Ten Characteristics of A True US Patriot

Ten Characteristics of A True US Patriot

A True US Patriot

We, the People of the United States of America, finding ourselves repeatedly misled by those charged with the care and governance of our nation, know that partisan politics have resulted in a serious breach of the public trust.

We have suffered attacks against our Constitutional rights and the founding tenets of this Democratic Republic.
We have suffered the infringement of our freedoms.
We have suffered insult to our honor and integrity as proud citizens.

We will no longer suffer in silence this continued assault that has now passed beyond intolerable.

We do hereby now and forever reject the bastardization of this nation’s core principles through this proclamation, and define this reminder to our wayward leaders just what it takes to be a True US Patriot:

1 A True US Patriot realizes if the rights of one are violated, the rights of all are at risk, and objects to any attempt to alter the Constitution in order to specifically undermine the rights and freedoms of others, ensuring that the Constitution will never be amended to endorse discrimination of any kind.
2 A True US Patriot holds the founding principles of the Declaration of Independence to be self-evident, and defends the Constitutional rights of others even when those rights conflict with personal and religious beliefs; believing that all men are created equal, even in times of war, the basic principles of humanity apply not only to one group of people or nation, but to all.
3 A True US Patriot supports the checks and balances within the three branches of government and rejects any attempts to circumvent or undermine them.
4 A True US Patriot exercises the right to openly challenge and hold accountable at all times, even and most particularly in times of war, those who do not honor their oaths of office, who purposely mislead the nation, who abdicate responsibility when those in their employ are caught engaging in criminal and unethical activities, and who fail to serve the nation with integrity.
5 A True US Patriot recognizes the contributions of the older generation and values the potential of the next, and that in order to promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves, our elders, and our Posterity, we must ensure that the basic rights of those we hold dear to access quality healthcare and education is steadfastly supported, uncompromisingly and without discrimination based on race, color, creed, gender, or orientation.
6 A True US Patriot believes that human rights are inherent to the human condition and should not be given to non-living entities; the rights of corporations should not equal or exceed the rights of any individual, and the right to fair and equal trade as well as fair and equal pay are a vital part of those expectations.
7 A True US Patriot recalls that our citizens consist of the tired and the poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the ‘wretched refuse’, and homeless, tempest-tossed people, and welcomes fair and balanced immigration with managed borders to ensure an open policy while maintaining and increasing security for both those who would call this land their home as well as those who already dwell within.
8 A True US Patriot respects the personal religious choices of others, refrains from imposing their own beliefs upon others, refuses to support war in the name of religion, and offers foreign humanitarian aid unconditionally without tying it to religious dogma.
9 A True US Patriot knows that due process of law and the protections against illegal search and seizure are core principles upon which our nation is founded, and the respect of an individual’s right to privacy and security within their own home is critical to the preservation of our freedom.
10 A True US Patriot respects the diversity and culture of all nations, recognizing that our continued success lay not in spite of other nations but in alliance with them in a uniform approach toward promoting the global general welfare.
These ten basic tenets characterizing a True US Patriot can perhaps best be summed up in the words of Eric Zorn of the Chicago Tribune, paraphrased below:
A True US Patriot loves what his country stands for, not necessarily what his country does, and will not shrink from holding America to her ideals¹.

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¹ Eric Zorn, The Chicago Tribune, “Durbin should have stood up for his opinion”, June 23, 2005.
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Our ‘leaders’ have taken to calling each other ‘un-American’ and ‘un-Patriotic’ a lot lately. This list of ten characteristics of ‘A True US Patriot‘ was compiled by a group of US Citizens both here and abroad. Let this list serve to help remind those who serve us that these terms were not meant to be bandied about like a club, bludgeoning opponents into submission.

Write or call the toll-free numbers of all your elected officials— from your local town/city council members to the President of the United States— and tell them about A True US Patriot. Let them know about this blog. Tell them that True US Patriots created this list, together. Ask your newspaper why it hasn’t published an article on this subject. Let your friends and neighbors know about it.

Pass it around!

It’s time for our elected representatives to be reminded – this is our country, our nation, and they serve both it, and us.

It’s time to tell the media that it must live up to the role of champion of the truth, and ask the tough questions.

Is Pakistan’s “Public Enemy Number One” A CIA Asset? Of Course He Is!

FINALLY, CONFIRMATION,

“AL QAIDA’S MAIN MAN” IN PAKISTAN

IS REALLY CIA, MEANING “AL QAIDA”=CIA

Is Pakistan’s “Public Enemy Number One” A CIA Asset? Of Course He Is! Otherwise He’d Have Been Dead A Long Time Ago

Winter Patriot

August 6, 2008

Pakistan’s most feared terrorist communicates with encryption so strong the Pakistani intelligence services cannot crack it. He gets information on Pakistani troop movements from an unidentified foreign government. He’s said to be responsible for the vast majority of terrorist attacks in Pakistan (including the assassination of Benazir Bhutto), but the Americans — who don’t mind bombing “Islamic militants” in Pakistan every now and then — have refused to attack him despite having solid information as to his whereabouts. And on, and on, and on…

All this and more is highlighted in a excellent piece from “State of Pakistan“, which I have reproduced in full below, with just a bit of editing and a few comments.

