Frontline: Cheney’s Law (link)

Dandelion Salad

PBS

For three decades Vice President Dick Cheney conducted a secretive, behind-closed-doors campaign to give the president virtually unlimited wartime power. Finally, in the aftermath of 9/11, the Justice Department and the White House made a number of controversial legal decisions. Orchestrated by Cheney and his lawyer David Addington, the department interpreted executive power in an expansive and extraordinary way, granting President George W. Bush the power to detain, interrogate, torture, wiretap and spy — without congressional approval or judicial review.

Now, as the White House appears ready to ignore subpoenas in the investigations over wiretapping and U.S. attorney firings, FRONTLINE examines the battle over the power of the presidency and Cheney’s way of looking at the Constitution.

“The vice president believes that Congress has very few powers to actually constrain the president and the executive branch,” former Justice Department attorney Marty Lederman tells FRONTLINE. “He believes the president should have the final word — indeed the only word — on all matters within the executive branch.”

After Sept. 11, Cheney and Addington were determined to implement their vision — in secret. The vice president and his counsel found an ally in John Yoo, a lawyer at the Justice Department’s extraordinarily powerful Office of Legal Counsel (OLC). In concert with Addington, Yoo wrote memoranda authorizing the president to act with unparalleled authority.

“Through interviews with key administration figures, Cheney’s Law documents the bruising bureaucratic battles between a group of conservative Justice Department lawyers and the Office of the Vice President over the legal foundation for the most closely guarded programs in the war on terror,” says FRONTLINE producer Michael Kirk. This is Kirk’s 10th documentary about the Bush administration’s policies since 9/11.

In his most extensive television interview since leaving the Justice Department, former Assistant Attorney General Jack L. Goldsmith describes his initial days at the OLC in the fall of 2003 as he learned about the government’s most secret and controversial covert operations. Goldsmith was shocked by the administration’s secret assertion of unlimited power.

“There were extravagant and unnecessary claims of presidential power that were wildly overbroad to the tasks at hand,” Goldsmith says. “I had a whole flurry of emotions. My first one was disbelief that programs of this importance could be supported by legal opinions that were this flawed. My second was the realization that I would have a very, very hard time standing by these opinions if pressed. My third was the sinking feeling, what was I going to do if I was pressed about reaffirming these opinions?”

As Goldsmith began to question his colleagues’ claims that the administration could ignore domestic laws and international treaties, he began to clash with Cheney’s office. According to Goldsmith, Addington warned him, “If you rule that way, the blood of the 100,000 people who die in the next attack will be on your hands.”

Goldsmith’s battles with Cheney culminated in a now-famous hospital-room confrontation at Attorney General John Ashcroft’s bedside. Goldsmith watched as White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales and Chief of Staff Andy Card pleaded with Ashcroft to overrule the department’s finding that a domestic surveillance program was illegal. Ashcroft rebuffed the White House, and as many as 30 department lawyers threatened to resign. The president relented.

But Goldsmith’s victory was temporary, and Cheney’s Law continues the story after the hospital-room standoff. At the Justice Department, White House Counsel Gonzales was named attorney general and tasked with reasserting White House control. On Capitol Hill, Cheney lobbied Congress for broad authorizations for the eavesdropping program and for approval of the administration’s system for trying suspected terrorists by military tribunals.

As the White House and Congress continue to face off over executive privilege, the terrorist surveillance program, and the firing of U.S. attorneys, FRONTLINE tells the story of what’s formed the views of the man behind what some view as the most ambitious project to reshape the power of the president in American history.

LINK

“Watch Online” at the top of the page.

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.

Can the CIA be sued for torture? (video)

Dandelion Salad

TheRealNews

More at http://therealnews.com
Michael Ratner says: claiming kidnapping, imprisonment and torture are a ‘state secret’, is outrageous.

2007-10-16

Michael Ratner is the President of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in New York. He has taught at Yale Law School, lectured at Columbia Law School and was President of the National Lawyers Guild.

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Germany issues CIA arrest orders (rendition)

The Real Iraq We Knew By 12 former Army captains

Dandelion Salad

By 12 former Army captains
ICH
10/16/07 “Washington Post

Today marks five years since the authorization of military force in Iraq, setting Operation Iraqi Freedom in motion. Five years on, the Iraq war is as undermanned and under-resourced as it was from the start. And, five years on, Iraq is in shambles.

As Army captains who served in Baghdad and beyond, we’ve seen the corruption and the sectarian division. We understand what it’s like to be stretched too thin. And we know when it’s time to get out.

What does Iraq look like on the ground? It’s certainly far from being a modern, self-sustaining country. Many roads, bridges, schools and hospitals are in deplorable condition. Fewer people have access to drinking water or sewage systems than before the war. And Baghdad is averaging less than eight hours of electricity a day.

Iraq’s institutional infrastructure, too, is sorely wanting. Even if the Iraqis wanted to work together and accept the national identity foisted upon them in 1920s, the ministries do not have enough trained administrators or technicians to coordinate themselves. At the local level, most communities are still controlled by the same autocratic sheiks that ruled under Saddam. There is no reliable postal system. No effective banking system. No registration system to monitor the population and its needs.

The inability to govern is exacerbated at all levels by widespread corruption. Transparency International ranks Iraq as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. And, indeed, many of us witnessed the exploitation of U.S. tax dollars by Iraqi officials and military officers. Sabotage and graft have had a particularly deleterious impact on Iraq’s oil industry, which still fails to produce the revenue that Pentagon war planners hoped would pay for Iraq’s reconstruction. Yet holding people accountable has proved difficult. The first commissioner of a panel charged with preventing and investigating corruption resigned last month, citing pressure from the government and threats on his life.

