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Japan reveals long-secretive execution process Japan, one of the few industrialized countries with the death penalty, showed one of its execution chambers to the media for the first time Friday.
Reporters were shown the death chamber at the Tokyo Detention Facility, one of seven used across the country, according to a report in the Mainichi Daily News. (CNN)
Most prisoners come from few neighborhoods ‘Incarceration hot spots’ inculcate a vicious brand of hopelessness - Crime rates have dropped in the United States over the past 15 years, yet prison populations have soared. The U.S. incarceration rate now exceeds that of other industrialized nations by five times or more, with almost 2.3 million people behind bars and another 5 million on parole or probation.
A major reason for this apparent paradox has gone largely ignored, according to Harvard University sociologist Robert Sampson. Certain disadvantaged sections of cities have acted as incarceration hot spots in the midst of a general downturn in crime, Sampson reported at a press conference August 16 at the American Sociological Association’s annual meeting.
Ballooning incarceration rates in these poor, predominantly black neighborhoods, especially among young men, create a sense of collective cynicism and fatalism that fuels further misconduct and imprisonment, Sampson said. He and sociology graduate student Charles Loeffler of Harvard describe their findings, based on surveys and crime-data analyses of Chicago neighborhoods, in the summer Daedalus. That issue contains research and essays inspired by an American Academy of Arts and Sciences task force on mass incarceration.
“Mass incarceration in the United States has a deep local concentration in relatively few disadvantaged communities,” Sampson asserted. (Science News)
9/11 report: Key findings The US 9/11 commission's report has urged sweeping changes to how the intelligence services operate after finding that the government had "failed to protect American people" from the 11 September 2001 attacks.
Here are the key findings of the 576-page report: - Failure to confront -- The report charts how al-Qaeda was allowed to develop into a real danger to the US, concluding that while the attacks "were a shock... they should not have come as a surprise" (BBC)
The investigation and the evidence If the US is to maintain international backing for its war on terrorism, the strength of evidence linking Osama Bin Laden and his al-Qaeda organisation to the attacks is crucial. Much of this evidence is not yet in the public domain. BBC News Online looks at the investigation to date and considers the information that has emerged. - Within hours of the attacks, the Federal Bureau of Investigation launched what has become the biggest manhunt and investigation in US history. (BBC)
9/11 conspiracy theory A five-year-old story from our archive has been the subject of some recent editorial discussion here. The story, written in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, was about confusion at the time surrounding the names and identities of some of the hijackers. This confusion was widely reported and was also acknowledged by the FBI.
The story has been cited ever since by some as evidence that the 9/11 attacks were part of a US government conspiracy.
Screen grab of original website storyWe later reported on the list of hijackers, thereby superseding the earlier report. In the intervening years we have also reported in detail on the investigation into the attacks, the 9/11 commission and its report. - In an effort to make this clearer, we have made one small change to the original story. Under the FBI picture of Waleed al Shehri we have added the words "A man called Waleed Al Shehri..." to make it as clear as possible that there was confusion over the identity. The rest of the story remains as it was in the archive as a record of the situation at the time.
We recently asked the FBI for a statement, and this is, as things stand, the closest thing we have to a definitive view: The FBI is confident that it has positively identified the nineteen hijackers responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Also, the 9/11 investigation was thoroughly reviewed by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States and the House and Senate Joint Inquiry. Neither of these reviews ever raised the issue of doubt about the identity of the nineteen hijackers. (BBC)
Panoply of the Absurd Were the attacks on New York and Washington the biggest act of terrorism in history – or just an enormous secret service conspiracy? Conspiracy theorists are filling bestsellers with their supposed evidence, and they already have one-fifth of all Germans convinced of their half-truths.
The man with the shy smile who has been appearing in the dock in room 237 at the Hanseatic Higher Regional Court in Hamburg since August 14 is accused of being involved in a conspiracy. His name is Abdelghani Mzoudi, and he has been charged with assisting in the commission of murder - in 3066 cases - as a member of the secret terrorist group surrounding Mohammed Atta that changed the world with its attacks on September 11, 2001. - Bröckers and Hauß spend fifteen pages making their version of a tale of suicide assassins seem plausible. Bülow does the same thing in five pages. However, a few telephone calls are all it takes to destroy their zombie theories. What these investigative journalists should have done was to spend a little time listening to those whom they cite as "reputable" sources for their arguments. Take the BBC, for example, which did in fact report, on September 23, 2001, that some of the alleged terrorists were alive and healthy and had protested their being named as assassins.
