Iran: Battlefront In The New World War?

Dandelion Salad

By Firmin DeBrabander
07/14/08 “ICH”

It is difficult to imagine why the Bush administration dares- pretends- to threaten Iran with military confrontation. On its face, war with Iran is a preposterous proposition. This administration’s Iraq foray hardly provides an inspiring model to build on. How can Bush and company possibly expect that US military efforts in Iran would fare better?

Iran’s population is more than double the size of Iraq’s, and it is four times larger than Iraq in total landmass. Iran is a more homogeneous nation, less susceptible to fracturing amongst its minorities- precisely the condition that made Iraq easier to subdue (though not occupy). Iran is wealthier than Iraq- unlike the latter, Iran seems to be tapping its oil wealth with relative efficiency. Furthermore, Iran has a formidable army- and well known arms. Iraq’s weapons capacity was the subject of mere speculation (and lies?). Iran, on the other hand, flaunts its capabilities openly: just yesterday it tested a Shahab 3 missile with a range of over 1000 miles. Iran has suggested willingness to strike US allies Israel and the Gulf States, and can easily sow mayhem in its fragile neighbors Iraq and Afghanistan.

Noam Chomsky claimed that this administration targeted Iraq in 2003 precisely because it knew Saddam harbored little or no WMDs, and it knew that Iraq had been internally weakened by decade long sanctions. Bush could count on easy, quick, and politically expedient victory in Iraq (again though, he ignored the cost of occupying Iraq). Chomsky’s argument always seemed sensible to me because North Korea was spared US military might, although it, too, openly harbored hostility and nuclear weapons. Unlike Iraq, North Korea was no easy target.

How does Iran fit in? War with Iran is extraordinarily dangerous. Either this administration is not serious in its saber rattling, or it deems the stakes especially high- high enough to warrant huge sacrifices, which, thanks to our experience in Iraq, we can already imagine too well.

The former possibility is refuted by Seymour Hersh’s latest missive from Washington’s policy backrooms. In his recent article in the New Yorker, Hersh reveals how the White House is currently sponsoring covert military operations (several hundred million dollars worth)- mostly through minority and insurgent groups- inside Iran, and how the Vice President eagerly looks for opportunities to draw Iran into direct confrontation.

The Bush administration is ready for war with Iran. This readiness is even more surprising in light of the fact that our military is already stretched thin across 2 very challenging, often frustrating, battlefronts. For this very reason, as Hersh documents, the White House circumvents military leadership in spearheading Special Operations in Iran.

If the White House is serious about war with Iran in the face of tremendous odds, then, Bush and Cheney must see exceptional gains at hand. What could they be? As with all things in the Bush-Cheney foreign policy arena, there are two angles to consider: oil and US power. Note that they are interrelated.

Certainly, occupying Iran would be a boon for the US oil industry, transferring nationalized oil fields into the hands of US and European energy companies. But even something less than occupation- mere confrontation- could cripple Iran’s oil production, indirectly strengthening the hand of the US oil industry, and remove any remaining danger in transporting oil through the Persian Gulf. On the other hand, seeing how oil trading has proven increasingly jumpy of late- from the slightest geopolitical reverberations- war with Iran would surely send the price of oil soaring (is $250 a barrel inconceivable?). Besides, war with Iran could harm oil interests on our side, since Tehran has the Gulf States in its sights. Of course, this administration does not have to deal long with the political costs of a $250 barrel of oil… that will be Obama’s or McCain’s enduring burden.

But war with Iran is not about oil- exclusively. I suspect, rather, that it is a geopolitical power play, repositioning the US on a changed global stage. Cheney is this war’s most avid supporter, according to Hersh’s depiction. Our vice president has always been a cold eyed Machiavellian regarding foreign policy: the US must be aggressive and expansive in securing its national interests, and if cheap oil is that interest, so be it. In taking on Iran, this White House is indirectly aiming at our ascendant competitors in the 21st century: Russia, China, perhaps also India.

China’s growing power is increasingly demanding of oil. Undermining Iran, a prominent oil resource for China, frustrates Beijing’s rise. If war with Iran spikes the price of oil, China and India will be gravely wounded (as will the entire developing world). As for Russia, Putin has made it abundantly clear that Moscow intends to be a global power to reckon with in the 21st century- a power underwritten by astonishing native oil wealth. In Iran, the US has a target close to Russia- and close to its oil rich former republics, potentially influencing their political affiliation. Moscow hungrily anticipates European reliance on Russian energy, furthermore. Achieving some kind of Western control over Iranian oil production could diminish that reliance. This might explain why the French leadership is suddenly amenable to military action against Iran.

Iran is no third front in the War on Terror. War with Iran is a step beyond, to a new global conflict- a new Cold War, in a way- where the US plays its cards (in this case, the largest military in the world) to frustrate its opponents indirectly. Indeed, war with Iran could do more than merely frustrate our opponents- it risks doing real damage to many nations (largely poorer ones) by undermining or hijacking a prominent part of the world’s energy supply.

Now this sounds appropriately Cheneyian to me. And Machiavellian- to a point. In his characteristic amorality, Machiavelli deemed it right and proper for a nation to go to war only when it can do so effectively, and victory is assured. As is obvious to all- Tehran included- the US is not able for another battlefront at this point in time, much less one as daunting as Iran. But this does not concern Cheney- he can strike now, and bequeath another lingering military debacle to the next administration.

Firmin DeBrabander, Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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Iran Shows Its Cards By Scott Ritter

Preparing the Battlefield by Seymour M. Hersh

Iran

Iran Shows Its Cards By Scott Ritter

Dandelion Salad

By Scott Ritter
Truthdig.com
Jul 14, 2008

There can no longer be any doubt about the consequences of any U.S. and/or Israeli military action against Iran. Armchair warriors, pundits and blustering politicians alike have been advocating a pre-emptive military strike against Iran for the purpose of neutralizing its nuclear-related infrastructure, as well as retarding Iran’s ability to train and equip “terrorist” forces on Iranian soil before dispatching them to Iraq or parts unknown. Some, including me, have warned of the folly of such action, and now Iran itself has demonstrated why an attack would be insane

Continue reading

Countdown: Richard Clarke + Lobbyist Offering Bush Access

Dandelion Salad

videocafeblog

July 14, 2008

Richard Clarke Interview

Rachel talks to Richard Clarke about Barack Obama’s op-ed in the New York times explaining his position on troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Bushed!

Tonight’s: War? What War?-Gate, America for Sale-Gate and Serial Driller-Gate.

***

CSPANJUNKIEdotORG

Dana Perino Questioned About Lobbyist Offering Bush Access

http://cspanjunkie.org/
July 14, 2008 C-SPAN

VOTERSTHINKdotORG

Lobbyist Offers Bush Access for 200,000 Dollars Caught on Vid

http://cspanjunkie.org/
July 14, 2008 CNN

Let the Lawsuits Begin: Banks Brace for a Storm of Litigation

Dandelion Salad

by Ellen Brown
Global Research
www.webofdebt.com/articles
July 13, 2008

In an article in The San Francisco Chronicle in December 2007, attorney Sean Olender suggested that the real reason for the subprime bailout schemes being proposed by the U.S. Treasury Department was not to keep strapped borrowers in their homes so much as to stave off a spate of lawsuits against the banks. The plan then on the table was an interest rate freeze on a limited number of subprime loans. Olender wrote:

“The sole goal of the freeze is to prevent owners of mortgage-backed securities, many of them foreigners, from suing U.S. banks and forcing them to buy back worthless mortgage securities at face value – right now almost 10 times their market worth. The ticking time bomb in the U.S. banking system is not resetting subprime mortgage rates. The real problem is the contractual ability of investors in mortgage bonds to require banks to buy back the loans at face value if there was fraud in the origination process.

“. . . The catastrophic consequences of bond investors forcing originators to buy back loans at face value are beyond the current media discussion. The loans at issue dwarf the capital available at the largest U.S. banks combined, and investor lawsuits would raise stunning liability sufficient to cause even the largest U.S. banks to fail, resulting in massive taxpayer-funded bailouts of Fannie and Freddie, and even FDIC . . . .

“What would be prudent and logical is for the banks that sold this toxic waste to buy it back and for a lot of people to go to prison. If they knew about the fraud, they should have to buy the bonds back.”1

The thought could send a chill through even the most powerful of investment bankers, including Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson himself, who was head of Goldman Sachs during the heyday of toxic subprime paper-writing from 2004 to 2006. Mortgage fraud has not been limited to the representations made to borrowers or on loan documents but is in the design of the banks’ “financial products” themselves. Among other design flaws is that securitized mortgage debt has become so complex that ownership of the underlying security has often been lost in the shuffle; and without a legal owner, there is no one with standing to foreclose. That was the procedural problem prompting Federal District Judge Christopher Boyko to rule in October 2007 that Deutsche Bank did not have standing to foreclose on 14 mortgage loans held in trust for a pool of mortgage-backed securities holders.2 If large numbers of defaulting homeowners were to contest their foreclosures on the ground that the plaintiffs lacked standing to sue, trillions of dollars in mortgage-backed securities (MBS) could be at risk. Irate securities holders might then respond with litigation that could indeed threaten the existence of the banking Goliaths.

