Paulson Was Behind Bailout Martial Law Threat

Paulson Was Behind Bailout Martial Law Threat

Inhofe says Treasury Secretary made dire warnings in conference call on September 19th

Paul Joseph Watson
Thursday, November 20, 2008

Senator James Inhofe has revealed that Henry Paulson was behind the threats of martial law and a new great depression prior to the passage of the bailout bill, having made such warnings during a conference call on September 19th, around two weeks before the legislation was eventually approved by both the Senate and Congress.

As we reported at the time, on October 2, Democratic Congressman Brad Sherman gave a stunning speech on the House floor during which he decried the fact that, “Many of us were told in private conversations that if we voted against this bill on Monday that the sky would fall, the market would drop two or three thousand points the first day, another couple of thousand the second day, and a few members were even told that there would be martial law in America if we voted no.”

A few days before, Rep. Michael Burgess also told the House, “Mr. Speaker I understand we are under Martial Law as declared by the speaker last night,” referring to a temporary suspension of the rules and procedures of Congress by its leaders so that a bill can be passed quickly.

But the origin of the most dire warnings about physical martial law in America, to which Sherman was likely referring, has now been exposed.

Speaking on Tulsa Oklahoma’s 1170 KFAQ, when asked who was behind threats of martial law and civil unrest if the bailout bill failed, Senator James Inhofe named Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson as the source.

“Somebody in D.C. was feeding you guys quite a story prior to the bailout, a story that if we didn’t do this we were going to see something on the scale of the depression, there were people talking about martial law being instituted, civil unrest….who was feeding you guys this stuff?,” asked host Pat Campbell.

“That’s Henry Paulson,” responded Inhofe, “We had a conference call early on, it was on a Friday I think – a week and half before the vote on Oct. 1. So it would have been the middle … what was it – the 19th of September, we had a conference call. In this conference call – and I guess there’s no reason for me not to repeat what he said, but he said – he painted this picture you just described. He said, ‘This is serious. This is the most serious thing that we faced.’”

Inhofe said that Paulson told members of Congress the crisis would be “far worse than the great depression” if Congress didn’t authorize the bill to buy out toxic debt, a proposal “which he abandoned the day after he got the money,” added Inhofe.

Inhofe is referring to the controversy last week when it emerged that the bailout money was not going to buy up toxic debt but instead Paulson, the former CEO of Goldman Sachs, had pulled a bait and switch and ordered the money be injected directly into banks.

Senator Inhofe has slammed the secrecy surrounding the destination of the bailout money, saying that Hank Paulson could have given it to his friends and that the “blank check” must be cancelled now.

Inhofe is now trying to rally support for a freeze on what’s left of the initial $350 billion of bailout money with his “roll back the bailout” proposal, which will also require an affirmative vote on the part of Congress to approve Treasury’s plan for the remaining $350 billion.

Russia’s Medvedev orders to collect 2.4 billion dollars of debt from Ukraine

Russia’s Medvedev orders to collect 2.4

billion dollars of debt from Ukraine

Russian President ordered Aleksei Miller, the chairman of Russia’s gas giant Gazprom, to collect the gas debt from Ukraine. “We have to make the final decision with Ukraine’s debt and collect the debt either voluntarily or forcibly as it is stipulated by the law and within the framework of our bilateral relations,” Medvedev told Miller at an official meeting.

Gazprom’s chairman told the president that Ukraine owed $2.4 billion to Russia for natural gas, Itar-Tass reports.

“Our Ukrainian partners owe us over 2.4 billion dollars. This is a large amount for any country and any company, including Gazprom,” Medvedev agreed.

Medvedev reminded that Russia and Ukraine had come to an agreement to regulate the debt issue during Yulia Tymoshenko’s recent visit to Russia. “The Ukrainian prime minister said that Ukraine would return the debt in accordance with established procedure,” Medvedev said.

The president also wondered about the gas agreement with Ukraine for the next year. Medvedev pointed out that the current situation in the world “was not very simple” and said that he was talking about the prices on oil, the general state of financial and economic affairs and the consequences of the global financial crisis for Russia.

Aleksei Miller also said that Gazprom was in talks with Ukraine regarding a long-term contract for natural gas shipments, although the debt issue complicated the talks.

“All the necessary documents are ready on the corporate level. However, the debt issue remains unsolved. Our question to Ukraine – where is the money – is absolutely appropriate taking into consideration the debt amount. We do not see any progress in the relations with the Ukrainian side and we are not certain if we ever see this money,” Miller told Medvedev.

Medvedev said that Russia needs to take all measures that could be possible within the framework of the bilateral relations, including contractual and administrative actions.

Will Russian tanks roll into Ukraine?


Will Russian tanks roll into Ukraine?

President Viktor Yushchenko risks to take Ukraine to the state of war. Relations between Russia and Ukraine began to worsen very quickly after the war in Georgia

Yushchenko accused Russia of aggression against Georgia and launched a new crusade against Russia’s Black Sea Navy currently stationed in Ukraine’s Sevastopol. The Ukrainian administration previously attempted to blame Moscow for national famine in the beginning of the 1930s, to immortalize the memory of accomplices of German fascists and to cut back the plans of economic integration with Russia.

Ukraine has become more persistent in its intentions to become a member of NATO and announced preparations to punitive measures against its own citizens who hold Russian passports. To crown it all, Ukrainian Foreign Minister V. Ogryzko accused Russia of preparing a military incursion in the Crimea.

Speaking at the UN General Assembly session, Viktor Yushchenko condemned Russia’s “armed annexation” of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and said his country would not recognize the two nations as independent states.

“Ukraine strongly condemns the violation of Georgia’s territorial integrity and the sanctity of its borders, and the armed annexation of its territory,” Yushchenko stated.

Yushchenko said the use of force and the resurgence of Cold War-era rhetoric have caused deep concerns in Kiev and “pose a potential threat to Ukraine and other regional states.”

Ukraine , which could face a snap parliamentary poll as a result, is also nervous about its Crimea autonomous region, which is populated mainly by ethnic Russians and hosts Russia’s Black Sea Fleet base.

Alexander Dugin, the director of the Center for Geopolitical Expertise, believes that Ukraine will keep its current borders if the nation achieves balance of European and Russian directions in politics and excludes the US-NATO political influence.

“Yushchenko is taking his nation to a disaster. Aggression against residents of Eastern Ukraine – legal, historical, or language aggression – may develop into pogroms. Russia is interested in the friendly or at least the neutral Ukraine. A disaster in another neighboring state may become a serious problem for Russia. The US administration can play another trick on Yushchenko the same way as they did with Saakashvili and push him towards military actions. Yushchenko is a political corpse, but he can make terrible decisions in the death struggle. People living in Kharkov or Donetsk may greet Russian tanks with flowers as a result of such decisions,” the expert said.

Vasili Volga, the leader of the Ukrainian Union of Leftist forces, said that President Yushchenko was pursuing two goals in his aspiration to aggravate relations with Russia.

I feel at this moment more anxiety for the safety of my country than ever before

Lincoln wrote: “As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed. I feel at this moment more anxiety for the safety of my country than ever before, even in the midst of war. God grant that my suspicions may prove groundless.”


Crisis? What Crisis?

Crisis? What Crisis?

By Dave Fryett

19 November, 2008

The economic mess that has been unfolding the last few months is not, as the right fear and the left hope, an organic collapse of the global capitalist system But rather it is, as so many so-called financial crises before it, a scam perpetrated by what Lincoln used to call the “money power.” The goals are to capture other lucrative businesses, reduce government and its ability to constrain its hegemony over capital, and to reduce union membership by creating such dire economic circumstances as to make unions powerless to save their members from hardship.

What we are experiencing is not the fall of the bourgeoisie, but its ascendancy to dictatorship. It is a charade, it’s class war waged by a confidant, victorious bourgeoisie, not one on the verge of imminent ruin. In fact, the economic failure of the bourgeoisie, as things are currently constituted in the West, is an impossibility.

How is it that the money power can create havoc in their own markets and be assured that the summoned tempest will never come to blow their own ships aground? They control the issuance, cost, value and availability of money and credit.

What most in the West fail to recognize is that from Jerusalem west to the Pacific, the so-called national banks are private corporations owned by the international banking cartel. It is these institutions, not the governments which they putatively serve, which determine monetary policy. They do so as suits their own interests and not those of the respective nations involved. The central banks determine interest rates; are allowed to create deposits out of thin air on a data-entry basis thus bringing new money into existence; and they control how much money is in circulation. This they do by either loosening their loan requirements, which stimulates the economy and creates a boon, or by tightening which creates an insufficiency of money and a “credit crisis” such as we have now.

In his testimony before Congress, the then CEO of Bear Stearns, Alan Schwartz, said that the run on Bear’s stock had been “induced.” He went on to say that his company, while saddled with a substantial amount of bad paper in the form of these worthless MBS (mortgage backed securities), was not in such bad shape that it could not have recovered had not there been a “whisper” campaign insisting that Bear’s collapse was inevitable. It was this which doomed Bear Stearns, Schwartz told Congress, otherwise they would have recovered in a year or two without the need of governmental intervention.

Instead what happened was that J. P. Morgan Chase (the Rothschild banking empire, prominent members of the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank and other national banks), after the sell-off, came forward to “rescue” Bear by successfully offering pennies on the dollar of the pre-fall value of the company. JPMC also got the government to indemnify against potential losses from Bear’s bad paper to the tune of thirty billion dollars. This sum to be borrowed from the Fed.

Crisis? Not for the Rothschilds. As Fed members they and other cartel members had their chairman and servant, Alan Greenspan, not only sanction these new mortgage-based derivatives but advocate for them as well. These MBS led to a general decline in the housing and credit markets which, in turn, accompanied by whispers, led to an investor confidence crisis and a large reduction in the share prices of investment banks. Then JPMC, like the cavalry of olde, rode in to offer help by buying Bear for next to nothing and infusing it with much needed capital. How magnanimous!

Then the government indemnifies the transaction for thirty billion which they borrow from the Fed. The cartel, which includes the Rothschilds, doesn’t actually fork over any cash, they simply add a few zeroes to JPM’s account. Zeroes which the Amerrican taxpayer will have to repay with money from the real economy thus exascerbating the insufficiency of funds in circulation.

