Shame on ABC: Enough distractions! + Was the Philly Debate Just A GOTCHA Games Contest?

Dandelion Salad

Anyone remember the kind of questions Kucinich and Gravel received when they were allowed in to some of the “debates” last year? Whatever happened to the League of Women Voters sponsoring real debates? ~ Lo


Was the Philly Debate Just A GOTCHA Games Contest?

April 17, 2008 MSNBC News


Shame on ABC: Enough distractions!

Sign the petition:…

On April 16, ABC let voters down with their abysmal debate. Bad debates aren’t just painful to watch–they actually hurt the country. Sign the petition telling media “enough distractions – ask about issues that affect people’s lives.



Charlie Gibson, George Stephanopoulos Lose Debate

By Matthew Rothschild
April 16, 2008

What a painful debate to watch! Where is Dennis Kucinich when you need him? At least Kucinich dared to point out how off base the “moderators” were in some of the debates he was in.

I waited impatiently during the whole first half of the debate for Barack Obama to upbraid Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos for dwelling on trivial, gotcha aspects of the campaign instead of the substantive issues that beset us all as a nation.



Matt Gonzalez answers the debate questions on Democracy Now (videos)

Clinton vs Obama Philly Debate 04.16.08 (parts 7-12) + Debate in 30 Seconds

Clinton vs Obama Philly Debate 04.16.08 (parts 1-6)

Countdown: Double Talk McLieberman + ABC News Attacks Obama In Debate

Legendary cult deprogrammer tapped to deprogram Bush supporters by R J Shulman (satire)


by R J Shulman
Dandelion Salad
featured writer
Robert’s blog post
April 17, 2008

SAN DIEGO – In a desperate effort to rescue their loved ones from a dangerous cult led by George W Bush, a group of concerned relatives and friends have convinced retired cult de-programmer Ted Patrick to help them. Patrick is considered to be the father of cult deprogramming, earning the nickname “Black Lightning” for the daring methods he used to rescue children from cults, often leading to Patrick’s arrests and incarceration.

“It really wasn’t that hard to get him to leave retirement,” said Sally Schwinhouser, whose son Oscar voted for Bush twice. “Ted said that the Bush cult is the most dangerous he’s ever seen. Ted said he could help my Oscar,” Schwinhouser said through tears. Patrick confirmed his return by telling the Post Times Sun Dispatch that Bush followers are so dangerous that it makes Scientology and Jonestown seem like a junior high pep club. “I’ll get Bush’s followers to snap back to reality, if I have to kidnap the whole damn state of Kansas,” Patrick said.

“I don’t give Patrick much thought,” said Bush. “I don’t really care if some name-calling anti-American terrorist killers like Ted Patrick make me the person on their wanted most posters.”

“We expect to be able to snap thousands out of their mindless support of Bush,” said Wally Carmichael, whose brother Bill actually donated money to Bush’s campaign. “I am hopeful we can make Billy realize that Bush is not some kind of cowboy decider and that ‘yippie yi yo’ is not a viable foreign policy.”

Mosaic News – 4/16/08: World News from the Middle East

Dandelion Salad



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


For more:
“Israeli Soldiers Killed in Gaza Clashes,” Al Jazeera TV, Qatar
“Deadly Fighting in Gaza Kills Three,” IBA TV, Israel
“Israel’s Dimona Reactor Causing Health Problems,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“China Hosts Iranian Nuclear Talks,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“Ahmadinejad: US Invades Afghanistan & Iraq Under 9/11 Pretext,” IRIB2 TV, Iran
“Students Return to the Golan,” Syria TV, Syria
“Primary Elections Begin in Kuwait,” Dubai TV, UAE
“Baghdad Spends 900 Million on Iraqis Abroad,” Baghdad TV, Iraq
“Ogden Female Fighters,” Al Jazeera English, Qatar
Produced for Link TV by Jamal Dajani.

