Is The Oval Office Turning Nixonian?
The arrest of five Pakistani CIA informants whose information helped lead the US to Osama bin Laden's compound is likely to fuel tensions and intensify congressional questions about aid to Pakistan.
Pakistan has arrested five Pakistani CIA informants who gave information to the US that led to the raid of Osama bin Laden's compound, The New York Times and Associated Press reported Wednesday. Though both the US and Pakistan claim to be crucial partners in the battle against terrorism, the news is the most recent in a series of blows to the US-Pakistan relationship, which is already suffering because of a lack of trust on both sides.
The US sees the US-Pakistan counterterrorism partnership as crucial to ending the war in Afghanistan. But it has received a significant amount of pushback from Pakistan in recent months to its various counterterrorism efforts, particularly the drone program that targets militants in Pakistan's northwest, along the Afghan border.
The Pakistani intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), meanwhile, has been increasingly unwilling to work with the CIA on surveillance or to grant visas to American intelligence agents. A partnership in which the US trained Pakistani paramilitary troops has also been put to an end, the Times reports. And Pakistanis are becoming highly critical of their military for allowing the US to act unilaterally on Pakistani territory.
“We have a strong relationship with our Pakistani counterparts and work through issues when they arise,” said Marie E. Harf, a C.I.A. spokeswoman. “Director Panettahad productive meetings last week in Islamabad. It’s a crucial partnership, and we will continue to work together in the fight against Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups who threaten our country and theirs.”
In April, Pakistani officials, angry over what they saw as the United States' increasingly unilateral actions within their borders, demanded a complete halt to drone attacks in the northwest (which did not materialize). The demands came after months of deep tensions over Raymond Davis, a CIA contractor working covertly in the country who shot and killed two Pakistani men he claimed were trying to rob him. Pakistan said it had no knowledge of his link to the CIA prior to his arrest and were told he was a low-level US embassy employee.
The US sees sending drones to oust militants in the border region as one of its only options in the northwest, partially because the Pakistani military has resisted staging offensives in many key areas. When CIA Director Leon Panetta visited Pakistan last week, he pushed for Pakistani permission to let the drones fly over larger swaths of the northwest. Still, the US is already making contingency plans and preparing for the possibility of relocating the home base of some of the drones from Pakistan to a base in Afghanistan, the Times reports.
US officials are frustrated with Pakistan's resistance to US counterterrorism efforts, and the revelation about the detention of CIA informants is likely to fuel their dissatisfaction. Some in Congress have demanded a reduction in the amount of American aid to Pakistan,which totals $20.7 billion since 2002, according to aChristian Science Monitor report.
Military aid to Pakistan is aimed at cooperation in the war on terror.
Since 2001, Pakistan has launched offensives against Islamic-militant havens. Pakistani intelligence has helped the US nab some top Al Qaeda leaders. Islamabad has also risked popular discontent by allowing the US to base drones and more CIA operatives on its soil.
Yet the help dries up when it comes to targeting groups most active in fighting the US inAfghanistan. Insurgencies are hard to defeat when they have sanctuary across a border. Meanwhile, the Pew Research Center finds that just 11 percent of Pakistanis have a favorable view of the US, up one point from 2002.
Last month, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton traveled to Pakistan and warned officials that if the country did not take positive, substantial steps against terrorism within its borders, the US would feel justified in acting unilaterally once again, as it did in the raid on Mr. bin Laden's compound.
2011-06-14 Torture Accountability After All?
Submitted by Anonymous on Wed, 06/15/2011 - 02:35
Authored by Stephen Soldz.
Those of us who opposed the Bush administration torture program have been demoralized by the lack of accountability for the numerous abuses committed as part of that program. President Obama decried torture, and said he would end it, but he also said he wanted to "look forward, not back," apparently precluding investigations of the abuses committed by the previous administration.
The Obama administration has not merely refused to initiate criminal investigations of those who approved and ordered the Bush-Cheney torture program. They have declined even to support a Commission of Inquiry to explore what happened in a non-judicial forum. Further, the administration used every legal tool available including spurious arguments about national security in US courts and diplomatic pressure on foreign governments to stymie efforts at accountability through ethics complaints, domestic civil trials, and foreign criminal cases for the crimes committed by predecessors.
Over the last few years, as one avenue of accountability after another was closed, it looked as if the torture program would be protected as carefully by the Obama administration as it was by the Bush administration. The result, many feared, was that torture would remain an available tool of the state, to be dragged out by future administrations who could cite the lack of accountability for Bush torture by a Democratic administration as evidence of a bipartisan consensus that torture really isn't that bad. Many human rights experts have argued that future courts, too, could view the current lack of accountability as a legal precedent, potentially further shielding future torturers.
