Chalmers Johnson: Agency of Rogues By Tom Engelhardt (CIA)

Dandelion Salad

By Tom Engelhardt
July 24, 2007 5:04 pm

The secret prison was set up on a secure U.S. Naval base outside the U.S. and so beyond the slightest recourse to legal oversight. It was there that the CIA clandestinely brought its “suspects” to be interrogated, abused, and tortured.

That description might indeed sound like Guantanamo 2002, but think again. According to New York Times reporter Tim Weiner’s new history of the Central Intelligence Agency, Legacy of Ashes — a remarkable treasure trove of grim and startling information you hadn’t known before — this actually happened first in the Panama Canal Zone in the early 1950s. It was there, as well as at two secret prisons located in Germany and Japan, the defeated Axis powers (and not, in those days, in Thailand or Rumania), that the CIA brought questionable double agents for “secret experiments” in harsh interrogation, “using techniques on the edge of torture, drug-induced mind control, and brainwashing.” This was but a small part of “Project Artichoke,” a 15-year, multi-billion dollar “search by the CIA for ways to control the human mind.” Continue reading

Children’s Defense Fund’s Marian Wright Edelman Calls on Congress & Bush Administration to Help the Country’s Nine Million Children Without Health Insurance (video link)

Dandelion Salad

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

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As President Bush vows to veto a bill expanding the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Marian Wright Edelman says Washington must do far more to help the nation’s children and to truly leave no child behind. [includes rush transcript]

The Senate is expected to vote this week on a bill that would extend health insurance to more than three million low-income children. Earlier this month senators reached a bipartisan agreement to add thirty-five billion dollars to the Children’s Health Insurance Program over the next five years by increasing federal taxes on cigarettes. The extra funding would help cover some of the nation’s nine million uninsured children as well as some adults with incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid but not high enough to afford private insurance. A new poll released Monday from Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families shows 91% of Americans support expanding SCHIP to cover more children. It even has bi-partisan support in Congress, and approval — if tepid — from major pharmaceutical and insurance groups.It sounds like a no-brainer. But there’s one obstacle: President Bush has vowed to veto the bill. Speaking last week at a health care forum in Maryland, he explained why.

  • President Bush: “I believe government cannot provide affordable health care. I believe it would cause — it would cause the quality of care to diminish. I believe there would be lines and rationing over time. If Congress continues to insist upon expanding health care through the S-CHIP program — which, by the way, would entail a huge tax increase for the American people — I’ll veto the bill.”

President Bush wants to cut the proposed increase by $30 billion, keeping it to just $5 billion. Marian Wright Edelman is President and founder of the Children’s Defense Fund. She is a veteran attorney long involved in civil rights causes. She joins me from Washington, DC.

  • Marian Wright Edelman, president and founder of the Children’s Defense Fund.



HR 676 Universal Healthcare: Don’t Stop Believin’ (video; Kucinich; 35 percenters)

Michael Moore Plays Hardball (videos)

Colbert Interviews Michael Moore By Manila Ryce (video link)

Time for a More Radical Immigrant-Rights Movement by David Bacon

Dandelion Salad

David Bacon
July 24, 2007

Congress’s failure to pass immigration reform legislation is being used to crack down on undocumented immigrants in several states. In responding, immigrant communities and their allies should take their cues from the Civil Rights movement.

In Worthington, Iowa, a federal prosecutor gets a grand jury indictment against Braulio Pereyra-Gabino, union vice-president at the local Swift meatpacking plant. He’s accused of not turning his undocumented members in to Homeland Security. In Arizona, Gov. Janet Napolitano signs a draconian immigration enforcement bill, criminalizing work for those without papers and ordering state agents to enforce the prohibition with a vengeance. Since Congress wouldn’t pass the recent Senate bill with the same sanctions, she says Arizona has no choice.The Senate’s failure is used as well in Prince William County, Virginia, to justify a local ordinance ordering all public officials to check immigration papers, even teachers, nurses and librarians. They’re forbidden to help anyone lacking them.

Meanwhile, immigration agents continue detaining and deporting people by the hundreds in workplace and community raids around the country. Some DC supporters of the recent Senate bill are still floundering about what to do in the wake of its failure. Outside the beltway, though, the immediate need is obvious. Organize and fight back.

Outside Washington a movement capable of doing that is growing. You can see it, not just in the million people who marched in Los Angeles twice in one day. Last May Day in tiny Bridgeton, NJ, and Kennett Square, PA, unions and progressive activists walked alongside immigrant mothers wheeling children in strollers, fighting down the fear that deportation might separate their families.

Everywhere in this country immigrant communities are growing, defying the raids intended to terrorize them — organizing and speaking out. This movement is a powerful response to Congress’ inability to pass a pro-immigrant reform bill. It can and will resist and stop the raids, but its potential power is far greater.

Like the civil rights movement four decades ago, the political upsurge in immigrant communities makes a profound demand — not simply for visas, but for freedom and equality. It questions our values. Will local communities share political power with newcomers? Will workers be able to organize to turn low-paying labor into real jobs? Will children go to school knowing their teachers value their ability to speak two or three languages as a mark of their intelligence, not their inferiority?

Those who fear change are right about one thing. Once we answer these questions, we will not be the same country. Social change requires a social movement. Rights are only extended in the United States when people demand it. Congress will pass laws guaranteeing rights for immigrants as it did for workers in 1934, or African Americans in 1966 — when it has no choice but to recognize that movement’s strength.

In the South of the 1960s, courageous civil rights activists stopped lynching and defied bombings, while registering people to vote and going to jail to overturn unjust Jim Crow laws. They won allies, from unions to students to artists, who helped give the civil rights movement its radical, transformative character. They led our country out of McCarthyism.

Today the movement for immigrant rights and equality confronts choices in strategy and alliances that recall those of the civil rights era. As SNCC and CORE had to move past the accommodations of Booker T. Washington, the immigrant rights movement has to move past the failed strategy of the last three years. Washington lobbyists have treated local communities as troops to back up conservative beltway legislation. They’ve promoted a strategic alliance with corporations, whose main interest was converting the flow of migrants into a regulated source of cheap labor, and with an administration using raids to pressure immigrant communities and bust unions. DC strategists tried to appease the right by agreeing to anti-immigrant provisions that robbed their bill of the support of those communities they claimed it was supposed to benefit.