The Rothschilds and the others Fedsters, the High Lords of Capital, are not collapsing. One might opine that they are the beneficiaries of an genuine intrinsic financial calamity and that all the assets they acquired are attributable to the vagaries of market economics. Perhaps so, but first let’s look at another Fed-induced holocaust, the Crash of 1929.

In the 19th Century, the American government fought heroically against the international bankers but, tragically, in the following century, with the passage of the Federal Reserve Act of 1913, the cartel regained the commanding heights of our economic life which they had lost under President Andrew Jackson.

At first they lent freely stabilizing the economy they had sabotaged in 1907. The boon that followed was so great that it could be heard to roar its way through the 1920s. Meanwhile, beneath the din of jazz bands, money was moving rapidly up the economic ladder and the gulf between rich and poor grew great, just as it has recently. And due to the great availability of money and credit made possible by the Fed and a concurrent loosening of regulation on the financial markets, people borrowed money to invest in the stock market. This had the effect of hyper-inflating share prices with fictive capital in a hyper-leveraged equities market. When the banks made their margin calls (a call by brokers to produce the money for the stocks which they’d bought on credit). Many shareholders had to sell some or all of their stock to make their margins. This sent the market tumbling down. Smaller banks were forced to foreclose on loans to meet capital requirements. As a result, homeowners and farmers lost their properties and the banks that issued these mortgages often couldn’t raise enough money and went out of business. The Fed then raised interest rates thereby shutting off the flow of much needed capital into the economy. This deepened recession into depression by setting it in stone. The government was left to solve a problem which required an ever increasing bankroll in an economy of ever dwindling money supply. This, remarkably, it did when “class traitor” FDR, in what is known to economists as the Great Compression, taxed the rich to fund work programs for the indigent.

Through leaked documents and defector testimony it came to light that this crash was planned by the Fed. Memos show them discussing just how many thousands of banks and farms they thought they could acquire by creating the crash. The Crash of ’29 was an economic coup plotted by the people at the top of the economy in order to seize more wealth for themselves and to undermine emerging worker movements and political parties which arose from the gross divergence in incomes between the working and ownership classes. It was a ruse. Eventually, they had to suffer FDR and his New Deal but the gains they made were irreversible. Where before they only controlled a majority of the banks in the Northeast, after the Scam of ’29 they dominated American capital from sea to shining sea.

It is often heard that the CIA controls all the largest insurance firms. One hears this said most frequently about AIG (American International Group). If this is a myth, our intelligence community has been in no hurry to debunk it these last few decades. Indeed the connection between the American intelligence community and the insurance industry finds its origins in another bogus, bank-induced, crisis, the Panic of 1837.

More recently however, after returning from Versailles in June of 1919, President Wilson, having spent all his political capital unsuccessfully on his Points, was unable to secure funding for a permanent, intelligence-gathering agency from his uncooperative Congress. Thereupon, so the story goes, he surreptitiously produced one million dollars which he handed over to his then Secretary of State, Robert Lansing, uncle of the Dulles brothers. He then told Lansing that this funding was finite and that those involved in intelligence and clandestine operations were going to have to find ways to make this seed money grow without the aid of Congress or the executive branch. Indeed, Wilson added, the very existence of this fund and the activities it will finance must remain a secret.

The rest, as they say, is history. The founders of modern, American intelligence invested this money in Air America and other successful commercial/intelligence ventures including businesses which normally gather information such as insurance companies. To this day, how the CIA receives it funding and how much remains a state secret.

When of late AIG, this massive information-gathering institution, fell upon hard times, they were given $80 billion by that private corporation we Americans call the Federal Reserve Bank. Massive amounts of tax-payer money flowed into the troubled insurance company long before Paulson started pimping his bailout.

According to Reuters
), below are the top eight beneficiaries to date of the TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program). Originally this $700 billion “bailout” fund was supposed to be used for the purchase of MBS and CDO (collateralized debt obligations), or at least that is what the redoubtable Mr Paulson told our credulous Congress, a plan which would help some homeowners stay in their homes. Baiting and switching, Paulson now informs us that things have changed and he will use the money to buy equity stakes in troubled firms thus dashing the hopes of struggling homeowners nationwide. Nothing for them. Let them eat cake.

And who is on the dole instead? Number one is AIG. This is a company which had already received tax-payer money from the Fed.

Number two is our friends the Rothschilds again. Remember it was they who, with the help of our government, bought Bear Stearns for a pennies on the dollar; and bought billions of dollars worth of assets from Washington Mutual at or near book value.

Coming in at number three is another company in the insurance game, Citigroup. They were among the first to complain about MBS and cry for help, but they soon gave up their pretense of imminent financial collapse and made a serious offer to buy Wachovia. The repo man was banging at their door but somehow they managed to offer billions to purchase another bank.

At number four is the bank which did buy Wachovia.

At number five is Bank of America. They are in such distress that they have only been able to buy Countrywide Mortgage, MBNA (Maryland Bank, National Association), and investment banking giant Merrill Lynch since midyear. Countrywide, as you may recall, was called ground zero for predatory lending by angry Congressional regulators. So laden, we were told time and again, was Countrywide with bad paper that nothing could save it. Was it corporate altruism that led BoA to purchase the depressed company? Not according to their CEO who told CNBC that he thought the company could be turned around in a year or two. He added that he thought this bad paper was not as worthless as the public had been led to believe.

Numbers six, seven, and eight are, or were, investment banking collossi who were purchased by commercial banks.

AIG $40 billion

JPMorgan $25 billion

Citigroup $25 billion

Wells Fargo $25 billion

Bank of America $15 billion

Merrill Lynch $10 billion

Goldman Sachs $10 billion

Morgan Stanley $10 billion

Still not convinced this is a scam? Paulson, without the consent of our supine Congress, changed the corporate tax code. Hitherto it was not possible to buy a distressed company and claim their losses against the buyer’s profits thus reducing or even reversing tax liability. Now you can, thanks to the scam’s front man. The estimated loss in revenue for our government is $140 billion. Not only will the acquirers not owe any tax thanks to this change, but in some cases the Treasury will have to pay out money in tax rebates. The chief beneficiary of this alteration in the tax code? JPMC, our friends the Rothschilds again. They are set to receive billions in rebates.

Still not convinced? In a statement as telling as it was stunning, Paulson recently said that he was looking into ways to get credit for U.S. businesses and consumers from sources other than banks. He wasn’t very specific as to what he meant but nevertheless it is unmistakably clear that the banks are following a policy of monetary contraction and that the monies they have received thus far have not been used for the purpose they were intended. Instead, as has been reported in the New York Times and elsewhere, these “troubled” institutions are using this windfall to make acquisitions, and doing so with impunity.

One must conclude that Paulson is unwilling or unable to make these banks act in accordance with the conditions of this Congressional bailout. Unable? He has the power of the state; the support, at least in this particular, of Congress, President Bush, incoming President-Elect Obama, and the American people; and he’s the paymaster of a 700 billion dollar slush fund. He has the power to force these renegade Wall Street firms to comply with the terms Congress has set. Yet instead of using this muscle for the national good he continues to give away public money without strings attached. What’s more he is looking for new ways to find liquid credit outside the banking system. It’s farcical on its face.

None of the companies listed above need a penny! The top five have feasted on the demise of the bottom three in an orgy of bold maneuovres. Are we to believe that the SEC allowed insolvent commercial banks to purchase other financial institutions with the mere promise of capital infusion? One can imagine the avalanche of shareholder lawsuits which would have ensued. These banks met the capital requirements to make these offers to buy. They are solvent.

At this point the initial purpose of this year’s money-power scam rounds into view. Intelligence gathering entities like AIG and Citigroup have received massive infusions of capital which they clearly didn’t need. And commercial banks, specifically the money-power banks, have greedily scooped up large investment banks for next to nothing and with the help of tax-payer dollars. This much is now clear.

This is no accident. This “crisis” was planned and engineered by the High Lords of Capital. We are not the victims of the business cycle or insufficient regulatory oversight: We are getting raped. Again. We are not watching their demise unfold but rather their latest subterfuge to move an ever greater percentage of wealth up the food chain into their coffers. We are not observing the last days of capital but rather its consolidation and calcification. This does not mean that there will not be genuine misery for most of the people on our planet, of course there will be. That’s the plan. But so long as the Rockefellers and Harrimans and Rothschilds and Warburgs and Dresdners have control over our money supply they cannot fail. No matter what travails they loose upon us, such will never reach their doors so long as they can print money and create ersatz deposits for themselves at their pleasure. However bad it gets for us, they are immune. They own our money. They own our governments. They own us.

Whatever vision of justice you cherish, it cannot happen without the right of the people to control their money supply. Without this the money power can make our markets rise or fall or scamper sideways like a crab. They can create gluts and shortages and manipulate the prices of the most essential things we need. We are at their mercy, as we are once again seeing in this recent crisis. The power to create money must rest with a person directly elected by the voters, and subject to instant recall by them. Without this power, we will remain the currency-slaves of the money power.

And they will not go away. They must be removed:

Lincoln wrote: “As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed. I feel at this moment more anxiety for the safety of my country than ever before, even in the midst of war. God grant that my suspicions may prove groundless.”

And lastly, in the spirit of the holiday season, we’ve decided to pass the hat for the Rothschilds. Please send your tax-deductible contribution to High Street, London. They are down to their last trillions and they desperately need your help…



Nazis par excellence

By Khalid Amayreh in Israeli-Occupied Palestine

19 November, 2008

Jewish boys smuggle a calf for
Food into Ghetto Warsaw, 1943

A Palestinian man smuggles cow for food into the Gaza-2008

Israeli propagandists routinely dismiss comparisons between Nazi Germany and Israel as “corrupt” and “far-fetched.” Some Zionists would even argue that only pathological anti-Semites would dare make such comparisons.

However, in light of what Israel has been and is doing to the Palestinians, including the present ruthless blockade of the Gaza Strip, and the slow, agonizing death meted out to innocent Gazans, any honest person shouldn’t fail to observe the striking similarity between the Nazi mentality and the collective Israeli mindset.