States Leading the Charge

MBS investors with the power to bring major lawsuits include state and local governments, which hold substantial portions of their assets in MBS and similar investments. A harbinger of things to come was a complaint filed on February 1, 2008, by the State of Massachusetts against investment bank Merrill Lynch, for fraud and misrepresentation concerning about $14 million worth of subprime securities sold to the city of Springfield. The complaint focused on the sale of “certain esoteric financial instruments known as collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) . . . which were unsuitable for the city and which, within months after the sale, became illiquid and lost almost all of their market value.”3

The previous month, the city of Baltimore sued Wells Fargo Bank for damages from the subprime debacle, alleging that Wells Fargo had intentionally discriminated in selling high-interest mortgages more frequently to blacks than to whites, in violation of federal law.4

Another innovative suit filed in January 2008 was brought by Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson against 21 major investment banks, for enabling the subprime lending and foreclosure crisis in his city. The suit targeted the investment banks that fed off the mortgage market by buying subprime mortgages from lenders and then “securitizing” them and selling them to investors. City officials said they hoped to recover hundreds of millions of dollars in damages from the banks, including lost taxes from devalued property and money spent demolishing and boarding up thousands of abandoned houses. The defendants included banking giants Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Citigroup. They were charged with creating a “public nuisance” by irresponsibly buying and selling high-interest home loans, causing widespread defaults that depleted the city’s tax base and left neighborhoods in ruins.

“To me, this is no different than organized crime or drugs,” Jackson told the Cleveland newspaper The Plain Dealer. “It has the same effect as drug activity in neighborhoods. It’s a form of organized crime that happens to be legal in many respects.” He added in a videotaped interview, “This lawsuit said, ‘You’re not going to do this to us anymore.’”5

The Plain Dealer also interviewed Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann, who was considering a state lawsuit against some of the same investment banks. “There’s clearly been a wrong done,” he said, “and the source is Wall Street. I’m glad to have some company on my hunt.”

However, a funny thing happened on the way to the courthouse. Like New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, Attorney General Dann wound up resigning from his post in May 2008 after a sexual harassment investigation in his office.6 Before they were forced to resign, both prosecutors were hot on the tail of the banks, attempting to impose liability for the destructive wave of home foreclosures in their jurisdictions.

But the hits keep on coming. In June 2008, California Attorney General Jerry Brown sued Countrywide Financial Corporation, the nation’s largest mortgage lender, for causing thousands of foreclosures by deceptively marketing risky loans to borrowers. Among other things, the 46-page complaint alleged that:

“‘Defendants viewed borrowers as nothing more than the means for producing more loans, originating loans with little or no regard to borrowers’ long-term ability to afford them and to sustain homeownership’ . . .

“The company routinely . . . ‘turned a blind eye’ to deceptive practices by brokers and its own loan agents despite ‘numerous complaints from borrowers claiming that they did not understand their loan terms.’

“. . . Underwriters who confirmed information on mortgage applications were ‘under intense pressure . . . to process 60 to 70 loans per day, making careful consideration of borrowers’ financial circumstances and the suitability of the loan product for them nearly impossible.’

“‘Countrywide’s high-pressure sales environment and compensation system encouraged serial refinancing of Countrywide loans.’”7

Similar suits against Countrywide and its CEO have been filed by the states of Illinois and Florida. These suits seek not only damages but rescission of the loans, creating a potential nightmare for the banks.

An Avalanche of Class Actions?

Massive class action lawsuits by defrauded borrowers may also be in the works. In a 2007 ruling in Wisconsin that is now on appeal, U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman held that Chevy Chase Bank had violated the Truth in Lending Act by hiding the terms of an adjustable rate loan, and that thousands of other Chevy Chase borrowers could join the plaintiffs in a class action on that ground. According to a June 30, 2008 report in Reuters:

“The judge transformed the case from a run-of-the-mill class action to a potential nightmare for the U.S. banking industry by also finding that the borrowers could force the bank to cancel, or rescind, their loans. That decision was stayed pending an appeal to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is expected to rule any day.

“The idea of canceling tainted loans to stem a tide of foreclosures has caught hold in other quarters; a lawsuit filed last week by the Illinois attorney general asks a court to rescind or reform Countrywide Financial mortgages originated under ‘unfair or deceptive practices.’

“. . . The mortgage banking industry already faces pressure from state and federal regulators, who have accused banks of lowering underwriting standards and forcing some borrowers, through fraud, into costly adjustable loans that the banks later bundled and sold as high-interest investment vehicles.”

The Truth in Lending Act (TILA) is a 1968 federal law designed to protect consumers against lending fraud by requiring clear disclosure of loan terms and costs. It lets consumers seek rescission or termination of a loan and the return of all interest and fees when a lender is found to be in violation. The beauty of the statute, says California bankruptcy attorney Cathy Moran, is that it provides for strict liability: the aggrieved borrowers don’t have to prove they were personally defrauded or misled, or that they had actual damages. Just the fact that the disclosures were defective gives them the right to rescind and deprives the lenders of interest. In Moran’s small sample, at least half of the loans reviewed contained TILA violations.8 If class actions are found to be available for rescission of loans based on fraud in the disclosure process, the result could be a flood of class suits against banks all over the country.9

Shifting the Loss Back to the Banks

Rescission may be a remedy available not only for borrowers but for MBS investors. Many loan sale contracts provide by their terms that lenders must take back loans that default unusually quickly or that contain mistakes or fraud. An avalanche of rescissions could be catastrophic for the banks. Banks were moving loans off their books and selling them to investors in order to allow many more loans to be made than would otherwise have been allowed under banking regulations. The banking rules are complex, but for every dollar of shareholder capital a bank has on its balance sheet, it is supposed to be limited to about $10 in loans. The problem for the banks is that when the process is reversed, the 10 to 1 rule can work the other way: taking a dollar of bad debt back on a bank’s books can reduce its lending ability by a factor of 10. As explained in a BBC News story citing Prof. Nouriel Roubini for authority:

“[S]ecuritisation was key to helping banks avoid the regulators’ 10:1 rule. To make their risky loans appear attractive to buyers, banks used complex financial engineering to repackage them so they looked super-safe and paid returns well above what equivalent super-safe investments offered. Banks even found ways to get loans off their balance sheets without selling them at all. They devised bizarre new financial entities – called Special Investment Vehicles or SIVs – in which loans could be held technically and legally off balance sheet, out of sight, and beyond the scope of regulators’ rules. So, once again, SIVs made room on balance sheets for banks to go on lending.

“Banks had got round regulators’ rules by selling off their risky loans, but because so many of the securitised loans were bought by other banks, the losses were still inside the banking system. Loans held in SIVs were technically off banks’ balance sheets, but when the value of the loans inside SIVs started to collapse, the banks which set them up found that they were still responsible for them. So losses from investments which might have appeared outside the scope of the regulators’ 10:1 rule, suddenly started turning up on bank balance sheets. . . . The problem now facing many of the biggest lenders is that when losses appear on banks’ balance sheets, the regulator’s 10:1 rule comes back into play because losses reduce a banks’ shareholder capital. ‘If you have a $200bn loss, that reduced your capital by $200bn, you have to reduce your lending by 10 times as much,’ [Prof. Roubini] explains. ‘So you could have a reduction of total credit to the economy of two trillion dollars.’”10

You could also have some very bankrupt banks. The total equity of the top 100 U.S. banks stood at $800 billion at the end of the third quarter of 2007. Banking losses are currently expected to rise by as much as $450 billion, enough to wipe out more than half of the banks’ capital bases and leave many of them insolvent.11 If debtors were to deluge the courts with viable defenses to their debts and mortgage-backed securities holders were to challenge their securities, the result could be even worse.

Putting the Genie Back in the Bottle

So what would happen if the mega-banks engaging in these irresponsible practices actually went bankrupt? These banks are widely acknowledged to be at fault, but they expect to be bailed out by the Federal Reserve or the taxpayers because they are “too big to fail.” The argument is that if they were allowed to collapse, they would take the economy down with them. That is the fear, but it is not actually true. We do need a ready source of credit, so we need banks; but we don’t need private banks. It is a little-known, well-concealed fact that banks do not lend their own money or even their depositors’ money. They actually create the money they lend; and creating money is properly a public, not a private, function. The Constitution delegates the power to create money to Congress and only to Congress.12 In making loans, banks are merely extending credit; and the proper agency for extending “the full faith and credit of the United States” is the United States itself.