Against this backdrop, the U.S. military has been trying in vain to hold the country together. Even with “the surge,” we simply do not have enough soldiers and marines to meet the professed goals of clearing areas from insurgent control, holding them securely and building sustainable institutions. Though temporary reinforcing operations in places like Fallujah, An Najaf, Tal Afar, and now Baghdad may brief well on PowerPoint presentations, in practice they just push insurgents to another spot on the map and often strengthen the insurgents’ cause by harassing locals to a point of swayed allegiances. Millions of Iraqis correctly recognize these actions for what they are and vote with their feet — moving within Iraq or leaving the country entirely. Still, our colonels and generals keep holding on to flawed concepts.

U.S. forces, responsible for too many objectives and too much “battle space,” are vulnerable targets. The sad inevitability of a protracted draw-down is further escalation of attacks — on U.S. troops, civilian leaders and advisory teams. They would also no doubt get caught in the crossfire of the imminent Iraqi civil war.

Iraqi security forces would not be able to salvage the situation. Even if all the Iraqi military and police were properly trained, equipped and truly committed, their 346,000 personnel would be too few. As it is, Iraqi soldiers quit at will. The police are effectively controlled by militias. And, again, corruption is debilitating. U.S. tax dollars enrich self-serving generals and support the very elements that will battle each other after we’re gone.

This is Operation Iraqi Freedom and the reality we experienced. This is what we tried to communicate up the chain of command. This is either what did not get passed on to our civilian leadership or what our civilian leaders chose to ignore. While our generals pursue a strategy dependent on peace breaking out, the Iraqis prepare for their war — and our servicemen and women, and their families, continue to suffer.

There is one way we might be able to succeed in Iraq. To continue an operation of this intensity and duration, we would have to abandon our volunteer military for compulsory service. Short of that, our best option is to leave Iraq immediately. A scaled withdrawal will not prevent a civil war, and it will spend more blood and treasure on a losing proposition.

America, it has been five years. It’s time to make a choice.

This column was written by 12 former Army captains: Jason Blindauer served in Babil and Baghdad in 2003 and 2005. Elizabeth Bostwick served in Salah Ad Din and An Najaf in 2004. Jeffrey Bouldin served in Al Anbar, Baghdad and Ninevah in 2006. Jason Bugajski served in Diyala in 2004. Anton Kemps served in Babil and Baghdad in 2003 and 2005. Kristy (Luken) McCormick served in Ninevah in 2003. Luis Carlos Montalván served in Anbar, Baghdad and Nineveh in 2003 and 2005. William Murphy served in Babil and Baghdad in 2003 and 2005. Josh Rizzo served in Baghdad in 2006. William “Jamie” Ruehl served in Nineveh in 2004. Gregg Tharp served in Babil and Baghdad in 2003 and 2005. Gary Williams served in Baghdad in 2003.

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.

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‘Many in the US Military Think Bush and Cheney Are Out of Control’ h/t: CLG

The 545 People Responsible For All Of U.S. Woes By Charley Reese (older article)

Dandelion Salad

By Charley Reese
ICH
10/16/07
(Date of original publication unknown)

Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them.

Have you ever wondered why, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits, we have deficits? Have you ever wondered why, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, we have inflation and high taxes?

You and I don’t propose a federal budget. The president does. You and I don’t have the Constitutional authority to vote on appropriations. The House of Representatives does. You and I don’t write the tax code. Congress does. You and I don’t set fiscal policy. Congress does. You and I don’t control monetary policy. The Federal Reserve Bank does.

One hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one president and nine Supreme Court justices – 545 human beings out of the 235 million – are directly, legally, morally and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country.

I excluded the members of the Federal Reserve Board because that problem was created by the Congress. In 1913, Congress delegated its Constitutional duty to provide a sound currency to a federally chartered but private central bank.

I excluded all but the special interests and lobbyists for a sound reason. They have no legal authority. They have no ability to coerce a senator, a congressman or a president to do one cotton-picking thing. I don’t care if they offer a politician $1 million dollars in cash. The politician has the power to accept or reject it.

No matter what the lobbyist promises, it is the legislation’s responsibility to determine how he votes.

A CONFIDENCE CONSPIRACY

Don’t you see how the con game that is played on the people by the politicians? Those 545 human beings spend much of their energy convincing you that what they did is not their fault. They cooperate in this common con regardless of party.

What separates a politician from a normal human being is an excessive amount of gall. No normal human being would have the gall of Tip O’Neill, who stood up and criticized Ronald Reagan for creating deficits.

The president can only propose a budget. He cannot force the Congress to accept it. The Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, gives sole responsibility to the House of Representatives for originating appropriations and taxes.

O’neill is the speaker of the House. He is the leader of the majority party. He and his fellow Democrats, not the president, can approve any budget they want. If the president vetos it, they can pass it over his veto.

REPLACE SCOUNDRELS

It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of 235 million cannot replace 545 people who stand convicted — by present facts – of incompetence and irresponsibility.

I can’t think of a single domestic problem, from an unfair tax code to defense overruns, that is not traceable directly to those 545 people.

When you fully grasp the plain truth that 545 people exercise power of the federal government, then it must follow that what exists is what they want to exist.

If the tax code is unfair, it’s because they want it unfair. If the budget is in the red, it’s because they want it in the red. If the Marines are in Lebanon, it’s because they want them in Lebanon.

There are no insoluble government problems. Do not let these 545 people shift the blame to bureaucrats, whom they hire and whose jobs they can abolish; to lobbyists, whose gifts and advice they can reject; to regulators, to whom they give the power to regulate and from whom they can take it.

Above all, do not let them con you into the belief that there exist disembodied mystical forces like “the economy,” “inflation” or “politics” that prevent them from doing what they take an oath to do.

Those 545 people and they alone are responsible. They and they alone have the power. They and they alone should be held accountable by the people who are their bosses – provided they have the gumption to manage their own employees.

This article was first published by the Orlando Sentinel Star newspaper

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.

Bush Wants Wiretapping, but Terrorists Are Easy to Find by William Mac (video)

This Week In Time

By William Mac
The Mac Manifesto (William Mac)

featured writer
Dandelion Salad

Oct. 16, 2007

This Week in Time covering October 8th – October 15th.