The one avenue for accountability that wasn't closed by the Obama administration was the investigation by Department of Justice prosecutor John Durham. Durham, readers may recall, was the Federal prosecutor originally tasked to investigate the destruction of CIA interrogation videotapes in apparent violation of a court order. In 2009 Attorney General Eric Holder expanded Durham's mandate to include investigating incidents of detainee treatment that went beyond even those actions approved under the so-called "torture memos" of the Bush Justice Department.
Durham's expanded investigation has dragged on for two years with little visibility, except for his declaration in January that he would not indict anyone for the destruction of the interrogation videotapes. Many in the human rights community took the lack of indictments in the tapes case as an indication that Durham would ultimately decline to prosecute anyone, thus closing yet another avenue for possible accountability.
The pro-torture party of former Bush officials and right-wing pundits who defended the "enhanced interrogation" torture program at every opportunity did not appear as convinced as human rights advocates that Durham's investigation would ultimately turn into a paper tiger. In the aftermath of the Bin Laden raid, they repeatedly harped on two issues. First, they vociferously claimed, using patently absurd arguments, that Bin Laden's death showed that torture "worked." Second, they frantically demanded that Durham's investigation be called off.
It now appears that the pro-torture party may have recognized the implications of Durham's investigation better than did most human rights advocates. On Monday, Adam Zagorin reported in TIME that Durham was in the process of actively investigating the murder of Manadel al-Jamadi, the Iraqi general whose frozen, brutally abused body appeared in the Abu Ghraib photographs. While al-Jamadi's death had earlier been ruled a homicide, the Justice Department had taken no action. But Zagorin reports that Durham is now presenting evidence to a grand jury on the Jamadi case. And he apparently has his eyes on a possible perpetrator:
Perhaps most important, according to someone familiar with the investigation, Durham and FBI agents have said the probe's focus involves "a specific civilian person." Durham didn't name names, but those close to the case believe that person is Mark Swanner, a non-covert CIA interrogator and polygraph expert who questioned al-Jamadi immediately before his death.
Also important is that Zagorin has a copy of a subpoena from the investigation that suggests that Durham may be looking beyond al-Jamadi:
TIME has obtained a copy of a subpoena signed by Durham that points to his grand jury's broader mandate, which could involve charging additional CIA officers and contract employees in other cases. The subpoena says "the grand jury is conducting an investigation of possible violations of federal criminal laws involving War Crimes (18 USC/2441), Torture (18 USC 243OA) and related federal offenses."
Thus, this investigation may be the beginning of a broader investigation of "CIA officers and contract employees." One wonders if the CIA's torture psychologist contractors James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen may be among Durham's targets. This seems plausible since -- based on later torture memos -- their waterboarding and other "enhanced interrogation" tactics went, well beyond those authorized at the time in their intensity and longevity, providing potential liability under Durham's mandate.
If Mitchell and Jessen are indeed targets, that could well explain the near panic of the torture defenders when they refer to the Durham investigation. These former officials and their apologists may be worried that an investigation into the actions of Mitchell and Jessen will go higher up the chain of command. Reportedly, everything done in the secret CIA prisons was approved in Washington, sometimes even in the White House. And, as Watergate demonstrated, investigations, once started, can sometimes climb the command chain to the very top.
There are no certainties in human rights work. But this latest news about Durham's investigation is a rare bright spot in an otherwise bleak picture of continued abuses and absent accountability. It now appears possible that we might have some torture accountability after all.
The Obama administration's record on secrecy and surveillance is a disgrace and should not be sanitized by unearned prizes
On 28 March 2011, President Obama was given a "transparency award" from five "open government" organisations: OMB Watch, the National Security Archive, the Project on Government Oversight, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and OpenTheGovernment.org. Ironically – and quite likely in response to growing public criticism regarding the Obama administration's lack of transparency – heads of the five organizations gave their award to Obama in a closed, undisclosed meeting at the White House. If the ceremony had been open to the press, it is likely that reporters would have questioned the organisations' proffered justification for the award, in contrast to the current reality:
• President Obama has not decreased, but has dramatically increased governmental secrecy. According to a new report to the president by theInformation Security Oversight Office (ISOO) – the federal agency that provides oversight of the government's security classification system – the cost of classification for 2010 has reached over $10.17bn. That's a 15% jump from the previous year, and the first time ever that secrecy costs have surpassed $10bn. Last month, ISOO reported that the number of original classification decisions generated by the Obama administration in 2010 was 224,734 – a 22.6% jump from the previous year (see The Price of Secrecy, Obama Edition).
