Ray McGovern and Jason Leopold: 9/11 Not an “Intelligence Failure” + Ralph Nader on 9/11: The Empire’s Overkill + Abby Martin: 9/11 and the Belligerent Empire

9/11 Was an Inside Job

Image by PunkToad via Flickr

Dandelion Salad
Originally posted Sept. 11, 2011

on Sep 11, 2011

Ray McGovern and Jason Leopold: The intelligence agencies had the information, the question is why didn’t they use it?

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More Evidence of Medical Experimentation at Guantánamo

by Andy Worthington
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
www.andyworthington.co.uk
22 December, 2010

In an investigative report for Truthout, my colleagues Jason Leopold and the psychologist and blogger Jeffrey Kaye have followed up on an important story they published three weeks ago, “Controversial Drug Given to All Guantánamo Detainees Akin to ‘Pharmacologic Waterboarding’” (which I cross-posted here, with commentary). In that article, they revealed how, in the months following the opening of Guantánamo on January 11, 2002, every single prisoner was forced to “take a high dosage of a controversial antimalarial drug, mefloquine, an act that an Army public health physician called ‘pharmacologic waterboarding.’”

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All Guantánamo Prisoners Were Subjected to “Pharmacological Waterboarding” by Andy Worthington

by Andy Worthington
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
www.andyworthington.co.uk
3 December, 2010

In one narrative of the “War on Terror,” President Bush scrapped the protections of the Geneva Conventions — including Common Article 3, which prohibits “cruel treatment and torture” and “outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment.” — for prisoners at Guantánamo, and established the prison as an offshore interrogation center to protect the United States from further terrorist attacks. This narrative is distressing enough, as it involves a deliberate attempt to discard domestic and international laws and treaties so that prisoners seized in wartime — mixed up with a handful of terrorist suspects — could be held indefinitely and subjected to torture, but it is not, in fact, the most compelling explanation of the purpose of the detention policies implemented in the “War on Terror.”

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New Report Reveals How Bush Torture Program Involved Human Experimentation

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by Andy Worthington
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
www.andyworthington.co.uk
7 June, 2010

In a 27-page report, “Experiments in Torture: Human Subject Research and Evidence of Experimentation in the ‘Enhanced’ Interrogation Program” (available here), the organization Physicians for Human Rights has brought into sharp focus the role played by US medical personnel in torture and human experimentation. As the introduction on PHR’s website states, this is “the first report to reveal evidence indicating that CIA medical personnel allegedly engaged in the crime of illegal experimentation after 9/11, in addition to the previously disclosed crime of torture. In their attempt to justify the war crime of torture, the CIA appears to have committed another alleged war crime — illegal experimentation on prisoners.”

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Ralph Nader: Congress has shut us out

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Ralph Nader after the speech - Green Lecture

Image by Dandelion Salad via Flickr

Jason Leopold interviewing Ralph Nader
Truthout
Oct. 2009

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Jason Leopold and Andy Worthington on closing Guantanamo Bay Prison

by Andy Worthington
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
www.andyworthington.co.uk
11 October 2009

Three months ago, veteran progressive radio host Peter B. Collins interviewed me for an in-depth podcast on his website, where, as I described it at the time, he is “pioneering a listener-funded new media project to make hard-hitting political interviews available online without editorial interference from networks and without the often extensive advertising breaks that do so much to disrupt the flow of so many shows.” Continue reading

5 Years After Blackout, Power Grid Still in ‘Dire Straits’

Dandelion Salad

Had a power outage last night for 2 hours, of course the Internet connection went down for over 3 hours. Luckily it wasn’t too hot, and have no idea what happened at 12:20 AM to have brought this on.  ~ Lo

By Jason Leopold
The Public Record
Thursday, August 07, 2008

Five years ago this month, a devastating blackout rippled through the Northeastern United States plunging more than 50 million people into darkness for nearly three days and leaving a gaping $10 billion hole in the nation’s economy.

The power outage, however, wasn’t an isolated incident.

[…]

The US power grid – three interconnected grids made up of 3,500 utilities serving 283 million people – still hangs together by a thread, and its dilapidated state is perhaps one of the greatest threats to homeland security, according to Bruce deGrazia, the president of Global Homeland Security Advisors and a former assistant deputy undersecretary for the Department of Defense, who spoke at an electricity industry conference in Shepherdstown, Va.