Protect America Act gets trumped in House, but Democrats are still too afraid to make any major changes. Next up is the Senate, let’s see if they’re strong enough to stand up to the Bush bully.

I challenge Bush to make me his next top security adviser because it seems as though he can’t figure out that radical Islamic Jihad sites are popping up all over the internet showing the latest videos and plans for attack. No need to whine that you can’t wiretap citizens! I’ll help you out Mr. Bush.

William Mac
The Mac Manifesto
J Acosta Productions

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NSA LIKELY READING WINDOWS SOFTWARE IN YOUR COMPUTER

It’s Time For The Banks To Face The Hangman By Mike Whitney

Dandelion Salad

By Mike Whitney
ICH
10/16/07

There is today an incredibly speculative financial sector hell bent on sustaining Credit and asset Bubbles – and perfectly content to adulterate our functional system of “money” in the process. The Federal Reserve is perceived to condone the whole affair and is openly willing to employ all measures to avoid bursting Bubbles. And in a contemporary world of acutely fragile finance structures, this ensures that bust avoidance translates briskly to bubble perpetuation and speculator delight.” Doug Noland “Credit Bubble Bulletin”

“How can one defend a system that creates wealth by making the majority poor?” Henry C. K. Liu

Officials in the Treasury Dept—-working with their colleagues at Citigroup, J.P. Morgan and Bank of America—have concocted a scheme to rescue the banks from their massive losses in mortgage-backed securities. The group is planning to set up a $100 billion emergency fund which will purchase non-performing assets for short term debt. In truth, the fund is a bailout which provides the financial giants with an excuse for not reporting their enormous losses from bad bets.

The story first appeared in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal and was followed on Monday with a second headline piece:

“RESCUE READIED BY BANKS IS BET TO SPUR MARKET”

WSJ: “The high stakes plan to RESCUE BANKS FROM LOSSES on mortgage securities amounts to a big bet that a consortium of financial giants—AT THE PRODDING OF THE US GOVERNMENT—can PERSUADE INVESTORS TO POUR MORE MONEY INTO THE TROUBLED CREDIT MARKET.”

That’s right; the Treasury Dept is directly involved in a scam that saves the banks while trying to “persuade” investors to “pour more money” into toxic mortgage-backed sludge. Treasury Dept officials clearly have a different idea of “moral hazard” than the rest of us.

The banks are presently holding hundreds of billions of dollars in mortgage-backed securities (MBSs) that they cannot sell—because there are no buyers —and don’t want to take back on their balance sheets because they’ll be forced to increase their capital reserves. So they’ve decided to launch a public relations campaign to promote some goofy-sounding fund, called the “Master-Liquidity Enhancement Conduit” or M-LEC, which will allow the banks to place their unwanted bonds in Limbo until some future date when the public appetite for garbage CDOs improves.

The WSJ does a good job of disguising the real motive behind the new “Super-Conduit” (aka the Bailout fund) but in the last paragraph, buried in Section C-3, they reveal the truth:

“The goal is to reassure investors and make them more willing to buy its short-term debt.” So, the fund is really just a way of rearranging the marketplace until the next crop of gullible investors sprouts up and buys more mortgage-backed garbage.

Where are the regulators? The SEC and Treasury should be forcing the banks to be straightforward with the public and let them know about the hanky-panky they’ve been up to with their risky SIVs (structured investment vehicles) Citigroup alone has nearly $80 billion in off-balance sheets operations which are in distress. The bank accounts for “25% of the global SIV market. As of August, assets held by SIVs totaled $400 billion”.

SIVs are set up as a way to make money without taking the risk onto their balance sheets. “They issue their own short-term debt, usually at relatively low rates …then use the proceeds to buy higher yielding assets such as securities tied to mortgages.” (WSJ)

Ever since Bear Stearns blew up in late July, investors have been steering clear of any securities connected to real estate, which means the SIVs are getting the Double Whammy—they can’t sell their asset-backed commercial paper (because it’s mortgage-backed) and they find buyers for their collateralized debt obligations. (CDOs) To a large extent, the market is still frozen despite the upbeat cheerleading on the business pages. Clearly, the worst is yet to come.

How bad is it?

An article in yesterday’s Financial Times said that, “Only $9.9 billion of home equity loan securitizations have come to market since July 1—A 95% DECLINE FROM THE $200.9 BILLION IN THE FIRST HALF OF THIS YEAR AND A ROUGHLY 92% DECREASE FROM THE SAME PERIOD LAST YEAR.”

The banks are in trouble. Big trouble. Main sources of revenue have dried up overnight and they’re stuck with hundreds of billions of debt. That’s why the papers broke the story on Saturday when there was NO chance of triggering a stock market crash.

Imagine the horror of investors around the world when they discover that the major investment banks are running these shabby “off-balance sheets” operations while concealing their real financial condition from their investors. Consider the disgust the public feels when they see Treasury officials bailing out the banks instead of ordering them to report their losses and get on with business.

Still, Wall Street nonchalantly leaps from one swindle to the next never considering the damage it’s doing to the credibility of the market.

Susan Pulliam summed it up like this in the Oct 12 edition of The Wall Street Journal:

“Since the invention of the ticker tape 140 years ago, America has been able to boast of having the world’s most transparent financial markets. The tape and its electronic descendants ensured that crystal-clear prices for stocks and many other securities were readily available to everyone, encouraging millions to entrust their money to the markets. These days, after a decade of frantic growth in mortgage-backed securities and other complex investments traded off exchanges, that clarity is gone. Large parts of American financial markets have become a hall of mirrors.”

