Iran to launch oil and gas exchange on Feb. 27

Dandelion Salad

Global Research, February 13, 2008
RIA Novosti

13/02/2008 19:01 TEHRAN, February 13 (RIA Novosti) – Iran will launch a commodities exchange for oil, petrochemicals and natural gas on February 27, the Islamic Republic’s oil minister said on Wednesday.

Gholam-Hossein Nozari told Iran’s Press TV satellite channel the opening ceremony of the Oil Bourse would be attended by Minister of Economy and Financial Affairs Davoud Danesh Jaafari, who will head the bourse.

He said earlier the Oil Bourse will be located on the Persian Gulf island of Kish and that all financial settlements will be made in Iran’s national currency, the rial.

The minister said his country’s oil revenue will reach $63 billion by the end of this Iranian year, which ends on March 20.

He said oil sales reached $55 billion in the first 11 months of the year, and that “if crude prices stand at the current level, next year’s oil revenues will be the same as this year.”

Nozari announced last week that Iran’s crude oil production had reached 4.184 million barrels per day, the highest level since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. 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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Infragard – First in a Series by Virginia Simson

Reposted with permission by the author.

by Virginia Simson
LadyBroadoak Visionary Planetary Healing Tutorial
Feb. 13, 2008


First in a Series

Recent public disclosures of the InfraGard system no longer obligates silence on abuses. We’ve been following the developments behind the scenes. These are issues warranting increased public oversight at the State and Federal Level.

As reported, the InfraGard system is designed to protect the nation’s infrastructure. What has not been well discussed are the detailed operations of InfraGard, the policies, and the operational procedures used to gather intelligence.

photo from the Progressive website

InfraGuard has two broad functions. One is operational protection of infrastructure, the second is the intelligence gathering arm.

InfraGard members claim they are protecting the infrastructure. They’re more interested in abusing power, and using resistance to that abuse to broaden their intelligence gathering and intrusions. We need to know who is abusing their authority, end this misconduct, and ensure the public is treated with respect, not as “the enemy”.

The abuse of this intelligence gathering for non-official purposes designed to intimidate a civilian population and dissuade lawful activity, but not engage in bonafide law enforcement or infrastructure protection.

InfraGard relies on civilian contractors providing information to the State and federal authorities. What’s not been well discussed are the liberties these contractors have been taken under their deputization; and how law enforcement supports questionable InfraGard contractor conduct.

If there are problems with InfraGard management, these need to be openly discussed, not hidden. Oversight is needed to determine whether:

– InfraGard contractors show they need assistance organizing information, providing timely reports, and conducting investigations.

– Internal communication channels are a problem.

– There are inadequate internal communications to ensure bonafide threats are timely communicated.

InfraGard appears ill-equipped to conduct in-house auditing. Congress needs to ensure oversight occurs, and does not abuse the secrecy of the by-passed FISA Court. Judicial oversight is needed, especially as abuses might be mitigated with warrants with credible, written investigation plans reviewed by senior management appearing before the magistrate.

InfraGard intelligence gathering relies on interrogation methods publicly disclosed in the open media. Private citizens without notice are detained, removed from their vehicles, and taken to DHS holding cells for warrantless interrogations. Private contractors also engage in deception when confronting civilians.

InfraGard relies on employee reports to security personnel. Reports include information related to unusual incidents and apparent efforts at intelligence gathering. Of concern are the missing oversight needed to ensure these reports from employees are truthful; and that the public has a reasonable way to challenge false reports by InfraGard officers, employees, and law enforcement. Without oversight improvements, we can expect to see more unreasonable denials of access to public accommodations based on dubious assertions.

The focus should be on protecting the infrastructure. However, in the zeal to gather intelligence, InfraGard intelligence gathering is undermining public support for bonafide law enforcement actions. Of concern are the ineffective InfraGard standards of conduct which permit retaliation against the public. The public a reasonable, timely forum to challenge dubious claims, without a threat of loss of services. Better cooperation by InfraGard will motivate more of the public to voluntarily disclose real evidence of bonafide threats to the infrastructure. The InfraGard abuses are undermining public support, and the InfraGard is using this public resistance as a pretext to increase intelligence gathering, intrusions, and illegal searches of innocent civilians. The solution is not to suppress reports of abuse, but to more effectively manage, discipline, and train the InfraGard contractors and officers.

