ensure that GM executives maintained a controlling presence on the board of directors but continued invisibility in daily management. This was accomplished in part by bringing in GM's reliable Danish chief, Albin Madsen, and maintaining two Americans on that board.

The company's 1939 annual report, released in April 1940, stated: "With full recognition of the responsibility that the manufacturing facilities of Adam Opel A.G. must now assume under a war regime, the Corporation has withdrawn the American personnel formerly in executive charge... and has turned the administrative responsibilities over to German nationals."

However, GM was still masquerading. By the summer of 1940, a senior GM executive wrote a more honest assessment for internal circulation only. He explained that while "the management of Adam Opel A.G. is in the hands of German nationals," in point of fact, GM is still "actively represented by two American executives on the Board of Directors."

The construction and German-American balance of the many management entities created in the facade of control was constantly shifting during the Hitler years. But regardless of the number of members -- German or American -- on the various directing, managing or executive boards and committees, GM in the United States controlled all voting stock and could veto or permit all operations.

For all intents and purposes, though, once war began, Wehrmacht requirements and orders determined the specifics of military manufacturing at Opel. Like any nation at war, including the United States itself, the Reich alone determined what weapons would be made by its militarized factories. That said, it was GM's decision to remain operating in Germany, to continue to subject itself to Reich military orders, and answer the Reich's call for ever more lethal weapons.

As anticipated, Opel's Brandenburg facilities were conscripted and converted to an airplane-engine plant supplying the Luftwaffe's JU-88 bombers. Later, Opel's plants also built land mines and torpedo detonators. The factories and infrastructure that GM built during the 1930s were in fact finally used for their intended purpose -- war. Opel-built trucks on the ground, Opel-powered bombers in the sky and Opel-detonated torpedoes in the seas brought terror to Europe.

Back in the United States, Sloan tried to obstruct FDR's war preparedness planning. The GM chief tried to dissuade GM executives with needed manufacturing and production experience from helping Washington's early mobilization plans. In one typical 1940 case, Sloan asked Danish-born William Knudson, who had ascended to become president of GM, not to leave the company and help Washington's war efforts. Sloan, who had become chairman of the company in 1937, warned his friend that the Roosevelt administration would make a "monkey out of you."

Knudson replied, "That isn't important, Mr. Sloan. I came to this country [from Denmark] with nothing. It has been good to me. Rightly or wrongly, I feel I must go." Sloan retorted, "That's a quixotic way of looking at it." By mid-1940, with or without Sloan's acquiescence, GM had been drafted by Washington to become a major war supplier for the Allies. Sloan had no choice but to comply, and GM and its employees would ultimately make enormously valuable contributions to the Allied war effort.

In June 1940, Sloan brought Mooney back to America to head up GM's key participation in America's crash program to prepare for war. He was installed as an assistant to the new GM president to take "full charge of all negotiations [with Washington] involving defense equipment ..."

Mooney's mere appointment sent shivers through the anti-Nazi boycott and protest committee, which well remembered his 1938 medal for what the Nazis had termed "service to the Reich." The Non-Sectarian Anti-Nazi League railed in a letter to Roosevelt: "How should we interpret the placing of a Hitler sympathizer and a Hitler servant (one must render service to the Reich to deserve such a medal) at the throttle of our defense program? Doesn't that appear suspiciously similar to the planting of Nazi sympathizers in key positions...?"

Collusion but no disloyalty

In June 1940, about the same time Mooney returned to America, Sloan wrote to a colleague, expressing disdain for FDR's democracy while grudgingly acknowledging his admiration for Hitler's fascist drive, even if that drive had become criminal.

"It seems clear that the Allies are outclassed on mechanical equipment," Sloan wrote, "and it is foolish to talk about modernizing their Armies in times like these, they ought to have thought of that five years ago. There is no excuse for them not thinking of that except for the unintelligent, in fact, stupid, narrow-minded and selfish leadership which the democracies of the world are cursed with."

Sloan added a poignant contrast: "... But when some other system develops stronger leadership, works hard and long, and intelligently and aggressively -- which are good traits -- and, superimposed upon that, develops the instinct of a racketeer, there is nothing for the democracies to do but fold up. And that is about what it looks as if they are going to do."