Baithullah Mehsud could be a CIA ‘intelligence asset’ in this double game

A report published by the News on August 5, 2008 includes the following (apparently based on information given by the ISI officials):

“The top US military commander and the CIA official were also asked why the CIA-run predator[s] and the US military did not swing into action when they were provided the exact location of Baitullah Mehsud [photo], Pakistan’s enemy number one and the mastermind of almost every suicide operation against the Pakistan Army and the ISI since June 2006. One such precise piece of information was made available to the CIA on May 24 when Baitullah Mehsud drove to a remote South Waziristan mountain post in his Toyota Land Cruiser to address the press and returned back to his safe abode. The United States military has the capacity to direct a missile to a precise location at very short notice as it has done close to 20 times in the last few years to hit al-Qaeda targets inside Pakistan. Pakistani official[s] have long been intrigued by the presence of highly encrypted communications gear with Baitullah Mehsud. This communication gear enables him to collect real-time information on Pakistani troop movement from an unidentified foreign source without being intercepted by Pakistani intelligence.”

Both the CIA and the ISI have been playing a double game. Fighting and nurturing terrorists and warlords at the same time! Why?

If this is a serious question then perhaps I can answer it.

Now please carefully read the following published and circulated by the State of Pakistan on January 31, 2008.

Nicholas Schmidle, who was expelled from Pakistan in January 2008 for writing a detailed report in the NY Times on the tribal areas and the NWFP, later wrote in the Washington Post,

“foreign journalists are barred from almost half the country; in most cases, their visas are restricted to three cities — Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi. In Baluchistan province, which covers 44 percent of Pakistan and where ethnic nationalists are fighting a low-level insurgency, the government requires prior notification and approval if you want to travel anywhere outside the capital of Quetta. Such permission is rarely given. And the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), where the pro-Taliban militants are strong, are completely off-limits. Musharraf’s government says that journalists are kept out for their own security. But meanwhile, two conflicts go unreported in one of the world’s most vital — and misunderstood — countries.”

What does the government want to hide?

I could probably answer that, too.

Most governments make every effort to expose terrorists. Authorities pursue them relentlessly including placing advertisements about purported crimes, requesting people to come forward and give information. When arrested they prosecute the alleged terrorists vigorously and publicize convictions. But no such pattern in Pakistan. The website of Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency lists only two, yes only TWO terrorists from the federally administered tribal areas (FATA) as wanted. The star of ‘Jaish-e-Muhammed’ Masood Azhar was allowed to escape. The other star, Omar Saeed Sheikh, is still alive (ostensibly because his case is under appeal) although he was sentenced to death in July 2002. The alleged ‘master mind’ of the plan to blow up trans-atlantic flights, Rashid Rauf, has mysteriously escaped and the government does not even want to hear about it. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the master mind of 9/11, has been kept in Guantanamo since 2004 and has not been tried. Abdullah Mehsud (Baitullah’s relative) was released by the U.S. from Guantanamo and allowed to return? Why? So that they can issue threats to blow up the White House (interview to Al-Jazeera on Jan. 29, 2008) and provide justification for the so-called ‘War on Terror’ which has not seen a single terrorist attack on the U.S. soil since 9/11?

YES! Exactly!

Let’s now talk about Baitullah Mehsud who became a big militant leader soon after Abdullah’s release by the U.S. government from Guantanamo Bay in March 2004. Until the end of 2004, Baitullah Mehsud (former FATA secretary Brig. Mahmood Shah says he is in 40s) lived in the shadow of his daring and charismatic fellow tribesman, Abdullah Mehsud, who, with his long black hair, was considered a terrorist rock star. Abdullah fought with the Taliban in Afghanistan against the Northern Alliance and in 1996 lost a leg when he stepped on a land mine. He was taken captive by warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum who turned him over to American forces. Abdullah Mehsud was sent to Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba and held for two years, insisting the whole time that he was just an innocent tribesman. He was released in March 2004 for reasons which remain unclear and returned to Waziristan. Soon after his return, he orchestrated the kidnapping of two Chinese engineers working on a dam in his region, proclaiming that Beijing was guilty of killing Muslims. He also ordered an attack on Pakistan’s Interior Minister in which 31 people perished. The government came under tremendous pressure from the Chinese to hunt Abdullah after the killings of their engineers.

The Afghan Taliban, who were in the process of organizing themselves to fight in Afghanistan and were desperately trying to avoid a head-on confrontation with Pakistani forces in the tribal regions, were not pleased with the killing of the Chinese engineers. Abdullah was made a deputy of Baitullah Mehsud and a shura or tribal council was set up which further undermined his authority. It was said at the time that the Taliban preferred a cool-headed Baitullah over the temperamental Abdullah. Dejected, Abdullah left for Afghanistan to fight in Musa Qilla in the southern Afghan province of Helmand and was killed by security agencies in the Zhob area of the south-western province of Baluchistan while returning home to Pakistan.

Mehsud’s first battlefield experience was in Afghanistan in the late 1980s against Soviet invaders. His mentor at the time was Jalaluddin Haqqani, a powerful commander in eastern Afghanistan backed by the United States against the Soviets. Now Haqqani is wanted as a terrorist by the U.S. and NATO but the CIA has also been trying to get his support according to the Wall Street Journal. The ISI once considered him a ‘moderate’ Taliban.