Table A: InfraGard Abuses

The following are not acceptable, and increase public hesitancy to trust InfraGard motivations:

– Deception to gather non-public information

– False accusations to intimidate the traveler

– Prextextual stops

– Feigned “concerns” with issues, but no serious interest in discussing solutions to those “concern”

– Rudeness

– Threats of arrest by non-arresting officers

– Denial of access to public accommodations for asserting one’s rights

– InfraGard contractor unresponsiveness to security concerns raised by the public

– Using public reports to InfraGard about officer misconduct as a pretext to target the informer

– Targeting personnel suspected of being on no-notice audit teams with intrusions, surveillance, and harassment

– Retaliating against unionization efforts within InfraGard under the pretext of “infrastructure protection”

Of concern to Academia are the innocent questions students pose to public officials and private contractors. Student bodies do have contracting relationships with the various transportation companies. Some students applying their academic skills have been threatened with having their names placed on the DHS watch list. American citizens, when applying their academic degrees, are being openly confronted for asking innocent questions about things in the public domain.

Of concern are the unconfirmed accusations which InfraGard contractors have been making. Notably, to deflect attention from InfraGard misconduct, personnel have been reported providing misleading information to deflect attention from procedural violations, disclosures of classified information, or other illegal activity by law enforcement and the InfraGard contractors.

State licensing boards are encouraged to increase oversight, random sampling, and better protect their no-notice audit procedures when reviewing firms within the InfraGard system.

Congress is encouraged to provide the public with better oversight in the form of public discussion of the abuses; and better disclosures of the specific companies involved with the InfraGard misconduct. The voters and consumers will be able to make more informed voting and business decisions.

InfraGard contractors to engage in deception are viewed as unreliable counter parties. This increases transaction costs. Boards of directors are urged to evaluate the alleged misconduct in terms of cost premiums, lost sales, higher turnover, and union member dissatisfaction.

Student Surveys

Because of reports of abuse, academic leaders are expanding their student surveys. These surveys have been designed to alert the public of the types of abuses students may encounter. Academic leaders are consolidating these findings when reviewing contracts with transportation companies.

When contractors in the InfraGard system are unable to get information using threats or deception, they do rely on local and regional law enforcement. Law enforcement does support the InfraGard intelligence gathering by engaging in pre-textual stops. Pretextual stops are fabricated reasons an officer will invent to “justify” a stop if challenged.

InfraGard contractors and law enforcement have been observed falsely accusing people engaged in innocent behavior as being criminals, under suspicion, or matching the description of reported crimes. The officers have been stating that innocent conduct is a crime; or that activity that is not illegal has been placed under investigation.

InfraGard contractors are known for their deceptive conduct. Public complaints of their unresponsiveness have been met with increased observations and pretextual encounters.

InfraGard contractors are typically given advance notice of audits. This is in alleged violation of the “no notice” rules where official auditors are supposed to arrive without warning, and conduct independent data gathering. Federal officials are advised to better secure the audit notification lists, and conduct bogus notifications to test which InfraGard contractors are receiving these fabricated “no notice” audit warning.

When InfraGard contractors and law enforcement encounter citizens, the public is advised to remember they may or may not have the power to arrest. Please discuss these issues with legal counsel.

Some Infragard contractors may attempt to leave the false impression that they have the power to arrest, detain, and prosecute. This may not be correct. Although the security contractors may have handcuffs, this does not mean that they have necessarily been adequately trained on lawful arrests. Citizens are encouraged to discuss with counsel the insurance liability premiums of the InfraGard contractors.

When law enforcement is directed to provide support to the InfraGard intelligence gathering, law enforcement may or may not have a credible story or explanation for their stopping you. Citizens are encouraged to discuss with counsel the difference between an interview, detention, and arrest.

Some law enforcement when supporting the InfraGard intelligence gathering may make insulting comments, attempt to demean you, or imply they have superior experience or information. Whether this is or isn’t true is unrelated to their stated reasons for stopping you.

One sign that the InfraGard intelligence gathering is occurring is when the Infragard contractors or law enforcement provide convoluted stories. This is intended to confuse you. You may also notice that they may change their reason for stopping you several times. This is intended to get you to react to new information. They will compare your responses and challenge you on any apparent, real, or fabricated inconsistency.

