Saturday, December 18, 2010

Our Self-Destructive Impulses Have Led To A Serious Break With Reality.

Our Self-Destructive Impulses Have Led To A Serious Break With Reality.

Introducing the new super-weapon that will change absolutely nothing about why we're losing in Afghanistan. READ MORE

The Obama admin's reported plan to indict Julian Assange strikes at the heart of investigative journalism on national security scandals. READ MORE


Assange Begins Mansion Arrest, But His 'Source' Feels The Heat

By Kim Sengupta, Defence Correspondent
Saturday, 18 December 2010
Bradley Manning spent yesterday, his birthday, alone in a tiny, bare prison cell, without a pillow or sheets on his bed, in weak health and wracked with anxiety at the prospect of a prison sentence of 52 years.

The young American soldier has faded into the background as international ructions continue over the hundreds of thousands of pieces of classified material from the US government that he is supposed to have supplied to WikiLeaks.

Now the fate of the whistleblowing website’s founder, Julian Assange, who has very much held the centre-stage, lies in the hands of the 23-year-old former army intelligence analyst.

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Officials at the US Justice Department, who are under acute pressure to prosecute, privately acknowledge that a conviction against Mr Assange would be extremely difficult if he was simply the passive recipient of the material disseminated by Private Manning. Any evidence that he had actively facilitated the leak, however, would make extradition and a successful case much more feasible.

Friends of Private Manning stress that so far he has refused to co-operate with the prosecutors. However, they also say that after seven months of solitary confinement in at the Quantico Marine Base in Virginia he is in an increasingly fragile condition. He is charged with leaking a US military video showing a 2007 attack by Apache helicopters that killed 17 people in Iraq including two Reuters employees.

Yesterday, speaking the morning after his release on bail of £240,000 as he fights the extradition request from Sweden for alleged sexual offences, Mr Assange insisted: “I had never heard of the name Bradley Manning before it was published in the press. WikiLeaks technology [was] designed from the very beginning to make sure that we never know the identities or names of people submitting us material. That is, in the end, the only way that sources can be guaranteed that they remain anonymous.”

But Adrian Lamo, a former hacker who had been in contact with Private Manning and eventually turned him in to the government, has told the FBI that Mr Assange had given the young soldier an encrypted internet conferencing service as he was downloading government files and a dedicated server for uploading them to WikiLeaks.

Mr Lamo claims that Private Manning had “bragged” about this to him. In one email, now in the possession of the Justice Department, the soldier allegedly wrote: “‘i cant believe what im confessing to you? I’m a source, not quite a volunteer, I mean, im a high profile source? and I’ve developed a relationship with Assange.”

David House, a computer programmer who visits Private Manning in prison, said in an interview: “Over the last few weeks I have noticed a steady decline in his mental and physical wellbeing. His prolonged confinement in a solitary holding cell is unquestionably taking its toll on his intellect; his inability to exercise due to regulations has affected his physical appearance in a matter which suggests physical weakness.”

The authorities had initially stated that Manning was being kept in solitary confinement for his own safety. Friends like Mr House now believe it is being done for punitive purposes and to exert pressure on his vulnerablities.

Mr House said: "As time passed and his suicide watch was lifted, to no effect, it became clear that his time in solitary - and his lack of a pillow, sheets, the freedom to exercise, or the ability to view televised current events - were enacted as a means of punishment rather than a means of safety."

Private Manning had downloaded the files subsequently sent to WikiLeaks while serving with Operation Station Hammer in Iraq. He put the classified material onto a Lady Gaga CD, with the music wiped out, while pretending to lip-sync to tracks.

Private Manning described lax security where “everyone just sat at their workstations? Watching music videos, car chases, buildings exploding, weak servers, weak logging, weak physical security, weak counter-intelligence, inattentive signal analysis? a perfect storm.”

His emails also reveal that he was emotionally fraught after breaking up from a gay relationship. In one email to Mr Lamo he wrote: “i'm a wreck.i just wanted to be nice, and live a normal life...but events kept forcing me to figure out ways to survive. ive been so isolated so self medicating like crazy when im not toiling in the supply office.’’

Robert Feldman, a US lawyer specializing on security issues, said: “We kind of have a picture of a troubled young man with obvious problems. Yet no one in the Army system picked this up and he was allowed access to secret information. And we also see security around the place was pretty loose.

“So a trial would be embarrassing to the DoD [Department of Defence] whatever happens. But, if they can prove complicity in the part of Assange in organising the leaks, then a picture can be drawn of an Assange, an older man, who manipulated an emotionally disturbed younger man. But to do this they obviously need evidence of complicity.”

Mr House claimed that friends of Private Manning have become apprehensive of speaking up for him because of systematic harassment by law enforcement agencies. Mr House, 23, said that he and his girlfriend were detained for questioning by Homeland Security officials on their return from a holiday in Mexico and all electronic items in their possession seized.

Mr Assange said his American lawyers have told him that a grand jury has been secretly empannelled in Alexandria – the US Justice department has refused to comment on the claim. And, in what is seen as the determination of the authorities to pursue a prosecution, a number of hackers have claimed they have been offered financial inducements in return for associating with WikiLeaks and gathering evidence of wrongdoing.

One computer specialist told the Washington Post said the US Army offered him money to “infiltrate” the website, but he turned it down because “ I don’t’ want anything to do with cloak and dagger stuff.” An Army criminal investigation division spokesman told the newspaper “We’ve got an ongoing investigation.We don't discuss our techniques and tactics."

Opinions on whether Mr Assange should be prosecuted differs among public figures in the US. Former federal attorney general Kenneth Wainstein said that the Justice Department “should be able to make a clear distinction between WikiLeaks and traditional media outlets. By clearly showing that WikiLeaks is fundamentally different the government can demonstrate that any prosecution here is not the sign of a more aggressive effort against the press.”

But House Judiciary Committee chairman John Conyers Jnr, said: “When everyone in this town is joined together calling for someone’s head, it is a pretty strong sign we need to slow down and take a closer look?Many feel that the WikiLeaks publication was offensive. But being unpopular is not a crime and publishing offensive information is not either.”

Australia, Canada, Switzerland and Spain among countries damned by diplomat for 'kowtowing' in hope of trade favours

Right-wing Media Continue To Cheer For Government Shutdown

Limbaugh Calls For A Government Shutdown Over Spending Bill. On the December 15 edition of his radio show, Rush Limbaugh said:
LIMBAUGH: Ten percent of the spending bill is earmarks. You just -- as I've said -- you just don't write a 2,000 page bill in a week's time. This has been long in development. Talk about strategic thinking. Now if -- here's the -- here's the key, folks. If the Senate does not adopt it by Saturday night -- this is why the getaway day was Friday. [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid [D-NV] dumps this yesterday. If the Senate doesn't adopt this by Saturday night, the government supposedly shuts down due to lack of funding. So people have been asking me in email, how can we stop it? How can we stop it? We call their bluff. We shut it down. We won the election. We shut it down.
Folks, I don't care. But Rush, but Rush, with the media the Democrats won't get blamed for it. I don't care. We won't be held accountable until November of 2012. Don't -- folks, remember what I just said. They know that they're not going to be held accountable for anything until November 2012, and we won't be either. Well, if there is a shutdown, it's going to be short-lived, and the government will get running again. What would you rather do, accept all this? It's blackmail. [Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show,12/15/10]

I find it amazing how Religious Right leaders consider themselves to be experts on everything.

Lynchburg is the home of Liberty University, so I guess it should be no surprise that it has become the first city to sign a Day of Purity Proclamation.

The utter childishness of Sarah Palin never fails to amaze me.

Host Bill O’Reilly had asked her if spending time in a forest with reality star Kate Gosselin, who is best-known for having eight children and a messy divorce, was “presidential.” Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer earlier this week told O’Reilly that while Palin is a “political star,” she needs to school herself on policy to be a credible presidential candidate

In Washington Post-ABC News poll data released Friday, 8 percent of registered voters surveyed said they would vote for Palin in a presidential election, while 60 percent said they definitely would not vote for her. Thirty-one percent said they would consider voting for Palin.