“Hall of mirrors” is an understatement. The system is thoroughly opaque and crooked as a ram’s horn. The market’s new architecture, “structured finance”, is a dismal rip-off from start to finish. Consider the mentality of the hucksters who dreamed up “securitizing” subprime mortgages and selling them off as precious jewels in the secondary market. This was a blatant con-job. How can the liabilities of “borrowers with bad credit” be traded to foreign investors and pension funds like they were valuable assets? And where were the regulators while this scam was going on?

Isn’t this sufficient evidence that the system is totally out of whack?

Wall Street avoids transparency like the plague. That is to be expected. But what about the government? It’s the government’s job to protect the investor and maintain the integrity of the system. Is that what Treasury Dept is doing or are they “LURING investors to buy debt issued by the rescue fund as part of the plan”? (quote from the Wall Street Journal)

“Luring”? Is that how Paulson sees it; like luring turkeys to the chopping block with a trail of bread crumbs?

The idea of protecting the little guy has never occurred to anyone in the Bush administration. Their job is to shift wealth from one class to the other via equity bubbles and government bailouts—-anything that advances the corporate agenda.

Presently, the banks are sitting on $200 billion in non-performing mortgage-backed securities (MBSs) and collateralized debt obligations. (CDOs) They are also hold another $300 billion in collateralized loan obligations (CLOs) from mergers and acquisitions which stalled after the Bear Stearns meltdown. If the present bailout doesn’t materialize, we’re likely to see bank closures and a plummeting stock market.

Shouldn’t the regulators have considered the probability of a crash before they allowed trillions of dollars of radioactive-bonds to flood the market when no one had any idea of their real value? Wouldn’t that have been the prudent thing to do?

Now we know what they are worth. They’re worth nothing. That’s why the banks are running scared and refusing to put them up for auction. They’d rather sleaze them into a lofty-sounding superfund that masks their true value.

In the last 2 weeks the stock market soared on the news that the banks were reporting billions of dollars in losses. Investors were hoodwinked into believing the banks were being honest and had “come clean” about their financial condition. What a joke. In reality, the banks only reported roughly 5% of their potential losses; the rest were hidden in their off balance sheets operations.

Equities skyrocketed to new heights. Wall Street was euphoric.

Now we know the truth. It was all baloney.

The Wall Street Journal: “The new fund is designed to stave off what Citigroup and others see as a threat to the financial markets world-wide: the danger that dozens of huge bank-affiliated funds will be forced to unload billions of dollars in mortgage-backed securities and other assets, driving down their prices in a fire sale….The ultimate fear: If banks need to write down more assets or are forced to take assets onto their books, that could set off a broader credit crunch and hurt the economy. It could make it tough for homeowners and businesses to get loans.”

It could “hurt the economy” and “make it tough for homeowners and businesses to get loans?”

Ahhh, yes. It’s all clear now. The banks only cooked up this colossal bailout to make things better for us common people. How is it that we didn’t notice that before? Our problem is that we don’t see the magnanimity and altruism which drives the corporate agenda.

From the New York Times:

“The conduit (The bailout fund) is expected to start operating in 90 days and will stay in place for a few years until it has disposed of the assets it buys, according to people familiar with the negotiations.

To maintain its credibility with investors from whom it would raising money, the conduit will not buy any bonds that are tied to mortgages made to people with spotty, or subprime, credit histories. Rather, it will buy debt with the highest ratings — AAA and AA — and debt that is backed by other mortgages, credit card receipts and other assets.”

We already know about the problems with the ratings agencies and how they are in bed with the investment banks. We also know that the whole purpose of the new fund is to off-load mortgage-backed tripe which is no longer sellable on the market. What we didn’t know is that the New York Times eagerly provides the peppy public relations narrative to assist big business in dumping its failing assets.

NY Times: “The conduit will pay market prices for the securities it buys. But it remains unclear how officials will determine the price of some bonds that have not been actively traded since August, because the difference between what buyers are willing to pay and what sellers want has widened significantly.”

Of course, they’ll pay full price because they want to be “made whole” again. The truth is, however, that these derivatives will probably only fetch pennies on the dollar unless they get another Wall Street PR face-lift.

Christian Stracke, market analyst from the research firm CreditSights, said the effort appears to be “an attempt to soothe tense investors in the debt market, rather than to provide substantive relief to the worst-hit mortgage securities”.

Stracke added, “For me, this is more of a P.R. blitz.”

Bingo.

The announcement of the forthcoming Master-Liquidity Enhancement Conduit or M-LEC further underlines the gravity of the problems facing the banking system. The fund creates a “buyer of last resort” so that these dubious assets won’t be sold on the market at fire-sale prices.

Citigroup appears to be the greatest beneficiary of the current plan. They have a number of Enron-type SIVs which could be at risk.

Again, the problems that are surfacing in the banking sector today are the direct result of Greenspan’s loose monetary policies coupled with the dismantling of the regulatory regime that was created following the 1929 stock market crash. We are now back to Square 1. All of the various scams and swindles which permeated that hyper-inflated market are now back in full-force foreshadowing a steep decline in investor confidence, increased market manipulation, and an unavoidable economic calamity.

“Structured finance” has transformed US markets into a carnival sideshow. Productivity and real growth have been replaced with never-ending credit expansion and speculative abuses. Reckless monetary policies and the behemoth current account deficit have destabilized the global economy a set the stage for a fiscal Armageddon.

The subprime mortgage crisis and subsequent shrinking of asset-backed commercial paper (ABCP) has thrown a wrench in the funding of daily corporate operations. These are the harbingers of an impending recession. As mortgages continue to default at a record pace; the aftershocks will continue to rumble through the credit markets where subprime loans have been “securitized” into bonds and leveraged at maximum levels. It’s just one domino knocking down the next.

The financial system is at greater risk now than any time in the last 80 years. Regrettably, the only remedies coming from the Fed are more currency-destroying rate cuts or hundreds of billions of dollars in repos to remove mortgage-backed bonds from the banks’ balance sheets. Neither of these solutions addresses the critical issues; they do not stabilize the market, reinvigorate lending, or restore investor confidence. They are merely band aids on a sucking chest-wound. They won’t stop the bleeding.