InfraGard contractors have been linked with procedural violations. InfraGard contractors have been the subject of no-notice audits, and been caught violating guidelines. Some have even established false front companies to gather information. For example, one InfraGard contractor established a fictitious legal entity, falsely portraying itself as an advocate for certain legal issues. This was intended to attract the types of people opposing a specific intrusive security policy. Once the InfraGard contractor was able to fool the public, they were able to identify the leadership who opposed their company’s practices. This is an example of the InfraGard intelligence collection being abused.

Table B: Signs InfraGard/Law Enforcement Are Engaged in Intelligence Gathering, Not Bonafide Crime Prevention:

– Inconsistent statements

– False accusations

– Insults

– Threats of arrest unless you disclose private medical information

– Feigning concern about a “serious issue,” then changing the subject

– Demanding the public “show concern” for a fabricated story

– Stating their “procedures” require them to do something, but they are not following procedures

– Claims they have incriminating evidence (If they have it, why aren’t you being charged with a crime in court?)

– Threats to “get law enforcement” (But unable to sustain their accusations when law enforcement arrives)

– After being denied consent to search, they search despite stating no specific reason, and having no warrant

– Physically moving you to move you in front of cameras, but not stating what their concerns are

– Plain clothes officers following you into deadend streets, then left no where to go after you depart

– Acting as if lawful activity is “suspicious” and has “been reported”

– Use of subtle intimidation

– Asking about morally offensive conduct, personal issues, or brutal details of hideous criminal activity

– Saying things designed to shock you

– Refusing to take your suggestions seriously, suggesting their “problem” isn’t real; or that they’re not serious about doing what they say is a problem

– Interruptions

– Lectures about unrelated issues

– Shifting the burden from them to you

– Pretending that “your requirement” is to answer questions, when their mandate is to provide evidence to the court to charge you with a crime

InfraGard contractors have also been linked with requests to conduct illegal break ins of private homes, offices, and protected facilities. It’s curious they’ve supposedly been hired to protect infrastructure, yet they’re willing to breach the infrastructure of others.

Law enforcement is not unknown to falsely accuse the public of being engaged in “questionable” behavior, even though that activity is lawful. You may notice during a conversation with an InfraGard intelligence officer in law enforcement that they skip around, and are unable to focus on a single topic. They may insult you and imply that you are not willing to “care” about their “concern”. In truth, they are not concerned about that issue, merely hoping to get you to react and respond to something.

InfraGard contractors may attempt to imply that they have a special relationship with law enforcement. InfraGard contractors have been observed discussing “security videos” that they have “proving” there is a problem; and that if the public refuses to fully discuss the “incriminating” evidence, that the private citizen will be arrested.

“If we have to, we’ll get law enforcement.” InfraGard contractors when challenged have shown they are not well coordinating with law enforcement.

Table C: Progress Indicators When Challenging InfraGard Abuses

– Officer frustration that you are not responding to their insults, intimidation

– Calling InfraGard officers on their bluffs about “evidence”

– Challenging their inconsistencies

– Asking to see a lawyer

– Invoking your 5th Amendment right to silence

– Not discussing any personal information until your lawyer is there

– Asking for specific reasons why you are being stopped, detained, challenged, or questioned

– Asking the InfraGard contractor why they claim they are concerned about procedures, but they are not following those procedures

– Asking the InfraGard contractors to explain why they claim they are attempting to “protect” a resource, but the public record shows they are not fully meeting that standard

– Asking the InfraGard contractor why they use deception, lies, and false companies to gather information about people supporting unions, political candidates, or policies that contradict the company’s board of directors

– Asking InfraGard personnel why they are afraid of unionization efforts

Some of the InfraGard contractors have claimed that they have been conducting an “extensive” investigation into a particular “concern”. However, independent review of their records shows there had been no investigation.

Independent encounters with the InfraGard contractors show substantial deception, abuse, and misconduct. Officers are misleading the public. Some of the InfraGard contractors have claimed that they have a “special duty” to protect resources. However, this assertion fails to pan out. When the public has attempted to provide suggestions to address the “concern” the InfraGard officers raised, the InfraGard officers were not interested in solutions. This shows their stated “concerns” or “problems’ they were attempting to “resolve” were not genuine.

