It’s The Resistance, Stupid By Pepe Escobar

Dandelion Salad

By Pepe Escobar
ICH
10/20/07
Asia Times

The ultimate nightmare for White House/Pentagon designs on Middle East energy resources is not Iran after all: it’s a unified Iraqi resistance, comprising not only Sunnis but also Shi’ites.

“It’s the resistance, stupid” – along with “it’s the oil, stupid”. The intimate connection means there’s no way for Washington to control Iraq’s oil without protecting it with a string of sprawling military “super-bases”.

The ultimate, unspoken taboo of the Iraq tragedy is that the US will never leave Iraq, unless, of course, it is kicked out. And that’s exactly what the makings of a unified Sunni-Shi’ite resistance is set to accomplish.

Papa’s got a brand new bag

At this critical juncture, it’s as if the overwhelming majority of Sunnis and Shi’ites are uttering a collective cry of “we’re mad as hell, and we won’t take it anymore”. The US Senate “suggests” that the solution is to break up the country. Blackwater and assorted mercenaries kill Iraqi civilians with impunity. Iraqi oil is being privatized via shady deals – like Hunt Oil with the Kurdistan regional government; Ray Hunt is a close pal of George W Bush.

Political deals in the Green Zone are just a detail in the big picture. On the surface the new configuration spells that the US-supported Shi’ite/Kurdish coalition in power is now challenged by an Iraqi nationalist bloc. This new bloc groups the Sadrists, the (Shi’ite) Fadhila party, all Sunni parties, the partisans of former interim prime minister Iyad Allawi, and the partisans of former prime minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari. This bloc might even summon enough votes to dethrone the current, wobbly Maliki government.

But what’s more important is that a true Iraqi national pact is in the making – coordinated by VicePresident Tariq al-Hashimi, a Sunni, and blessed by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani himself. The key points of this pact are, no more sectarianism (thus undermining US strategy of divide and rule); no foreign interference (thus no following of US, Iran, or Saudi agendas); no support for al-Qaeda in the Land of the Two Rivers; and the right to armed resistance against the occupation.

Last Friday Grand Ayatollah Sistani finally confronted the occupation in no uncertain terms. Via Abdul Mahdi al-Karbala’i, his representative in the holy city of Karbala, Sistani called for the Iraqi parliament to rein in Blackwater et al, and most of all the “occupation forces”. He has never spoken out in such blunt language before.

For his part Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, the leader of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC), one of the two key, US-supported Shi’ite parties in government, is back in Baghdad after four months of chemotherapy in Tehran. But it’s his son, the affable Ammar al-Hakim – who was the acting SIIC leader while his father was away – who’s been stealing the limelight, promising that the party will do everything in its power to prevent those US super-bases being set up in Iraq. Up to now SIIC’s official position has been to support the US military presence.

Ammar al-Hakim even went to Ramadi on Sunday to talk to Sheikh Ahmed Abu Risha, brother of the late Abdul Sattar Abu Risha, the former leader of the tribal coalition Anbar Awakening Council who was killed by a bomb last month. It was the first time since the invasion and occupation that a SIIC leader went to hardcore Sunni Anbar province. Ammar al-Hakim glowingly described the dead sheikh as “a national hero”.

Most interesting is that Ammar al-Hakim was flanked by none other than feared Hadi al-Amri, the leader of the Badr Brigades – the SIIC militia trained by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, that in fact comprises the bulk of death squads involved in the avalanche of sectarian killings.

Ammar al-Hakim may now be against permanent US bases and in favor of Sunni-Shi’ite union. But although he now says he is against federalism, he’s actually in favor of “self-governing regions”. That makes him for many Iraqis a partisan of “soft partition” –- just like US congressmen. He qualifies the central government in Baghdad as “tyrannical”.

For their part the Sunni Arab sheikhs in Anbar are totally against what would be a Western Iraq provincial government – possibly encompassing three, majority-Sunni provinces, Anbar, Salahuddin and Nineveh.

If on one Shi’ite side we have Ammar al-Hakim from SIIC, on the other side – literally – we have Muqtada al-Sadr. The same day Ammar al-Hakim was courting the tribal sheikhs, pan-Islamic Muqtada was saying he was against any soft partition or provincial governments. That’s exactly what the sheikhs like to hear.

So now, in theory, everyone in the Shi’ite galaxy seems to want (more or less) the same thing. Tehran worked very hard to forge the recent peace pact between the al-Hakim family and the Sadrists. SIIC and Sistani are now explicitly saying that a unified Iraq must rein in the Pentagon and throw out the occupation – that’s what Muqtada had been saying all along. Tehran and Tehran-supported SIIC must obviously have seen which way the Shi’ite street wind was blowing, so now we have a new, anti-sectarian, anti-occupation SIIC.

But it will require concentric halos of forgiveness for Sunnis to forget that the Badr Brigades have been responsible for a great deal of the ethnic cleansing of Baghdad, have cynically collaborated in synch with both the US and Iran, and have been focused on building a virtually independent “Shi’iteistan” in southern Iraq.

‘We want you out’

Away from the Anbar sheikhs, the Sunni front is also moving fast. Last week six key, non-Salafi jihadist resistance groups, on a video on al-Jazeera, officially announced their union under the “Political Council of the Iraqi Resistance”. They are the Islamic Army in Iraq, the al-Mujahideen Army, Ansar al-Sunna, al-Fatiheen Army, the Islamic Front for the Iraqi Resistance (JAMI), and Iraqi Hamas.

The whole process has been on the move since early summer. The council has a 14-point program. The key point is of course guerrilla warfare as the means to throw the occupiers out. A very important point – deriding the usual Pentagon rhetoric – is that the council is fiercely against al-Qaeda in the Land of the Two Rivers. The council also rejects all laws and the constitution passed under the occupation; calls for an interim government; defends Iraq’s territorial integrity and rejects sectarianism.

It has been the Sunni Arab guerrillas that have virtually defeated the US in Iraq. And what’s even more remarkable is that, unlike Vietnam, this has not been a unified resistance of Sunnis and Shi’ites.

A very important issue concerns a group that decided not to be part of the council: the 1920 Revolution Brigades. The brigades are basically Iraqi nationalist, anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist. They totally reject any sort of collaboration with the US.

But they may join the council in the near future. In a statement released in early September, the brigades stressed what an overwhelming majority of Sunnis agree on: “The democrats have a chance to end this conflict in a face-saving solution for the US, by first declaring that they recognize the factions of the Iraqi resistance as the representatives of the Iraqi people and the Iraqi Republic. After which a negotiating team would be arranged to negotiate your troop withdrawal, compensation for Iraq, and matters of future interest. It is only through the Iraqi resistance that a solution may be born.”

Or else, it’s “variable, adaptable and reversible asymmetric warfare that will set the standard for years and years to come”.

And there’s still more – the coordinated, “new Ba’ath” front: 22 resistance groups, under the command of former Saddam star Izaat al-Douri, already seriously talking with the Iyad Allawi bloc – thus part of the nationalist front – and dictating their conditions, which include a resistance ceasefire in exchange for a precise US timetable for withdrawal.

As far as all the key Sunni and Shi’ite factions in Iraq are concerned, they all agree on the basics. Iraq won’t be occupied. Iraq won’t hold permanent US military bases. Iraq won’t give up its oil wealth. And Iraq won’t be a toothless pro-Israel puppet regime.

As far as a concerted Iraqi resistance is concerned, the only way is up. What a historic irony that would be – before the Bush administration is finally tempted to attack Iran, it may have to face a true benchmark imposed on it in Iraq.

Copyright 2007 Asia Times Online
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Housing Flameout: California falls into the sea By Mike Whitney

Dandelion Salad

By Mike Whitney
10/20/07 “ICH

Is it really fair to blame one man for destroying the US economy?

Probably not. But Alan Greenspan is still tops on our list. After all, Greenspan “presided over the greatest expansion of speculative finance in history, including a trillion-dollar hedge fund industry, bloated Wall Street-firm balance sheets approaching $2 trillion, and a global derivatives market with notional values surpassing an unfathomable $220 trillion.” (Henry Liu, “Why the Subprime Bust will Spread” Asia Times) Greenspan’s also responsible for slashing the real Fed Funds Rate so that it was negative for 31 months from 2002 to 2005. That decision flooded the housing market with trillions of dollars in low interest credit creating the largest equity bubble in history. Now that that bubble is crashing; Greenspan has hit the road. He now spends his time leap-frogging from city to city hawking his revisionist memoirs of how he steered the ship of state through troubled waters while fending off protectionist liberals. Look for it in the Fiction section of your local bookstore.

Still, can we really blame “Maestro” for what appears to have been a spontaneous flurry of “free market” speculation in real estate?

To a large extent, yes. Apart from Greenspan’s tacit endorsement of all the dubious loans (subprime, ARMs etc) which flourished during his reign; and despite his brusque rejection of the Fed’s role as regulator; the Federal Reserve’s own documents (“House Prices and Monetary Policy: A Cross-Country Study”) indicate that housing was “specifically targeted” acknowledging that it would serve as “a key channel of monetary policy transmission”. This is not even particularly controversial any more. In fact, we can see that this same scam has been used in England, Spain and Ireland—all now suffering the effects of massive real estate inflation. Low interest rates continue to be the most efficient way of stealthily shifting wealth from one class to another while decimating the foundations of a healthy economy.

Bankers fully understand the effects of cheap credit on the economy. It is branded on their DNA.

CALIFORNIA HOUSING FALLS OFF A CLIFF

We are now beginning to see the first signs that the listless housing bubble has sprung a leak and is careening towards earth. This week’s news from Southern California confirms that home sales have plummeted a whopping 48.5% from the previous year. This represents the biggest decline in home sales since the industry began keeping records more than 20 years ago. Sales are at a standstill and builders and homeowners have begun slashing prices in desperation. (See you tube “Central California Housing Crash: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QVFBojFJTZM )

The news is only slightly better in the Bay Area where DataQuick reports that “Bay Area home sales plummet amid mortgage woes”:

“Bay Area home sales sank to their lowest level in more than two decades in September, the result of a continuing market slowdown and borrowers’ increased difficulties in obtaining “jumbo” mortgages…

A total of 5,014 new and resale houses and condos were sold in the nine-county Bay Area in September. That was down 31.3 percent from 7,299 in August, and down 40.1 percent from 8,374 for September a year ago.”

40.1% year over year. That is the definition of a market collapse.