Vodpod videos no longer available. from posted with vodpod


Documents Describe Murder & Torture Of Prisoners In U.S. Custody

Dandelion Salad

04/17/08 “ACLU

Newly Released Government Documents Show Special Forces Used Illegal Interrogation Techniques In Afghanistan


The American Civil Liberties Union obtained documents today from the Department of Defense confirming the military’s use of unlawful interrogation methods on detainees held in U.S. custody in Afghanistan. The documents from the military’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID), obtained as a result of the ACLU’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit, include the first on-the-ground reports of torture in Gardez, Afghanistan to be publicly released.

“These documents make it clear that the military was using unlawful interrogation techniques in Afghanistan,” said Amrit Singh, an attorney with the ACLU. “Rather than putting a stop to these systemic abuses, senior officials appear to have turned a blind eye to them.”

Special Operations officers in Gardez admitted to using what are known as Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) techniques, which for decades American service members experienced as training to prepare for the brutal treatment they might face if captured.

Today’s documents reveal charges that Special Forces beat, burned, and doused eight prisoners with cold water before sending them into freezing weather conditions. One of the eight prisoners, Jamal Naseer, died in U.S. custody in March 2003. In late 2004, the military opened a criminal investigation into charges of torture at Gardez. Despite numerous witness statements describing the evidence of torture, the military’s investigation concluded that the charges of torture were unsupported. It also concluded that Naseer’s death was the result of a “stomach ailment,” even though no autopsy had been conducted in his case. Documents uncovered today also refer to sodomy committed by prison guards; the victims’ identities are redacted.

“These documents raise serious questions about the adequacy of the military’s investigations into prisoner abuse,” added Singh.

The ACLU also obtained today a file today related to the death of Muhammad Al Kanan, a prisoner held at Camp Bucca in Iraq. The file reveals that British doctors refused to issue a death certificate for fear of being sued for malpractice:

In October 2003, the ACLU – along with the Center for Constitutional Rights, Physicians for Human Rights, Veterans for Common Sense, and Veterans for Peace – filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act for records concerning the treatment of prisoners in U.S. custody abroad. To date, more than 100,000 pages of government documents have been released in response to the ACLU’s FOIA lawsuit.

Attorneys in the FOIA case are Lawrence S. Lustberg and Melanca D. Clark of the New Jersey-based law firm Gibbons, P.C.; Jameel Jaffer, Singh and Judy Rabinovitz of the ACLU; Arthur Eisenberg and Beth Haroules of the New York Civil Liberties Union; and Shayana Kadidal and Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

In addition, many of the FOIA documents are also located and summarized in a recently published book by Jaffer and Singh, Administration of Torture. More information is available online at:

The documents received in the ACLU’s FOIA litigation are online at:

All of today’s documents are available at:

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.

Bush Speech on Global Climate Change + US climate change plan branded ‘Neanderthal’

Dandelion Salad

Updated: April 18, 2008 See article below. ~ Lo

What economical growth? ~ Lo


April 16, 2008
C-SPAN Bush Coverage


global warming

click the pic for a larger view.




US climate change plan branded ‘Neanderthal’
April 17, 2008

A new plan from US President George Bush which aims to cap greenhouse gases by 2025 has been dismissed as “disastrous” and “Neanderthal” by a group of ministers at a climate change meeting in Paris.

This week Mr Bush said he wanted to stop the growth of US emissions by 2025, taking a stronger stance on the issue than in the past.

However his plan, announced at a ministerial-level meeting of major carbon emitters, has drawn criticism from delegates from Australia, the European Union and some US participants.


h/t: CLG


Cheney Goes After Olbermann at the Correspondents Dinner

The End of the World as You Know It… & the Rise of the New Energy World Order

A land without water + The Iceman (videos)

More than 3 billion people condemned to premature death from hunger & thirst

The Waking Up Syndrome

The Most IMPORTANT Video You’ll Ever See (videos; Parts 1-4)

The Most IMPORTANT Video You’ll Ever See (videos; Parts 5- 8 )

How It All Ends: Your Mission (global warming; must-see videos)

How It All Ends (Global Warming; must-see video; links)

Reuters cameraman talks to Al Jazeera + Deadly day in Gaza

Dandelion Salad


Reuters cameraman talks to Al Jazeera – 17 April 08

Fadl Shanaa, who was killed by an Israeli missile on April 16, spoke to Al Jazeera in February.