[…]

In an article in the May 7, 2008 issue of Energy Bulletin, Gail E. Tverberg wrote “in the years ahead, we in the United States will have more and more problems with our electric grid. This is likely to result in electrical outages of greater and greater durations.”

“Quite a few people believe that if there is a decline in oil production, we can make up much of the difference by increasing our use of electricity–more nuclear, wind, solar voltaic, geothermal or even coal. The problem with this model is that it assumes that our electric grid will be working well enough for this to happen. It seems to me that there is substantial doubt that this will be the case.

…continued and map

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White House Query Led to Memo Advising Bush to Ignore Fourth Amendment

Dandelion Salad

By Jason Leopold
After Downing Street
April 4, 2008

Eleven days after 9/11, John Yoo, a former deputy in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, drafted a 20-page memorandum that offered up theories on how Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures would be applied if the U.S. military used “deadly force in a manner that endangered the lives of United States citizens.”

Yoo came up with a number of different scenarios. He suggested shooting down a jetliner hijacked by terrorists; setting up military checkpoints inside a U.S. city; implementing surveillance methods far more superior than those available to law enforcement; or using military forces “to raid or attack dwellings where terrorists were thought to be, despite risks that third parties could be killed or injured by exchanges of fire,” says a copy of the little known Sept. 21, 2001 memo.

Yoo, the author of an August 2002 legal opinion widely referred to as the “Torture Memo” that gave CIA interrogators the legal authority to use brutal methods against suspected terrorists to extract information, drafted the memo in response to a question posed by Timothy E. Flanigan, the former deputy White House counsel, who wanted to know “the legality of the use of military force to prevent or deter terrorist activity inside the United States,” according to a copy of Flanigan’s memo.

Yoo wrote that his ideas would likely be seen as violating the Fourth Amendment. But he said the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and the prospect that future attacks would require the military to be deployed inside the U.S. meant President Bush would “be justified in taking measures which in less troubled conditions could be seen as infringements of individual liberties.”

“We think that the Fourth Amendment should be no more relevant than it would be in cases of invasion or insurrection,” Yoo’s memo stated.

Yoo also wrote in the Sept. 21, 2001 memo that domestic surveillance activities, such as monitoring telephone calls and without a court’s permission, might be proper notwithstanding the ban in the Fourth Amendment on unreasonable searches and seizures.

The Sept. 21, 2001 memo Yoo sent to Flanigan was referred to in a lengthy story published click here in the New York Times on October 24, 2004. The Times story said Yoo’s suggestions for suspending the Fourth Amendment was hypothetical at best.

But another legal opinion Yoo, now a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley, drafted less than two years later says that the Bush administration accepted Yoo’s legal theory as policy for more than one year beginning in late October 2001.

Earlier this week, the Pentagon declassified an 81-page memorandum Yoo drafted in March 2003 that authorized military interrogators to use brutal techniques to obtain information about terrorist plans from prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The memo was publicly released as part of the American Civil Liberties Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Pentagon.

Buried deep within that legal document is a footnote that refers to an Oct. 23, 2001 legal memorandum written by Yoo.

“Our office recently concluded that the Fourth Amendment had no application to domestic military operations,” the footnote states, referring to a 37-page document titled “Authority for Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist Activities Within the United States.”

Yoo based his opinion on the 1990 drug case US v. Verdugo-Urquide in which the Supreme Court refused to hear a lawsuit brought against the United States by a Mexican citizen whose home was searched by federal agents without a search warrant. In rejecting the Fourth Amendment claim, the Court said aliens could not claim the benefit of the Constitution for conduct outside the United States—such aliens were not part of the “we the people” who benefited from the Fourth Amendment. Further, the Court found that allowing such claims would have significant and deleterious consequences for the United States in conducting activities beyond its boundaries, not just in drug cases…but in the use of armed forces abroad “for the protection of American citizens or national security.”

Yoo refers to the case in his 2006 book, “War by Other Means: An Insider’s Account of the War on Terror,” where he argues in more than 23 separate pages about the various legal reasons local and federal law enforcement agencies, as well as a sitting U.S. president, could ignore the Fourth Amendment. Yoo’s legal theories revolve primarily around domestic surveillance activities.

“If Al-Qaeda organizes missions within the United States, our surveillance simply cannot be limited to law enforcement,” Yoo wrote in his book. “The Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement should not apply, because it is concerned with regulating searches, not with military attacks.”

Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU’s National Security Project, said Yoo helped President Bush break the law by giving the legal guidance to ignore the Constitution.

“The recent disclosures underscore the Bush administration’s extraordinarily sweeping conception of executive power,” Jaffer said. “The administration’s lawyers believe the president should be permitted to violate statutory law, to violate international treaties, and even to violate the Fourth Amendment inside the U.S. They believe that the president should be above the law.”

Jaffer said the Bush administration has never argued publicly that the Fourth Amendment did not apply to military operations within the U.S.

White House spokesman Tony Fratto said Thursday the administration hasn’t relied on Yoo’s Oct. 23, 2001 memo for more than five years.

Still, Congress said it has spent a considerable amount of time trying to pry loose the memo from the Department of Justice.

On Thursday, John Conyers, the Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, wrote a letter to Attorney General Michael Mukasey saying he was rebuffed on two previous occasions—on February 12 and 20th–when he wrote the DOJ requesting the Oct. 23, 2001 memo be turned over to his committee

“Based on the title of the October 23, 2001 memorandum, and based on what has been disclosed and the contents of similar memoranda issued at roughly the same time, it is clear that a substantial portion of this memorandum provides a legal analysis and conclusions as to the nature and scope of the Presidential Commander in Chief power to accomplish specific acts within the United States,” Conyers wrote.

“The people of the United States are entitled to know the Justice Department’s interpretation of the President’s constitutional powers to wage war in the United States,” Conyers added. “There can be no actual basis in national security for keeping secret the remainder of a legal memorandum that addresses this issue of Constitutional interpretation The notion that the President can claim to operate under “secret” powers known only to the President and a select few subordinates is antithetical to the core principles of this democracy. We ask that you promptly release the October 23, 2001, memorandum.”

Jason Leopold is the author of the National Bestseller, “News Junkie,” a memoir. Visit www.newsjunkiebook.com for a preview. He is also a two-time winner of the Project Censored award, most recently, in 2007, for an investigative story related to Halliburton’s work in Iran. He was recently named the recipient of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation’s Thomas Jefferson Award for a series of stories he wrote that exposed how soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan have been pressured to accept fundamentalist Christianity. Leopold is working on a new nonprofit online publication, expected to launch soon.

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

The Constitution, John Yoo, and You

Olbermann: RIP Habeas Corpus + Send In The Clowns + N.I.E Or L.I.E? + 4 McMore Years

Cheney Pursuing Nuclear Ambitions of His Own by Jason Leopold

Dandelion Salad

by Jason Leopold
Global Research, November 6, 2007
t r u t h o u t

While Dick Cheney has been talking tough over the years about Iran’s alleged nuclear activities, the vice president has been quietly pursuing nuclear ambitions of his own.

For more than two years, Cheney and a relatively unknown administration official, Deputy Energy Secretary Clay Sell, have been regularly visiting the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to ensure agency officials rewrite regulatory policies and bypass public hearings in order to streamline the licensing process for energy companies that have filed applications to build new nuclear power reactors, as well as applications for new nuclear facilities that are expected to be filed by other companies in the months ahead, longtime NRC officials said.

Before being sworn in as deputy energy secretary in March 2005, Sell, a lawyer whose roots extend to Bush’s home state of Texas, was a White House lobbyist working on energy issues. He had also participated in secret meetings with Cheney’s Energy Task Force.

In April, Sell and Cheney had both met with NRC officials to sign off on the final regulatory policies related to new nuclear reactors. Following the meeting, Sell had alerted a group of energy companies they could begin to take advantage of the faster application process, NRC officials said.

NRC officials said that Cheney has expressed a desire to see applications for nuclear reactor projects approved by the NRC when he and Bush leave the White House in January 2009.

The energy corporations Cheney and Sell have been personally lobbying the NRC on behalf of this year have advised the vice president and his staff on energy policy in a way that would boost their companies’ profit margins. These corporations have also donated millions of dollars to President Bush’s and Cheney’s past presidential campaigns.

One of the cornerstones of President Bush’s National Energy Policy, released in May 2001, but never wholly adopted, was “the expansion of nuclear energy in the United States as a major component of our national energy policy.” Cheney said that reviving the nuclear power industry would be long-term solution to the country’s increasing thirst for electricity.

At a time when public awareness surrounding renewable energy resources, the devastating effects of global warming and the importance of conservation is at an all-time high, the Bush administration has steered tens of billions in taxpayer dollars toward revamping the dormant nuclear power industry, touting it as the only proven technology to combat climate change.