Pointing in a different direction, many community-based coalitions and grassroots groups outside the beltway have made proposals that start from a human and labor rights perspective. They would give the undocumented real residence rights, as the Immigration Reform and Control Act did in 1986. New migrants would be able to live as normal community members, rather than as exploited guest workers. A demilitarized Mexican border would look like the one with Canada. Immigrants would regain due process rights, which after eight years of George Bush, everyone else needs too. Work would be decriminalized, and labor rights enforced for all workers, immigrants included. Families could reunite in the U.S. without waiting years. U.S. policy would stop reinforcing poverty abroad as an inducement for corporate investment, especially in those countries sending migrants here.

The mainstream press amplifies the voices of a small anti-immigrant minority, and a conservative Congress kowtows to them. But most polls show that immigrants and non-immigrants alike believe in basic fairness and equality, and are willing to consider these and similar ideas. The problem is that without a powerful movement they remain just that — ideas. Building that movement in communities, churches, and unions requires a change in alliances as well as program. Its natural allies include African Americans, whose experience of racism and economic desperation is similar to that of immigrants. Unions are already important allies, and most opposed the Senate bill. Immigrant workers are already more active in union drives than most sections of the workforce.

Displaced and unemployed workers can also be allies of immigrants, instead of competitors in the job market. Today many are manipulated by the anti-immigrant hysteria of right-wing talk show hosts like Lou Dobbs, because Washington lobbyists won’t antagonize their corporate sponsors by criticizing the free-market agenda. Yet hundreds of thousands of unemployed workers are victims of the same free trade agreements that cause migration. NAFTA and CAFTA create poverty in Mexico and Central America to benefit corporate investors. That poverty drives people to migrate north. Opposing the off-shoring of jobs goes hand in hand with defending the rights of the migrants free trade produces.

The DC strategy pitted immigrants against unemployed workers through guest worker schemes, raids and criminalizing work. Coalition-building brings people together in an anti-corporate alliance based not in Washington, where lobbyists dominate the agenda, but in communities with a different set of interests. Rights for immigrants at work and in neighborhoods can be paired with the right to jobs and federal employment programs. Since 2004 Houston Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee has proposed this kind of tradeoff — real legal status for 12 million undocumented people together with federal support for job creation and training in Black and Chicano communities with high unemployment. She’s rejected guest worker programs as corporate giveaway, hurting both immigrants, who are denied normal rights, and low-wage workers forced into competition with them. Some unions, like UNITE HERE Local 2 in San Francisco, are building alliances by demanding that employers hire more African Americans, while defending the rights of immigrants already in the workforce.

Similarly, workers in unions, immigrants included, need labor law reform and enforcement. Many May Day marchers demanded not just legal immigration status, but the right to organize to raise their poverty-level wages. Immigrant janitors sitting in the streets of Houston, hotel housekeepers enforcing living wage laws in Emeryville, CA, and meatpacking workers organizing against company terror tactics at Smithfield Foods in Tarheel, NC, are as much a part of the immigrant rights movement as those marching for visas.

A coalition that can fight for these demands has its roots in immigrant rights groups, local unions, church congregations and college campuses. The Essential Worker Immigration Coalition, representing Wal-Mart, Marriott and other corporate giants, will not fight for these demands. Nor will the rightwing Manhattan Institute. But many national organizations will. The AFL-CIO and most unions in the Change to Win Federation will support these demands. So will the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, the Mexican American Political Association, and the American Friends Service Committee.

National groups can provide resources, but to build a movement on the ground, we might study the experience of the young activists in the south in the 1960s, and the radicals in the industrial workplaces of the 1930s. Could students be organized to go to Hazelton, Tucson and Prince William County, to provide support for communities challenging raids and local anti-immigrant laws? Could civil disobedience be as important to their tactics as it was to those who sat in at lunch counters or organized illegal unions at the Ford Rouge plant?

Immigrant communities don’t need another bad Congressional compromise. They need a freedom agenda. It can be a program like the Freedom Charter of South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement — a vision to fight for. It can be a bill in Congress, like Sheila Jackson Lee’s, forcing politicians to consider an alternative to guest workers and more raids. And it can be a mobilizer, drawing people to picket lines in front of the ICE detention centers holding their family members. There people can sing new Spanish or Arabic words to the old anti-slavery anthem: “Let my people go.”

David Bacon is a writer and photographer, and associate editor for New America Media. He is the author of The Children of NAFTA and sits on the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Committee of the Bay Area Immigrant Rights Coalition.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

Office Arrests: The Shame of John Conyers By Dave Lindorff

Dandelion Salad

By Dave Lindorff
07/24/07 “ICH

If Rosa Parks had lived two years longer, what happened today in the halls of Congress might have killed her. It certainly would have broken her heart.

Rep. John Conyers, venerable member of Congress, finally chair of the House Judiciary Committee, a man who worked with Parks in Alabama and then hired her on his staff after he won election to Congress in Detroit, today had 48 impeachment activists, including Gold Star Families for Peace founder Cindy Sheehan, Iraq Veteran Against the War activist Lennox Yearwood and Intelligence Veterans for Sanity founder Ray McGovern, arrested for conducting a sit-in in his office in the Rayburn House Office Building.

The three, together with several hundred other impeachment activists who packed the fourth floor hallway outside Rep. Conyers’ office, had come to press Conyers to take action on impeachment, and specifically to start action on H.Res. 333, the bill submitted nearly three months ago by Rep. Dennis Kucinich calling for the impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney.

After nearly an hour of talking with Conyers, a clearly angry Sheehan emerged together with Yearwood and McGovern, and announced to the waiting throng in the hall that Conyers had told them “impeachment isn’t going to happen because we don’t have the votes.” Sheehan said Conyers had insisted that the best thing was for Democrats to focus on “winning big in 2008.”