• There were 544,360 requests for information last year under theFreedom of Information Act to the 35 biggest federal agencies – 41,000 requests more than the year before. Yet the bureaucracy responded to 12,400 fewer requests than the prior year, according to an analysis by the Associated Press.
• Obama has invoked baseless and unconstitutional executive secrecy to quash legal inquiries into secret illegalities more often than any predecessor. The list of this president's invocations of the "state secrets privilege" has already resulted in shutting down lawsuits involving the National Security Agency's illegal wiretapping – Jewel v NSA and Shubert v Obama; extraordinary rendition and assassination – Anwar al-Awlaki; and illegal torture – Binyam Mohamed.
• Ignoring his campaign promise to protect government whistleblowers, Obama's presidency has amassed the worst record in US history for persecuting, prosecuting and jailing government whistleblowers and truth-tellers. President Obama's behaviour has been in stark contrast to his campaign promises, which included live-streaming meetings online and rewarding whistleblowers. Obama's department of justice is twisting the 1917 Espionage Act to press criminal charges in five alleged instances of national security leaks – more such prosecutions than have occurred in all previous administrations combined.
• The Obama justice department's prosecution of former NSA official Thomas Drake, who, up till 9 June, faced 35 years in prison for having blown the whistle on the NSA's costly and unlawful warrantless monitoring of American citizens, typifies the abusive practices made possible through expansive secrecy agreements and threats of prosecution.
• President Obama has set a powerful and chilling example for potential whistleblowers through the abuse and torture of Bradley Manning, whose guilt he has also publicly stated prior to any trial by his, Obama's, military subordinates.
• Obama is the only president who has reenacted Fahrenheit 451 by actually having his agency collect and burn a book due to a never-justified classification excuse: Lt Col Tony Shaffer's Operation Dark Heart.
• Under President Obama, the FBI has launched a series of raids and issued grand jury subpoenas targeting nearly two dozen antiwar activists. Over 2,600 arrests of protesters in the US have been made while Obama has been president, further encroaching on the exercise of first amendment rights.
• President Obama has initiated a secret assassination programme, has publicly announced that he has given himself the power to include Americans on the list of people to be assassinated, and has attempted to assassinate at least one, Anwar al-Awlaki.
• President Obama has maintained the power to secretly kidnap, imprison, rendition, or torture, and he has formalised the power to lawlessly imprison in an executive order. This also means the power tosecretly imprison. There are some 1,700 prisoners outside the rule of law in Bagram alone.
• The Obama administration is also busy going after reporters to discover their sources and convening grand juries in order to target journalists and news publishers.
• President Obama promised to reveal White House visitors' logs. He didn't. In response to outrage over his refusal to reveal the names of health insurance CEOs he had met with and cut deals with on the health insurance reform bill, he announced that he would release the names going forward, but not those in the past. And going forward, he would withhold names he chose to withhold. White House staff then began regularly meeting lobbyists just off White House grounds in order to avoid the visitors' logs.
• President Obama has sent representatives to aggressively pressure Spain, England and Germany to shut down investigations that could have exposed the crimes of the Bush era, just as he has instructed the US justice department to avoid such matters. This includes his refusal to allow prosecutions of the CIA for torture, following a public letter from eight previous heads of the CIA informing him that he had better not enforce those laws.
The "transparency award" in question was described as "aspirational", similar to the rationale for awarding Obama the Nobel Peace Prize early in his presidency when he had done nothing yet to further the cause of peace. Participants admitted they used the private meeting in March to try and lobby Obama to do more to earn their award. If the president doesn't change course as a result of the lobbying and "award", there are some who would shrug and say, "no harm, no foul".
The giving of an unmerited award, however, whether for transparency or peace, is not entirely benign. No one knows better how destructive secrecy is for maintaining systems of justice, ethics and democracy than these self-proclaimed "open government" watchdogs. Especially when such a false accolade emanates, as in this case, from those who are supposed to serve as counters to secrecy and to retaliation against government whistleblowers, such appearance of approval will tend to cover up and mask the reality of the executive's increasingly undemocratic and illegal use of secrecy.
Therefore, the undersigned call on these organisations: OMB Watch, the National Security Archive, the Project on Government Oversight, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and OpenTheGovernment.org, to publicly take back their "transparency award", as difficult as that may be, from Barack Obama. The watchdog organisations should, of course, continue to promote aspirations for open, democratic government, reduced secrecy and adherence to the rule of law, in more genuine, legitimate ways than giving unmerited awards to the executive.
Such false awards only stand to backfire and hurt the cause of open government.