InfraGard officers have a challenging job: Protecting the nation’s resources. However, they make their job more difficult when they abuse the public, especially those who might be inclined to risk providing valuable information and support.

The InfraGard contractors have denied public access to public accommodations. They use pretextual reasons. Citizens engaged in lawful conduct have a right to privacy. InfraGard officers have been falsely asserting that unless this right to privacy were given up, the public could not use the public accommodations.

InfraGard officers have been caught lying. Public services rely on public access. However, the InfraGard officers have falsely stated that the public accommodations were “private”.

InfraGard officers do not have clear disciplinary procedures. When there are reports of abuse or misconduct, these are typically explained away as “Officer discretion”. The public needs know that InfraGard contractors and law enforcement have been abusing their authority. Oversight is needed.

Appendix 1: Oversight Issues of InfraGard

Congress and State Officials need to review and independently audit with real no-notice audits the following:

– To what extent InfraGard contractors have relied on law enforcement to engage in pretextual stops to collect information they are otherwise not entitled

– Extent to which threats of arrest for using public accommodations have been used to gather intelligence

– Extent to which access to public accommodations have been denied unless the public provides the InfraGard contractors and law enforcement information they are otherwise not entitled to access

– Reasons for InfraGard officers asserting that they are following specific procedures which have not been coordinated with DHS

– Reasons why InfraGard contractors have been providing lists of names to DHS and FBI, despite assurances to the public that the collected information would “not” be disclosed

– Extent to which officers use pretextual stops to gather information InfraGard contractors are unable to collect using deception, threats, and denial of services

– Reasons why InfraGard officers are fabricating phony accusations related to weapons, surveillance equipment, and criminal activity

– Extent to which InfraGard contractors are not adequately screening assigned surveillance personnel

– Reasons why InfraGard contractors are not conducting independent/impartial investigations, but are relying on misrepresentations by InfraGard assigned personnel

– Extent to which misrepresentations about private citizen conduct have resulted in denial of services to the public

– Reasons why misrepresentations by InfraGard contractors has not resulted in award fees provided to contractors within InfraGard

– Extent to which formerly assigned US government officials have been assigned to law enforcement to apply lessons learned from Iraq and Afghanistan in re prisoner interrogation, abuse, and mistreatment to US civilians

– Extent to which law enforcement and InfraGard contractors have bypassed the judicial branch, not secured required warrants, and illegally searched and detained US citizens, their property, and private papers without a specific, real reason

Appendix 2: Sample Survey Questions

Academic institutions are encouraged to survey their student bodies to review the extent to which InfraGard contractors and law enforcement have been targeting members of the Academic community:

– Have students observed officer misconduct around transportation, infrastructure, or public accommodations

– Were students’ reports of misconduct timely handled

– Were students who provided reports of misconduct targeted for questioning and/or denied access to public accommodations

– Did students observe plain clothes officers following them

– Was there an unusual interest by InfraGard contractors in the students’ educational background, interest

– Did any students observe officers or employees misrepresenting conversations to deflect attention from InfraGard contractor misconduct, lies, or illegal disclosures of classified information

– Have students observed misconduct, attempted to report that misconduct, and the InfraGard officers believe the students were part of a “no notice” audit team?

– Have students observed inconsistent statements by InfraGard contractors

– Have Students heard InfraGard contractors assert that the contractors, as a reason for the stop or intrusion, were “following procedures”; but later evidence reveals the officers were not following procedures related to documentation, notification, reporting, or discretion

– Have students been threatened with arrest unless they disclose information that is unrelated to criminal activity, private, or not of any reasonable relationship to the alleged misconduct

– Have students been accused of engaging in ‘criminal-like” behavior for activities that may be unpopular, but are not illegal

– Have students been told by law enforcement or InfraGard contractors their educational choices were not appropriate, a waste of time, or not up to the level of experience of law enforcement/InfraGard?

– Have students been insulted by InfraGard/law enforcement?

– Have the InfraGard officers asked students about private issues, asked the students why there were “focused” on that issue; then asserted that the InfraGard/law enforcement officer is “above” that?