When at the end of 1940 the White House began to insist that GM break off relations with Latin American car dealers suspected of being pro-Nazi, Sloan defiantly refused. He lashed out at Washington, accusing it of protecting Communists at home while focusing on GM dealers in South America. "I have flatly declined to cancel dealers," Sloan wrote in April 1941 to Walter Carpenter, a GM board member and vice president of du Pont.

Days later, on April 18, 1941, Carpenter retorted, "I think that General Motors has to consider this problem from three standpoints; first, from the commercial, second, the patriotic and, third, the public relations standpoint...We are definitely a part of the nation here and our future is very definitely mingled with the future of this country. The country today seems to be pretty well committed to a policy opposite to Germany and Italy."

Carpenter continued with a blunt warning. "If we don't listen to the urgings of the State Department in this connection," he said, "it seems to me just a question of time...The effect of this will be to associate the General Motors with Nazi or Fascist propaganda against the interests of the United States...The effect on the General Motors Corporation might be a very serious matter and the feeling might last for years."

A few weeks later, in May 1941, a year-and-a-half after World War II broke out, with newspapers and newsreels constantly transmitting the grim news that millions had been displaced, murdered, or enslaved by Nazi aggression and that London was decimated by the Blitz bombing campaign, Sloan, then in his mid-60s, told his closest executives during a Detroit briefing: "I am sure we all realize that this struggle that is going on though the World is really nothing more or less than a conflict between two opposing technocracies manifesting itself to the capitalization of economic resources and products and all that sort of thing."

He then continued in a rambling, incoherent fashion, trying to further justify the company's Nazi business dealings.

By now, Assistant Secretary of State Adolf Berle, whose portfolio included the investigation of Nazi fronts and sympathizers in Latin America, had had enough of Sloan and GM executives. Berle circulated a memo asserting "that certain officials of General Motors were sympathetic to or aligned with some pro-Axis groups...That this is [a] 'real Fifth Column' and is much more sinister than many other things which are going on at the present time." Berle called for an FBI investigation.

The FBI's probe of GM senior executives with links to Hitler found collusion with Germany by Mooney, but no evidence of any disloyalty to America. The Aug. 2, 1941, summary of the investigation clearly listed Sloan in the title of the report, but Mooney's was the only name mentioned in the investigative results. However, in a separate report to FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, the agent stated, "No derogatory information of any kind was developed with respect to Alfred Pritchard Sloan Jr."

Opel's friendly Nazi custodian

On Dec. 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor was bombed. The United States declared war on Japan. On Dec. 11, German diplomats in Washington called at the State Department to deliver Germany's declaration of war against America. All direct communications between GM and its Opel subsidiary in Germany were necessarily severed, although historians have always wondered about indirect links through Denmark where GM operated a longtime subsidiary. Ranking GM men from Denmark were also in ranking positions both in Opel in Germany and GM in America.

After Germany declared war on America, all American corporate interests in Germany or under German control were systematically placed under the jurisdiction of a Reich-appointed "custodian" for enemy-owned property. In practice, the "custodian" was akin to a court-appointed receiver. Generally, the Reich custodian's duty was not to dismember the firm or Aryanize it, but to continue to run the enterprise as efficiently and profitably as possible, holding all assets and profits in escrow until matters would be resolved after the war. This generally meant re-appointing members of the pre-existing management team, although these managers no longer reported directly to their American masters in the United States.

In the case of Opel, Carl Luer, the longtime member of the Opel Supervisory Board, company president and Nazi Party stalwart, was appointed by the Reich to run Opel as custodian, but only some 11 months after America entered the war. In anticipation of the outbreak of hostilities, GM had appointed Luer to be president of Opel in late 1941, just before war broke out.

In other words, the existing GM-approved president of Opel continued to run Opel during America's war years. The company continued as a major German war profiteer, and GM knew its subsidiary was at the forefront of the Nazi war machine. An Aug. 27, 1944, New York Times article detailed that Opel was the principal target of a 1,400-plane RAF bombing mission because its 35,000-worker plant was turning out crucial military transport and was known to be developing rocket technology.