“Foreclosure activity is at record levels.”

September sales figures for the rest of the country are not yet available, but what is taking place in California, is what we anticipated after the stock market “froze over” on August 16th. Most people don’t understand that the market nearly crashed on that day and that the tremors from that cataclysm changed the way the banks do business. Many of the loans which were available just months ago (subprime, piggyback, ARMs, “no doc”, Alt-A, reverse amortization etc) are either much harder to get or have been discontinued altogether. Additionally, the banks are no longer able to bundle loans into securities and sell them to investors. In fact, the future of “securitization” of mortgage-debt is very much in doubt now. An article in the Financial Times shows how this process has slowed to a trickle:

“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.”

Also—and perhaps most importantly—many potential buyers are now finding that they no longer meet the stricter standards the banks are using to determine credit worthiness. This is especially true for jumbo loans, that is, any home loan that exceeds $417,000. The banks are getting increasing skeptical (some believe they are hoarding capital to cover bad bets on mortgage-backed derivatives) in determining who is a qualified mortgage applicant. Understandably, this has thrown a wrench in sales figures and slashed the number of September closings in half.

In other words, the credit meltdown on Aug 16 changed the basic dynamics of home mortgage-lending. Decreasing demand and mushrooming inventory are only part of a much larger problem; the financing mechanism has completely changed. The banks don’t want to lend money. And, when banks don’t lend money—bad things happen. The economy goes into freefall. Despite the valiant efforts of the Plunge Protection Team in engineering a late-day turnaround to the August rout; the damage is done. Tighter lending will put additional downward pressure on a housing market that is already in distress speeding up an unavoidable recession. The economic storm clouds are already visible on the horizon.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has finally admitted that the slumping housing market is now the “most significant risk to the economy”. Fed chairman Ben Bernanke agrees and adds that he believes that housing would be a “significant drag” on GDP. The troubles at the banks and the news from California have put the “fear of God” in both men. But there’s little they can do. Millions of people are “in over their heads” living in homes they clearly can’t afford. They’ll be forced to move in the next year or so. Foreclosures will soar. That can’t be avoided. Also, the industry has a 10 month backlog of existing homes that must be reduced before new sales have any chance of rebounding. That takes time. Construction and construction-related industries will suffer substantial losses.

The problems facing the banks are much more serious than anyone cares to openly discuss. The banking system is over-extended and under-capitalized. The Fed has provided more than $400 billion in repos since the August meltdown, and yet, the troubles persist. The Treasury Dept has joined with Citigroup, Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase in an attempt to repackage bad debts and sell them to wary investors via “Super conduit” mega fund. The desperation is palpable and these latest shenanigans are only adding to rising stock market jitters.

There’s a myth that the Fed chief can wave a magic wand and make things better. But that is not the case. Bernanke’s decision to cut to the Fed’s Fund Rate last month did not affect long term rates and, therefore, did not make it cheaper to buy (or refinance) a home. The rate-cut was really just a gift to the banks that are currently buried under $500 billion in mortgage-backed debt and CDO sludge. The increase in liquidity hasn’t made these toxic securities any more sellable or solvent. Nor has it increased the banks willingness to provide new home financing to mortgage applicants. That process has slowed to a crawl. All the Fed’s repos have done is buy more time for the banks while they try to wriggle out of reporting their true losses.

The banks serve as a key conduit for the transferal of credit to consumers. That conduit has turned into a chokepoint due to defaults in the mortgage industry and the banks own humongous debt-load. The Fed cannot get money to the people who need it and who can keep the economy (which is 70% dependent on consumer spending) growing. This is a structural problem and it cannot be resolved by merely cutting rates.

We’ve already begun to see signs of a slowdown in consumer spending at Target, Lowes and Walmart. If that deceleration continues, the economy will slip quickly into recession.

American consumers have withdrawn over $9 trillion from their home equity in the last 7 years. That spending-spree has kept the economy whirring along at a healthy clip. Now that housing prices have stabilized—and in many cases, gone down—that easy money is no longer available setting the stage for shrinking economic growth, slower home sales, and declining demand. Deflation is the Fed’s worst nightmare and will be fought with every weapon in their arsenal.

Regrettably, Bernanke does not have the tools to fix this problem and he is likely to destroy the currency if he keeps cutting rates. The recent cuts have already sent oil and gold to new highs while the dollar continues to nosedive. (The euro stands at $1.42 per dollar—up 63% since Bush took office) The weak dollar and the persistent credit problems in the markets, has sent foreign investors scampering for the exits. August was the biggest month on record for the withdrawal of foreign capital from US securities and Treasuries—$163 billion in capital flight. (Japan and China led the way) Confidence in US markets, leadership and integrity has never been lower. Investors are voting with their feet. They’ve had enough.

With capital fleeing the country at the present pace, the US will not be able to maintain its $800 current account deficit, which means that prices will rise, the dollar will fall, and consumer spending will dry up. No amount of financial tinkering at the Federal Reserve will make a damn bit of difference. Barring a dramatic change in economic policy—which seems unlikely—we appear to be quick-stepping towards a system-wide market-busting break-down.

THE MESS THAT GREENSPAN MADE

The ruinous effects of Greenspan’s housing bubble can’t be fully appreciated unless one spends a bit of time studying some of the charts and graphs that are now available. These graphs are the best way to dispel any lingering suspicion that the housing bubble may be some a left-wing conspiracy theory. It’s not, and these links should provide ample evidence to the contrary.

http://www.bubbleinfo.com/statistics-2007/2007/3/15/arm-reset-schedule.html

http://static.seekingalpha.com/uploads/2007/9/7/amortization_1.jpg

http://static.seekingalpha.com/uploads/2007/9/7/amortization_2.jpg

The first graph is the ARM (adjustable rate mortgages) reset schedule—totaling hundreds of billions of dollars in the next 2 years. The next 2 are the interest only and negative amortization share of total purchase mortgage originations 2000-2006. Keep in mind, when studying the ARM reset graph that “A study commissioned by the AFL-CIO shows that nearly half of homeowners with ARMs don’t know how their loans will adjust, and three-quarters don’t know how much their payments will increase if the loan does reset. 73% of homeowners with ARM’s don’t even know how much their monthly payment will increase the next time the rate goes up.” (Calculated Risk)

The unwinding of the housing bubble is now beginning to show up in other areas of the economy. Credit card debt has skyrocketed to 17% annually now that homeowners are no longer able to tap into their vanishing home equity. Americans already owe over $500 billion on their credit cards. Now that debt is increasing faster than retail sales, which suggests that many people are so over-extended they are using their cards for basic necessities and medical expenses. Industry analysts now expect an unprecedented wave of credit card defaults in the next 6 to 12 months. Unfortunately, for the tapped-out consumer, the credit card represents his last access to an unsecured loan.

We can also expect the downturn in housing to swell the unemployment lines. Oddly enough, while home sales have declined 40% from their peak in 2005, construction-related employment has only slipped 5%.That is really astonishing. It could be that the BLS is fabricating the numbers using its Birth-Death model. (which magically produces millions of fictitious jobs) But we know that construction has accounted for 2 out of every 5 new jobs in the US for the last 6 years, so we are sure to see a significant rise in unemployment as the bubble deflates. The financial and mortgage industries have already experienced significant layoffs.

Similarly, we can expect to see substantial correction in home prices. Housing prices typically lag 6 months after sales peak and inventory rises. So far, prices have dropped a mere 3.5%, whereas inventory is at historic highs and sales have decreased 40%. It is impossible to know how low prices will go (some experts like Robert Schiller predict 50% cuts in the hotter markets) but the downward pressure on housing prices is bound to be enormous. Growing unemployment, o% personal savings, rising foreclosures, the weakening dollar, and the prevailing mood of gloominess (a recent poll showed that a majority of Americans believe we are ALREADY in a recession!) suggest that the impending fall in home prices will be precipitous.

DEFLATIONARY DOWNWARD SPIRAL

There is a debate raging on the econo-blogs about whether the country is headed towards hyperinflation or a deflationary cycle. The argument for hyperinflation is compelling since the Fed has already shown that it is prepared to savage the dollar in order to keep the economy running. As a result, we’ve seen inflation is heating up at a pace not seen in over a decade.(despite the government’s mendacious figures) In September gasoline costs rose 4%, heating oil soared 9%, food jumped 5%, and dairy products lurched ahead 7.5%. Everything is up except the greenback which appears to be in its death throes.

Still, there are signs that America’s debt-fueled consumer economy is on its last legs as shoppers and homeowners are increasingly forced to accept that they have maxed-out nearly all of their available lines of credit. They will have to curtail their spending and live within their means. That means less growth, a continuing decline in housing, and a sharp fall in equities prices. These are all the harbingers of deflation.

Treasury Secretary Paulson’s new “Master Liquidity Enhancement Conduit”, M-LEC—which allows the investment banks to delay reporting their losses—is particularly ominous in this regard, since it was the Japanese banks unwillingness to write-off their bad debts which extended their deflationary recession for 15 years. Can the same thing happen here?

Probably. An interesting exchange took place last month between the widely-respected economic blogger, Mike Shedlock (“Mish’s Global Economic Trend Analysis”) and economist Paul L. Kasriel. The interview provides details of the Japanese crisis which offer some striking similarities to our present predicament. I have transcribed an extended portion of that discussion:

Paul L. Kasriel: “Japan experienced a deflation in recent years because the bursting of its asset-price bubble in the early 1990s created huge losses in its banking system. The Japanese banks had financed the asset-price bubble. When it burst, the debtors could not keep current on their loans to the banks and therefore were forced to turn back the collateral to the banks. The market value of the collateral, of course, was less than the amount of the loans outstanding, thereby inflicting huge losses of capital to the Japanese banks. With the decline in bank capital, the Japanese banks could not extend new credit to the private sector even though the Bank of Japan was offering credit to the banks at very low nominal rates of interest.

Banks are an important transmission mechanism between the central bank and the private economy. If the banks are unable or unwilling to extend the cheap credit being offered to them by the central bank, then the economy grows very slowly, if at all. This happened in the U.S. during the early 1930s.

U.S. banks currently hold record amounts of mortgage-related assets on their books. If the housing market were to go into a deep recession resulting in massive mortgage defaults, the U.S. banking system could sustain huge losses similar to what the Japanese banks experienced in the 1990s. If this were to occur, the Fed could cut interest rates to zero but it would have little positive effect on economic activity or inflation.