The Nazis viewed their victims as “Untermenschen” while Zionist Jews simply refer to their equally tormented victims as “terrorists” or “potential terrorists.”

Even a 7-year-old Palestinian school child is often referred to in Israel as “a terrorist child.”

Needless to say, the demonizing, dehumanizing language is meant to make the readers, viewers and listeners hate the victims. This is exactly what the Nazis did during the Second World War.

For example, when a Jewish resistance fighter was killed in one of the many Jewish communities throughout Nazi-occupied Europe, the German and other pliant press would report the event with a caption reading “ a bandit fell to his death” or “a bandit emerges from his hideout.”

Many of the fighters would rather jump to their death from the a fourth or fifth floor than hand themselves over to the SS, very much like Palestinian freedom fighters are doing these days.

Today, the Israeli army and media use nearly identical epithets in reference to Palestinian victims of Israeli Nazism. They only replace the word “bandit” with the word “terrorist.” The rest is almost a verbatim rendition from German to Hebrew.

But, of course, the matter goes beyond Semantics. Israel today is imposing a manifestly brutal siege to the 1.5 million inhabitants of the Gaza Strip, which is strikingly similar to the German siege imposed on the 350,000 Jewish inhabitants of Ghetto Warsaw in 1942.

Yes, the modalities and circumstances may be somewhat different. But the mentality, the hatefulness and vindictiveness are undoubtedly the same.

The Israelis are cutting off food, electricity, fuel and gas supplies to the Gaza Strip, causing a human disaster on a very large scale.

The Germans did the same at Ghetto Warsaw, but on a comparatively smaller scale.

It is true that Israel is not transporting Gazans to death camps as the SS did at Ghetto Warsaw. However, it is also true that that Israel is killing and maiming Palestinians in droves, nearly on a daily basis as a result of denying them access to adequate food and health care, which causes many ill-Gazans to succumb to their often treatable illnesses.

This week, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, spoke of a real humanitarian disaster in Gaza where hundreds of thousands of people are being starved for political reasons.

“We are talking about 1.5 million Palestinian men, women and children are deprived of their most basic human rights for months.”

The words used by Pillay fall short of fully communicating the extent of the gigantic human disaster facing the people of Gaza where an entire people are pushed to the brink of physical extermination on no other account than them wanting to be free from Israeli Nazism.

Unfortunately, Israel, a country ruled by fascist politicians and former army generals who are war criminals par excellence , is constantly emboldened by the disgraceful silence or acquiescence of western powers, including the United States and Europe.

This Nazi-like state continues rather unflinchingly the sadistic policy of starving Gazans in the hope that they will rise up against their democratically elected government and join the American-backed regime in Ramallah, which many Palestinians have come to view as a quisling entity, very much like the Judenrate or Jewish councils that ran Jewish communities on behalf of the Nazis throughout Nazi-Occupied Europe.

I really don’t understand how Jews, who produced luminaries like Albert Einstein, are allowing themselves to behave in this visibly barbarian manner? Do they feel particularly virile and manly when they watch babies succumb to death due to lack of medicine or absence of health care?

Do they feel that by starving and killing innocent Gazans, they are punishing the Nazis vicariously?

I am raising these questions because I know there are hundreds of thousands of Israeli Jews and non-Israeli Jews who are gleefully enjoying the macabre suffering of hundreds of thousands of innocent Gazans, at the hands of their “Jewish army,” the “most moral army in the world.”

Well a truly moral army doesn’t behave like this. Only an army of thugs, gangsters, vile criminals, and psychopaths would withhold food and medicine from dying children?

It is only an army of a Wehrmacht style and political leaders of Hitler’s ilk that refuse to allow ill men and women seek urgently-needed medical care to proceed to their destination in the West Bank and Jordan?

What does preventing ill people from seeking medical care abroad have to do with security? Is saving a child’s life a serious threat to Israel’s security and territorial integrity?

What does preventing a truckload of flour or wheat from reaching Gaza have to do with security?

Well, it is the old adage: crime and lie go hand in hand.

Yes, these are the very people who have made the holocaust their ultimate religion, the people who think that Nazi atrocities during the Second World War justify the slow-motion genocide being meted out to the helpless Palestinians.

European governments are also shamefully watching the unfolding tragedy in Gaza, but are saying virtually nothing and doing nothing to stop it.

European diplomats, like British Foreign Secretary David Miliband , seem to pay far more attention to Sderot and other Jewish settlements bordering Gaza than to the Dresden-like death camp which Gaza has been transformed into, thanks to the west’s failure to rein in its monstrous brat.

In 1948, Harry Truman, who was instrumental in creating Israel, wrote the following:

“I fear very much that the Jews are like all underdogs. When they get on the top they are just as intolerant and cruel as the people were to them when they were underneath. I regret this situation very much because my sympathy has always been on their side.”

Well, I am afraid that Truman prophecy has been fulfilled. Some people would say that it was fulfilled many many years ago.

America’s Wars of Self-Destruction

America’s Wars of Self-Destruction

By Chris Hedges

November 19, 2008 “Truthdig” – November 17, 2008 — War is a poison. It is a poison that nations and groups must at times ingest to ensure their survival. But, like any poison, it can kill you just as surely as the disease it is meant to eradicate. The poison of war courses unchecked through the body politic of the United States. We believe that because we have the capacity to wage war we have the right to wage war. We embrace the dangerous self-delusion that we are on a providential mission to save the rest of the world from itself, to implant our virtues—which we see as superior to all other virtues—on others, and that we have a right to do this by force. This belief has corrupted Republicans and Democrats alike. And if Barack Obama drinks, as it appears he will, the dark elixir of war and imperial power offered to him by the national security state, he will accelerate the downward spiral of the American empire.

Obama and those around him embrace the folly of the “war on terror.” They may want to shift the emphasis of this war to Afghanistan rather than Iraq, but this is a difference in strategy, not policy. By clinging to Iraq and expanding the war in Afghanistan, the poison will continue in deadly doses. These wars of occupation are doomed to failure. We cannot afford them. The rash of home foreclosures, the mounting job losses, the collapse of banks and the financial services industry, the poverty that is ripping apart the working class, our crumbling infrastructure and the killing of hapless Afghans in wedding parties and Iraqis by our iron fragmentation bombs are neatly interwoven. These events form a perfect circle. The costly forms of death we dispense on one side of the globe are hollowing us out from the inside at home.

The “war on terror” is an absurd war against a tactic. It posits the idea of perpetual, or what is now called “generational,” war. It has no discernable end. There is no way to define victory. It is, in metaphysical terms, a war against evil, and evil, as any good seminarian can tell you, will always be with us. The most destructive evils, however, are not those that are externalized. The most destructive are those that are internal. These hidden evils, often defined as virtues, are unleashed by our hubris, self-delusion and ignorance. Evil masquerading as good is evil in its deadliest form.

The decline of American empire began long before the current economic meltdown or the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It began before the first Gulf War or Ronald Reagan. It began when we shifted, in the words of the historian Charles Maier, from an “empire of production” to an “empire of consumption.” By the end of the Vietnam War, when the costs of the war ate away at Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society and domestic oil production began its steady, inexorable decline, we saw our country transformed from one that primarily produced to one that primarily consumed. We started borrowing to maintain a lifestyle we could no longer afford. We began to use force, especially in the Middle East, to feed our insatiable demand for cheap oil. The years after World War II, when the United States accounted for one-third of world exports and half of the world’s manufacturing, gave way to huge trade imbalances, outsourced jobs, rusting hulks of abandoned factories, stagnant wages and personal and public debts that most of us cannot repay.

The bill is now due. America’s most dangerous enemies are not Islamic radicals, but those who promote the perverted ideology of national security that, as Andrew Bacevich writes, is “our surrogate religion.” If we continue to believe that we can expand our wars and go deeper into debt to maintain an unsustainable level of consumption, we will dynamite the foundations of our society.

“The Big Lies are not the pledge of tax cuts, universal health care, family values restored, or a world rendered peaceful through forceful demonstrations of American leadership,” Bacevich writes in “The Limits of Power.” “The Big Lies are the truths that remain unspoken: that freedom has an underside; that nations, like households, must ultimately live within their means; that history’s purpose, the subject of so many confident pronouncements, remains inscrutable. Above all, there is this: Power is finite. Politicians pass over matters such as these in silence. As a consequence, the absence of self-awareness that forms such an enduring element of the American character persists.”

Those clustered around Barack Obama, from Madeline Albright to Hillary Clinton to Dennis Ross to Colin Powell, have no interest in dismantling the structure of the imperial presidency or the vast national security state. They will keep these institutions intact and seek to increase their power. We have a childish belief that Obama will magically save us from economic free fall, restore our profligate levels of consumption and resurrect our imperial power. This naïve belief is part of our disconnection with reality. The problems we face are structural. The old America is not coming back.

The corporate forces that control the state will never permit real reform. This is the Faustian bargain made between these corporate forces and the Republican and Democratic parties. We will never, under the current system, achieve energy independence. Energy independence would devastate the profits of the oil and gas industry. It would wipe out tens of billions of dollars in weapons contracts, spoil the financial health of a host of private contractors from Halliburton to Blackwater and render obsolete the existence of U.S. Central Command.

There are groups and people who seek to do us harm. The attacks of Sept. 11 will not be the last acts of terrorism on American soil. But the only way to defeat terrorism is to isolate terrorists within their own societies, to mount cultural and propaganda wars, to discredit their ideas, to seek concurrence even with those defined as our enemies. Force, while a part of this battle, is rarely necessary. The 2001 attacks that roused our fury and unleashed the “war on terror” also unleashed a worldwide revulsion against al-Qaida and Islamic terrorism, including throughout the Muslim world, where I was working as a reporter at the time. If we had had the courage to be vulnerable, to build on this empathy rather than drop explosive ordinance all over the Middle East, we would be far safer and more secure today. If we had reached out for allies and partners instead of arrogantly assuming that American military power would restore our sense of invulnerability and mitigate our collective humiliation, we would have done much to defeat al-Qaida. But we did not. We demanded that all kneel before us. And in our ruthless and indiscriminate use of violence and illegal wars of occupation, we resurrected the very forces that we could, under astute leadership, have marginalized. We forgot that fighting terrorism is a war of shadows, an intelligence war, not a conventional war. We forgot that, as strong as we may be militarily, no nation, including us, can survive isolated and alone.