But there is one wrinkle. The BBC journalist responsible for the story only recalls this supposed sensation after having been told the date on which the story aired. "No, we did not have any videotape or photographs of the individuals in question at that time," he says, and tells us that the report was based on articles in Arab newspapers, such as the Arab News, an English-language Saudi newspaper.
The operator at the call center has the number for the Arab News on speed dial. We make a call to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. A few seconds later, Managing Editor John Bradley is on the line. When we tell Bradley our story, he snorts and says: "That's ridiculous! People here stopped talking about that a long time ago."
Bradley tells us that at the time his reporters did not speak directly with the so-called "survivors," but instead combined reports from other Arab papers. These reports, says Bradley, appeared at a time when the only public information about the attackers was a list of names that had been published by the FBI on September 14th. The FBI did not release photographs until four days after the cited reports, on September 27th. (Der Spiegel)
FBI Chief Raises New Doubts Over Hijackers' Identities FBI Director Robert Mueller acknowledged Thursday that investigators may not know the true identities of some of the 19 suspected airplane hijackers from last week's suicide attacks.
Mueller said last week that he had "a fairly high level of confidence" that the FBI knew the real names of the hijackers, based on flight manifests and follow-up interviews. - Officials refused to say how many hijackers may have used false identities, but officials of the Saudi Arabian government said Thursday that six of the men that the United States has named as hijackers killed in the attacks appear to be living in the Middle East.
Investigators believe that some of the 19 suspected hijackers may have stolen the identities of law-abiding Middle Easterners, further complicating the probe. (Los Angeles Times)
Ron Paul to Sunshine Patriots: Stop Your Demagogy About The NYC Mosque! Congressman Ron Paul today released the following statement on the controversy concerning the construction of an Islamic Center and Mosque in New York City:
Is the controversy over building a mosque near ground zero a grand distraction or a grand opportunity? Or is it, once again, grandiose demagoguery?
It has been said, “Nero fiddled while Rome burned.” Are we not overly preoccupied with this controversy, now being used in various ways by grandstanding politicians? It looks to me like the politicians are “fiddling while the economy burns.”
The debate should have provided the conservative defenders of property rights with a perfect example of how the right to own property also protects the 1st Amendment rights of assembly and religion by supporting the building of the mosque.
Instead, we hear lip service given to the property rights position while demanding that the need to be “sensitive” requires an all-out assault on the building of a mosque, several blocks from “ground zero.” (Ron Paul)
ACLU questions 'enhanced patdown' of air travelers The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts is questioning the propriety of stepped-up security checkpoint procedures at airports in Boston and Las Vegas.
The Boston Herald reports that Transportation Security Administration screeners at Logan International Airport are testing what one official called an "enhanced patdown." It lets screeners use a palms-forward, slide-down search procedure on passengers' bodies.
It replaces the old back-of-the-hand patdown for passengers who don't want to go through full-body scanning machines. (Washington Post)
COLUMN-In drug war, the beginning of the end? Bernd Debusmann Between 1971, when Richard Nixon launched the war on drugs, and 2008, the latest year for which official figures are available, American law enforcement officials made more than 40 million drug arrests. That number roughly equals the population of California, or of the 33 biggest U.S. cities.
Forty million arrests speak volumes about America's longest war, which was meant to throttle drug production at home and abroad, cut supplies across the borders, and keep people from using drugs. The marathon effort has boosted the prison industry but failed so obviously to meet its objectives that there is a growing chorus of calls for the legalization of illicit drugs.
In the United States, that brings together odd bedfellows. Libertarians in the tea party movement, for example, and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), an organization of former police officers, narcotics agents, judges and prosecutors who favor legalizing all drugs, not only marijuana, the world's most widely-used illicit drug. - "Taking all this together, there is reason to believe that we are at the beginning of the end of the drug war as we know it," says Aaron Houston, a veteran Washington lobbyist for marijuana policy reform.
Far-fetched? Perhaps. But how many people in the late 1920s, at the height of the government's fight against the likes of Al Capone, would have foreseen that alcohol prohibition would end in just a few years? Prohibition lasted from 1920 to 1933 and is now considered a failed experiment in social engineering.