To a loud and angry chorus of boos and hisses, the three went back inside Conyers’ office suite, where they were joined by some 30 other supporters, and all were subsequently arrested, at Conyers’ request, by Capitol police, who cuffed them and walked them off for booking. Several of those who sat in refused to walk and were carried or dragged out of the Rayburn Office Building, as the activists in the hall chanted “Shame on Conyers! Shame on Conyers!” and “Arrest Bush, Not the People!”

It was a thoroughly disgraceful scene wholly unworthy of a dean of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Before returning to sit in the Judiciary Chairman’s office and await arrest, Sheehan publicly announced her intention to run in 2008 as an independent candidate for Congress against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and she called on Americans everywhere to run not just against Republicans in 2008, but against Democrats too.

Yearwood, who is a chaplain in the Air Force, said that Conyers had been a mentor to him, but he declared that he now felt betrayed and that Americans needed to take back their government. As he was led down the hall to his arraignment, the handcuffed Yearwood pointedly sang “We Shall Overcome!”

This reporter subsequently called Conyers’ press office for an explanation of Conyers’ true position on impeachment. Only a few days earlier the congressman, visiting a San Diego meeting on health care reform, had told members of Progressive Democrats of America that it was time to “take these two guys (Bush and Cheney) out” and had promised that if just “a few more” members of the House signed on to the Kucinich bill (it already has 14 co-sponsors), he would move it forward for consideration in his Judiciary Committee. Asked how that statement squared with what he had told the group of activists in his office, the spokesman said Conyers’ “must have been misunderstood” in San Diego. He said that in view of Conyers’ statement to Sheehan and the others today, the Kucinich bill was “not going to go anywhere.”

As impeachment activist David Swanson of has said, there “seems to be two John Conyers,” one who, in 2005 and early 2006, while Republicans controlled the House, was systematically making the case for impeaching the president and vice president (he had even submitted a bill, with 39 co-sponsors, which called for creation of a select committee to investigate possible impeachable crimes by the administration), and one who, submitting to the wishes of the new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, was keeping impeachment “off the table.”

Occasionally the former Conyers breaks out, saying things such as that the president needs to be “taken out” or, as he put it at an anti-war rally last spring, that “we can fire him!” But then the other Conyers comes to the fore, and stands in the way of impeachment action.

This time, however, it was worse than just doing nothing. The arrest of impeachment activists and their forcible eviction from his office was a betrayal of people who were doing the very kind of thing that had allowed Conyers to make his way into Congress in the first place: sitting in to insist on action on their demands for justice. It was, after all, sit-ins that helped lead to the Voting Rights Act which allowed African American candidates like Conyers to finally win seats in the US Congress.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the Democratic Party-Congressional Black Caucus and Progressive Caucus included–has become nothing but a dried out husk, living on old glories and devoid of any principle other than returning its elected officials to their offices and their perks, year after year. As one angry activist in the hallway remarked, “Where is today’s (Rep. Allard) Lowenstein or Father Drinan. There is none!”

It’s ironic that Rep. Conyers, speaking in 2005 on “Democracy Now!” following Rosa Parks’ death at the age of 92, said her passing “is probably the end of an era.” Certainly, with his request to have Capitol Police officers enter his office (the very office where Parks once had worked as a staff member!) to cuff and arrest peaceful protesters who were trying to defend the Constitution, he has made that point far more clearly than he could have expressed it in mere words.

But as in the case of Rosa Parks and the Civil Rights movement, arrests and fines will not stop the national grassroots drive to impeach this president and vice president. With polls showing that a majority of the country now favors impeachment, and with Conyers, Pelosi, and the Democratic Congress sinking deeper and deeper into disfavor even as the president continues to add to his list of Constitutional crimes, something’s gotta give. After all, the Founders, in writing impeachment into the Constitution, did not say the test was whether Congress had the votes to impeach. They wrote that if the president abused his power, or committed other high crimes and misdemeanors, bribery or treasson, Congress “shall” impeach.

The American public has made it clear: we want impeachment and we want the troops home.

If Congress doesn’t act on these two key issues, they will not get that “big win” Conyers’ called for in 2008.

Some members of the Democratic Caucus may not even be back if they keep this up.

Dave Lindorff’s most recent book is “The Case for Impeachment” (St. Martin’s Press, 2006). His work is available at

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.


The Impeachment Moment by David Swanson (action alert)

Peace activist Sheehan arrested at Congress By Thomas Ferraro

Cindy Sheehan announces she’ll run against Nancy Pelosi by Nick Juliano and Michael Roston

Cindy Sheehan plays Hardball (video; impeachment)

John Conyers Is No Martin Luther King By Ray McGovern

Google, AT&T Square Off over Wireless Broadband By Martin H. Bosworth

Thanks to


for sending this to me.

Dandelion Salad

By Martin H. Bosworth
Consumer Affairs, July 24, 2007

Up next: a heavyweight showdown between the reincarnated Ma Bell and Silicon Valley’s biggest player, with America’s wireless future at stake.

Google has promised to front $4.6 billion dollars to bid in the upcoming FCC wireless spectrum auction, if the FCC agrees to commit to principles supporting open access and connectivity for all Americans, regardless of what device they use.

It may be the first time a U.S. company has put its money where its mouth is and actually supported open markets instead of just pretending to do so.

“Guaranteeing open services and open networks would ensure that entrepreneurs starting new networks and services will have a fair shot at success, in turn giving consumers a wider choice of broadband providers,” wrote Google’s Chris Sacca on the company’s public policy blog. “This is one of the best opportunities we will have to bring the Internet to all Americans. Let’s seize that opportunity.”

Google’s move prompted a furious rebuke from AT&T, which also plans to be a major bidder in the auction.

AT&T senior executive vice-president Jim Cicconi, in a statement to technology blog GigaOm, said that “Google is demanding the government stack the deck in its favor, limit competing bids, and effectively force wireless carriers to alter their business models to Google’s liking.”

AT&T has a long and storied history, of course. It was AT&T that, for years, prohibited consumers from connecting such outlandish devices as fax machines to its circuits. It defines consumer choice as consumers doing as AT&T chooses.