"A poll number like that, it's like, 'Oh yeah, that doesn't look really pretty today,' but a primary is months and months in the process, and there are thankfully many debates," Palin said in an interview Friday on ABC News. "And if I were to participate in that contested primary, you know, I would be in it to win it."
Palin added she is in the midst of “prayerful consideration” about whether to run in the presidential primary. “Obviously, the sacrifices that have to be made in order to put yourself forward in the name of public service is, it's brutal.”

Council of Conservative Citizens

Founded:1985 Location:St. Louis, MO Ideology:White Nationalist

The Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC) is the modern reincarnation of the old White Citizens Councils, which were formed in the 1950s and 1960s to battle school desegregation in the South. Created in 1985 from the mailing lists of its predecessor organization, the CCC, which initially tried to project a "mainstream" image, has evolved into a crudely white supremacist group whose website has run pictures comparing pop singer Michael Jackson to an ape and referred to blacks as "a retrograde species of humanity." The group's newspaper, Citizens Informer, regularly publishes articles condemning "race mixing," decrying the evils of illegal immigration, and lamenting the decline of white, European civilization.

In Its Own Words

"God is the author of racism. God is the One who divided mankind into different types. ... Mixing the races is rebelliousness against God."
— Council of Conservative Citizens website, 2001

"We believe the United States is a European country and that Americans are part of the European people. … We therefore oppose the massive immigration of non-European and non-Western peoples into the United States that threatens to transform our nation into a non-European majority in our lifetime. We believe that illegal immigration must be stopped, if necessary by military force and placing troops on our national borders; that illegal aliens must be returned to their own countries; and that legal immigration must be severely restricted or halted through appropriate changes in our laws and policies. We also oppose all efforts to mix the races of mankind, to promote non-white races over the European-American people through so-called ‘affirmative action' and similar measures, to destroy or denigrate the European-American heritage, including the heritage of the Southern people, and to force the integration of the races."One who 

—Statement of Principles, Citizens Informer, 2007 

"Controlling immigration is about the security of this republic [terrorists illegally crossing the borders] and making sure countries like Mexico stop dumping their murderers, rapists, those carrying AIDS and other communicable diseases and gang members on America's door step."

—Devvy Kidd, Citizens Informer, 2006 

Founded in 1985 by Gordon Baum, a worker's compensation attorney and longtime racist activist, the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC) rose from the ashes of the Citizens Councils of America (CCA), commonly called "White Citizens Councils," a coalition of white-supremacist groups and individuals formed throughout the South to defend school segregation after the Supreme Court outlawed the policy in 1954 in Brown vs. Board of Education

Unlike the KKK, the CCA groups had a veneer of civic respectability, inspiring future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall to refer to it as the "uptown Klan." While there were plenty of bare-knuckle racists attracted to the councils' anti-integration slogan, "Never!," the members also included bankers, merchants, judges, newspaper editors and politicians — folks given more to wearing suits and ties than hoods and robes. During the White Citizens Councils' heyday, the groups claimed more than 1 million members. Although they weren't immune to violence — Byron De La Beckwith, who murdered civil-rights leader Medgar Evers in 1963, was a member — the councils generally used their political and financial pull to offset the effects of "forced integration." 

Once the segregation battle was lost, the air went out of the White Citizens Councils. The councils steadily lost members throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Sensing the need for a new direction, Baum, formerly the CCA's Midwest field director, called together a group of 30 white men, including former Georgia Gov. Lester Maddox and future Louisiana Congressman John Rarick, for a meeting in Atlanta in 1985. Together, they cooked up a successor organization: the Council of Conservative Citizens. 

Like the original White Citizens Councils, the CCC is made up of local chapters, some of which are active in civic affairs beyond the national group's racist agenda. And until the 2000s, some of the group's "uptown" attitude remained, as meetings resembled Rotary Club events more than Klan outings and regularly featured politicians as keynote speakers. 

Most Americans learned of the CCC in late 1998, when a scandal erupted over prominent Southern politicians' ties to the brazenly racist group. After it was revealed that former Congressman Bob Barr (R-Ga.) gave the keynote speech at the CCC's 1998 national convention and that then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) had spoken to the group five times, both claimed they knew nothing about the CCC. However, an Intelligence Report investigation, publicized by national television and newspaper reports, made clear what the CCC really was: a hate group that routinely denigrated blacks as "genetically inferior," complained about "Jewish power brokers," called homosexuals "perverted sodomites," accused immigrants of turning America into a "slimy brown mass of glop," and named Lester Maddox, the now-deceased, ax handle-wielding, arch-segregationist former governor of Georgia, "Patriot of the Century." 

As evidence of widespread association between Southern GOP officeholders and the CCC mounted, Republican National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson took the unusual step in 1998 of asking party members to resign from the group because of its racist views. A resolution moved through the U.S. Congress "condemning the racism and bigotry espoused by the Council of Conservative Citizens," although it ultimately failed. (Congress had earlier condemned the black supremacistNation of Islam in a similar manner, but failed to do the same with the CCC. Republican Party leaders, likely embarrassed by Lott's very public connection to the CCC, managed to defeat the censure effort.)

But six years later, many Southern lawmakers were still pandering to and meeting with the CCC — and still pleading ignorance. According to a 2004 Intelligence Report review of the Citizens Informer, no fewer than 38 federal, state and local elected officials had attended CCC events between 2000 and 2004, most of them giving speeches to local chapters of the hate group. 

Since the 1998/1999 scandal stripped much of the remaining varnish off the CCC's mainstream pretensions, the extremist views expressed on its website and in its newspaper have become increasingly crude. "What do you call ... four blacks, three Hispanics, three Russian Jews, and one white guy?" the CCC home page asked in 2003. "The FBI's Most Wanted List!" Another day, the home page ran photos of accused Beltway snipers John Muhammad and John Malvo, 9/11 conspirator Zacharias Moussaoui and shoe-bomber Richard Reed. "Notice a Pattern Here?" asked a caption underneath the four photos. "Is the face of death black after all?" In 2002, the Web site featured a photo of Daniel Pearl, the "Jewish Wall Street Journal reporter" who had just been decapitated by Islamic terrorists. In the photo, Pearl was shown with his "mixed-race wife, Marianne." The headline above the couple's picture was stunning even for the CCC: "Death by Multiculturalism?"

The danger of "race-mixing" has been a consistent theme for the group since the days of the White Citizens Councils. "God is the author of racism," said one story on the CCC's website in 2001. "God is the One who divided mankind into different types. ... Mixing the races is rebelliousness against God." After the NAACP declared its boycott of South Carolina in 1999 because the state continued to fly the Confederate battle flag over its Capitol dome, the CCC distributed a mock advertisement proclaiming, "South Carolina Now Has Whiter Beaches!" The Citizens Informer item urged whites to vacation in South Carolina and "enjoy a civil liberty that has been denied to them for many years at hotels, restaurants and beaches: the freedom to associate with just one's own people."

Along with theological arguments, the Citizens Informer has published countless stories detailing "scientific" evidence for white people's inherent superiority. Writing about Brown vs. Board of Education in 2004, contributor Michael Polignano noted that many commentators were using the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling striking down public school segregation to talk about "how far America still falls short of racial equality." According to Polignano, that lack of progress "should surprise no one, because racial inequality is genetic and cannot be changed by social programs. ... Blacks are on average probably less intelligent than Whites and more aggressive, impulsive and prone to psychopathologies." To prove this point, a 2005 article in the Citizens Informer written in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina described "[a]ccounts of little children — girls and boys —being gang raped, rescue vans and copters being repeatedly fired upon by mobs of violent blacks, anarchy, chaos, confusion, looting even by black police officers." 