The Fed’s monetary policies promote financial speculation which inevitably leads to equity bubbles. Under Greenspan’s stewardship, the country has lurched from the 1990’s bond bubble, to the dot.com bubble, to the subprime meltdown, to the liquidity crisis, to the credit crunch—all engineered at the Federal Reserve with ancillary assistance from the charlatans in the banking industry.

An article in China Worker, “Credit Crunch threatens Global Downturn” summarizes our present predicament it like this:

“Financial globalization has rebounded on the system. Capitalist leaders boasted that the near total integration of financial markets across the globe would provide lenders and borrowers everywhere with instant access to a completely liquid money market. New types of financial securities and sophisticated derivatives would spread the risk of borrowing so widely that it would eliminate risk entirely. While economies were growing and bubbles inflating, it appeared that—through derivatives trading— losses would be widely diffused among speculators, reducing risk to very low levels. Not even the most astute financial analysts could predict what would happen in the event of recession. The unanswerable question was: Who would ultimately bear the risks arising from widespread defaults or bankruptcies? The veteran investor, Warren Buffet, warned that derivatives would prove to be ‘weapons of mass destruction’.

The fantasy of financial alchemy transforming high risk gambling into low risk money-making has now been shattered.”

The author is right. “Structured finance” is a fraud. Risk has not been eliminated. In fact, it has exploded and become a system-wide problem. The dead wood is everywhere.

The banks are being crushed by a debt-load they generated through “securitization”. They need to accept responsibility for their poor judgment (or greed?) and report their losses. The Super-Conduit is just a dodge to put off the unavoidable day of reckoning. The whole wretched plan should be scrapped. No amount of financial chicanery will eradicate billions of dollars in bad bets. It’s time for the banks to face the hangman.

 

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.

In The Kingdom of Fear By Sheila Samples

Dandelion Salad

By Sheila Samples
10/16/07 “ICH

“You’re A Whole Different Person When You’re Scared”
~~Warren Zevon, Hunter S. Thompson

My friend Bernie says since Democrats won the Congress, George Bush reminds him of a cartoon where this destructive Texas jackrabbit was careening headlong down a path, his eyes riveted on a rabbit hole in the distance. A tortoise, sunning himself at the side of the path, looked behind the rabbit where a baying pack of dogs, in hot pursuit, was gaining on him. The tortoise smiled. The poor bunny was in a race for his life. As he shot by, the tortoise called out lazily, “Think you’ll make it?” The rabbit, looking neither to the right nor left, shot back desperately — “I gotta make it…”

Bernie says Bush is running scared. So scared he’s “pantin’ like a lizard…”

Pantin’ like a lizard? Hah. Having been raised in New Mexico with me, Bernie should know that Bush is panting because, well, that’s what lizards do…Especially the venomous gila monsters, who are fun to chase, but only a fool would try to catch one. That’s why the few Democrats out there who appear to be chasing Bush are, in reality, just trotting along in his wake. I suspect they fear the holocaust he is capable of inflicting if they catch him.

For six long years, Bush has “water-boarded” all who oppose him — especially those in Congress — with a steady stream of 9-11. Each speech is laced with visions of 9-11 — 9-11 horror just over the horizon, 9-11 around each corner, 9-11 behind each tree. “Fear Itself” is the only option on the Bush-Cheney table, and they have used it relentlessly, not only to wage genocidal war in order to gain control of the world’s resources, but to seize dictatorial power and to control the quivering masses. Constant and repetitive warnings and false-flag alerts, evidence of plotters and planners skulking among us, hateful ideologies swirling above us like mushroom clouds — is it any wonder our elected representatives, once inside the Kingdom of Fear, lose all sense of direction, the ability to reason?

In his new book, “The Assault on Reason,” former vice president Al Gore shines the light of truth upon this Orwellian prison of fear in which we are held captive. In fact, Gore says more in his Introduction than most people can manage to get across in an entire book. He says there is a “connection between the withdrawal of reason from the public sphere and the resulting vacuum that is filled by fear, superstition, ideology, deception, intolerance, and obsessive secrecy as a means of tightening control over the information that a free society needs to govern itself according to reason-based democracy.”

Bernie says that sounds good, but as far as he’s concerned, they’re all just a bunch of spineless hypocritical weasels. “Something ain’t right here,” Bernie said. “These Democrats are different from the ones we sent up there. We elected them to do the two things they promised to do — stop the massacre in Iraq and impeach the shallow, warmongering fool who lied us into his greedy war. They’ve been there nearly 11 months and they refuse to hold Bush and Cheney accountable for their treasonous lies or the massive destruction that gets worse every day. Blood keeps gushing from the sands of Iraq. Bodies keep piling up.”

Bernie glared at me as he headed for the door. “Are they really scared, or are they just playing politics?” he asked. “Either way — how do they sleep at night — how in the hell do they sleep at night?”

If I knew the answer to that question, I’d know why my hero, Sen. Russ Feingold, gave a speech on the floor of the Senate in early October wherein he urged his peers to take a stand and insist the $150 billion war-funding bill include a timeline for beginning to withdraw troops because, he said, “There have been more than 3,600 killed in Iraq…”

I was aghast. Perhaps Feingold overslept that morning. Had he bothered to check, he would have discovered that, as he spoke, more than 3,800 of our soldiers and marines had been killed. He might even have mentioned the more than 37,000 injured and more than 21,000 suffering from disease and other medical problems. No matter how you stack them, that’s a lot of bodies piling up…

I’d know why another of my heroes, Rep. John Conyers, who had been out there hugging the peerless David Swanson and the courageous Cindy Sheehan — holding meetings in basements, whipping up articles of impeachment — suddenly shut up, backed off, and dove under his desk when the polls closed. Freaked out — after 21 terms in Congress!

