The FBI’s Multi-Billion “High-Tech Surveillance” Program
The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s budget request for Fiscal Year 2010 reveals that America’s political police intend to greatly expand their high-tech surveillance capabilities.
According to ABC News, the FBI is seeking additional funds for the development of “a new ‘Advanced Electronic Surveillance’ program which is being funded at $233.9 million for 2010. The program has 133 employees, 15 of whom are agents.” Continue reading →
by Prof. Michael Hudson
Global Research, May 22, 2009
Marginalist Panaceas to Today’s Structural Problems
It looks like bookstores are about to be swamped this summer and fall by a forest of advice for which publishers gave respectable advances a year ago as the economy was going off the rails. Seeking to minimize the risk of cognitive dissonance, the marketing strategy seems to be to offer advice by well-placed or celebrity insiders on how to recover the kind of free lunch that American pension plans – and popular hopes for easy wealth – have long assumed to be part of the natural law of economic growth, if only it can be better managed. The fantasy people want to buy is that the happy 1981-2007 era of debt-leveraged price gains for real estate, stocks and bonds can be brought back. But the Bubble Economy was so debt-leveraged that it cannot reasonably be restored. This means that publishers have achieved the marketer’s dream of planned obsolescence: Readers a year or so from now will have to buy a new slew of books as they feel hungry again from the lack of intellectual protein.
For the time being we are supposed to be satisfied Wall Street defenses of the Bush-Obama (Paulson-Geithner) attempt to re-inflate the Bubble by a bailout giveaway that has tripled America’s national debt in the hope of getting bank credit (that is, more debt) growing again. The problem is that debt leveraging is what caused the economic collapse. A third of U.S. real estate is now estimated to be in negative equity, with foreclosure rates still rising. So publishers have only a short window of opportunity to sell the current spate of books before people wake up to the fact that attempts to renew the Bubble Economy will make our financial overhead heavier.
Recently declassified documents obtained by investigators Jeremy Bigwood and Eva Golinger reveal that the US Agency for International Development USAID has invested more than $97 million in “decentralization” and “regional autonomy” projects and opposition political parties in Bolivia since 2002. The documents, requested under the Freedom of Information Act FOIA, evidence that USAID in Bolivia was the “first donor to support departmental governments” and “decentralization programs” in the country, proving that the US agency has been one of the principal funders and fomenters of the separatist projects promoted by regional governments in Eastern Bolivia.
Decentralization and separatism
The documents confirm that USAID has been managing approximately $85 million annually in Bolivia during the past few years, divided amongst programs related to security, democracy, economic growth and human investment. The Democracy Program is focused on a series of priorities, the first outlined as “Decentralized democratic governments: departmental governments and municipalities”. One document, classified as “sensitive”, explains that this particular program began when USAID=2 0established an Office for Transition Initiatives (OTI) en Bolivia during 2004. The OTIs are a division of USAID that function as rapid response teams to political crises in countries strategically important to US interests. The OTI only address political issues, despite USAID’s principal mission dedicated to humanitarian aid and development assistance, and they generally have access to large amounts of liquid funds in order to quickly and efficiently achieve their objectives. The OTI operate as intelligence agencies due to their relative secrecy and filtering mechanism that involves large contracts given to US companies to operate temporary offices in nations where OTI requires channeling millions of dollars to political parties and NGOs that work in favor of Washington’s agenda. After the failed coup d’etat against President Chávez in April 2002, USAID set up an OTI in Venezuela two months later, in June 2002, with a budget over $10 million for its first two years. Since then, the OTI has filtered more than $50 million through five US entities that set up shop in Caracas subsequently, reaching more than 450 NGOs, political parties and programs that support the opposition to President Chávez.
In the era of embedded media, independent journalists have become the eyes and ears of the world. Without those un-embedded journalists willing to risk their lives to place themselves on the other side of the barrel of the tank or the gun or under the airstrikes, history would be written almost entirely from the vantage point of powerful militaries, or—at the very least—it would be told from the perspective of the troops doing the shooting, rather than the civilians who always pay the highest price.
In the case of the Iraq invasion and occupation, the journalists who have placed themselves in danger most often are local Iraqi journalists. Some 116 Iraqi journalists and media workers have been killed in the line of duty since March 2003. In all, 189 journalists have been killed in Iraq. At least 16 of these journalists were killed by the US military, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. The network that has most often found itself under US attack is Al Jazeera. As I wrote a few years ago in The Nation: Continue reading →
Senator Chris Dodd
U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs
448 Russell Building
Washington, DC 20510
Congressman Barney Frank
House Committee on Financial Services
2252 Rayburn H.O.B.
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Senator Dodd and Congressman Frank:
The government-led restructuring of Chrysler and General Motors has been twice delegated — first by Congress to the Executive, and then by the President to a task force. Formally made up of cabinet officials and high-level political appointees, control over the process has in fact been delegated, without adequate standards, to a handful of special advisers. Thus has the future of a centerpiece of American manufacturing capacity been delegated to a small unelected and largely unaccountable group arranged to avoid the Federal Advisory Committee Act. The Congress must, at the least, reclaim its oversight role in this process, and subject the Auto Task Force’s proposals and plans to careful scrutiny before irreversible measures — such as a GM bankruptcy filing — are undertaken.
The fragile state of constitutional government and deep crisis of American democracy has been laid bare by the extraordinary public confrontation between President Barack Obama and former Vice President Dick Cheney on Thursday morning.
Speaking before a public audience at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., Obama accused the previous administration of violating the Constitution. Obama’s speech, devoted to a defense of his decision to close the Guantánamo prison camp, had been scheduled at the last moment. Its purpose, clearly, was to preempt Cheney’s attack, of which the president had been forewarned.
That attack came within minutes of the conclusion of the president’s remarks. Cheney, speaking before members of a right-wing intelligence think tank, delivered a provocative and bitter denunciation of the president. Dismissing with derision Obama’s criticisms of the Bush administration’s policy of “enhanced interrogation”—i.e., torture—the former vice president all but accused the president of aiding and abetting the enemies of the United States.
On June 15th and 16th the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will hold its ninth annual heads of state summit in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg.
It will be attended by the presidents of its six full members – China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – and by representatives of various ranks from its four observer states – India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan – and from several aspiring partner nations yet to be announced.
The SCO as an institution and as a concept represents the world’s greatest potential and in ways is its major paradox as its capacities and their realization to date are so far apart.
Its six full members account for 60% of the land mass of Eurasia and its population is a third of the world’s. With observer states included, its affiliates account for half of the human race.
By Ray McGovern
May 23, 2009 “”Information Clearing House”
If we hear in the coming days that former vice president Dick Cheney has fired one of his speechwriters – or perhaps grounded Lynne or Liz – it will be clear why.
Oozing out of the sleazy speech he gave Thursday at the American Enterprise Institute was an inadvertent truth regarding the Israeli albatross hanging around the neck of U.S. policy in the Middle East.
I watched the speech, but had missed the gaffe until I went carefully through the written text before a radio interview Thursday evening. It amounts to a major faux pas, though I’ll give you odds that the usual-suspect pundits of the Fawning Corporate Media FCM will not touch it, because it raises troubling questions about the close U.S. relationship with Israel.