For almost three years now, Baitullah Mehsud has been the leading face of militant resistance whose influence, security officials acknowledge, transcends the borders of South Waziristan, according to the sources in the governments of Pakistan and the United States. But there is little independent reporting on the tribal areas. Most of the so-called experts writing for the think tanks have never visited these areas. Mostly they cite each other in their papers or quote US or Pakistani officials.

[The] government […] acknowledged Baitullah Mehsud as the new chief of militants in the Mehsud part of South Waziristan […] in February, 2005, when it entered into an agreement with him in Sara Rogha following violent clashes and ambushes. He was reportedly paid [20 million rupees] as part of this deal though it remains unclear who picked [up] the tab, Pakistani or the U.S. government? But read the following report of Jan. 30, 2005 published by the Daily Times, Karachi:

“Baitullah Mehsud gets ready to surrender, Sets aside demand for amnesty to Abdullah Mehsud

By Iqbal Khattak

PESHAWAR: A key local Taliban militant expressed his willingness to surrender to the government after holding talks with tribal elders and clerics at an undisclosed location in South Waziristan Agency, said one of the negotiators on Saturday.

Baitullah Mehsud, a key tribal Taliban commander in the troubled South Waziristan tribal region bordering Afghanistan, expressed readiness to surrender, Brig (r) Qayyum Sher, a member of the peace committee that met the militant, told Daily Times from Tank.

“He (Baitullah) is ready to settle the matter with the government,” said the tribal negotiator. “We met him today and he said he is ready to resolve the matter.” The tribal negotiator said Baitullah did not press his old demand that his comrade Abdullah Mehsud should also be pardoned if he surrenders. “He (Baitullah) will surrender alone,” said Brig Qayyum.

However, the peace committee will discuss modalities for Baitullah’s surrender with the government. “The modalities will now be sorted out with the government. How, when and where he will surrender will be discussed with the military and the political administration,” said Brig Qayyum.

A military source told Daily Times that Baitullah’s surrender would prove a serious setback to Abdullah Mehsud. “That is what we want. But we have to wait for the moment when he (Baitullah) surrenders,” the source said on condition of anonymity. Lt Gen Safdar Hussain exempted Abdullah Mehsud from amnesty after his alleged involvement in two Chinese engineers’ kidnapping in October last year.

Brig Qayyum said Baitullah, who unlike Abdullah Mehsud and Nek Muhammad was not in the media limelight, set no conditions for his surrender and the Peshawar corps commander had already declared amnesty for him if he laid down arms.

Gen Safdar set a January 26 deadline for the two militants to surrender or “face military onslaught” and hoped sanity would prevail upon Baituallah to live peacefully. However, Gen Safdar had refused to pardon Abdullah Mehsud.

He pledged to cease attacks on security forces and government installations in return for a commitment by the government to withdraw forces from the Mehsud territory and not to take any punitive action against him and his associates. This followed a brief lull in fighting, prompting the then Pakistani army corps commander, Peshawar, Lt-Gen Safdar, to declare Baitullah Mehsud a “soldier of peace” after a meeting with him at Jandola in August, 2005.

The meeting followed accusations by Baitullah Mehsud that the government was not honouring its commitments, was refusing to withdraw its forces and was continuing to attack his mujahideen. Violence erupted again in the restive tribal region and a time came when the government’s writ was restricted to the compounds of the political administration.”

Why was not Baitullah captured when he was ready to surrender? Instead, he was given money and allowed to grow his militia from a few hundred to nearly 20,000? Why? Who made the decision?

Who else?

Baitullah Mehsud addressed his tribe after the Sararogha pact and clearly swore allegiance to Mullah Umar of the Taliban. His power over the two agencies is owed to his wealth and his ability to wage war. He goes around in a bullet-proof car and is followed around by 30 armed guards. Like Nek Muhammad, he too has two wives and has three castle-like houses in North and South Waziristan. Although he is not a tribal leader by lineage or by election, he is more respected as a warlord by the people of the two agencies than any other person. Although he denies that he received [20 million rupees] from the secret funds of the government without signing a receipt, corps commander Peshawar General Safdar Hussain is on record as saying that the money was indeed set aside for him.

Government officials now claim that Baitullah has been running a number of training camps for militants and suicide bombers. And in January 2007, helicopter gunships targeted what the government claimed was a militant compound, killing 20 people. Baitullah responded angrily and threatened revenge which he said “would be such that it would pain their heart”. It was followed by a string of suicide attacks in Peshawar, Dera Ismail Khan and Islamabad. By this time, government officials had begun pointing the accusing finger at Baitullah Mehsud. A UN report released in September 2007 blamed Baitullah for almost eighty percent of suicide bombings in Afghanistan. Now since when has the UN become so well informed as to be able to account for the exact percentage of the perpetrators of suicide bombings as to their source? Who is feeding this information (or disinformation).