Raymond L McGovern, former analyst, CIA
Colonel Ann Wright, US Army Reserve (ret) and former US diplomat
Daniel Ellsberg, former official, department of defence and department of state
Lt Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski, US Air Force (ret), veteran policy analyst, department of defence
Lt Colonel Tony Shaffer, senior intelligence officer (Operations), DIA
Jesselyn Radack, former attorney, department of justice
John M Cole, former veteran intelligence operations specialist, FBI
David "Mark" Conrad, agent in charge (ret), internal affairs, US Customs
P Jeffrey Black, air marshal (ret), Federal Air Marshal Service, department of homeland security
Bogdan Dzakovic, former red team leader, FAA
Russ Tice, former senior intelligence analyst, NSA
Sandalio Gonzalez, special agent in charge (ret), DEA
John Vincent, veteran special agent, counterterrorism, FBI
Bill Bergman, financial market analyst, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
Steve Jenkins, intelligence analyst, NGIC, US Army
Linda Lewis, policy analyst (ret), US department of agriculture
David MacMichael, PhD, former senior estimates officer, CIA
William H Russell, computer specialist, R&E Division, NSA
William Savich, special agent, bureau of diplomatic security, department of state
Julia Davis, customs and border protection officer, department of homeland security
Tom Maertens, counterterrorism official (ret), department of state
Joseph Carson, PE, nuclear safety engineer, department of energy
Gabe Bruno, manager (ret), flight standards services, FAA
Dr Jeffrey Fudin, founder, VA Whistleblowers Coalition
National Security Whistleblowers Coalition
National Whistleblowers Centre
Green party of the US
Citizens for Legitimate Government
Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity
Campaign for Peace and Democracy
September 11th Advocates
Consumers for Peace
Fellowship of Reconciliation
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence
Socialist party of Central Virginia
Environmentalists Against War
High Road for Human Rights
Broken Covenant Campaign
Bring Our Troops Home Coalition
Progressive Democrats of the Santa Monica Mountains
United for Peace and Justice
Americans Who Tell the Truth
Veterans for Peace Chapter 27
Committee to Stop FBI Repression
• This petition can be signed at takeawardback.org
WASHINGTON — US prosecutors will convene a hearing on the WikiLeaks document dump case on Wednesday, in a sign that they have not given up bringing charges against the website's founder Julian Assange.
A federal grand jury is scheduled to take sworn testimony from a supporter of Bradley Manning, the US soldier accused of leaking tens of thousands of documents to the whistle-blower website, a committee supporting Manning said.
WikiLeaks also confirmed the grand jury hearing Wednesday in Alexandria, Virginia.
Grand juries, which are empanelled to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to bring charges in a case, typically meet in secret unless a witness discloses that he or she has been summoned to testify.
Although the hearing does not mean that charges against Assange are imminent, it is a strong indication that the US administration, as promised, continues to pursue that goal.
It opened a criminal investigation against Assange in July 2010, following a massive document dump by his website that continues to roil US relations with countries around the world.
One possible avenue open to prosecutors is to show that Assange personally asked Manning, a US army private, to obtain confidential documents.
Manning's support group said David House, a friend of the imprisoned soldier, and several other people from the Boston area "have been ordered to testify before a federal grand jury."
"House is scheduled to appear tomorrow, Wednesday morning, June 15th," it said.
Manning is awaiting a possible court martial on charges that include "aiding the enemy," which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.
Assange, 39, is under house arrest in Britain, awaiting trial on sexual assault and molestation charges in Sweden.
He has denied knowing the source of the leaks, but has defended Manning as a victim of US government mistreatment.
Manning's supporters said they planned to hold a demonstration at the site of Wednesday's hearing.
"The Justice Department’s unprecedented crackdown, not only on accused whistle-blowers, but also their friends and supporters, stems from the same impulse to silence legitimate dissent that has become a hallmark of corrupt governments the world over," said Kevin Zeese, an attorney with the Bradley Manning Support Network.
wikileaks: WikiLeaks now accepts anonymous Bitcoin donations on 1HB5XMLmzFVj8ALj6mfBsbifRoD4miY36v
Twitter - 1 minute ago
GregMitch: Just launched the WikiLeaks blog for Wednesday.
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By Alex Knott Roll Call Staff June 14, 2011, 12:28 p.m.
The Federal Election Commission has seen a surge in the creation of super PACs and other groups planning to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money during the upcoming elections.
The organization that changed modern rules for campaign finance — Citizens United — filed documents late last week to open a super PAC. This conservative organization, headed by David Bossie, knows a thing or two about media and advertising. It has made at least 20 feature-length political documentaries, including “HYPE: The Obama Effect” and “Hillary: The Movie.”
Disputes over the ads for “Hillary: The Movie” led to a Supreme Court case in which Citizens United won against the FEC. The decision allowed corporations, nonprofits and labor unions to use their own treasuries to fund political advertisements and influence federal elections.