More recently, the CCC has focused very heavily on battling non-white immigration. The group jumped quite early on the "threat" it perceived was posed by immigration, holding a rally against immigration in Cullman, Ala., in 1998 that featured major nativist hate group leaders Barbara Coe andGlenn Spencer, both of whom worked to pass the punishing California anti-immigrant Proposition 187 (the rally was also attended by an unrobed Klan leader and a top official of the Federation for American Immigration Reform). The CCC has held rallies nearly every year since then against immigration and the topic is addressed regularly at the CCC's biannual conferences, which have included as participants CCC leaders and prominent racists including Jared Taylor, editor of the anti-black and anti-Latino race science newsletter American Renaissance, and Don Black, founder of the first hate site on the web,

CCC meetings have rarely featured politicians as speakers since the 2004 Intelligence Reportexposé that exposed the fact that dozens of GOP politicians (and one Democrat) had been speaking at the group's events despite GOP chief Jim Nicholson's warnings in 1998. But a few have continued to associate with the CCC. In 2005, George Wallace Jr., the son of the late segregationist Alabama governor who was then an Alabama Public Service commissioner, spoke at the group's summer conference. In June 2008, another Alabama politician, state Sen. Charles Bishop (R-Jasper), addressed the group. Bishop's speech appealed to the assembled CCC crowd, particularly when he denounced the idea that Southern states should apologize for having sanctioned slavery. Bishop said that "atonement equals reparations" — meaning that apologies would surely be greeted by demands for financial payback by black Americans. Bishop received a standing ovation from the audience and he and his wife posed for pictures with members afterwards. 

And in 2009 Republican Mississippi State Sen. Lydia Chassaniol spoke to the group. She gave a rabble-rousing speech on "Cultural Heritage in Mississippi." In a brief history of the state since 1540, Chassaniol complained that the U.S. was in decline, as evidenced by tributes to Michael Jackson, a "pedophile who's being celebrated." She indicated that the government wants to "take from those who have and give to those who don't want to work for it." And she worried that the 2010 national census might hand over government "to the radical left." Chassaniol confirmed to the Southern Poverty Law Center that she is a member of the CCC, which she described as a "conservative organization."

C’s Comic Book Complaint: The Gods Must be Crazy

Posted in White Nationalism by Evelyn Schlatter on December 17, 2010

The white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC) is calling for a boycott of the upcoming movie “Thor,” based on the Marvel comic book story and directed by Kenneth Branagh. One would think that a film fantasy about a Nordic god (played by blond, blue-eyed Australian actor Chris Hemsworth) performing heroic acts would have a racist group like the CCC squealing with delight.

Not so. The CCC is upset about the casting of British actor Idris Elba, who is black, as Heimdall, the all-seeing, all-hearing sentry of Asgard, one of the nine worlds of Norse mythology. After all, Heimdall is supposed to be a Nordic god and, as such, he’s supposed to be white, the CCC declares.

Only in the warped worldview of a group like the CCC could the Hollywood depiction of a nonhuman fictional character derived from mythology as imagined by comic book writers be seen as a racial affront.

The decision to cast Golden Globe-nominated Elba as Heimdall was announced in late 2009, and it resulted in a flurry of discussion on comic book fan sites. Some fans have expressed reservations about the casting, but unlike the CCC, most were concerned about remaining true to the comic story line rather than taking issue with Elba’s race. Most, however, seem fine with the casting. One pointed out that the Asgardians, as represented in Marvel comics, are a diverse bunch, anyway, noting that some have died and been reborn as others, including “a black dude,” according to one fan, and that the Asgard have also accepted non-human aliens into their ranks. Another mentioned Heimdall’s nine mothers, so who’s to say what he might look like? And yet another summed it up like this: “Long as the movie doesn’t suck, I have no reason to care about the casting.”

Director Branagh reportedly contacted Elba personally in 2009, saying, “I know this isn’t a big role, but I would really love to see you play it.” Elba’s agent, Rupert Fowler, said the actor liked the script and the movie and wanted to work with Branagh. Calls and E-mails to Marvel Comics and Branagh’s agency had not been returned by the time of publication.

Comics devotees point out that the Marvel series doesn’t attempt to accurately portray Norse mythology, but that evidently offered no comfort to the CCC (assuming it understood that to begin with). “It’s not enough that Marvel attacks conservatives [sic] values,” but “now mythological Gods must be re-invented with black skin,” the group’s statement says. “Marvel Studios believes that white people should have nothing that is unique to themselves. … Can you imagine the outrage if the same multi-cultural makeover was applied to other races?”

But multicultural makeovers have been common when Hollywood has brought action-comic heroes to the big screen – and the CCC has been strangely quiet before now.

They had no problem when Angelina Jolie – who is white – was cast as fictional African-American assassin Fox in the 2008 movie adaptation of “Wanted.” Nor did they complain – though one wonders why not – when Samuel L. Jackson, who is black, was cast as comic-book hero Nick Fury in “Iron Man” 1 and 2. (Maybe it’s because Fury has alternated between white and black in comics.) They didn’t seem to mind when, in the 1989 movie “Batman,” black actor Billy Dee Williams portrayed Gotham City district attorney Harvey Dent, destined to become the villain Two-Face – who, in turn, was portrayed by white actors Tommy Lee Jones in “Batman Forever” in 1995, and Aaron Eckhart in 2008’s “The Dark Knight.” No word from the CCC when black actor Michael Clark Duncan portrayed crime boss Wilson Fisk in the 2003 film “Daredevil,” another comic book knock-off. And, just for the record, comic book heroine Catwoman has been portrayed on television and in cinema by Eartha Kitt (black), Julie Newmar (white), Halle Berry (black) and Michelle Pfeiffer (white), among others.

In fact, it’s odd that the CCC is more upset about comic portrayals of mythological Norse characters than, say, Denzel Washington playing Don Pedro, an Italian nobleman in Branagh’s 1993 “Hamlet,” or, for that matter, Morgan Freeman playing God in the 2003 movie “Bruce Almighty.” Perhaps they are soothed by the fact that virtually every Western movie portrayal of Jesus – who was of Middle Eastern, not European, descent – has been done by white actors.

For his part, Elba has waved off criticism of his casting in “Thor,” telling TV Times in April, “Hang about, Thor’s mythical, right? Thor has a hammer that flies to him when he clicks his fingers. That’s OK, but the color of my skin is wrong?”

The CCC’s boycott announcement is garnering more ridicule than support in the comic and movie fan world. One blogger pointed out that the “world’s crappiest racists are mad about the Thor movie,” and said that “everyone else in the fucking movie is white, so if Marvel is actually running a vicious anti-white people campaign, they’re doing a spectacularly shitty job of it.”

Political insiders, including none other than popular right wing @ss-kisser Bill O'Reilly, are suggesting that Sarah Palin's reality show, Sarah Palin's ...

Emperor waits in wings with waterboard

Pepe Escobar

December 17, 2010

Oh! spies are of no use nowadays. Their profession is over. The newspapers do their work instead.

- Oscar Wilde, An Ideal Husband, Act III

"He will not be going back to that cell once occupied by Oscar Wilde."

Eventually he didn't. But little did Mark Stephens, one of Julian Assange's lawyers, know that it would still take over three twisting-and-turning hours for his client to finally exit the Royal Courts of Justice in central London a free man.

It's as if WikiLeaks founder Assange, emerging from the silence of the shadows to the proverbially frantic media scrum, already knew that the real war starts now - and has nothing to do with jealous groupies, broken condoms and "sex by surprise".

This was the key passage of Assange's brief statement, read immediately after he was able to breathe the air of London again. He said, "During my time in solitary confinement in the bottom of a Victorian prison, I had time to reflect on the conditions of those people around the world also in solitary confinement, also on remand, in conditions that are more difficult than those faced by me. Those people also need your attention and support."

As in: pay excruciatingly close attention to what the US government is doing to Bradley Manning, the 22-year-old army private accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of cables to WikiLeaks. Manning has been held in solitary confinement at the US Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Virginia, for five months now. He has not been convicted of any crime. In a devastating Salon article, Glenn Greenwald has stressed that Manning is "under conditions that constitute cruel and inhumane treatment and, by the standards of many nations, even torture".

So that was Assange's terse way of saying to the world: Big Brother is watching you. And what they're doing to Manning they want to do to me, to you, and metaphorically to anyone who believes in freedom of information.

Make my day, leaker

Much to the horror of the emperor, WikiLeaks is still in business, from now on comfortably ensconced in a vast, remote Georgian country house, Ellingham Hall, to where Assange is bailed, on the borders of Norfolk and Suffolk.

Assange will be the guest of honor of former British army captain Vaughan Smith, also the founder of the Frontline media club in London, where Assange previously lived for a while. As WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson made it clear, broadband is good. And that's all the members of WikiLeaks, who "have never all been in the same place", need.