In an address to the nation on January 2, 2008, Mr. Pervez Musharraf said that he believed Maulana Fazlullah and Baitullah Mehsud were prime suspects in the assassination of Bhutto.In its January 18, 2008 edition, The Washington Post reported that the CIA has concluded that Mehsud was behind the Bhutto assassination. “Offering the most definitive public assessment by a U.S. intelligence official, [Michael V.] Hayden said Bhutto was killed by fighters allied with Mehsud, a tribal leader in northwestern Pakistan, with support from al-Qaeda’s terrorist network.”

The CIA is really well informed! It could not trace Mullah Omar (who reportedly lived in Quetta) or Osama (who escaped helped by the cease fire ordered by Dick Cheney at Musharraf’s request in 2001) in more than six years but it can “conclude’ within three weeks of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto that Mehsud was behind it. Meanwhile Talibans in Afghanistan want to distance themselves from him?

According to a DAWN report (Jan. 28, 2008), the Taliban in Afghanistan have distanced themselves from Pakistani militants led by Baitullah Mehsud, saying they don’t support any militant activity in Pakistan. “We do not support any militant activity and operation in Pakistan,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Dawn on telephone from an undisclosed location on Monday. The spokesman denied media reports that the Taliban had expelled Baitullah Mehsud, the head of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan. “Baitullah is a Pakistani and we as the Afghan Taliban have nothing to do with his appointment or his expulsion. We did not appoint him and we have not expelled him,” he said.

Now a $10 billion question: What is the end-game of the U.S. if Baitullah Mehsud is indeed an ‘intelligence asset’ of the CIA?

That’s simple: Either they continue to protect him and hide the truth (about him, about themselves, about 9/11, and about the entire bogus “War On Terror”), or they all go straight to the guillotines.

Is the aim is to create a theatre of the ‘War on Terror’ in Pakistan to create the justification for the landing of the U.S. troops so that the republican administration can continue to tell American people that it is fighting terrorism while spending billions to enrich the military-industrial complex, win the next elections in Nov. 2008 and tighten its control over Pakistan to pursue its anti-China and anti-Iran foreign policy goals?

For those Pakistanis who may think this is far-fetched, here is a quote from “Devil’s Game” by Robert Dreyfuss (pp. 336-337, published 2005). Citing the infamous policy memo written by leading neocons in 1995, entitled, “A Clean Break” to then Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel to ‘contain, destablize, and roll back’ various states in the region, Dreyfuss concludes:

“Neoconservatives want to control the Middle East, not reform it, even it means tearing countries apart and replacing them with rump mini-states along ethnic and sectrian lines. The Islamic right, in this context, is just one more tool for dismantling existing regimes, if that is what it takes.”

It’s not far-fetched at all; it’s happening in many countries simultaneously.

And “dismantling existing regimes” is indeed “what it takes”.

Furthermore, it will continue until and unless a few “existing regimes” — in Washington, Islamabad and a few other places — are “dismantled”. That is to say: indefinitely.

Restore constitutional government to America

Restore constitutional government to America

By Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

Every day we move closer to disaster; every time we open the paper, surf the Internet, it is worse. Left, right, libertarian, green, we know in our bones and hearts that we need to take action.

We have been divided along lines of political opinion where we should have been joined to find solutions. We have been cut off from each other, manipulated for the profit of corporations and their cronies. It is bad and when we look into the future there is little to spark hope; The meltdown of the economy and the narrowing of what is permitted us grows daily more frightening.

Like someone trying to restart their car as it rolls towards the cliff, we all face the same crying need whether we recognized that years ago or last week. We need to reactivate the Constitution as the law of the land. That awareness might have grow slowly but it has now reached a tipping point.

It was the Constitution, intended to limit government, never us, and the Common Law that were to stand between us and tyranny. They are the foundation of our freedoms, the tools we need desperately today to check the unbridled greed of those who are caging us in to a perpetual serfdom.

When we get in our cars, when we see a law enforcement officer we feel fear, not relief. It is wrong; it violates the intentions of our Founders and the spiritual direction intended for us as the people who would govern themselves.

We are being pitted against those sworn to protect and defend. This threatens us and also those who follow orders intended to use them as weapons against us. This is the pause point, when action is still possible without violence. Those in law enforcement must be recalled to their duty and to an essential understanding of their oath and the Constitution. It can be done.

We can thwart the attempt to use local law enforcement as a tool to oppress us. To do that we need to let them know directly that the Constitution was not canceled, as so many have been told. Yesterday morning, I had a conversation with a friend in DC who was shocked speechless to discover that a year ago local police were beginning to lump ‘Constitutionalists,’ and those who talk about their rights, along with gangs. I heard this in a local luncheon meeting of the National Federation of Republican Women from a deputy sheriff who waxed eloquent on the subject. Being a Constitutionalist myself, I began to worry.

A few days ago another friend of mine was told by a local policeman that he did not have to pay attention to the Constitution. It was just a piece of paper

Most judges do not sign the oath of office mandated by the Constitution. Like Thomas Anderle of Santa Barbara, they act as they are the law.

When someone, or thousands of someones, like those employed in law enforcement, are so seriously mistaken then it is time to take rapid action. In this country today those in law enforcement are being aimed at us, manipulated to do ugly things to us and our neighbors. Those training them are telling them this is what it means to be in law enforcement. It is wrong.