In the wartime months and years that ensued, 1941-1945, GM built and operated some $900 million worth (about $120 billion in today's dollars) of defense manufacturing facilities for the Allies. Almost all of the company's undertakings were propped up by federal programs that guaranteed profit and "cost-plus" contracts, various subsidies, tax benefits and other incentives then available to defense contractors to produce goods for the war effort. Secretary of War Henry Stimson later explained that when a capitalist country wages war, "you have got to let business make money out of the process, or business won't work." Gen. Lucius Clay, who oversaw war materiel contracts, confessed, "I had to put into production schedule the largest procurement program the world had ever seen. Where would I find somebody to do that? I went to General Motors."

GM also reaped the financial benefits of its relationship with the Third Reich. During the pre-war Hitler years, GM entered its Opel proceeds under "reserves" instead of listing the profits as ordinary income. Then during America's war years GM declared it had abandoned its Nazi subsidiary, and took a complete tax write-off under special legislation signed by Roosevelt in October 1942. The write-off of nearly $35 million created a tax reduction of "approximately $22.7 million" or about $285 billion in 21st-century money, according to an internal Opel document.

But Opel's friendly Nazi custodian, Carl Luer, kept on making profits for the company during those war years. Opel produced trucks, bomber engines, land mines, torpedo detonators and other war materiel, a significant amount of it by the sweat of thousands of prisoner laborers or other coerced workers; some of those workers were tortured if they did not meet expectations. Those profits and GM's 100 percent stock ownership were preserved by the Reich custodian, even though GM and Opel ostensibly severed ties with each other after America entered the war.

During the Hitler years, many of those excess profits were used to acquire other companies and properties, only increasing Opel's assets in Germany. After the war, starting in 1948, GM began regaining control over Opel operations and eventually its monumental assets as well as blocked dividends. GM also collected some $33 million in "war reparations" because the Allies had bombed its German facilities.

After the defeat of Berlin, GM and its executives, including those who joined the government in Washington, then steered America toward its gargantuan postwar boom. That boom was in large measure powered by the constellation of direct and indirect economic benefits delivered by the U.S. automobile industry.

The Transit Scam

Ironically, while GM was mobilizing the Third Reich, the company was also leading a criminal conspiracy to monopolistically undermine mass transit in dozens of American cities that would help addict the United States to oil.

The war in Europe had only been over for 16 months when on Oct. 2, 1946, a memo from the Department of Justice landed on the desk of J. Edgar Hoover, outlining the elements of the GM conspiracy.

At the center of the conspiracy was National City Lines, an Enronesque company that suddenly arose in 1937, ostensibly run by five barely educated Minnesota bus drivers, the Fitzgerald brothers. Yet the Fitzgeralds miraculously marshaled millions of dollars to buy up one failing trolley system after another. Soon, through a patchwork of subsidiaries, the brothers owned or controlled transit systems in more than 40 cities. Generally, when National City Lines acquired the system, the tracks were pulled from the street, the beloved electric trolleys were trashed or burned, and the whole system was replaced with more expensive, unpopular and environmentally hazardous motor buses that helped addict America to oil.

The Justice Department discovered that National City Lines was just a front company for General Motors, in league with Mack Truck, Phillips Petroleum, Standard Oil of California and Firestone Tires -- all petroleum interests. The companies became the major preferred stockholders of National City Lines, but operated behind the scenes.

The scheme worked this way: The manufacturers purchased NCL preferred stock to acquire transit lines on condition that when the systems were acquired, the trolleys would be dismantled and replaced with motor buses. That is exactly what happened. All the conspirators gained immensely when non-polluting electric systems were replaced by oil-burners. Phillips and Standard sold oil products. Firestone sold the tires. GM and Mack divvied up the bus manufacturing and sales market according to an agreed-upon formula.

Transit systems in 16 states were converted, adversely affecting millions of Americans, who had to pay higher fares for lesser, more unpopular service. Dozens more cities were targeted in the $9.5 million scheme.In April 1947, indictments alleging two counts of criminal conspiracy were handed down against General Motors, Mack Truck, Phillips Petroleum, Standard Oil of California and Firestone Tires, as well as against numerous key executives of the companies.