He was interviewed as part of a series called ‘Shoot the Messenger’ that focuses on the increased dangers that journalists are facing in covering the story. He had survived an Israeli air raid in 2006.

Deadly day in Gaza – 17 Apr 2008

Al Jazeera’s Jacky Rowland reports from Gaza where a Reuters cameraman, Fadl Shanaa, was killed by Israeli troops.

Shanaa was covering the most recent of clashes that resulted in 17 other Palestinian deaths. Ehud Olmert, Israel’s prime minister, said that Hamas was “responsible” for the violence.


Palestinians killed in Israeli raids into Gaza + Israeli Torture (vids; over 18 only)

Matt Gonzalez answers the debate questions on Democracy Now (videos)

Dandelion Salad

Updated: Added links from Democracy Now

Nader’s Running Mate Matt Gonzalez on the Dems, the War and the Strategy for November

We speak with independent vice-presidential candidate, Matt Gonzalez, who is running on Ralph Nader’s ticket in November. Gonzalez is a San Francisco-based attorney and the former president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. In 2003, he ran for mayor of San Francisco on the Green Party ticket but lost in a close race to Democrat Gavin Newsom. [includes rush transcript]

Real Video Stream

Real Audio Stream

MP3 Download

Transcript: Nader’s Running Mate Matt Gonzalez on the Dems, the War and the Strategy for November ~ Lo



from posted with vodpod



Clinton vs Obama Philly Debate 04.16.08 (parts 7-12) + Debate in 30 Seconds

Clinton vs Obama Philly Debate 04.16.08 (parts 1-6)

Countdown: Double Talk McLieberman + ABC News Attacks Obama In Debate

Ralph Nader posts

Nader for President 2008

The End of the World as You Know It… & the Rise of the New Energy World Order

Dandelion Salad

By Tom Engelhardt
April 16, 2008

It’s strange that the business and geopolitics of energy takes up so little space on American front pages — or that we could conduct an oil war in Iraq with hardly a mention of the words “oil” and “war” in the same paragraph in those same papers over the years. Strange indeed. And yet, oil rules our world and energy lies behind so many of the headlines that might seem to be about other matters entirely.

Continue reading

Iran should be “Set Up for an Attack” – The Agenda Behind The Anti-Sadr Agenda

Dandelion Salad

by Muriel Mirak-Weissbach

Global Research, April 16, 2008

When Gen. David Petraeus along with U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker gave their testimony to the Senate on April 9, they did nothing more than to confirm in spades what had been being mooted and duly leaked by the Washington-based press: that the Bush-Cheney Administration had officially endorsed the line that Iran should be set up for attack, on grounds that it–and not any indigenous resistance–were responsible for the mounting death toll among American troops in Iraq.

While claiming security had improved, Petraeus said the violence involving the Mahdi Army of Moqtadar al Sadr “highlighted the destructive role Iran has played in funding, training, arming and directing the so-called ‘special groups'” which, he added, “pose the greatest long-term threat to the viability of a democratic Iraq.” (See Washington Post, April 9, 2008 ). Petraeus even granted that Syria had cut the alleged flow of fighters into Iraq, only to stress by con trast, that “Iran has fuelled the violence in a particularly damaging way, through its lethal support to the special groups.” Finally, Petraeus specified that the “special groups” were run by Iran’s Qods force, the Revolutionary Guards recently placed in the category of terrorists..

There was nothing new about the line: Dick Cheney had dispatched Maj. Gen. Kevin Bergner last year to Iraq, with the task of finding a smoking gun, or, better, a couple of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) with “made in Iran” stamped on them. What was new in the testimony of the top U.S. military and diplomatic officials in the war zone, were the categorical statements, uttered with an air of certainty usually backed up by courtroom evidence, that Iran was the culprit, and the implicit conclusion that Iran must be the target of U.S. aggression. In order to make sure that (as Nixon would have said), the point be perfectly clear, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley was trotted out to tell an enthusiastic Fox News reporter on April 13, that indeed Iran was the casus belli; Iran is “training Iraqis in Iran who come into Iraq and attack our forces, Iraqi forces, Iraqi civilians.” And, therefore, Hadley went on, “We will go after their surrogate operations in Iraq that are killing our forces, killing Iraqi forces.” ( Although Defense Secretary Robert Gates was saying almost simultaneously that he thought “the chances of us stumbling into a confrontation with Iran are very low,” he, too, repeated the mantra that the Iranians were sending weapons into the south of Iraq, etc. etc. President George W. Bush could not be left out of the dramatic build-up, and blessed Petraeus’s testimony with an order for a halt in the troop reductions.