What a far cry from Assange almost turning into the most notorious political prisoner in the world.

Now everyone knows, thanks to legal blogger Carl Gardner, that it was actually UK crown prosecutors - and not Sweden - that were against the Westminster court's granting of bail to Assange this past Tuesday (technically in line with Article 12 of European Arrest Warrant legislation - the Swedish prosecution has at any rate also pointed out that the door remains open to an Assange extradition to other European Union countries).

This only served to fuel worldwide suspicion that the United Kingdom was using the broken condom/"sex by surprise" Swedish drama as an excuse to hold Assange in solitary confinement, without his computer, 23 hours and 30 minutes a day, under non-stop infrared surveillance, until the "special relationship" US master could come up with some brand-new charge and go for an extradition order.

This Thursday though, before granting Assange conditional bail, British judge Duncan Ouseley acknowledged a crucial point. He stressed that Assange had cooperated with the Swedes, and even if he was ultimately convicted in Sweden there was a strong probability he would not even go to jail.

Earlier in the day, Assange's lawyer Stephens had said: "We haven't addressed the question of American legal action or the potential for it." Well, they better do it, and fast. Even if a possible US government charge of "conspiracy" has no legal equivalence in the UK. Not to mention that the US does not have jurisdiction over where any of these US-only so-called "crimes" may have occurred.

Only the terminally naive could believe that the US Justice Department did not order the Swedish government
to mobilize Interpol into producing a lightning-fast arrest warrant linked to the syrupy broken condom/"sex by surprise" saga.

All across the land of the free, the emperor has been pulling a Beijing (one may say emperors are all alike), deploying a variety of methods to actually censor the net - and TV - and dispatch the cables to digital oblivion. Some methods are worthy of the Three Stooges: the US Air Force blacking out from its computers anything linked to "cablegate"; the Pentagon banning anyone from even looking at newspapers.

Other methods are slightly more refined. Assange won the readers' poll as Time magazine's Person of the Year. But the editors could not possibly have the guts to respect public opinion and infuriate the emperor even more. So they gave the prize to an autistic geek who invented Facebook because his girlfriend dumped him.

Barbara Walters, who in the US is worshipped as a sort of Hera of TV interviewers, regards Assange as "borderline criminal"; if she didn't, she wouldn't even get a "hi!" from Hillary Clinton. Bill Keller, the chief editor of The New York Times, had the gall to write: "We agree wholeheartedly that transparency is not an absolute good. Freedom of the press includes freedom not to publish, and that is a freedom we exercise with some regularity". Keller, a so-called journalist, in practice wishes he didn't have to publish "cablegate". He has made it plain that the New York Times sees the role of mass media as upholding government secrecy. In ancient Soviet times there was Pravda; now Pravda lives in New York and is written in English.

And to top it off we have Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama's administration pulling out all stops in its extra-judicial blitzkrieg on WikiLeaks. The fact that WikiLeaks broke no US law is of course irrelevant.

The emperor badly needs to set an example: see what happens when you defy my will. Yet the US Department of Justice's strategy doesn't exactly embody Kant's categorical imperative. They will try by all means necessary to force Manning to testify against Assange - and then charge Assange as a conspirator in "cablegate" and the Iraq and Afghan file leaks.

In a nutshell: the Obama administration is about to criminalize investigative journalism. And criminalize good journalism, period. Yale Law Professor Jack Balkin has stressed that "the conspiracy theory also threatens traditional journalists as well". And all this by applying tortuous logic worthy of the Bush era: "OK, let's make a deal with this American geek who leaked the bloody thing so we can nail that bloody foreigner who put it on the net."

The US government is out to waterboard Wiki. We're all about to get drowned.

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

He may be reached at 

By Robert Parry (A Special Report) 

December 17, 2010

The  U.S. government protected Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie in the years after World War II and later unleashed the infamous Butcher of Lyon on South America by aiding his escape from French war-crimes prosecutors, according to a new report issued by the National Archives.

The report, entitled “Hitler’s Shadow,” concentrates on the decisions by the U.S. Army’s Counterintelligence Corps to use Barbie and other ex-Nazis for early Cold War operations, but other work by investigative journalists and government investigators has shown how Barbie’s continued allegiance to Nazi ideology contributed to the spread of right-wing extremism in Latin America.

With his skills as an intelligence operative and his expertise in state terror, Barbie helped shape the particularly vicious style of anti-communism that dominated South America for most of the Cold War. He also played a role in building a conduit for drug proceeds to fund right-wing paramilitary operations, including Ronald Reagan’s beloved Nicaraguan Contra rebels.

In 1980, Barbie used his perch in Bolivian intelligence to organize an alliance of military leaders and cocaine barons to overthrow Bolivia’s democratically elected leftist government in a bloody coup. Though fitting with Washington’s distrust of left-wing populist governments in South America, the so-called Cocaine Coup had other long-term consequences for the United States.

Bolivia's coup regime ensured a reliable flow of coca to Colombia’s Medellin cartel, which quickly grew into a sophisticated conglomerate for smuggling cocaine into the United States. Some of those drug profits then went to finance right-wing paramilitary operations, including the CIA-backed Contras, according to other U.S. government investigations.
Barbie reportedly collaborated, too, with representatives of Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church as they worked with Bolivia’s Cocaine Coup regime to organize anti-communist operations in South America. By then, the region had become a center for Moon’s global money-laundering operations. In 1982, Moon began pouring hundreds of millions of his mysterious dollars into the right-wing Washington Times newspaper to influence U.S. politics.

Eventually, as Bolivia's corrupt Cocaine Coup government crumbled and Barbie’s identity became well known, French authorities finally secured Barbie’s return to France to face a war-crimes trial in 1983. (He died in 1991.)

The Butcher of Lyon's role in these South American anti-communist activities caused brief embarrassment for Moon’s church and some right-wing Americans. But the Nazi collaboration didn't draw much attention from the U.S. news media, which was already shying away from critical reporting on the Reagan administration’s unsavory alliances in Central and South America.

A Long Continuum

Indeed, the Right’s growing dominance of Washington opinion circles can be viewed as a continuum dating back to those days right after World War II, when U.S. priorities switched quickly from prosecuting Axis war criminals to seeking their help in crushing leftist political influence in Western Europe and Asia.

Suddenly, U.S. intelligence agencies were freeing Nazi and Japanese war criminals from prison and exploiting their talents to neutralize labor unions, student groups and other left-wing organizations.

Though the new National Archives report deals with ex-Nazis in Europe, a similar program was underway in Japan where war criminals such as right-wing yakuza gangsters Yoshio Kodama and Ryoichi Sasakawa were freed and allowed to become important political figures in Japan – and later internationally by supporting a global crusade against communism.

In the 1960s, Kodama and Sasakawa joined with Rev. Moon and two right-wing dictators, Taiwan’s Chiang Kai-shek and South Korea’s Park Chung Hee, to create that World Anti-Communist League (WACL), which also brought in right-wing leaders from Latin America and Europe, including ex-Nazis and neo-Nazis, according to authors Scott and Jon Lee Anderson in their landmark 1986 book, Inside the League.

So, with the Cocaine Coup in 1980, Barbie not only closed the circle, bringing together death-squad commanders, ex-Nazis, neo-Nazis and various sociopaths from around the globe, but he helped ensure that drug proceeds would be available to fund right-wing causes in the future.

“Hitler’s Shadow,” in effect, tells the first chapter of this right-wing restoration as U.S. intelligence agencies turned to former Nazi officials and SS officers to counter the perceived greater threat from the Soviet Union and Communist groups in Europe.
“Gestapo officers, who also held ranks in the SS, were in the U.S. Army Counterintelligence Corps’s automatic arrest category after the war,” the report said. “Later, CIC used former Gestapo officers to garner useful intelligence for the postwar period on everything from German right-wing movements to underground communist organizations. Intelligence officers often overlooked the significant role Gestapo officers played in the murder of Jews, POWs, and the political enemies of the Nazis.”