Alcohol and marijuana prohibition have much in common: both in effect handed production, sales and distribution of a commodity in high demand to criminal organizations, both filled the prisons (America's population behind bars is now the world's largest), both diverted the resources of law enforcement, and both created millions of scoff-laws. (Reuters)
Canadian police find bears guarding pot crop A pair of marijuana growers in Western Canada appear to have been using bears to protect their illegal crop, but the well-fed animals proved to be a bit lax in their guard duties, police said on Wednesday. (Reuters)
Medical Marijuana: No Longer Just for Adults At the Peace in Medicine Healing Center in Sebastopol, the wares on display include dried marijuana -- featuring brands like Kryptonite, Voodoo Daddy and Train Wreck -- and medicinal cookies arrayed below a sign saying, “Keep Out of Reach of Your Mother.” The warning tells a story of its own: some of the center’s clients are too young to buy themselves a beer.
Several Bay Area doctors who recommend medical marijuana for their patients said in recent interviews that their client base had expanded to include teenagers with psychiatric conditions including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
“It’s not everybody’s medicine, but for some, it can make a profound difference,” said Valerie Corral, a founder of the Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana, a patients’ collective in Santa Cruz that has two dozen minors as registered clients. (New York Times)
Obama signs bill reducing cocaine sentencing gap President Obama signed a bill Tuesday reducing the disparity in penalties for the use of crack and powder cocaine, according to the White House.
The enactment of the law seals a hard-fought victory for civil rights activists who have argued for years that the differing punishments unfairly target African-Americans.
The Fair Sentencing Act repeals a five-year mandatory sentence for first time offenders, and for repeat offenders with less than 28 grams of crack cocaine. The old law set the mandatory sentence for conviction at five grams.
African-Americans have been far more likely than whites and Hispanics to be convicted for -- and receive the harsher penalties associated with -- possession of crack cocaine, according to government statistics. White and Hispanic defendants are more frequently charged with possession of powder cocaine. (CNN)
Happy Birthday, President Obama -- What Do You Say Now? The Democrats are making President Obama’s 49th birthday on Wednesday a big deal. Our society uses birthdays to define responsibility and adulthood. The Constitution provides that a person is not mature enough to be President unless he or she is 35 years old. You have to be at least 30 to serve in the U.S. Senate and at least 25 to serve in the House of Representatives. If you are 18 years old, you can vote in federal or state elections, according to the 26th Amendment, but states or Congress could make the voting age even lower. (Fire Dog Lake)
Senate Deducts Brownie Points for Devil's Food Dopers Don't get baked on baked goods.
That's the warning the Senate sent last week when it voted to toughen penalties for those who peddle pot brownies to minors -- a decision that drew gasps from drug policy reform advocates who were, momentarily, elated over a new law that drastically reduces the disparity between prison sentences for crack and cocaine offenses.
President Obama on Tuesday signed the law overhauling mandatory sentencing guidelines for crack cocaine and powder cocaine. Crack users, who are mostly black, for the past quarter-century have faced far tougher sentencing guidelines than cocaine users -- under the prior law, a suspect would need to be found carrying 500 grams of cocaine to face a five-year sentence; a crack user had to be caught with just 5 grams to get the same sentence.
While the move was hailed by some drug policy groups, the pot brownie bill tempered their excitement.
"It's a black eye on the Senate. It's a mark of shame," said Aaron Houston, director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy. (FOX)
'Just Say Now': Left-Right Coalition Launches Campaign To Legalize Pot A transpartisan coalition of prosecutors, judges, cops, students, bloggers and political operatives on both sides of the aisle launched a campaign Tuesday to bring an end to marijuana prohibition, focusing on ballot initiatives in 2010 and 2012. The campaign, "Just Say Now," gets its name from Nancy Reagan's iconic anti-drug slogan from the 1980s that has become synonymous with the government's black-and-white approach to drug policy.
"The stars are aligning in a very interesting way with Tea Party activists, who are generally libertarian," said Aaron Houston, head of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, on a conference call Tuesday afternoon announcing the formation of the coalition. "On the right and left it's a very popular issue."
The campaign will be backing marijuana initiatives in 2010 in Arizona, Oregon, California, Colorado and South Dakota. The group will back initiatives in Nevada and elsewhere in 2012. (Huffington Post)
The Middle Class in America Is Radically Shrinking. Here Are the Stats to Prove it The 22 statistics detailed here prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the middle class is being systematically wiped out of existence in America.
The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer at a staggering rate. Once upon a time, the United States had the largest and most prosperous middle class in the history of the world, but now that is changing at a blinding pace.