When the system is this far out of line you need to make sure they get the message. But that message must be non-violent; most of those in law enforcement are not rocket scientists and they, too, are at risk. Law enforcement officers who violate their oath can and will end up in jail, lose their pensions, and be bankrupted by civil actions. And if they do not draw back, that is what we need to make sure happens.

But it is far better for all of us to send them a word of caution and advice now.

So this is what we propose.

In every county in the US, we need to serve everyone working in law enforcement with a demand letter requiring that they read the Constitution and be bound by it. We need to spell out the consequences for ignoring that demand, for their sake as well as our own.

If you have read Richard Mack’s book, “The Proper Role of Law Enforcement,” or heard him speak you know about his story and how he was awakened to his obligation to follow the Constitution while he was still a cop writing traffic tickets. One day while writing a ticket he was struck by the fact that the woman had done nothing that endangered anyone or anything. He could not continue writing. Turning away, his mind in a tumult, he went into the station house, found the oath he had signed, and read it carefully. Mack said of that moment, “In the oath I gave my word and promise to protect and defend and obey the U. S. Constitution and the Utah Constitution as well. I had never read either and knew virtually nothing about them.” It changed his life. He began to study the Constitution. When Richard Mack became a sheriff himself he insisted each officer carry the small book with them. Those officers began calling it, “Mack’s Bible.”

That moment of insight became the moment that turned back the threat of the Brady Bill, leading to the Supreme Court Decision that affirmed the right of the sheriff in the local county to uphold the Constitution. The issue of that moment was the 2nd Amendment but the larger issue was the obligation of the county sheriff to uphold the Constitution despite orders from Washington, D.C.

We need every officer to confront the choices they will be asked to make before harm is done. We can do that now.

We have put together a simple set of instructions and some resources so you can gently remind law enforcement in your community that upholding theConstitution is their duty and the danger they may face if they fail to choose to do otherwise. You can find that site at Constitution Your County.

Although the future looks bleak, we actually stand at a point that makes change more possible than you might imagine.

Americans are the people who fought to establish for all time the right to govern themselves. They fought and died to pass on to us that wisdom. The wise understand that hope is a place on the horizon towards which they look; that draws them to become greater than they imagined possible. The future looks bleak, but it can be wonderful if we make it so. This can become the launching point for an America that takes us back to hope and on to a vibrant reality we live and leave our children. Together, we can make it so.

US and NATO protecting Afghan drug trade

US and NATO protecting Afghan drug trade

Source: Pakistan Post – Naveed Miraj

ISLAMABAD: After the fall of Taliban government, Afghanistan has again become a hub of narcotics cultivation and smuggling. Thanks to protection, being provided by the US troops, western forces and the Afghan government which are fully involved in the business in the name of war on terror.

The poppy cultivation that came to an end during Taliban period has risen to its highest level as the farmers have cultivated opium in a vast area of 477,000 acres of land in 2007, a 14 per cent increase over the previous year and total production, spurred by unusually high rainfall. Last year it was cultivated on 165,000 hectres, which is 60 per cent more than that of the previous year while Drug Enforcement Agency has the capacity to eliminate only one per cent of the production in the country. Afghanistan supplies 93 per cent of the world’s opium, the main ingredient of heroin and cultivation of poppy has reached at unprecedented level as the opium harvest jumped 34 per cent last year to an estimated 8,200 tonnes. Most of the fields of opium in Afghanistan are owned by the pro-government people specially the warlords who also control various areas and promote poppy cultivation there under the protection of US and allied forces. The US and western forces for certain reasons have given a free hand to the Afghan farmers to cultivate opium therefore turning the country into the biggest opium producer in the world.

There are also reports that the US forces are exporting drugs in collaboration with these warlords who also provide handsome money to the US forces. According to a recent report published by The New York Times, John Schewit a senior US official who had been posted in Afghanistan during the past five years as the Chief of US Anti-Narcotics Agency in an article of 12000 words has confirmed that the US forces and Afghan government have done nothing to control and stop poppy cultivation. Even the US Congress has also criticised the US AID for not providing alternative sources of income to the Afghan people. The Golden Crescent drug trade, launched by the CIA in the early 1980s, continues to be protected by US intelligence, in liaison with NATO occupation forces and the British military. In recent developments, British occupation forces have also been found involved in promoting opium cultivation through paid radio advertisements.

According to reports, the Karzai government officials have also close links with drug smugglers and the government is totally helpless before these warlords. A chain has been made for narcotics smuggling from Afghanistan and opium first product of poppy is first sent to the north of the country for its procession and then smuggled to Central Asian states from where it travels to Europe via Iran.

Afghanistan’s economy has become a criminal economy and narcotics or drug smugglers have so permeated into the Afghan society that no force can control them. The independent observers are of the view that drug business is the major component of the Afghan economy and it is being run under the umbrella of US agencies working in the country in the name of socio-economic revival but to cover their illicit activities the US agencies specially CIA is blaming ISI for helping warlords to promote terrorism there. ISI that played tremendous role in Afghan war against Soviet aggression in 90s is now under fire from the US agencies as it has become main obstacle in their way to promote drug smuggling from Afghanistan via Pakistan and now they have to adopt alternative routes for this purpose. The Afghan government and allied forces have miserably failed to control internal security situation as they are more interested in the business other than bringing normalcy in the war-torn country and blaming ISI to protect their hidden agenda and Afghanistan is a golden arrow for them due to expanding drug business that is even stronger than the oil economy.