Pat Buchanon performed an important service in immediately blowing the whistle on this fraud, and his piece, “General Petraeus Points to War with Iran,” has fortunately received wide coverage. (, 11.04.2008,, 12.04.2008. ) One would hope that Seymous Hersh would come forth with further ammunition in the fight to prevent an all-too-likely attack against Iran. They are at it again, they are serious, and must be stopped.

The Anti-Shi’ite Surge

But, if war is indeed on the agenda, as Global Research has documented over months, one question to be raised, is: how does the recent “surge” in military actions against the Moqtadar al-Sadr forces, in Basra, Baghdad and numerous other Iraqi cities, fold into the current military-political gameplan? The massive joint U.S.-Iraqi operations at the end of March, against the Mahdi Army, were, militarily speaking, a fiasco. The news reported by AFP on April 14 that the Iraqi government has sacked 1,300 Iraqi troops for not having performed as expected (i.e., for having deserted or joined the enemy) is a not-so-eloquent acknowledgement of this embarrassing fact. And, as has been generally acknowledged by now, it was only due to the diplomatic intervention of Iranian authorities, that the conflict was ended, leading to the decision of al-Sadr to cease hostilities.

Now, however, that ill-conceived offensive has been relaunched in the wake of the performances by the Petraeus-Crocker-Hadley trio, and with a vengeance. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki told CNN on April 7, that the offensive against al-Mahdi would continue “until a decisive victory is achieved .. a victory that will not allow these people to attack the Green Zone or other areas.” To signal the renewed thrust, Riyad al-Nuri, the director of al Sadr’s Najaf office, and his brother-in-law, was brutally murdered in the holy city on April 11. Joint U.S.-Iraqi military incursions have continued in Sadr City. Where will this lead? To victory? If so, how does one define victory? If the joint U.S.-Iraqi military operations physically eliminate al-Sadr’s forces, it will only be as a result of the deployment of massive brute force as has not yet been used. In this tragic case, the political effect would likely not be the decimation of that political force, but its enhancement. It should not be forgotten that Moqtadar al-Sadr himself comes from a family of martyrs.

One consideration in the minds of the U.S. strategists of the anti-Sadr war, is that they must wipe his organization off the Iraqi political map well before elections take place next October, elections in which his followers could make significant gains, expanding their current 30-seat presence in parliament to a considerable power. The Al-Sadr phenomenon in Iraq is, in this sense, not so different from the Hamas phenomenon in Palestine; both are militant (and military) formations fighting against foreign occupation, while also providing crucial social services to their people, be it schools, clinics, hospitals or the like. It is in this light that one must read the decision by the Iraqi cabinet on April 14 to exclude militias from that vote, i.e. to exclude any political parties that have armed militias. Clearly, this is aimed at al-Sadr. If one were to ask: What about the Badr Brigade, which is the militia of the Shi’ite party, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI), le d by Abdel-Aziz al-Hakim? one might get the answer: that is no longer to be considered a separate militia, but works as part of the Iraqi military forces.