The defendants were found guilty on one of the two counts: conspiring to monopolize the bus business by creating a network of petroleum-based transit companies that were forbidden to use transportation or technology products other than those supplied by the defendants themselves. The jury found the defendants not guilty on the count alleging a conspiracy to actually control those transit systems. On April 1, 1949, the judge handed down his sentence: a $5,000 fine to each corporate defendant except Standard, which was fined $1,000. As for National City Lines, president E. Roy Fitzgerald and his co-conspirators at GM and the other companies, they too were fined. Each was ordered to "forfeit and pay to the United States of America a fine in the amount of one dollar."

The cases were appealed -- even the one-dollar penalties -- all the way to the United States Supreme Court, which allowed the convictions to stand. The government filed a civil action against the same circle of companies trying to stop their continued conduct. But the government was unsuccessful. Undaunted, National City Lines and its many subsidiaries continued into the 1950s to acquire, convert and operate urban transit systems using evolved methods.

Mr. Black is the author of the award-winning IBM and the Holocaust and the recently published Internal Combustion: How Corporations and Governments Addicted the World to Oil and Derailed the Alternatives. Click here for his website,

Copyright 2007 Edwin Black and History News Network








'Hard Truths for Hard Times'

Tuesday, 08 May 2007

by Chris Floyd

What's happening these days in Somalia, the land that Time (and Newsweek) forgot? Well, after killing several hundred civilians and driving more than 350,000 people from their homes during last month's Terror War blitzkrieg in Mogadishu, George Bush's proxy "regime change" forces (including the brutal, American-trained military of the Ethiopian invaders) have installed an unelected warlord as the new mayor of the capital, McClatchy Newspapers reports.

Mohamed Dheere is very much in the classic "strongman" mode so beloved by America's dispensers of liberation and democracy over the past century. He comes to his new post from his former gangland turf in the northern town of Jowhar, "where he presided over a famously ruthless extortion network," McClatchy noted. Yes, from Somoza to Saddam, from Marcos to Mubarak, this is our kind of guy. Dheere's expertise in extortion will no doubt prove invaluable in his new role as a greasy wheel in the great global shakedown machine known as the "War on Terror," where Bush and his button men travel the world, threatening to kneecap any weak country that won't cough up "oil laws" or "basing agreements" on demand.

Naturally, in keeping with the inch-think paint of piety required by all players in the Terror War, the ruthless extortioner Dheere repented of all the crimes he committed to reach the top and "asked Somalis to forgive him for his past misdeeds" when he took office last week, McClatchy reports. And just to make sure they do forgive him, he has been given a helpmeet for his spiritual labors: "another former warlord, Abdi Hasan 'Qaybdid' Awale," who was appointed national police chief by the unelected prime minister of the Bush-backed "transitional government," Ali Mohamed Gedi.

Chief Awale, like many of Bush's new allies in Somalia, was once a leading figure in the "Black Hawk Down" faction of warlords that mutilated and humiliated U.S. soldiers during America's previous foray into the territory. But of course, he too has been been forgiven for his past misdeeds by the Great White Father in Washington. Indeed, Awale has come in so far from the Black Hawk cold that he was put on the CIA payroll last year -- alongside Mayor Dheere, McClatchy reports. Your tax dollars at work.

But all this talk of repentance and forgiveness should not be mistaken as a sign of weakness on the part of the Unitary Executive's satraps in Somalia. Perish the thought! "The appointment of these new leaders is not to go easy on the people of Mogadishu, but to face the hard task of ensuring and securing a peaceful environment," said the unelected prime minister of the unelected mayor and his CIA colleague. In other words, they will be kicking ass and taking names -- of all those too weak to kick back -- in the best Terror War tradition.

Chris Floyd is the Editor and co-founder of Atlantic Free Press. He is an American journalist now based in Great Britain and the UK correspondent for For 10 years, he wrote the weekly Global Eye political column for The Moscow Times and St. Petersburg Times. His writings also appear in The Nation, Columbia Journalism Review, The Baltimore Chronicle, The Bergen Record and elsewhere around the world. His book, Empire Burlesque, is published by Expathos Books.

Copyright 2007 Atlantic Free Press

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 Die drei Weisen aus dem Sorgenland

by John Heartfield

Translation: "The Three Wisemen from the Land of Woe"

21st Century Translation:

"The Axis of Imbeciles from TroubleTown: The U.K., The U.S.A. & Israel"

George Eastman House John Heartfield Series




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