Short of the Fed depositing newly-created money directly into private sector accounts, I suspect that a deflation would occur under these circumstances. Again, crippled banking systems tend to bring on deflations. And crippled banking systems seem to result from the bursting of asset bubbles because of the sharp decline in the value of the collateral backing bank loans.”

Mish: What if Bernanke cuts interest rates to 1 percent?

Kasriel: In a sustained housing bust that causes banks to take a big hit to their capital it simply will not matter. This is essentially what happened recently in Japan and also in the US during the great depression.

Mish: Can you elaborate?

Kasriel: Most people are not aware of actions the Fed took during the Great Depression. Bernanke claims that the Fed did not act strong enough during the Great Depression. This is simply not true. The Fed slashed interest rates and injected huge sums of base money but it did no good. More recently, Japan did the same thing. It also did no good. If default rates get high enough, banks will simply be unwilling to lend which will severely limit money and credit creation.

Mish: How does inflation start and end?

Kasriel: Inflation starts with expansion of money and credit.
Inflation ends when the central bank is no longer able or willing to extend credit and/or when consumers and businesses are no longer willing to borrow because further expansion and /or speculation no longer makes any economic sense.

Mish: So when does it all end?

Kasriel: That is extremely difficult to project. If the current housing recession were to turn into a housing depression, leading to massive mortgage defaults, it could end. Alternatively, if there were a run on the dollar in the foreign exchange market, price inflation could spike up and the Fed would have no choice but to raise interest rates aggressively. Given the record leverage in the U.S. economy, the rise in interest rates would prompt large scale bankruptcies. These are the two “checkmate” scenarios that come to mind.” (“Mish’s Global Economic Trend Analysis”)

“Checkmate scenarios”. Well put. Thank you, Mish.

A Common Sense Approach by Guadamour

GUADAMOUR

Dandelion Salad
featured writer

Guadamour’s Blog
Oct 20, 2007

A Common Sense Approach

The world today is fraught with a number of problems: war, pollution, global warming, energy and water shortages, over-population, an excesses of garbage, sewage and animal waste, and the list goes on and on.

I grew up in a city, but fortunately my parents were raised on farms and ranches. They were raised before farms became mechanized and mono-crop agriculture became the norm, and before electricity arrived. There were actually animals on farms at that time that weren’t consider pets.

Both my parents loved to have their hands in the soil. We always had an extensive garden in both the summer and winter, and there were flowers everywhere.

All that is really not that important or unusual. What is unusual in terms of today is how my parents went about their small scale agriculture on our half acre homestead.

All organic waste generated from a household of six people was composed. This included all paper. A household of this size generates a lot of organic material.

I was trained early, and to this day I compost everything. I live by myself, but I manage to produce a sizable amount of waste.

Waste, garbage and sewer is a major problem in the western industrialized world, and really in all metropolitan areas of the world. This waste creates not only disposal problems, but has a major impact on global warming by creating tremendous quantities of greenhouse gases.

Recently there has been much talk and action in the USA about producing ethanol from corn so the ethanol can be added to gasoline to reduce its carbon footprint. This has sent the price of corn soaring and brought a lot of marginal land into production.

As far back as 1932, studies by the US Department of Agriculture show that the soil was being depleted of its mineral and organic content, thus requiring greater and greater quantities of inorganic petroleum based fertilizers. This in turn lowers the nutritional quality of the food produced.

Ethanol produced from corn is a wash, because it requires as much energy to produce it as is generated.

A recent article described how in Germany farms have become generators of electricity. This is accomplished by building sealed holding tanks, putting all the organic material in the tanks and letting micro-organisms digest this material. The resulting contained methane gas is used to run a conventional generator.

The digested and composted organic matter, after it has produced the methane is used as an organic fertilizer that rebuilds and restores depleted soil.

Methane burns cleanly and has little impact on global warming when burned. Unburned methane is a major producer of global warming.

Recently it came out that livestock production generates 18% of global warming. This is because of the methane produced by animal waste.

Large cattle feedlots and hog raising operations produce an incredible amount of animal waste. Currently this waste generates huge quantities of methane gas that is released into the atmosphere. This waste is also polluting rivers and waterways, and contaminating the aquifer and creates an odor problem.

It is estimated that a 100,000 head hog raising operation generates as much animal waste as the City of New York produces sewage.

Many people are advocating electric cars as a way to reduce the carbon imprint of human beings on the environment. That would eliminate a great deal of the carbon footprint produced from the burning of fossil fuels. However, it begs the question of where the electricity will be generated.

Currently mountain top removal is taking place in the US and around the world to expose coal which is used to generate electricity.

Mountain top removal causes massive erosion and often times pollutes the water table.

The use of coal to generate electricity has the largest carbon footprint of any type of electrical generation and is a major contributing factor to global warming.

The US and Europe have hundreds of coal generating plants planned over the coming decades. China is planning to build over a thousand of these plants.

Solar, wind and wave generated electricity still seems to be quite some time in the future.

A number of cities around the world have started recycling. Residents pre-sort their garbage and it is disposed of accordingly.

Organic material in a landfill produces methane gas which leaks into the atmosphere and contributes to global warming.

Incinerating waste produces a large carbon footprint that contributes to global warming.

Since the planet Earth came into existence and acquired an atmosphere it has been a self sustaining and self-regulating entity.

It was only with the advent of the industry revolution that the human race as been able to throw a monkey wrench into the natural order of the planet.

The monkey wrench didn’t get flung very far until farms became mechanized and started relying on petroleum based fertilizers to produce their crops, and cities became overly large. This removed the majority of organic matter from the farm where it could be utilized and put it in the city where it became a pollution and disposal problem.

I am trained and educated as an anthropologist, though I’ve spent most of my adult life working as a writer.

My favorite professor at the university I attended was the late William Kelly. He had a PhD in Anthropology from Harvard. He always used to say, “Most any problem can be solved if people keep their commonsense about them.”

Currently there seems to be a shortage of common sense in the world.

The USA is currently engaged in two wars largely to control the rights to petroleum or natural gas. Meanwhile the USA is producing more than enough organic waste to generate all the energy it needs, and by doing so it would solve a major pollution and disposal problem while at the same time do a lot to alleviate the global warming issue.

This is applicable worldwide and does not strictly pertain to the USA.

What is being proposed here is not based on rocket science, but based on biology, microbiology, and smart stewardship of the planet based on millenniums of human experience, and it doesn’t really require that much additional effort.

Why Torture? By Steven Jonas

Dandelion Salad

By Steven Jonas
Thomas Paine’s Corner
10/20/07

The US government use of torture is in the news once again, and as long as BushCheney are in power it will be, off and on. For they have made its use into US government policy. Of course, they describe whatever it is that is being done as “not torture.” They then go on to say that a) “we can’t give you any details because: a) it’s classified and b) anyone who spills the beans will be “aiding and abetting terrorism and terrorists” (as if such persons didn’t already know from first-hand experience with Georgite torture at the hands of either US torturers or those of allies such as Egypt). This is done, and was done in a picture-perfect version by the White House Press Secretary in response to the revelations of the current secret program of torture carried out after Bush said “we-don’t-torture,” because that’s what they want to have the discussion on: “what’s torture?”

They won’t reveal those secret Dept. of Justice memos (or at least hadn’t as of this writing) because, again, they’re classified and release would aid and abet and so on and so forth. So since the Regime won’t give us (much less the Congressional Intelligence and Armed Services Committees) the details, let us decide for ourselves and let’s find out what has been going on from a former torturer himself. According to Tim Shipman of the Sydney Morning Herald (that’s Sydney, Australia, folks; you wouldn’t expect to see an article like this one [see the link at the end of this column] in a US newspaper):

“A former US Army torturer has described the traumatic effects of American interrogation techniques in Iraq – on their victims and on the perpetrators themselves. Tony Lagouranis said he conducted mock executions, forced men and boys into agonizing stress positions, kept suspects awake for weeks on end, used dogs to terrify prisoners and subjected others to hypothermia. . . . Between January 2004 and January 2005, first at Abu Ghraib prison and then in Mosul, in northern Babil province, [Mr. Lagouranis] tortured suspects, most of whom he said were innocent. He realized he had entered a moral dungeon when he found himself reading a Holocaust memoir, hoping to pick up torture tips from the Nazis. . . . [He] said he never beat a prisoner. . . . [But, he said] ‘these coercive techniques – isolation, dogs, sleep deprivation, stress positions, hypothermia – crossed a legal line because they violated the Geneva Conventions.’ “He has written a book about his experiences entitled Fear up Harsh. The quoted article appeared originally in the British right-wing newspaper, The Telegraph.

Continued…

h/t: Speaking Truth to Power

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Antiwar Radio: Scott Horton Interviews Chris Hedges (audio link; torture)

The Secret History of the Impending War with Iran That the White House Doesn’t Want You to Know By John H. Richardson

Dandelion Salad

By John H. Richardson
Esquire
10/18/2007

Two former high-ranking policy experts from the Bush Administration say the U.S. has been gearing up for a war with Iran for years, despite claiming otherwise. It’ll be Iraq all over again.

In the years after 9/11, Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann worked at the highest levels of the Bush administration as Middle East policy experts for the National Security Council. Mann conducted secret negotiations with Iran. Leverett traveled with Colin Powell and advised Condoleezza Rice. They each played crucial roles in formulating policy for the region leading up to the war in Iraq. But when they left the White House, they left with a growing sense of alarm — not only was the Bush administration headed straight for war with Iran, it had been set on this course for years. That was what people didn’t realize. It was just like Iraq, when the White House was so eager for war it couldn’t wait for the UN inspectors to leave. The steps have been many and steady and all in the same direction. And now things are getting much worse. We are getting closer and closer to the tripline, they say.

Continue reading

IEDs Seen As Rising Threat in The U.S. By Spencer S. Hsu & Mary Beth Sheridan

Dandelion Salad

By Spencer S. Hsu and Mary Beth Sheridan
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, October 20, 2007; A01

As Preparedness Is Criticized, Bush Works on a Plan

The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI agree that the homemade explosive devices that have wreaked havoc in Iraq pose a rising threat to the United States. But lawmakers and first responders say the Bush administration has been slow to devise a strategy for countering the weapons and has not provided adequate money and training for a concerted national effort.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who told the Senate last month that such bombs are terrorists’ “weapon of choice,” said yesterday at a local meeting that President Bush will soon issue a blueprint for countering the threat of improvised explosive devices, or IEDs. Chertoff’s department said in a draft report on IEDs earlier this year that national efforts “lack strategic guidance, are sometimes insufficiently coordinated . . . and lack essential resources.”

