The case for Kucinich By Tom Gallagher

Dandelion Salad

By Tom Gallagher
San Francisco Bay Guardian
Tuesday December 18, 2007

If you don’t vote in February for what you believe in, you won’t get to vote for it in November

OPINION

At a recent Potrero Hill Democratic Club presidential forum, when the representatives of Hilary Clinton, John Edwards, and Barack Obama spoke more about how the candidates made them feel than about their positions on the issues, it first struck me as strange. Eventually, though, their approach made sense — I realized these people weren’t necessarily all that hot about their candidates’ actual policies.

In defending their health care programs, for instance, the Clinton and Obama reps tacitly acknowledged that a single-payer plan was superior to their candidates’ offerings, while the Edwards spokesperson cautioned the audience against seeking a candidate who believed everything they believed.

Maybe it’s the lack of distinct seasons in San Francisco or something, but these people seemed confused about the difference between voting in a primary and in a final election.

November is the month when you vote for what you have to vote for; in February you can vote for what you believe in.

continued…

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. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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Kucinich pushes to get troops out of Iraq By Kevin Landrigan (video link; 11.29.07)

How to Vote in Primaries and Not Be an Idiot by David Swanson

Caucus for Kucinich!

National and State PDFs for Kucinich for President campaigning

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Note to Liberals: The Right Does Not “Hate Government” by Paul Street

Dandelion Salad

by Paul Street
Dissident Voice
December 18th, 2007

“Progressive Victory”

Maybe it’s some sort of “progressive victory” that Daily Kos publisher Markos Moulitsas is a contributing columnist at the longstanding “mainstream” (corporate) media outlet Newsweek magazine. That’s what a liberal I know tells me.

Continue reading

Ron Paul On Glenn Beck (videos)

Dandelion Salad

Found replacement videos.  ~ DS

Topics: NAU, economy, taxes, foreign policy, 9-11 Truth, and more.

TakeChineseLessons

Glenn Beck speaks with Ron Paul, one full hour with Ron Paul! Added: December 18, 2007

Continue reading

Countdown: Dodd Among Men + Countdown to IA + Bushed! + Starwars (videos)

Dandelion Salad

Ryokibin

Dec. 18, 2007

Dodd Among Men

Alison Stewart talks to Chris Dodd about his recent victory in stopping the FISA bill.

Countdown to Iowa

Alison Stewart talks to Eugene Robinson about Rudy Giuliani’s campaign troubles.

Bushed!

Countdown’s list of the top three Bush scandals you may have forgotten about because of all of the new Bush scandals. Tonight’s: NIE-Gate, Waterboarding-Gate, and Any-Gate.

Starwars

Alison Stewart speaks with Derrick Pitts, about the “Death Star” Galaxy.

Hawkeye State Of Mind

Alison Stewart speaks with David Shuster.

What’ll Diplomacy

Alison Stewart speaks with Craig Crawford.

In a Hole? Dig Deeper! A Reply to the Left on Ron Paul by Sherry Wolf

Dandelion Salad

by Sherry Wolf
Dissident Voice
December 18, 2007

There is a section of the broad Left today that is so demoralized by the miserable state of the world, the repugnant electoral options for 2008, and the dismal place the antiwar movement is in that they are flailing — both politically and organizationally. In response to my article, “Ron Paul, libertarianism, and the freedom to starve to death,” written for the Jan.–Feb. International Socialist Review and posted on several Web sites, literally hundreds of people have written nasty screeds to comment boards or e-mailed me their invective. I want to respond to the small segment of them who are self-described leftists who continue to challenge my argument that the Left should not be embracing either Ron Paul’s candidacy or his libertarian constituency. Continue reading

Kucinich Wins Help for Vets

Dandelion Salad

by Dennis Kucinich
Dec. 18, 2007

DFAS Director Promises To Add 61 New Employees To Eliminate Benefits’ Backlog

Washington, Dec 18 – Just two weeks after calling for an investigation into the massive delays in federal benefits to combat-injured veterans, Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) secured a victory today. In a meeting with Kucinich this morning, the director of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) vowed to require Lockheed Martin, the contractor in charge of processing the claims for DFAS, to more than double its workforce in order to eliminate the immense backlog.