There is more at stake here than just the equitable treatment of injured homeowners and investors in mortgage-backed securities. Banks and investment houses are now squeezing the last drops of blood from the U.S. government’s credit rating, “borrowing” money and unloading worthless paper on the government and the taxpayers. When the dust settles, it will be the banks, investment brokerages and hedge funds for wealthy investors that will be saved. The repossessed will become the dispossessed; and unless your pension fund has invested in politically well-connected hedge funds, you can probably kiss it goodbye, as teachers in Florida already have.

But the banking genie is a creature of the law, and the law can put it back in the bottle. The imminent failure of some very big banks could provide the government with an opportunity to regain control of its finances. More than that, it could provide the funds for tackling otherwise unsolvable problems now threatening to destroy our standard of living and our standing in the world. The only solution that will be more than a temporary fix is to take the power to create money away from private bankers and return it to the people collectively. That is how it should have been all along, and how it was in our early history; but we are so used to banks being private corporations that we have forgotten the public banks of our forebears. The best of the colonial American banking models was developed in Benjamin Franklin’s province of Pennsylvania, where a government-owned bank issued money and lent it to farmers at 5 percent interest. The interest was returned to the government, replacing taxes. During the decades that that system was in operation, the province of Pennsylvania operated without taxes, inflation or debt.

Rather than bailing out bankrupt banks and sending them on their merry way, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) needs to take a close look at the banks’ books and put any banks found to be insolvent into receivership. The FDIC (unlike the Federal Reserve) is actually a federal agency, and it has the option of taking a bank’s stock in return for bailing it out, effectively nationalizing it. This is done in Europe with bankrupt banks, and it was done in the United States with Continental Illinois, the country’s fourth largest bank, when it went bankrupt in the 1990s.

A system of truly “national” banks could issue “the full faith and credit of the United States” for public purposes, including funding infrastructure, sustainable energy development and health care.13 Publicly-issued credit could also be used to relieve the subprime crisis. Local governments could use it to buy up mortgages in default, compensating the MBS investors and freeing the real estate for public disposal. The properties could then be rented back to their occupants at reasonable rates, leaving people in their homes without the windfall of acquiring a house without paying for it. A program of lease-purchase might also be instituted. The proceeds would be applied toward repaying the credit advanced to buy the mortgages, balancing the money supply and preventing inflation.

Local and Private Solutions

While we are waiting for the federal government to act, there are also private and local possibilities for relieving the subprime crisis. Chris Cook is a British strategic market consultant and the former Compliance Director for the International Petroleum Exchange. He recommends getting all the parties to settle by forming a pool constituted as an LLC (limited liability company), in a partnership framework that brings together occupiers and financiers as co-owners under a neutral custodian. The original owners would pay an affordable rental, and the resulting pool of rentals would be “unitized” (divided into unit interests, similar to a REIT or real estate investment trust). Among other advantages over the usual mortgage-backed security, there would be no loans at interest, since the property would be owned outright by the LLC. Eliminating interest substantially reduces costs. The former owners would be able to occupy the property at an affordable rental, with the option to buy an equity stake in it. For the banks, the advantage would be that they would be able to find investors again, since the risk would have been taken out of the investment by insuring full occupancy at affordable rates; and for the investors, the advantage would be a secure investment with a dependable return.14

Carolyn Betts is an Ohio attorney who served in Washington as issuer’s counsel for MBS trusts formed by various federal governmental entities, and represented Resolution Trust Corporation in its auction of defaulted commercial mortgage loans during the last real estate crisis. She proposes a squeeze play by the states, in the style of that brought against the tobacco companies by a consortium of state attorneys general in the 1990s. She notes that at the end of 2007, at least 20% of the funds held by the Ohio Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) were in mortgage backed securities and similar investments. That makes Ohio public money a major investor in these mortgage-related securities. Ohio governments have an interest in not having homes foreclosed upon, since foreclosures destroy local real estate markets, contribute to lower tax revenues and losses on PERS investments, and cause a strain on state and local affordable housing systems. A coordinated series of actions brought by state attorneys general could eliminate the culpable banker middlemen and return the properties to local ownership and control.

Andrew Jackson reportedly told Congress in 1829, “If the American people only understood the rank injustice of our money and banking system, there would be a revolution before morning.” A wave of private actions, class actions and government lawsuits aimed at redressing injurious banking practices could spark a revolution in banking, returning the power to advance “the full faith and credit of the United States” to the United States, and returning community assets to local ownership and control.

Ellen Brown, J.D., developed her research skills as an attorney practicing civil litigation in Los Angeles. In Web of Debt, her latest book, she turns those skills to an analysis of the Federal Reserve and “the money trust.” She shows how this private cartel has usurped the power to create money from the people themselves and how we the people can get it back. Her websites are www.webofdebt.com and www.ellenbrown.com.

© Copyright Ellen Brown, Global Research, 2008

The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=9577

Amber Alert! Get ready for war by Justin Raimondo

Dandelion Salad

by Justin Raimondo
Global Research
Antiwar.com
July 14, 2008

In spite of reassurances from the Washington talking heads and policy wonks that the U.S. is not about to launch an attack on Iran, or countenance an Israeli strike, the Sunday Times has the real scoop:

“President George W. Bush has told the Israeli government that he may be prepared to approve a future military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities if negotiations with Tehran break down, according to a senior Pentagon official.

“Despite the opposition of his own generals and widespread skepticism that America is ready to risk the military, political, and economic consequences of an airborne strike on Iran, the president has given an ‘amber light’ to an Israeli plan to attack Iran’s main nuclear sites with long-range bombing sorties, the official told The Sunday Times.

“‘Amber means get on with your preparations, stand by for immediate attack, and tell us when you’re ready,’ the official said. But the Israelis have also been told that they can expect no help from American forces and will not be able to use U.S. military bases in Iraq for logistical support.”

It seems, however, that the Israelis have already been using U.S. bases in Iraq to train for the coming attack. There have been denials all around – from the Iraqis, the Americans, and the Israelis – but both the Iraqi media and the Israeli media have reported, as the New York Post put it, that “Israeli warplanes have been flying over Iraq and landing at U.S. bases there in preparation for an attack on Iran.” The Iraqi Web site Nahrainet reported Israeli fighter jets have been in rehearsals, so to speak, for their much-anticipated strike at Iran, flying at night over Jordanian airspace and arriving at U.S. air bases in Nasiriyah in southern Iraq and near Haditha in western Anbar province.

…continued

© Copyright Justin Raimondo, Antiwar.com, 2008

The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=9586

see

George Galloway: What is the Threat from Iran?

War, war, war or jaw, jaw, jaw? by William Bowles

President Bush Backs Israeli Plan for Strike on Iran

What are Iran’s nuclear rights? + What did A. Q. Khan sell to Iran?

HR 362 and the Alarming Escalation of Hostility Towards Iran

Tomgram: Why Cheney Won’t Take Down Iran

Seymour Hersh: US Training Jondollah and MEK for Bombing preparation

What gives Bush the right to destabilize Iran by covert military operations?

Will the US Congress ratify the Bush Administration’s Decision to launch a War on Iran (H. CON. RES. 362)

Preparing the Battlefield by Seymour M. Hersh

Iran

Sami Al-Arian: From Exoneration to Criminal Indictment

Dandelion Salad

by Stephen Lendman
Global Research
July 14, 2008

A personal note. I’ve twice before written about Al-Arian and discussed his case on my radio program with his wife and daughter. Since February 20, 2003, he’s been unjustly imprisoned. The FBI hounded him for 11 years. It falsely accused him of backing organizations fronting for Palestinian Islamic Jihad – a 1997 State Department-designated “Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO).” It’s one of 30 organizations so-designated that year. In 1999, three were removed. Another was added in 2001 for a total of 28. Sixteen of them are Arabic/Muslim and include Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Hezbollah and Al Qaeda. Their ideologies differ from western standards. Washington thus calls them FTOs that “engage in terrorist activity (and) threaten the security of US nationals or the national security of the US.”

In August 2001, Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s (PIJ) General Secretary, Dr. Fathi Shikaki, agreed to be interviewed. He called the organization “an independent, Islamic, and popular movement with Islam (advocating) grassroots popular action and armed struggle (for the) liberation of (Occupied) Palestine.” In this respect, it’s no different from the Vichy French resistance. They were renown freedom fighters. So were the Mujahideen (when they were on our side) against the Soviets in Afghanistan and Serbia in the Balkans.

As Michel Chossudovsky noted in a September 2001 Global Research.ca article titled “Who is Osama Bin Laden?:” ….while the Islamic Jihad – featured by the Bush administration as “a threat to America” – is blamed for the (9/11 attacks), these same Islamic organizations constitute a key instrument of US military intelligence in the Balkans and the former Soviet Union.” In other words, they’re (unwittingly) used to further US interests and at the same time justify Washington’s war on Islam (aka the “war on terrorism”).

Shikaki denied that PIJ or the Islamic Jihad Movement (IJM) practice “terrorism.” On the contrary, “terrorism is practiced by a state (Israel) that is fully supported by the West. (It and especially America back) dictatorial regimes that are tyrannical, oppressive and practice human rights abuses on massive scales….Tens of thousands of Islamists have been arrested and….held under severe conditions.” However, “only a small segment used violence against the state-sponsored and state-supported violence.”