Google outlined its policy in a July 9th ex parte filing with the FCC. Google promised to front the money for the auction if the FCC’s standards met the following conditions:

• Open applications: Consumers should be able to download and utilize any software applications, content, or services they desire;

• Open devices: Consumers should be able to utilize their handheld communications device with whatever wireless network they prefer;

• Open services: Third parties (resellers) should be able to acquire wireless services from a 700 MHz licensee on a wholesale basis, based on reasonably nondiscriminatory commercial terms; and

• Open networks: Third parties (like Internet service providers) should be able to interconnect at any technically feasible point in a 700 MHz licensee’s wireless network.

Google telecom counsel Richard Whitt said that its move was specifically designed to facilitate consumer choice and greater competition through creating a true third-party broadband platform.

“[Incumbent] carriers, quite rationally, seek to extend and protect their legacy business models, and in particular not take any actions that would jeopardize existing and future revenue streams,” he wrote in the filing. “For this reason, the appropriate public policy stance is not simply to facilitate an additional spectrum-based broadband platform, but rather to facilitate independent broadband platforms.”
Network Neutrality

The FCC auction has prompted renewed sparring between telecom companies and grassroots advocates over the principle of “net neutrality.”

Supporters of net neutrality, such as the “Save The Internet” coalition, want the spectrum opened up to enable new companies to create a wireless broadband network, while the telecoms were expected to outbid other contenders and hoard the spectrum for their own offerings.

Consumers who like having to get their cell phones from Verizon, AT&T or Sprint will love having AT&T control how, when or at what cost they tap into the wireless broadband network.

FCC chairman Kevin Martin, a staunch supporter of telecom interests and apparent foe of net neutrality, surprised many players by seeming to endorse a version of the “open access” principle. But analysis by experts such as Media Access Project’s Harold Feld found that Martin’s proposal seemed chiefly designed to satisfy the demand to make changes without actually making any changes.

“On a practical level, the proposed ‘fix’ really doesn’t do much,” he wrote. “Certainly it does absolutely zero for creating a ‘third pipe.’ But even taken on its surface as just addressing the restrictions on edge devices in the wireless world, it doesn’t help.”

AT&T and Verizon have threatened to withdraw from the auction if open access was mandated, leaving the government unable to raise enough cash from the sale of the spectrum.

But Google’s move has shaken up the competition and made the auction a watershed in America’s broadband development. In the words of OpenLeft’s Matt Stoller, “AT&T said to Google, put up or shut up. And Google just put up.”

This article is from Consumer Affairs. If you found it informative and valuable, we strongly encourage you to visit their Web site and register an account, if necessary, to view all their articles on the Web. Support quality journalism.

This article relates to Internet Issues:
Internet and Broadband Consumer Lobbies:
Save the Internet
Save Our Spectrum
Use the Public Airwaves to Bring Broadband to All

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

TPMtv Highlight Reel: The CNN/YouTube Dem Debate (video)

Dandelion Salad

The Democratic presidential candidates engaged in the first ever YouTube-fueled debate Monday night. Here’s our highlight reel, in case you missed the action.


YouTube Debate VI (videos) + Davis Fleetwood: Call to Bush to resign

YouTube Debate V (videos)

YouTube Debate IV (videos)

YouTube Debate III (videos)

YouTube Debate II (videos)

YouTube Debate I (videos)

YouTube Debate: Will you support gay marriage? (video)

YouTube Debate: Kucinich as President? (video; Davis Fleetwood)

Global Pulse: Made in China vs. Made in US (video)

Dandelion Salad

With the recent execution of a top Chinese drug official, Global Pulse explores the worldwide product recalls, and presents the Chinese perspective. We also explore how in the US, the FDA has approved drugs with unknown and unexplored side effects.


Inside Bush’s FDA – When Regulators Become Enablers By Evelyn Pringle

Olbermann: THOMAS THE TRAIN COVERED IN BRAIN DAMAGING LEAD PAINT! (vid) plus commentary by Lo (Playmobil Toys)

CBC: Do you take vitamins? (video)

Imports Cause Consumer Safety Concern by Ralph Nader

John Yoo — then and now by Glenn Greenwald

Dandelion Salad

by Glenn Greenwald
July 24, 2007

The Wall St. Journal Editorial Page wanted someone to defend George Bush’s serial assertions of “Executive Privilege” to block investigations into his wrongdoing, and it turned, of course, to ex-Bush-DOJ-lawyer John Yoo, who is not only the most authoritarian but also the most partisan and intellectually dishonest lawyer in the country. Yoo is not only willing — but intensely eager — to defend literally anything George W. Bush does or would want to do, including — literally — torturing people and crushing the testicles of children if the Leader decreed that doing so was necessary to fight Terrorists. Yoo, of course, is a principal author of most of the radical executive power theories which have eroded our constitutional framework over the last six years.

In defending the President, Yoo’s Op-Ed yesterday touts the grave importance of Executive Privilege and makes all the claims one would expect. He stresses the “president’s right to keep internal executive discussions confidential”; proclaims that “without secrecy, the government can’t function”; compares Bush’s assertions to George Washington’s; and concludes that by asserting Executive Privilege (nowhere mentioned in the Constitution), Bush “has the Constitution on his side.”

But this isn’t the first Op-Ed Yoo has written on the topic of Executive Privilege for the Wall St. Journal. Back in 1998, when Bill Clinton was asserting the same privilege to resist Congressional demands that his closest aides testify about the President’s deliberations in responding to the various Lewinsky investigations, Yoo became one of the leading spokespeople denouncing the assertion of this privilege.


FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

Living Becomes Hard in a Dead City By Ahmed Ali

Dandelion Salad

By Ahmed Ali*
Inter Press Service
July 23, 2007

BAQUBA, Jul 23 (IPS)

Life in the violence-plagued capital city of Iraq’s Diyala province has become a struggle for day-to-day survival.

Heavy U.S military operations, sectarian death squads and al-Qaeda militants have combined to make normal life in Baquba, 50 km northeast of Baghdad, all but impossible.

Movement from the city to another destination is extremely dangerous. Kidnappings have become rampant in a lawless city where government control is only a mirage.