– Have any students been physically touched by any law enforcement officer/InfraGard contractor without their consent, without being told why they were being arrested, or detained for more than 15 hours?

– Have students been issued “stay away orders” for activities that were not violating any policy, were not illegal, and are not contrary to public or school policy?

– Have students been denied access to public accommodations, services, or public facilities on the false assertion that the property was “private”?

– Have students been followed after reporting law enforcement/InfraGard contractor misconduct?

– Have students attempted to seek assistance from the InfraGard contractor management, but not provided a forum or opportunity to resolve an issue unless additional private information was disclosed to the InfraGard contractor/law enforcement?

– What types of discussions were students engaged when they were confronted, told that conversation was “not appropriate”?

– Have students been accused of engaging in “inappropriate conduct” using false accusations, misrepresentations, or fabrications by the InfraGard contractors?

– How long were you detained, stopped, arrested, or held before you were given access to legal counsel?

– Was your personal property searched despite your assertions that the InfraGard contractor/law enforcement did not have consent to search?

– What was the reason the InfraGard contractor/law enforcement did not provide a copy of a search warrant before searching your personal belongings, school supplies, or academic computing materials?

related web sites:


The FBI Deputizes Business By Matthew Rothschild

Businessmen can “shoot to kill” in the event of martial law!! (video)

An Iron Fist In A Velvet Glove – How American Democracy Relies on Fascism By Ted Rall

Police State America – A Look Back and Ahead by Stephen Lendman

Olbermann: Vote Or Die + Grand Old Problem + Clemens Takes The Hill

Dandelion Salad


Feb. 13, 2008

Vote Or Die 

Keith speaks with Jonathan Turley.

Grand Old Problem 

Keith speaks to E.J. Dionne.

Clemens Takes The Hill 

Keith speaks with Richard Justice.

World’s Worst 

Worse: Tom Davis

Worser: John McCain

Worst: Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

More on the Mysterious Reports of Threats to Kucinich By David Swanson

Dandelion Salad

By David Swanson
After Downing Street
February 14, 2008

This new report appears to suggest that Congressman Kucinich was technically honest but concealing other information when he told me that the alleged incident did not occur.

We now have claims of other incidents:

1. We have third-hand reports via people not naming their source (except to say that he is male and “at a high level” in Kucinich’s presidential campaign) that AIPAC, NRA, and other unspecified groups either jointly or separately somehow told Kucinich to drop impeachment (or they would fund an opponent). We aren’t told how this was communicated or how the mystery man knows about it. We also aren’t told why six separate people would recount this man’s comments and refuse to name him, or – as is more likely the real question – why Hutch won’t name him.

While I don’t know where Cimperman’s money comes from, and Hutch does not indicate that he knows either, I would not be at all surprised if it came from AIPAC and other right-wing groups. In fact, that supposition is so easy that I wouldn’t be surprised if the mystery man was simply making the same supposition rather than reporting on a particular direct communication. He may have been, however, and I’ll ask Kucinich about it. There’s no indication here that Hutch has actually found out who Cimperman’s funders are.

Hutch says six people, three men and three women, have told him about the mystery man’s comments in Manchester, N.H. He does not say whether he spoke with them each individually. He says that one of them spoke on the record. It’s not clear who that is or what that means. Hutch mentions two people by name, Vin Gopal and David Bright. I know and like and respect both of them. Gopal is mentioned only to cite him as reporting a fact that is public knowledge. Bright takes us to point 2.

2. Hutch reports Bright as saying that three of Kucinich’s primary challengers will drop out. But this was probably quite honestly just speculation on Bright’s part. Either Bright knows intimately of a secret plot among the candidates, or he’s just guessing that the anti-kucinich corporate military powers will compel three of the challengers to cut and run. It’s a good guess. It’s not journalism.