Among the shortcomings identified in the report: Explosives-sniffing dogs are trained differently by various federal agencies, making collaboration between squads “difficult if not impossible.” Federal agencies maintain separate databases on bomb incidents. Separately, bomb squad commanders have complained of inadequate training for responding to truck bombs.

Continued…

h/t: Antiwar.com

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’s Spying Hits Americans Abroad By Robert Parry

Dandelion Salad

By Robert Parry
Consortiumnews.com
October 19, 2007

In August after the Democratic-controlled Congress caved in to George W. Bush’s demands for broader surveillance powers, I noted that the new authority went far beyond what was advertised and that the President could obtain year-long spying orders on Americans who ventured outside the United States.

My analysis, which was based on a reading of the law’s language, wasn’t shared by commentators in the major U.S. news media and even drew some reader criticism as alarmist for failing to take into account secret “minimization” provisions that supposedly would protect American citizens.

However, the Bush administration’s hostile reaction to a seemingly innocuous amendment added to a new surveillance bill by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, suggests that targeting Americans who travel abroad was a key goal of Bush’s “Protect America Act of 2007.”

Wyden told the New York Times that his amendment would require the government to get a warrant whenever it wants to wiretap an American outside the country, such as a U.S. soldier serving overseas or an American on a business trip.

“The individual freedom of an American shouldn’t depend on their physical geography,” Wyden told the Times. He said his amendment passed on a 9-6 vote in a closed Senate Intelligence Committee meeting on Oct. 18. [NYT, Oct. 19, 2007]

After the committee vote, the Bush administration and a key Senate Republican took direct aim at Wyden’s provision.

“We have strong concerns about that amendment,” said White House spokesman Tony Fratto. “We certainly could not accept it.”

Sen. Christopher Bond of Missouri, the ranking committee Republican, said Wyden’s amendment was “problematic” and could scuttle the entire bill if not changed.

In other words, the seemingly loose phrasing of the Protect America Act wasn’t just an oversight or something that would be cleaned up with some internal technical adjustments. Rather, it was an important feature of the legislation that was slipped past the Democratic leadership and most of the Washington press corps in August.

The law states: “Notwithstanding any other law, the Director of National Intelligence and the Attorney General may for periods of up to one year authorize the acquisition of foreign intelligence information concerning persons reasonably believed to be outside the United States.”

The law’s advocates claimed that this provision was intended to intercept communications when at least one party was linked to a terrorist group or a terrorist affiliate and was outside the United States.

No Terrorist Wording

But the law’s language didn’t limit the surveillance to “terrorists” or “enemy combatants” – indeed those words were not mentioned in the legislation.

Nor does the Protect America Act, which was drafted by the Bush administration’s national security team, specify what happens to a one-year surveillance order against a target if the person then enters – or returns – to the United States.

In the rush to wrap up legislative business before the August recess – and to avoid “soft on terror” accusations – Democratic congressional leaders offered only cursory attention to what this provision meant and what new abuses might become possible.

For instance, could a one-year surveillance order be issued against an American attorney who was representing a Guantanamo detainee and who traveled to Europe for a legal conference? Could the surveillance order follow that person back home? How about an outspoken peace activist who visited a friend in Canada, or a senator meeting with a foreign leader, or a journalist filing stories from overseas?

The only limitation on the administration’s authority is the need to be seeking “foreign intelligence information.” Though the term does cover information about possible hostile acts by a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power, such as terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities, the phrase can be interpreted in a far looser way.

The term can be defined broadly as information about a foreign power that relates to U.S. national defense, national security or the conduct of foreign affairs. In today’s world, those categories could mean pretty much anything.

Other supposed safeguards in the Protect America Act might not be reassuring to its targets, either.

While the targets are kept in the dark about the surveillance, their communications providers – such as phone companies or e-mail services – can challenge the government’s order if they’re willing to absorb the expense and offend the Executive Branch, which often has giant contracts with the same providers.

Even then, the service providers, which aren’t told the classified basis for the surveillance order, can only contest the surveillance on procedural grounds through the secret channels of the court created by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, with appeals of adverse rulings allowed by either side up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Lawsuit Immunity

But service providers get a strong incentive not to challenge the government’s order. While a legal challenge on behalf of an unsuspecting client could be expensive – especially if the Bush administration retaliates by shifting contracts to a competitor – the legislation grants immunity from liability to any service provider who complies.

“Notwithstanding any other law, no cause of action shall lie in any court against any person for providing any information, facilities, or assistance in accordance with a directive under this section,” the law states.

In other words, if spying targets later discover that their service providers gave the government access to their phone calls and e-mails, they have no grounds to sue, regardless of how unjustified the surveillance may have been.

Initially, administration officials said their goal in pushing through the new law was to address a glitch related to cases in which two terror suspects, both abroad, have their communication routed through a U.S. switching point and thus might require a warrant.

Citing this vulnerability, President Bush demanded that Democrats revise FISA before leaving for the August recess. Democrats thought they had reached a compromise that would address the administration’s narrow concern, but the White House and the congressional Republicans then demanded more sweeping changes.

The Senate caved in first, voting 60-28 to authorize Bush’s broader spying powers, with many centrist Democrats joining a solid phalanx of Republicans. (Presidential contenders – Sens. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Chris Dodd and Joe Biden – voted no.)

On Aug. 4, Bush then turned up the heat on the House. He called the spying powers contained in the bill crucial weapons in the fight against terrorism and declared that “protecting America is our most solemn obligation.”

Many Americans would disagree, arguing that the most solemn obligation is to protect the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. But the Democratic congressional leaders acted as if their highest priorities were getting away for the August recess and avoiding ugly attacks on their patriotism from Fox News and the right-wing media.

Instead of canceling the recess – and using the month of August to fight over both Bush’s extraordinary expansion of presidential powers and the Iraq War – House Democratic leaders brought the Senate-approved Protect America Act to the floor. It carried, 227-183, with 41 Democrats backing Bush’s bill.

Trying to put the best spin on their defeat, Democratic leaders pointed to their one concession: a sunset provision that required Bush to seek renewal of his powers in six months. Still, the Democratic “base” and many other Americans were furious at the latest cave-in, sending House Speaker Nancy Pelosi more than 200,000 angry e-mails.

Stung by the reaction, Democratic leaders promised that the spying law would be revisited immediately after the August recess, rather than waiting around for a required reauthorization in February 2008.

New Concessions

Now, however, the Senate Democrats appear headed toward another major concession to Bush, making retroactive the legal immunity for telecommunications companies that collaborated with the administration’s warrantless surveillance over the past six years.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-West Virginia, Senate Intelligence Committee chairman, shepherded this new concession through his panel, which approved a revised version of the Protect America Act on a 13-2 vote with Wyden and Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisconsin, voting no.

The bill now goes to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which also has jurisdiction. Sen. Dodd, D-Connecticut, has vowed to put a hold on the bill to block the retroactive immunity provision.

But the Democrats will face the same dilemma that has stymied their attempts to end the Iraq War. The Republicans are in the driver’s seat because they can filibuster in the Senate, forcing the Democrats to round up 60 votes on anything that restricts the President’s powers, such as Wyden’s amendment.

The GOP also has used parliamentary maneuvers in the House to delay its consideration of a different surveillance bill that includes more constraints on Bush and leaves out the amnesty for telecommunications companies.

Even if a new bill not to Bush’s liking can clear those hurdles, he can veto it, requiring two-thirds majorities in both houses to override.

An impasse would leave the Democrats back where they started. Then, with the law set to expire in February 2008, Bush and his political allies would taunt them as “soft on terror” – and there’s little reason to believe that congressional Democrats will show more backbone in an election year.

[For more on Bush’s assault on American liberties, see our new book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush.]

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth’ are also available there. Or go to Amazon.com.

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.

CBS confirms 2006 Raw Story scoop: Plame’s job was to keep nukes from Iran By Muriel Kane & Dave Edwards

Submitted by davidswanson on Sat, 2007-10-20
After Downing Street

[AFAIK this is the first mention on TV of Risen’s scoop on the CIA lunatic scheme of giving Iran flawed plans to build nukes, which Iran of course immediately spotted as flawed and saw where the flaws were. Plame actually says she thinks it was a good idea! – DS]

By Muriel Kane and Dave Edwards
Raw Story

CBS News has confirmed, in advance of a 60 Minutes interview with outed CIA agent Valerie Plame to be run this Sunday, that Plame “was involved in operations to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons.”

“Our mission was to make sure that the bad guys, basically, did not get nuclear weapons,” Plame told 60 Minutes. Plame also indicated that her outing in 2003 had caused grave damage to CIA operations, saying, “All the intelligence services in the world were running my name through their databases” to see where she had gone and who she had met with.

RAW STORY first revealed Plame’s Iran mission and the damage done to CIA operations by her outing in a February 13, 2006 story by Raw investigative editor Larisa Alexandrovna, titled “Outed CIA officer was working on Iran, intelligence sources say.” In that article, Alexandrovna wrote:

According to current and former intelligence officials, Plame Wilson, who worked on the clandestine side of the CIA in the Directorate of Operations as a non-official cover (NOC) officer, was part of an operation tracking distribution and acquisition of weapons of mass destruction technology to and from Iran.

Speaking under strict confidentiality, intelligence officials revealed heretofore unreported elements of Plame’s work. Their accounts suggest that Plame’s outing was more serious than has previously been reported and carries grave implications for U.S. national security and its ability to monitor Iran’s burgeoning nuclear program. …

Intelligence sources would not identify the specifics of Plame’s work. They did, however, tell RAW STORY that her outing resulted in “severe” damage to her team and significantly hampered the CIA’s ability to monitor nuclear proliferation. …

Three intelligence officers confirmed that other CIA non-official cover officers were compromised, but did not indicate the number of people operating under non-official cover that were affected or the way in which these individuals were impaired. None of the sources would say whether there were American or foreign casualties as a result of the leak.

A few months following Alexandrovna’s groundbreaking revelations, MSNBC’s David Shuster reported that he had also been told by his own sources of Plame’s involvement in an Iran operation and the damage done by her outing.