The report notes that “approximately 1,200 newly released files relate to the penetration of German Communist activities and specifically to ‘Project Happiness,’ the CIC’s codename for counterintelligence operations against the KPD,” the German Communist Party.
Though Barbie – known for personally torturing French partisans during the war – may be the best known ex-Gestapo officer recruited by the CIC, others had similar histories.
For instance, Anton Mahler was the chief interrogator of Hans Scholl, a leader of the White Rose, a Munich-based student organization that secretly passed out leaflets urging Adolf Hitler’s overthrow and decrying German apathy in the face of Hitler’s crimes. Hans and his sister Sophie Scholl were convicted of high treason and beheaded in February 1943.

Mahler also served in Einsatzgruppe B in occupied Belarus as the group slaughtered more than 45,000 people, most of them Jews, the report said. Nevertheless, CIC deployed Mahler as an informant starting in February 1949 and soon made him a full-time employee.
Regarding Barbie, the report builds on a 1983 investigation by a Justice Department investigator who confirmed suspicions that U.S. intelligence had worked with and protected this hunted war criminal who was accused of executing 4,000 people and shipping 7,000 Jews to concentration camps.

“In the spring of 1947 a CIC agent named Robert S. Taylor from CIC Region IV (Munich) recruited Klaus Barbie, the one-time Gestapo Chief of Lyon (1942–44),” the new report said. “Barbie helped run a counterintelligence net named ‘Büro Petersen’ which monitored French intelligence.

“In 1948 Barbie helped the CIC locate former Gestapo informants. In 1949–50, he penetrated German Communist Party (KPD) activities in CIC Region XII (Augsburg). … He continued to work for the CIC in return for protection against French war crimes charges.”

Ratline to Bolivia

The story of Barbie’s escape to South America with the CIC’s collaboration was addressed in the 1983 report by Allan A. Ryan Jr., head of the Justice Department’s Nazi-hunting Office of Special Investigations. Ryan’s 218-page report said that in 1951, the CIC helped Barbie evade French authorities and flee over a “ratline” to Bolivia.

Ryan said that a half dozen CIC officers participated in the cover-up of Barbie’s identity and excused their actions by claiming that the French arrest of Barbie could jeopardize the security of other CIC operations. To get Barbie to Bolivia, the CIC officers used a ratline run by a Croatian priest, Father Krunoslav Draganovich, Ryan wrote.

Ryan said the Central Intelligence Agency later rebuffed suggestions that Barbie be reactivated in the 1960s, but Barbie – using the name Altmann – held an official position with a state-owned shipping company that allowed him move freely and even to travel to the United States. [For more on Ryan’s report, see Time magazine, Aug. 29, 1983]
More significantly, Barbie became a figure in Bolivian intelligence and used that perch to coordinate with other right-wing intelligence services around the continent that were engaged in Operation Condor, a program of assassinating suspected subversives and other dissidents.

In the 1970s, these intelligence agencies had teamed up to give their assassination squads regional and even global reach, including the murder of Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier and an American co-worker on the streets of Washington in 1976.

For the Cocaine Coup in 1980, Barbie recruited Argentina’s feared intelligence service along with young neo-Nazis from Europe. The World Anti-Communist League arranged support from Moon and other Asian rightists.

For years, Moon had been sinking down roots in South America, especially in Uruguay after right-wing military dictators seized power there in 1973. Moon also cultivated close ties with dictators in Argentina, Paraguay and Chile, reportedly ingratiating himself with the juntas by helping the regimes buy weapons and by channeling money to allied right-wing organizations.

“Relationships nurtured with right-wing Latin Americans in the [World Anti-Communist] League led to acceptance of the [Unification] Church’s political and propaganda operations throughout Latin America,” the Andersons wrote in Inside the League.
“As an international money laundry, … the Church tapped into the capital flight havens of Latin America. Escaping the scrutiny of American and European investigators, the Church could now funnel money into banks in Honduras, Uruguay and Brazil, where official oversight was lax or nonexistent.”

Moon expanded his network of friends when Barbie helped pull together a right-wing alliance of Bolivian military officers and drug dealers for the Cocaine Coup. WACL associates, such as Alfredo Candia, coordinated the arrival of some of the paramilitary operatives from Argentina and Europe who would help out in the violent putsch.

Barbie, then better known as Altmann, was in charge of drawing up plans for the coup and coordinating with Argentine intelligence. One of the first Argentine intelligence officers to arrive was Lt. Alfred Mario Mingolla.

"Before our departure, we received a dossier on” Barbie, Mingolla later told German investigative reporter Kai Hermann. "There it stated that he was of great use to Argentina because he played an important role in all of Latin America in the fight against communism. From the dossier, it was also clear that Altmann worked for the Americans."

The Cocaine Motive

As the coup took shape, Bolivian Col. Luis Arce-Gomez, the cousin of cocaine kingpin Roberto Suarez, also brought onboard neo-fascist terrorists such as Italian Stefano della Chiaie who had been working with the Argentine death squads. [See Cocaine Politics by Peter Dale Scott and Jonathan Marshall]

Still a committed fascist, Barbie started a secret lodge, called Thule. During meetings, he lectured to his followers underneath swastikas by candlelight. 

On June 17, 1980, in nearly public planning for the coup, six of Bolivia's biggest traffickers met with the military conspirators to hammer out a financial deal for future protection of the cocaine trade. A La Paz businessman said the coming putsch should be called the "Cocaine Coup," a name that would stick. [See Cocaine Politics]

Less than three weeks later, on July 6 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, U.S. undercover drug enforcement agent Michael Levine said he met with a Bolivian trafficker named Hugo Hurtado-Candia. Over drinks, Hurtado outlined plans for the "new government" in which his niece Sonia Atala, a major cocaine supplier, will "be in a very strong position." [See Levine’s Big White Lie]

On July 17, the Cocaine Coup began, spearheaded by Barbie and his neo-fascist goon squad which was dubbed the “Fiancés of Death.”

"The masked thugs were not Bolivians; they spoke Spanish with German, French and Italian accents," Levine wrote. "Their uniforms bore neither national identification nor any markings, although many of them wore Nazi swastika armbands and insignias." 

The slaughter was fierce. When the putschists stormed the national labor headquarters, they wounded labor leader Marcelo Quiroga, who had led the effort to indict former military dictator Hugo Banzer on drug and corruption charges.

Quiroga "was dragged off to police headquarters to be the object of a game played by some of the torture experts imported from Argentina's dreaded Mechanic School of the Navy," Levine wrote. 

"These experts applied their 'science' to Quiroga as a lesson to the Bolivians, who were a little backward in such matters. They kept Quiroga alive and suffering for hours. His castrated, tortured body was found days later in a place called 'The valley of the Moon' in southern La Paz."

To DEA agent Levine back in Buenos Aires, it was soon clear "that the primary goal of the revolution was the protection and control of Bolivia's cocaine industry. All major drug traffickers in prison were released, after which they joined the neo-Nazis in their rampage.
“Government buildings were invaded and trafficker files were either carried off or burned. Government employees were tortured and shot, the women tied and repeatedly raped by the paramilitaries and the freed traffickers."

The fascists celebrated with swastikas and shouts of "Heil Hitler!" Hermann reported. Col. Arce-Gomez, a central-casting image of a bemedaled, pot-bellied Latin dictator, grabbed broad powers as Interior Minister. Gen. Luis Garcia Meza was installed as Bolivia's new president.

The victory put into power a right-wing military dictatorship indebted to the drug lords. Bolivia became South America’s first narco-state.

Moon’s Throne

One of the first well-wishers arriving in La Paz to congratulate the new government was Moon’s top lieutenant (and former KCIA officer) Bo Hi Pak. The Moon organization published a photo of Pak meeting with the new strongman, General Garcia Meza.

After the visit to the mountainous capital, Pak declared, “I have erected a throne for Father Moon in the world’s highest city.” 

According to later Bolivian government and newspaper reports, a Moon representative invested about $4 million in preparations for the coup. Bolivia’s WACL representatives also played key roles, and CAUSA, one of Moon’s anti-communist organizations, listed as members nearly all the leading Bolivian coup-makers.

Soon, Colonel Luis Arce-Gomez, a coup organizer and the cousin of cocaine kingpin Roberto Suarez, went into partnership with big narco-traffickers, including Cuban-American smugglers based in Miami. Nazi war criminal Barbie and his young neo-fascist followers found new work protecting Bolivia’s major cocaine barons and transporting drugs to the Colombian border.