“It is a tragedy that more than 48,000 retired veterans are still waiting for a determination of eligibility and payment of benefits. These veterans deserve only the best, and so far, they have only received lip service from Lockheed. Now that DFAS is stepping in, veterans have hope for resolution of longstanding financial claims,” Kucinich said.

Kucinich’s offices have received complaints from veterans in Northeast Ohio, prompting him to begin the investigation.

On December 3, 2007, Kucinich sent a letter to Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA), requesting that the committee investigate the causes for continuing delays in the distribution of federal benefits to disabled retired veterans who were injure in combat or hazardous duty. Lockheed Martin, as the contractor for DFAS, is responsible for determining eligibility and getting payments to veterans.

DFAS promised to eliminate the current backlog that began in 2003 by April of 2008. Kucinich vowed to maintain oversight.

“I applaud DFAS’ commitment to making sure Lockheed does not profit from denying veterans their benefits. Today’s commitment is a good start.

“Federal benefits are meaningless if the intended beneficiaries do not receive them. I look forward to working with DFAS to eliminate this backlog so that veterans, who gave so much to this country, get everything promised to them. Our veterans deserve better,” Kucinich said.

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. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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DFAS says hiring to clear backlog of disabled vets’ benefits claims

I Am A Jesus Man -Jesus Who Spoke For the Poor! by Fred Stopsky

by Fred Stopsky
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
December 17, 2007

Monday Essay: I Am A Jesus Man

I was raised in the Depression when liberals and radicals frequently cited Jesus Christ as a man of the people, not of corporate America. I recall one day, at the age of 12, wandering among used book stores down on 14th Street in Manhattan when I came across a copy of the New Testament. Reading the Sermon on the Mount overwhelmed me, I had been raised as an Orthodox Jew without any learning about Christ. My initial impression was that he was a wonderful Jewish man and why wasn’t I taught about him. I immediately connected Christ with the working class since he appeared most interested in the needs of poor people. Continue reading

Did Bush Get New Iran Intel Last Winter? By Gareth Porter

Dandelion Salad

By Gareth Porter
After Downing Street
IPS

WASHINGTON, Dec 17 (IPS) – White House officials have now admitted that George W. Bush was told that the intelligence assessment on a covert Iranian nuclear programme might change last August, but they have avoided answering the question of when the president was first informed about the new intelligence that led to that revised assessment.

That evasion is necessary, it now appears, to conceal the fact that Bush likely knew about that intelligence as early as February or March 2007.

The White House evasions began on the day the “key judgments” in the Iran National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) were released. At his Dec. 3 press conference, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley was asked, “So was it recent weeks that this intelligence came in?” Hadley answered, “What the intelligence community has said is in the last few months.”

In fact, no intelligence official had commented on when the crucial intelligence had been first obtained.

Then a journalist asked, “Steve, when was the first time the president was given the inkling of something? …Was this months ago, when the first information started to become available to intelligence agencies?” This time Hadley responded, “You ought to go back to the intelligence community.”

The evidence now available strongly suggests, however, that Hadley dodged the question not because he did not know the answer, but because he did not wish to reveal that Bush had been informed about the new intelligence months before the August meeting with Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell.

The key development that altered the course of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran, according to intelligence sources, was the defection of a senior official of the Iranian Ministry of Defence, Ali Reza Asgari, on a visit to Turkey last February, as widely reported in international news media in subsequent weeks. The Washington Post’s Dafna Linzer, citing a “senior U.S. official”, reported on Mar. 8 that Asgari, who had been deputy minister of defence for eight years under the reformist President Mohammad Khatami from 1997 to 2005, was already providing information to U.S. intelligence.

The senior official told Linzer, however, that Asgari was not being questioned about Iran’s nuclear programme, despite the fact that Asgari certainly had significant knowledge of policy decisions, if not technical details, of the nuclear programme. That incongruous denial that Asgari had anything to say about Iran’s nuclear programme suggested that the information being provided by Asgari on that subject was considered extraordinarily sensitive.

