SPP: Security & prosperity for whom? by Andrew Marshall

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by Andrew Marshall
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
March 17, 2008

In March of 2005, the leaders of Canada (Paul Martin), the U.S. (George W. Bush), and Mexico (Vicente Fox) signed an agreement called the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP). The SPP is about securing prosperity for a rich elite, while taking what remaining power the people have, through democratic sovereign institutions, and placing that power in a few hands of unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats whose strings are pulled by global corporations and banks. However, in discussing the SPP, we must first go back a little further than 2005 to the origins from which it arose.

The same group that on their own website admits to being the predominant force in Canada behind NAFTA, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE) — Canada’s most powerful interest group made up of the CEOs of the 150 largest corporations in Canada, many of which are subsidiaries of foreign, predominantly American, corporations — in January of 2003, issued a press release announcing the creation of their North American Security and Prosperity Initiative. In this, they proposed five main changes to be undertaken in the North American political-economic landscape: “Reinvent borders, maximize regulatory efficiencies, negotiate a comprehensive resource security pact, reinvigorate the North American defense alliance, and create a new institutional framework.”

Several months later, in November of the same year, the CCCE issued a short document titled, “Paul Martin urged to take the lead in forging a new vision for North American cooperation.” In this document, they stated that, “all of the CCCE’s 150 member CEOs are involved in this ambitious two-year initiative,” in which Thomas D’Aquino, president and CEO of the CCCE, “urged that Mr. Martin champion the idea of a yearly summit of the leaders of Canada, Mexico, and the United States in order to give common economic, social, and security issues the priority they deserve in a continental, hemispheric, and global context.”

Apparently, Martin was listening, because one of the signatories of this letter was none other than a vice chairman of the CCCE and then-CEO of Canfor Corporation, Canada’s largest softwood lumber producer, David L. Emerson. Emerson would go on to be Martin’s Minister of Industry.

When the CCCE’s two-year initiative ended, it formed a new task force, called the “Independent Task Force on the Future of North America” in conjunction with the Mexican Council on Foreign Relations and the U.S.’s most powerful think tank, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), founded by the Rockefeller and Morgan families in 1921.

This task force released a statement on March 14, 2005 entitled, “Trinational call for a North American economic and security community by 2010.” In the Trinational Call, it was recommended that the North America nations create “a community defined by a common external tariff and an outer security perimeter,” and to “harmonize” the areas of energy, security, education, military, immigration, resources, and the economy.

Nine days after this recommendation was issued, Bush, Martin, and Fox signed the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP), and in the joint statement explained it would, “implement common border security and bioprotection [enhanced surveillance] strategies, enhance critical infrastructure protection, implement a common approach to emergency response, implement improvements in aviation and maritime security, combat transnational threats, enhance intelligence partnerships, promote sectoral collaboration in energy, transportation, financial services, technology, and other areas to facilitate business, [and] reduce the costs of trade.” The SPP agreement oversees the creation of SPP “working groups” in each country, which have a mandate of overseeing “harmonization,” or “integration,” in over 300 policy areas.

Two months later, in May of 2005, the Independent Task Force on the Future of North America released a document titled, “Building a North American Community,” of which Canadian Task Force members included D’Aquino, Wendy Dobson, professor at University of Toronto and former president of the C.D. Howe Institute, Allan Gotlieb,(former Canadian Ambassador to the United States as well as being Chairman of the CCCE), and John Manley, former Liberal deputy prime minister.

The report’s recommendations included initiatives to establish “a common security perimeter by 2010, develop a North American Border Pass [North American ID card] with biometric identifiers, expand NORAD into a multi-service defense command,” share intelligence, develop Mexico’s energy resources, “harmonize” areas of energy, education, military, foreign policy, immigration, health, expand “temporary” migrant worker programs, and adopt a common external tariff.

In 2002, based in Montreal, the North American Forum on Integration (NAFI) was formed, which, according to their website, “aims to address the issues raised by North American integration as well as identify new ideas and strategies to reinforce the North American region,” and hold “NAFI organized conferences which brought together government and academic figures as well as business people.” The first conference was held in Montreal in 2003, the second in 2004 in Mexico, of which was stated on the organization’s website: “About 200 participants and conference speakers took part in the conference, [including] former Energy Minister, Mr. Felipe Calderon,” the current President of Mexico.

NAFI later organized a ‘mock’ North American Parliament, called the Triumvirate, which allows 100 Canadian, American, and Mexican university students “to better understand the North American dynamic” — the first of which took place in the Canadian Senate in May of 2005, hosted by the Triumvirate president and former ambassador Raymond Chrétien, the son of Jean Chrétien. Participating Canadian universities included Carleton, McGill, and yes, Simon Fraser University. The board of directors of NAFI includes Stephen Blank, a member of CFR and Robert Pastor, CFR member and co-chair of the Independent Task Force.

In January of 2006, the Council of the Americas and the North American Business Council issued a report titled, “Findings of the Public/Private Sector Dialogue on the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America,” which called for the establishment of a “North American competitiveness council” to advise governments on the implementation of ‘deep integration.’ The Chairman of the Council of the Americas is former banker David Rockefeller, and top executives from J.P Morgan, Merck & Co., Chevron, McDonald’s, Shell, Citigroup, IBM, Ford, PepsiCo, Microsoft, GE, Pfizer, MetLife, Wal-Mart, Exxon Mobil, Credit Suisse, General Motors, Merrill Lynch, and individuals from the U.S. Department of State.

In March of 2006, a second SPP summit was held, this time with Bush, Fox, and newly elected Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The press release (which can be found at spp.gov, “Report to Leaders August 2006”) announced the formation of the North American Competitiveness Council (NACC), which “provides a voice and a formal role for the private sector” whose job is to advise the SPP ministers in their respective governments. Current Canadian SPP ministers are Maxime Bernier (Foreign Affairs), Jim Prentice (Industry) and Stockwell Day (Public Safety, ha!).

The NACC is run out of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and with the Council of the Americas, and is made up of corporate leaders from each of the three countries. In Canada, these corporations include Manulife Financial, Power Corporation of Canada, Ganong Bros. Ltd, Suncor Energy, Canadian National, Linamar Corporation, Bell Canada Enterprises, Home Depot, and the Bank of Nova Scotia. U.S. companies include Campbell Soup, Chevron, Ford, FedEx, GE, GM, Lockheed Martin, Merck, Procter & Gamble, UPS, Wal-Mart, and Whirlpool.

On September 12 to 14, 2006, business and government representatives from the three North American countries met in secret, with no media coverage, at the Banff Springs Hotel and convened the North American Forum. Judicial Watch, a U.S. public watchdog group got declassified government documents through a Freedom of Information Act request and made the documents available on their website. These documents reveal the discussions and membership in the secret meetings. The Canadian co-chair of the meeting was former Alberta premier Peter Lougheed, and Canadian participants included Day, D’Aquino (also a member of the NACC), all NACC corporate representatives, and John Manley. In the released documents, under the forum discussion on “Border Infrastructure and Continental Prosperity,” chaired by John Manley, a startling quote was revealed: “While a vision is appealing, working on the infrastructure might yield more benefit and bring more people on board (‘evolution by stealth’).” What exactly are they evolving by stealth? Oh right, our country.

On the Canadian government’s SPP website, a list of priorities is provided which gives recommendations to be implemented by date, and then tracks their status. Under Aviation Security: “For aviation security purposes, each country has developed, is developing or may develop its own passenger assessment (no-fly) program for use on flights within, to or from that country to ensure that persons who pose a threat to aviation are monitored or denied boarding, within 24 months (June 2007).” On June 18, 2007, Canada instituted our very ‘own’ no-fly list.