Lack of security and mobility have meant severe shortages of fuel, food, medical supplies and other necessities.

The central market in the city of about 325,000 has vanished. It is not just the shopping that is gone. People used to meet acquaintances in the market to socialise and sometimes do business.

The ongoing violence has ended all that. The market has become scattered around city districts. Many shop owners have reopened smaller shops within their houses, and abandoned their business locations.

About two or three persons have been killed or abducted in the market daily on average in recent weeks. This had started to happen even before the U.S. military operation Arrowhead Ripper was launched last month with the intention of targeting al-Qaeda forces. Now residents say it is much worse.

“The troops have closed all the outlets from the city, and never allow cars to move,” Amir Ayad, a 51-year-old assistant professor in the sciences college at Diyala University told IPS. “To get my college, I have to get a cart as other people do. It is five kilometres, and it is better than walking.”

“For the final examinations which were held unfortunately during this period of military operations, students had to walk hours to get to the exam centre,” Prof. Majeed Abid told IPS. “They were exhausted and sweating.”

Animal-drawn carts have now become a new business in Baquba. Most of these are drawn by donkeys, and each cart carries 10-15 passengers who pay two to three dollars a journey.

“Every day I bring vegetables four kilometres by cart and pay 25-35 dollars for this,” 29-year-old Adil Omran told IPS. “For this reason, the prices have increased tremendously.”

“A tomato, which is grown commonly in Iraq, is usually around six cents,” said Mahmood Ali, a retired teacher. “Nowadays, we buy it for 1.25 dollar. Families now tend to buy one or two bags of potatoes (30 kilos each) because they cannot afford the increasing prices of other vegetables.”

Complicating matters is the already unsteady disbursement of salaries due to the volatile security situation.

“Officials used to receive their salaries every month, but for a year and a half now we receive our salaries only every 50-70 days,” Kadhim Raad, a 44-year-old official in the municipality of Baquba told IPS.

“The staff at the Ministry of Education have not received their salaries for three months because no money is available in the banks,” Sara Latif, an official in the finance department of the Directorate General of Education told IPS.

People are now looking for ways to leave this city of continuing violence, delayed salaries, lack of jobs, lack of open markets, closed factories, no functioning municipal work, and very little farming due to lack of water and electricity.

The average house in Baquba gets one or two hours of electricity a day. It is not uncommon for three or four days to pass without a minute of electricity.

Most people have bought small generators, but lack of fuel often makes it impossible to run these. Before the U.S.-led invasion, a litre of petrol in Iraq cost five cents; today in Baquba it is nearly two dollars.

There are no functioning fuel stations. Instead, people buy 20-litre jugs.

“People have forgotten there is something called a petrol station,” Hamid Alwan, a 46-year-old taxi driver told IPS. “The owners of petrol stations sell the tankers of petrol before they are brought to Baquba to make more money.”

And all this is less than the biggest concern – to find a way just to stay safe.

(*Ahmed, our correspondent in Iraq’s Diyala province, works in close collaboration with Dahr Jamail, our U.S.-based specialist writer on Iraq who travels extensively in the region)

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

Afghanistan: Britain is protecting the biggest heroin crop of all time by Craig Murray

Dandelion Salad

by Craig Murray
Global Research, July 24, 2007
Daily Mail

This week the 64th British soldier to die in Afghanistan, Corporal Mike Gilyeat, was buried. All the right things were said about this brave soldier, just as, on current trends, they will be said about one or more of his colleagues who follow him next week.

The alarming escalation of the casualty rate among British soldiers in Afghanistan – up to ten per cent – led to discussion this week on whether it could be fairly compared to casualty rates in the Second World War.

But the key question is this: what are our servicemen dying for? There are glib answers to that: bringing democracy and development to Afghanistan, supporting the government of President Hamid Karzai in its attempt to establish order in the country, fighting the Taliban and preventing the further spread of radical Islam into Pakistan.

But do these answers stand up to close analysis?

There has been too easy an acceptance of the lazy notion that the war in Afghanistan is the ‘good’ war, while the war in Iraq is the ‘bad’ war, the blunder. The origins of this view are not irrational. There was a logic to attacking Afghanistan after 9/11.

Afghanistan was indeed the headquarters of Osama Bin Laden and his organisation, who had been installed and financed there by the CIA to fight the Soviets from 1979 until 1989. By comparison, the attack on Iraq – which was an enemy of Al Qaeda and no threat to us – was plainly irrational in terms of the official justification.

So the attack on Afghanistan has enjoyed a much greater sense of public legitimacy. But the operation to remove Bin Laden was one thing. Six years of occupation are clearly another.

Few seem to turn a hair at the officially expressed view that our occupation of Iraq may last for decades.

Lib Dem leader Menzies Campbell has declared, fatuously, that the Afghan war is ‘winnable’.

Afghanistan was not militarily winnable by the British Empire at the height of its supremacy. It was not winnable by Darius or Alexander, by Shah, Tsar or Great Moghul. It could not be subdued by 240,000 Soviet troops. But what, precisely, are we trying to win?

In six years, the occupation has wrought one massive transformation in Afghanistan, a development so huge that it has increased Afghan GDP by 66 per cent and constitutes 40 per cent of the entire economy. That is a startling achievement, by any standards. Yet we are not trumpeting it. Why not?

The answer is this. The achievement is the highest harvests of opium the world has ever seen.

The Taliban had reduced the opium crop to precisely nil. I would not advocate their methods for doing this, which involved lopping bits, often vital bits, off people. The Taliban were a bunch of mad and deeply unpleasant religious fanatics. But one of the things they were vehemently against was opium.

That is an inconvenient truth that our spin has managed to obscure. Nobody has denied the sincerity of the Taliban’s crazy religious zeal, and they were as unlikely to sell you heroin as a bottle of Johnnie Walker.

They stamped out the opium trade, and impoverished and drove out the drug warlords whose warring and rapacity had ruined what was left of the country after the Soviet war.

That is about the only good thing you can say about the Taliban; there are plenty of very bad things to say about them. But their suppression of the opium trade and the drug barons is undeniable fact.