It is matter of fact that it was the ISI that helped Taliban government to control drug business who had imposed a complete ban on poppy cultivation seven years ago and ISI shut all doors for drug smuggling from Afghanistan via Pakistan but it is not acceptable for the USA and its allied forces to control the business that provides them huge money to fulfill their hidden agenda that could not be implemented through legal resources.

America Out of Economic Ammunition

America Out of Economic Ammunition

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by: Jean-Marc Vittori, Les Échos

photo
“And I say they’re out of ammunition.” (Cartoon: Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival)

Faced with an increasingly uncertain economy, America has ever-fewer means to take action. At the exact moment when the two White House candidates are honing their programs and their teams, this weakness is becoming obvious. The great economic policy levers have already been totally activated, or nearly so, and without really succeeding in stimulating the machine.

That is the case for monetary policy first of all. The Federal Reserve should announce today that it will not move its interest rates. The United States’ central bank is stuck between two symmetrical risks. On the one hand, economic activity is not strong; consumers are depressed; unemployment is rising. So, the Fed should decrease its interest rates. However – on the other hand – interest rates are already low, barely two percent for the Fed’s reference rate. And prices are increasing ever-more rapidly. One of the measures of this inflation published yesterday, the Personal Consumption Index, increased 0.8 percent in June, the strongest rise since 1981. Another measure, the classic Consumer Price Index, grew five percent in a year. Such a gap between prices and interest rates has not been observed on the other side of the Atlantic since the first oil shock. It would be perilous to increase it.

Budget policy is in the same situation. The reductions in taxes the Bush administration granted this spring will have barely offset the erosion in income skyrocketing oil prices have exerted. The deficit will exceed $400 billion in 2008 and could approach $500 billion next year, if one believes the forecasts published last week by the White House. Of course, that’s barely more than three percent of the enormous American GNP. But it is difficult under these conditions to set a vast plan in motion to support the economy while preserving the trust of investors likely to buy the bonds necessary for its financing.

The United States is also not succeeding any better in using the trade weapon that would have allowed it to open new markets for its exporters. The recent injunctions directed at Beijing that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has just formulated look like a confession of impotence. America is left with barely any means to pressure China, Russia or the Emirates. All the more so as those countries’ capital is indispensable to America’s financial equilibrium.

The last time an American president took the reins of an economy as stalled as this one was in 1981. But Ronald Reagan changed the rules of the game and created what we in France would call a “break” with the past. For example, he increased military spending by 40 percent in five years. It’s difficult to imagine John McCain – and even less so Barack Obama – following that route. All the more so as problems of colossal budgetary impact loom on the horizon, such as financing health care and retirement costs. In reality, the next president of the United States will have no major economic weapon available. If growth resumes, that’s not very serious. In the opposite event, the whole world will suffer as a result of this American impotence.

Economic Free Fall?

Economic Free Fall?

By William GreiderThe gravest danger is that the national economy will weaken further and spiral downward into a negative cycle that feeds on itself: as conditions darken, people hunker down and wait for the storm to pass–consumers stop buying, banks stop lending, producing companies cut their workforces. That feeds more defaulted loan losses back into the banking system’s balance sheets. This vicious cycle is essentially what led to the Great Depression after the stock market crash of 1929. I offer not a prediction but a warning. The comparison may sound farfetched now, but US policy-makers and politicians are putting us at risk of historic deflationary forces that, once they take hold, are very difficult to reverse. – William Greider


02/08/08 “The Nation” — – Washington can act with breathtaking urgency when the right people want something done. In this case, the people are Wall Street’s titans, who are scared witless at the prospect of their historic implosion. Congress quickly agreed to enact a gargantuan bailout, with more to come, to calm the anxieties and halt the deflation of Wall Street giants. Put aside partisan bickering, no time for hearings, no need to think through the deeper implications. We haven’t seen “bipartisan cooperation” like this since Washington decided to invade Iraq.

In their haste to do anything the financial guys seem to want, Congress and the lame-duck President are, I fear, sowing far more profound troubles for the country. First, while throwing our money at Wall Street, government is neglecting the grave risk of a deeper catastrophe for the real economy of producers and consumers. Second, Washington’s selective generosity for influential financial losers is deforming democracy and opening the path to an awesomely powerful corporate state. Third, the rescue has not succeeded, not yet. Banking faces huge losses ahead, and informed insiders assume a far larger federal bailout will be needed–after the election. No one wants to upset voters by talking about it now. The next President, once in office, can break the bad news. It’s not only about the money–with debate silenced, a dangerous line has been crossed. Hundreds of billions in open-ended relief has been delivered to the largest and most powerful mega-banks and investment firms, while government offers only weak gestures of sympathy for struggling producers, workers and consumers.