Citizens United Super PAC joins at least 36 political action committees that have registered this year as independent expenditure organizations, a designation that gives them the option of using unprecedented types of funds in the 2012 elections.
On Monday, another group registered as a super PAC under the name “Remove Weiner Support Eric Ulrich for Congress Draft Committee.” The group will “independently recruit Eric Ulrich to run for Congress” and is not affiliated with Ulrich, a Republican member of the New York City Council.
Other super PACs registering with the FEC in June include Turn Right USA, Our Voice PAC and America for the People PAC.
The Guardian -Sri Lanka's Killing Fields: Channel 4, 11.05pm – The documentary presented by Jon Snow investigated alleged war crimes carried out in the final weeks of the Sri Lankan civil war in 2009 and was broadcast in a late evening slot due to the shocking ...
WikiLeaks Asks For Anonymous Bitcoin Donations
WikiLeaks was built on the idea of anonymous, untraceable transfers of digital information. Now it wants to fill its coffers with equally untraceable injections of digital cash.
On Tuesday the secret-spilling group announced via Twitter that it will now be accepting donations of Bitcoins, a wholly digital and theoretically untraceable currency.
As I wrote in this feature about Bitcoin for the magazine in April, Bitcoins are created with cryptographic functions and then stored and exchanged without the help of banks. So in theory the currency prevents any institution from tracking the flow of money, and prevents any bank from either blocking transfers to a certain party or freezing anyone’s account. Both of those problems have struck WikiLeaks in the last six months, as Visa, Mastercard, and Bank of America have all cut off donations to the group and PayPal and the banking arm of the Swiss postal service PostFinance have both frozen WikiLeaks-associated funds.
Showing its usual flair for controversy, WikiLeaks has adopted Bitcoins just as public debate over the crypto-currency has begun to heat up. Earlier this month Senators Chuck Schumer and Joe Manchin called for the shutdown of Silk Road, an anonymous marketplace that uses Bitcoins to sell contraband, including a wide range of illegal drugs. In his public statements regarding the site, Schumer focused his ire on Silk Road but also referred to Bitcoin as “an online form of money laundering used to disguise the source of money, and to disguise who’s both selling and buying the drug.”
When I spoke last week with Gavin Andresen, one of the lead developers on the open-source and decentralized project, he countered Schumer’s criticisms by comparing Bitcoins to other pseudo-currencies like prepaid gift cards and frequent flier miles. ”We feel like innocent bystanders,” he says. “We can’t control what Bitcoins are used for: great things and things that aren’t so great. That’s the nature of the beast.”
Plenty of legal businesses accept Bitcoins, after all, in exchange for all sorts of merchandise. But so does LulzSec, the donation-funded hacker group that has been rampaging through dozens of data breaches targeting PBS, Sony, the U.S. Senate and others since it emerged last month.
Bitcoins’ independence from banks is only one of the features that make them attractive. They’re also created at a set pace designed to prevent inflation, which has helped fuel rapid growth in their valuation over the short period since they’ve become widely used. In just the time since my April article, Bitcoins have jumped from an exchange rate of around one to a dollar to close to 20 to a dollar, a rate that some critics say shows the currency’s unstability.
WikiLeaks has been actively trying to raise funds in recent weeks, even auctioning off eight seats at a lunch with founder Julian Assange and philosopher Slavoj Zizek. The current price of a seat ranges from $573 to $835 with five days left in the auction.
With Bitcoin WikiLeaks may be simply trying to solicit donations in a form that it believes is set to appreciate, or it may trying to offer its donors a way to give without revealing their sympathy for a controversial site. Either way, its new funding move will only offer more anti-Bitcoin ammunition to Schumer, who has never been much of a WikiLeaks fan.
By BOB DROGIN : Los Angeles Times
"The Age of Deception: Nuclear Diplomacy in Treacherous Times" by Mohamed ElBaradei; Metropolitan Books (352 pages, $27)
When tens of thousands of antigovernment protesters filled Cairo's Tahrir Square for 18 tense days and toppled Egypt's brutal dictator early this year, Mohamed ElBaradei visited the street revolutionaries exactly once - briefly - and never went back.
Since then, ElBaradei has made repeated appearances on American TV talk shows to portray himself as the leader of Egypt's opposition movement and to argue that he now should become the country's first freely elected president.
Revisionism is a recurrent theme in ElBaradei's memoir, "The Age of Deception: Nuclear Diplomacy in Treacherous Times." Written before the "Arab Spring" gave him a political platform, it is a compelling, if incomplete, account of his years at the helm of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the obscure United Nations agency charged with preventing the spread of nuclear weapons.