Intra-Shi’ite Conflict Targets Iran

But there is more to the story. The usual assumption made by U.S. military and political leaders, and shared by too many press outlets, is that the conflict inside Iraq should now be reduced to a fight among rival Shi’ite factions: that the ISCI and al-Sadr group are competing for control over Basra, an oil-rich and strategically situated province; that al-Maliki, whose own Shi’ite party Al Dawa, depends on the support of al-Hakim’s faction to survive; that, in sum, the name of the game is intra-Shi’ite conflict.(1)

Yes, the political rivalries among the three main Shi’ite factions in Iraq do exist. To be sure, neither al-Maliki nor al-Hakim would welcome the emergence of a majority force in parliament led by the al-Sadr group. But this is not the salient feature of the situation. Rather, as was shown in the recent, short-lived halt to the operations against al-Sadr, it was Iran which was decisive. The most important factor to be considered, in understanding the current crisis, at least from the inside, is this: Iran has excellent relations with {all three} major Shi’ite factions in Iraq, despite their internal differences. The ISCI, it will be remembered, was given hospitality in Iran, during its years-long exile under the Saddam Hussein regime. Moqtadar al-Sadr enjoys support from Iran. And the greatest foreign support that the al-Maliki government has, is from Tehran.

So, who can be expected to gain from exacerbating the intra-Shi’ite conflict? Most obviously, the U.S. as the occupying power. As qualified Iranian sources have stressed to this author, Iran’s power lies in its ability to promote and mediate cooperation among all these factions, as dramatically demonstrated in its mediating the end to the first anti-Sadr offensive at the end of March. The occupying power is seen as intent on utilizing intra-Shi’ite conflict to damage each of these factions, and to hurt Iran.

One generally ignored, but important factor noted by the same Iranian sources, is the factionalized situation {within} the al-Sadr movement. Moqtadar al-Sadr is seen by these sources as a fervently committed fighter, who, however, views the situation from a somewhat narrowly defined local standpoint: he wants to style himself as the leader of the Shia in Iraq, indeed as the national leader–even more national than al-Maliki. His ambitions, according to some, go beyond this; he sees himself as a future leader of the Muslims overall. At the same time, there is a faction within the al-Sadr movement, considered a “sub-group,” which is controlled by outside forces, in Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and also the U.S. This sub-group is seen as responsible for provocative actions designed to destabilize Iraq, and therefore welcoming any U.S.-Iraqi joint offensive against al-Sadr. The main reason for this, is that the foreign sponsors of this sub-group, whether Saudi or Emirate or America n, are intent on weakening, discrediting and ultimately replacing al-Maliki as Prime Minister of Iraq, while at the same time undermining the role of al-Hakim. A slaughter against al Sadr’s forces could doom the al-Maliki government. To put it simply: these outside influences, who are thinking strategically, are hoping to pit al-Sadr against both al-Hakim and al-Maliki; the al-Sadr forces, who are thinking on a more limited, local level, see themselves as competitors to the other two groupings, for future political leadership in Iraq, and miss the point about the broader strategic picture.

In short, the U.S.’s enthusiastic order to al-Maliki to launch his anti-al-Sadr purge, is actually a ploy to discredit and destroy al-Maliki himself, and prepare for permanent occupation. Vice President Dick Cheney has made no secret of the fact that he would like to replace al-Maliki, whom he has always accused of being too close to the Iranians, with one of his own, like Iyad Allawi, and that might be what is in the offing. Another benefit to discrediting al-Maliki is that the Cheney-Bush crew can further argue that, since al-Maliki and. co. have proven unable to deal with the al-Sadr threat alone, U.S. occupying forces should remain for a longer priod of time, if not for the one-hundred years that John McCain is fantasizing about.

Enter Condi Rice

To complete the picture, a couple of other developments should be mentioned. First, Condi Rice’s trip to the region. She follows in the footsteps of Cheney, who toured the region to whip up Arab support for, or at least acquiescence to, a military assault on Iran. This had been Cheney’s aim during his late 2006 visit, and now he has returned with the same agenda. Rice, then as now, will be following the same script. She will be meeting with the foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council, plus Egypt and Jordan, the famous “GCC + 2” that she and Cheney have been forging as a Sunni bloc against Iran. Her message will be: prepare for the repercussions of a new assault on Iran. In parallel, the Israelis have been working overtime to heat up tensions in the region, not only against Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas, but also Iran. While National Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer threatened to “detsroy the Iranian nation,” if it attacked Israel, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told Arab conference attendees in Qatar that their real enemy was not Israel, but Iran.