“The paramilitary units – conceived by Barbie as a new type of SS – sold themselves to the cocaine barons,” German journalist Hermann wrote. “The attraction of fast money in the cocaine trade was stronger than the idea of a national socialist revolution in Latin America.”

A month after the Cocaine Coup, General Garcia Meza participated in the Fourth Congress of the Latin American Anti-Communist Confederation, an arm of the World Anti-Communist League. Also attending that Fourth Congress was WACL president Woo Jae Sung, a leading Moon disciple.

As the drug lords consolidated their power in Bolivia, the Moon organization expanded its presence, too. Hermann reported that in early 1981, war criminal Barbie and Moon leader Thomas Ward were seen together in apparent prayer.

On May 31, 1981, Moon representatives sponsored a CAUSA reception at the Sheraton Hotel’s Hall of Freedom in La Paz. Moon’s lieutenant Bo Hi Pak and Bolivian strongman Garcia Meza led a prayer for President Ronald Reagan’s recovery from an assassination attempt.

In his speech, Bo Hi Pak declared, “God had chosen the Bolivian people in the heart of South America as the ones to conquer communism.”

Flush with Cash

In the early 1980s, cocaine kingpin Suarez – his coffers now overflowing with cash – invested more than $30 million in various right-wing paramilitary operations, including the Contra forces in Central America, according to U.S. Senate testimony in 1987 by an Argentine intelligence officer, Leonardo Sanchez-Reisse.

Sanchez-Reisse testified that the Suarez drug money was laundered through front companies in Miami before going to Central America. There, Argentine intelligence officers — including Sanchez-Reisse and other veterans of the Cocaine Coup — trained the fledgling Contra forces.

But by late 1981, the cocaine taint of Bolivia’s military junta was so deep and the corruption so pervasive that U.S.-Bolivian relations were stretched to the breaking point. “The Moon sect disappeared overnight from Bolivia as clandestinely as they had arrived,” Hermann reported. 

The Cocaine Coup leaders soon found themselves on the run, too. Interior Minister Arce-Gomez was extradited to Miami and was sentenced to 30 years in prison for drug trafficking. Drug lord Suarez got a 15-year prison term. General Garcia Meza became a fugitive from a 30-year sentence imposed on him in Bolivia for abuse of power, corruption and murder.

SS veteran Barbie was returned to France to face a life sentence for war crimes. He died in 1991 at the age of 77.

But Moon’s organization suffered few negative repercussions from its role in the Cocaine Coup. By the early 1980s, flush with seemingly unlimited funds, Moon had moved on to promoting himself as a key friend of the new Republican administration in Washington.
A guest at Reagan’s First Inauguration, Moon made his organization useful to the new President and to Vice President George H.W. Bush, who would later become a paid speaker for Moon's organization. Where Moon got his cash was not a mystery that American conservatives were eager to solve.

“Some Moonie-watchers even believe that some of the business enterprises are actually covers for drug trafficking,” wrote Scott and Jon Lee Anderson.

While Moon’s representatives have refused to detail how they’ve sustained their far-flung activities – including many businesses that insiders say lose money – Moon’s spokesmen have denied recurring allegations about profiteering off illegal trafficking in weapons and drugs.

In a typical response to a gun-running question by the Argentine newspaper, Clarin, Moon’s representative Ricardo DeSena responded, “I deny categorically these accusations and also the barbarities that are said about drugs and brainwashing.” [Clarin, July 7, 1996]

Nevertheless, Moon’s organization did its best to disrupt the work of U.S. investigative reporters and government investigators looking into the connections between the drug trade and right-wing paramilitary operations such as the Nicaraguan Contras.

In the mid-1980s, for instance, when journalists and congressional investigators began probing the evidence of Contra-connected drug trafficking, they came under attack from Moon’s Washington Times.

An Associated Press story that I co-wrote with Brian Barger about a Miami-based federal probe into gun- and drug-running by the Contras was disparaged in an April 11, 1986, front-page Washington Times article with the headline: “Story on [contra] drug smuggling denounced as political ploy.”

When Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, uncovered additional evidence of Contra-drug trafficking, the Washington Times denounced him, too. The newspaper published articles depicting Kerry’s probe as a wasteful political witch hunt. “Kerry’s anti-contra efforts extensive, expensive, in vain,” declared the headline of one Times article on Aug. 13, 1986.
Despite the attacks, Kerry’s Contra-drug investigation eventually concluded that a number of Contra units were implicated in the cocaine trade.

“It is clear that individuals who provided support for the contras were involved in drug trafficking, the supply network of the contras was used by drug trafficking organizations, and elements of the contras themselves knowingly received financial and material assistance from drug traffickers,” Kerry’s investigation stated in a report issued April 13, 1989.

Mysterious Contra Backer

In 1998, CIA’s Inspector General Frederick Hitz confirmed the earlier allegations of extensive cocaine trafficking by the Contras, including significant ties to Bolivia’s traffickers. Hitz also cited a partially redacted document referring to a “religious” group cooperating with the Contra-cocaine trade.

"There are indications of links between [a U.S. religious organization] and two Nicaraguan counter-revolutionary groups," read an Oct. 22, 1982, cable from the office of the CIA's Directorate of Operations. "These links involve an exchange in [the United States] of narcotics for arms."

The CIA quickly shut down any further reporting on this drug deal, citing the role of U.S. citizens. "In light of the apparent participation of U.S. persons throughout, agree you should not pursue the matter further," CIA headquarters wrote on Nov. 3, 1982.

During the Inspector General’s investigation, Hitz conducted a follow-up interview, with Contra-connected drug trafficker Renato Pena, who described the redacted U.S. religious organization as a Contra "political ally that provided only humanitarian aid to Nicaraguan refugees and logistical support for contra-related rallies, such as printing services and portable stages."

Moon's religious-political groups, some based in the United States, were extremely active supporting the Contras in the early 1980s, suggesting that Moon’s Washington Times might have had more than an ideological reason to attack investigators exploring Contra drug trafficking.

To this day, the Washington Times remains a reliably right-wing voice in the U.S. capital, although Moon, now 90, has ceded much of the day-to-day control of his organization to his wife and children.

Still, the CIA’s shielding of the name of that “religious organization” and similar protective behavior represent a continuation of a long-standing pattern in which U.S. intelligence has covered up for right-wing and neo-Nazi criminality, a dark history that began with the likes of Klaus Barbie and has extended “Hitler’s Shadow” to modern times.

The Butcher of Lyon's role in these South American anti-communist activities caused brief embarrassment for Moon’s church and some right-wing Americans. But the Nazi collaboration didn't draw much attention from the U.S. news media, which was already shying away from critical reporting on the Reagan administration’s unsavory alliances in Central and South America.

A Long Continuum

Indeed, the Right’s growing dominance of Washington opinion circles can be viewed as a continuum dating back to those days right after World War II, when U.S. priorities switched quickly from prosecuting Axis war criminals to seeking their help in crushing leftist political influence in Western Europe and Asia.

Suddenly, U.S. intelligence agencies were freeing Nazi and Japanese war criminals from prison and exploiting their talents to neutralize labor unions, student groups and other left-wing organizations.

Though the new National Archives report deals with ex-Nazis in Europe, a similar program was underway in Japan where war criminals such as right-wing yakuza gangsters Yoshio Kodama and Ryoichi Sasakawa were freed and allowed to become important political figures in Japan – and later internationally by supporting a global crusade against communism.

The internal divisions at Fox News are notorious. There is the Fox News primary, in which no fewer than five potential Republican presidential candidates and their varied supporters and detractors -- all on the Fox News payroll -- duke it out on a near-daily basis.

There are typical ego-driven competitions between on-air personalities, and an increasingly public divide at the network over dangerously unhinged host Glenn Beck.

But there is one divide that -- contrary to the insistence of Fox News executives -- simply does not exist: the one between its "news" and "opinion" shows.

Last year, The New York Times reported, "Fox argues that its news hours -- 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. on weekdays -- are objective," and quoted Michael Clemente, the channel's senior vice president for news, as saying: "The average consumer certainly knows the difference between the A section of the newspaper and the editorial page."

This is apparently an argument that works only on the very gullible, and on advertisers who want to pretend that by confining their ad buys to the channel's "news hours" they are not financially supporting very damaging conservative lies and smears.