The American empire, along with our wanton self-indulgence and gluttonous consumption, has come to an end. We are undergoing a period of profound economic, political and military decline. We can continue to dance to the tunes of self-delusion, circling the fire as we chant ridiculous mantras about our greatness, virtue and power, or we can face the painful reality that has engulfed us. We cannot reverse this decline. It will happen no matter what we do. But we can, if we break free from our self-delusion, dismantle our crumbling empire and the national security state with a minimum of damage to ourselves and others. If we refuse to accept our limitations, if do not face the changes forced upon us by a bankrupt elite that has grossly mismanaged our economy, our military and our government, we will barrel forward toward internal and external collapse. Our self-delusion constitutes our greatest danger. We will either confront reality or plunge headlong into the minefields that lie before us.

World Markets

Asia Pacific & Australia

Index Change %Change Level Last Update *
Australia ASX 100 -121.90 -4.24% 2,754.20 11/20 5:07pm
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UK FTSE 100 -94.59 -2.36% 3,911.09 11/20 2:22pm
UK FTSE All Shares -44.29 -2.22% 1,953.73 11/20 2:22pm
UK FTSE Eurotop -60.09 -3.41% 1,701.28 11/20 2:22pm
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Index Change %Change Level Last Update *
Canada TSE 300 0.00 0.00% 8,490.56 11/19 5:05pm
Canada CDNX 0.00 0.00% 730.09 11/19 5:05pm
Canada S&P/TSX 60 0.00 0.00% 512.88 11/19 5:05pm

Israel and the Dark Arts

[SEE: KOENIG REPORT, for background on Israeli use of "lite-terror" tactics on Palestinian population, referred to below as "psychological warfare," to encourage submission to the occupation, or to exit the country for any reason, despite being barred from reentry.]

Israel and the Dark Arts


Israel’s enduring use of Palestinian collaborators to entrench the

occupation and destroy Palestinian resistance was once the great

unmentionable of the Middle East conflict.

When the subject was dealt with by the international and local media, it

was solely in the context of the failings of the Palestinian legal

system, which allowed the summary execution of collaborators by lynch

mobs and kangaroo courts.

That is beginning to change with a trickle of reports indicating the

extent of Israel’s use of collaborators and the unwholesome

techniques it uses to recruit them. “Co-operation” , it has

become clearer, is the very backbone of Israel’s success in

maintaining its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Collaboration comes in various guises, including land dealers, who buy

Palestinian- owned land to sell it to settlers or the Israeli government;

armed agents who assist Israeli soldiers in raids; and infiltrators into

the national organisations and their armed wings who foil resistance


But the foundation of the collaboration system is the low-level

informant, who passes on the titbits of information about neighbours and

community leaders on which Israel’s system of control depends.

Recent reports in the Israeli media, for example, suggest that the 2005

withdrawal from Gaza, far from reducing the opportunities for

collaboration, may actually have increased them. The current siege of

the Strip — in which Israel effectively governs all movement in and out

of Gaza — has provided an ideal point of leverage for encouraging


Masterminding this strategy is the Israeli secret police, the Shin Bet,

which has recently turned its attention to sick Gazans and their

relatives who need to leave the Strip. With hospitals and medicines in

short supply, some patients have little hope of recovery without

treatment abroad or in Israel.

According to the Israeli branch of Physicians for Human Rights, the Shin

Bet is exploiting the distress of these families to pressure them to

agree to collaborate in return for an exit permit.

Last month, the group released details of 32 cases in which sick Gazans

admitted they were denied permits after refusing to become informants.

One is Shaban Abu Obeid, 38, whose pacemaker was installed at an Israeli

hospital and needs intermittent maintenance by Israeli doctors. Another,

Bassam Waheidi, 28, has gone blind in one eye after he refused to

co-operate and was denied a permit.

But these cases are only the tip of an enormous iceberg. Those

Palestinians who refuse to collaborate have every interest in making

their problems public. By contrast, those who agree to turn informant

have no such interest.

As with other occupation regimes, Israel has long relied on the most

traditional way of recruiting collaborators: torture. While a decision

by the Israeli Supreme Court in 1999 banned torture, the evidence

suggests the Shin Bet simply ignored the ruling.

Two Israeli human rights groups, B’Tselem and Hamoked, found last

year that seven “special” interrogation methods amounting to

torture are still being regularly employed, including beatings, painful

binding, back bending, body stretching and prolonged sleep deprivation.

Detention provides other opportunities for recruitment. In the past 17

years alone, 150,000 Palestinians have been prosecuted by the military

regime. According to the Israeli group Yesh Din, 95 per cent of these

trials end in plea bargains, offering yet another chance to persuade a

detainee to turn informant in return for a reduced sentence.

Cell-sharing in Israel’s prison system, as Salah Abdel Jawwad, a

Ramallah-based political scientist, has observed, is also the perfect

environment in which the Shin Bet can collect data not only about the

detainee but also about the wider society from which he or she is drawn.

With hundreds of thousands of Palestinians having passed through its

prisons since 1967, Israel has been able “to control the population

from an early stage”, Mr Abdel Jawwad said, “particularly

because it is able to identify those who are the potential future

leaders of the society.”

An example of the use of pressure during detention emerged last week

when a gag order was lifted on the case of Hamed Keshta, 33, from Gaza.

A translator for news agencies and the European Union, he was arrested

in July when he tried to use a permit to cross the border into Israel

for a meeting with his EU employers.

Mr Keshta said he was taken into detention and offered the chance to

turn collaborator. When he refused, interrogations by the Shin Bet

“began in earnest”, the Haaretz newspaper reported. He was held

for a month, accused of serious charges including “security

violations” and conspiring to commit “a crime against state


“I assume that it is the standard interrogation that thousands of

other Palestinians undergo,” he noted after his release. “They

did not hit me, but I was placed in restraints and forced to sit on a

chair”, he said referring to the infamous “shabah” stress

position that becomes unbearably painful after a short period. Keshta

also had medication withheld.

For decades, the occupation has imposed a system of absolute control on

the lives of Palestinians that requires them to apply for permits either

from the military regime ruling over them, known misleadingly as the

Civil Administration, or from the Shin Bet.

Most Palestinians need a permit to carry out such essential daily tasks

as building or altering a home; passing through a checkpoint to visit a

relative or reach a hospital; passing through a gate in Israel’s

separation wall to farm their land; driving a taxi; receiving import or

export licences; leaving the occupied territories, including for

business; visiting a relative in prison; winning residence for a loved

one; and so on.

There are few Palestinians who have not needed such a “favour”

from the military authorities at some point, either for themselves or

someone they know. And it is at this point that pressure can be exerted.

In her book Sharon and My Mother-in-Law, Suad Amiry describes this

process eloquently. In return for help or a permit, a small favour is

given by the occupation regime. Once taken, the recipient’s

integrity is compromised and slowly greater demands are made.

It is this gentle ensnaring of large sections of the Palestinian

population — together with open threats of physical violence to smaller

sections of the population — that ensure collaboration with the

occupation is endemic. This, as Israel well understands, creates an

environment that frustrates successful resistance, which requires

organisation, co-operation and intelligence- sharing between armed

factions. As soon as the circle widens beyond a few individuals, one of

them is likely to be an informant.

The result can be seen in the dismal failure of most armed acts of

resistance, as well as the ease with which Israel picks off Palestinian

leaders it “targets” for execution.

Mr Abdel Jawwad calls this approach “psychological warfare”

against Palestinians, who are made to believe that their society is

“weak, sickly and composed of untrustworthy characters”.

In short, it encourages social fragmentation in which Palestinians come

to believe that it is better to stab their neighbour in the back before

they get stabbed themselves.

Confront The Delusions


Confront The Delusions

Jim Kirwan


In the 1970s, the film NETWORK was made; but its commercial success was more about the message that it brought than it was about the caliber of its cinematic excellence. From that film several video clips have survived on the web, but since they may not continue to survive as videos I have made partial transcripts of them for this article.


What the film dealt with then, was nothing less than what far too many people now still seem to have virtually no idea about. That was, and still is about the power of television, and the inherent corruption of the host society, that is continuing by way of subliminal messaging coupled with the Orwellian power of Big Brother; enhanced by the New World Order that has combined to surpass anything that might have been even remotely possible forty years ago when NETWORK was made.


Yesterday Chris Hedges wrote: “America the Illiterate,” in which he said:


“There are over 42 million American adults, 20 percent of whom hold high school diplomas, who cannot read, as well as the 50 million who read at a fourth- or fifth-grade level. Nearly a third of the nation’s population is illiterate or barely literate. And their numbers are growing by an estimated 2 million a year. But even those who are supposedly literate retreat in huge numbers into this image-based existence. A third of high school graduates, along with 42 percent of college graduates, never read a book after they finish school. Eighty percent of the families in the United States last year did not buy a book.


The illiterate rarely vote, and when they do vote they do so without the ability to make decisions based on textual information. American political campaigns, which have learned to speak in the comforting epistemology of images, eschew real ideas and policy for cheap slogans and reassuring personal narratives. Political propaganda now masquerades as ideology. Political campaigns have become an experience. They do not require cognitive or self- critical skills. They are designed to ignite pseudo-religious feelings of euphoria, empowerment and collective salvation. Campaigns that succeed are carefully constructed psychological instruments that manipulate fickle public moods, emotions and impulses, many of which are subliminal. They create a public ecstasy that annuls individuality and fosters a state of mindlessness. They thrust us into an eternal present. They cater to a nation that now lives in a state of permanent amnesia. It is style and story, not content or history or reality, which inform our politics and our lives. We prefer happy illusions. And it works because so much of the American electorate, including those who should know better, blindly cast ballots for slogans, smiles, the cheerful family tableaux, narratives and the perceived sincerity and the attractiveness of candidates. We confuse how we feel with knowledge.” (1)


Kirwan: In NETWORK, Howard Beale had this to say to these people, many of whom had not even yet been born. The video clip is “Network ­ We’re in a lot of trouble.”