At the same time, an ominous event occurred on April 12 in Shiraz, when an explosion rocked a mosque during prayers, killing 12 and wounding more than 200. Although initial Iranian reports ruled out sabotage, the causes of the blast were not immediately identified, and, according to latest press reports, Iranian authorities are still “uncertain” about the affair. If, in the end, it turns out to have been a terror attack, the most likely suspects would be found among the Mujahedeen e Qalk (MKO/MEK) terrorist organization that still enjoys U.S. refuge in Iraq, and the Kurdish terrorists in the PKK-allied Pejak. The PKK also enjoys the protection of the U.S. occupying forces in northern Iraq. Perhaps not coincidentally, the Pejak (Party of Free Life of Kurdistan) warned on April 13, that it would “carry out bombings against Iranian forces” inside the country. Perhaps this is what President Bush has in mind, when he makes his periodic appeals to the “Iranian people” to rise up ag ainst their government.


1. See Robert Dreyfuss, in “The Lessons of Basra,”, April 3, and also Ramzy Baroud, in “Basra battles: Barely half the story,”, April 13.

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: 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.

For media inquiries:
© Copyright Muriel Mirak-Weissbach, Global Research, 2008
The url address of this article is:

FBI Abuse of “National Security Letters” – New Revelations

Dandelion Salad

by Tom Burghardt
Global Research, April 16, 2008
Antifascist Calling…

When biochemist Magdy Mahmoud Mustafa el-Nashar was released from custody in Cairo in 2005, no one could have be more relieved than the vacationing former student and his family.

Falsely accused by British authorities for alleged links to the July 7, 2005 London transport bombings that killed 52 and maimed 700, el-Nashar was taken into custody in Egypt because he had casually known two of the suicide bombers. He had met them while obtaining a Ph.D. in biochemistry at the University of Leeds. When freed, el-Nashar told the International Herald Tribune,

“The reason for suspecting me was because I specialize in chemistry. I am completely innocent,” he said, adding that he planned legal action against British media that he said had defamed him. He did not identify the media. (“Egyptians Free Biochemist Who Knew 2 of the London Bombers,” International Herald Tribune, August 10, 2005)

Released unharmed by Egypt’s notoriously torture-prone Interior Ministry police, el-Nashar lived to tell the tale. But unbeknownst to the former North Carolina State University student there was a disturbing backstory to his arrest.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) released a damning report Tuesday documenting the FBI’s abuse of the process for obtaining a National Security Letter (NSL) in connection with its probe of el-Nashar.

Incredibly, the Bureau delayed its own investigation in North Carolina “by forcing a field agent to return documents acquired from a U.S. university,” Ryan Singel reports.

Why? Because the agent received the documents through a lawful subpoena, while headquarters wanted him to demand the records under the USA Patriot Act, using a power the FBI did not have, but desperately wanted.

When a North Carolina State University lawyer correctly rejected the second records demand, the FBI obtained another subpoena. Two weeks later, the delay was cited by FBI director Robert Mueller in congressional testimony as proof that the USA Patriot Act needed to be expanded. (Ryan Singel, “FBI Caused Delay in Terror Case Ahead of Senate Testimony,” Wired News, April 15, 2008)

That’s right.

The investigation into a suspected accomplice to mass murder was sidetracked because FBI bureaucrats sought additional powers they “desperately wanted,” in order to escape judicial oversight and expand their brief to shower the public with flimsy National Security Letters. During 2004-2005 for example, the Bureau issued some 100,000 NSLs, often on no more than a hunch.

Under provisions of the oppressive USA Patriot Act, Bureau gumshoes can issue NSLs without probable cause to obtain phone records, e-mails, credit reports and bank statements so long as the request is relevant to a “terrorism” or “espionage” investigation. Unlike grand jury subpoenas however, NSLs have no expiration date and recipients of these baneful warrants are bound by draconian gag orders forever forbidding disclosure of their content. Violations can result in stiff fines and even a stint in federal prison.