Intelligence officials have kept any reference to Asgari out of the discussion of the NIE. Former CIA officer Philip Giraldi has told IPS, however, that, according to intelligence sources, information provided by Asgari was indeed a “key component” of the intelligence community’s conclusion that Iran ended its nuclear weapons-related work in 2003, although it was corroborated by other sources.

Giraldi says Asgari had been recruited by Turkish intelligence in 2003, and defected to Turkey after he had picked up indications that Iranian intelligence had become suspicious of him. Giraldi said his sources confirm press reports that Asgari came out with “bags of documents”. Intelligence officials have confirmed that papers on military discussions of the nuclear programme were part of the evidence that led the analysts to the new conclusion about the Iranian nuclear programme.

Equally important to the NIE’s conclusion, according to Giraldi, was the information provided by Asgari about the Iranian defense communications system that allowed U.S. intelligence to gain new access to sensitive communications within the Iranian military. That was a crucial to the intercepted electronic communications which also played a role in the analysis that led to the estimate’s conclusion.

Gary Sick, who was the principal White House aide on Iran during the Carter administration and is now a senior research scholar at the Middle East Institute of Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, says he believes Asgari’s knowledge of the debate in Tehran’s defense establishment also may have allowed the intelligence community to identify which intercepted communications were most important.

“There are zillions of pieces of evidence, and what you look for is defined by what you know,” says Sick. “What Asgari gave them was a new way of looking at the evidence.”

There are other indications that, by April 2007, the intelligence community was already intensively reviewing new evidence provided by Asgari and old evidence that the new information suggested could corroborate it. Thomas Fingar, chair of the National Intelligence Council, who was directing the whole NIE process, gave an exclusive interview to NPR’s Mary Louis Kelly on Apr. 27 in which he dropped hints of the new phase of the NIE process.

Fingar referred to “some new information we have” and declared, “We are serious about reexamining old evidence…” Fingar even said that the estimated time frame for Iran’s obtaining a nuclear weapon “might change”, because “we are being completely open-minded and taking a fresh look at the subject”.

It now seems clear that these were references to the search for corroboration of the basic intelligence obtained from Asgari about the Iranian nuclear programme. But Fingar misled listeners about the direction of the intelligence community’s investigation by seeming to suggest that advances in Iranian uranium enrichment announced earlier that month might cause analysts to shorten the minimum time frame within which Iran might have sufficient fissile material for a bomb.

Fingar said the evidence that Iran was beginning to enrich on an “industrial scale” was “one of the questions we have got to weigh the new information to see what it does to our judgment”. He also referred to International Atomic Energy Agency reports on the Iranian programme, allowing listeners to infer that that the delay in the NIE was due to new evidence that would lead to a more alarmist estimate on Iran’s nuclear programme.

The Fingar interview suggests that the process of seeking corroboration of the 2003 change in nuclear policy in Iran was already well underway in April.

The intelligence on the Iranian nuclear programme obtained as a result of the U.S. debriefing of Asgari, however, would have been made available to Bush as soon as it was evaluated as important by the intelligence officials. The debriefing of a high-ranking defector represents very important intelligence, and summaries of the most important information from such a debriefing would normally go into the Presidential Daily Brief (PDB), the summary of key intelligence developments that is prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency each night and given to the White House the first thing the next morning.

“It is inconceivable to me that the PDB did not included whatever information Asgari gave us on the nuclear programme,” says Ray McGovern, a 26-year veteran of CIA who once presented the daily briefing to Richard Nixon. Furthermore, every major new development in the collection of intelligence obtained as a result of Asgari’s debriefings would have been included in the PDB, according to McGovern.

Contrary to Hadley’s suggestion that he didn’t know when Bush had first gotten the new intelligence, moreover, McGovern points out that the national security adviser has gotten the same PDB as the president for decades. The former CIA analyst told IPS that Hadley certainly would have known when the new intelligence regarding the covert Iranian nuclear weapons programme was presented to the president.

*Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specialising in U.S. national security policy. His latest book, “Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam”, was published in June 2005.

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. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Yemeni Man Imprisoned at CIA “Black Sites” Tells His Story of Kidnapping & Torture (video link)

Dandelion Salad

Democracy Now!
Dec. 18, 2007

Mohamed Farag Ahmad Bashmilah, a victim of the CIA rendition program—kidnapped, held in secret jails, and tortured—speaks out in his first broadcast interview. In the fall of 2003, Bashmilah was detained in Jordan and turned over to the CIA. He was eventually flown to a secret prison he later found out was in Kabul, Afghanistan. In CIA custody, Mohamed says he was held in a freezing-cold cell, interrogated, shackled, force-fed and subjected to sleep deprivation and loud music for days. He attempted suicide at least three times. He talks about his interrogators and the American psychiatrists or psychologists who also played a role. Bashmilah has brought a lawsuit against Jeppesen Dataplan, a Boeing subsidiary, accused of abetting his kidnapping. In an in-depth and detailed interview from his home in Yemen, Bashmilah tell us his harrowing story. [includes rush transcript]

Real Video Stream

Real Audio Stream

MP3 Download

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Guests:

Meg Satterthwaite, Director of the International Human Rights Clinic at the New York University Law school. She is Mohamed Bashmilah’s attorney.

Mohamed Farag Ahmad Bashmilah, a Yemeni man imprisoned in several CIA black sites. He was held for over a year and a half and was never charged. He is translated by Fuad Yahya.

transcript

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. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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Inside the CIA’s Notorious “Black Sites” By Mark Benjamin

CIA vs. the White House? + CIA Torture Tapes Destroyed (videos)

250 former Iraq prisoners claim torture in new US lawsuit h/t: CLG

Cynthia McKinney Announces Run for President (video)

Dandelion Salad

RunCynthiaRun

McKinney for President
www.runcynthiarun.org

NEWS RELEASE

For immediate release:
December 15, 2007

Contact:
media-requests@runcynthiarun.org

Cynthia McKinney Announces Presidential Campaign
Video News Release to follow Dec 16, 6 PM

Cynthia McKinney, a former six-term Congresswoman and an outspoken opponent of the war in Iraq, today officially launched her campaign as a Green Party candidate for President.

In a soon-to-be-released video news release, McKinney says “the Republicans have deceived us; the Democrats have failed us. It is time for a new beginning: A time for hope to rise from the ashes of despair.”

McKinney, a former Democrat from Georgia, was one of only three members of Congress to vote “yes” on a House Resolution in 2005 calling for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops
from Iraq. One of her last acts in office was introducing Articles of Impeachment naming George Bush, Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice.

According to McKinney: “It is time to break the vicious cycle where the poor go to war and veterans come home wounded and ignored.”

McKinney supports universal, single-payer health care; fair trade; and has been an unrelenting advocate for Hurricane Katrina survivors. No stranger to controversy and unafraid of speaking truth to power, McKinney has demanded that the Bush Administration tell the American people what the Administration knew about the events leading up to 9/11 and when they knew it.

McKinney’s announcement ends months of speculation about her plans. McKinney has been traveling constantly and meeting with Green Party members and other activists across the country who have been encouraging her to seek the Presidency.

More information about McKinney’s campaign can be found at www.runcynthiarun.org.

Added: December 16, 2007

h/t: ICH

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APN Endorses Kucinich, McKinney for US Presidential Primaries By Matthew Cardinale

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

Dandelion Salad

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

Selected Episode

Dec. 17, 2007

linktv

For more: http://linktv.org/originalseries
“Abbas Requests 6 Billion Dollars from Donor Countries,” Al Jazeera TV, Qatar
“Reactions from Ramallah & Gaza,” Dubai TV, UAE
“Barak Re-assures Sederot Residents,” IBA TV, Israel
“Turkey Attacks Kurdish Areas in Iraq,” Al Jazeera English, Qatar
“Sader Supporters Blame US,” Al-Alam TV, Iran
“Poor Condition of Iraqi Schools,” Baghdad TV, Iraq
“Bushehr Nuclear Plant Will Be Completed in 2008,” IRIB2 TV, Iran
“2 Million Muslims Complete Hajj,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
Produced for Link TV by Jamal Dajani.