3. One of the three female sources, who is not named, Hutch refers to as his “initial source.” I take this to mean that she fed him the story of the incident that he now accepts didn’t happen. Now she’s fed him another incident story, which he apparently accepts really did happen. Hutch says that mystery woman says that some unnamed person says that Kucinich “was told” by some unnamed and unidentified person or persons that “if he dropped his campaigns to impeach Cheney and Bush, the Democratic Party would help his re-election and essentially guarantee his victory,” and “Dennis threw them out of his office.” Apparently this was more than one person, as suggested by “them.” Presumably “his office” refers to his office on Capitol Hill. Presumably the unidentified people are supposed to be representatives of Nancy Pelosi. This all sounds vaguely interesting. And then Hutch adds this: “The primary source says that statement was never made.” The primary source at this point could mean anything from God to a voice in somebody’s head, but my best guess is that it takes us right back to mystery man, the guy who was “at a high level” in the Kucinich presidential campaign. This sentence would seem to suggest that Hutch has spoken with him and chooses not to name him. This would further suggest that he is one of the six “sources” Hutch has spoken with, and his remarks were reported to Hutch second-hand by five, rather than six, other people. The sloppiness of all of this does not mean that no representative of the Democratic Party ever told Kucinich to drop impeachment if he wanted to win. I’ll ask him.

4. Then comes the most interesting new incident, I think. Hutch says that “another source” (this too may be one of the total of six and may or may not be one of the witnesses to the gossip in Manchester who may have totaled four) tells him that around the time that Kucinich announced he would introduce articles of impeachment on Bush, “he was called to Speaker Pelosi’s office” (by whom we don’t know, and we don’t have any idea how this source knows what happened there) “and told to temper his comments, and further threatened with the loss of his chairmanship” of a subcommittee. I can’t imagine how anyone would have come to know this, and it sounds very unlikely, but I’ll ask the Congressman about it.

5. Then comes an added reason not to take the “primary source” mystery man seriously. One of the women reporting his comments second hand (but not the others?) told Hutch that the mystery man “stated his belief that in addition to Dennis Kucinich, Congressmen John Conyers, Jerrold Nadler and Robert Wexler have all been threatened that there will be consequences if they pursue impeachment against Cheney and Bush.” He “stated his belief”? Did he provide any hint as to how he came by that belief, or who supposedly did the threatening? This srikes me as a “belief” that Congress is corrupt. I share that general sense. But it doesn’t establish that anyone in particular did any specific thing.

Hutch concludes from all of this that rightwing forces are mobilizing to defeat Kucinich, that Pelosi is wrecking our country, and that we ought to fund Kucinich’s campaign. But a lot of us concluded all of those things without any of these stories. That doesn’t mean the stories aren’t true, just that they aren’t prerequisites for taking action. My hunch is that this is all fiction.



Full Debunking of Kucinich-Pelosi-AIPAC Myth Coming Tonight

By David Swanson
After Downing Street
February 14, 2008

Vin Gopal, the “Primary Source” in Stuart Hutchison’s bogus story about Pelosi and AIPAC threatening Dennis Kucinich in his office, tells me he never said anything of the sort, but that he does know about AIPAC and corporate funders of Cimperman, Kucinich’s challenger.

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Kucinich: The Incident Did Not Happen By David Swanson

Is Dennis Kucinich Getting McKinney’d by Kevin Zeese + Kucinich Under Fire By Rep. Dennis Kucinich

Contribute to Kucinich for Congress


Whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg: Bush Likely to Attack Iran, Impeachment a Must By Sari Gelzer

Dandelion Salad

By Sari Gelzer
February 7, 2008

The American public and media have not picked up on the urgency surrounding a pending war with Iran.

Daniel Ellsberg, perhaps the country’s most famous whistleblower, fears that before the Bush administration leaves office, it will try to attack Iran.

Indeed, Ellsberg’s argument gained merit as George W. Bush increased his rhetoric against Iran when he delivered his final State of the Union Address. Bush accused Iran of training militia extremists in Iraq and emphasized the United States will confront its enemies.

In a wide-ranging interview with Truthout, Ellsberg uses insight from his experience as a Pentagon analyst under the Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard M. Nixon administrations to discuss Bush’s plans to begin a war with Iran, the role of the press to give whistleblowers exposure and how American democracy can be restored.

Due to Ellsberg’s experience working within the government, I wanted his insight into how the Bush administration is attempting to begin a war with Iran.

When I highlighted his experience working for Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara in 1965 to draft a speech with the goal of rationalizing and gaining public support for the Vietnam War, Ellsberg gave a very long sigh.

“That was not my finest hour that I look back on. That was something that I am ashamed of,” he tells me with a heavy heart.