I don’t know if House droid Nancy Pelosi experiences fear; if she sleeps, or even blinks, but her strident insistence that she alone is the Decider on impeachment is a power grab indicating either her ignorance of, or contempt for, the U.S. Constitution. Article II, Section 4 leaves no wiggle room, but is a mandate — “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

Pelosi’s mantra that “impeachment is off the table” mirrors Bush’s 9-11 broadside, and is clear evidence that she is far more concerned with politics than with the faceless, invisible bodies that keep piling up because of her inaction. In a recent interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Pelosi said she is determined that Bush will not escape his legacy. “This war is Bush’s war and it’s Cheney’s war. And now,” she said, smacking her lips in delight — “this war is the Republican’s war…”

So there you have it. When Pelosi and other members of Congress were sworn in after the 2006 election, 2,761 American uniformed military had been slain. In the ensuing 11 months, while Democrats were caving in, kissing ass, and giving Bush everything he demanded to expand his war, an additional 1,072 of our young men and women have perished. With 13 months remaining for this administration, one must wonder how many more innocent Iraqi citizens and American military must die in order for Pelosi to write Bush’s legacy with their blood…

If Democrats in Congress actually read that document which they swore to “support and defend against all enemies foreign and domestic,” they would know that any member of the House can start impeachment proceedings by (are you listening, Rep. Dennis Kucinich?) merely tossing a resolution in the hopper for referral to the appropriate committee.

There is good reason for Americans to be scared, for as George Orwell said, “It does not matter if the war is not real, or when it is, victory is not possible. The war is not meant to be won, it is meant to be continous…The war is waged by the ruling group against its subjects.” It’s them against us — a greedy corporate cabal protected by a cruel and sinister Dick Cheney and Bush, a vicious, brainless jackass who endowed himself with “wonder-working” masturbatory power to torture and kill at will.

I once read that the Constitution is our birth certificate. If we are to remain a legitimate republic and escape this Kingdom of Fear, we must impeach both of these illegitimate warmongers. We must resist being fatigued into compliance with murder and into relinquishing our freedoms.

As Hunter S. Thompson wrote so succinctly just prior to the 2004 elections, “We are down to nut-cutting time,” and, again, with Warren Zevron, Thompson admonished — “If you can’t run, walk…If you can’t walk, crawl…But don’t look down…It’s a long, long fall.”

Let us begin.

Sheila Samples is an Oklahoma writer and a former civilian US Army Public Information Officer. She is a regular contributor for a variety of Internet sites. Contact her at rsamples@sirinet.net

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.

see

NSA Spying: What Did Pelosi Know? By Ray McGovern

Leadership Void by Cindy Sheehan

Nancy Pelosi, Meet Your Replacement! (video; Sheehan)

The 41st kilometer: Gaza, “A Zoo” by Amira Hass

Dandelion Salad

by Amira Hass

Global Research, October 15, 2007

Haaretz

The hermetic imprisonment of 1.5 million human beings

A zoo. This is one of the ways that Palestinians describe the conditions under which nearly 1.5 million of them have been living: in an area of some 360 square kilometers, closed in on three sides by sophisticated barbed-wire fences, concrete walls and military lookout towers, and to the west by Israeli navy ships that seal them off from the sea. Overhead, in the sky, unmanned aircraft and hot air balloons continually photograph whatever happens inside this closed cage, which has seven gates connecting it to the world, all of which are sealed off almost hermetically.

During the past four months, Israel has permitted about 2,000 people to leave the Gaza Strip – a minority of them were ill; more than half were Fatah senior activists or loyalists who were fleeing from the Strip; and the rest were individuals holding dual citizenship or visas for prolonged stays abroad. For the sake of comparison: In 1999, 1,400 people a day went through the Rafah crossing point alone, in addition to the thousands who passed though the Erez crossing point, despite the permanent closure policy. Now, 1.5 million human beings are living with the knowledge that the length of their world is at most 41 kilometers long and 12 kilometers wide.

The comparison to a zoo was made by Dr. Mamdouh al Aker, a doctor who heads the Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizens’ Rights. For another Gazan, a prominent businessman whose food plant is working at about 5 percent of its capacity, the situation is reminiscent of a hospital: Like patients, the inhabitants do not work, but they receive food. They do not work, because for four months Israel has prohibited not only the exit of any Gazan products to market, but also the entry of any raw materials or means of production. If the prices of goods continue to rise and the cash crisis worsens because of the severing of contact between banks in Israel and the banks in Gaza, the international aid organizations will soon increase the quantities of food that they donate, which today account for about 10 percent of the supplies that are brought in. Perhaps the day will come when they will drop food packages from helicopters.

The governments of Israel, the United States and Europe see the hermetic imprisonment of 1.5 million human beings and the final destruction of Gaza’s economic infrastructure as a suitable answer to Hamas, at least until it falls. It appears that the Ramallah “government” agrees with them. Indeed, the head of the Gazan “government,” Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, has hinted that the exclusive Hamas regime in Gaza is temporary. But, this temporary nature depends on the success of a dialogue between Hamas and Fatah, whereas Israel and the United States are forbidding Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas from carrying on such a dialogue. And Abbas, in any case, is for the moment sticking to the approach that Hamas is a hostile entity.

As always, the students who are not being allowed to leave are a minority whose imprisonment reflects the extent of the destruction inflicted upon the Palestinian future. For years now Israel has been preventing Gazans from studying in the West Bank. As a consequence, those who want to undertake advanced studies at the university level must go abroad. Take, for example, 10 outstanding students who have received scholarships for master’s and doctoral studies in Germany. Take another several hundred students who are already studying abroad and got stuck in the Gaza Strip over the summer, and others who registered for studies abroad this year. The essential future contribution by all of these students to their community is ensured. But if they do not leave the Gaza Strip today, right now, some of them will lose their scholarships, others the first semester of the school year and still others the entire year. Thousands of other young people have simply given up on their aspiration to study abroad because of the closed-gates policy. And when they do not receive the opportunity to get to know the world, the world according to Hamas and the religious horizons that it offers are the most persuasive.