“Edward George Ruddy died today. Edward George Ruddy was the Chairman of the Board of the Union Broadcast System and he died this morning at eleven o’clock of a heart condition, woe is us- we’re in a lot of trouble!


So; a rich little man with white hair died – what has that got to do with the price of rice – right! And why is that ‘Woe to us.’ Because you people and sixty-two million other Americans are listening to me right now: Because less than three percent of you people read books! Because less than fifteen percent of you read newspapers! Because the only truth you know is what you get over this tube. Right now there is a whole, an entire generation that never knew anything that didn’t come out of this tube!


This tube is the gospel, the ultimate revelation. This tube can make or break presidents, popes or Prime Ministers; this tube is the most awesome god-damned force in the whole godless world! Woe is us if it ever falls into the hands of the wrong people, and that’s why ‘Woe is us’ when Edward George Ruddy died: Because this company is now in the hands of CCA, the Communications Corporation of America. There’s a new Chairman of the Board called Frank Hacket sitting in Mr. Ruddy’s office on the twentieth floor and when the twelfth largest company in the world controls the most awesome god-damned propaganda force in the whole godless world: Who knows what shit will be peddled for ‘truth’ on this network!


So you listen to me! Listen to me: television is not the truth- television’s a god-damned amusement park. Television is a circus, a carnival a traveling troupe of acrobats, story tellers, dancers, singers, side-show freaks, lion-tamers, and football players. We’re in the boredom killing business!


So if you want the truth go to God, go to your guru’s-go to yourselves-because that’s the only place you’re going to find any real truth! Ha-ha ­ because man – you know you’re never going to get any truth from us. We’ll tell you anything you want to hear. We’ll lie like hell: we’ll tell you that Kojack always gets the killer and that nobody ever gets cancer at Archie Bunker’s house. And no matter how much trouble the hero is in don’t worry just look at your watch at the end of the hour he’s going to win ­ we’ll give you any shit you want to hear! We deal in Illusions man, none of it is true! But you people sit there day after day and night after night; all ages, colors, creeds: We’re all you know! You’re beginning to believe the illusions we’re spinning here! You’re beginning to think that the tube is reality- and that your own lives are unreal! You DO whatever the tube tells you, you dress like the tube you eat like the tube, you raise your children like the tube, you even think like the tube!


This is mass madness you maniacs! In God’s name you people are the real thing-We are the illusion! So turn off you television sets, turn it off now, turn them off right now: turn them off and leave them off-turn them off right in the middle of the sentence I’m speaking now ­ Turn them OFF!”(2)


Chris Hedges: “The illiterate and semi-literate, once the campaigns are over, remain powerless. They still cannot protect their children from dysfunctional public schools. They still cannot understand predatory loan deals, the intricacies of mortgage papers, credit card agreements and equity lines of credit that drive them into foreclosures and bankruptcies. They still struggle with the most basic chores of daily life from reading instructions on medicine bottles to filling out bank forms, car loan documents and unemployment benefit and insurance papers. They watch helplessly and without comprehension as hundreds of thousands of jobs are shed. They are hostages to brands. Brands come with images and slogans. Images and slogans are all they understand. Many eat at fast food restaurants not only because it is cheap but because they can order from pictures rather than menus. And those who serve them, also semi-literate or illiterate, punch in orders on cash registers whose keys are marked with symbols and pictures. This is our brave new world.


Political leaders in our post-literate society no longer need to be competent, sincere or honest. They only need to appear to have these qualities. Most of all they need a story, a narrative. The reality of the narrative is irrelevant. It can be completely at odds with the facts. The consistency and emotional appeal of the story are paramount. The most essential skill in political theater and the consumer culture is artifice. Those who are best at artifice succeed. Those who have not mastered the art of artifice fail. In an age of images and entertainment, in an age of instant emotional gratification, we do not seek or want honesty. We ask to be indulged and entertained by clichés, stereotypes and mythic narratives that tell us we can be whomever we want to be, that we live in the greatest country on Earth, that we are endowed with superior moral and physical qualities and that our glorious future is preordained, either because of our attributes as Americans or because we are blessed by God or both.” (1)


Network ­ Money Speech: “You have meddled with the primal forces of nature Mr. Beale and I won’t have it-is that clear! You think you’ve merely stopped a business deal – that is not the case! The Arabs have taken millions of dollars out of this country and now they must put it back! It is ebb and flow,~ gravity, it is ecological balance.


You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and people’s ­ there are no nations ­ there are no people’s ­ there are no Russians ­ there are no Arabs there are no third world’s there is no West! There is only one holistic System of Systems: One vast and ~ interwoven, interactive and multi-variant, multi-national dominion of dollars. Petrol-dollars, electro-dollars, multi- dollars, Reich marks ~ rubles, pounds, and shekels. It is the international system of currency, which determines the totality of life on this planet! That is the natural order of things today! That is the atomic, and sub-atomic, and galactic structure of things today! And YOU have meddled with the primal forces of NATURE- AND YOU WILL ATONE!


Am I getting through to you Mr. Beale? You get up on your little twenty-one inch screen and howl about America and Democracy: There is no America, there is no Democracy-there is only IBM and ITT and AT&T and DuPont, DOW, Union Carbide, and Exxon: those ARE the nations of the world today!


What do you think the Russians talk about in their counsels of state-Karl Marx? They get out their linear programming charts, their statistical decision theories, mini ~ solutions and compute the price-cost probabilities of their investments and transactions, just like we do. We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies Mr. Beale. The world is a college of corporations; inexorably determined by the immutable by-laws of business the world is a business Mr. Beale. It has been since man crawled out of slime. And our children will live, Mr. Beale, to see that perfect world in which there’s no war or famine, oppression or brutality. One vast and ecumenical holding company for whom all men will work to serve the common good: In which all men will hold a share of stock: All necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom ­ amused.” (3)


Chris Hedges: “As we descend into a devastating economic crisis, one that Barack Obama cannot halt, there will be tens of millions of Americans who will be ruthlessly thrust aside. As their houses are foreclosed, as their jobs are lost, as they are forced to declare bankruptcy and watch their communities collapse, they will retreat even further into irrational fantasy. They will be led toward glittering and self-destructive illusions by our modern Pied Pipers-our corporate advertisers, our charlatan preachers, our television news celebrities, our self-help gurus, our entertainment industry and our political demagogues-who will offer increasingly absurd forms of escapism.


The core values of our open society, the ability to think for oneself, to draw independent conclusions, to express dissent when judgment and common sense indicate something is wrong, to be self- critical, to challenge authority, to understand historical facts, to separate truth from lies, to advocate for change and to acknowledge that there are other views, different ways of being, that are morally and socially acceptable, are dying. Obama used hundreds of millions of dollars in campaign funds to appeal to and manipulate this illiteracy and irrationalism to his advantage, but these forces will prove to be his most deadly nemesis once they collide with the awful reality that awaits us.” (1)


Kirwan: There can be only one pre-requisite for this ever-deepening cauldron of destruction.; and that is for each of us to follow Howard Beale’s example, each in our own way, as his now infamous call that prompted the foregoing two outbursts. That speech is abbreviated here:


Network- I’m Mad as Hell: “I don’t have to tell you things are bad ­ everybody knows things are bad. It’s a depression, everybody’s out of work, or scarred of losing their jobs. The dollar buys a nickels worth: Banks are going bust; shop-keepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there’s nobody anywhere seems to know what to do and there’s no end to it!


We know the air is unfit to breathe, the food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TV’s while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes as if that’s the way it’s supposed to be! We know things are bad, worse than bad-they’re crazy-it’s like everything everywhere is going crazy. So we don’t go out anymore, we sit in the house and slowly the world we’re living in is getting smaller and all we say is PLEASE at least leave us alone in our living room, let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials, and we won’t say anything-just leave us alone!


Well I’m not going to leave you alone! I want you to GET MAD! I don’t want you to protest, I don’t want you to write to your congressman; I wouldn’t know what to tell you to write. I don’t know what to do about the depression and the inflation or the Russians or the crime-in-the-streets. All I know is that first YOU’VE GOT TO GET MAD! You’ve got to say “I’m a human being -DAMNIT-my life has value! So I want you to get up now, I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window, open it, stick your head out and yell: “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!” Things have got to Change! (4)


Kirwan: We are just over two-weeks into the twilight zone that is the period between the election and the swearing-in ceremonies. This is the last chance we shall have to weigh-in on all the shit that’s coming down, in the process that is defining just how much more of this we’re going to have to put up with in the extension of Cheney-Bush that will be overseen by a different face, but by the same controllers that have been running this show since 1838: “The Rise of the House of Rothschild “Permit me to issue and control the money of a nation, and I care not who makes its law.” Mayer Amschel Rothschild, 1838 (5)


That last statement was made 230 years ago, and just look at what it has brought us to: Last chance people ­ GET MAD and then DO something!


1) America the Illiterate


2) Network ­ We’re in a lot of trouble


3) Network ­ Money Speech


4) Network ­ I’m Mad as Hell


5) The Rise of the House of Rothschild

Debate Flares Over Israel’s Access to American Secrets

Debate Flares Over Israel’s Access to American Secrets

A bestselling author writing about America’s most secretive intelligence agency is raising eyebrows with his claims that Israeli intelligence has potentially gained access to sensitive American communications information.

Investigative writer James Bamford contends in his new book, “The Shadow Factory, the Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America,” that at least two high-tech companies with alleged ties to Israeli intelligence mined American communications data on a mass scale. The companies were hired to help major American telecommunications firms that were cooperating with the National Security Agency on its controversial eavesdropping program.

Bamford has written about the NSA, which conducts a wide array of electronic-surveillance activities, over the last quarter century. While some of the revelations in his latest book – NSA’s failure to act upon crucial information that could have prevented the 9/11 attacks and the abuses of the eavesdropping program – have received praise in the mainstream press, his Israel-related claims have been ignored by most and criticized by a few.

Michael Oren, an Israeli-American historian with the conservative Shalem Center in Jerusalem, charged that Bamford lacked proof to back up the Israeli-intelligence assertions made in the book. Oren has also criticized a previous Bamford book in which he accused the Israelis of purposely bombing an American spy ship off the Gaza Strip in 1967 during the Six-Day War.