On May 8, 2007, The Montreal Gazette reported that “Canada is set to raise its limits on pesticide residues on fruit and vegetables for hundreds of products. The move is part of an effort to harmonize Canadian pesticide rules with those of the United States, which allows higher residue levels for 40 per cent of the pesticides it regulates,” and that “Canadian regulators and their U.S. counterparts have been working to harmonize their pesticide regulations since 1996, as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Now the effort is being fast-tracked as an initiative under the Security and Prosperity Partnership.”

The Vancouver Province reported on January 22, 2008, that “B.C. is about to become the first province to use a high-tech driver’s license. For an extra fee, it will enable drivers to cross the border into the U.S. without a passport and still comply with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security concerns,” and that “the enhanced driver’s license or EDL has a radio-frequency identification chip that will broadcast a number linked to a computer database, allowing a border guard to assess data and flag security issues as drivers approach the booth.” Introduced by Gordon Campbell and Stockwell Day, this is the “biometric” card as recommended under the SPP — essentially, a North American ID card.

There is also much discussion of a common currency for North America, often called the “Amero,” much like the euro for the E.U. The Fraser Institute published a paper entitled, “The case for the Amero.” The C.D. Howe Institute followed that with the publication, “From fixing to monetary union: options for North American currency integration.” In May of 2007, as reported by The Globe and Mail, David Dodge, then-governor of the Bank of Canada, said, “North America could one day embrace a euro-style single currency.” The Globe reported in November of 2007 that Stephen Jarislowsky, board member of C.D. Howe, told a parliamentary committee, “Canada should replace its dollar with a North American currency, or peg it to the U.S. greenback.”

The SPP is not about “security” or “prosperity” (except for the very few over the many), but is rather about forming a North American Union. When Vicente Fox recently appeared on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart asked him about NAFTA, of which Fox stated, “NAFTA’s been good. As a matter of fact we should have a new vision, go further, integrating,” and Fox went on to discuss the “solidarity” of the European Union. When asked if he wanted a North American Union, and if it would include Canada, Fox said, “Long term, yes.” On May 16, 2002 Fox spoke at Club 21 in Madrid, and stated, “Eventually, our long-range objective is to establish with the United States, but also with Canada, our other regional partner, an ensemble of connections and institutions similar to those created by the European Union.”

Mussolini has been attributed as once saying, “Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power.” Gandhi once said, “A democrat must be utterly selfless. He must think and dream not in terms of self or party but only of democracy.” So are those behind the SPP listening to, Gandhi or Mussolini?


Future of North America by Andrew G. Marshall

The North American Union Farce

Agenda for the North American Summit by Andrew G. Marshall

9/11: The “Perfect Opportunity” for North American Integration by Andrew G. Marshall

NAU North America Union


Marshall-Andrew G.


Obama Claims He Opposed Occupation While Funding It, Doesn’t Want to Withdraw Fast

Dandelion Salad


Barack Obama in Beaver County, PA

h/t: After Downing Street


Hillary Clinton Delivers Major Speech About Iraq

Winter Soldier: Jesse Hamilton + Fight to Survive (videos)

Beware an Attack on Iran by Prof. Marjorie Cohn

Dandelion Salad

by Prof. Marjorie Cohn
Global Research, March 17, 2008

Is the Bush administration ramping up for an attack on Iran? The signs seem to point in that direction. On March 11, Navy Adm. William Fallon, commander of the U.S. forces in the Middle East, retired early because of differences with Washington on Iran policy. And now, Dick Cheney’s current Middle East tour may be designed to prepare our Arab allies for an imminent “preemptive” war against Iran.

Continue reading

FAIR: No Antiwar Voices in NYT ‘Debate’

Dandelion Salad


Action Alert

Look back at Iraq features nine hawkish ‘experts’

The New York Times offered a look back at the Iraq War in its March 16 “Week In Review” section that leaned heavily towards pro-war voices.

The Times explained to readers:

“To mark this week’s fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, the Op-Ed page asked nine experts on military and foreign affairs to reflect on their attitudes in the spring of 2003 and to comment on the one aspect of the war that most surprised them or that they wished they had considered in the prewar debate.”

The “experts” who were asked to weigh in all more or less supporters of the Iraq War, most of whom evinced no regret about their errors. The neoconservative American Enterprise Institute provided three columnists: Richard Perle, Fred Kagan and Danielle Pletka, all of them among the strongest advocates for the invasion. The Times also gave space to the Brookings Institution’s Kenneth Pollack, another strong supporter of the invasion.

Featured as well were former Iraq envoy L. Paul Bremer and Paul D. Eaton, a retired general who served as a trainer of the Iraqi military early in the war. Former Marine Nathaniel Fick of the Center for a New American Security, who took part in the invasion of Iraq as a platoon leader, also weighed in.

Another columnist was Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, who served as an on-air defense analyst for ABC News. Cordesman often warned of planning or logistics problems with the invasion, but nonetheless suuported the Iraq War: “I endorse this war, but I do so with reluctance and considerable uncertainty,” Cordesman declared in testimony prepared for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (2/12/03).

The other columnist was Anne-Marie Slaughter of Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, generally considered a “liberal hawk.” Like Cordesman, Slaughter was less supportive of the Iraq War than other hawks. But in a column for the New York Times just prior to the invasion (“Good Reasons for Going Around the U.N.,” 3/18/03), Slaughter argued that the Bush administration’s decision to bypass a Security Council vote could work out once weapons of mass destruction were found, and the Iraqi people rallied behind the U.S.-led intervention.

None of the commentators selected by the Times to look back on the fifth anniversary of the war had been actual opponents of the invasion. And none of them conclude that the United States ought to stop occupying Iraq. Pletka’s piece begins, “The mantra of the antiwar left–‘Bush lied, people died’–so dominates the debate about the run-up to the Iraq war that it has obscured real issues that deserve examination.” But the “debate” in the New York Times completely excludes the antiwar perspective, left-wing or otherwise.

In a separate piece for the Times, reporter John Burns wrote that “only the most prescient could have guessed…that the toll would include tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians killed, as well nearly 4,000 American troops; or that America’s financial costs, by some recent estimates, would rise above $650 billion by 2008, on their way to perhaps $2 trillion if the commitment continues for another five years.”

Actually, one did not have to be unusually prescient to think that the Iraq War would be costly and would likely kill many thousands of civilians and combatants; millions of people around the world marched against the invasion to call attention to these very dangers. But by focusing the post-war debate so squarely on what pro-war “experts” think these days, one could certainly get the impression that no one knew better.

New York Times op-ed page editor David Shipley (7/31/05) has described the op-ed page as “a venue for people with a wide range of perspectives, experiences and talents,” writing that he aims for “a lively page of clashing opinions, one where as many people as possible have the opportunity to make the best arguments they can.” It’s hard to see how Shipley can argue that his assembly of pro-war voices for the war’s fifth anniversary merits that description.

Contact the New York Times and ask them why their March 16 Week in Review op-ed section excluded antiwar voices.


New York Times public editor
Clark Hoyt
(212) 556-7652

New York Times editorial page

New York Times op-ed page editor
David Shipley

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Bush Consolidates the National Security State

Dandelion Salad

by Tom Burghardt
Global Research, March 17, 2008
Antifascist Calling…

Editor, Antifascist Calling…

The Washington Post revealed Friday that the FBI is continuing its systematic violation of Americans’ Fourth Amendment guarantees against “unreasonable searches and seizures.”