CBS states further that Plame “was involved in one highly classified mission to deliver fake nuclear weapons blueprints to Tehran. It was called Operation Merlin, and it was first revealed in a book by investigative reporter James Risen.”

Risen’s book, State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration, was published in October 2006, eight months after Alexandrovna’s initial reporting. Risen discussed Project Merlin in the book but did not mention that Plame had been part of it.

Reached on Saturday morning, Alexandrovna said she had known of Project Merlin when she wrote her 2006 article but was not allowed to discuss the operation, as per her agreement with sources, just the country involved. “I cannot confirm or deny that Plame was connected with Project Merlin, only that I was aware of it,” Alexandrovna told Raw.

The following video is from CBS’s Evening News, broadcast on October 19, 2007.

video link

h/t: Raw Story comments by Anonymous

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Valerie Plame Wilson Speaks Muzzled by Larry C. Johnson

CIA Leak/Plame Case

Reporters will reveal what outed CIA officer did for agency by John Byrne (Plame)

Why, Even If You Have Nothing To Hide, Government Surveillance Threatens Your Freedom by John W. Dean

Dandelion Salad

by John W. Dean
Commondreams.org
FindLaw.com
Friday, October 19, 2007

The Case Against Expanding Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Powers

“I’ve got nothing to hide, so electronic surveillance doesn’t bother me. To the contrary, I’m delighted that the Bush Administration is monitoring calls and electronic traffic on a massive scale, because catching terrorists is far more important that worrying about the government’s listening to my phone calls, or reading my emails.” So the argument goes. It is a powerful one that has seduced too many people.

Millions of Americans buy this logic, and in accepting it, believe they are doing the right thing for themselves, their family, and their friends, neighbors, community and country. They are sadly wrong. If you accept this argument, you have been badly fooled.

This contention is being bantered about once again, so there is no better time than the present to set thinking people straight. Bush and Cheney want to make permanent unchecked Executive powers to electronically eavesdrop on anyone whom any President feels to be of interest. In August, before the summer recess, Congress enacted the Protect America Act, which provided only temporary approval for the expanding Executive powers under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). These temporary powers expire in February 2008, so Congress is once again addressing the subject.

The FISA Amendments: The Administration Is Seeking Immunity for Miscreants

Because of the way electronic traffic is directed from foreign countries through the United States, the FISA Court had previously rejected requests to intercept certain foreign-person- to-foreign-person communications in the United States. It was a technical problem, arising from the fact that FISA was written before modern data routing had been designed, and FISA thus needed fixing. On this, everyone agreed.

However, when the Bush Administration asked for the necessary fix to FISA, it also requested much more, including immunity under the existing laws for all the telecommunications companies that have been assisting the government in its illegal warrantless surveillance. Significantly, this practice – justified by reference to the “war on terror” – apparently started well before 9/11 under the Bush Administration.

Ironically, in requesting this immunity, the Bush White House has refused to disclose exactly what type of activities Congress would be retroactively immunizing. Preliminary congressional inquiry has revealed that a massive amount of electronic surveillance of Americans has gone on under the Bush/Cheney Administration. For example, one of the telecom giants, Verizon, reported that between January 2005 and September 2007 they provided information on 94,000 occasions. These numbers suggest that Verizon was operating as merely another (and a secret) extension of the federal intelligence establishment.

Many of the companies appear to be violating a number of federal criminal statutes – such as 18 U.S.C. 2511, which requires a warrant for such surveillance and 18 U.S.C. 2702, which prohibits any “entity providing an electronic communication service to the public” from knowingly divulging “to any person or entity the contents of a communication” without a court order.

Currently, the telecoms are not likely to be particularly worried about being prosecuted by the very same government that instructed them to violate the law, and is leading the way in doing so itself.

But what about under the next Administration? The five-year statute of limitations will make them potentially criminally liable after Bush is gone – at least, unless the Bush Administration gains for them retroactive and future immunity. In a new Administration, the telecoms may be viewed not as cooperative patriots, but rather as criminal co-conspirators.

Civil Liability Appears To Be Driving the Immunity Request

Meanwhile, civil liability for these companies is also a realistic prospect. For example, in a San Francisco federal court, AT&T customers are seeking to protect their privacy with actions under laws like 18 U.S.C. 2520, which provides a civil remedy and hefty damages — ranging up to $10,000 per day per violation. Since it is possible that, over five-plus years, there have been tens upon tens of thousands of such violations, the, if liable telecoms could be looking at hundreds upon hundreds of millions of dollars of damages.

The Bush Administration clearly wants to help its partners in crime; it also wants to avoid accountability for what it has done and is still doing. If the civil litigation proceeds – and one judge already ruled that the “state secrets” privilege does not prevent the plaintiffs from going forward – the Bush Administration faces the risk of a federal court’s forcing it to disclose its unsavory surveillance activities.

Privacy advocates are horrified at the prospect of Congress’s potentially protecting this activity through immunity legislation. Yet, in sharp contrast, most people could care less. Indeed few people seem to care about their loss of privacy, notwithstanding the fact that, like an invisible pollutant to our air or water, it is increasingly eroding our freedom. Unfortunately, it seems that the invasion of our privacy, like the destruction of our atmosphere, may be tolerated until it is too late to fix it.

One of the leading causes of both problems is ignorance. Privacy is a highly complex issue, so people easily accept the claims of those who assert that, if you are not doing anything illegal, you have nothing to be concerned about government surveillance, and if you are, you have no right to privacy to break the law.

Understanding the Misunderstanding about Privacy

For several years I have been reading the work of George Washington University Law School Professor Daniel J. Solove, who writes extensively about privacy in the context of contemporary digital technology. The current apathy about government surveillance brought to mind his essay “‘I’ve Got Nothing To Hide’ And Other Misunderstandings of Privacy.”

Professor Solove’s deconstruction of the “I’ve got nothing to hide” position, and related justifications for government surveillance, is the best brief analysis of this issue I have found. These arguments are not easy to zap because, once they are on the table, they can set the terms of the argument. As Solove explains, “the problem with the nothing to hide argument is with its underlying assumption that privacy is about hiding bad things.” He warns, “Agreeing with this assumption concedes far too much ground and leads to an unproductive discussion of information people would likely want or not want to hide.” Solove’s bottom line is that this argument “myopically views privacy as a form of concealment or secrecy.”

In his work, Solove addresses the reality that privacy problems differ: Not all are equal; some are more harmful than others. Most importantly, he writes, “to understand privacy, we must conceptualize it and its value more pluralistically.” Through several years of work, Solove has developed a more nuanced concept of privacy that rebuts the idea that there is a “one-size-fits-all conception of privacy.”

The concept of “privacy” encompasses many ideas relating to the proper and improper use and abuse of information about people within society. Privacy protects information not only because it would cause others to think less of the person at issue, but also simply to give us all breathing room: “Society involves a great deal of friction,” Solove writes, “and we are constantly clashing with each other. Part of what makes a society a good place in which to live is the extent to which it allows people freedom from the intrusiveness of others. A society without privacy protection would be suffocation, and it might not be a place in which most would want to live.”

Professor Solove’s work – much of which he makes available online – helps clarify thinking about privacy in its fuller context, and helps explain what is wrong with reductive dismissals of privacy using the mantra, “I’ve got nothing to hide.” Before rushing to give the Bush Administration more ways to invade our privacy, not to mention absolving those who have confederated with him to engage in the most massive invasion of America privacy ever, members of Congress should look at Solove’s work. Too many of them have no idea what privacy is all about, and grossly underestimate the value of this complex and essential concept.

John W. Dean, a FindLaw columnist, is a former counsel to the president.

© 2007 FindLaw.com

h/t: Speaking Truth to Power

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.

Weapons Expert Dr David Kelly was Murdered by Norman Baker

Dandelion Salad

by Norman Baker
Global Research, October 20, 2007

Why I know weapons expert Dr David Kelly was murdered, by the MP who spent a year investigating his death

For Tony Blair it was a glorious day. He was in the United States being feted by the U.S. Congress and President Bush.

Their adulation was such that he was being offered the rare honour of a Congressional Gold Medal.

Naturally enough, Bush and his administration were hugely grateful for Blair’s decision to join the United States in its invasion of Iraq.

Photos

That invasion was supposed to lead to the discovery and disposal of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and make the world a safer place.

But as Blair was lapping up the grateful plaudits from the U.S. Congress on July 17, 2003, the man who had done more than almost any other individual on earth to contain the threat from WMD lay dead in the woods at Harrowdown Hill in Oxfordshire.

For Dr David Kelly, the UK’s leading weapons inspector, there was to be no adulation, no medal, no standing ovation.

His life ended in the cold, lonely wood where he was found the next morning, his left wrist cut open, and three nearly-empty blister packs of painkillers in his jacket pocket.

His death was, of course, sensational front-page news. Dr Kelly, unknown to almost everybody at the beginning of that July, had in recent days barely been absent from media headlines.

Much to his chagrin he had been thrust into the harsh glare of publicity, accused of being the mole who expressed to the BBC deep concerns about the Government’s “sexing up” of its dossier on weapons of mass destruction.

For Blair – accused of misusing, exaggerating or even inventing intelligence in order to justify the overthrow of Saddam Hussein – the stakes could not have been higher.

This was undoubtedly the greatest crisis of his premiership to date.

To add fuel to the flames, his director of communications, Alastair Campbell, had launched an unprecedented and vitriolic attack on the BBC, questioning its integrity and professionalism in the way it reported the story.

Suddenly finding himself under tremendous personal pressure, it seemed that Dr Kelly had buckled and decided to commit suicide.

That, at least, was the official version of events, as decided by the Hutton inquiry, set up by the Government with lightning speed within hours of Dr Kelly’s body being found.

The media, the political establishment, indeed almost everybody accepted Lord Hutton’s verdict. But the more I examined it, the more it became clear to me that Hutton’s judgment was faulty and suspect in virtually all important respects.

I was not alone in these suspicions. Letters began to appear in the press from leading medical specialists, in which they queried the suicide verdict.

The letters were well argued, raising profound and disturbing questions that remain unanswered to this day.

Increasingly concerned, I decided to give up my post on the Liberal Democrat front bench to look into Dr Kelly’s death.

My investigations have since convinced me that it is nigh- on clinically impossible for Dr Kelly to have died by his own hand and that both his personality and the other circumstantial evidence strongly militate against suicide.

Given that his death was clearly not an accident, that leaves only one alternative – that he must have been murdered.