How can Palestinians be called terrorists. We “scream from pain and suffering and (are) defending (our) land against Jewish soldiers….We are calling for peace based on justice, rights and dignity. We must be dealt with as equals and as carriers of a great civilization. Only then will peace prevail in our region and the whole world….Our state is Palestine….As for the Jews, they have lived peacefully with us for centuries….They could (always) live among us freely, but not as a political entity….We don’t espouse throwing the Jews into the sea (but) there will be no peace unless Palestine is returned to the Palestinians.”

Al-Arian: Falsely Targeted For Supporting “Terrorism”

Because of his faith, ethnicity, political activism and prominence, Al-Arian became a prime target. He was falsely vilified for supporting terrorism. Then at the behest of Governor Jeb Bush and despite his tenured status, the University of South Florida fired him following his February 20, 2003 arrest. Ever since, he’s been imprisoned and held in brutalizing and dehumanizing confinement in over a dozen maximum and other federal prison facilities. Only his spirit sustains him.

His June 2005 trial was a travesty. It lasted six months, cost about $50 million, and in the end Al-Arian was exonerated on eight false terrorism charges. On nine lesser ones, jurors were deadlocked 10 – 2 for acquittal.

Al-Arian is a Palestinian refugee, a distinguished professor and scholar, community leader and civil activist. His crime – being an activist Muslim at the wrong time in America. After his exoneration, prosecutors planned to retry him but instead struck a secret plea bargain with his lawyers. It stipulated:

— he neither engaged in or had any knowledge of violent acts;

— that he would not be required to cooperate further with prosecutors;

— and that he would be released on time served and deported voluntarily to his country of choice.

He remained in custody pending sentencing and deportation on May 1, 2006. Yet he’s still imprisoned and his ordeal continues. In October 2006, assistant prosecutor Gordon Kromberg violated plea bargain terms by subpoenaing Al-Arian before a grand jury. It was to entrap him on perjury and obstruction of justice charges through clever and manipulative questioning.

At the time, he said this about all Muslims that should have automatically disqualified him: “If they can kill each other during Ramadan, they can appear before the grand jury – all they can’t do is eat before sunset. I believe Mr. Al-Arian’s request is part of the attempted Islamization of the American Justice System. I am not going to put off (his) grand jury appearance just to assist in what is becoming the Islamization of America.” Following these comments, Al-Arian’s attorney accused Kromberg of anti-Muslim bias and asked him to recuse himself. He denied the request and called Al-Arian before the grand jury.

He refused to testify and was held in contempt. He refused again before a newly convened grand jury, was again held in contempt, and had his sentence extended without mitigation until April 7, 2008. On March 3, 2008 (three weeks before his scheduled release and deportation), Al-Arian was again ordered to appear before another March 19 grand jury. He again refused, remained imprisoned, and on June 26 was indicted on two counts of criminal contempt.

Al-Arian’s case is crucially important. It shows the peril of being Muslim in America. It also represents a disturbing abuse of the grand jury system before which Al-Arian has no obligation to testify. It’s at a time our constitutional checks and balances have eroded, our civil liberties are weakest, a president has usurped “unitary executive” powers to claim the law is what he says it is, and when we teeter on the edge of tyranny unless these practices are stopped.

Law Professor and Lead Al-Arian Counsel Jonathan Turley

Turley calls Al-Arian’s case “a classic perjury trap used repeatedly by the government to punish those individuals who could not be convicted before an American jury.” All the more so if you’re Muslim, high-profile, and easily exploited for political advantage.

On June 30, Al-Arian was arraigned before Judge Leonie Brinkema of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Columbia. Turley was denied the right to meet with him in advance and wasn’t prepared to enter a plea. The Court did it for him – “not guilty.” His trial is scheduled to begin on August 13, 2008.

Turley requested that Al-Arian be released on bail. He’s not charged with terrorism, has no passport, and isn’t a flight risk. Since charges involve contempt, there’s no reason to hold him. He’s lived in the country since 1975, has lawful alien status, his children are US citizens, and they have deep ties here. In addition, citizens have volunteered to be custodians, and Al-Arian is willing to be continually monitored under home confinement. Turley calls the government’s actions “purely gratuitous and retaliatory under (these) conditions.”

He further requested a bond hearing, and Judge Brinkema agreed. During his Florida trial, friends offered millions in property as security. They were denied. Prosecutors asked for a one-day trial. Turley requested three days and told Judge Brinkema that counsel believes Al-Arian’s indictment is “invalid on its face.” He didn’t refuse to cooperate. He’d already given two detailed affidavits establishing that he had no knowledge of any crimes committed by the International Institute of Islamic Thought (a Herndon, Virginia think tank) or its officers. He also repeatedly asked to take a polygraph exam for verification. He was denied.

Turley also explained that the day before his indictment the government expressed satisfaction with his affidavits. By indicting him, “the government’s long pattern of retaliation against Dr. Al-Arian has now degraded further into raw thuggery.” It has no interest in truth and justice. It intends to act outside the law by whatever means it takes to keep an innocent man imprisoned. Al-Arian is now at Alexandria, VA City Jail awaiting his bond hearing.

On July 10 it was held, and for the first time since his February 2003 arrest there was good news – at least so far. Over strong government objections, Judge Brinkema agreed that Al-Arian is not a flight risk or danger to his community and granted him bail. But it’s not over yet because DOJ is sure to fight it. One possible way according to Turley – having ICE officials hold him for deportation and keep him imprisoned until his trial.

Turley cited Judge Brinkema’s “significant statements in the hearing:

— that she was getting “strange signals” about this case; that “the government should not be found to have harassed efforts for another government to accept Dr. Al-Arian under his plea agreement;

— that the plea agreement still applies and the government is required to deport him “with expedition;”

— should ICE resume custody, the deportation provision would be triggered; and

— Judge Brinkema wants confirmation that Al-Arian already gave the government detailed statements and repeatedly offered to take a polygraph exam to prove his truthfulness.

Prosecutor Kromberg twisted the truth to deny Al-Arian bail. Turley expertly countered him. The week of July 14 he’ll submit pre-trial motions and (formally) request Al-Arian’s release on bail. DOJ will surely fight it. The case is far from resolved, and according to Turley: “Things are likely to become stranger still as the government continues its long campaign to hold Dr. Al-Arian by any means or method. We remain hopeful, however, that (he’ll) be vindicated and (allowed) to leave the country” as his plea bargain stipulates.

Yassin Aref – Another Muslim Political Prisoner

A personal note. I’ve twice before written about Aref, discussed his case with his lawyers on my radio program, and have personal contact with him in prison. Like others of his faith, he was hunted down, rounded up, held in detention, kept in isolation, denied bail, restricted in his right and access to counsel, tried on secret evidence and trumped-up charges, then convicted in a kangaroo court proceeding and given a long prison term.

Like Al-Arian and other Muslims, Aref was targeted for his faith and ethnicity. He’s an innocent man and another victim of police state justice. He’s now serving a 15 year sentence at the secret Terre Haute, Indiana federal penitentiary’s Communication Management Unit (CMU). Opened in December 2006, it’s for “high-security risk” Muslim and Middle Eastern prisoners to limit or cut them off entirely from outside contact. Doing so violates the Supreme Court’s 2004 Johnson v. California decision and Prison Bureau regulations. However, the courts and Congress haven’t intervened.

Aref appealed on March 24, 2008 before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. After the proceeding, one of his pro bono trial lawyers, Stephen Downs, was hopeful but cautious. He explained that predicting the outcome was uncertain at best and foolhardy at worst.

On July 2 in United States v. Aref, the (three-judge panel) Appeals Court rendered a unanimous decision. Aref was denied, and unless a motion for rehearing or the Supreme Court decides otherwise, he’ll remain imprisoned for 15 years. The Court issued an 11 page summary order rejecting evidentiary challenges and other defendant claims. Appeals Court lawyers Terrence Kindlon and Kathy Manley expressed profound disappointment with Kindlon saying: “I feel like somebody hit me in the face with a pie….We were feeling some optimism here. We thought there were some significant issues that dealt not just with the law but with some of the events that occurred throughout the course of the trial….I can honestly say I strongly and respectfully disagree with the decision.”

A Schenectady, NY columnist, Carl Strock, was also dismayed and commented: “I thought the arguments (for reversal) were compelling, but I could hardly imagine an appeals court overturning a jury verdict in something so sensitive as Muslim terrorism, even if the terrorism was” bogus. The ruling “means it’s OK for the FBI to lure law-abiding citizens (or legal residents) into doing something illegal” or that government prosecutors can claim (with secret evidence unavailable to counsel) is illegal and then arrest, charge and convict them for it. “That’s the long and short of this case.”