So why are we witnessing such fundamental changes? Well, the globalism and "free trade" that our politicians and business leaders insisted would be so good for us have had some rather nasty side effects. It turns out that they didn't tell us that the "global economy" would mean that middle class American workers would eventually have to directly compete for jobs with people on the other side of the world where there is no minimum wage and very few regulations. The big global corporations have greatly benefited by exploiting third world labor pools over the last several decades, but middle class American workers have increasingly found things to be very tough.
Here are the statistics to prove it... (Business Insider)
NY Times Money Shot The screenshot below comes from the NY Times article ”This Land: Redwood Hideaway for Elite Goes on, But Protest Days Fade“, by Dan Barry. The print edition came out on July 28th, the article was released online on July 27th. BLAM! Dedication pays off, and my efforts were not in vain as the article states! Look at that beautiful banner, the NY Times could have cropped out the Architects and Engineers website, but did not, so thanks to the editors. (Nor Cal Truth)
Hacker builds $1,500 cell-phone tapping device A computer security researcher has built a device for just $1,500 that can intercept some kinds of cell phone calls and record everything that's said.
The attack Chris Paget showed Saturday illustrates weaknesses in GSM, one of the world's most widely used cellular communications technologies.
His attack was benign; he showed how he could intercept a few dozen calls made by fellow hackers in the audience for his talk at the DefCon conference here. But it illustrates that criminals could do the same thing for malicious purposes, and that consumers have few options for protecting themselves.
Paget said he hopes his research helps spur adoption of newer communications standards that are more secure. (Associated Press)
Anthony Weiner MAULS Republicans on 9/11 Health Bill "The gentleman is providing cover for his colleagues rather than doing the right thing," bellowed Weiner, who represents parts of Brooklyn and Queens. "Republicans wrapping their arms around Republicans rather than doing the right thing on behalf of heroes. It's a shame, a shame." (CSPAN)
NY reps. spar in House over 9/11 responder bill The House's rejection of bill that would have provided up to $7.4 billion in aid to people sickened by World Trade Center dust has opened a sharp rift between two New York congressmen, Republican Peter King and Democrat Anthony Weiner.
The verbal jousting came on the House floor Thursday night as the vote neared. The results fell largely along party lines, with 12 Republicans joining Democrats supporting the measure, but it failed to win the needed two-thirds majority.
Arms flailing and his voice rising, Weiner took sharp aim at King, a Long Island Republican. (Associated Press)
Leading Ocean Scientists Issue Consensus Statement to End Dispersant Use in Gulf Leading ocean researchers and conservation leaders have issued a joint Consensus Statement calling for the immediate halt of the use of chemical dispersants in the Gulf of Mexico. BP has used nearly two million gallons of Corexit chemical dispersants in the Gulf of Mexico as part of the cleanup effort with support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The massive volume of dispersants and the way they have been applied—both on the surface and one mile below the surface —is unprecedented. Once oil is dispersed in deep water, it cannot be recovered. (1 Planet 1 Ocean)
BP Oil Spill: On Day 100, Gulf Coast Has Some Reason to Hope Oil Slick Has Shrunk in Size, Marshes Remain Cleaner Than Expected - BP's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico began 100 days ago, a spill that has changed the Gulf of Mexico, causing immense economic hardship and environmental disaster. At this milestone, though, it appears that the tide has turned and there's reason to hope.
Jeffery Kofman returns to the Gulf where the oil is quickly disappearing.
As of tonight, some 180 million gallons of oil have spilled into the Gulf of Mexico, but the leaky well remains capped, and crews are on track to complete the relief well that will plug it for good within the next few weeks. (ABC)
A Critical Examination Of Matt Simmons' Hyperbolic Claims On The Deepwater Spill Matt Simmons, author of Twilight in the Desert, has long been one of the most famous and influential voices on the subject of peak oil. After the release of his book, Simmons rose to fame as Saudi Arabian oil production declined and global oil prices skyrocketed.
However, Simmons has lately been making hyperbolic claims related to the deepwater spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Based on the scenarios Simmons has outlined, he argues for responses such as using a nuclear explosion to seal the well and evacuating 20 million people from the Gulf Coast. Extraordinary responses such as these would impact a great many people, so The Oil Drum staff felt that a critical look at some of Simmons’ claims was in order. (Business Insider)
Was Matt Simmons Right About The Oil Spill? Back when BP and the government were talking about a 5,000 bbd leak, Matt Simmons boldly predicted a rate of 120,000 bbd -- and he wasn't far off. His apocalyptic predictions were often right, like the existence of underwater oil plumes, and sometimes wrong, like the imminent bankruptcy of BP.