Now we are occupying the country, that has changed. According to the United Nations, 2006 was the biggest opium harvest in history, smashing the previous record by 60 per cent. This year will be even bigger.

Our economic achievement in Afghanistan goes well beyond the simple production of raw opium. In fact Afghanistan no longer exports much raw opium at all. It has succeeded in what our international aid efforts urge every developing country to do. Afghanistan has gone into manufacturing and ‘value-added’ operations.

It now exports not opium, but heroin. Opium is converted into heroin on an industrial scale, not in kitchens but in factories. Millions of gallons of the chemicals needed for this process are shipped into Afghanistan by tanker. The tankers and bulk opium lorries on the way to the factories share the roads, improved by American aid, with Nato troops.

How can this have happened, and on this scale? The answer is simple. The four largest players in the heroin business are all senior members of the Afghan government – the government that our soldiers are fighting and dying to protect.

When we attacked Afghanistan, America bombed from the air while the CIA paid, armed and equipped the dispirited warlord drug barons – especially those grouped in the Northern Alliance – to do the ground occupation. We bombed the Taliban and their allies into submission, while the warlords moved in to claim the spoils. Then we made them ministers.

President Karzai is a good man. He has never had an opponent killed, which may not sound like much but is highly unusual in this region and possibly unique in an Afghan leader. But nobody really believes he is running the country. He asked America to stop its recent bombing campaign in the south because it was leading to an increase in support for the Taliban. The United States simply ignored him. Above all, he has no control at all over the warlords among his ministers and governors, each of whom runs his own kingdom and whose primary concern is self-enrichment through heroin.

My knowledge of all this comes from my time as British Ambassador in neighbouring Uzbekistan from 2002 until 2004. I stood at the Friendship Bridge at Termez in 2003 and watched the Jeeps with blacked-out windows bringing the heroin through from Afghanistan, en route to Europe.

I watched the tankers of chemicals roaring into Afghanistan.

Yet I could not persuade my country to do anything about it. Alexander Litvinenko – the former agent of the KGB, now the FSB, who died in London last November after being poisoned with polonium 210 – had suffered the same frustration over the same topic.

There are a number of theories as to why Litvinenko had to flee Russia. The most popular blames his support for the theory that FSB agents planted bombs in Russian apartment blocks to stir up anti-Chechen feeling.

But the truth is that his discoveries about the heroin trade were what put his life in danger. Litvinenko was working for the KGB in St Petersburg in 2001 and 2002. He became concerned at the vast amounts of heroin coming from Afghanistan, in particular from the fiefdom of the (now) Head of the Afghan armed forces, General Abdul Rashid Dostum, in north and east Afghanistan.

Dostum is an Uzbek, and the heroin passes over the Friendship Bridge from Afghanistan to Uzbekistan, where it is taken over by President Islam Karimov’s people. It is then shipped up the railway line, in bales of cotton, to St Petersburg and Riga.

The heroin Jeeps run from General Dostum to President Karimov. The UK, United States and Germany have all invested large sums in donating the most sophisticated detection and screening equipment to the Uzbek customs centre at Termez to stop the heroin coming through.

But the convoys of Jeeps running between Dostum and Karimov are simply waved around the side of the facility.

Litvinenko uncovered the St Petersburg end and was stunned by the involvement of the city authorities, local police and security services at the most senior levels. He reported in detail to President Vladimir Putin. Putin is, of course, from St Petersburg, and the people Litvinenko named were among Putin’s closest political allies. That is why Litvinenko, having miscalculated badly, had to flee Russia.

I had as little luck as Litvinenko in trying to get official action against this heroin trade. At the St Petersburg end he found those involved had the top protection. In Afghanistan, General Dostum is vital to Karzai’s coalition, and to the West’s pretence of a stable, democratic government.

Opium is produced all over Afghanistan, but especially in the north and north-east – Dostum’s territory. Again, our Government’s spin doctors have tried hard to obscure this fact and make out that the bulk of the heroin is produced in the tiny areas of the south under Taliban control. But these are the most desolate, infertile rocky areas. It is a physical impossibility to produce the bulk of the vast opium harvest there.

That General Dostum is head of the Afghan armed forces and Deputy Minister of Defence is in itself a symbol of the bankruptcy of our policy. Dostum is known for tying opponents to tank tracks and running them over. He crammed prisoners into metal containers in the searing sun, causing scores to die of heat and thirst.

Since we brought ‘democracy’ to Afghanistan, Dostum ordered an MP who annoyed him to be pinned down while he attacked him. The sad thing is that Dostum is probably not the worst of those comprising the Karzai government, or the biggest drug smuggler among them.

Our Afghan policy is still victim to Tony Blair’s simplistic world view and his childish division of all conflicts into ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’. The truth is that there are seldom any good guys among those vying for power in a country such as Afghanistan. To characterise the Karzai government as good guys is sheer nonsense.

Why then do we continue to send our soldiers to die in Afghanistan? Our presence in Afghanistan and Iraq is the greatest recruiting sergeant for Islamic militants. As the great diplomat, soldier and adventurer Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Alexander Burnes pointed out before his death in the First Afghan War in 1841, there is no point in a military campaign in Afghanistan as every time you beat them, you just swell their numbers. Our only real achievement to date is falling street prices for heroin in London.

Remember this article next time you hear a politician calling for more troops to go into Afghanistan. And when you hear of another brave British life wasted there, remember you can add to the casualty figures all the young lives ruined, made miserable or ended by heroin in the UK.

They, too, are casualties of our Afghan policy.

Craig Murray is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Craig Murray



Drugs/Marijuana/War on Drugs/Prohibition (older posts)

Alexander Litvinenko/Ex-KBG Spy (older posts)



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Bill Moyers Journal: The Yes Men (video link; humor; media)

Dandelion Salad

July 20, 2007

Bill Moyers gets in on the joke with two impersonators who use satire to make serious points about media consolidation, journalism, business ethics, and separating fact from fiction in a world of spin.


h/t: ICH


By Bill Moyers

The Yes Men are Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, two impersonators who use satire to bring media attention to issues that otherwise might be overlooked.