A Justice Department report concluded that the Bureau had repeatedly abused its intelligence gathering “privileges” by issuing bogus “national security letters” (NSLs) from 2003-2006. On at least one occasion, the FBI relied on an illegally-issued NSL to circumvent a ruling by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to obtain records the secret court deemed protected by the First Amendment.

While the Bush regime claims that the Bureau requires sweeping authority to invade the privacy of American citizens to “protect the homeland” from the Afghan-Arab database of disposable intelligence assets, al-Qaeda, Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine determined that fully “60 percent of the nearly 50,000 security letters issued that year [2006] by the FBI targeted Americans,” according to Post reporter Dan Eggen.

Despite the FISA court twice rejecting Bureau requests to obtain sensitive private records, determining “the ‘facts’ were too thin” and the “request implicated the target’s First Amendment rights,” the FBI used an NSL as a “work around” and proceeded anyway.

The stunning disregard for all legal norms under the Bush regime is encapsulated by FBI general counsel Valerie E. Caproni’s statement to investigators that “it was appropriate to issue the letters in such cases because she disagreed with the court’s conclusions.”

Fine asserted in the Inspector General’s report that the Bureau has recklessly used NSLs to sweep-up vast quantities of telephone numbers and internet searches with a single request.

Jameel Jaffer, national security director at the American Civil Liberties Union, told Eggen,

“The fact that these are being used against U.S. citizens, and being used so aggressively, should call into question the claim that these powers are about terrorists and not just about collecting information on all kinds of people. They’re basically using national security letters to evade legal requirements that would be enforced if there were judicial oversight.”

Dean Boyd, a Justice Department spokesperson, said Fine’s report “should come as no surprise,” tendentiously claiming new “procedural changes” would ameliorate future problems.

According to FBI Assistant Director John Miller, a former correspondent and anchor for ABC News, NSL requests “are now reviewed by a lawyer before they are sent to a telephone company, Internet service provider or other target.”

Meanwhile, the Bush administration has quietly stripped the independent Intelligence Oversight Board (IOB) of much of its authority to root out illegal spying activities by the intelligence “community,” Boston Globe journalist, Charlie Savage reports.

A little noticed February 29 executive order signed by Bush gutted the board’s mandate to refer illegal activities by an ever-expanding national security state to the Justice Department.

According to Savage,

Bush’s order also terminated the board’s authority to oversee each intelligence agency’s general counsel and inspector general, and it erased a requirement that each inspector general file a report with the board every three months. Now only the agency directors will decide whether to report any potential lawbreaking to the panel, and they have no schedule for checking in.

In other words, we’ll police ourselves. Move along!

The IOB was created in 1976 by president Gerald Ford following congressional revelations that a panoply of U.S. intelligence entities including the CIA, FBI, NSA and DIA, had engaged in illegal domestic spying operations, organized the assassination of foreign leaders, incited coups and other destabilization campaigns around the world to advance U.S. geopolitical goals during America’s anticommunist Cold War jihad.

On the domestic front, the FBI’s COINTELPRO, the CIA’s Operation CHAOS, the NSA’s Project SHAMROCK and the DIA’s domestic operations under control of various Military Intelligence Groups, conducted illegal surveillance of antiwar, socialist, feminist and black liberation groups targeted for “disruption and neutralization” during the 1960s and ’70s.

Federal intelligence agents, in addition to conducting illegal surveillance and infiltration of domestic dissident groups, worked closely with local police “red squads” and actually financed and controlled far-right terrorist gangs such as the Minutemen, the San Diego-based Secret Army Organization and the Legion of Justice in Chicago. Dozens of attacks, including fire-bombings, physical assaults and attempted “targeted assassinations” of vocal antiwar activists and socialist organizers were the result.

Even after the “COINTELPRO era” presumably ended with the 1971 Media, PA raid by the “Citizens Committee to Investigate the FBI” that exposed the Bureau’s illegal operations, abuses continued–and multiplied.

* In 1979, five members of the Communist Workers Party were murdered by a combined Ku Klux Klan/American Nazi Party hit team in Greensboro, NC. The anticommunist death squad had been recruited, organized and led by an FBI infiltrator, Edward Dawson. Dawson was also a paid informant for the Greensboro Police Department.

* During the 1980s, the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), opposed to U.S. intervention in support of El Salvador’s death squad state, was infiltrated by FBI informants and far-rightists’ associated with Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Collegiate Association for the Research of Principles (CARP). The ultra-right wing Council for Inter-American Security, working as public relations apologists for death squad leader Roberto D’Aubuisson, compiled a dossier on CISPES that was subsequently passed to the FBI. The Bureau then recommended “active measures” be taken to destroy the group.

* In May 1990, Earth First! leaders Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney were targets of a politically-motivated assassination attempt. A bomb was detonated in their car by unknown assailants. At the FBI’s instigation, Oakland Police immediately arrested the pair and charged them with terrorist crimes. After two months of adverse media publicity targeting the victims, charges were dropped. Twelve years later, the environmentalists were awarded $4.4 million in a federal civil suit when a jury determined the FBI had acted recklessly in their handling of the case. The FBI was doomed when their own forensic lab specialist testified the bomb was under the car seat not on the floorboard behind Bari as Bureau counterterrorism “experts” alleged.

* Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA) is another in a long-line of corrupt Pentagon “public-private partnerships.” Initially authorized by president William Clinton’s Presidential Decision Directive (PDD)-75, CIFA and its associated TALON/CORNERSTONE database provide “threat assessments” for DoD facilities and personnel. One CIFA-supported database project, managed by defense giant Northrop Grumman was designated “Person Search.” It was designed to “provide comprehensive information about people of interest.” Its intended use included the ability to search government and commercial databases “to track and monitor activities of suspect individuals.” However, numerous reports and internal memoranda published by the National Security Archive clearly document that CIFA’s military and private contractors systematically conducted surveillance and data-mining operations against the antiwar movement. The Archive has posted 9 TALON reports collected by the 902nd Military Intelligence Group documenting CIFA’s repressive activities. Originally falling under the purview of Stephen A. Cambone, Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, CIFA’s intelligence and data-mining programs are being spun-off to private contractors. Cambone has since gone on to an executive position with QinetiQ North America. QinetiQ signed a $30 million Pentagon contract in January 2008 for unspecified “security services” to CIFA, according to CorpWatch investigative reporter, Tim Shorrock.

* CISPES is again a target of the Justice Department. Citing the Foreign Registration Act of 1938, Bush’s DOJ is questioning the organization’s relationship with the Farabundo Marti Front for National Liberation (FMLN), a legal political party in El Salvador. With elections looming in 2009, the Bush regime is terrified that another Latin American country will elect a leftist government, thus further weakening U.S. regional domination and control over its shrinking imperialist empire. The Bush plan? Target solidarity activists in an attempt to smear the group as “foreign agents,” or worse.

The gutting of the Intelligence Oversight Board’s authority to investigate criminal activities by the Bush administration comes at a time when domestic spying operations have multiplied exponentially.

Last week The Wall Street Journal exposed the NSA’s data-mining capabilities and revealed that the agency was targeting millions of Americans in its electronic driftnet and has compiled terabytes of data on every aspect of lives.

While administration apologists claim such sweeping and intrusive spying is necessary to “keep America safe,” if history is any judge of past intelligence abuses these practices are designed instead, to “keep America in line,” ever-fearful and obedient servants of our capitalist masters.

Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to publishing in Covert Action Quarterly, Love & Rage and Antifa Forum, he is the editor of Police State America: U.S. Military “Civil Disturbance” Planning, distributed by AK Press.

The CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The source and the author’s copyright must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: crgeditor@yahoo.com

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© Copyright Tom Burghardt, Antifascist Calling…, 2008
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FBI Found to Misuse Security Letters By Dan Eggen

Executive Order: President’s Intelligence Advisory Board and Intelligence Oversight Board

Mosaic News – 3/14/08: World News from the Middle East

Dandelion Salad

Note: new tag for all posts on Dandelion Salad



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


For more: http://linktv.org/originalseries
“Iran Election: Conservative Candidates Leading Race,” Al Jazeera English, Qatar
“Iran is the Biggest Threat to Israel,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“Iraqis Want Occupation to End,” New TV, Lebanon
“Chad & Sudan Sign Non-Aggression Pact,” Al Jazeera TV, Qatar
“Shihada’s Last Words,” Al-Alam TV, Iran
“Israel Re-Registers Old City Properties,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“MIR- Iraq: Five More Years?,” Link TV, USA
Produced for Link TV by Jamal Dajani.

Vodpod videos no longer available. from www.youtube.com posted with vodpod


The Fed’s Wall Street Dilemma – Too Big to Bail

Dandelion Salad

By Pam Martens
03/17/08 “Counterpunch

Americans learned two new truths last week from the Bush Administration’s version of Life’s Little Instruction Book: if you’re a Wall Street miscreant you’re thrown a lifeline; if you’re a Wall Street crime fighter you’re thrown a land mine.

In the first effort, the Feds effectively handed a Federal Reserve ATM card to JPMorgan to funnel your tax dollars to the teetering Bear Stearns brokerage firm to address counterparty risks that have been building for at least 4 years as the Feds snoozed. Counterparty risk is the trillions of dollars of insurance contracts (credit default swaps and other derivatives) taken out by Wall Street firms on each others (counterparty) bonds, bundled mortgage and commercial debt (collateralized debt obligations). The firms have used unregulated over-the-counter contracts to perform this risk transfer alchemy and funded their own company, Markit Group Ltd., to take the place of a regulated exchange for price discovery.

In the second effort, the Feds tapped the Department of Justice, Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Attorney’s office in New York, FBI, five federal judges and a busy federal court to root out that Code Red threat to our national security: consensual sex. The sex involved a prostitution ring and Democratic New York State Governor, Eliot Spitzer, who was savaged and forced to step down by an avenging media mob abundantly fed with well placed leaks from a suspiciously homogenous group called “anonymous law enforcement officials.” Governor Spitzer, in his former role as New York State Attorney General, had taken the lead in rooting out Wall Street crimes against small investors because the Federal Reserve was preoccupied with lobbying to remove regulations on Wall Street’s crime factory.

As usual, the Feds handed the bill to the governed with no thought to the will of the governed.

While mainstream media called the Bear Stearns bailout the first brokerage bailout since the Great Depression, in truth it was the second in seven months.

The first brokerage bailout came without all the media fanfare because it arrived not on the wings of a public announcement but in five pages of indecipherable Fed jargon addressed to the General Counsel of Citigroup.

Here is the effective message sent by the Federal Reserve to Citigroup in its letter of August 20, 2007: now that we have allowed you to become both too big to fail and too big to bail by repealing the depression era investor-protection law known as the Glass-Steagall Act at your mere beckoning, we have to bend more rules to keep you afloat. So, for example, the rule that says the Federal Reserve is not allowed to lend to brokerages, just banks, from its discount window can be tweaked for you by lending up to $25 billion to you and then we’ll let you lend it to your brokerage arm. The Federal Reserve Act rule that says a bank can’t loan more than 10% of its capital stock and surplus to its brokerage affiliate, we’ll let you go as high as about 30% and say it’s in the public interest.

By giving Citigroup an exemption from Rule 23A of the Federal Reserve Act, by allowing it to funnel up to $25 Billion from the Fed’s discount window to its brokerage clients who were getting hit with margin calls, the Federal Reserve and Chairman Ben Bernanke telegraphed an incredibly dangerous message to global markets: we’re just as unaccountable as Wall Street. The Federal Reserve as enabler under Alan Greenspan created today’s problem and today’s Crony Fed under Ben Bernanke is killing off what’s left of U.S. financial credibility. (I had barely finished typing these words on Monday, March 17, 2008, when a news alert came across my screen advising that the Federal Reserve was taking the breathtaking step of making direct loans to all brokerage firms which are primary dealers for Treasury securities.)

The Federal Reserve is stumbling around in the dark and regularly bumping into the next bailout because it stopped being an independent monetary force and started taking its marching orders from Wall Street quite some time ago.

Here’s what Nancy Millar, President at the time of the National Organization for Women in New York City, presciently testified in writing to the Securities and Exchange Commission in August 2001. (Ms. Millar edited and signed this testimony while I and other Wall Street activists provided input. This testimony is available in full on the SEC’s web site.)

We thank the Securities and Exchange Commission for extending the comment period to September 4, 2001 in the critical area of bank oversight now that the lines between banks and brokerage firms have been blurred with the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act.

We believe that the comments made in the letter dated June 29, 2001 from the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency should be disregarded in their totality. The banks of America have enough lobbyists and trade associations to argue their case before the SEC. It is not the charter or mandate of these three regulatory bodies to lobby on behalf of banks.

The body of evidence that should dictate how the SEC must now proceed since Congress saw fit to eliminate the critical protections afforded the investing public in the Glass-Steagall Act, resides in the tens of thousands of pages of transcripts of the Pujo Committee hearings held in 1913 and the Pecora Committee hearings of 1933 and 1934. Fancy promises from regulators that banks functioning in the dual role as brokerage firms can and will be self-policing is not what the SEC or Congress should rely on. The well-developed history of egregious abuses bestowed on the investing public prior to the enactment of Glass-Steagall, and since its recent repeal, is what the SEC and Congress must look to. To believe that the dynamics of power and greed have been materially altered in nine decades is to engage in naiveté at the public’s peril.

Our Nation’s prosperity, democracy and the productivity of its citizens demand a level playing field to acquire and safeguard financial assets. Society crumbles when assets achieved through years of honest hard work can be fleeced by brokerage firms masquerading as insured-deposit banks. It is the role of federal regulators to maintain a level playing field through stringent regulation.

We ask that the SEC immediately impose the same regulations that govern outside broker-dealers to securities’ operations within banks. And, we herewith ask Congress to reconsider the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act or be held accountable for the peril that unfolds from this unwise and inadequately deliberated decision.

If ever there was evidence that America is now facing that peril, it was the most recent news that the Bush administration’s much touted “free and efficient market” had priced Bear Stearns at $30 a share at the close of trading on Friday, March 14, 2008 but on further examination of its books over the weekend, it was valued at $2 a share and absorbed by JPMorgan at that price.

Equally troubling is the growing awareness among Wall Street veterans that neither the Federal Reserve nor the U.S. Treasury comprehend was has happened here, much less how to contain it. Here’s what we heard from Hank Paulson, the Treasury Secretary, last week:

“regulation needs to catch up with innovation and help restore investor confidence but not go so far as to create new problems, make our markets less efficient or cut off credit to those who need it.”

Innovation? Less efficient? Is there anything at all that looks innovative or efficient about Wall Street today? It is a seized up house of cards built on a toxic formula of hubris, corruption and free market madness.

Before there is a complete breakdown, Congress must quickly address the five key reasons we have today’s mess on our hands:

(1) Incentive: from mortgage brokers paid higher fees to sell subprime loans rather than prime loans, to stockbrokers paid dramatically higher fees to sell mortgage-backed securities rather than U.S. Treasury securities, to investment bankers paid dramatically higher fees to package Collateralized Debt Obligations rather than issue plain vanilla corporate bonds, Wall Street has been incentivized to greed rather than honest service to investors.