Given his unique perch, ElBaradei provides behind-the-scenes details of how the Vienna-based agency navigated - and sometimes blundered - through headline-grabbing nuclear standoffs and crises over the last two decades with Iraq, Iran, Libya, Pakistan and North Korea.
And for a diplomat, he dishes dirt with an acid pen. He settles scores with fellow arms control experts, with the CIA and other spy services, and especially with President George W. Bush and his aides for what he calls the "grotesque distortion" of intelligence during the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
ElBaradei recounts sitting down with Bush in late 2002 in the Oval Office, for example. "'I'm not a trigger-happy Texas cowboy, with six-guns,' (Bush) quipped, sliding forward on his armchair, hands on his hips, to show us how a cowboy would pull out his pistols ... It was an odd interaction: Bush kept repeating that it was an 'honor' for him to meet with us, but he was not the least bit interested in anything we might have had to say."
If the Bush administration is to blame for a human and foreign policy fiasco in Iraq, it's equally true that ElBaradei didn't raise nearly the fuss he now claims. Most important, he never told the U.N. Security Council that Saddam Hussein had abandoned plans to build nuclear weapons. The reason: The IAEA wasn't yet convinced.
Still, ElBaradei's confrontations with the Bush White House over Iraq and other issues helped him and the IAEA win the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize. It also helped him win a third term as IAEA director general, a position he now claims he sought because he wanted to stand up "against U.S. bullying."
It's strong stuff, and ElBaradei clearly doubts U.S. motives and actions on the world stage. Indeed, he sometimes seems to show more sympathy for renegade dictators and their ambitions than for Western powers and their security.
He documents the myriad ways that North Korea, Iran and other despotic regimes have flouted international nuclear arms accords, for example. But in almost every case, he faults the United States for scaring their leaders into seeking nuclear weapons for protection from Western aggression.
In his telling, the IAEA doesn't get the respect it deserves or the cooperation it needs, and it's not his fault if nuclear arms and technology spread widely during his tenure. He seems genuinely shocked when repressive regimes lie to him or his inspectors about their nuclear programs.
He thus was furious when the United States and Britain moved to unilaterally disarm Moammar Kadafi's regime of a nascent nuclear weapons program in 2003 without first informing the IAEA.
"The very existence of Libyan WMD development was news to me," ElBaradei admits. Rather than fault the Libyans, he lashes out at the U.S. and British officials who briefed him: "I was angry, and I let my indignation show." He disparages their success as minor.
He similarly complains that the West didn't share intelligence on A.Q. Khan, the father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb and the head of a global nuclear smuggling network that ElBaradei rightly calls "a virtual Nuclear Wal-Mart."
It's now clear that the CIA and its allies made a monstrous miscalculation by letting Khan's black market network flourish for years before they tried to shut it down in 2004. Their decision "to watch and wait was a royal blunder," ElBaradei declares.
Yet where was the IAEA? This was their job too. ElBaradei never says how Washington and its allies should respond when U.N. agencies are ineffective and the future of the planet is at stake.
If you’re a regular listener of Glenn Beck’s radio show and you wanted to contribute to a political group that would advance the populist conservative ideals he touts on his show, you’d have plenty of reason to think that FreedomWorks was your best investment.
But if you’re a fan of Mark Levin’s radio show, you’d have just as much cause to believe that Americans for Prosperity, a FreedomWorks rival, was the most effective conservative advocacy group. And, if Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity are who you listen to, you’d be hearing a steady stream of entreaties to support the important work of the Heritage Foundation.
That’s not coincidence. In search of donations and influence, the three prominent conservative groups are paying hefty sponsorship fees to the popular talk show hosts. Those fees buy them a variety of promotional tie-ins, as well as regular on-air plugs – praising or sometimes defending the groups, while urging listeners to donate – often woven seamlessly into programming in ways that do not seem like paid advertising.
“The point that people don’t realize,” said Michael Harrison, founder and publisher of the talk media trade publication TALKERS Magazine, “is that (big time political talk show hosts) are radio personalities – they are in the same business that people like Casey Kasem are in – and what they do is no different than people who broadcast from used car lots or restaurants or who endorse the local roofer or gardener.”
The Heritage Foundation pays about $2 million to sponsor Limbaugh’s show and about $1.3 million to do the same with Hannity’s – and considers it money well spent.
“We approach it the way anyone approaches advertising: where is our audience that wants to buy what you sell?” Genevieve Wood, Heritage’s vice president for operations and marketing.
Last month, in the midst of a flurry of scrutiny of GOP presidential candidates’ stances on health insurance mandates similar to one included in the 2010 Democratic healthcare overhaul, Limbaugh took to the airwaves to defend Heritage’s past support for such a proposal.