Behind the scenes, Cheney and Sell have worked in tandem with the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), a powerful industry organization whose members include some of the country’s largest energy corporations, to get the NRC to rewrite long-standing environmental review policies and limit oversight of new nuclear projects, thereby simplifying the application process, and significantly cutting down the time it takes to get new nuclear projects off the ground, an NRC official said.

The Nuclear Energy Institute spent $680,000 during the first half of 2007 lobbying the White House, Congress, the Department of Energy, and other federal agencies, according to a disclosure form posted online August 13 by the Senate’s public records office. Cheney’s longtime friend, Tom Loeffler, a former lobbyist and Republican congressman, represented the NEI. Loeffler’s former aide, Nancy Dorn, worked as a Congressional liaison for Cheney, and later became a lobbyist for General Electric.

Cheney and Sell’s behind-the-scenes efforts have been a boon for the nuclear energy industry – and to Westinghouse Electric, a nuclear reactor designer whose AP1000 reactor unit was certified by the Department of Energy. The company stands to earn tens of billions of dollars in profit through the sale of just a few of its nuclear reactor units. Cheney has said publicly he wants to see dozens scattered across the US.

In September, Princeton-based NRG Energy Inc., having emerged from bankruptcy proceedings, became the first company in 30 years to submit an application to build two new General Electric-designed nuclear reactors at its Bay City, Texas, nuclear power plant facility, a move that came as a direct result of several private meetings NRG lobbyists and executives held with Cheney and Sell, according to company officials. NRG’s former president, David Peterson, traveled to Washington on two occasions in 2001 to help Cheney’s Energy Task Force shape the country’s energy policy, according to government records.

Prior to NRG’s application, there had not been a filing for a new nuclear power plant in the United States since before the Three Mile Island nuclear reactor meltdown three decades ago.

NRG Chief Executive David Crane told investors recently that massive federal tax incentives and federal loan guarantees included in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 was the deciding factor in steering the company toward the $6 billion nuclear project.

“The whole reason we started down this path was the benefits written into the [Energy Policy Act] of 2005,” Crane said.

That legislation calls for upwards of $125 million in annual tax credits for a nuclear plant, in addition to loan guarantees that would cover about 80 percent of construction costs. Furthermore, the federal government provided $2 billion in risk insurance for application costs, thereby protecting energy companies in the event they would not be able to finance a nuclear project due to regulatory obstacles.

The federal loan program automatically requires taxpayers to cover any defaults on the loans. In a February report to Congress, the Government Accountability Office said failure to properly account for default risks in the loan program was one factor that “could result in substantial financial costs to the taxpayer.”

A 2003 Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report said the risk of utilities defaulting on loans for new nuclear plants is “very high – well above 50 percent.”

In October, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the nation’s largest public power provider, also filed an application with the NRC for a license to construct and operate two new nuclear power reactors in northern Alabama using General Electric’s Westinghouse AP1000 reactor units. The application was filed under the banner of NuStart Energy, LLC, a consortium of electric utilities that joined together in 2004 to test the NRC’s streamlined nuclear reactor licensing program. The licensing costs were paid for by the federal government under an Energy Department program called Nuclear Power 2010 (NP2010), to promote construction of new nuclear power plants.

According to the Department of Energy’s web site, NP2010 was launched in 2002, and “is a joint government/industry cost-shared effort that can help provide solutions to meet future base load energy demand and address climate change. Specifically, NP2010 seeks to: demonstrate new, untested processes for licensing reactors in the United States; identify sites for new nuclear power plants, complete first-of-a-kind engineering of new reactor designs; develop and bring to market advanced nuclear plant technologies, and evaluate the business case for building new nuclear power plants.”

Sell said TVA’s application was a “a monumental step toward the rebirth of nuclear power in the United States.”

He also touted General Electric and Westinghouse’s AP1000 reactor units as cutting edge, which subsequently helped boost the stocks of both companies. Sell said TVA’s application lays the groundwork for dozens of Westinghouse AP1000 reactors to be built in the United States. General Electric had been one of the company’s that advised Cheney on the National Energy Policy.

Members of the NuStart consortium include: Constellation Energy, Duke Energy, EDF International North America, the US subsidiary of the French electric utility, Entergy Nuclear, Exelon Generation, Florida Power & Light Company, Progress Energy, South Carolina Electric & Gas, Southern Company and Tennessee Valley Authority, Knoxville, Tennessee.