(2) Artificial Demand: The above outsized incentive produced a glut of unwanted and unneeded product that had to be eventually hidden off Wall Street’s balance sheet in Structured Investment Vehicles (SIVs) or dressed up to look like Commercial Paper and buried in mom and pop money market funds. It is this glut and the lack of transparency as to where else this toxic paper is hiding that is creating the fear and panic on Wall Street.

(3) Counterparty Risk: The regulators allowed Wall Street firms/banks to balloon their asset base and pretend they were meeting capital adequacy tests by buying “insurance” in the form of derivative contracts. There was only one problem with these “hedging” techniques; the counterparty in many cases was just another Wall Street firm or an inadequately capitalized municipal bond insurer. Instead of spreading risk, the risk was concentrated among the same players.

(4) Glass-Steagall Act: Congress was incentivized through Wall Street campaign financing to throw reason and judgment out the window and repeal the only law that stood between the country and another 1929. Glass-Steagall must be restored; and public financing of federal campaigns is the only means of restoring the will of the governed to Washington.

Pam Martens worked on Wall Street for 21 years; she has no securities position, long or short, in any company mentioned in this article. She writes on public interest issues from New Hampshire. She can be reached at pamk741@aol.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.


“Bernankerupted”: Bear Stearns Fire-sale sends Global Markets Plunging; Dollar Routed

Massive Debt Default by Mike Whitney

The Total Collapse Of The Global Economy (video)

Major Stock Markets in Asia Tumble + Fed acts Sunday to prevent global bank run Mon

Three Easy Pieces: The Dollar, Paulson & Carlyle Capital By Mike Whitney

“Bernankerupted”: Bear Stearns Fire-sale sends Global Markets Plunging; Dollar Routed

Dandelion Salad

Digg It

By Mike Whitney
03/17/08 “ICH

“It’s a snowball and it keeps getting bigger,” Peggy Furusaka, credit specialist at BNP Paribas SA in Tokyo.

Last night, while America slept, investors and dollar-holders around the world held an impromptu election on US stewardship of the global economy. It was a spontaneous referendum triggered by the sudden collapse of Bear Stearns, but it covered many of the issues that have worried investors for the last seven years: the unfunded Bush tax cuts, the $2 trillion war in Iraq, the Federal Reserves low-interest bubble-making policies, the reckless gutting of US industrial base, the $4 trillion increase to the national debt, the multi-billion dollar “no bid” contracts, the opaque deregulated financial system, and the systematic destruction of the world’s reserve currency. The ballots are still being counted, but the outcome is certain. The Bush administration lost in a landslide. Investors have had enough Bush’s failed leadership and the Fed’s reckless, globally-destabilizing monetary policies. A dollar-rout has already begun in earnest and stock markets around the world are plummeting. The Hang Seng index (Hong Kong) fell 4.3 percent to 21,279.40. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei index slumped 3.7 percent to finish at 11,787.51, falling below 12,000 for the first time since August 2005. Shares throughout Europe tumbled overnight, shaving tens of billions off market capitalization. The Fed’s panicky bailout of Bear Stearns and its surprise quarter-point rate cut has ignited a global equities sell-off and sent the cost of protecting corporate bonds through the roof. The economic tsunami is presently right outside New York ready to touch-down on Wall Street at the opening bell. The futures markets are already gyrating wildly. It should be a raucous St Patrick’s day in the Big Apple.

Bernanke’s 11th Hour Bailout of Bear Sparks Market Freefall

In the end, it was a race with the clock. The Federal Reserve wanted to get a deal done before the Asia markets opened hoping to soothe jittery investors and stop a full-blown stock market crash. It was right down to the wire, too. Less than an hour before trading began on Japan’s Nikkei Index, the sale of beleaguered Investment giant, Bear Stearns was announced on Bloomberg News. Backed by a $30 billion line of credit from the Fed, JP Morgan reluctantly purchased Bear for the bargain-basement price of $240 million or $2 per share. Less than a year ago, Bear was riding high at $170 per share, but that was before the credit python had wrapped itself around US financial markets. That seems like ancient history now. Without the Fed’s intervention the nearly-century old investment warhorse would have been dragged from Wall Street feet first. If the deal with JPM had flipped, Bear would have been forced into bankruptcy.

But Bear’s travails are just the beginning of Wall Street’s woes. Now there’s talk of Lehman Brothers going under. According to the Wall Street Journal:

“Worries are deepening that other securities firms and commercial banks might be on shaky ground. Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. Chief Executive Richard Fuld, concerned about the markets and possible fallout from Bear Stearns’s troubles, cut short a trip to India and returned home Sunday, ahead of schedule, according to people familiar with the matter. The decision came after a series of calls Saturday to both senior executives at the firm and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, these people say.” (“JP Morgan Rescues Bear Stearns”, WSJ)

Mr. Fuld has good reason to be concerned, too. Economics professor Nouriel Roubini says that, “Lehman’s exposure to toxic ABS/MBS securities is as bad as that of Bear: according to Fitch at the beginning of the turmoil Bear Stearns had the highest toxic waste (“residual balance”) exposure as percent of adjusted equity on balance sheet; the exposure of Bear was 54.5% while that of Lehman was only marginally smaller at 53.3%; that of Goldman Sachs was only 21%. And guess what? Today Lehman received a $2 billion unsecured credit line from 40 lenders. Here is another massively leveraged broker dealer that mismanaged its liquidity risk, had massive amount of toxic waste on its books and is now in trouble. Again here we have not only a situation of illiquidity but serious credit problems and losses given the reckless exposure of this second broker dealer to toxic investments.” (Nouriel Roubini’s Global EconoMonitor)

So, it looks like Bear will be just the first of many over-leveraged investment banks on their way to the chopping block. As credit gets tighter, banks will have to call in their loans to pare down their debts and increase their capital. That’s easier said than done in an environment where consumer’s are cutting back on borrowing and traditional revenue streams have dried up. The banks are facing some stiff headwinds in the near future.

The Federal Reserve announced two initiatives on Sunday designed to “bolster market liquidity and promote orderly market functioning.”

The Fed is “creating a lending facility to improve the ability of primary dealers to provide financing to participants in securitization markets. This facility will be available for business on Monday, March 17. It will be in place for at least six months and may be extended as conditions warrant. Credit extended to primary dealers under this facility may be collateralized by a broad range of investment-grade debt securities. The interest rate charged on such credit will be the same as the primary credit rate, or discount rate, at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.”

This is an incredible move and way beyond the Fed’s mandate to insure price stability. Bernanke is now offering to accept dodgy mortgage-backed bonds from NON-BANK institutions. Outrageous. We can be 100% certain now, that Congress’s closed door meeting on Friday had nothing to do with Bush’s spying on American citizens. Most likely, the Fed convened the meeting to present their extraordinary strategy to save the financial system from a Chernobyl-like meltdown.

The Fed also announced a “decrease in the primary credit rate from 3-1/2 percent to 3-1/4 percent (and) an increase in the maximum maturity of primary credit loans to 90 days from 30 days.” (Fed statement)

So Bernanke has not only decided to bailout the banks but everyone else who is even remotely connected to the subprime/securitization swindle. Great. But the rest of the world is not so convinced that this is prudent economic theory, in fact, foreign investors are already shedding US debt instruments faster than any time in history. Let’s hope that Bernanke realizes that foreign Central Banks and investors presently hold $6 trillion dollars of US Treasuries and dollars and can dump it on our shores whenever they choose. That’s enough greenbacks to start a Wiemar-type blizzard that will last until Resurrection Day.