How telling it will be to see who attempts to maintain this charade, now that Media Mattershas published internal emails from Fox News Washington managing editor Bill Sammon to his news staff directing them to call into question indisputable scientific facts in Fox's climate change reporting, and eschew "public option" for variations of "government option"in Fox's health care reform reporting, echoing advice from a prominent Republican pollster on how to help turn the public against reform.

The recently-released emails confirm what sources told Media Matters months ago: Pressure on Fox News journalists to "distort" straight reporting comes right from the top.

In October, one source with knowledge of the situation explained: "[There is] more pressure from Sammon to slant news to the right or to tell people how to report news, doing it in a more brutish way. A lot of the reporters are conservative and are glad to pick up news. But there is a point at which it is no longer reporting, but distorting things. ... [I]f you come in to say, 'ignore points of view and ignore facts,' then you are straying away from being a legitimate news reporter."

The problem, of course, is not just that the reporting on Fox News is wildly dishonest -- after all, a supermarket tabloid can be wildly dishonest, too -- it's that the lies and smears on Fox News have very real policy implications.

For example, following the release of Sammon's email ordering his news staff to cast doubt on climate science, Zoe Tcholak-Antitch, vice-president of the Carbon Disclosure Project,told Media Matters: "It is very disturbing to hear of this e-mail because it just goes further to sow seeds of doubt among the American population then makes it more difficult for the politicians to stand up for any type of legislation on climate change if they want to get elected."

Tcholak-Antitch added: "It obviously does have an impact on the American public. We are facing an issue that needs to be dealt with in a timely fashion. The danger is that this delays action. While it exists, it delays action and it hinders politicians from passing laws and regulations that will help a clean energy economy and create jobs for American people."

The irony is that News Corp. -- Fox News' parent company and (the blind eye it turns towards Fox notwithstanding) a recognized corporate leader in raising climate change awareness -- cites Tcholak-Antitch's Carbon Disclosure Project as an expert resource on the issue.

New York Congressman John Hall -- a Democratic member of the House global warming committee -- called Sammon's email "regrettable" and warned about the effects this sort of "slanted" coverage has on legislation:

The window of time we have left for action to prevent the worst case scenario may still be closing. ... We can't afford to waste two years if the changes are already happening. It is really important that the public gets educated. I do think Congress responds to public pressure. If the public is being misinformed, we have very little chance of reversing the trend.

Similarly, after Media Matters released Sammon's "government option" email, health care reform advocate Health Care for America Now issued a statement saying: "At a time when right-wing extremists were trying to make the case that the health care reform bill was a government takeover plot, Fox News incorporated politically charged language into its day-to-day reporting to mislead its audience into thinking the public option was something that it wasn't."

Indeed, the Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact announced this week that its "Lie of the Year" is the false claim that the health care reform law is "a government takeover of health care." And yet, Fox News' "objective" reporters were ordered to play directly into that damaging narrative.

To be sure, many advertisers have taken a step in the right direction by refusing to support some of Fox News' deplorable "opinion" and "entertainment" shows -- after all, who wants to drag a hard-earned (and valuable) brand identity through the mud by associating it with people who call the president racist, or repeatedly claim "all terrorists are Muslim," orpromote anti-Semites, or engage in bizarre conspiracy theories?
In fact, just this week, Omaha Steaks pulled its ads from Beck's show, joining a growing list of over 100 advertisers that have done the same.

But while that may mean that Fox is forced to air "Foundation for a Better Life" commercials -- courtesy of conservative Phillip Anschutz -- five times in a row during Beck's show, it doesn't stop advertisers from subsidizing the lies on dozens of other Fox programs.

When asked several months ago about the Beck advertising boycott, Rupert Murdochclaimed, "We have not lost any business at all; some [advertisers] may have moved to other programs," but "it has not affected the total revenues or the profits."       

Last year, Paul Rittenberg, a Fox advertising executive, made the same point to the Times. The Beck boycott "caus[ed] headaches" for Rittenberg's team, the Times reported, but "he said Fox 'hasn't lost a dime' because the ads were moved to different hours" -- presumably hours filled with so-called "objective" news reports that skittish advertisers thought were safely non-controversial.

A year ago, these advertisers may have been able to take false comfort in the Fox News canard that there exists any sort of division between Fox news and Fox opinion programming, but with the release of the Sammon emails, how long will they keep kidding themselves?   
Officials: CIA Gave Waterboarders $5M Legal Shield                              

WASHINGTON (AP) — When the CIA decided to waterboard suspected terror detainees in overseas prisons, the agency turned to a pair of contractors. The men designed the CIA's interrogation program and also personally took part in the waterboarding sessions.

But to do the job, the CIA had to promise to cover at least $5 million in legal fees for them in case there was trouble down the road, former U.S. officials said.

Turns out the contractors needed that secret agreement as taxpayers pay to defend the men in a federal investigation over an interrogation tactic the United States now says is torture. The deal is even more generous than the protections the agency typically provides its own officers, giving the two men access to more money to finance their defenses.

It has long been known that psychologists Jim Mitchell and Bruce Jessen created the CIA's interrogation program. But former U.S. intelligence officials said Mitchell and Jessen also repeatedly subjected terror suspects inside CIA-run secret prisons to waterboarding, a simulated drowning tactic.

The revelation of the contractors' involvement is the first known confirmation of any individuals who conducted waterboarding at the so-called black sites, underscoring just how much the agency relied on outside help in its most sensitive interrogations.

Normally, CIA officers buy insurance to cover possible legal bills. It costs about $300 a year for $1 million in coverage. Today, the CIA pays the premiums for most officers, but at the height of the war on terrorism, officers had to pay half.

The Mitchell and Jessen arrangement, known as an "indemnity promise," was structured differently. Unlike CIA officers, whose identities are classified, Mitchell and Jessen were public citizens who received some of the earliest scrutiny by reporters and lawmakers. The two wanted more protection.

The agency agreed to pay the legal bills for the psychologists' firm, Mitchell, Jessen & Associates, directly from CIA accounts, according to several interviews with the former officials, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.

The company has been embroiled in at least two high-profile Justice Department investigations, tapping the CIA to pay its legal bills. Neither Jamie Gorelick, who originally represented the company, nor Henry Schuelke, the current lawyer, returned messages seeking comment. Mitchell and Jessen also didn't return calls for comment.

The CIA would not comment on any indemnity agreement.

"It's been nearly eight years since waterboarding — an interrogation method used on three detainees — was last used as part of a terrorist detention program that no longer exists," CIA spokesman George Little said.

After the terrorism attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Mitchell and Jessen sold the government on an interrogation program for high-value al-Qaida members. The two psychologists had spent years training military officials to resist interrogations and, in doing so, had subjected U.S. troops to techniques such as forced nudity, painful stress positions, sleep deprivation and waterboarding.
But those interrogations had always been training sessions at the military's school known as SERE — Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape. They had never conducted any actual interrogations.

That changed in 2002 with the capture of suspected al-Qaida facilitator Abu Zubaydah. The agency believed tougher-than-usual tactics were necessary to squeeze information from him, so Mitchell and Jessen flew to a secret CIA prison in Thailand to oversee Zubaydah's interrogation.
The pair waterboarded Zubaydah 83 times, according to previously released records and former intelligence officials. Mitchell and Jessen did the bulk of the work, claiming they were the only ones who knew how to apply the techniques properly, the former officials said.

The waterboarding technique involved "binding the detainee to a bench with his feet elevated above his head," formerly top-secret documents explain. "The detainee's head is immobilized and an interrogator places a cloth over the detainee's mouth and nose while pouring water onto the cloth in a controlled manner."

The documents add that "airflow is restricted for 20 to 40 seconds and the technique produces the sensation of drowning and suffocation." The session was not supposed to last more than 20 minutes.

The psychologists also waterboarded USS Cole bombing plotter Abd al-Nashiri twice in Thailand, according to former intelligence officials.

The role of Mitchell and Jessen in the interrogation of confessed Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is a bit murkier.

At least one other interrogator was involved in those sessions, with the company providing support, a former official said. Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times in Poland in 2003, according to documents and former intelligence officials.