It’s also OK for federal judges to assure jurors that the government has “good and valid (prosecutorial) reasons” even when there are none. The same government claimed “valid reasons” to invade Iraq and Afghanistan. We now know there were none.

Kindlon said he’s preparing an en banc motion for rehearing before the full Appeals Court and a writ of certiorari petition to the Supreme Court asking it to review the lower court ruling. Winning a reversal in either court will be daunting given the preponderance of hard right federal judges on the bench. It shows what all Muslims (and the rest of us) are up against despite the important Boumedienne v. Bush Supreme Court decision. It ruled Guantanamo detainees have habeas rights even if they’re not US citizens and are held outside the country. Despite having them, however, getting justice in US federal courts may prove a bridge too far. Especially for those targeted as enemies of the state with or without evidence.

Like Al-Arian, Aref is an innocent man. His crime is being Muslim at the wrong time in America. He committed no crime and was victimized by an FBI frame. I have direct contact with him in prison. We exchange letters and occasional emails when he’s allowed to send and receive them. He’s a friend and a supremely gracious and decent man. Injustice to him, Al-Arian and others denies it to everyone. Today we’re all Yassin Arefs and Sami Al-Arians, Boumedienne v. Bush notwithstanding.

“I Am Not Surprised”

On the web site maintained for him (yassinaref.com), Aref responded to the Appeals Court decision in prose and poetry. Below are extended excerpts.

“I am not surprised. When they arrested me….I was shocked the next morning when they took me to court. I was surprised to see all those police, marshals and media, and I was really confused: what was all that about? Who am I (to be so important)? What did I do? What was going on? All of it was unbelievable. I (told) the marshals that there is a law in this country and I did nothing wrong, so the judge will free me and let me go back to my family.”

He didn’t and refused me bail, “claiming I was a flight risk and danger to the community, even” though I have no “travel documents and there was 50 cents in my wallet, plus I am stateless and have no country to go to. Above all, I did nothing wrong (and) have (nothing) to hide.

Then while….in jail….I understood what was going on….it’s not me, it’s politics and discrimination….if I was not a Muslim and Imam….never would I have been targeted (or) indicted” or tried without evidence. Even if they” tried me, no “jury (would) find me guilty,” and if they did no judge would accept it. Even if the judge did, no “appeal court” would go along. “But all of this happened….because I was a foreigner, a Muslim who had a little beard.

All the government did was misrepresent their evidence to confuse the court and prevent justice from taking place.” Everyone in the drama played a role. “But still I am happy because I did nothing wrong and harmed no one….what they did to me is wrong and not fair, and I believe the truth will never die and people will find it sooner or later.”

The government “dishonored justice and humiliated the Constitution, not me. Anyone who knows me….knows I am innocent.” Knows I’m not “a dangerous wild animal who must be locked down in an isolated unit. I am just a scapegoat for the (government’s wrong policies and a victim (of) their nonsensical ongoing war.” Millions of others are suffering like me.

“The government….know(s) very well I had nothing to do with terrorists or (have any) anti-American (beliefs) or (approve of) violence, and that never in my life did I participate in any fighting or….support any terrorists….I am just a Muslim and a stateless Kurd….Let the government celebrate their victory for destroying my family and for putting an innocent man in prison. Let the media” and appeals court support what they did. It changes nothing. “I am innocent and did nothing wrong.

I am grateful for everyone who has supported me, wished and prayed for the best for me and felt sorry for my family….They cannot put hate in my heart and revenge in my thoughts. I know it’s not over, and I hope you believe the same and stay firm until justice takes place and the truth comes out. Please do not forget my family.”

We never will Yassin or stop supporting your struggle for justice. Or other innocent victims like yourself.

For Muslims in America, Their Ordeal Continues

Rumors are circulating about new police state tactics later this summer – so the DOJ may open new investigations without evidence of wrongdoing. Merely on the basis of an undisclosed “terrorist profile” or “pattern of behavior” suggesting suspects should be watched and interrogated about their Muslim or Arab-connected activities. Other grounds as well – where they travel as well as their occupation, race or ethnicity. It means millions of Americans will be targeted at a time no one’s civil liberties are protected. Bogus charges will be brought against innocent people, and if they’re Muslims and called “terrorists” imagine what little justice they’ll get.

Congress won’t help either. It gutted the Fourth Amendment further after both Houses passed and George Bush signed (on July 10) the FISA Amendments Act of 2008. It’s FISA on steroids and more by granting telecom companies retroactive immunity to conduct warrantless spying post-9/11. Obama and McCain supported it. So did most others in Congress. Everyone has reason to fear it. Muslims most of all. They’ve suffered hugely since 9/11. No letup is in sight. This is how a police state works. Congress, the courts, and executive are on board. So is his successor. Expect little change in 2009 and no open public debate. The law of the land is now lawlessness. No one is safe, and there’s no place to hide.

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He 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 News Hour on www.RepublicBroadcasting.org Mondays from 11AM – 1PM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=9569

© Copyright Stephen Lendman, Global Research, 2008

The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=9580

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Dr. Al-Arian Indicted! Please Act!

Sami Al-Arian

Political Prisoners/Sami al-Arian/Suzi Hazahza

Yassin Aref’s Struggle for Justice in Police State America by Stephen Lendman

Police State America: Yassin Aref’s Struggle for Justice Part II

Betancourt Update – Is This the Beginning of Colombia’s Leftward Shift?

Dandelion Salad

By Mike Whitney
07/14/08 “ICH”

It was a perfectly executed rescue mission and they pulled it off without a hitch. A small group of Colombian military-intelligence agents, posing as aid workers on a humanitarian mission, touched-down in the heart of rebel territory, gathered up Ingrid Betancourt and 14 other hostages, and whisked them away to safety while a small army of rifle-toting Marxist guerrillas looked on dumbfounded. The tale of the daring rescue by Colombia’s finest was immediately splashed across the front pages of newspapers around the world. Finally, the Bush-Uribe combo could point to a decisive victory in the seven year-long war on terror. Score one for the good guys in the ongoing struggle against the forces of evil.

There’s just one problem; the story isn’t true.

Apart from the reports on Swiss Public Radio that “claim that the entire episode was nothing but a sham to disguise the payment of a ransom” and that “the operation had in fact been staged to cover up the fact that the US and Colombians had paid $20 million for their freedom.” And, excluding the fact that “the wife of one of the hostages’ guards acted as a go-between to persuade her husband (who was a member of the FARC) to change sides.” (Times Online) And, ignoring the fact that on June 3rd, Colombian Senator Piedad Cordoba said that she had information that the government of Colombia was negotiating a deal with the FARC a to trade money for the release of Betancourt and the mercenaries” and that Mediaparte, the French web site founded by the former chief editor of Le Monde, reported that the rescue was “not an achievement of the Colombian military, but due to the surrender of a group of the FARC members” following “direct negotiations by the Colombian secret services with the guerrilla group that held Betancourt captive.” (“Mounting Questions about the Colombian Hostage Operation” Bill Van Auken)

On Friday, the FARC Secretariat issued a formal statement on their Bolivarian Press Agency website saying that they were betrayed by two members of their organization:

“The escape of the 15 prisoners on July 2 was a direct consequence of the despicable conduct of Cesar and Enrique, who betrayed their revolutionary ideals and the trust we had put in them.”

Of course, none of the western media reported the statement because it casts doubt the Colombian government’s version of the 100% scripted, Rambo-like rescue and calls into question the premature pronouncements of triumph in the war on terror. But it’s clear that the official story has begun to unravel and will require some serious PR airbrushing to keep from falling apart altogether. It’s looking more and more like the whole farce was concocted by Uribe to build public support for changing Colombia’s constitution so he can run for a third term as president. So far, it’s worked like a charm; Uribe’s public approval ratings have soared to nearly 80%.

The daredevil rescue-mission has catapulted Betancourt into media mega-stardom. She has already made a number of appearances on TV and radio including CNN’s “Larry King Live”, “NBC Nightly News” the “Today Show”. She has also announced her intention to write a play about her experiences as a hostage and the publishing industry is buzzing with news of a forthcoming book deal. In fact, as soon as news reached Paris that she had been freed, a 12 page letter she wrote to her mother as a prisoner was re-released in hardback form.

“I am in communication with God, Jesus and the Virgin every day,” Betancourt writes. “Morning overcast, like my spirit…My beloved and divine Mamita…I haven’t being eating; my appetite has shut down; my hair is falling out in clumps; I have no desire for anything…Here, nothing is one’s own, nothing lasts; uncertainty and precariousness are the only constant. The order is given at any moment to pack up and one gets to sleep stretched out anywhere like an animal. Those are the particularly difficult moments for me. My palms sweat, my mind gets foggy, and I end up doing things twice as slowly as normal.”

No one doubts that Betancourt suffered greatly or that she’s been deeply traumatized by her 6 years of captivity in the jungle. Clearly, she was just a blameless victim in a much larger political game. Her medical report shows that she is in good health although she still refuses to discuss whether she was tortured by her captors. According to NPR, she fears she “may slip into depression” and speaks slowly about her ordeal.