But the prominent oil investor, who died at his home yesterday, dropped out of the news recently, as BP appeared to get ahold on its leaking well. (Business Insider)
Matt Simmons Dead: Oil Man and Energy Investment Banker Dead at 67 Matthew Simmons, an investment banker who started out in the oil industry and later became an advocate for offshore wind energy, died Sunday in Maine. He was 67. According to an e-mailed statement from the Ocean Energy Institute, Simmons “passed away suddenly.” No further details on his death have been released. The Maine-based Institute was founded by Simmons in 2007 to explore opportunities for harvesting energy from the seas. He retired in June to devote his time to the think tank.
Simmons founded Texas-based Simmons & Company International, which grew into one of the largest investment banking companies serving the energy industry. He is survived by his wife, Ellen, and their five daughters. (Long Island Press)
Google-Verizon Deal: The End of The Internet as We Know It The Federal Communication Commission should act swiftly to protect free access to the Internet and prevent media giants from co-opting the future of the most powerful new medium since the printing press.
Incredibly, the FCC asked the corporations who stand to profit most to write rules on how bandwidth will be divvied up. Google and Verizon floated a plan that most observers view as a roadmap to a multi-tiered system. AT&T has endorsed the Google/Verizon plan.
What's at stake is control over whose data gets transmitted, and how quickly. A wide-open field let's everyone compete. A tiered system like the one proposed by the big shots would inevitably favor them and their preferred media; some web purveyors would be relegated to second- and third-class status.
What's also at stake is freedom of speech and freedom of the press, because so many people get their news and information from the net today. Not to mention free and open access to intellectual and commercial media that power education, development and entrepreneurship.
Basically, the corporatists want to install a meter on your Internet. They whine that if they aren't allowed to nickel-and-dime us, innovation will wither. (Huffington Post)
Federal Court Rescinds USDA Approval of Genetically Engineered Sugar Beets Order Bans Planting or Sale of Controversial Crop. Court Denies Monsanto Request to Allow Continued Planting. - Today Judge Jeffrey White, federal district judge for the Northern District of California, issued a ruling granting the request of plaintiffs Center for Food Safety, Organic Seed Alliance, High Mowing Organic Seeds, and the Sierra Club to rescind the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) approval of genetically engineered “Roundup Ready” sugar beets. In September 2009, the Court had found that the USDA had violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by approving the Monsanto-engineered biotech crop without first preparing an Environmental Impact Statement. The crop was engineered to resist the effects of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, which it sells to farmers together with the patented seed. Similar Roundup Ready crops have led to increased use of herbicides, proliferation of herbicide resistant weeds, and contamination of conventional and organic crops.
In today’s ruling the Court officially “vacated” the USDA “deregulation” of Monsanto’s biotech sugar beets and prohibited any future planting and sale pending the agency’s compliance with NEPA and all other relevant laws. USDA has estimated that an EIS may be ready by 2012.
This case is Center for Food Safety v. Vilsack, No. C08-00484 JSW (N.D. Cal. 2010). (Center for Food Safety)
Shaking Hands with Saddam Hussein: The U.S. Tilts toward Iraq, 1980-1984 The Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988) was one of a series of crises during an era of upheaval in the Middle East: revolution in Iran, occupation of the U.S. embassy in Tehran by militant students, invasion of the Great Mosque in Mecca by anti-royalist Islamicists, the Soviet Union's occupation of Afghanistan, and internecine fighting among Syrians, Israelis, and Palestinians in Lebanon. The war followed months of rising tension between the Iranian Islamic republic and secular nationalist Iraq. In mid-September 1980 Iraq attacked, in the mistaken belief that Iranian political disarray would guarantee a quick victory. - Although official U.S. policy still barred the export of U.S. military equipment to Iraq, some was evidently provided on a "don't ask - don't tell" basis. In April 1984, the Baghdad interests section asked to be kept apprised of Bell Helicopter Textron's negotiations to sell helicopters to Iraq, which were not to be "in any way configured for military use" [Document 55]. The purchaser was the Iraqi Ministry of Defense. In December 1982, Bell Textron's Italian subsidiary had informed the U.S. embassy in Rome that it turned down a request from Iraq to militarize recently purchased Hughes helicopters. An allied government, South Korea, informed the State Department that it had received a similar request in June 1983 (when a congressional aide asked in March 1983 whether heavy trucks recently sold to Iraq were intended for military purposes, a State Department official replied "we presumed that this was Iraq's intention, and had not asked.") (National Security Archive)
Report reveals Vietnam War hoaxes, faked attacks North Vietnamese made hoax calls to get the US military to bomb its own units during the Vietnam War, according to declassified information that also confirmed US officials faked an incident to escalate the war.