The bailouts are rewarding the very people and institutions whose reckless behavior caused this financial mess. Yet government demands nothing from them in return–like new rules for prudent behavior and explicit obligations to serve the national interest. Washington ought to compel the financial players to rein in their appetite for profit in order to help save the country from a far worse fate: a depressed economy that cannot regain its normal energies. Instead, the Federal Reserve, the Treasury, the Democratic Congress and of course the Republicans meekly defer to the wise men of high finance, who no longer seem so all-knowing.

Let’s review the bidding to date. After panic swept through the global financial community this spring, the Federal Reserve and Treasury rushed in to arrange a sweetheart rescue for Bear Stearns, expending $29 billion to take over the brokerage’s ruined assets so JPMorgan Chase, the prestigious banking conglomerate, would agree to buy what was left. At the same time, the Fed and Treasury provided a series of emergency loans and liquidity for endangered investment firms and major banks. Investors were not persuaded. Their panic was not “mental,” as former McCain adviser Phil Gramm recently complained. The collapse of the housing bubble had revealed the deep rot and duplicity within the financial system. When investors tried to sell off huge portfolios of spoiled financial assets like mortgage bonds, nobody would buy them. In fact, no one can yet say how much these once esteemed “safe” investments are really worth.

The big banks and investment houses are also stuck with lots of bad paper, and some have dumped it on their unwitting customers. The largest banks and brokerages have already lost enormously, but lending portfolios must shrink a lot more–at least $1 trillion, some estimate. So wary shareholders are naturally dumping financial-sector stocks.

Most recently, the investors’ fears were turned on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the huge quasi-private corporations that package and circulate trillions in debt securities with implicit federal backing. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson (formerly of Goldman Sachs) boldly proposed a $300 billion commitment to buy up Fannie Mae stock and save the plunging share price–that is, save the shareholders from their mistakes. So much for market discipline. For everyone else, Washington recommends a cold shower.

Talk about warped priorities! The government puts up $29 billion as a “sweetener” for JP Morgan but can only come up with $4 billion for Cleveland, Detroit and other urban ruins. Even the mortgage-relief bill is a tepid gesture. It basically asks, but does not compel, the bankers to act kindlier toward millions of defaulting families.

A generation of conservative propaganda, arguing that markets make wiser decisions than government, has been destroyed by these events. The interventions amount to socialism, American style, in which the government decides which private enterprises are “too big to fail.” Trouble is, it was the government itself that created most of these mastodons–including the all-purpose banking conglomerates. The mega-banks arose in the 1990s, when a Democratic President and Republican Congress repealed the New Deal-era Glass-Steagall Act, which prevented commercial banks from blending their business with investment banking. That combination was the source of incestuous self-dealing and fraudulent stock valuations that led directly to the Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression that followed.

Even before Congress and Bill Clinton repealed the law, the Federal Reserve had aggressively cleared the way by unilaterally authorizing Citigroup to cross the line. Wall Street proceeded, with accounting tricks described as “modernization,” to re-create the same scandals from the 1920s in more sophisticated fashion. The financial crisis began when these gimmicky innovations blew up.

Democrats who imagine they can reap partisan advantage from this crisis don’t know the history. The blame is bipartisan; so also is the disgrace. In 1980, before Ronald Reagan even came to town, Democrats deregulated the financial system by repealing federal interest-rate ceilings and other regulatory restraints–a step that doomed the savings and loan industry and eliminated a major competitor for the bankers. Democrats have collaborated with Republicans on behalf of their financial patrons every step of the way.

The same legislation also repealed the federal law prohibiting usury–the predatory practices that ruin debtors of modest means by lending on terms that ensure borrowers will fail. Usurious lending is now commonplace in America, from credit cards and “payday loans” to the notorious subprime mortgages. The prohibition on usury really involves an ancient moral principle, one common to Judaism, Christianity and Islam: people of great wealth must not be allowed to use it to ruin others who lack the same advantages. A decent society cannot endure it.

The fast-acting politicians may hope to cover over their past mistakes before the public figures out what’s happening (that is, who is screwing whom). But the Federal Reserve has a similar reason to move aggressively: the Fed was a central architect and agitator in creating the circumstances that led to the collapse in Wall Street’s financial worth. The central bank tipped its monetary policy hard in one direction–favoring capital over labor, creditors over debtors, finance over the real economy–and held it there for roughly twenty-five years. On one side, it targeted wages and restrained economic growth to make sure workers could not bargain for higher compensation in slack labor markets. On the other side, it stripped away or refused to enforce prudential regulations that restrained the excesses of banking and finance. In The Nation a few years back, I referred to Alan Greenspan as the “one-eyed chairman” [September 19, 2005] who could see inflation in the real economy–even when it didn’t exist–but was blind to the roaring inflation in the financial system.

The Fed’s lopsided focus on behalf of the monied interests, combined with its refusal to apply regulatory laws with due diligence, eventually destabilized the overall economy. Trying to correct for previous errors, the Fed, with its overzealous free-market ideology, swung monetary policy back and forth to extremes, first tightening credit without good reason, then rapidly cutting interest rates to nearly zero. This erratic behavior encouraged a series of financial bubbles in interest-sensitive assets–first the stock market, during the late 1990s tech-stock boom, then housing–but the Fed declined to do anything or even admit the bubbles existed. The nation is now stuck with the consequences of its blindness.