“We actually see this as a form of journalism. Or perhaps more precisely, the form of collaboration of journalists,” explains Bichlbaum in his interview with Bill Moyers.

“A lot of the issues that we address journalists want to cover. But…in many situations, editorial control won’t let them unless there’s a good little hook behind it. And so, we’ve found a way to create funny spectacles that give journalists the excuse to cover issues.”

The Yes Men have impersonated representatives from Halliburton, Dow Chemical, Exxon, and others, giving public presentations aimed at exposing what they believe to be discrepancies between how these groups want to be seen and how they really act. They call this process, “identity correction.”

While some criticize them for deception and call their hijinx unethical, they argue “these kinds of [corporate and political] wrongdoings are at such a scale – they’re so vast compared to our white lies that we think it’s ethical.”

What do you think about the Yes Men’s methods? Take our poll.

Mike and Andy released their first film in 2004 entitled, “The Yes Men,” as well as a book, THE YES MEN: THE TRUE STORY OF THE END OF THE WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION. They plan on releasing a new film shortly.

Here is a look at some of the Yes Men’s more famous “identity corrections”:

Dow Chemical

When Dow Chemical bought out Union Carbide in 2001, they became one of the world’s largest chemical corporations. However, some believe they also inherited a connection to the Bhopal Disaster, which occurred in 1984 when a Union Carbide pesticide plant released an estimated 40 tones of methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas, immediately killing nearly 3,000 people with thousands more experiencing partial or permanent disabilities. The victims of the disaster have been fighting Union Carbide for years for reparations for the tragedy, but Dow has claimed that since they purchased the company after an Indian Supreme Court approved a $470 million settlement agreement by Union Carbide, the responsibility is not theirs.

So the Yes Men set up a fake website,, which was very similar to Dow’s official site. They then emailed a press release to newspapers and media outlets across the country stating Dow would never take responsibility for damages from the Bhopal gas disaster because they were only beholden to shareholders.

After Dow denied these accusations, they worked to get the original Yes Men site shut down. The Yes Men in turn set up an alternate fake site, which the BBC found and sent an invitation for a “Dow official” to appear on the show. Not knowing that he was an impostor, the BBC broadcasted an interview with Bichlbaum posing as Dow Chemical “spokesman” Jude Finisterra, where he claimed Dow would mark the 20th anniversary of the lethal gas leak in Bhopal, India by paying out $12 billion to the survivors, “simply because it is the right thing to do.” Within a few hours, the real Dow unmasked Bichlbaum as an impostor.

United States Department of Housing and Urban Development

When the Gulf Coast Reconstruction and Hurricane Preparedness Summit was being organized in Louisiana, the Yes Men saw an opportunity for a hoax on the housing situation in New Orleans. They contacted those in charge of the summit, claiming to be from the public relations firm Hill & Knowlton who was representing the Housing and Urban Development secretary. They claimed to have a major announcement to make at the summit.

Following Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco, Bichlbaum rose to the podium under the alias of Rene Oswin, an official at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and delivered a speech in which he claimed the HUD would reverse its plans to demolish 5,000 units of perfectly good public housing in order to help fix the housing crisis in New Orleans. He also claimed that Wal-Mart would withdraw its stores from the area to encourage local competition, and that ExonnMobil and Shell promised to spend $8.6 billion to finance wetlands rebuilding due to their record high profits from the past year.

Officials on all sides of the hoax worked to expose Bichlbaum as an impostor, denying all the claims he made while calling him insensitive and cruel. However, Annie Chen, media coordinator for Survivors Village, a tent-city protest for the reopening of public housing in New Orleans, told CNN, “Right now, a lie is better than the truth.”

Catastrophic Loss Conference

The Yes Men performed a prank at the Catastrophic Loss conference hosted by the Ritz-Carlton in Amelia Island, Florida. Posing as Halliburton executives, the Yes Men donned their new product, the SurvivaBall, which was designed to “save corporate executives from the effects of global warming.” Setting the price tag at $100M, the Yes Men called the SurvivaBall a “gated community for one,” which could “protect managers from natural or cultural disturbances of any intensity or duration.”

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

07.23.07 Uncensored News Reports From Across The Middle East (video; over 18 only)

Dandelion Salad


This video contains images depicting the reality and horror of war and should only be viewed by a mature audience.

Selected Episode

Monday, July 23, 2007

Ruling Party Wins Turkish Elections,” Al Jazeera English, Qatar
How did Erdogan Win?” Dubai TV, UAE
U.S. Unhappy with Iran-Turkish Energy Deal,” Al-Alam TV, Iran
17 Iraqis Killed in Karada,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
Taliban Extend Korean Hostages Ultimatum 24 Hours,” Abu Dhabi TV, UAE
Blair Arrives in Israel to Launch New Peace Negotiations,” IBA TV, Israel
Lebanon Prepares for New Elections,” Future TV, Lebanon
Syria Sends Aid to Sudan,” Syria TV, Syria


or watch below:

Just What the Founders Feared: An Imperial President Goes to War By Adam Cohen

Dandelion Salad

By Adam Cohen
07/23/07 “
New York Times

The nation is heading toward a constitutional showdown over the Iraq war. Congress is moving closer to passing a bill to limit or end the war, but President Bush insists Congress doesn’t have the power to do it. “I don’t think Congress ought to be running the war,” he said at a recent press conference. “I think they ought to be funding the troops.” He added magnanimously: “I’m certainly interested in their opinion.”

The war is hardly the only area where the Bush administration is trying to expand its powers beyond all legal justification. But the danger of an imperial presidency is particularly great when a president takes the nation to war, something the founders understood well. In the looming showdown, the founders and the Constitution are firmly on Congress’s side.

Given how intent the president is on expanding his authority, it is startling to recall how the Constitution’s framers viewed presidential power. They were revolutionaries who detested kings, and their great concern when they established the United States was that they not accidentally create a kingdom. To guard against it, they sharply limited presidential authority, which Edmund Randolph, a Constitutional Convention delegate and the first attorney general, called “the foetus of monarchy.”