Only Pawns in the Game By Stephen Fleischman

Dandelion Salad

By Stephen Fleischman
12/18/07 “
ICH

You can demonize Bush and Cheney (rightfully) until hell freezes over–but it’s not going to change anything. Keith Olbermann does it almost every night on his MSNBC television show, but it doesn’t change anything. Trashing Bush and Cheney or Hillary or Obama might make a lot of people feel good, but it doesn’t change anything. They’re only pawns in the game.

The real power resides in the corporate oligarchy that runs this country. It has a strangle hold on America. The only point of an election in our two party-one party system is to determine which one carries out the agenda. If we do something about that, we might be able to change something.

David Korten, author of “When Corporations Rule the World”, points out that “the basic design of the private-benefit corporation was created in 1600 when the British crown chartered the British East India Company as what is best described as a legalized criminal syndicate to colonize the resources and economies of distant lands…” Today’s American corporations evolved from that.

When you see the feeding frenzy of US corporations in Iraq–Halliburton, Bechtel, Blackwater, and a host of others, you can understand what Korten is talking about.

The corporation is a separate legal entity having its own rights, privileges, and liabilities distinct from those of its members. The private-benefit corporation is just that–a corporation chartered for its own private benefit, but it has to provide some socially positive good. If the corporation, chartered by the state, fails to provide the function for which it is chartered, or misapplies the function, the charter can be revoked. The state giveth and the state can taketh away. But when was the last time you heard of a corporation’s charter being revoked?

Over the years, the Supreme Court has bestowed additional blessings on corporations. In effect, it has made them almost human, granting them some of the same rights as US citizens, freedom of speech and freedom of the press, for example. Corporations can express there opinions in public and in the media as you or I can. This gives them enormous power, simply because they have more mullah than you or I. They can buy up commercial television time and print media ads and faux news coverage, because they have the power and the money and besides, they own most of the mainstream media.

As Sarah Stodola says in The Brooklyn Rail, “The Supreme Court has interpreted the Constitution in a manner that has allowed corporations to ascend to unprecedented levels of power. The phenomenon even has a name, and that name is ‘corporate personhood.’ And corporate personhood, friends, is why corporations are able to buy elections.”

So what are we going to do to change all this?

Well, there are some things that can be done, short of revolution. We can start evaluating capitalism, for starters.

Elect a Congress that serves “We the People”, not “They, the corporations”. Easier said than done. How do you find candidates who are not beholden to corporations, special interests or any ethnic voting block?

I would hate to think we will have to wait for the looming economic collapse to do the job for us. We are living on borrowed time. When purchasing power of the US citizen reaches the end of its rope, the collapse will come. You can take that to the bank.

The Great Depression of the 1930s must have taught us something. When people lose everything they tend to wake up. They look around and see what’s been done to them and what they’ve done to themselves by not paying attention. From their Hoovervilles, the people, hit by the depression, saw Hoover and his rotten administration for what it was, and threw the bums out. They elected new, progressive leaders (FDR Democrats), who saved capitalism with safety nets and a “New Deal”.

Can we do something like that again; hopefully before the coming economic collapse? We’d better start trying now, and maybe ease the pain. Here are some things that need to be done.

Reverse Reaganomics. Reinstitute regulation of industry. Make the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), for example, do their jobs, so that we don’t have US corporations off-shoring their manufacturing to another country, like China, for example, and then importing their product, like toys, for example, painted with lead, for our children to play with.

Soak the Rich, a phrase coined by FDR when he spoke about the “Economic Royalists” who brought this country to its knees. Instead of cutting taxes for the rich, as Bush has been doing, raise taxes for the rich and their corporate enterprises, as they did during the great depression when FDR laid a tax rate on them of over 90% in the upper brackets.