Since 1991, Israel has been using the partial or total imprisonment of the Gazans in their cage, for longer or shorter periods, as a political strategy: Sometimes it is depicted as punishment, sometimes as a deterrent action and always as a preface to a political plan. Until not long ago, it seemed as though the terms of imprisonment could not be any worse. The past four months have proven that there is always “worse.”

Global Research Articles by Amira Hass

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Amira Hass, Haaretz, 2007
The url address of this article is:
www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7096

The Iraqi Genocide By Paul Craig Roberts

Dandelion Salad

By Paul Craig Roberts
October 15, 2007

Why has not the Turkish parliament given tit for tat and passed a resolution condemning the Iraqi Genocide?

As a result of Bush’s invasion of Iraq, more than one million Iraqis have died, and several millions are displaced persons. The Iraqi death toll and the millions of uprooted Iraqis match the Armenian deaths and deportations. If one is a genocide, so is the other.

It is true that most of the Iraqi deaths have resulted from Iraqis killing one another. But it was Bush’s destruction of the secular Iraqi state that unleashed the sectarian strife.

Moreover, American troops in Iraq have killed more civilians than insurgents. The US military in Iraq has fallen for every bit of disinformation fed to it by Al Qaeda personnel posing as “informants” and by Sunnis setting up Shi’ites and Shi’ites setting up Sunnis. As a result, American bombs and missiles have blown up weddings, funerals, kids playing soccer, and people shopping in bazaars and sleeping in their homes.

Not to be outdone, Bush’s private Waffen SS known as Blackwater has taken to gunning Iraqi civilians down in the streets. How do Blackwater and Custer Battles killers escape the “unlawful combatant” designation?

One can only marvel at the insouciance of the US Congress to the current Iraqi Genocide while condemning Turkey for one that happened 90 years ago.

People seldom see the beam in their own eye, only the mote in the eyes of others. Every member of the Bush Regime is busily at work denouncing Iran for causing instability in the Middle East. Meanwhile, the US has invaded two countries, throwing them into total chaos, while beating the drums for war with Iran and conspiring with Israel to invade Lebanon and to attack Syria.

The indisputable facts are that the US and Israel have attacked four Middle East countries and are determined to attack a fifth. Yet, it is peaceful Iran, at war with no one, that Bush and Israel blame for causing instability in the Middle East.

Not content with its many wars in the Middle East, the Bush Regime is sponsoring wars in Africa and is setting up an African Command. The US government has been bombing and attacking other countries ever since the cold war ended. Instead of peace, the gang in Washington DC chose war.

Other than the Israel Lobby, the greatest supporters of Bush’s wars are Christian evangelicals, specifically the “rapture evangelicals” and the “Christian Zionists.”

I remember when Christianity was about saving one’s soul. Today it is about bringing on Armageddon. While the various evangelical Christians preach war in the Middle East, they condemn Islam for being a “warlike religion.”

Americans are so full of themselves that they are blind to their extraordinary hypocrisy.

The US government has broken every agreement with Russia by withdrawing from the anti-ballistic missile treaty, pushing NATO to Russia’s borders, conniving to place missiles in Poland and the Czech Republic, and buying governments in former Soviet republics and installing US military bases therein.

When Russian President Putin finally has enough and protests, the US Secretary of State blames Putin for being difficult and restarting the cold war.

Few Americans realize it, but they take the cake.

International polls show that the rest of the world regard the US and Israel as the greatest dangers to world peace. Americans claim that they are fighting wars against terrorism, but it is US and Israeli terrorism that worries everyone else. The rest of the world knows that the wars are about US and Israeli hegemony and that the US and Israel are prepared to engage in whatever acts of terror are necessary to achieve hegemony.

That is the bare fact.

When the US dollar loses its reserve currency status, the US empire will come to an abrupt end. Sooner or later the rest of the world will realize this and, in an act of self-protection, dethrone the dollar.

COPYRIGHT CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

Paul Craig Roberts [email him] was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration. He is the author of Supply-Side Revolution : An Insider’s Account of Policymaking in Washington;  Alienation and the Soviet Economy and Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy, and is the co-author with Lawrence M. Stratton of The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice. Click here for Peter Brimelow’s Forbes Magazine interview with Roberts about the recent epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct.


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.

NSA Spying: What Did Pelosi Know? By Ray McGovern

Dandelion Salad

By Ray McGovern
Consortium News
October 15, 2007

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has admitted knowing for several years about the Bush administration’s eavesdropping on Americans without a court warrant. She said she was briefed on it when she was ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. But was she told that the illegal surveillance began well before 9/11?

Referring to her briefing in an apologia-sans-apology Washington Post op-ed on Jan. 15, 2006, she wrote: “This is how I came to be informed of President Bush’s authorization for the NSA to conduct certain types of surveillance.” Continue reading

Olbermann: Al Qaeda + SCHIP + Spying + Craig + Worst (videos)

Dandelion Salad

clyde1952

The war is over! The war is over! Al Qaida has been totally defeated and our service men and women can now come home. Well not exactly. Unforutnately, its the same guy that brought us Mission: Accomplished now brings us the total wipe out of Al Qaida. His name is Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal. So why isn’t everybody out in the streets celebrating?

Because the fact is, even if it were true you don’t really think the neo-cons and Bushies actually would want us to leave Iraq under any circumstances, do you? It might interfere with their plans for another little military party in Iran. Joining Keith in part one of this segment is Dana Milbank.

In Part II of this segment on Mission Accomplished: The Sequel, John Soltz of http://www.votevets.org joins Keith to give his perspective and the perspective of the soldiers on the ground.