The Federal Reserve’s dereliction of duty is central to the financial failures. It betrayed the purpose for which the central bank was first created, in 1913, abandoning the sense of balance the Fed had long pursued and that Congress requires. Most politicians, not to mention the press, are too intimidated to question the Fed’s daunting power, but their ignorance is about to compound the problem. Instead of demanding answers, the political system is about to expand the Fed’s governing powers–despite its failure to protect us. Treasury Secretary Paulson proposed and Democratic leaders have agreed to make the insulated Fed the “supercop” that oversees not only commercial banks and banking conglomerates but also the largest investment houses or anyone else big enough to destabilize the system. This “reform” would definitely reassure club members who are already too cozy with the central bankers. Everyone else would be left deeper in the dark.

The political system, once again, is rewarding failure. The Fed is an unreliable watchdog, ideologically biased and compromised by its conflicting obligations. Is it supposed to discipline the big money players or keep them afloat? Putting the secretive central bank in charge, with its unlimited powers to prop up troubled firms, would further eviscerate democracy, not to mention economic justice.

If Congress enacts this concept early next year, the privileged group of protected financial interests is sure to grow larger, because other nonfinancial firms could devise ways to reconfigure themselves so they too would qualify for club membership. A very large manufacturing conglomerate–General Electric, for instance–might absorb elements of banking in order to be covered by the Fed’s umbrella (GE Capital is already among the largest pools of investment capital). Private-equity firms, with their buccaneer style of corporate management, are already trying to buy into banking, with encouragement from the Fed (the Service Employees International Union has mounted a campaign to stop them). A new President could stop the whole deal, of course, but John McCain has surrounded himself with influential advisers who were co-architects of this financial disaster. For that matter, so has Barack Obama.

The nation, meanwhile, is flirting with historic catastrophe. Nobody yet knows how bad it is, but the peril is vastly larger than previous episodes, like the savings and loan bailout of the late 1980s. The dangers are compounded by the fact that the United States is now utterly dependent on foreign creditors–Japan and China lead the list–who have been propping us up with their lending. Thanks to growing trade deficits and debt, foreign portfolio holdings of US long-term debt securities have more than doubled since 1994, from 7.9 percent to 18.8 percent as of June 2007. If these countries get fed up with their losses and pull the plug, the US economy will be a long, long time coming back.

The gravest danger is that the national economy will weaken further and spiral downward into a negative cycle that feeds on itself: as conditions darken, people hunker down and wait for the storm to pass–consumers stop buying, banks stop lending, producing companies cut their workforces. That feeds more defaulted loan losses back into the banking system’s balance sheets. This vicious cycle is essentially what led to the Great Depression after the stock market crash of 1929. I offer not a prediction but a warning. The comparison may sound farfetched now, but US policy-makers and politicians are putting us at risk of historic deflationary forces that, once they take hold, are very difficult to reverse.

A more aggressive response from Washington would address the real economy’s troubles as seriously as it does Wall Street’s. Financial firms have lost capital on a huge scale–more of them will fail or be bought by foreign investors. But Wall Street cannot get well this time if the economy remains stuck in the ditch. Washington needs to revive the “animal spirits” of the nation at large. The $152 billion stimulus package enacted so far is piddling and ought to be three or four times larger. Instead of sending the money to Iraq, we should be spending it here on getting people back to work, building and repairing our tattered infrastructure, investing in worthwhile projects that can help stimulate the economy in rough weather.

An agenda of deeper reforms can boost public confidence even as it undoes a lot of the damage caused by the financiers and bankers. Some suggestions:

§ Nationalize Fannie Mae and other government-supported enterprises instead of coddling them. Restore them to their original status as nonprofit federal agencies that provide a valuable service to housing and other markets. Make the investors eat their losses. Buy the shares at 2 cents on the dollar. Without a federal guarantee, these firms are doomed anyway.

§ Resolve the democratic contradiction of “too big to fail” bailouts by dismantling the firms that are too big to fail–especially the newly created banking conglomerates that have done so much harm. Restore the boundaries between commercial banking and investment banking. In any case, market pressures are likely to shrink those behemoths as banks sell off their parts to survive. For the remaining big boys, revive antitrust enforcement. Set stern new conditions for emergency lending from government–supervised receivership, stricter lending rules to prevent recidivism and severe penalties for greed-crazed shareholders and executives.

§ Assign the Federal Reserve’s regulatory role to a new public agency that is visible and politically accountable. Make the Fed a subsidiary agency of the Treasury Department and reform its decision-making on money and credit to restore an equitable balance between competing goals and interests–seeking full employment but also stable money and moderate inflation.

§ Begin the hard task of re-creating a regulated financial system Americans can trust, one that recognizes its obligations to the broad national interest. This requires regulatory reforms to cover moneypots like private-equity funds and to clear away the blatant conflicts of interest and double-dealing on Wall Street, and also to give responsible shareholders, workers and other interests a greater voice in corporate management and greater protection against rip-offs of personal savings.

§ Re-enact the federal law against usury. The details are difficult and can follow later, but this would be a meaningful first step toward restoring moral obligations in the financial sector. People would understand it, and so would a lot of the money guys. Maybe in the deepening crisis, Washington will begin to grasp that money is also a moral issue.