With the exception of Progress Energy, South Carolina Electric Gas & Light and EDF International, all of these companies participated in meetings with Cheney’s Energy Task Force and advised the vice president on energy policy. Additionally, these corporations have said publicly they intend to file applications for nuclear reactor licenses before the end of 2008, the deadline to receive billions of dollars in federal subsidies and tax credits. The NRC says it expects to receive as many as 21 applications to build 32 new reactors before the end of 2008, with most, if not all, expected to go online in 2015.

Since 2005, Sell has met with the corporate executives of the consortium at least half-a-dozen times. He has relayed to top NRC officials the group’s concerns over the agency’s decade-old regulatory policy related to the lengthy review process of licensing nuclear power plants, and, with Cheney’s backing, urged the NRC to draft new rules that calls for granting a combined construction and operating license, which will essentially result in a decrease in oversight and public scrutiny, according to three senior officials at the Energy Department.

In an October 30 news release, the DOE said it “selected NuStart to demonstrate the NRC’s untested process for licensing new reactors in the United States, and for obtaining regulatory approval of new reactor designs.”

Meanwhile, the Energy Department has undertaken a massive public relations effort, expected to continue until the end of 2008, to promote nuclear energy as the new “green” energy.

In early October, Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman, in a speech at a nuclear power conference held at the Howard Baker Center for Public Policy at the University of Tennessee, described nuclear energy as “safe, clean and reliable. And, for the foreseeable future, it is the only mature, emissions-free technology that can supply the power America will need to meet the projected increase in demand for electricity over the next 25 years. This is one of the reasons we have put so much emphasis on bringing about a nuclear renaissance here in the United States.”

In 2003, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology released a study, “The Future of Nuclear Power,” that said even with volatile natural gas prices and a wildly fluctuating market, the cost of producing electricity from nuclear power plants is still 20 percent more expensive than electricity produced from gas-fired power plants, and 60 percent more expensive than electricity produced from a coal-fired power plant.

Earlier this year, Bodman, while promoting nuclear energy as an alternative to fossil fuels, said the Bush administration would continue to oppose mandatory reductions in greenhouse gases in the form of CO2 caps, following a report released in January by the world’s leading climate scientists that said the emissions of greenhouse gases were to blame for severe heat waves, floods and an increase in more intense hurricanes and tropical storms. Bodman said mandatory caps could financially ruin some of the energy companies responsible for polluting the air.

“There is a concern within this administration, which I support, that the imposition of a carbon cap in this country would – may – lead to the transfer of jobs and industry abroad (to nations) that do not have such a carbon cap,” Bodman said in February. “You would then have the US economy damaged, on the one hand, and the same emissions … potentially even worse emissions.”

Before being tapped as Energy Secretary, Bodman ran a chemical company, Cabot Corporation that spent years on the top five lists of the country’s worst polluters. In 1997 alone, Cabot was responsible for the 54,000 tons of toxic emissions his company’s refineries released into the atmosphere. Cabot was identified as the fourth-largest source of toxic emissions in Texas. Cabot is the world’s largest producer of industrial carbon black, a byproduct of the oil refinery process. Bodman is the wealthiest official in the Bush administration. His net worth is estimated to be between $42 million and $164 million, the bulk of it in Cabot stock, deferred compensation, and other benefits.

Perhaps the thorniest issue neither Cheney, Sell, Bodman nor the nuclear energy industry has yet to address is how it plans to dispose of nuclear waste. The Department of Energy, the agency largely responsible for monitoring nuclear waste, plans on submitting an application to the NRC next year to build a repository at Yucca Mountain, the site of a former nuclear testing ground in Nevada, where the agency has proposed burying the waste deep underground. The review process is expected to take at least three years.

But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the Democrat from Nevada, is opposed to the DOE’s plan, and has vowed to continue to cut funding for the Yucca Mountain project.

“In over 50 years of operating experience, the nuclear industry still has not managed to solve the problems of safety, security, and disposal of highly dangerous radioactive waste,” said Jon Block, nuclear energy and climate change project manager for the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). “Until that happens, we’re much better off investing in safer, cleaner energy sources such as renewable wind, geothermal, tidal, and solar projects.”

Jason Leopold is senior editor and reporter for Truthout. He received a Project Censored award in 2007 for his story on Halliburton’s work in Iran.

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