The founders were particularly wary of giving the president power over war. They were haunted by Europe’s history of conflicts started by self-aggrandizing kings. John Jay, the first chief justice of the United States, noted in Federalist No. 4 that “absolute monarchs will often make war when their nations are to get nothing by it, but for the purposes and objects merely personal.”

Many critics of the Iraq war are reluctant to suggest that President Bush went into it in anything but good faith. But James Madison, widely known as the father of the Constitution, might have been more skeptical. “In war, the honors and emoluments of office are to be multiplied; and it is the executive patronage under which they are to be enjoyed,” he warned. “It is in war, finally, that laurels are to be gathered; and it is the executive brow they are to encircle.”

When they drafted the Constitution, Madison and his colleagues wrote their skepticism into the text. In Britain, the king had the authority to declare war, and raise and support armies, among other war powers. The framers expressly rejected this model and gave these powers not to the president, but to Congress.

The Constitution does make the president “commander in chief,” a title President Bush often invokes. But it does not have the sweeping meaning he suggests. The framers took it from the British military, which used it to denote the highest-ranking official in a theater of battle. Alexander Hamilton emphasized in Federalist No. 69 that the president would be “nothing more” than “first general and admiral,” responsible for “command and direction” of military forces.

The founders would have been astonished by President Bush’s assertion that Congress should simply write him blank checks for war. They gave Congress the power of the purse so it would have leverage to force the president to execute their laws properly. Madison described Congress’s control over spending as “the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people, for obtaining a redress of every grievance, and for carrying into effect every just and salutary measure.”

The framers expected Congress to keep the president on an especially short leash on military matters. The Constitution authorizes Congress to appropriate money for an army, but prohibits appropriations for longer than two years. Hamilton explained that the limitation prevented Congress from vesting “in the executive department permanent funds for the support of an army, if they were even incautious enough to be willing to repose in it so improper a confidence.”

As opinion turns more decisively against the war, the administration is becoming ever more dismissive of Congress’s role. Last week, Under Secretary of Defense Eric Edelman brusquely turned away Senator Hillary Clinton’s questions about how the Pentagon intended to plan for withdrawal from Iraq. “Premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies in Iraq,” he wrote. Mr. Edelman’s response showed contempt not merely for Congress, but for the system of government the founders carefully created.

The Constitution cannot enforce itself. It is, as the constitutional scholar Edwin Corwin famously observed, an “invitation to struggle” among the branches, but the founders wisely bequeathed to Congress some powerful tools for engaging in the struggle. It is no surprise that the current debate over a deeply unpopular war is arising in the context of a Congressional spending bill. That is precisely what the founders intended.

Members of Congress should not be intimidated into thinking that they are overstepping their constitutional bounds. If the founders were looking on now, it is not Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi who would strike them as out of line, but George W. Bush, who would seem less like a president than a king.

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

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Alarm at US right to highly personal data – Religion, sex life & political views among passenger details to be passed on to officials By Jamie Doward

Dandelion Salad

By Jamie Doward, home affairs editor

07/22/07 “The Observer

Highly sensitive information about the religious beliefs, political opinions and even the sex life of Britons travelling to the United States is to be made available to US authorities when the European Commission agrees to a new system of checking passengers.

The EC is in the final stages of agreeing a new Passenger Name Record system with the US which will allow American officials to access detailed biographical information about passengers entering international airports.

The information sharing system with the US Department of Homeland Security, which updates the previous three-year-old system, is designed to tackle terrorism but civil liberty groups warn it will have serious consequences for European passengers. And it has emerged that both the European parliament and the European data protection supervisor are alarmed at the plan.

In a strongly worded document drawn up in response to the plan that will affect the 4 million-plus Britons who travel to the US every year, the EU parliament said it ‘notes with concern that sensitive data (ie personal data revealing racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, trade union membership, and data concerning the health or sex life of individuals) will be made available to the DHS and that these data may be used by the DHS in exceptional cases’.

Under the new agreement, which goes live at the end of this month, the US will be able to hold the records of European passengers for 15 years compared with the current three year limit. The EU parliament said it was concerned the data would lead to ‘a significant risk of massive profiling and data mining, which is incompatible with basic European principles and is a practice still under discussion in the US congress.’

Peter Hustinx, the European Data Protection Supervisor, has written to the EC expressing his ‘grave concern’ at the plan, which he describes as ‘without legal precedent’ and one that puts ‘European data protection rights at risk’.

Hustinx warns: ‘Data on EU citizens will be readily accessible to a broad range of US agencies and there is no limitation to what US authorities are allowed to do with the data.’

He expresses concern about ‘the absence of a robust legal mechanism that enables EU citizens to challenge misuse of their personal information’.

Hustinx concludes: ‘I have serious doubts whether the outcome of these negotiations will be fully compatible with European fundamental rights, which both the Council and the Commission have stated are non negotiable.’

The new agreement will see US authorities gain access to detailed passenger information, from credit card details to home addresses and even what sort of food may have been ordered before a flight. In addition, US authorities will be free to add other information they have obtained about a passenger, leading to concerns about how the information will be shared.

It has emerged that neither Hustinx nor the European parliament were aware of the final draft of the plan.

‘If you are going to have this kind of agreement it should involve parliament and the data protection supervisor,’ said Tony Bunyan of Statewatch, the civil liberties organisation that campaigns against excessive surveillance.

He warned that under the new system the data will be shared with numerous US agencies. ‘The data protection supervisor and the European parliament are angry that they were not consulted,’ Bunyan said. ‘But they are also angry with a number of elements of the plan such as giving the US the absolute right to pass the data on to third parties.’

Simon Davies, director of Privacy International, another group that campaigns against state surveillance, said the new agreement gave huge powers to the US authorities. ‘We have no guarantee about how this data will be used,’ Davies said.

A spokeswoman for the Information Commissioner’s Office in England and Wales said it would be discussing the matter with European counterparts shortly. ‘We are working with the European Data Protection Supervisor and our other EU data protection colleagues to come to a joint opinion on the level of data protection set out in the final agreement,’ the spokeswoman said.

© Guardian News and Media Limited 2007

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.