Ellsberg wishes he had spoken out against the Vietnam War sooner. As a civilian working for the government, he says his oath was always to the Constitution, and he violated that oath until the day he decided to leak the Pentagon Papers in 1971 to reveal the war was unlawful.

Ellsberg now spends his time ardently encouraging and supporting whistleblowers to come forward when they see constitutional violations. He emphasizes the importance of documents as evidence and of timeliness so that lies are exposed before an actual war occurs.

Pending war with Iran or Gulf of Tonkin deja vu

The recent announcement in December by the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) revealed, counter to the president’s claims, that Iran did not have an active nuclear program. This was unexpected, says Ellsberg.

The administration had said, weeks before this release, it had no intention of putting out NIE summaries, Ellsberg says. However, the information was released because, according to newspaper reports, there was a threat of leaks:

“As one news story put it, intelligence officials were lined up to go to jail if the administration did not release those findings,” says Ellsberg, emphasizing his creed in the need to take risks for the sake of revealing truth.

“I wish I could say it made an attack on Iran zero, and it hasn’t, but it has reduced it and confirms, in my opinion, the power of being willing to risk prosecution, willing to give up your career, your clearance, which these people would have done if they’d put that information out — and the mere threat was enough to get it out in this case,” emphasizes Ellsberg.

Ellsberg says Bush will simply find a different pretext from the nuclear program.

“After all, it was about a year ago that he really stopped pressing the nuclear program as the main reason to start attacking Iran and start talking about what they were doing against U.S. forces in Iraq,” says Ellsberg, who claims people in the military have recently undercut this statement by saying there is no evidence of Iran’s involvement against U.S. forces in Iraq.

Bush could also use an incident that is blamed on Iran as a means to begin a war with them.

Early this year, Ellsberg experienced deja vu when the White House and a complicit media portrayed an incident in the Strait of Hormuz that deeply paralleled the Tonkin Gulf incident of 1964.

The Gulf of Tonkin incident was an alleged attack by North Vietnamese ships upon American boats. As a result of this alleged aggression, Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which gave former President Johnson the permission to expand the Vietnam War.

The recent incident involving Iran alleged serious threats were being made to U.S. ships by Iranian speedboats. Within days of the events in the Straight of Hormuz, information revealed the details of the entire event had been fabricated. Ellsberg sees promise in the quickness of this revelation because, in contrast, it was only in 2005 and 2008 that the inaccuracies and deceptions of the Gulf of Tonkin incident were revealed by the declassification of National Security Administration reports.

Ellsberg is worried Congress has not put forth an effort to demand it be informed before an attack on Iran should occur. Currently, there is a Senate resolution to demand Congress be consulted in the event of plans to attack Iran, but it has not gotten out of committee.

Instead, the Senate has virtually endorsed the president’s power to begin a war with Iran, says Ellsberg, with the passage of legislation last September declaring that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps is a terrorist organization.

“To say that the Revolutionary Guards in Iran are a terrorist organization … is very close to saying that the president is able to attack them at his discretion. Now to give this president that discretion is inexcusable, outrageous,” says Ellsberg.

The Democratic Congress should be having open hearings on Iran, says Ellsberg, as well as on how we got into the war against Iraq and regarding Guantanamo. But the Democratic chairmen are not holding such hearings.

The American public, and media in general, have not picked up on the urgency surrounding a pending war with Iran, Ellsberg says. For over two years, Sy Hersh and others have been writing detailed articles stating operational plans against Iran are being updated to the minute, so that within hours or a day they can be implemented.

The problem with these articles, says Ellsberg, is not that Hersh, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, lacks credibility, it’s that his sources are not willing to go beyond their anonymity. Ellsberg emphasizes the sources in Sy Hersh’s reports, and others within the government, must reveal documents, risk their career and testify before Congress if they wish to profoundly alter the course of a pending war with Iran.

Gateway for whistleblowers: the press

Whistleblowers depend strongly on the press to relay their information to the American public, who will then be able to exert pressure in politics. When I ask Ellsberg if he believes the press is doing a good job of this, he gives me the most matter-of-fact answer of the evening: “No.”

In October of 2004, whistleblowers gave the New York Times knowledge of an illegal and unconstitutional domestic spying program that was being carried out by the U.S. government. The newspaper waited a year to reveal this information.