Roubini on the Fed’s plan to provide loans to non-bank institutions:

“By having thrown down the drain the decades old doctrine and rule that the Fed should not lend or bail out non-bank financial institutions the Fed has created an extremely dangerous precedent that seriously aggravates the moral hazard of its lender of last resort support role. If the Fed starts on the slippery slope of providing massive liquidity support to non-bank financial institutions that have recklessly managed their risks it enters into uncharted territory that radically changes its mandate and formal role. Breaking decades-old rules and practices is a radical action that seriously requires a clear public explanation and justification.” (Nouriel Roubini’s Global EconoMonitor)

It’s clear that Bernanke is just making it up as he goes along. His actions are unprecedented and, yes, counterproductive. He’s just generating more panic among investors. That doesn’t help. Just a few months ago, Bernanke was reiterating his belief that markets should operate with as little government intervention as possible. What a transformation. Now he has nationalized the banking system and is providing a backstop for privately owned brokerages. What’s next; a bailout for the hedge funds?

There’s still a great deal that we don’t know about the Bear buyout. Like why was it so important to save a bank that had invested its shareholders money so poorly in toxic bonds that were virtually untested in stressful market conditions?

It is complicated, but the real reason for the bailout is that the entire financial industry is now inextricably bound together through multi-billion dollar counterparty transactions called credit default swaps and other unregulated derivatives. When one major player is stricken, the whole system can violently unwind.

According to the Wall Street Journal: “With each firm intricately intertwined with others in a maze of loans, credit lines, derivatives and swaps, the Fed and Treasury agreed that letting Bear Stearns collapse quickly was a risk not worth taking, because the consequences were simply unknowable. …For Fed officials it was a difficult choice. They did not want to single Bear out for help and they realized their actions aggravated “moral hazard” — the tendency of bailouts to encourage future risky behavior. But the alternative was potentially far worse. Bear risked defaulting on extensive “repo” loans, in which it pledges securities as collateral for overnight loans from money-market funds. If that happened, other securities dealers would see access to repo loans become more restrictive. The pledged securities behind those loans could be dumped in a fire sale, deepening the plunge in securities prices.” (“Fed Races to Rescue Bear Stearns In Bid to Steady Financial System”, Wall Street Journal)

So Bernanke felt like he had no choice. He could either bailout Bear or sit back and watch a daisy-chain of defaults take down one bank after another. Of course, there was another option. The Fed and the SEC could have fulfilled their responsibilities as regulators and insisted that derivatives trading come under the purvue of government officials. But, apparently, that was never a serious consideration among the non-interventionist free market cheerleaders at the Federal Reserve. They saw their job as simply enabling their obscenely rich constituents to get even richer while putting the public at risk. Now it has all ended badly.

Saint Patrick’s Day Financial Chainsaw Massacre

In less than an hour, the stock market will open and investors will get a chance to vote on the Fed’s latest plan to rescue the US financial system. Good luck. The dollar has already sunk to $1.59 per euro, gold is up to $1017 per ounce, and oil topped out at $111 per barrel; all record highs. At the same time, foreign investors have begun an informal boycott of US debt. Last week’s auction of US Treasuries was the worst in a decade. Thus, the anemic greenback has continued its steady decline as the fundamentals get weaker and weaker.

This afternoon, at 2PM, President Bush will meet with the Working Group on Financial Markets (aka; the Plunge Protection Team) at private White House meeting. The group includes the Secretary of the Treasury, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, the Chairman of the SEC, and the Chairman of the Commodity and Futures Trading Commission. The group of financial heavyweights will update the President on developments in the equities markets and explain in greater detail what Henry Paulson calls “the systemic risk posed by hedge funds and derivatives.” Of course, by then, the blood could be running knee-deep down Wall Street.

(Note; “Bernankerupted” invented by Mish blogger named skeptic)

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.


Massive Debt Default by Mike Whitney

The Total Collapse Of The Global Economy (video)

Major Stock Markets in Asia Tumble + Fed acts Sunday to prevent global bank run Mon

Three Easy Pieces: The Dollar, Paulson & Carlyle Capital By Mike Whitney



Hillary Clinton Delivers Major Speech About Iraq

Dandelion Salad


March 17, 2008

Vodpod videos no longer available. from www.youtube.com posted with vodpod



Winter Soldier: Jesse Hamilton + Fight to Survive (videos)

Obama Claims He Opposed Occupation While Funding It, Doesn’t Want to Withdraw Fast

Winter Soldier: Jesse Hamilton + Fight to Survive (videos)

Dandelion Salad


Winter Soldier: Jesse Hamilton

More at http://therealnews.com/c.php?c=080301YT
Hamilton: Death blossoms in Iraq

Monday March 17th, 2008

Winter Soldier: Fight to Survive

More at http://therealnews.com/c.php?c=080301YT
Winter Soldier: Garrett Reppenhagen Iraq vet and anti-war blogger

Monday March 17th, 2008

Garrett Reppenhagen enlisted in the US Army one month before September 11th. He was stop-lossed and performed sniper missions in and around Baquaba in the Diyala Province for one year. While in service in Iraq, he was outspoken against the war in one of the first military blogs Fight to Survive. He joined the the IVAW while deployed in the summer of 2004.

Winter Soldier Jason Hurd on DN-IVAW


Moving evocative testimony fm a 10 yr Vet.

Winter Soldier Jon Turner on DN-FCK the Corps

Democracy Now coverage of the Winter Soldier even in Washington DC-Testimony of the Iraq Occupation.


BBC Coverage of Winter Soldier

Winter Soldiers Testimony (videos)

Iraq war veterans accuse US military of coverups (videos)

US/IRAQ: Rules of Engagement “Thrown Out the Window” by Dahr Jamail

Winter soldier testimonials + Hart Viges (videos)

Bush versus Chavez by Stephen Lendman

Dandelion Salad

by Stephen Lendman
Global Research, March 17, 2008

Imagine the following – the nation Martin Luther King called “The Greatest Purveyor of Violence in the World Today” may brand democratic Venezuela a state sponsor of terrorism if extremist lawmakers on the Hill get their way.

On March 12, George Bush accused Hugo Chavez of backing Colombian-based “terrorists” and using Venezuela’s oil wealth for an anti-American campaign. He further claimed Chavez has a “thirst for power….of squander(ing his country’s) oil wealth….of prais(ing a) terrorist leader as a good revolutionary and order(ing) his troops to the Colombian border. This is the latest step in a disturbing pattern of provocative behavior by the regime in Caracas. He has also called for FARC terrorists to be recognized as a legitimate army (and his) senior regime officials have met with FARC leaders in Venezuela.”

At the same time, 21 extremist lawmakers want Venezuela named a state sponsor of terrorism and added to the State Department’s list of five others for “repeatedly provid(ing) support for acts of international terrorism” under three US laws:

— the Export Administration Act, section 6 (j);

— the Arms Export Control Act, section 40; and

— the Foreign Assistance Act, section 620A.

Countries now listed include – Syria (1979), Cuba (1982), Iran (1984), North Korea (1988), and Sudan (1993). Designation triggers sanctions that “penalize persons and countries engaging in certain trade with state sponsors.”

The US Code Definition of Terrorism

The US Code defines “international terrorism” as follows:

(A) “violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State, or that would be a criminal violation if committed within the jurisdiction of the United States or of any State;

(B) appear to be intended –

(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;

(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or

(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and

(C) occur primarily outside the territorial jurisdiction of the United States….”