Land of the Free, Home of the spied upon. As more and more stories about the spying habits of the Bush Adminsitration come to light, you’ll understand more and more why the lobbyists of the big telecommunication firms need Congress to grant them immunity from previous misdeed. What’s that you say? A country spying on it’s own citizens is not such a big deal. Okay, then how about forcibly injecting immigrants with drugs. Constitutional Law expert Jonathan Turley joins Keith to guide you through the ins and outs of this segment. I think Jonathan may be out of a job soon, as we really don’t have much of a constitution left. I don’t know what a consitutional law expert does when that happens except to find another area of expertise.

Oddball: World’s largest shirt, camel racing, and a brand new statue of Vincente Fox in Mexico comes tumbling down.

Best Persons: Jose Caragol who has the best campaign slogan I ever heard, Father Gary Husband who helped women with their undies, and a hungry criminal.

Last Friday Keith interviewed the parents of kidnap and rape victim Shawn Hornbeck (see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMmH2s…
Tonight he interviews the parents of Graeme Frost (see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-nzKQa… the parents of the 12 year old kid who went on the radio simply to say how the Schip program had saved the lives of Graeme and his little sister. And for this the lunatic fringe of the wingnut party went after the boy with a vengeance, not only publishing the address of the family, but spreading lies and disinformation about them on the internet. The biggest culprits in all of this hatred for these children were the usual suspects plus one: Michelle “I love internment camps” Malkin, Rush Limpbutt, and those who work for Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

Tonight, for the first time you will see heart wrenching photographs of the pain and suffering these two children went through, only to be once again piled on by the hate spewing reptiles of the Repugnican Party. So be prepared.

Update: More photographs can be seen with better clarity here:

http://thenewshole.msnbc.msn.com/arch…

Okay, on a lighter note, it seems that Senator “wide stance” Larry Craig is letting Keith write his material for him.
You’ll see as Keith plays a segment from Craig’s interview with Matt Lauer.

Keeping Tabs: Uh-oh. It seems that there may have been guns in Orenthal Jame’s attempt to heist some souvenirs. His partners in crime are singing like a bunch of canaries.

Worst Persons: Bronze – Michelle Malkin, Silver – Senator Lindsay Grahm, Gold – Roger Ailes

Finally, a segment on Rudy Giuliani, who says we are well prepared if we are ever visited by the likes of Klaatu, Gort, oh and maybe E.T.

New Cold War: Simultaneously, Russia and America Conduct Major War Games by Michel Chossudovsky

Dandelion Salad

by Michel Chossudovsky
Global Research, October 16, 2007

There has been a virtual media blackout on the conduct of major military exercises by both Russia and the US.

Reminiscent of the Cold War, Russia and America are conducting major war games simultaneously.

The Russian Air Force will be conducting major military exercises over a large part of its territory from the 16th to the 30th of October.

These Russian exercises coincide chronologically with the conduct of major US sponsored war games under Vigilant Shield 08, which are slated to take place from the 15th to the 20th of October.

VS-08 was preceded by major naval exercises under Pacific Shield 07, involving the participation of Australia, France, New Zealand, Singapore, the UK, and the US.

President Vladimir Putin announced in August that Russia would be resuming long-range bomber flights over the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic oceans for the first time since the breakup of the Soviet Union. (Associated Press, October 1, 2007). Moscow’s resolve was in response to US-NATO threats directed against Russia including the militarization of Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

The US exercise code named Vigilant Shield 2008 (VS-08) is casually presented as an “anti-terrorist drill”. While under the joint auspices of the Pentagon and the Department of Defense, US Northern Command in liaison with NORAD is in charge of the operation.

VS-08 includes a massive deployment of the US Air Force and Canada’s Air Force. It resembles a war-time scenario with the deployment of bombers and fighter jets over the entire North American continent extending into the Arctic.

Meanwhile in the Pacific, military exercises are being held in Guan under the VS-08 imitative. Parallel US-Philippines sponsored war games are slated to commence in the Philippines archipelago on the 16th of October, “involving nearly 3,500 troops from specialized forces from the two countries.”

In what visibly appears to be a confrontational scenario, the Russian war games commence one day after the launching of the US sponsored VS-08.

Russian strategic bombers Tu-160, Tu-95 and Tu-22M3, and Il-78 aerial tankers “will conduct flights over the Arctic region, the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans, and the Black Sea, with simulated bombing raids and firing of cruise missiles at testing grounds in northern and southern Russia,” Colonel Alexander Drobyshevsky said.” (RIA Novosti).

Part of these Russian war games will be conducted in the Arctic, within proximity of US and Canadian territory (Alaska and Canada’s Arctic).

“Moscow announced in mid-August that regular patrol flights by strategic bombers had been resumed, and would continue on a permanent basis, with patrol areas including commercial shipping and economic production zones.

The U.S. administration expressed concern about the resumption of patrol flights by Russian strategic bombers.

“I think the rapid growth in Russian military spending definitely bears watching,” U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in an interview with ABC News on October 14.

“And frankly, some of the efforts – for instance, Bear flights in areas that we haven’t seen for a while – are really not helpful to security.” (RIA Novosti)

Over the last several months, Russia has been conducting warplane exercises around Alaska. In the course of last Summer, Russian bombers staged a number of exercises in what is described as “a buffer zone outside U.S. air space”, within proximity of Alaska. According to a NORAd spokesman,

“U.S. and Canadian fighter jets, including F-15s, were dispatched each time to escort the Russian planes in the exercises, which ranged from two to six aircraft,…

VS-8 is based on a scenario of confrontation with Russia and China, which joined hands under the auspices of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in major war games in August. Code-named “Peace-Mission 2007”, the exercises were held in the Volga region of Russia as well as in the Urumqi region of Western China.

Global Research Articles by Michel Chossudovsky

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, 2007
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7098

see

Dangerous Crossroads: US Sponsored War Games by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky

Vigilant Shield 2008: Terrorism, Air Defences, and the Domestic Deployment of the US Military by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

Terror exercise is all set to blast Portland on Tuesday (Oct. 16, 2007) h/t: CLG