The report was released by the National Security Agency, responsible for much of the United States' codebreaking and eavesdropping work, in response to a "mandatory declassification" request, the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) said Monday. - That was a reported North Vietnamese attack on American destroyers that helped lead to president Lyndon Johnson's sharp escalation of American forces in Vietnam.
The author of the report "demonstrates that not only is it not true, as (then US) secretary of defense Robert McNamara told Congress, that the evidence of an attack was 'unimpeachable,' but that to the contrary, a review of the classified signals intelligence proves that 'no attack happened that night,'" FAS said in a statement.
"What this study demonstrated is that the available intelligence shows that there was no attack. It's a dramatic reversal of the historical record," Aftergood said.
"There were previous indications of this but this is the first time we have seen the complete study," he said. (Agence France-Presse)
Bush Secret Effort Helped Iraq Build Its War Machine Persian Gulf: Documents show that 9 months before Hussein's invasion of Kuwait the President approved $1 billion in aid. Objections from others were suppressed. - In the fall of 1989, at a time when Iraq's invasion of Kuwait was only nine months away and Saddam Hussein was desperate for money to buy arms, President Bush signed a top-secret National Security Decision directive ordering closer ties with Baghdad and opening the way for $1 billion in new aid, according to classified documents and interviews.
The $1-billion commitment, in the form of loan guarantees for the purchase of U.S. farm commodities, enabled Hussein to buy needed foodstuffs on credit and to spend his scarce reserves of hard currency on the massive arms buildup that brought war to the Persian Gulf. - Bush's involvement began in the early 1980s as part of the so-called "tilt" toward Iraq initiated by then-President Ronald Reagan to prop up Hussein in his war with Iran. Hussein's survival was seen as vital to U.S. efforts to contain the spread of Islamic fundamentalism and thwart Iran's bid for dominance in the Middle East.
Many in the American government, including Presidents Bush and Reagan, also hoped that U.S. aid would gradually cause Hussein to moderate his ways and even play a positive role in the Middle East peace process.
But classified records show that Bush's efforts on Hussein's behalf continued well beyond the end of the Iran-Iraq War and persisted in the face of increasingly widespread warnings from inside the American government that the overall policy had become misdirected.
Moreover, it appears that instead of merely keeping Hussein afloat as a counterweight to Iran, the U.S. aid program helped him become a dangerous military power in his own right, able to threaten the very U.S. interests that the program originally was designed to protect. (Los Angeles Times)
The Ties That Blind: How Reagan Armed Saddam with Chemical Weapons On August 18, 2002, the New York Times carried a front-page story headlined, "Officers say U.S. aided Iraq despite the use of gas". Quoting anonymous US "senior military officers", the NYT "revealed" that in the 1980s, the administration of US President Ronald Reagan covertly provided "critical battle planning assistance at a time when American intelligence knew that Iraqi commanders would employ chemical weapons in waging the decisive battles of the Iran-Iraq war". The story made a brief splash in the international media, then died.
While the August 18 NYT article added new details about the extent of US military collaboration with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein during Iraq's 1980-88 war with Iran, it omitted the most outrageous aspect of the scandal: not only did Ronald Reagan's Washington turn a blind-eye to the Hussein regime's repeated use of chemical weapons against Iranian soldiers and Iraq's Kurdish minority, but the US helped Iraq develop its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs.
Nor did the NYT dwell on the extreme cynicism and hypocrisy of President George Bush II's administration's citing of those same terrible atrocities--which were disregarded at the time by Washington--and those same weapons programs--which no longer exist, having been dismantled and destroyed in the decade following the 1991 Gulf War--to justify a massive new war against the people of Iraq.