The US Army Operational Concept for Terrorism (TRADOC Pamphlet No. 525-37, 1984) shortens the definition to be “the calculated use of violence or threat of violence to attain goals that are political, religious, or ideological in nature….through intimidation, coercion, or instilling fear.”

The US Definition of War Crimes – Part I, Chapter 118, Number 2441 of the US Code

(a) “Offense. – Whoever, whether inside or outside the United States, commits a war crime, in any of the circumstances described in subsection (b), shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for life or any term of years, or both, and if death results to the victim, shall also be subject to the penalty of death.

(b) Circumstances. – The circumstances referred to in subsection (a) are that the person committing such war crime or the victim of such war crime is a member of the Armed Forces or a national of the United States (as defined in section 101 of the Immigration and Nationality Act).

(c) Definition. – As used in this section the term “war crime” means any conduct –

(1) defined as a grave breach in any of the international conventions signed at Geneva 12 August 1949, or any protocol to such convention to which the United States is a party;

(2) prohibited by Article 23, 25, 27, or 28 of the Annex to the Hague Convention IV, Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land, signed 18 October 1907;

(3) which constitutes a violation of common Article 3 of the international conventions signed at Geneva, 12 August 1949, or any Protocol to such convention to which the United States is a party and which deals with non-international armed conflict; or

(4) of a person who, in relation to an armed conflict and contrary to the provisions of the Protocol on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Mines, Booby-Traps and Other Devices as amended at Geneva on 3 May 1996 (Protocol II as amended on 3 May 1996), when the United States is a party to such Protocol, willfully kills or causes serious injury to civilians.”

Two Hemispheric Neighbors Worlds Apart

Under US terrorism and war crimes statutes as well as by any international standard, the US is a flagrant and serial abuser. The record is hardly disputable in spite of efforts made to sanitize it.

In contrast, Hugo Chavez seeks unity; wants stability; embraces his neighbors; and promotes global solidarity, equality and political, economic and social justice quite mirror opposite to Washington’s conquest and imperial agenda. Unlike America, Venezuela doesn’t attack or threaten other nations. It offers no-strings aid (including low-priced oil to US cities) and mutually beneficial trade and other alliances.

Chavez champions human rights, has no secret prisons, doesn’t practice torture or state-sponsored killings, respects the law and everyone’s rights under it. He’s a true social democrat in a participatory democracy, and has been elected and reelected overwhelmingly under procedures independently judged open, free and fair. That’s what Bolivarianism is about, but try hearing that from Washington or the dominant media using any pretext to vilify it and the man who leads it.

Chavez is a hero in the region and around the world, and that makes him Washington’s target. Imagine the Bush administration matching his December 31 gesture or the media reporting it fairly. He granted amnesty to imprisoned 2002 coup plotters, except for those who fled the country. The decree pardoned figures accused in the scheme, who took over state television at the time, who tried to murder him in recent years, and who later sabotaged state oil company PDVSA during the 2002 – 2003 management lockout. He also pardoned 36 other prisoners in a conciliatory measure to turn “the page (and direct the) country….toward peace.”

In a post-9/11 environment, here’s how Washington rewards him:

— he’s relentlessly targeted by measures that so far stop short of disrupting business;

— on December 11, three Venezuelans and one Uruguayan were arrested and charged in US federal court with acting and conspiring as agents of the Venezuelan government without having notified the US Attorney General; they were accused of conspiring to conceal the source, destination and role of the Venezuelan government to deliver $800,000 to Argentina with a US businessman as conduit;

— on November, 2007, by conspiring with Colombia to halt mediation efforts with the FARC-EP for the release of 45 hostages at the time, including three US contractors;

— for repeatedly denying Venezuela’s extradition request for Luis Posada Carriles who’s wanted for outstanding crimes and in spite of a legally-binding extradition treaty between the countries dating since 1923;

— on November 5, for approving H. Res. 435 EH (by voice vote) condemning Iran as the “most active state sponsor of terrorism;” it also targeted Venezuela with examples of relations between the two countries that are hostile to Washington;

— on September 14, 2007, citing Venezuela for the third consecutive year for failing to observe international counternarcotics agreements;

— on June 21, for approving representative Connie Mack’s H. Amdt. to H.R. 2764 to direct $10 million for propaganda broadcasting into Venezuela;

— on June 12, the State Department targeted Venezuela in its annual Trafficking in Persons Report that placed the country in Tier 3 status for not making adequate efforts to combat trafficking in persons;

— on May 24, for unanimously approving S. Res. 211 condemning Venezuela’s disregard for free expression for not renewing (one of) RCTV’s operating licenses;

— on May 14, for the second consecutive year, condemning Venezuela for not fully cooperating in antiterrorism efforts; other nations listed were Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Syria;

— on April 30, the State Department condemned Venezuela for being unwilling to prevent the country’s territory from being used as a safe haven by Colombian “terrorist groups;”

— on March 6, the State Department cited Venezuela’s human rights situation showed “politicization of the judiciary, harassment of the media, and harassment of the political opposition;”

— on March 1, the State Department condemned Venezuela for being one of the principal hemispheric drug transit countries because of its location, rampant high-level corruption, weak judicial system, and lack of international counternarcotics cooperation;

— on February 7, Secretary Rice accused Chavez of “assault(ing) democracy in Venezuela (and) destroying his own country economically (and) politically;” and

— on January 11, National Intelligence Director (and serial killer) John Negroponte accused Chavez of being “among the most stridently anti-American leaders anywhere in the world (whose) try(ing) to undercut US influence in Venezuela, in the rest of Latin America, and elsewhere internationally;” he also said his military purchases were threatening his neighbors and could fuel a regional arms race.

The above examples only covered 2007 with many comparable and more extreme ones in earlier years. Excluded as well are continuing covert actions with open-checkbook funding to destabilize and topple the Chavez government. One of them is what Latin American expert James Petras mentions in his March 12 article on the FARC-EP and “The Cost of Unilateral Humanitarian Initiatives.” He explains that Chavez’s diplomatic rapprochement with Uribe won’t halt “large-scale (Columbian) paramilitary (infiltration into) Venezuela (that) destabiliz(e) the country” because Washington wants it continued.

So far, actions have stopped short of disrupting business, but anything is possible before January 2009 or thereafter. Washington fears Chavismo’s good example. It’s strengthening, spreading and creating angst in American hard right circles and for Democrats as well.

Charges and Countercharges

The March 13 Wall Street Journal reported that US intelligence officials have been examining “computer files (claimed to have been) seized from (FARC-EP) guerrillas earlier this month by Colombian commandos.” The Uribe government (with no supportive evidence) says they show Chavez “was in contact with the rebels and plann(ed) to give them $300 million. If true, that could open Venezuela to US sanctions,” but Washington will likely use lesser measures instead.

White House National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe gave no indication either way in stating: “Our intelligence agencies are looking at the material acquired….and we will see where that lands.” Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Thomas Shannon said: “Declaring somebody a state sponsor of terrorism is a big step, a serious step. It’s one that we will only take after very careful consideration of all the evidence.” For her part, Secretary Rice was true to form adding: “it is an obligation of every member of the United Nations…not to support terrorists.”

There was more as well from an unidentified senior US official who said government lawyers were asked to clarify “what goes into effect in terms of prohibitions or prohibited activities” when a “state sponsor” designation is made. He added that if Washington accepts the computer documents as valid, then “I think it will beg the question of whether or not Venezuela, given Chavez’s interactions with the FARC, has….crossed the threshold of state sponsor of terror.”