“The important thing was to fill the day with activities that could be repeated like in a schedule so like to give you stability in a world of no stability. That was the key.” She added, “I know that I have to give testimony about all the things I lived, but I need time. It’s not easy to talk about things that are still hurting. Probably it will hurt all my life.” (NPR)

To her credit, Betancourt has blasted the Uribe government saying, “That’s the difference between me and Uribe. For Uribe, the end of the FARC means the reestablishment of peace in Colombia. For me, peace in Colombia will come from social transformations.” (There’s still a chance that Betancourt will return to Colombia and run for president. She has dual French-Colombian citizenship)

She also praised Hugo Chavez who worked tirelessly to secure her release in an earlier prisoner swap that was scotched by the Bush administration. Bush and Co. believed the exchange would boost Chavez’s popularity, so Uribe made sure the deal wasn’t consummated. Betancourt said, “It seems to me that Hugo Chávez is magnificent. He can tell the FARC things that they will hear. The FARC didn’t like it at all when Chávez told them that the armed struggle in Latin American was obsolete, and that they had to think in a different way.” Naturally, Betancourt’s remarks about Chavez were not reported in the establishment media.

Betancourt and Chavez are right. Although the revolutionary struggle goes on, hostage-taking subverts the group’s larger goal of a society built on laws and human rights. And even though the FARC was pushed out of the political process by a corrupt and ruthless oligarchy, which killed nearly 5,000 of its leaders and union activists, they will not achieve their objectives by adopting the same methods as the right wing paramilitaries they’re fighting. It is impossible to defeat crime with more crime. Maybe, a presidential bid by Betancourt will provide the spark that is needed to focus attention on Colombia’s glaring social inequities; the massive wealth gap, the deeply entrenched economic and political polarization, and the venal self-serving oligarchy that runs the government like a medieval fiefdom.

Although she is grateful to be free, Betancourt has not “pulled her punches” when talking about Colombia’s shortcomings. On Friday she said, “Uribe and all of Colombia, should correct some things. We have reached the point where we must change the radical, extremist vocabulary of hate, of very strong words that intimately wound the human being.”

It’s too much to hope that one woman will be able to dismantle a repressive system of government that dates back hundreds of years and has the implicit support of the country’s main industrial leaders, its most prestigious families and the United States of America. But the power of reconciliation is stronger than many realize and, as Betancourt said in an interview with Eleanor Beardsley, “The only thing I’ve settled in my mind is I want to forgive.” That’s a good place to start.

Colombia is America’s last right-wing outpost in the hemisphere. There’s a good chance that it will be swept along by the leftist current that has overtaken most of Latin America already. Perhaps Betancourt’s role is simply to open the floodgates and let the tide rush in.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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Response to James Petras’ Critique: “Fidel Castro and the FARC. Eight Mistaken Theses of Fidel Castro”

A Few Words from the FARC By Mike Whitney

Fidel Castro and the FARC – Eight Mistaken Thesis of Fidel Castro

Lies, kidnapping and a mysterious laptop

Enabling Tyranny By Paul Craig Roberts

Dandelion Salad

By Paul Craig Roberts
07/14/08 “ICH”

I recently read that Brigette Bardot, now in her 70s, has been arrested as a hate criminal for complaining that Muslims in France slaughter sheep without first stunning them. The famous actress is known for her sympathy with animals, but the French government preferred to interpret her remarks as hatred for Muslims. Prosecutor Anne de Fontetts promised to throw the book at Bardot.

There are many incongruities here. The French are persecuting one of their own for taking exception to the practices of an alien culture. But then, perhaps this is just being broad-minded. What really jumps out is: if Bardot’s animal rights position makes her a hate criminal, what does French President Nicholas Sarkozy’s foreign policy position make him?

According to Information Clearing House’s running tally as of July 12, 1,236,604 Iraqis have been slaughtered as a result of the Sarkozy-supported US invasion and occupation of Iraq. If Bardot is a hate criminal under French law for complaining about how Muslims prepare their mutton, why isn’t President Sarkozy a hate criminal for supporting an American policy that has resulted in the deaths of 1,236,604 Muslims and the displacement of 4 million Iraqis?

Such incongruities are everywhere. It is as if people are no longer capable of thought.

Last week the US Congress passed an ex post facto law that legalized the illegal behavior of telecommunication companies that enabled the Bush Regime to violate US law and to spy on Americans without warrants. Retroactive laws are unconstitutional. But, alas, the US Constitution does not make campaign contributions, and telecommunication companies do.

The Bush Regime claimed that its illegal behavior, which requires an unconstitutional retroactive law to protect telecommunication companies and President Bush from being held accountable, is necessary to protect us. But as our Founding Fathers and every intelligent patriotic person since has patiently explained to the American public, it is the Constitution that protects us. No safety can be found by fleeing the Constitution.

Without the Constitution we have no protection. We simply stand naked before unbridled government power.

That’s pretty much how we stand now after 7.5 years of the Bush Regime. Electing a Democratic Congress in 2006 did not make any difference. Indeed, it was a Democratic majority Congress that last week gave Bush his unconstitutional ex post facto law.

As Larry Stratton and I point out in the new edition of Tyranny, the US Constitution has no friends. The Democrats don’t like the Second Amendment (another incongruity in the face of the right-wing police state that Bush has created), and the Brownshirt Republicans regard the rest of our civil liberties as coddling devices for criminals and terrorists.

Across the political spectrum, Americans are happy to shred the Constitution in behalf of some agenda or the other.

The government is happy to oblige, because shredding the Constitution removes constraints on the government’s power.

It has fallen to the private, member-supported organization known as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to challenge the retroactive law that destroys the privacy rights granted to US citizens by the Constitution. The ACLU is regarded by conservatives as a Jewish conspiracy to destroy Christianity, and the right-wing idiots on Fox “News” and talk radio will denounce the ACLU for wanting to empower terrorists.

Conservatives will repeat endlessly that Americans who are doing nothing wrong have nothing to fear. If this argument held any water, there would have been no point in the Founding Fathers writing the Constitution.

The position of the US Government is that the rights granted Americans by the Constitution facilitate terrorism. To be safe from terrorists, the argument goes, we must allow the government to take liberties with the Constitution. This argument gives government the power to set aside the Constitution, and, thus, enables tyranny. As Milton Friedman and many others taught us, rules are the essence of freedom, and discretionary power is the essence of tyranny.

Bush’s “war on terror,” essentially a hoax, has transformed the United States into a lawless nation. We are not lawless in the sense of an absence of laws. We are lawless in the sense that despite a surfeit of laws, we no longer have the rule of law.

If the President doesn’t like an existing law, he ignores it. If the President doesn’t like new laws passed by Congress, instead of vetoing them he prepares a “signing statement,” which says that he will determine what the law means.

This lawlessness has spread from the top of the federal government down to local governments and community associations. Recently the state of Georgia passed a law that reaffirmed that anyone with a carry permit was entitled to have their concealed weapon when dropping off or picking up passengers at the Atlanta airport. The Atlanta city government said it would not obey the state law and would arrest anyone, including the state legislator who sponsored the legislation, who carried a permitted weapon onto airport property.

A community in which I live has by-laws that forbid members of the board of the property owners association from serving as general manager of the designated community. This did not prevent the board from appointing one of their own the general manager. The POA board regards the by-laws which govern it as merely words without force.

Just like Bush regards the US Constitution.

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, an assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury during the Reagan Administration, is a former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal and coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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Police State USA: Spying as Law of the Land

Democrats lose on FISA

1984 Knocking On Your Door – FISA – Telecom Immunity Bill

Senate Approves HR6304: 4th Amendment Abolished

“Keeping America Safe”- from the Constitution

Domestic Spying

Police State

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Spying on Myspace users?

George Galloway: What is the Threat from Iran?

Dandelion Salad

tonchi2a

George Galloway talks to a caller about an impending attack on Iran.

h/t: ICH

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War, war, war or jaw, jaw, jaw? by William Bowles

President Bush Backs Israeli Plan for Strike on Iran

What are Iran’s nuclear rights? + What did A. Q. Khan sell to Iran?

HR 362 and the Alarming Escalation of Hostility Towards Iran

Tomgram: Why Cheney Won’t Take Down Iran

Seymour Hersh: US Training Jondollah and MEK for Bombing preparation

What gives Bush the right to destabilize Iran by covert military operations?

Will the US Congress ratify the Bush Administration’s Decision to launch a War on Iran (H. CON. RES. 362)

Preparing the Battlefield by Seymour M. Hersh

Iran

Naomi Wolf at Ron Paul Rally

Dandelion Salad

jerseyfresh16

Author and activist Naomi Wolf describes 10 signs the United States is drifting toward fascism at a rally for Republican Congressman Ron Paul in front of the U.S. Capitol (July 12, 2008).