This was not just any year, says Ellsberg. The Times held this information at the request of the White House until after the 2004 election, avoiding the possible impact it could have had in swaying voters.

The New York Times, says Ellsberg, was pressured to publish the article because its internal reporter, James Risen, was going to release a book regarding the Times‘ decision to remain silent at the White House’s request.

The New York Times received a Pulitzer Prize for releasing this story. Ellsberg says he believes not only reporters but whistleblowers who reveal important information should also receive a prize in recognition of their public service. This is not a retroactive attempt on his part, he says, to receive an award.

Ellsberg smiles. “In my case my prize was the indictment,” which he says he has taken to be as great an honor as he needs in life.

The press in America, says Ellsberg, is currently avoiding the story of an explosive whistleblower by the name of Sibel Edmonds. A former FBI translator of Turkish and Persian, he says she has been attempting to speak before Congress for five years.

Early last month, Sibel Edmonds appeared on the front page of the London Sunday Times to reveal information she learned as an FBI employee. Ellsberg describes her claims that the U.S. government is giving nuclear materials, equipment and expertise to countries, including Turkey, which in turn sell them to other countries, including Pakistan. In effect, says Ellsberg, criminal bribery is occurring.

Ellsberg says Edmonds is also revealing the U.S. government is allowing a drug trade that finances terrorist operations, such as al-Qaeda, to continue. Ellsberg describes her revelations further, saying the U.S. government is turning a blind eye to the drug trade of U.S. allies such as Turkey and Pakistan, as well as countries such as Uzbekistan, where the United States wants to gain military base rights.

These allegations are only part of the knowledge Edmonds wishes to share before Congress, and she awaits the chance to do so, claiming she knows people in the FBI, CIA and NSA who will corroborate her statements, says Ellsberg.

This is in direct parallel, says Ellsberg, to what happened to Catherine Gunn, a British whistleblower whose actions, he believes, were more important than the release of the Pentagon Papers, because she provided information early enough to have prevented the Iraq war.

Gunn, who worked as an employee for British Intelligence, Government Communication Headquarters, revealed a document showing the United States was “tapping the U.N. Security Council members in order to influence their votes in support of an aggressive war, which was about to take place,” says Ellsberg.

This was front-page news, not only in London, says Ellsberg, but all over the world, except the United States, where it did not appear for about 11 months. Ellsberg says it was reasonable to believe Gunn could have stopped the war, and he believes she prevented a U.N. Security Council vote in support of the war.

“The same thing is happening to Sibel Edmonds as we speak,” says Ellsberg, intensely.

How to restore American democracy

As the days of Bush’s final term in office dwindle, Ellsberg emphasizes that, no matter how much time is left, impeachment is one thing that must happen for the sake of preserving American democracy.

Impeachment proceedings are essential, says Ellsberg, “both for the information that it will produce and above all to make it clear that Congress perceives the illegal and unconstitutional acts taken by this administration to be high crimes and misdemeanors, and for the deterrent effect that they will have on future presidents.”

In addition to impeachment hearings, Ellsberg says Congress must reverse the laws that have “outrageously” passed under “intimidation” by Bush. These include say Ellsberg: “The Patriot Act; the Military Commissions Act, which among other things essentially denies habeas corpus; the signing statements, which essentially give the president the power to ignore constraints on torture; and they could change the so-called Protect America Act which legalized much of the unconstitutional surveillance that the NSA was doing without Congress even knowing what they were legalizing.”

For those things that Congress cannot overturn, Ellsberg suggests hearings by Congress to show, for example, that “not only was torture illegal, it should continue to be illegal because it hurts our national security.”

None of these changes will happen without an active American movement, says Ellsberg, which must demand Congress members uphold their oath to support the Constitution rather than their political career.

Looking at the current primaries and the future presidential election, Ellsberg says the American public must create priorities that are different from those offered by the current candidates.

The changes that need to occur are drastic, and given the stakes, Ellsberg believes the American public should be willing to invest its time so that the crisis we currently find ourselves in can be met with strong action:

“If enough people simply look clearly at what we are doing in our course towards an abyss right now, they do have the power with the remaining democracy we have still in this country to turn it around.”

h/t: CURRENT EVENTS BLOG: Society, Media, & Justice
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