Former State Department arms trafficking expert, James Lewis, explained further. He said “state sponsor” (designation) immediately imposes (restrictions) on the abilities of US companies to work in” the country. They’ll be “forbidden from operating there, forbidden from receiving any money from Venezuela. It would make it very hard for Venezuela to sell oil to the US. All the arrangements we have now where Venezuelan oil is routinely sent to the United States would have to stop.” Lewis stopped short of speculating this will happen, but his tone suggests it’s unlikely. Corporate interests would also balk because business in Venezuela is booming, so are profits, and at a time companies are struggling for every source they can get.

That wasn’t on Mary Anastasia O’Grady’s mind in her March 10 Wall Street Journal column. She was all venom and agitprop in her commentary on “The FARC Files – Four presidents (Chavez, Correa, Morales and Ortega), four best friends of terrorists.” She claimed laptop documents “show that Mr. Chavez and (FARC-EP leader) Reyes were not only ideological comrades, but also business partners and political allies in the effort to wrest power from Mr. Uribe.” She also attacked the FARC-EP with a menu of charges, including efforts to buy 50 kilos of uranium for a possible dirty bomb and a (mysterious) letter explaining “terrorist efforts to acquire missiles from Lebanon.” And she jumped on four regional leaders for “support(ing) FARC violence and treachery against Mr. Uribe.”

On the same page, a Journal editorial referred to the “Venezuelan strongman” and “Chavez Democrats” who help “our enemy by spurning our best Latin ally,” and it “isn’t the first time Democrats have (done it), but it would be the most destructive.” The reference is to the Colombia (US) Free Trade Agreement. It’s stalled in Congress and likely dead this session with Democrats not wanting to touch it in an election year – unless they can cut a deal with the administration for something they want.

The Journal blasts them and Jimmy Carter, too, for blessing Chavez’s 2004 electoral victory. It then claimed Democrats “oppose the deal on grounds that Mr. Uribe has not done more to protect ‘trade unionists.’ In fact, Mr. Uribe has done more to reduce violence in Colombia than any modern leader in Bogota. The real question for Democrats is whether they’re going to choose Colombia – or Hugo Chavez.” And the beat goes on with 10 more months under George Bush for it to boil over and plenty of media support heating things up.

In the face of criticism, Caracas wasn’t quiet. Reaction was swift with Venezuela’s OAS representative, Jorge Valero, calling the administration “the terrorist government par excellence….an aberration, an absolutely stupid thing to say (by a government in Washington) that practices state terrorism, that has invaded Iraq and Afghanistan without respect for international law, that commits genocidal practices (around) the world, that has invaded Latin American and Caribbean countries, that aims to present itself as the moral conscience of the world.”

Venezuela’s Information Minister, Andres Izarra, added that US officials are considering measures against Venezuela because “they are searching for new ways to attack….and move forward with their plan to finish with the Bolivarian Revolution.”

In a March 14 televised speech, Hugo Chavez dared the Bush administration to designate Venezuela a state sponsor of terrorism. He said doing it is Washington’s response to the country’s success and added: “We shouldn’t forget for an instant that we’re in a battle against North American imperialism and that they have classified us as enemies – at least in this continent they have us as enemy No. 1.” Their “imperial plan is to overthrow this government and knock down the Bolivarian Revolution. They’re afraid of (its impact in) Latin America” (and, indeed, he’s right).

As for allegedly paying $300 million to the FARC-EP, the Venezuelan government denounced the claim as an “exercise in falsification (and added) that the only foreign government that finances the conflict in Colombia is the United States.” Caracas also affirms that its only guerrilla contacts were for hostage releases with key peace interlocutor Reyes now dead because of Colombia’s (made in USA) incursion.

Other countries have also negotiated, including France, Ecuador and the US as recently declassified documents show. In 1998, Philip Chicola, State Department Office of Andean Affairs director, met secretly in Costa Rica with FARC-EP leaders Reyes and Olga Marin after Secretary of State Albright designated the group a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) in 1997.

In the end, where will this lead with views on that score mixed. Venezuela is America’s third or fourth largest oil supplier, the price of crude now tops $100 a barrel, and the Wall Street Journal suggests measures far short of cutting off a vital supply source are likely. Other analysts agree because ending trade would harm both countries at a time world markets are roiled and the US economy is shaky.

Nonetheless, Republican congressman Connie Mack says Chavez “is using his vast oil wealth to fund terrorism in his own backyard (and it’s) critical that the administration now act swiftly and decisively” against him. On March 13, he and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen introduced H. Res.10-49 (with eight co-sponsors) “calling for the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to be designated a state sponsor of terrorism” and “condemn(ing) the Venezuelan government for its support of terrorist organizations” with direct reference to the FARC-EP.

Even with support in Congress, this effort won’t likely get far according to Venezuelan expert Dan Hellinger. He notes how anti-Chavez forces are capitalizing on events but says “the odds are against them precisely because I think there’s probably not much interest in the Congress (overall) in terms of making things worse with Venezuela at the moment.” Key State Department diplomats aren’t “likely….to want to pour gasoline on the fire” or take any action that may harm the economy in an election year and on an issue that’s mainly an administration one – and a lame duck one on the way out.

Michael Shifter of the Inter-American Dialogue went further in suggesting Latin American leaders won’t tolerate designating Venezuela a state sponsor of terrorism and “would react very strongly, because of all the political, security, and economic implications.”

It remains to be seen what’s next, but Chavez knows what he’s up against from a rogue administration in Washington with lots of time left to destroy Bolivarianism, oust its main proponent, vaporize Venezuela, and end the republic if that’s what it has in mind. Stay tuned for further updates in Bush v. Chavez.

Global Research Associate Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Global Research New Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Mondays from 11AM – 1PM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests.


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Latin America rejects Bush doctrine by Federico Fuentes

FARC-EP: The Cost of Unilateral Humanitarian Initiatives by Prof. James Petras

Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia, 9/11 victims (video)

Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia, 9/11 victims (video)

Dandelion Salad


In the novel ‘1984’ the phrase Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.

An example of doublethink in George Orwell’s novel 1984. The totalitarian government of Oceania is constantly at war with one of the other two totalitarian superpowers that dominate the world: Eurasia and Eastasia. The objective is not to win the war, but to maintain a constant state of war in order to keep its citizens under control. When it is at war with Eastasia, the government declares that it has always been at war with Eastasia, that its people are an eternally hated enemy that must be destroyed. When the sides change, the same thing is said about Eurasia. It is considered every patriotic citizen’s duty to believe both statements are true.

9/11 victim family members speaks out.

Michael Moore, Dennis Kucinich, and Maurice Hinchey

Vodpod videos no longer available. from www.youtube.com posted with vodpod


Shame On Joe Scarborough, MSM & Obama Part 1

Dandelion Salad



The American people don’t deserve
to be manipulated and lied to.

10: http://www.cafepress.com/reppress.241…

10: http://www.cafepress.com/itisdepraved…

10: http://www.cafepress.com/itwassupport…

10: http://www.cafepress.com/stopbushchen…

Vodpod videos no longer available. from www.youtube.com posted with vodpod


Fight for equality, land and oil in Sudan (video)

Dandelion Salad


An oil rich region of Sudan is seen by some as the tinderbox for Africa’s next war.

Abyei is sandwiched between North and South.

But a referendum in three years time will decide whether to merge with southern Sudan.

Tension is already brewing over grazing rights between the African Dinka and the Misseriya Arabs who move south every winter.

The Dinka believe the Arabs are only guests on their territory and should recognise their right to the land.

Mohamed Vall found a tribe fearing for their way of life.

March 17, 2008

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