Continue reading

War, war, war or jaw, jaw, jaw? by William Bowles

by William Bowles
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
williambowles.info
Monday, July 14, 2008

It’s amazing isn’t it how the media, given the appropriate cues from the state, so readily slips into a warring state of mind. I’m talking of course about Iran.

All the major media outlets have shifted into top gear over the past couple of weeks and, for the first time, talked about Israel’s role as the frontline ‘dog of war’ on behalf of its paymaster, the US.

You have to ask, what’s changed? I venture to guess that all the war talk coming out of the US has fallen on deaf ears, so let Israel take the heat instead. But make no mistake no matter what some, even on left say about the ‘tail wagging the dog’, the Zionists makes no major move without the nod from the Beltway bandits.

But in order to wind up the anté it was first necessary to erase the UN from the propaganda blitz. Instead, it’s the ‘international community’, BBC code for the US, UK and the EU. This came about because the IAEA (the International Atomic Energy Agency) didn’t ‘play ball’ over Iran’s alleged nuke weapons program. No matter, simply ignore the agency’s findings, which is precisely what’s happened.

And given the blanket and homogenous media coverage, erasing anything that doesn’t fit the current imperial reality is as simple as throwing a switch. Any ‘inconvenient’ fact is simply airbrushed out.

The BBC of course, did its bit for the dogs of war. Here’s the lead para from the BBC’s Website story,

“A day after a major Iranian ballistic missile test provoked international condemnation, the front pages in Iran are covered with pictures of the missiles soaring into the sky.” — ‘Mounting sense of crisis over Iran’ By Jon Leyne, BBC News, Tehran.

Note the use of the phrase “international condemnation” and just in case we don’t get the message, the following paras ram home the message,

“There is a note of pride in the coverage, and perhaps just a little satisfaction that Iran has finally got the world’s attention.

“For days, Iranian military leaders have been issuing ever more blood-curdling warnings about Iran’s response to any attack.”

But no mention of “blood-curdling warnings” in the BBC’s coverage of Israel’s threats to launch pre-emptive strikes against Iran. Instead we read,

“Ehud Barak, speaking in Tel Aviv, said Israel had “proved in the past that it won’t hesitate to act when its vital security interests are at stake”.” — ‘Israel ‘ready to act’ over Iran

The key phrase is “vital security interests”, which tells us absolutely nothing about Iran’s intentions but speaks reams about Israel’s.

And given all the bellicose threats made by Israel, Iran has every right to test whatever defensive weapons it chooses and moreover, buy whatever it needs to defend itself against the US and Israel.

Yet this obvious and justifed reaction to Israel’s war-mongering escapes the attention of the BBC’s coverage. Instead in the same piece ‘Mounting sense of crisis over Iran’, we read that,

“What seems to have provoked this is a recent Israeli military exercise, apparently a rehearsal for bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities.”

So why didn’t the Israeli military exercise receive the same coverage as Iran’s response to it? In fact it deserved even more coverage given the aggressive nature of it (including apparently the use of Iraqi airspace).

Elsewhere on the BBC Website, the ever-faithful (to the empire) Paul Reynolds, the BBC’s world correspondent tells us,

“The warning by the senior US military commander Adm Mike Mullen that an attack on Iran would be “extremely stressful” for US forces must lessen the chances of the US taking part in any strike against Iran.” — ‘America’s Israeli option on Iran’.[1]

The story reveals the reality of the actual relationship between the US and Israel but most importantly, the story also reveals the truth about Iran’s alleged drive to acquire nuclear weapons. Quoting the IAEA’s assessment we read,

“Iran is not making highly enriched uranium suitable for a weapon, only low-enriched uranium useable as nuclear power fuel. (Update 4 July: the evidence for this comes from the 26 May 2008 report from the IAEA, released on 5 June. This states that “the results of the environmental samples… indicate that the [enrichment] plants have been operated as declared. The samples show low-enriched uranium… particles.”)”

So why is the IAEA’s assessment not central to the coverage? Indeed, why is it not the story? Instead, it’s relegated to no more than a footnote, which, for the sake ‘objectivity’ is exactly what the BBC have done.

The issue here is the totally contradictory coverage of Israel and Iran, after all it’s Israel issuing all the threats of pre-emptive attack, not Iran, yet the BBC’s coverage is heavily weighted in Israel’s favour with its talk of “blood-curdling warnings”, though again there is no mention of what these “blood-curdling warnings” consist of, it’s enough to use the phrase as this and every other BBC story on the subject fills in all blank spots.

And with all the talk of Iran’s ‘nuclear ambitions’, it’s Israel alone in the Middle East that has an estimated 200 nuclear weapons, a fact not mentioned in any of the BBC’s so-called coverage.

Of course the question still remains, will they, won’t they bomb Iran? To attempt to answer this question we have to look at the wider context.

Iraq has now formally requested that the US leave and soon and the situation in Afghanistan is now disastrous for the occupying forces. So, the pirates need a diversion—again.

Second, oil. Even talking about trashing Iran jacked up the price of oil a few more dollars, so strategically, attacking Iran (whether it’s the US or Israel makes no difference), is unlikely at least in the near future and indeed the US military have already articulated this view.[2]

But of course the wording leaves open the option of using their proxy, Israel. Would Israel ‘go it alone’? Frankly, without US blessing I find the idea inconceivable but then given that Israel’s giant confidence trick on world opinion is unravelling, it can’t be ruled out.

And then there are those who say that the situation has gotten so desperate for capitalism that only the wholesale destruction of ‘real estate’ will ‘solve’ the problem of the over-accumulation of capital (aka WWI and WWII). A ‘fresh start’ so-to-speak and it would certainly solve the ‘credit crunch’, bank meltdowns and the rest of the assorted crises confronting capitalism.

But such ‘solutions’ take a considerable amount of ‘engineering’. First you need a really credible ‘enemy’ and Iran, in spite of all the effort expended on demonizing Iran still doesn’t quite fit the bill.

Perhaps some kind of ‘Tonkin Gulf’ provocation? Again, we have to look at the context and importantly public sentiment and judging by the BBC’s ‘Have your say’ section on its Website, the great majority of respondents are not fooled by the propaganda blitz. And yes, it’s not ‘scientific’ but then not much on the BBC’s website is.

I still maintain as I have done for the past couple of years that the endless threats are designed primarily for domestic consumption and clearly the public ain’t buying war, war, war, preferring jaw, jaw, jaw (if they express a preference for anything at all given the total alienation between rulers and ruled).

And surely the whole sorry, pathetic story of the pirates’ attempts to (re)build an empire, the sheer ineptitude and incompetence of ‘our’ leaders should surely be apparent to everyone.

Gone are the days of ‘grand plans’ of world domination for one hundred years such as those hatched toward the end of 19th century. Instead, we have a bunch of ignorant and incompetent gangsters purportedly running the show, but who nevertheless, judging by their actions are capable of almost any vile act.

And this is the really scary aspect of the situation where the ‘Chicago School’s Creative Destruction’ takes on a whole new and truly ominous meaning.

Mobilizing public opinion is the obvious response but here in the UK, the Stop The War Coalition have proved incapable of capitalizing on the initial success back in March 2003.

Compare Stop The War to Code Pink in the US for example. Code Pink have been imaginative and innovative in their approach, punching well above their weight.

Here it seems the anti-war movement is trapped in its own inertia and locked in some kind of 20th century time warp, when what is needed is daring and innovative approaches that capture the public’s attention and offer some hope to a public that has lost all belief and trust in the political class.

Notes

1. For one analysis of US covert operations against Iran see ‘Preparing the Battlefield: The Bush Administration steps up its secret moves against Iran‘ by Seymour M. Hersh July 7, 2008 but whether these are intended as a precursor to an attack is not clear. And moreover, even covert operations from within Iran by the CIA and its proxies do not have the support of all sections of the US government.

Quoting a Pentagon consultant Hersh informs us that,

“There is huge opposition inside the intelligence community to the idea of waging a covert war inside Iran, and using Baluchis and Ahwazis as surrogates. The leaders of our Special Operations community all have remarkable physical courage, but they are less likely to voice their opposition to policy. Iran is not Waziristan.”

But one thing is clear, the US ruling elite is divided over the issue of whether ‘regime change’ should be achieved by overt or covert means but obviously not over the objective.

For some useful historical background on the history of US-Iranian nuclear relations see,
1. ‘The Nuclear Showdown Between The US And Iran’ By Tim Buchholz,13 July, 2008

2. Will Israel  And/Or The U.S. Attack Iran? By Uri Avnery
Anyone who wants to guess whether Israel and/or the United States are going to attack Iran should look at the map of the Strait of Hormuz between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula. Through this narrow waterway, only 34 km wide, pass the ships that carry between a fifth and a third of the world’s oil, including that from Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain.Most of the commentators who talk about the inevitable American and Israeli attack on Iran do not take account of this map …

Some other analyses

President Bush Backs Israeli Plan for Strike on Iran By Uzi Mahnaimi in Washington
Despite the opposition of his own generals and widespread scepticism that America is ready to risk the military, political and economic consequences of an airborne strike on Iran, the president has given an “amber light” to an Israeli plan to attack Iran’s main nuclear sites with long-range bombing sorties, the official told The Sunday Times.