“The Heritage Foundation to this day says they are being impugned and misrepresented in terms of their advocacy for such a thing,” Limbaugh said, explaining that the venerable think tank “abandoned the idea once they saw it implemented” and realized “it doesn’t work.”
Limbaugh, who has been a paid Heritage endorser since 2009, said the reversal did nothing to detract from the “profound … respect for Heritage. Heritage is the gold standard. Heritage was every bit as involved in Reaganism as Reagan was, and nothing’s changed.”
Levin, whose endorsement deal with the tea party organizing group Americans for Prosperity started last summer, was similarly protective of his sponsor last year after President Barack Obama singled out the group in making the case that anonymously funded attack ads were distorting the midterm elections.
“Americans for Prosperity is a magnificent organization that people join voluntarily. You. Me,” Levin said on his syndicated radio show. Obama, Levin continued, “wants you to hate Americans for Prosperity. So if he wants you to hate it, then you should embrace it, and promote it, and support it and join it, because it’s effective.” 2 3 4 »
Lawmakers Sue President Obama Over "Illegal Libya War"
Dennis Kucinich and Walter Jones continued their bipartisan quest to end the US ... If Obirdhead is elected (hope not) for 4 more years Bush will have to be ...
Reps. Dennis Kucinich and Walter Jones continued their bipartisan quest to end the U.S. military’s participation in the conflict in Libya, filing a lawsuit Tuesday in federal court against President Obama to “challenge the commitment of the United States to war in Libya absent the required constitutional legal authority.”
The lawsuit challenges what the lawmakers see as “the executive branch’s circumvention of Congress and its use of international organizations such as the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to authorize the use of military force abroad, in violation of the Constitution.”
“With regard to the war in Libya, we believe that the law was violated. We have asked the courts to move to protect the American people from the results of these illegal policies,” Kucinich said in a statement announcing the suit.
A copy of the complaint is linked here.
The lawsuit is signed by a bipartisan group of members of the House, including Kucinich (D-Ohio), Jones (R-North Carolina), Howard Coble (R-North Carolina), John Duncan (R-Tennessee), Roscoe Bartlett (R-Maryland), John Conyers (D-Michigan) Ron Paul (R-Texas), Michael Capuano (D-Massachusetts), Tim Johnson (R-Illinois) and Dan Burton (R-Indiana).
According to a release announcing the suit, the lawmakers are calling for “injunctive and declaratory relief to protect the plaintiffs and the country” from:
(1) the policy that a president may unilaterally go to war in Libya and other countries without a declaration of war from Congress, as required by Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 of the United States Constitution;
(2) the policy that a president may commit the United States to a war under the authority of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in violation of the express conditions of the North Atlantic Treaty ratified by Congress;
(3) the policy that a president may commit the United States to a war under the authority of the United Nations without authorization from Congress;
(4) from the use of previously appropriated funds by Congress for an unconstitutional and unauthorized war in Libya or other countries; and
(5) from the violation of the War Powers Resolution as a result of the Obama Administration’s established policy that the President does not require congressional authorization for the use of military force in wars like the one in Libya.
The Kucinich lawsuit is just the latest in a series of headaches for the administration related to Libya.
Kucinich had worked to push a resolution through the House that would have ended U.S. involvement in Libya within 15 days of passage. The measure was poised to pass until a vote on the House floor was delayed in order to give Speaker John Boehner an opportunity to write an alternative resolution that would convince his Republican colleagues to abandon support for the Kucinich measure.
A vote on the Kucinich bill eventually failed by a count of 148-265. Eighty-seven Republicans voted in favor of the resolution -- still more than the 61 Democrats who supported the measure.
Tuesday House Speaker John Boehner warned President Obama in a letter that the administration will soon be in violation of the War Powers Resolution – three months after the president informed Congress of the start of the mission in Libya – because the White House has failed to answer "fundamental questions regarding the Libya mission."
Over the past 90 days, the maximum days allowed under the War Powers Resolution without Congressional approval, Boehner complains that the president has not asked for or received approval from Congress for the action in Libya. Boehner wrote Tuesday that while the administration has provided tactical operational briefings to the House of Representatives, "the White House has systematically avoided requesting a formal authorization for its action."
The White House responded, noting that "Since March 1st, Administration witnesses have testified at over 10 hearings that included a substantial discussion of Libya and participated in over 30 Member or staff briefings, and we will continue to consult with our Congressional colleagues."
"We are in the final stages of preparing extensive information for the House and Senate that will address a whole host of issues about our ongoing efforts in Libya, including those raised in the House resolution as well as our legal analysis with regard to the War Powers Resolution," Tommy Vietor, National Security Council Spokesman, said in a statement.