This is not a conclusion I have come to lightly. I simply set out to examine the facts, to test the evidence, and to follow the trail wherever it took me.

The account I give in this series may not be correct in all respects, but I suggest that it is rather more credible than the verdict reached by Lord Hutton.

I certainly believe there are enough doubts, enough questions, enough of a smell of stinking fish to justify re-opening this episode officially.

My investigations have been a journey into the unknown, and one that has taken many peculiar turns. Perhaps the most sinister came soon after starting my inquiries last year.

After writing a newspaper article outlining my early concerns, I found myself on a train speeding towards Exeter to see a man who had agreed to meet me only on condition of anonymity and after some rather circuitous arrangements.

These involved much complicated use of public telephone boxes to minimise the chance that his contact with me could be traced.

Finally, we talked over a glass of wine in a rather nondescript club.

He told me that he had recently retired but had connections to both the police and the security services, a claim which I subsequently verified through careful checks.

Like me, he had many doubts about the true circumstances surrounding Dr Kelly’s death and he had begun making his own surreptitious inquiries around Southmoor, the Oxfordshire village which was Dr Kelly’s home.

Posing as a freelance journalist, he had attempted to contact the key policemen involved in investigating the case. In this he was unsuccessful but within an hour he received an unexpected return call.

The person on the other end of the line did not bother with formalities, but instead cut to the quick. How would my contact welcome a full tax inspection of his business, VAT, national insurance, the lot?

Life could be made very difficult, he was told. How did he fancy having no money?

Naturally, this prospect did not appeal, and there he left matters until, at a wedding, he chanced upon an old friend whom he described to me initially as a very senior civil servant, but later as a “spook” from MI6.

He told his friend of his interest in the Kelly affair and also of the threatening phone call he had received.

His friend’s reply was a serious one: he should be careful, particularly when using his phone or his computer. Moreover, he should let the Kelly matter drop.

But my contact did not do so. Two weeks later he met his friend again, this time in a pub, and pressed him on the matter.

His friend took him outside, and as they stood in the cool air, told him Dr Kelly’s death had been “a wet operation, a wet disposal”.

He also warned him in very strong terms to leave the matter well alone. This time he decided to heed the warning.

I asked my contact to explain what he understood by the terms his friend had used. Essentially, it seems to refer to an assassination, perhaps carried out in a hurry.

A few months later, I called my contact to check one or two points of his story. He told me that three weeks after our meeting in Exeter, his house had been broken into and his laptop – containing all his material on Kelly – had been stolen. Other valuable goods, including a camera and an LCD television, had been left untouched.

It was sobering to be given such a clear indication that Dr Kelly had been murdered, but the scientist himself appears to have been fully aware that his work made him a target for assassins.

British diplomat David Broucher told the Hutton inquiry that, some months before Dr Kelly’s death, he had asked him what would happen if Iraq were invaded.

Rather chillingly, Dr Kelly replied that he “would probably be found dead in the woods”.

At the inquiry, this was construed as meaning that he had already had suicidal thoughts. That, of course, is patently absurd.

Nobody can seriously suggest that he was suicidal at the time the meeting took place – yet Lord Hutton seems to have made his mind up about the way in which Dr Kelly died before the inquiry even began.

The result is a series of gaping, unresolved anomalies.

Crucially, in his report, Hutton declared that the principal cause of death was bleeding from a selfinflicted knife wound on Dr Kelly’s left wrist.

Yet Dr Nicholas Hunt, the pathologist who carried out the post-mortem examination on Dr Kelly, stated that he had cut only one blood vessel – the ulnar artery.

Since the arteries in the wrist are of matchstick thickness, severing just one of them does not lead to life-threatening blood loss, especially if it is cut crossways, the method apparently adopted by Dr Kelly, rather than along its length.

The artery simply retracts and stops bleeding.

As a scientist who would have known more about human anatomy than most, Dr Kelly was particularly unlikely to have targeted the ulnar artery. Buried deep in the wrist, it can only be accessed through the extremely painful process of cutting through nerves and tendons.

It is not common for those who commit suicide to wish to inflict significant pain on themselves as part of the process.

In Dr Kelly’s case, the unlikelihood is compounded by the suggestion that his chosen instrument-was a blunt pruning knife.

This would only have increased the pain and would have failed to cut the artery cleanly, thereby hastening the clotting process.

Statistics bear out the extremely low incidence of individuals dying by cutting the ulnar artery, with only one recorded case in Britain during the entire year of Dr Kelly’s death.

Given that the average human body contains ten pints of blood, and that about half of these must be lost before death ensues, we must also ask ourselves why there were clear signs at the postmortem-that Dr Kelly had retained much of his blood.

We cannot be sure exactly how much since, inexplicably, the pathologist’s report does not provide an estimate of the residual volume, but what he did record was the appearance of “livor mortis” on Dr Kelly’s body.

This purplish-red discolouration of the skin occurs when the heart is no longer pumping and blood begins to settle in the lower part of the body. But if Dr Kelly had bled to death, as we are led to believe, then significant livor mortis would not have occurred. Put simply, there would not have been enough blood in his body.

More significant still, while the effects of five pints of blood spurting from a body could not easily be hidden, the members of the search party who found his body did not even notice that Dr Kelly had apparently incised his wrist with a knife.

Their arrival was followed by that of paramedics who pointedly referred to the fact that there was remarkably little blood around the body.

If the idea that blood loss brought about Dr Kelly’s death is flawed, still less plausible is the suggestion that he chose an overdose to quicken his end.

Mai Pederson, a close friend of Dr Kelly’s, has confirmed that he hated all types of tablets and had an aversion even to swallowing a headache pill.

Yet we are told that he removed from his house three blister packs, each containing ten of the co-proxamol painkillers which his wife Janice took for her arthritis.

Each of these oval pills was about half an inch long. Since there was only one tablet left, the implication is that he had swallowed 29 of them. If this is right, we are being asked to believe that Dr Kelly indulged in a further masochistic act in an attempt to take his life.

A further objection is that police evidence states there was a half litre bottle of Evian water by the body which had not been fully drunk.

Common sense tells us that quite a lot of water would be required to swallow 29 large tablets. It is frankly unlikely, with only a small bottle of water to hand, that any would have been left undrunk.

Stranger still, tests revealed the presence of only the equivalent of a fifth of one pill in Dr Kelly’s stomach.

Even allowing for natural metabolising, this cannot easily be reconciled with the idea that he swallowed 29 of them.

Forensic toxicologist Alexander Allan told the Hutton inquiry that although the levels of co-proxamol in Dr Kelly’s blood were higher than therapeutic levels, they were less than a third of what would normally be found in a fatal overdose.

Furthermore, it is generally accepted that concentrations of a drug in the blood can increase by as much as tenfold after death, leaving open the possibility that he consumed only a thirtieth of the dose necessary to kill him.

As for Dr Kelly’s state of mind, in the eyes of those who knew him well he was the last person who might be expected to take his own life.

A recent convert to the Baha’i faith which expressly forbids suicide, he was a strong character who had survived many difficult situations in the past.

Just a day before his 20th birthday in May 1964, his own mother had killed herself with an overdose. Though this had naturally affected him deeply at the time, there was nothing to suggest that it was on his mind at this point in his life.

His friend Mai Pederson recalled a conversation they once had about his mother’s death. Would he ever contemplate suicide himself, she asked. ‘Good God no, I couldn’t ever imagine doing that,” he is said to have replied. “I would never do it.”

Later many people would conclude that the seeds of his suicide lay in his uncomfortable appearance before MPs on the Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday, July 15, just three days before his death.

Grilled for more than an hour during this televised hearing, he was clearly under considerable pressure and yet one journalist recalled him smiling afterwards.

By the time he gave evidence before the Intelligence and Security Committee the following day, he was even managing to crack a joke or two.

His emotional state certainly did not appear to give any major cause for alarm on the morning of the Thursday he disappeared.

His wife Janice later described him as “tired, subdued but not depressed” and the e-mails he sent from his home during those hours suggested that his mood, if anything, was upbeat.

“Many thanks for your thoughts,” he wrote to one colleague. “It has been difficult. Hopefully will all blow over by the end of the week and I can travel to Baghdad and get on with the real work.”

Indeed, so keen was Dr Kelly to get back to Iraq that he spoke to Wing Commander John Clark at the Ministry of Defence about when he could return.

A trip was booked for him the following Friday and his diary, recovered by the police, shows that the trip had been entered for that day. People about to kill themselves do not generally first book an airline ticket for a flight they have no intention of taking.

Since none of this fits the profile of a man about to commit suicide, we are faced with an obvious question. If Dr Kelly did not kill himself, then who might have been responsible for his death?

There are, it must be admitted, a number of possible suspects. In the course of a long career in the shadowy world of arms control, Dr Kelly had made powerful enemies.

Back in 1991, for example, he was part of a team that exposed Russia’s tests of biological weapons for offensive purposes – a field in which they had invested huge sums of money. This could easily have sparked a desire for revenge, if not from the state itself then from individual Russians.

Dr Kelly also had intimate knowledge of biological weapons research in apartheid-era South Africa that some might have preferred not to see the light of day.

It has also been suggested that he had dealings with Mossad, the Israeli secret service, about illegal bacterial weapon activity.

But it seems very unlikely that the anger of old foes would have simmered for years and then exploded just as Dr Kelly emerged in the political spotlight in 2003.

Quite simply, it would qualify as an astonishing coincidence if the cause of his death were not rooted in the furore over Iraq.

At this point, it has to be asked whether there were elements in the British intelligence services, or indeed within 10 Downing Street itself, who would have wanted Dr Kelly dead.

This is a possibility I have seriously considered. But it is difficult, frankly, to think that anyone in the Government could have thought Dr Kelly’s death to be in their interest, even were they morally prepared to bring it about.

After all, the death of Dr Kelly presented Tony Blair with his greatest political challenge, and put the political focus firmly onto the whole Iraq debacle, which cannot be where the Government would have wanted it.

The more I investigated this affair, the more I realised that people who had worked with David Kelly suspected some kind of link with the Iraqis themselves.

Diplomat David Broucher told the Hutton inquiry that he interpreted Dr Kelly’s remark about being found “dead in the woods” to mean that “he was at risk of being attacked by the Iraqis in some way”.

Dr Kelly’s friend Mai Pederson confirmed to the police that the scientist had received death threats from supporters of Saddam Hussein, who regarded him as an enemy on account of his past success at uncovering their weapons programmes.