Marshal Plan on Energy — Go cold turkey on our addiction to oil. Massive investment in the new technologies of alternative energy sources, wind, solar, geothermal. Halt the return to nuclear, and head off the development of biofuels that will put our food into your gas tanks. We can create new high-tech industries and high-paying jobs with a new energy world.

Single Payer Universal Health Care – end the merry-go-round on health care by political candidates. Get rid of the blood-sucking health insurance companies, once and for all. And make health care for our citizens a right and not a privilege. Any candidate for office will get elected on that platform.

Stop the Hemorrhaging in Afghanistan and Iraq – Four thousand dead American soldiers is four thousand too many. Two trillion dollars to destroy two countries is two trillion dollars that could have been used to rebuild the infrastructure of our country and have enough left to enhance the lives of our young and our old.

David Korten says, “Capitalism, which means quite literally rule by financial capital–by money and those who have it–in disregard of all non-financial values, has triumphed over democracy, markets, justice, life, and spirit. There are other ways to organize human societies to actualize the positive benefits of markets and private ownership. They require strong, active, democratically accountable governments to set and enforce rules that assure costs are internalized, equity is maintained, and market forces are channeled to the service of democracy, justice, life, and spirit.”

Yes, we can do all that, if we want to.

Stephen Fleischman, writer-producer-director of documentaries, spent thirty years in Network News at CBS and ABC. His memoir is now in print. See http://www.Read2greatbooks.com – e-mail stevefl@ca.rr.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. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

see

The Corporation (must-see video)

Kucinich pushes to get troops out of Iraq By Kevin Landrigan (video link; 11.29.07)

Another Milestone on the Road to Serfdom By Scott Horton

Dandelion Salad

By Scott Horton
ICH
12/17/07 “Harper’s

Very rarely, I read a press account and see the footprint of a new world—there it is, lurking amidst the smudged black ink in the thin column. Sometimes it is a technological breakthrough that promises to make life easier, safer, or longer. But sometimes it is a redefinition of the parameters of human society. And sometimes it’s downright frightening. Time to pull it out of the banality of that newsprint and think.

And it happened on Sunday morning. The article is by Eric Lichtblau, James Risen and Scott Shane, and it’s called “Wider Spying Fuels Aid Plan for Telecom Industry.” Take the time to read this article carefully. Here are a few key grafs:

For months, the Bush Administration has waged a high-profile campaign, including personal lobbying by President Bush and closed-door briefings by top officials, to persuade Congress to pass legislation protecting companies from lawsuits for aiding the National Security Agency’s warrantless eavesdropping program. But the battle is really about something much bigger. At stake is the federal government’s extensive but uneasy partnership with industry to conduct a wide range of secret surveillance operations in fighting terrorism and crime.

The N.S.A.’s reliance on telecommunications companies is broader and deeper than ever before, according to government and industry officials, yet that alliance is strained by legal worries and the fear of public exposure.

To detect narcotics trafficking, for example, the government has been collecting the phone records of thousands of Americans and others inside the United States who call people in Latin America, according to several government officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the program remains classified. But in 2004, one major phone carrier balked at turning over its customers’ records. Worried about possible privacy violations or public relations problems, company executives declined to help the operation, which has not been previously disclosed.

What Lichtblau, Risen and Shane are describing is the dawn of a new National Surveillance State in the United States, a public-private partnership. And the object of this partnership—which emerges as a criminal conspiracy, quite literally, between telecom companies and the Bush Administration—is to watch and listen to you and everything you do. Of course, they will say it’s about “terrorists,” or about “narcotics traffickers.” And indeed every authoritarian and wannabe totalitarian system from the dawn of time has cast its snooping on citizens in just these terms. No problems with the honest citizen, they say, it’s the criminals and the enemies we’re after. We need your cooperation. But the technology used makes no such distinction—it is snooping on everyone.

We learn about this mostly thanks to an engineer who saw what was happening and began to ask questions

The accusations rely in large part on the assertions of a former engineer on the project. The engineer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said in an interview that he participated in numerous discussions with N.S.A. officials about the proposal. The officials, he said, discussed ways to duplicate the Bedminster system in Maryland so the agency “could listen in” with unfettered access to communications that it believed had intelligence value and store them for later review. There was no discussion of limiting the monitoring to international communications, he said.