“Bamford makes far-reaching and unsubstantiated allegations about Jews and Israel,” Oren told the Forward. “In the latest instance, he makes two serious assertions, namely that Israelis working in high-tech are Mossad and the Mossad works against the U. S. But in keeping with his previous work, there is no evidence.”

Bamford did not return inquiries seeking comment. And a spokesman for one of the companies named in the book said it did not engage in surveillance activities.

In a previous book, “Body of Secrets,” published in 2001, Bamford wrote that the bombing of the U.S.S. Liberty was intended to keep it from gathering data on what the author said was the Israeli massacre of hundreds of Egyptian prisoners of war. Israel consistently has said it had mistaken the American vessel for an Egyptian boat, an explanation accepted by the American government but contested by families of some crew members as well as several former American officials.

In his latest book, published in October by DoubleDay, Bamford writes that the largest American telecommunications companies cooperated with the NSA in the “warrantless eavesdropping program by allowing the agency to tap its phone lines and fiber-optic cables.” To do so, he writes, the telecom giants resorted to the assistance of at least two high-tech firms, Narus and Verint, founded in Israel and with alleged ties to its intelligence services.

Narus and Verint were involved in tapping phone and Internet communications for, respectively, AT&T and Verizon.

“AT&T have outsourced the bugging of their entire networks — carrying billions of American communications every day -— to two mysterious companies with very troubling ties to foreign connections,” he writes. “What is especially troubling, but little known, is that both companies have extensive ties to a foreign country, Israel, as well as links to that country’s intelligence service — a service with a long history of aggressive spying against the U.S.”

He then describes close ties between the Mossad’s Unit 8200, which he describes as the Israeli equivalent of the NSA, and several other Israeli high-tech companies doing business with the United States and other governments.

Bamford also stresses that the founder of Verint systems is wanted in the United States on multiple fraud charges and is a fugitive. The author refers to the Israeli-born Jacob “Kobi” Alexander, the founder of Comverse Technology, Verint’s parent company, who was indicted in 2006 on charges he backdated stock-options. Alexander is fighting American efforts to have him extradited from Namibia.

Both Verint and Narus were founded by Israelis and are now based in the United States. Verint did not respond to requests for comment. Narus lists AT&T as one of its customers on its Web site, along with clients in China, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Narus CEO Greg Oslan told the Forward through spokesperson Kathleen Shanahan that “the only ties Narus has with Israel is that the company was founded in the U.S. by a team that included Israelis.  However, the original founders are no longer with the company.” She stressed that the company sells security, intercept and traffic management solutions to service providers and government organizations to help them protect and manage their complex Internet Protocol networks. “We do not engage in surveillance activities,” she said.

The Israeli embassy in Washington declined to comment.

Bamford, 62, served in a Navy unit that worked with the NSA during the Vietnam War. He then studied law before deciding to become an investigative writer. He also served as a producer for ABC News.

His first book on the NSA, published in 1982, was praised for shedding a rare light on an agency so shrouded in secrecy that its acronym is sometimes jokingly referred to as “No Such Agency.” His second book, published in 2001, hailed the agency for putting in place strong safeguards on its domestic spying activities. The latest one’s revelations that the NSA was listening in without proper warrants on the conversations of American soldiers, aid workers and reporters based in Iraq grabbed headlines in mid-October. But his claims about Israeli firms mining data on a mass scale on behalf of the NSA and his assertion that Washington’s support for Israel served as the main motivator for 9/11 have received little scrutiny in the mainstream media.

One exception is former Nebraska Senator Bob Kerrey, who in an otherwise favorable review published in the Washington Post, squarely disagreed with Bamford on Israel. “The author’s apparent negativity toward Israel is a significant distraction from the content of his book,” wrote Kerrey, the president of the New School in New York who was a member of the independent 9/11 commission. “And though I believe there has been too great a tendency to demonize the 9/11 terrorists by calling them cowards and worse, Bamford is entirely too sympathetic to them for my taste.”

Chinese Automakers may buy GM and Chrysler

Chinese Automakers may buy GM and Chrysler

by Bertel Schmitt

Chinese Automakers may buy GM and Chrysler

Chinese carmakers SAIC and Dongfeng have plans to acquire GM and Chrysler, China’s 21st Century Business Herald reports. LINK A National Enquirer the paper is not. It is one of China’s leading business newspapers, with a daily readership over three million]. This newspaper cites a senior official of China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology– the state regulator of China’s auto industry– who dropped the hint that “the auto manufacturing giants in China, such as Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) and Dongfeng Motor Corporation, have the capability and intention to buy some assets of the two crisis-plagued American automakers.” These hints are very often followed with quick action in the Middle Kingdom. The hints were dropped just a few days after the same Chinese government gave its auto makers the go-ahead to invest abroad. And why would they do that?

A take-over of a large overseas auto maker would fit perfectly into China’s plans. As reported before, China has realized that its export chances are slim without unfettered access to foreign technology. The brand cachet of Chinese cars abroad is, shall we say, challenged. The Chinese could easily export Made-in-China VWs, Toyotas, Buicks. If their joint venture partner would let them. The solution: Buy the joint venture partner. Especially, when he’s in deep trouble.

At current market valuations (GM is worth less than Mattel) the Chinese government can afford to buy GM with petty cash. Even a hundred billion $ would barely dent China’s more than $2t in currency reserves. For nobody in the world would buying GM and (while they are at it) Chrysler make more sense than for the Chinese. Overlap? What overlap? They would gain instant access to the world’s markets with accepted brands, and proven technology.

The editors of 21st Century Business Herald, obviously with input from higher-up, writes that Chinese industry must change and upgrade. China wants their factories to change from low-value-added manufacturing to technically innovative and financially-sound high-value-add industries. Says the paper: “It would be much easier now for strong Chinese automakers to go global by acquiring some assets of their U.S. counterparts in times of crisis.”

Deloitte & Touche sees a trend: “Chinese automakers can start with buying out the OEM projects and Chinese ventures of some global carmakers such as GM and Chrysler.”

The Chinese appear to have bigger plans than an accounting firm can imagine. 21st Century Business Herald acts and writes as if its already a done deal, and the beginning of more to come. “In the coming two years China is likely to see a few of its large Chinese automakers and other manufacturing enterprises set a precedent for achieving globalization by acquiring global companies, just like SAIC or Dongfeng’s possible acquisition of troubled GM or Chrysler.”

Just in case you missed it, the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) is China’s largest auto manufacturer. In 1984, the company entered a joint venture with Volkswagen. A decade later, SAIC entered a joint venture with General Motors. In 2007, SAIC bought the Nanjing Automobile Corporation, which had acquired British MG Rover in 2005.

Dongfeng Motor Corporation is a public company, although 70 percent of their shares are reported to be in government hands. They also are one of China’s Big Three. The company has numerous joint venture partners, such as Nissan, Peugeot-Citroen, Honda, and Kia. Dongfeng (which means “East Wind”) was founded at the behest of Mao Zedong himself in 1968.

Editorial reference, LINK

UK, Syria cooperating on intelligence – Miliband


UK, Syria cooperating on intelligence – Miliband

‘Politics, not violence, is the way forward’
By Andrew Wander

UK, Syria cooperating on intelligence - Miliband

BEIRUT: British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Wednesday that Britain and Syria have established cooperation between their respective intelligence agencies. Speaking in Beirut after meeting with President Michel Sleiman and Prime Minister Fuad Siniora, Miliband said that the British government had been discussing intelligence cooperation with Damascus for the past 18 months.

“We will work with the Syrian government on counter-terrorism measures because terrorism threatens us both,” he said, after emphasizing that establishing intelligence links between the two countries had not been the “main purpose” of his visit to Damascus.

He said that cooperation on counter-terrorism was one of several issues that he had discussed with his counterpart in Damascus. Others were Syria’s role in Iraq, in the wider Middle East peace process, its human-rights record and its role in Lebanon.

The US has accused Damascus of allowing Sunni militants to use Syria as a base from which to travel to Iraq. Last month a US military raid was launched from Iraq across the Syrian border in an effort to strike the insurgents, prompting furious condemnation from Damascus.

Syria has seen a number of security breaches in 2008, starting with the killing of top Hizbullah commander Imad Mughniyeh in February. In September, a suicide bombing rocked Damascus, killing 17 people.

Miliband was speaking at the end of a Middle East tour which saw him visit Israel, the West Bank, Syria and Lebanon. He was the highest level British politician to visit Syria for seven years.

His visit is part of a wider effort to bring Syria out of its current international isolation and encourage the tentative contacts established between Israel and Syria. Turkey has brokered four rounds of indirect peace talks between the two countries.

Israel says that Damascus must cut its links to Hamas and Hizbullah before a peace deal can be struck. But Damascus says that it will only review its relationship with Hizbullah after peace has been established.

Miliband repeated the British government’s opposition to Hizbullah’s powerful armed militia. “We proscribe the military wing for the very clear purpose that is a military organization,” he said. “Those who used violence for political ends cannot expect to have support from the international community.”

But he said that there were no plans to add Hizbullah’s political wing to Britain’s list of proscribed terrorist organizations. “Politics, not violence, is the way forward in Lebanon,” he said.

Hizbullah MP Ali Ammar reacted by accusing the British foreign minister of “distorting facts and misleading the public opinion by claiming to be keen on maintaining stability and peace in the region and Lebanon.”

In a statement on Wednesday, Ammar said: “This minister can never make the Arab and Lebanese forget Britain’s hideous role that allowed the birth of the enemy Israeli entity.”

“The British minister, instead of hiding behind peace slogans, should have exerted pressure on the Israeli enemy to stop its strategy of terrorism, occupation and murder,” he added.

Ammar also said that the “minister’s attempts to accuse the resistance of being a terrorist group reflects the British addiction to support and cover state terrorism.”

Miliband also said that 2009 was “a very important year” in the Middle East peace process. “2009 needs to be a year of both comprehensive dialogue and comprehensive approach to the problems in this region, the resolution of the central concerns here in Lebanon, the resolution of the Palestinian conflict and the resolution of wider questions of insecurity, for all nations require a genuinely comprehensive process and genuinely comprehensive vision,” he said, adding that there was “sufficient common ground” for this goal to be achieved.