This was something Dr Kelly privately acknowledged but refused to be cowed by, in a very British, stiff upper lip kind of way.

The theory that he may have been murdered by elements loyal to Saddam is supported by Dick Spertzel, America’s most senior biological weapons inspector, who worked closely with Dr Kelly in Iraq.

“A number of us were on an Iraqi hit list,” he told me matter-of-factly. “I was number three, and David was a couple behind that.”

But Saddam loyalists are not the only Iraqis we need to consider. There are others, too, with rather closer links to the West.

Much of the information about Saddam’s supposed weapons of mass destruction, on which Britain and America based their case for war, was provided by Iraqi dissidents eager to see his overthrow.

This information was sensational and, as events turned out, wildly distorted and in most regards plain false.

One of the central figures here was Ahmed Chalabi, leader of the so-called Iraqi National Congress and the CIA’s favourite Iraqi opposition politician.

A financier with a decidedly chequered past – he was found guilty of embezzlement and forgery after $158 million disappeared from a bank he founded in Jordan – Chalabi made no secret of his wish to drag the United States into war with Saddam and was apparently prepared to say anything to achieve that end.

A key Iraqi informer codenamed “Curveball” – who claimed to have led a team equipping mobile laboratories to produce biological weapons for Saddam, but was later entirely discredited – is believed to have been the brother of one of Chalabi’s aides.

Chalabi’s fingerprints can also be found on the now notorious claims by another defector that Saddam had 20 or more secret sites where weapons of mass destruction could be found. Subsequent searches showed this allegation to be utterly without foundation.

Naturally, those like Dr Kelly who, by sticking to the facts, weakened the case for invasion beforehand and discredited those who had exaggerated it afterwards, were unhelpful to Chalabi and his colleagues. The last thing they wanted was the sober truth to prevail.

Another important figure here is Iyad Allawi, leader of the Iraqi National Accord, another organisation created to oppose Saddam. Before they parted ways, he was Saddam’s supporter and friend.

There are many who tell of Allawi’s violent history. As a young man, he is alleged to have been present at the torture of Iraqi communists who were hung from the ceiling and beaten.

While living in London in the Seventies, he was allegedly the head of Iraq’s intelligence operation in Europe, informing on opponents of Saddam who will have faced torture and death when they returned home.

Allawi went on to develop a fruitful relationship with MI6 and the CIA. After the Iraq invasion, he was appointed Prime Minister in the country’s interim government – only to face allegations (which he strongly denied) that he had personally shot seven insurgents in the head with a pistol at Baghdad’s Al-Amariyah security centre.

“This is how we must deal with terrorists,” Allawi is alleged to have told a stunned audience of close to 30 onlookers. “We must destroy anyone who wants to destroy the Iraqi people.”

The new Prime Minister’s actions are said to have prompted one U.S. official to comment: “What a mess we’re in – we got rid of one son of a bitch only to get another.”

The Americans apparently referred to Allawi as “Saddam lite”.

Before the Iraq invasion, Allawi’s organisation – just like Ahmed Chalabi’s – was responsible for eye- catching but groundless intelligence exploited by supporters of war.

In the case of Allawi’s group, it was reports passed to MI6 in the spring and summer of 2002, including the false claim that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction which he could deploy at 45 minutes’ notice.

This now infamous “45-minute claim” fed through to the dossier of intelligence which was used as the justification for our involvement in the invasion of Iraq.

It was this dossier, and the 45-minute claim in particular, that David Kelly challenged in his crucial interview with the BBC.

By doing so, did he sign his own death warrant?

It was a normal day in Westminster. The House was sitting and Parliament was full of the usual collection of weary MPs like me traipsing from one meeting to the next, and primly dressed men in ceremonial tights harrumphing around the place.

I left my office and took the stairs down to the reception area where my next appointment was waiting for me.

I had never heard of him before and my mind was on the pile of unfinished work on my desk rather than the meeting about to take place.

I assumed it would be a short and uneventful one, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.

My visitor was nervous and distracted. I began to wonder if he was unwell. Then he suddenly decided to open up.

The ostensible reason given for the meeting was essentially a pretext. My visitor really wanted to talk about the death of David Kelly.

Let me say here that I subsequently checked out this person’s bona fides and was able to confirm them. He was who he said he was, and worked where he said he worked.

I have to be very careful with what I say about him, as he clearly believes that he is at risk if he is identified as producing information. For this reason, I can also relate only a fraction of what he said to me, and what is recorded in my extensive contemporaneous notes.

He told me of a meeting where members of a UK-based Iraqi circle had named people who claimed involvement in Dr Kelly’s death.

It seems the Iraqis felt Dr Kelly had besmirched them through his publicly reported actions in doubting the intelligence their organisation had provided to MI6, not least in respect to the now infamous September dossier.

There was also concern that, had he lived, Dr Kelly might have gone public with even more details.

I stayed in contact with my informant, by necessarily elaborate means, and one day he undertook to send me some specific material. It never arrived, and he went quiet.

Some weeks later, I discovered why. When we met again, he was even jumpier than at our first meeting and what he told me was chilling.

On the day after he had undertaken to post me the material we had discussed, he kept an appointment, made at short notice. He had been promised certain information, which was to be conveyed to him by a contact.

I learnt that at that impromptu meeting he was subjected to an horrific attack by an unknown assailant, the full details of which he has asked me not to reveal. Perhaps not surprisingly, he has been reluctant to get any further involved, though he remains well.

The information he had given me had pushed my investigation on immeasurably. It now seemed that I was closer than ever to understanding who had killed Dr Kelly but one thing remained unexplained. Why would his death have been made to look like suicide?

I realised that a clue to this might lie in another piece of information given to me by my visitor at Westminster before he decided, for his own safety, that he could help me no longer.

He told me that the police or the security services had got wind of a possible plan to assassinate Dr Kelly but were too late to prevent his murder taking place.

Suppose this were true – and suppose also that they were told that, in the interests of Queen and country, this information should not come out for fear of destabilising both Britain and Iraq.

Under those circumstances might it just be possible that they saw it as their patriotic duty to intervene – allowing the impression to be formed that Dr Kelly had killed himself?

It seemed incredible but the more I thought about it, the more I realised it might explain some strange anomalies in the police’s handling of Dr Kelly’s case.

The first relates to a secret file of evidence submitted to the Hutton inquiry by Thames Valley Police.

While the contents remain classified, the cover is publicly available and reveals that the codename for the investigation was Operation Mason.

This has given rise to wild rumours of a freemasonry angle to the case but, while these are almost certainly without foundation, what is more concerning is that the start time of Operation Mason is given as 2.30pm on Thursday July 17, which was half an hour before Dr Kelly set off from his home for a walk from which he would never return.

When I challenged this curious timing, I was told that the start time of an operation is fixed not to relate to the moment that the police know of an incident but to reflect the period of interest to them. This sounds superficially plausible until one reflects that any police investigation worthy of the name would look back way before 2.30 on that Thursday afternoon.

Yet what is the explanation, if this is not the case? Premonition and occult powers can be safely discounted, which leaves us with the possibility that some element within Thames Valley Police had foreknowledge, to at least some degree, of that afternoon’s tragic events.

This might help us understand other curiosities about the case – including two searches made of the Kelly home in the early hours of the morning after Dr Kelly vanished.

The first, conducted shortly after midnight when officers first arrived at the house, made some sense. Dr Kelly might, for example, have suffered a heart attack in a little-used part of the house – but a second more detailed search at around 5am is more difficult to understand.

Surely if Dr Kelly had been there, he would have been found the first time. More puzzling still, Mrs Kelly was asked to wait in the garden while a dog was put through the house.

A chief constable with whom I have discussed this matter was unable to explain why Mrs Kelly would have been asked to leave her home.

In his view, if the objective was to locate Dr Kelly, her knowledge of the house’s layout would have been helpful in any search.

He described the police actions as “bizarre” but, as we shall see, they become entirely understandable if there was a hitherto undisclosed reason for this second search.

Could it be linked, for example, to a number of strange inconsistencies in the testimony of those who saw Dr Kelly’s body on the morning it was discovered?

Two key pieces of evidence suggesting that Dr Kelly had taken his life were the presence at the scene of the blunt pruning knife with which he was supposed to have cut his wrist, and the half drunk bottle of water which, we are led to believe, he used to help him swallow his wife’s painkillers.

Strangely, however, no mention was made of these items by Louise Holmes and Paul Chapman, two volunteers who had joined the search party that morning and came across Dr Kelly’s body at about 8.30am.

They must have been truly unobservant to miss the bloodied knife and water bottle.

Yet this was not the only apparent difference between what they saw and the accounts given by others. For example, Paul Chapman told the Hutton inquiry that Dr Kelly’s body was sitting on the ground and leaning up against a tree, a view with which Ms Holmes concurred.

But those who came later said that Dr Kelly was lying on his back with the knife and water bottle next to him.

The position of the water bottle was interesting: propped up, at a slight angle, to the left of Dr Kelly’s head, with the cap by the side of it.

Given that Dr Kelly was righthanded, the police might have been expected to find it on that side of his body, but the configuration is just about possible if Dr Kelly were sitting up against the tree.

If, however, he was lying on his back, we are asked to believe that he placed the water bottle, presumably with his undamaged and natural right hand, by his head on the left and placed the cap neatly next to it.

Despite his serious injuries, he even managed, at this contortionist’s angle, to ensure that the bottle was propped up.

It’s also strange that no mention was made at the Hutton inquiry of whether there were any fingerprints on the knife. No- one volunteered any information on this and no one was asked.

After some delay, Thames Valley Police finally told me earlier this year that no fingerprints were recovered from the knife. And yet we know from the evidence of forensic biologist Roy Green that the knife was blood-marked.

Try holding a knife tightly, as if you were about to use it to make an incision. Is it not a natural action to use your fingers to apply pressure on the knife to hold it firm and in place?

Did Dr Kelly then have a most curious way of holding a knife? Or are we being asked to believe that he tidily wiped his prints off, just as he tidily put the bottle cap next to the water bottle by his left shoulder, and the empty coproxamol blister packs tidily back in his coat pocket?

Other confusion arose over what he was wearing when he left home. Many of the papers published in the weekend immediately following his death suggested that he had been jacketless – a view supported by Acting Superintendent David Parnell of Thames Valley Police, who was quoted as saying he was “dressed in jeans and a cotton shirt”.