“At some point,” he said, “I started feeling something isn’t right.

So the United States intelligence agencies in cahoots with major telecom providers are intercepting and reviewing your communications. This is occurring without warrants. And the legal community is in accord: it was criminal conduct. And that’s why the Bush Administration is frantically pushing right now for immunity: to ensure that its collaborators face no adverse consequences from their criminal acts. What kind of society does this sound like?

Now let’s tack on one further extremely disturbing fact. One telecom company said “no.” It was Qwest. The Qwest response to overtures was simple: “We’d love to work with you on this. But you do need to change the law so we can do it legally.” Apparently as soon as that happened, Qwest lost a series of important government contracts. And the next thing you know, the Justice Department was feverishly working on a criminal investigation looking at Qwest’s CEO on insider trading allegations—amidst very strange dealings between the Justice Department and the federal judge hearing the case. Of course, this is all the purest coincidence. Or maybe not. What kind of society does this sound like?

This is not the America we used to live in. It is not a nation that stood as a bulwark for civil liberties. It is a nation with an executive who is drunk on power. An executive who refuses to respect the legal constraints established by the Constitution, and even the criminal law.

As dawn turned to midmorning in the era of technology, thinkers agreed that the great threat facing mankind was the threat of a totalitarian rule. They saw the vision that Orwell transcribed, in which human freedom would be horribly constrained as the species assumed the role accorded to cogs in some massive machine. This was hard for Americans to envision—they were born and lived in a country that knew and seriously guarded civil liberties. But those who traveled abroad saw the evidence plainly enough, especially in the twenties and thirties, as totalitarian states rose and enslaved their peoples. Then fascism rose and fell. And after it, the efforts to build a Marxist-Leninist world imploded as well. But it’s wrong to suppose on the basis of these failed nightmare-utopias that the threat Orwell envisioned had passed. It has merely moved on, to a new form.

How would America and its market system behave in the face of such a threat? In the mind of some, like Hayek and Mises, the forces of the market would restrain an overreaching government and would serve to maximize human freedom. We needed to be on guard, of course, against the rise of monopolies and preserve the competitive edge. And we have to adhere rigorously to a principle of legality. As Mises reminds us, it is the centering of power in the hands of a few men and not in the rule of law, that presents the gravest threat to individual freedom in the market economies.

I don’t object to private businesses, including those in the telecommunications sector, cooperating with government, including the intelligence services. They should do so, of course, to promote society’s interest in collective security. But this cooperation needs to occur within the boundaries of the law, and it must respect the rights of their customers, and more broadly of the citizenry. What the Bush Administration and the telecoms did was wrong, and both should be held to account for their wrongdoing. That’s the way a state committed to the rule of law works.

The question is now before the Senate for a vote on the telecom amnesty bill. As usual, the White-Flag Democrats are abandoning opposition to the Administration’s initiative and are laying the foundation for it to be steamrolled through the Senate. Harry Reid’s conduct in particular has been reprehensible and spineless. This vote is a milestone on the road to serfdom. It’s time to put up a roadblock instead. Write or phone your senator immediately and advise them that you oppose the grant of amnesty for warrantless surveillance to telecommunications companies and that you expect them to do the same.

© The Harper’s Magazine Foundation

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Kucinich pushes to get troops out of Iraq By Kevin Landrigan (video link; 11.29.07)

This is a very good in-depth interview. Dennis explains his health care plan, too.  He goes into gun control.  Listen to him talk about these issues in detail.   ~ Lo

Dandelion Salad

By Kevin Landrigan
Telegraph Staff
NHPrimary.com
Thursday, November 29, 2007

NASHUA – Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich warned his party would again lose the White House in November 2008 with a nominee who supports the continued presence of American troops in the Iraq.

The Ohio congressman vowed to remove all troops from the country within three months of taking office and replace them with a multi-national, United Nations-led peacekeeping force.

continued…plus hour long interview (video)

h/t: Laura

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. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.