British MP : George Galloway Telling It Like It Is
George Galloway talking about the consequences of an attack on Iran.

Iran: Battlefront In The New World War? By Firmin DeBrabander
Iran is no third front in the War on Terror. War with Iran is a step beyond, to a new global conflict- a new Cold War, in a way- where the US plays its cards (in this case, the largest military in the world) to frustrate its opponents indirectly.

This essay is archived at: http://www.creative-i.info/?p=291

see

President Bush Backs Israeli Plan for Strike on Iran

What are Iran’s nuclear rights? + What did A. Q. Khan sell to Iran?

HR 362 and the Alarming Escalation of Hostility Towards Iran

Tomgram: Why Cheney Won’t Take Down Iran

Seymour Hersh: US Training Jondollah and MEK for Bombing preparation

What gives Bush the right to destabilize Iran by covert military operations?

Will the US Congress ratify the Bush Administration’s Decision to launch a War on Iran (H. CON. RES. 362)

Preparing the Battlefield by Seymour M. Hersh

Iran

Abstinence: Vote Not To Vote In 2008

Dandelion Salad

By Axis Editorial Board
axisoflogic.com
Jul 12, 2008

Editorial Comment: That a private corporation is given control and responsibility of the US elections is absurd. The 20 facts reported below are only one of the reasons why U.S. citizens should abstain from voting in the 2008 elections for president and the other national elections.

The second reason to vote not to vote is the fact that the people are offered up choices selected by the corporations meaning that the voter really has no honest choice in the elections. Candidates who truly oppose the system entrenched in Washington have no realistic possibility of winning an election.

Continue reading

Event Horizon by James Howard Kunstler

Dandelion Salad

by James Howard Kunstler
Speaking Truth to Power
jameshowardkunstler.typepad.com
Monday, 14 July 2008

[And it ain’t pretty–CB]

There’s a particular moment known to all Baby Boomers when Wile E. Coyote, in a rapture of over-reaching, has run past the edge of the mesa and, still licking his chops and rubbing his front paws in anticipation of fricasseed roadrunner, discovers that he is suspended in thin air by nothing more than momentum. Grin becomes chagrin. He turns a nauseating shade of green, and drops, whistling, back to earth thousands of feet below, with a distant, dismal, barely audible thud at the end of his journey. We are Wile E. Coyote Nation.

Is there anyone in the known universe who thinks that the US financial system is not fifty feet beyond the edge of the mesa of credibility?

Nothing will avail now. Not even if Sirhan Sirhan were paroled at noon today and transported directly to the West Wing with a .44 magnum in each hand (and a taxi driven by the Devil waiting outside to take him to the US Treasury and the offices of the Federal Reserve).

It’s hard to imagine what kind of melodramas were unspooling on the Hamptons lawns this weekend, while everybody else in America was watching Nascar, or plying the aisles of BJs Discount Warehouse for next week’s supply of mesquite-and-guacamole flavored Doritos, or having flames and chains tattooed on their necks, or lost in a haze of valium and methadrine.

With the death of the IndyMac Bank last week, and the GSEs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac laying side-by-side in the EMT van on IV drips, headed for the Federal Reserve’s ever more crowded intensive care unit, there was a sense of the American Dream having passed through the event horizon that denotes the opening of a black hole.

What would happen if the US Government acted to bail out these feckless enterprises (and what if they don’t)? Either way, it’s not a pretty picture. If Mr. Bernanke does start shoveling loans into the GSE black hole, he’ll further undermine the soundness of his own outfit and do nothing, really, to repair Fannie and Freddie’s structural problem of having securitized too many loans that will never be paid back. If instead Fannie and Freddie are flat-out taken over entirely by the US government (and remember the Federal Reserve is not the government), then the national debt will roughly double overnight — which will pound the US dollar down a rat-hole.

…continued

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

see

American Economy: “The Veil of Money” by Josh Sidman

IndyMac seized by regulators, marking second largest bank failure in U.S. history

U.S. stock indexes tank as crude touches new high

History Made Today In Chicago by Bruce Gagnon + video

Bruce

by Bruce Gagnon
featured writer
Dandelion Salad

Bruce’s blog post
space4peace.blogspot.com

July 12, 2008

The Greens chose Cynthia McKinney on the first ballot today in Chicago to be the party presidential nominee. Cynthia then nominated Rosa Clemente to be her running mate who was quickly approved by near unanimous acclaim.

Born and raised in the South Bronx she is a graduate of the University of Albany and Cornell University. Clemente is a highly regarded commentator, political activist, community organizer, Hip-Hop activist, and independent reporter.

Chuck D of Public Enemy says that Clemente “is one of this generations’ most important political voices and community organizers.”

In her acceptance speech McKinney defined winning as setting a goal to garner 5% of the national vote which would give the Green Party major party status on the national level. McKinney made it clear that her run for president is all about building an alternative to the two war parties. The corporate parties have to flip-flop on the issues she said “because they have to appear to agree” with our progressive values while they then do the bidding of the corporations who pay their freight.

Maine delegates gave McKinney the 5th most votes of any state during the first round of balloting. Only New York, Illinois, California, and Wisconsin gave her more presidential delegate votes.

Ralph Nader came in a distant second in the presidential balloting which indicated that while people still respect him, his day of gaining the ballot lines via the Green Party across the nation are over. At this point McKinney will be on the ballot in at least 25 states across the nation next November . Greens in other states are still attempting to cross the enormously difficult ballot status barriers that keep the Republicans and Democrats from being challenged.

Just after the nomination process concluded 2004 Green Party presidential candidate David Cobb made a rousing introduction speech of McKinney. It was Cobb, and the Green Party, that challenged the well-documented vote fraud in Ohio in 2004 that put Bush in the White House again. While John Kerry, and the Democratic Party, violated their promise to “fight for every vote” it fell to the Greens to file the legal challenge to protect disenfranchised voters in Ohio.

Before McKinney’s acceptance speech, a video was played on the huge screen above the stage in the Chicago Symphony Center with John Lennon singing his song “Power to the People.” McKinney has adopted that slogan as her campaign theme and it brought tears to me eyes to see her dancing on the stage during the Lennon song.

I felt that it was a moment of liberation for McKinney and the Green Party. McKinney was free of the restraints that come from being a “good” Democratic Party elected official where you are expected to toe the party line and not challenge the party orthodoxy. Now McKinney is free to be herself – to speak truth to power as she so effectively does. In fact on the podium, as McKinney spoke, was a sign that read TRUTH.

With the nomination of McKinney and Clemente the Green Party is now free to become the real radical alternative party that it should be – radical in the sense of “getting to the roots” of the issues at hand and building the political base to make the needed changes. The Green Party took a huge step today in the creation of a multi-ethnic party with leadership from black and Latino communities. This is a must as we look at the coming demographic changes in America. There will be no progressive movement in America without active leadership from people of color working alongside of progressive white activists.

To say the least it was refreshing.

I’ve been a McKinney watcher for years as she was one of the key voices in the Congress who time and again spoke on behalf of “the people”. McKinney has been run out of office twice by the power structure and vilified by the corporate media for having the audacity to speak against war and corporate domination. I am sure her nomination will be greeted with scorn by the corporate masters.

For me today was a revolutionary moment. Since working on the Jesse Jackson presidential campaign in 1984, and seeing the hope of a “Rainbow coalition” whither away, I’ve thirsted for the coming together of the movements. Today’s event clearly indicated the enormous possibilities that exist for revolutionary peace, social justice, and ecological organizing in the U.S. if people are willing to step into this historic moment.

The change we all long for will not come from the Democratic Party. A new positive and earth shaking train has just left the station. The question remains will people who see themselves as progressive have the wisdom to get on-board and not be left behind sorting through the crumbs left behind by the corporate parties.

***

Updated

Cynthia Mckinney Accepts Green Party Nomination

CSPANJUNKIEdotORG

http://cspanjunkie.org/
July 13, 2008 C-SPAN

see

Cynthia McKinney Announces Run for President (video)

McKinney-Cynthia

Nouri al-Maliki ready to oust US from Iraq green zone

Dandelion Salad

Marie Colvin in Baghdad
The Sunday Times
July 13, 2008

The green zone of Baghdad, a highly fortified slice of American suburbia on the banks of the Tigris river, may soon be handed over to Iraqi control if the increasingly assertive government of Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister, gets its way.

A senior Iraqi government official said this weekend the enclave should revert to Iraqi control by the end of the year. “We think that by the end of 2008 all the zones in Baghdad should be integrated into the city,” said Ali Dabbagh, the government’s spokesman.

“The American soldiers should be based in agreed camps outside the cities and population areas.

…continued

h/t: CLG

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.