By contrast, the Hutton inquiry was told that he was wearing a coat when he was found – variously described as a green or blue Barbour-type wax jacket.

Given that it was a warmish day in July, albeit somewhat cloudy, it’s perhaps questionable whether he would have donned a wax Barbour, but, if the theory that he committed suicide is correct, it’s conceivable that he would have needed the pockets to transport his knife, water bottle and tablets.

If, on the other hand, he was murdered, then perhaps not just the coat, but the knife, the pills and the water bottle were all taken from the Kelly home to Harrowdown Hill by someone other than Dr Kelly with the express purpose of creating a suicide scene.

Someone wanting to kill themselves might have been expected to use a sharp blade – a razor blade, for instance – rather than a blunt pruning knife.

But then, the knife was one that Dr Kelly had owned since boyhood, making it a very convenient clue to support a suicide verdict, just like the painkillers that could be traced back to others at his home.

It is all too easy to dismiss so-called “conspiracy theories”. But history shows us that conspiracies do happen – and that suicides can be staged to cover murderers’ tracks.

All the evidence leads me to believe that this is what happened in the case of Dr Kelly. In Monday’s Mail, I’ll describe how I believe his killing was carried out.

EXTRACTED from The Strange Death Of David Kelly by Norman Baker, published by Methuen on November 12 at £9.99. ° Norman Baker 2007. To order a copy (p&p free), call 0845 606 4206.

NORMAN BAKER is the Lib-Dem spokesman for Cabinet Office Affairs who brought down Peter Mandelson over the Hinduja passport affair and blocked attempts to hush up MPs’ expenses.

Global Research Articles by Norman Baker

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

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see

Iraq whistleblower Dr Kelly was murdered to silence him, says MP

No Inquest into the Death of Dr. David Kelly by Dr. C. Stephen Frost and Dr. David Halpin and Dr. Chris Burns-Cox

Perfidious Albion and the lying American By John Helmer (David Kelly)

Dr David Kelly’s unnatural death: Murder of the Law by Dr. David Halpin

Dr David Kelly – Conspiracy (video)

Nukes Over America: Just a Stupid Mistake. Sure It Is By Dave Lindorff

Dandelion Salad

By Dave Lindorff
After Downing Street
Oct. 20, 2007

The Air Force’s Friday report on the August 29-30 nuclear weapons incident which saw six armed cruise missiles flown across the continental US in launch position on a B-52H bomber leaves all the big questions unanswered, attempting to shuck the whole thing off as an “unacceptable mistake.”

To be sure, Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne and Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations Maj. Gen. Richard Newton, said that after a six-week investigation, five officers, including Col. Bruce Emig, commander of the Fifth Bomb Group at Minot AFB in North Dakota, where the flight originated, have been relieved of duty, and 65 other Air Force personnel were also removed from their duties, and both Barksdale and Minot were decertified for their strategic nuclear responsibilities. But that’s still pretty small beer for an incident so serious it’s never happened before in half a century of nuclear weapons handling.

There are, at this point, no court martials being contemplated, and nobody’s been discharged from the military.

Put simply, six 150-kiloton warheads were improperly attached to six Advanced Cruise Missiles, all loaded onto a wing launch pod, and then mounted on the wing of a B-52 H Stratofortress at Minot, along with six similar missiles with dummy warheads, which were loaded onto a launch pod on the plane’s other wing, an all 12 were improperly and illegally flown across the country to Barksdale AFB in Louisiana.

The Air Force, following its “investigation,” is saying the same thing it said before the investigation: it was all a big “mistake”—the result of “widespread disregard for the rules” regarding handling of nuclear weapons.

A few guys at Minot “inexplicably” screwed up and loaded the nukes and then there were a chain of mistakes because no one else treated the nuclear-tipped missiles as if they were armed with nuclear weapons.

The trouble with this theory, or story line if you will, is that while nobody at Minot, supposedly, noticed what was happening—even though ground crew workers spent eight hours laboring to get the pod with the six nuke-tipped missiles mounted on the plane’s wing. This despite the warheads are clearly visible and identifiable by the silver coating they exhibit when viewed through a little window in each nosecone cover, and because there are red coverings on the nuke nosecones—once the plane got to Barksdale, the ground crew there, which had no reason on earth to suspect it was looking at nuclear warheads, spotted them immediately upon going to the plane.

They had no reason to expect nukes because for 40 years it has been illegal for the military to carry nuclear weapons on bombers over US territory, and indeed since 1991, it has been illegal to even load nuclear weapons on a plane, period, even for training purposes on the ground.

How can it be that Air Force ground crew people at Barksdale could spot the nukes in a flash while nobody at Minot—not the workers who mounted the warheads on the missiles in the heavily guarded bunker, not the guards who are supposed to guard those weapons with their lives and prevent any unauthorized removal from the bunkers, not the ground crew that loaded them onto the plan, and not the pilot and crew of the bomber, who are supposed to check every missile before they take off—noticed they were nuclear warheads? (The weapons went unnoticed for 10 hours in Barksdale, but that’s only because no groundcrew visited the plane for that long, but when they did go to it, they reportedly spotted the nukes right off the bat.)

The Air Force, at a press conference announcing the results of its investigation, didn’t answer this question. It appears they reporters at the session didn’t ask it either.

Certainly the AP reporter didn’t ask it, because if she had, she would surely have included the Air Force’s answer, or it’s non-answer, in her story.

Nobody, apparently, asked the Air Force either about six mysterious violent deaths of Air Force personnel from Minot and Barksdale, and from a mysterious Air Force Special Commando Group, all of which occurred in the days and weeks immediately before, during and after the incident. Two of those deaths—of the Special Commando Group officer and of a Minot weapons guard—were reportedly “suicides.”

In an article in the current issue of American Conservative magazine, currently on newsstands, I report that incredibly, no federal investigators from the Pentagon or the federal government even bothered to contact the police investigators or medical examiners who investigated those six deaths—an remarkable failure of due diligence, given the seriousness of this incident.

One retired Navy officer who contacted me during my investigation, who worked in electronic warfare, told me it would be simply impossible for those weapons to have been moved out of the storage bunker. He claims to know for a certainty that all nuclear weapons in the US arsenal are equipped with high-tech tags (“like they have at WalMart and Kmart only better”) that would instantly trigger alarms when the weapons are moved, unless they were deliberately disarmed.

So what we have is pretty clearly a cover-up here.

A cover-up of what though?

Here we’re into speculation.

One thing we need to keep in mind is that Barksdale AFB, on its website, advertises itself proudly as the base that prepares B-52s for duty in the Middle East Theater.

Another thing we need to keep in mind is that Vice President Dick Cheney is trying hard to gin up a war against Iran, against the better judgment of top military leaders and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

And a third thing to remember is that these particular six warheads, called M80-1 warheads, are able to be adjusted to have a power of anywhere from 150 kilotons down to just 5 kilotons—a so-called “tactical” size.

Perfect for a tactical strike on an Iranian nuclear processing or research site, or for a “false flag” type attack that could be blamed on a fledgling nuclear power…like Iran.

Of course this is all speculation.

What we do know is that for 36 hours, six nuclear warheads went missing. Nobody at the Pentagon in authority knew they were gone or where they were. And when they were discovered, the initial Pentagon response was to cover it all up. The only reason we know about this incident is that three Air Force officers became whistle-blowers and contacted a reporter at Military Times, a private newspaper trusted by and popular with the rank-and-file military.

And what we know is that this couldn’t have been what the Air Force, six weeks and one “investigation” late, is calling a “mistake.”
————–

DAVE LINDORFF is a Philadelphia-based investigative journalist and columnist. His latest book, co-authored by Barbara Olshansky, is “The Case for Impeachment” (St. Martin’s Press, 2006 and now out in paperback). His work is available at http://www.thiscantbehappening.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.

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Air Force Confirms Nuclear Warheads Flown Across US (short video)

Simple Error My Ass – Loose Nukes by Larry C. Johnson

B-52 Nukes Headed for Iran: Air Force refused to fly weapons to Middle East theater by Wayne Madsen

U.S. Staging Nukes for Iran? by Larry Johnson

A Major Mistake Involving Nuclear Warheads (video) + B-52 flew nuclear bombs across US by mistake

Why was a nuclear-armed bomber allowed to fly over the US? by Bill Van Auken

The Daily Show: Modern Art Expert John Hodgman By Manila Ryce (link)

Dandelion Salad

By Manila Ryce
Published Friday, October 19th, 2007, 5:43 am

A new Jackson Pollock exhibition in Boston’s McMullen Museum, with paintings of questionable authenticity, is stirring some controversy in the art world. Luckily, Resident Expert John Hodgman is here to tell us how to spot the difference between the splatters of paint made by a forger and the intentional dripping technique of a genius. Rather than study the chaotic swirls of Pollock paintings, said to display the properties of mathematical fractals, Hodgman has a much more hands-on approach. He demonstrates this amazing skill of detection on Pollock’s No. 5, 1948. Brilliant points are actually made by Hodgman, who explains that the importance of an original piece is not just in its historical significance, but in the fact that you can own and horde that piece of history for yourself.

unavailable

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

Dandelion Salad

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

Selected Episode

Oct. 17, 2007

linktv

For more episodes and other Link TV programs:
http://www.linktv.org/originalseries
“Kurds Ready to Defend Themselves,” Al Jazeera TV, Qatar
“30 Million Kurds in Four Countries,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“Kurds Demonstrate Against Turkey,” Al-Alam TV, Iran
“Tareq el Hashimi Rejects Federalism in Iraq,” Baghdad TV, Iraq
“Oil Price Set Another Record,” Dubai TV, UAE
“Benazir Bhutto Defiant After Assassination Attempt,” Al Jazeera English, Qatar
“Armageddon,” Link TV, USA
Produced for Link TV by Jamal Dajani.

Benazir Bhutto’s speech after assassination attempt (videos) 10.19.07

Dandelion Salad

AlJazeeraEnglish

Benazir Bhutto talks of the heroism of her guards, and criticises the government’s failure to keep the parade route lit after sunset.

Bhutto homecoming rocked by blasts – 19 Oct 07

The celebratory homecoming parade of Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan’s former prime minister, was greeted deadly twin-blasts that killed more than 130 people in Karachi.

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Bhutto bombing kicks off war on US plan By Syed Saleem Shahzad

Benazir Bhutto assassinated at rally + The life of Benazir Bhutto (videos) + more 12.27.07