A reader of the NYT article (or the tens of thousands of other articles written after the war drive against Iraq began in earnest soon after September 11, 2001) would have looked in vain for the fact that many of the US politicians and ruling class pundits who demanded war against Hussein--in particular, the one of the most bellicose of the Bush administration's "hawks", defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld--were up to their ears in Washington's efforts to cultivate, promote and excuse Hussein in the past. - "The US spent virtually an entire decade making sure that Saddam Hussein had almost whatever he wanted... US export control policy was directed by US foreign policy as formulated by the State Department, and it was US foreign policy to assist the regime of Saddam Hussein." -William Blum (Counter Punch)
Profile: Johnelle Bryant: Late April-Mid-May 2000: Atta Leaves Numerous Clues While Seeking Crop-Dusting Airplane Loan Mohamed Atta reportedly has a very strange meeting with Johnelle Bryant of the US Department of Agriculture (incidentally, one month before the official story claims he arrived in the US for the first time). According to Bryant, in the meeting Atta does all of the following:
bullet He initially refuses to speak with one who is “but a female.”
bullet He asks her for a loan of $650,000 to buy and modify a crop-dusting plane.
bullet He mentions that he wants to “build a chemical tank that would fit inside the aircraft and take up every available square inch of the aircraft except for where the pilot would be sitting.” (History Commons)
Something is fishy with Johnelle Bryant's story Something is very fishy with ABC News' interview with Johnelle Bryant. Ms. Bryant, who works for the United States Department of Agriculture, claims she met Mohammed Atta, the ringleader of the 9/11 hijackers, in April and May of 2000 - However all other time lines that I have seen show Mohammed Atta arriving in the US for the first time on June 3, 2000. Here's one example for the US Department of Justice:
The Immigration and Naturalization Service's
Contacts With Two September 11 Terrorists
A. Atta's first entry - June 3, 2000, Newark, New Jersey
According to INS records, Atta first entered the United States
on June 3, 2000, at Newark International Airport in New Jersey,
after flying from Prague International Airport in the Czech Republic.
How then was Johnelle Byrant able to meet with Mohammed Atta in Florida weeks before INS records show that he entered the United States for the first time? (Computer Bytes Man)
Obama pledges swift response after Battle Creek oil spill; Granholm tours site President Barack Obama has pledged a swift response to requests for help in dealing with a spill that dumped more than 800,000 gallons of oil into waterways in southern Michigan.
White House spokesman Matt Lehrich says U.S. Rep. Mark Schauer, D- Battle Creek updated the president about the spill Tuesday. Lehrich says Obama asked what the U.S. government could do to provide additional help.
Schauer told reporters on a conference call that the spill is a "public health crisis." (The Detroit News)
Matthew Lesko Appalled Sept. 11 Terrorists Used his Book Information USA founder Matthew Lesko, author of "Free Money to Change Your Life," is dismayed to learn that some of the Sept. 11 terrorist highjackers used his book in attempting to obtain government loans to underwrite earlier attacks on U.S. targets.
"My book is for average American taxpayers. It's disturbing that foreign terrorists know there's government money available but the average citizen doesn't," notes Lesko, the author of more than 100 books on federal money programs.
In an exclusive interview with ABC news, USDA loan officer Johnelle Bryant said terrorist ringleader Mohamed Atta told her he had found out about such loans from a book he had seen advertised on television. Although he did not name its author, other details he provided exclude any other possibilities, Lesko says. - "I'm appalled they tried to get taxpayers' money to kill Americans, and outraged that they might have used my book as a reference," says Lesko, whose signature question mark suit and frenetic persona have made him a staple of national talk shows. "Atta thought he could just walk into a loan office and get more than half a million dollars, in cash no less? That shows the arrogance and stupidity of these terrorists. He obviously didn't read it."
"When something like this happens to you as an individual you feel tainted," says Lesko. "I'm just glad they didn't get any money. It shows the loan system's safeguards work. I have nothing but the highest respect for loan officer Bryant. She's a hero, and we owe her all the thanks in the world for doing her job. That's what I call a good citizen." (Matthew Lesko)
Transcript of Johnelle Bryant Interview: Excerpts From Government Worker's Interview Recalling Encounter With 9/11 Hijacker Government loan officer Johnelle Bryant says she was face to face with Mohamed Atta, believed to be the ringleader of the Sept. 11 hijackers, for hours as he requested money apparently intended to finance a terrorist plot. Here are excerpts of Brian Ross' interview with Bryant.
I'm a formal manager at, for a farm service agency. It's a agency, part of the United States Department of Agriculture. And my main office is located in Homestead, Florida. But my servicing area includes: Dade County, Broward County, and Palm Beach County, and, and Monroe County. - BRIAN ROSS: How did he know to come to you for a loan?