The CIA inspector general concluded in a top secret report in 2004 that the waterboarding technique used by the CIA deviated from the rules outlined by the Justice Department and the common practice at SERE school. CIA interrogations involved far more water poured constantly over the prisoner, investigators said.

"One of the psychologists/interrogators acknowledged that the agency's use of the technique differed from that used in SERE training and explained that the agency's technique is different because it is 'for real' and is more poignant and convincing," the inspector general's report said.
It was not clear whether Mitchell or Jessen made that remark.

Justice Department prosecutor John Durham is investigating whether any CIA officers or contractors, including Mitchell and Jessen, should face criminal charges.

In at least two instances, Mitchell and Jessen pushed back. During Zubaydah's interrogation, the psychologists argued he had endured enough waterboarding, believing they had reached the point of "diminishing returns." But CIA superiors told them to press forward, two former officials said.
In another case, Mitchell and Jessen successfully argued against waterboarding admitted terrorist Ramzi Binalshibh in Poland, the official said.

On top of the waterboarding case, Mitchell and Jessen also needed lawyers to help navigate the Justice Department's investigation into the destruction of CIA interrogation videos.

Mitchell and Jessen were recorded interrogating Zubaydah and al-Nashiri and were eager to see those tapes destroyed, fearing their release would jeopardize their safety, former officials and others close to the matter said.

They often contacted senior CIA officials, urging them to destroy the tapes and asking what was taking so long, said a person familiar with the Durham investigation who insisted on anonymity because the case's details remain sensitive. Finally the CIA's top clandestine officer, Jose Rodriguez, made the decision to destroy the tapes in November 2005.

Durham investigated whether that was a crime. He subpoenaed Mitchell, Jessen & Associates last year, looking for calendars, e-mails and phone records showing contact between the contractors and Rodriguez or his chief of staff, according to a federal subpoena. They were ordered to appear before a grand jury in northern Virginia in August 2009.

Last month, Durham closed the investigation into the destruction of the tapes without filing charges.

Former Blackwater Bought by Investment Group

Security firm Xe, formerly known as Blackwater, bought by investment group from founder

An investment group with ties to the founder of the company formerly known as Blackwater announced Friday that it has bought the security firm, which was heavily criticized for its contractors' actions in Iraq.

USTC Holdings said in a statement that the acquisition of the company now called Xe Services includes its training facility in North Carolina.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. But the statement said owner and founder Erik Prince will no longer have an equity stake and no longer be involved in Xe's management or operations. The company will be managed by a board appointed by the equity holders and will include independent, unaffiliated directors, the statement said.

Prince founded the company in 1997 along with former colleagues from the Navy SEALs.
The ownership group is led by two private equity firms, including New York-based Forte Capital Advisors. Forte managing partner Jason DeYonker has been a longtime financial adviser to Prince, helping him expand the Moyock, N.C., training grounds and negotiating Blackwater's first training contracts with the U.S. government.

"The future of this industry belongs to those companies with the highest standards of governance, transparency, and performance," DeYonker said.

Xe announced in June that it was seeking a buyer. At the time, Prince said selling the company was a difficult decision, but constant criticism of Xe helped him make up his mind.
"Performance doesn't matter in Washington, just politics," he said.
In August, Prince moved to Abu Dhabi.
The private company became famous as Blackwater, which provided guards and services to the U.S. government in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. It became one of the most respected defense contractors in the world, but also attracted sharp criticism over its role in those missions.

It has been trying to rehabilitate its image since a 2007 shooting in Baghdad that killed 17 people, outraged the Iraqi government and led to federal charges against several Blackwater guards. The accusations later were thrown out of court after a judge found prosecutors mishandled evidence.

In March, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin suggested the Pentagon should consider banning Xe from a $1 billion deal to train Afghan police. The Michigan Democrat said he thought the company's involvement was hindering the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.

Earlier this year, Xe sold its aviation division for $200 million to Wood Dale, Ill.-based AAR Corp. Also, five former executives, including Gary Jackson, the company's ex-president, were indicted on charges of conspiring to violate federal firearms laws. Jackson was among the top officials who left the company last year in a management shake-up.

Blackwater Seeks Dismissal Of Iraq Shooting Suit


RALEIGH, N.C. -- The security firm formerly known as Blackwater told a federal judge Thursday that the U.S. government - and not the company - should be held accountable for a 2007 shooting by its contractors that killed 17 Iraqis. 

The Moyock, N.C.-based company and several of its contractors are seeking the dismissal of a lawsuit that was filed on behalf of three people killed in the shooting - Ali Kinani, Abrahem Abed Al Mafraje and Mahde Sahab Naser Shamake. It accuses the parties of wrongful death and negligence, and seeks punitive damages.

Lawyers for the company, now known as Xe Services, argued in court that Blackwater contractors were essentially acting as employees of the U.S. government because they were providing security to State Department personnel.

Unlike duties performed by other contractors, the sensitive nature of providing security in a war zone required the kind of oversight the government normally reserves for its own employees, attorney Andrew Pincus argued.

Lawyers for both the plaintiffs and the government disputed that, and said the practical effect of transferring the focus of the lawsuit to the federal government would be its dismissal. The federal government is exempt from such lawsuits.

Judge Terrence W. Boyle didn't immediately rule on the motions in the case, but said the most important issue seems to be whether the government is ultimately responsible for the actions of its contractors.

"If the government can cut the cord and let that drift off into space, that's one world," he said. "But it's a different world if the government has to be held accountable."

In separate motions, lawyers for Blackwater and the contractors argued they can't be sued by foreigners for something that happened in a foreign country governed by foreign law. They also argue that Iraqi law prohibits such lawsuits.

The contractors contend insurgents ambushed them in a traffic circle before they opened fire, but prosecutors say the men unleashed an unprovoked attack on civilians using machine guns and grenades.

The five contractors were initially charged with manslaughter for their role in the 2007 Nisoor Square shooting, which strained relations between Baghdad and Washington. A year ago, a federal judge dismissed those charges, citing missteps by the government.

A sixth contractor, Jeremy Ridgeway, pleaded guilty in the criminal case. He filed a separate defense in the civil lawsuit, arguing that the federal court in North Carolina has no jurisdiction to hear the case.

Blackwater changed its name to Xe Services in March, saying its brand had been tarnished by its work in Iraq. The company settled a separate series of federal lawsuits earlier this year connected to the Nisoor Square shooting and others in Iraq.
The company is now looking for new ownership.

CIA Recalls Pakistan Station Chief After His Name Becomes Public

CIA recalls Pakistan station chief after his name becomes public 17 Dec 2010 The CIA station chief in Pakistan [Jonathan Bank] has been called home after his name was publicly revealed in legal documents by a journalist who says his relatives were killed in a U.S. Predator drone strike, a U.S. official said Friday. On Monday, Karim Khan filed a police complaint saying that his brother and son, both government employees, were killed in a CIA drone strike on their home near Mir Ali in North Waziristan in December 2009. The complaint names the CIA station chief in Islamabad.

Italy ups prison terms for ex-CIA men

December 17, 2010 by legitgov

Italy ups prison terms for ex-CIA men 17 Dec 2010 An Italian court has extended the prison terms of 23 CIA agents convicted in absentia of kidnapping an Egyptian imam in a move seen as a blow to the US rendition [kidnapping] program. The Milan appeals court meted out harsh sentences to the CIA officers, the heaviest of which -- nine years in prison -- was given to the former head of the CIA's Milan station, Robert Seldon Lady, who initially had received eight years in the court's ruling in 2009, AFP reported on Thursday.
Last updated: 12/18/2010 07:08:38

CIA top spy flees Pakistan over lawsuit

December 18, 2010 by legitgov

CIA top spy flees Pakistan over lawsuit --Lawsuit also named CIA Director Leon Panetta and US Defense Secretary Robert Gates 17 Dec 2010 The US central intelligence agency (CIA) has been forced to call back its top spy in Pakistan after he was accused of killing civilians in unauthorized drone attacks. This comes days after a Pakistani lawsuit designated the CIA station chief by name, accusing him of killing civilians in missile strikes. Kareem Kahn, a resident of the North Waziristan tribal district, filed an official complaint with Islamabad police against CIA station chief Jonathan Bank at the US Embassy in Islamabad on Monday.


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