According to an EFF Press Release,

In the report, EFF used documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request coupled with public information to detail the bizarre turns in the FBI’s investigation of a former North Carolina State University student. Over the span of three days in July of 2005, FBI documents show that the bureau first obtained the educational records of the suspect with a grand jury subpoena. However, at the direction of FBI headquarters, agents returned the records and then requested them again through an improper NSL. (“EFF Report: FBI Slowed Terror Investigation with Improper NSL Request,” Electronic Frontier Foundation, April 15, 2008)

EFF’s Senior Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl denounced this egregious flim-flam by FBI Director Robert F. Mueller when he testified before Congress in 2005:

“The FBI consistently asks for more power and less outside supervision. Yet here the NSL power was misused at the direction of FBI headquarters, and only after review by FBI lawyers. Oversight and legislative reforms are necessary to ensure that these powerful tools are not abused.”

However, in testimony before the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday, FBI General Counsel Valerie Caproni claimed that the FBI’s misuse of the NSL in the el-Nashar case may have been the result of “miscommunication.”

According to EFF, citing a 2007 report by Caproni’s Office of the General Counsel,

the FBI’s Charlotte Division, “acted upon the advice and direction of FBIHQ [and] Charlotte personnel sought legal advice prior to the service of the NSL.” FBI documents show that the NSL at issue was reviewed by the Senior Supervisory Special Agent for the Raleigh office, and then reviewed by the Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta Division before being signed. (Kurt Opsahl, “EFF General Counsel Questioned on EFF NSL Report,” Electronic Frontier Foundation, April 15, 2008)

Attentive readers may recall that Caproni had earlier rejected a ruling by the secretive FISA court that had rebuffed Bureau requests to obtain sensitive records because “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. Why? Because the Bureau’s General Counsel believed “it was appropriate to issue the letters in such cases because she disagreed with the court’s conclusions.” [emphasis added]

Meanwhile, the ACLU and the New York Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday “to uncover the extent of the FBI’s misuse of National Security Letter powers.” According to the ACLU:

Specifically, the lawsuit seeks the release of records pertaining to the FBI’s use of NSLs at the behest of other agencies including the Department of Defense (DoD) as well as documents concerning the FBI’s use of its gag power. Newly un-redacted documents released to the ACLU last month in a separate Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit revealed that the Defense Department is using the FBI to circumvent legal limits on its own NSL power and may be obtaining sensitive records of people within the U.S. to which the military is not otherwise entitled, simply by asking the FBI to issue the record demands. While the FBI has broad NSL powers and compliance with FBI-issued NSLs is mandatory, the Defense Department’s NSL power is more limited in scope. (“ACLU Challenges National Security Letters in Congress and Court,” Press Release, American Civil Liberties Union, April 15, 2008)

To make matters worse in the el-Nashar case, the Bureau tried to cover up the incident by failing to report it for nearly two years to the Intelligence Oversight Board (IOB). That is, until shortly before Department of Justice Inspector General Glenn Fine’s report on FBI NSL abuse was due before Congress. Statutory requirements demand that potential violations be reported to the IOB within 14 days.

Not that we can expect any earth-shattering “oversight” from a de-fanged IOB. As I wrote last month, the Bush administration quietly stripped the “independent” IOB of much of its authority to root out illegal spying activities by the intelligence “community.”

As I noted then, a little noticed February 29 executive order signed by Bush gutted the board’s mandate to refer illegal activities by the national security state to the Justice Department. “Self-policing” at its finest in the Bushist panopticon!

What little “oversight” remains are in the hands of a compliant Congress, more attuned to the needs of their real “constituents,” the horde of well-heeled corporate lobbyists and their paymasters who rule over an ever-expanding private “security” empire.

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: 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.

For media inquiries:
© Copyright Tom Burghardt, Antifascist Calling…, 2008
The url address of this article is:

A Man-Made Famine + Stuffed & Starved: Interview with Raj Patel

By Raj Patel
04/16/08 “The Guardian

There are many causes behind the world food crisis, but one chief villain: World Bank head, Robert Zoellick

For anyone who understands the current food crisis, it is hard to listen to the head of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, without gagging.

Earlier this week, Zoellick waxed apocalyptic about the consequences of the global surge in prices, arguing that free trade had become a humanitarian necessity, to ensure that poor people had enough to eat. The current wave of food riots has already claimed the prime minister of Haiti, and there have been protests around the world, from Mexico, to Egypt, to India.

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