Oh. He told me that he had purchased a book from, off the cable TV, that advertised how to get, how to obtain a free grants, or loans from the government. And he had said that he had paid $40 for it. And that it, it explained to him our agency, and our loan limits. Actually we have a guaranteed loan limit of $750,000. And he was asking for $650,000.
He also thought that he, all he had to do to obtain the money, was to actually just come to my office, tell me what he wanted the loan for, and that he would obtain the cash, without any kind of application processing, whatsoever. And he, when I explained to him about the application process, he became very agitated. And he said that that's not what the book said. That the book said that I, I come to your agency and that I could get up to $750,000 in, in loan. And he also thought that the loan was going to be cash.
So he believed the TV commercial. Free money from the government.
He actually believed, yes. He actually believed that he could walk into the office and say that he needed $650,000 to purchase an aircraft with. And that I would give him $650,000 in cash. (ABC)
Johnelle Bryant In Mid 2002, some US-papers promoted a story on Johnelle Bryant, officially an employee of the United States Department of Agriculture. Johnelle Bryant claimed in this story, she was "face to face with Mohamed Atta". (original wrong spelling!) - Bryant claimed, she met Atta,Mohammad "between the end of April, around the third week of April to the third week of May of 2000." That's another lie. Due to all FBI reports, Atta received his visa on May, 18th 2001 and entered the States on June 3rd, 2001. (9/11 Review)
Development Fund for Iraq: Department of Defense Needs to Improve Financial and Management Controls (SIGIR 10-020) Weaknesses in DoD's financial and management controls left it unable to properly account for $8.7 billion of the $9.1 billion in DFI funds it received for reconstruction activities in Iraq, This situation occurred because most DoD organizations receiving DFI funds did not establish the required Department of the Treasury accounts and no DoD organization was designated as the executive agent for managing the use of DFI funds. The breakdown in controls left the funds vulnerable to inappropriate uses and undetected loss. - SIGIR recommends that the Secretary of Defense take a number of actions to include specifying procedures for the accounting and reporting of non-U.S. funds in future contingencies, designating an executive agent to establish and oversee policy on the use of funds, establishing milestones for issuing guidance consistent with our DFI recommendations made in October 2009, and determining whether DoD organizations are still holding DFI funds. (Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction)
SIGIR: Defense can't account for $8.7 billion The Defense Department is unable to account for $8.7 billion of the $9.1 billion in Development Fund for Iraq monies in received for reconstruction in Iraq. This according to a study published today by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.
"This situation occurred because most DoD organizations receiving DFI (Development Fund for Iraq) funds did not establish the required Department of the Treasury accounts and no DoD organization was designated as the executive agent for managing the use of DFI funds," the report states. (Federal News Radio)
Document leak part of U.S. plot, says Pakistani ex-general with ties to Taliban From the deluge of leaked military documents published Sunday, a former Pakistani spy chief emerged as a chilling personification of his nation's alleged duplicity in the Afghan war -- an erstwhile U.S. ally turned Taliban tutor.
Now planted squarely in the cross hairs, retired Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul seems little short of delighted.
In an interview Tuesday, Gul dismissed the accusations against him as "fiction" and described the documents' release as the start of a White House plot. It will end, he posited, with an early U.S. pullout from Afghanistan -- thus proving Gul, an unabashed advocate of the Afghan insurgency, right.
President Obama "is a very good chess player. . . . He says, 'I don't want to carry the historic blame of having orchestrated the defeat of America, their humiliation in Afghanistan,' " said Gul, 74, adding that the plot incorporates a troop surge that Obama knows will fail. "It doesn't sell to a professional man like me." (Washington Post)
Democrats attacking GOP as tea party Democrats are planning to link the tea party and Republicans, overlapping the two groups to paint the GOP as a party of extremists and the grassroots activists as tools of the establishment.
Democratic National Committee sources say the party's strategy is to pose the November midterm elections as a contest between Democrats and a joint GOP-tea party plan for the country. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of the official launch of the plan Wednesday by DNC Chairman Tim Kaine.
Democrats plan to cite tea party activists' statements and GOP support and introduce a "Republican-Tea Party Contract With America," a send-up of the 1994 GOP Contract With America that helped Republicans win control of the House for the first time in four decades.
Democrats plan to say the tea party is "the most potent force in Republican politics," according to a DNC source familiar with the plan. (Associated Press)
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