Miliband said that establishing peace in the Middle East would have benefits for the whole world. “My own very strong view is that it is very hard to conceive of a more peaceful world without a more peaceful Middle East,” he said.

“Instability in the Middle East has spread and will spread violently across the world unless it is contained,” he added.

Miliband was speaking at the airport after attending a question-and-answer session with students at the American University of Beirut, where he was accused by the audience of following US policy and supporting repressive regimes in the region.

Miliband denied the charges, urging the Arab world to be “active, not passive” and asked them “not to wait for the United States to make its decisions” with regard to the Middle East.

Troubling look at U.S. surveillance policy in “The Shadow Factory”

Troubling look at U.S. surveillance policy in “The

Shadow Factory”

James Bamford’s third book on the National Security Administration, “The Shadow Factory,” reveals how federal security agencies and their private-sector allies have pored over Americans’ telephone calls, electronic records and personal data on a gigantic scale.

National Intelligence director John Negroponte inside the National Security Agency in 2006. In a new book, journalist James Bamford details President Bush's secret decision that allowed the NSA to spy on U.S. citizens.


National Intelligence director John Negroponte inside the National Security Agency in 2006. In a new book, journalist James Bamford details President Bush’s secret decision that allowed the NSA to spy on U.S. citizens.

“The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America”

by James Bamford

Doubleday, 395 pp., $27.95

In 1961, President Dwight Eisenhower warned the U.S. that the “military-industrial complex,” his term for the armed forces and their suppliers, posed a threat to democracy.

Now journalist James Bamford is sounding a variation on Eisenhower’s theme. In “The Shadow Factory,” he cautions that the “surveillance-industrial complex” has been undermining the privacy, and potentially the liberty, of Americans.

Federal security agencies and their private-sector allies, such as AT&T, have snooped on telephone calls and e-mail and combed through electronic records of Americans’ personal data on a gigantic scale, often in defiance of the law.

Government officials wanted to learn where targeted Americans shopped, “what they bought, what movies they saw, what books they read, the toll booths they went through, the plane tickets they purchased, the hotels they stayed in, and the restaurants where they ate,” Bamford writes.

Far from decrying the surveillance, President George W. Bush promoted it, calling it necessary for hunting down terrorists akin to those responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks. At the heart of the book is the question of whether such anti-terrorist programs pose a greater risk to American ideals than do the country’s enemies.

“There is now the capacity to make tyranny total in America,” writes Bamford, the author of three earlier books on U.S. intelligence agencies. “Only law ensures that we never fall into that abyss — the abyss from which there is no return.”

Bamford isn’t the first to report the central development around which he builds his new book: Bush’s secret decision that allowed the National Security Agency to spy on people inside the U.S., including citizens, without first seeking court clearances that were required by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.

A special court to approve warrants under FISA had rarely failed to give government investigators the clearances they sought. But the Bush administration, after Sept. 11, didn’t want investigators slowed down by the permitting process. Until he finally sought changes in the law, which was amended this year, Bush just chose to defy it.

AT&T and other private companies cooperated as the NSA tapped into Americans’ communications, and an industry grew up to supply equipment needed by the spies. For example, Verint Systems, a company founded by a former Israeli intelligence officer, has built “bigger and better bugs,” Bamford says.



The eavesdropping drew public scrutiny after leaks from government officials troubled by the program led to news coverage. After sitting on the story for more than a year, according to Bamford, The New York Times broke it in December 2005. The coverage won a 2006 Pulitzer Prize for two Times reporters.

After court battles over the exposed program, the Bush administration said it would follow the FISA law. Instead, the administration sought, and won, amendments from Congress. The changes gave immunity from lawsuits to the telecom companies involved in eavesdropping, weakened the FISA court and provided the NSA a freer hand in some matters, though the agency is still required to seek warrants to target Americans.

While the book has extensive notes, it isn’t always clear how the author learned what he reports. He writes that “many courageous people” who aided him must go unnamed. The book also requires patience. The first section, juxtaposing the actions of the intelligence agencies and terrorists before Sept. 11, never builds any suspense because we know what’s going to happen.

But at times, as in a chapter called “Extremis,” Bamford marshals fascinating detail. Those pages convey not only the horrors of the Iraq war but also the practical challenges faced by intelligence agencies forced to comply with the original FISA law. By the end, Bamford has distilled a troubling chapter in American history.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

Senate Hearing On US Auto Bailout Signals New Attacks On Workers

Senate Hearing On US

Auto Bailout Signals

New Attacks On Workers

By Jerry White

19 November, 2008

Tuesday’s Senate Banking Committee hearing on a $25 billion government bailout of the US auto industry underscored the reactionary framework of the official debate on the crisis of the Big Three auto companies. At the center of the dispute between those senators who support an emergency loan and those who oppose it is how best to impose the burden of the crisis on the backs of auto workers and the working class as a whole.

The hearing made clear that whatever the outcome of the dispute within Congress and the American ruling elite over the immediate issue of an auto industry bailout, the auto crisis will be used to launch an unprecedented assault on the wages, pensions, health benefits and working conditions of workers in every sector of the economy and every part of the country.

The hearing provided further proof that the only policy capable of defending the interests of auto workers is a socialist policy based on the nationalization of auto and its transformation into a publicly owned industry under the democratic control of the working population. This requires the independent industrial and political mobilization of auto workers and the entire working class in opposition to the auto companies, the Wall Street banks, both political parties and the United Auto Workers union (UAW), which functions as an appendage of the auto bosses.

Even were the $25 billion emergency loan to be passed by the lame duck 110th Congress and signed into law by President Bush, which appears unlikely, it would be conditioned on the ripping up of existing union contracts and the imposition of wage and benefit concessions that would destroy virtually everything that remains of the gains won by generations of auto workers since the mass strike battles that established the UAW in the 1930s.

The Senate hearing was an exercise in hypocrisy. Neither the senators nor the chief witnesses—the CEOs of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler and UAW President Ronald Gettelfinger—pointed clearly and unequivocally to the absurdity of squabbling over $25 billion to the avert the imminent bankruptcy of General Motors after Congress approved the handover of more than a trillion dollars in taxpayer money to bail out the major banks.

The government rescue of Wall Street executives and speculators, whose recklessness and greed precipitated the financial meltdown that is plunging the world economy into the deepest slump since the Great Depression, imposed no restrictions on the banks and financial firms that receive government handouts. But now that the jobs of hundreds of thousands of auto workers are on the line, politicians and media commentators act as though the Wall Street bailout never happened and wax indignant over the prospect of government intervention into the “free market.”

The more that opponents of the proposed loan to the Big Three, including the Bush White House, the Treasury and the majority of congressional Republicans, denounce the measure, the more its supporters, from President-Elect Barack Obama to Democratic congressional leaders, declare that any loan must be tied to a ruthless program of downsizing and the destruction of the workers’ wages and conditions.

Opponents of the Democratic-sponsored proposal to use a small portion of the $700 billion allocated to bail out the banks to rescue the auto companies argue openly that the best option for gutting the wages and conditions of auto workers is to allow GM and the other companies to run out of cash and file for Chapter Eleven bankruptcy protection. This would result in the invalidation of existing union contracts, including the provision of health care and pensions for millions of retirees and their dependants.

Calls for this option have filled the airwaves and the pages of major newspapers in recent days. One example is an article by New York Times business columnist Andrew Sorkin that appeared in Tuesday’s edition. He advocated a “government-sponsored bankruptcy” that would force GM and Chrysler to merge and shut down half of their 35 plants. Sorkin wrote, “Bankruptcy would give GM enormous leverage with its debt holders—and perhaps more important with the UAW, whose gold-plated benefits are one reason why GM is no longer competitive.”

At Tuesday’s Senate hearing, GM’s Richard Wagoner, Ford’s Alan Mulally and Chrysler’s Robert Nardelli argued against opponents of the government loan that drastic restructuring is already underway. They pointed to the fact that over the last two years more than 100,000 jobs have been eliminated, scores of plants shut and billions slashed from operating expenses.

The executives praised the role of the UAW in signing a contract in 2007 that imposed unprecedented reductions in labor costs. The concessions, they said, had virtually eliminated their labor cost differentials with Asian and European rivals that operate non-union plants in the US.

The most degrading testimony came from UAW President Gettelfinger. He pleaded for a bridge loan to help the auto companies weather the storm until the union’s new cost-cutting agreement takes full effect in 2010.

“What the UAW has done?” Gettelfinger asked rhetorically. “In 2005 we ended the vow we made to our retirees that they did not have to contribute to their health care. We negotiated the VEBA [Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association] to take retiree health care obligations off the company’s books. Hourly workers gave up their 3 percent wage increases and for four years there will be no annual improvement in wages. We changed work rules.”

He could have added that the 2007 contract allows the Big Three to hire new workers at half the pay of older workers and strips them of traditional health and pension benefits.

Responding to criticisms of the union’s so-called Jobs Bank program, which subsidizes the pay of laid-off workers, Gettelfinger declared, “Between 2005 and 2008, we have lost 47,000 workers at GM and we have virtually eliminated our jobs bank at all three companies. We had to take the political heat for these kinds of decisions, but as a union leadership we are proud to work with these companies.”

Gettelfinger’s testimony was a self-indictment of the UAW bureaucracy, demonstrating that the union lacks any policy independent of the auto companies. It was a testament to the utter failure of the union’s policy based on virulent opposition to socialism, the promotion of economic nationalism and hostility to a political break with the parties of the American corporate elite.

One of the witnesses, Peter Morici, an international business professor from the University of Maryland, told the senators that bankruptcy would allow the US auto makers to throw tens of thousands out of work without paying severance benefits and would put American auto makers on par with non-union plants operated in the US by Asian and European companies.

On the same day as the Senate hearing, Kenneth Lewis, the CEO of Bank of America—which received $25 billion in the government bailout—told an audience at the Detroit Economic Club that the auto companies shouldn’t get a dime in federal money unless it came with “stipulations,” including a commitment to drastically consolidate the industry, including the elimination of at least one of the Big Three companies. “The American people aren’t interested in just giving more money,” he said with a straight face.