ABC News’ Senior White House Correspondent Jake Tapper contributed to this report
10 US lawmakers sue Obama over Libya strikes
Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, John Conyers of Michigan and Michael Capuano of .... 2011 3:11 PM EDT Explain how he is a jack*** last I check Bush was the moron ...
A SUPPORTER Of The US Army Private Suspected Of Supplying Classified Documents To The Wikileaks Website Has Refused To Testify To A Federal Grand Jury, Accusing The US Government Of A Witch Hunt.
David House, a founding member of the Bradley Manning Support Network, said he invoked his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination after being subpoenaed to the US federal courthouse in Alexandria.
Prosecutors have convened a grand jury there to investigate the WikiLeaks disclosures.
Mr House said after his appearance that nearly all the questions posed by prosecutors centered on Bradley Manning, who is being held at Fort Leavenworth while military authorities conduct their own investigation into whether he illegally leaked sensitive documents about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
Mr House said he was not asked any questions about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
The Justice Department, Mr House said, "is very frantically trying to link Bradley Manning and Julian Assange, and they're casting a very wide net".
His lawyer Peter Krupp said that while Mr House has done nothing wrong, he invoked his right against self-incrimination because "any testimony he would give would be manipulated to be used against him".
Mr Krupp also accused prosecutors of using the grand jury to trample on Mr House's right to freely associate with Manning or other WikiLeaks supporters.
Prosecutors, if they choose, could give Mr House immunity for his testimony and compel him to answer questions.
If Mr House still refused to testify, he could then be charged with contempt of court and sent to jail to try and force his testimony.
Mr Krupp said prosecutors gave no indication whether they would grant Mr House immunity, and no decision has been made on what Mr House will do if he gets immunity.
About 20 supporters of Mr House and Manning staged a rally outside the courthouse to offer support.
Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst, said that while it's important for soldiers and civilians to honour their promises to keep classified information secret, it's more important to expose wrongdoing within the government that is going unchecked.
"I'm talking about stopping war crimes. ... I'm talking about bringing people to justice. Bradley Manning, at the tender age of 22, was able to see this," Mr McGovern said.
"I have every reason to believe that was his motivation."
Mr House, 24, a freelance computer scientist from Boston, said he, too, understands the Government's desire to protect information that's vital to national security.
But he said the documents exposed by WikiLeaks provide a vital watchdog role exposing US government wrongdoing, including military attacks on civilians and foreign policy missteps.
"WikiLeaks has been cast as a breach of national security because the US Government has been embarrassed by the disclosures," Mr House said.
"I don't want to wake up every morning and just read how glorious the US Government is." http://www.bradleymanning.org/
Pentagon Mashes Up Rule of Law, Detainee Offices
William Lietzau, is already responsible for thinking through complex legal issues regarding indefinite detentions at Guantanamo Bay, the military commissions for accused terrorist war criminals, and the dispensation of battlefield captives held in ...
Obama Extends Patriot Act Without New Civil Liberties Protections As FBI Claims More Privacy-Violating Powers
Late at night on May 26, President Obama signed into law a four-year reauthorization of three provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act that had been set to expire. Despite vocal opposition from across the political spectrum and a filibuster by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), a backroom bipartisan deal allowed the reauthorization to move forward. All amendments that would have added new civil liberties and privacy protections to the law were defeated.
We at the Bill of Rights Defense Committee are deeply disappointed in our Congress—whose leaders championed the PATRIOT Act in spite of the legislature’s constitutional obligations and, in many cases, against their own previously expressed views—as well as our president, who just two years ago ran a campaign based on promises to protect and restore civil liberties. But this will not end the public debate over domestic surveillance.
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has already introduced a law to reform the PATRIOT Act, S. 1125, so there is still reason to hope that Congress will at least consider upholding its constitutional obligation to check and balance the Executive Branch. But even the Leahy bill would merely scratch at the surface.
And now, the FBI has gone even further in its efforts to expand its powers to violate the privacy of law-abiding Americans. In newly updated guidelines, the FBI claims the authority to rifle through people’s garbage and scrutinize the lives of individuals who pique their interest.
When presented with opportunities to protect constitutional rights, our federal government has consistently failed us, with Congress repeatedly rubber-stamping the executive authority to violate civil liberties long protected by the Constitution. While DC remains locked in familiar cycles, however, We the People can take the responsibility upon ourselves to restore and protect our rights.
We can do this in individual cities and towns across the country, requiring that our local governments and police departments not participate in constitutional violations. We can do this by meeting with our elected officials and holding them accountable for their decisions in the media and at the ballot box. And we can do this by educating each other, organizing across communities, and being the change we want to see in the world, in our country, and in our communities.
THE BOTTOM FEEDER