Among the most outspoken Senate opponents of the proposed auto loan is Richard Shelby, the ranking Republican on the Banking Committee. Not accidentally, his state, Alabama, is home to non-union plants operated by Toyota, Honda, Mercedes and Hyundai.

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow summed up the reactionary basis on which the Democrats posture as defenders of working people. In her opening comments she said that American manufacturing had to be defended because it was crucial for national security. America, she said, “can’t go from a foreign dependence on oil to a foreign dependence on technology and the manufacture of tanks, planes and automobiles.”

Such nationalist appeals have long been used by the Democrats and the UAW bureaucracy to undermine class consciousness and demand ever-greater sacrifices from workers in the US to “save American industry.”

The American ruling elite is exploiting the economic crisis to impoverish the working class and return it to conditions of unbridled exploitation not seen since 1930s. In this, it has the full collaboration of the UAW and the rest of the official unions.

The collapse of the US auto industry has demonstrated the need for state intervention and planning. The question is: by whom and in whose interests? The experiences of the last three decades, beginning with the 1979-80 Chrysler bailout, demonstrate that in so far as state intervention, in whatever form, is carried out by the two corporate-controlled parties and a government dominated by big business, it will be used to destroy the conditions of auto workers and, on this basis, create a rump auto industry that can once again provide a profitable avenue for investment by Wall Street banks and speculators.

The only policy capable of defending the interests of working people is the nationalization of the auto industry under the democratic control of the workers themselves. Economic decision-making must be taken out of the hands of those who have driven the industry into the ground—while amassing huge personal fortunes—and put in the hands of the working population.

The business secrets and account books of the corporations must be opened to public review and the multi-million salaries and other ill-gotten gains of the CEOs and Wall Street speculators confiscated and put to socially necessary use. The auto industry must be reorganized on the principle of production for human need, not profit, in order to guarantee decent living standards to workers and their families and produce safe, affordable and environmentally sustainable vehicles.

Antiwar groups fear Barack Obama may create hawkish Cabinet

Activists note that most of the candidates for top security posts voted for the 2002 resolution authorizing President Bush to invade Iraq or otherwise supported launching the war.
By Paul Richter
November 20, 2008

Reporting from Washington — Antiwar groups and other liberal activists are increasingly concerned at signs that Barack Obama’s national security team will be dominated by appointees who favored the Iraq invasion and hold hawkish views on other important foreign policy issues.

The activists are uneasy not only about signs that both Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates could be in the Obama Cabinet, but at reports suggesting that several other short-list candidates for top security posts backed the decision to go to war.

“Obama ran his campaign around the idea the war was not legitimate, but it sends a very different message when you bring in people who supported the war from the beginning,” said Kelly Dougherty, executive director of the 54-chapter Iraq Veterans Against the War.

The activists — key members of the coalition that propelled Obama to the White House — fear he is drifting from the antiwar moorings of his once-longshot presidential candidacy. Obama has eased the rigid timetable he had set for withdrawing troops from Iraq, and he appears to be leaning toward the center in his candidates to fill key national security posts.

The president-elect has told some Democrats that he expects to take heat from parts of his political base but will not be deterred by it.

Aside from Clinton and Gates, the roster of possible Cabinet secretaries has included Sens. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) and Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.), who both voted in 2002 for the resolution authorizing President Bush to invade Iraq, though Lugar has since said he regretted it.

“It’s astonishing that not one of the 23 senators or 133 House members who voted against the war is in the mix,” said Sam Husseini of the liberal group Institute for Public Accuracy.

Clinton, who was Obama’s chief opponent during the Democratic presidential primaries, appears to be the top candidate for secretary of State in his administration. Speculation about Clinton has dismayed some liberal activists but has cheered some conservatives such as former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and editor William Kristol of the Weekly Standard.

Clinton voted in favor of the Iraq war resolution, and despite pressure, she never said during the primary campaign that she regretted that vote. She also favored legislation last year to support the designation of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization, another decision that pleased conservatives.

In a move to advance her candidacy, Clinton’s husband, former President Clinton, has agreed to take steps to avoid conflicts of interest posed by his far-flung financial dealings, Democrats close to the discussions said Wednesday.

Bill Clinton has agreed to check with the Obama administration before giving a paid speech. He also has agreed to disclose the sources of new contributions to his charitable enterprise, the William J. Clinton Foundation, those close to the matter said on condition of anonymity.

He also is trying to devise a way to share the identity of past donors, a touchy matter because some contributors do not want their identities divulged, said one Democrat.

Knowledgeable Democrats say that Gates is under consideration to remain in his post for at least several months even though he frequently has said he wants to return to private life when the Bush administration leaves office.

Activists note that Vice President-elect Joe Biden, also expected to be a leading voice in the new administration’s foreign policy, voted for the 2002 war resolution.

Another possible contender for the diplomatic post, former U.S. diplomat Richard C. Holbrooke, also backed the Iraq invasion.

Kevin Martin, executive director of the group Peace Action, said that although Obama had campaigned as an agent of change, the president-elect is “a fairly centrist guy” who appears to be choosing from the Democratic foreign policy establishment — “and nobody from outside it.”

“So, in the short term, we’re going to be disappointed,” he said. “They may turn out to be all pro-war, or at least people who were pro-war in the beginning.”

Martin said that his group was concerned about Gates and Clinton as well as Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s choice for White House chief of staff. He also said his group was trying to mobilize its grass-roots supporters with e-mail alerts, but recognized that it must approach the subject delicately because of public euphoria over Obama’s historic victory.

“There’s so much Obama hero worship, we’re having to walk this line where we can’t directly criticize him,” he said. “But we are expressing concern.”

Peace Action urged in a letter for its members to speak up because “we can be sure that the Obama team is under pressure to dial back plans to withdraw from Iraq.”

Despite concerns, some groups are trying to remain conciliatory.

Tom Andrews, national director of Win Without War, said that although he finds Sen. Clinton’s views “very troubling,” Obama should be given the benefit of the doubt.

“I take him at his word that he is committed to ending the occupation of Iraq in 16 months and that he’s going to assemble a team that’s committed to that goal,” Andrews said.

Obama campaigned on a promise to remove all combat troops from Iraq in 16 months, or roughly one brigade a month.

Since winning the White House, Obama has affirmed his pledge to remove the troops but has left himself some flexibility on the withdrawal timetable.

In an appearance on CBS’ “60 Minutes” on Sunday, Obama promised a troop pullback but described it in broad terms.

“I’ve said during the campaign, and I’ve stuck to this commitment, that as soon as I take office, I will call in the Joint Chiefs of Staff, my national security apparatus, and we will start executing a plan that draws down our troops,” the president-elect said.

A government of the elite


A government of the elite

By Aziz-ud-Din Ahmad

The section of the ruling elite currently in power has turned out to be as parasitical as its predecessor. It is merrymaking at the expense of the tax payer, totally unconcerned about the plight of the common man who has been forced in sheer desperation to take recourse to measures unheard of before.
On Tuesday, three parents were forced to abandon eight children to the mercy of a charity in Karachi. These were not unwanted newborns, but children who had been tended fondly by parents for five to twelve years. They found that it was no more possible for them to look after the childrens’ needs. Several incidents of parents selling their children have been reported in the press. There was also the well publicised incident of a mother in Lahore who got herself and her children crushed under a train leaving behind a note that she was forced to commit suicide and take the children with her because she could not feed and educate them.
The political leadership has meanwhile continued to live off the fat of the land. It was shaken out of complacency only when it discovered that with the foreign exchange left in the treasury the elite could not import luxury goods for more than two months. Even then there was no talk of ending the luxurious style of living. The government decided to go begging for aid as the ruling elite has done in similar circumstances earlier.             However such was the trust deficit in the Zardari-headed administration that none of the allies was willing to hand over cash to it. While friends said they were keen to help the country avoid a meltdown, everyone advised the government to knock at the IMF door. The Plan A i.e. recourse to multilateral agencies and Plan B i.e. approaching friendly countries turned out to be non-starters.                                                                         There were good reasons for the distrust. At times of economic crunch everyone expects the political leadership to make sacrifices. The least they are supposed to do is to cut on luxuries and opt for simple living. The government leaders from common legislators to the president have simply refused to realise this. Days after the new government was sworn in, PPP MPAs who could not be accommodated at the Punjab Assembly Hostel demanded stay at Five Star hotels as a matter of privilege. When Prime Minister Gilani declared that no Cabinet member would use cars above 1300 cc, nobody listened to him. What has the fun being ministers if they could not have Land Cruisers, BMWs and Mercedes’. A visit to the Parliament House’s car park during a session would indicate the ruling elite belongs to a highly prosperous country rather than one on the verge of default.          Instead of reducing the size of the Cabinet in view of the financial stringency, the country has been burdened with as many as 55 Cabinet members and ministers of state. Of these forty were added a day before Mr Zardari left for Saudi Arabia to seek deferred oil payment and other support on grounds of financial crunch. The delegation from the poor country that he took with him comprised about 200 officials, press reporters and hangers on.                                                                                                                                     The Cabinet has been over-expanded by creating new portfolios to oblige miniscule groups like PML-F and individuals like Israrullah Zehri and Hamid Saeed Kazmi. Besides the Cabinet members there are also ‘advisers’ with the status of a minister, the latest addition being Dr Shahid Masood. Then there are cronies appointed roving ambassadors.
The IMF has agreed to help but wants in return sacrifices that include reduction in defence spendings, agricultural tax as well as tax on income derived from the share market and real estate transactions. It also wants polices that would cut development expenditure, lead to the contraction of business activity and end subsidy on fertiliser.
While the government does not mind carrying out orders that have a negative impact on the life of the man in the street, it is unwilling to put burden on powerful lobbies. It was straightaway maintained that defence expenditure could not be reduced. A large section of the ruling elite comprises big landlords who are unwilling to pay income tax. There is an across the board consensus among parliamentarians to resist the measure. The powerful land mafia and equally strong share market manipulators are not willing to be taxed either. Whatever fiscal discipline is going to be imposed by those unwilling to live within their means would be due to the pressure of the IMF.
The government would have improved its image if it had voluntarily cut down expenses and its leaders had opted for a simple living style soon after taking over power. But this was against the grain of Pakistan’s ruling elite.