‘The World As We Know It Is Going Down’

‘The World As We Know It Is Going Down’

By Marc Pitzke in New York

Panic is the word of the hour on Wall Street. Now even Morgan Stanley is fighting for survival. The commercial bank Wachovia and China’s Bank Citic are being discussed as possible rescuers. The crisis has led President Bush to cancel a trip.

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For traders, now might just be the worst of times.

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REUTERS

For traders, now might just be the worst of times.

The original plan actually called for humor. On Wednesday evening, actress Christy Carlson Romano was supposed to ring the closing bell on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) to mark her debut in the Broadway musical “Avenue Q.” She plays two roles on stage — a romantic kindergarten assistant, and a slutty nightclub singer.

After that day on the floor, the stock traders could have used a bit of comic relief. But it was not to be. Instead of Christy Carlson Romano, a NYSE employee in a joyless gray suit stood on the balcony and silently pressed a button. The bell rang and he disappeared. No waving, no clapping, none of the usual jubilation.

By the end of Wednesday, no one here was in the mood for laughter. The bad news on Wall Street was coming thick and fast. All the US indexes were crashing again after Tuesday’s brief and deceptive breather. In its wild, rollercoaster ride, the Dow Jones lost about 450 points, which was almost as much as it lost on Monday, the most catastrophic day on US markets since 2001.

Investors were turning their back to the market in droves and fleeing to safer pastures. The price of gold broke its record for the highest increase in a one-day period.

Panic Is the Word of the Hour

Traders abandoned the NYSE temple visually defeated and immune to the TV crews waiting. The disastrous closing prices were flickering on the ticker above the NYSE entrance: American Express -8.4 percent; Citigroup -10.9 percent; JPMorgan Chase -12.2 percent. American icons, abused like stray dogs. Even Apple took a hit.

“I don’t know what else to say,” stammered one broker, who was consoling himself with white wine and beer along with some colleagues at an outdoor bar called Beckett’s. Ties and jackets were off, but despite the evening breeze, you could still make out the thin film of sweat on his forehead. His words captured the speechlessness of an industry.

Things got worse after the markets closed. Washington Mutual, America’s fourth-largest bank, announced that it had started the process of putting itself up for sale. The Wall Street Journal reported that both Wells Fargo and the banking giant Citigroup were interested in taking over the battered American savings bank.

And then came the announcement that would dominate all of Thursday’s market activities: Morgan Stanley — the venerable Wall Street institution and one of the last two US investment banks left standing — had lost massive amounts and was fighting for survival. Media reports were saying that it was even in talks about a possible bail-out or merger. Rumor had it that possible suitors might include Wachovia or China’s Bank Citic.

China?

“Folks,” economist Larry Kudlow, a host on the business channel CNBC begged his viewers that evening, “don’t give up on this great country!”

End of an Era

In fact, it really does look as if the foundations of US capitalism have shattered. Since 1864, American banking has been split into commercial banks and investment banks. But now that’s changing. Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch — overnight, some of the biggest names on Wall Street have disappeared into thin air. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are the only giants left standing. Despite tolerable quarterly results, even they have been hurt by mysterious slumps in prices and — at least in Morgan Stanley’s case — have prepared themselves for the end.

“Nothing will be like it was before,” said James Allroy, a broker who was brooding over his chai latte at a Starbucks on Wall Street. “The world as we know it is going down.”

Many are drawing comparisons with the Great Depression, the national trauma that has been the benchmark for everything since. “I think it has the chance to be the worst period of time since 1929,” financing legend Donald Trump told CNN. And the Wall Street Journal seconds that opinion, giving one story the title: “Worst Crisis Since ’30s, With No End Yet in Sight.”

But what’s really happening? Experts have so far been unable to agree on any conclusions. Is this the beginning of the end? Or is it just a painful, but normal cycle correcting the excesses of recent years? Does responsibility lie with the ratings agencies, which have been overvaluing financial institutions for a long time? Or did dubious short sellers manipulate stock prices — after all, they were suspected of having caused the last stock market crisis in July.

The only thing that is certain is that the era of the unbridled free-market economy in the US has passed — at least for now. The near nationalization of AIG, America’s largest insurance company, with an $85 billion cash infusion — a bill footed by taxpayers — was a staggering move. The sum is three times as high as the guarantee provided by the Federal Reserve when Bear Stearns was sold to JPMorgan Chase in March.

The most breathtaking aspect about this week’s crisis, though, is that the life raft — which Washington had only previously used to bail out the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — is being handed out by a government whose party usually fights against any form of government intervention. The policy is anchored in its party platform.

“I fear the government has passed the point of no return,” financial historian Ron Chernow told the New York Times. “We have the irony of a free-market administration doing things that the most liberal Democratic administration would never have been doing in its wildest dreams.”

Bush Cancels Trip

The situation appears to be so serious that George W. Bush cancelled two domestic trips he had planned for Thursday on short notice. Instead, the president will remain in Washington to discuss the “serious challenges confronting US financial markets.” He said the president remained focused on “taking action to stabilize and strengthen the markets.” Bush had originally planned to travel to events in Florida and Alabama.

So far, the US presidential candidates have made few helpful remarks about the crisis other than the usual slogans. Both are vaguely calling for “regulation” and “reform” — bland catchphrases almost universally welcomed with applause.

Republican Party presidential candidate John McCain had the most to say. On Monday, he said “the foundation of our economy” was “strong,” adding that he opposed a government-led bailout of US insurer AIG. But now he’s promising further government steps “to prevent the kind of wild speculation that can put our markets at risk.” McCain’s explanation for the current crisis: “unbridled corruption and greed.”

But Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama didn’t move past superficialities, either. “We’re Americans. We’ve met tough challenges before and we can again.”

What else are they supposed to say? After all, US presidents have very little influence on stockmarkets. And Wall Street is expecting the status quo for the next president. On Wednesday an almost palpable mix of tension and melancholy filled the air above New York’s Financial District. The beloved trader bar Bull Run was half empty, and many tables were free at fine-dining establishments like Cipriani, Mangia and Bobby Van’s, which are normally booked days in advance.

At the side entrance to Goldman Sachs on Pearl Street, limo chauffeurs sat waiting for their customers, still above in their office towers cowering over the accounts. “If they go under,” said Rashid Amal, who works as a chauffeur for a firm called Excelsior, “then I will soon be out of a job, too.”

Think we’re tough? Think again

Think we’re tough? Think again

By Mark Drolette

Last month, in her article “Dear World,” Naomi Wolf appealed to the global community to save itself by confronting America.

A quote: “We Americans are either too incapable, or too dysfunctional, to help ourselves right now. Like drug addicts or the mentally ill who refuse treatment, we need our friends to intervene. So remember us as we were in our better moments, and take action to save us — and the world — from ourselves.”

Wimpy-sounding, eh? I thought so, too. And I should know, since I wrote something similar three years ago in a piece called, interestingly enough, “Dear Fellow Citizens of the World . . .”

Addressing our “non-American brothers and sisters,” I said, “[D]o not enable the U.S., for you know that wantonly destructive alcoholic relative who absolutely refused to get help until everyone in your family finally cut off all avenues of assistance? Well, just try thinking of America that way; you know, sort of like a big version of your drunken, out-of-control Aunt Lurline, except with a few more aircraft carriers and nuclear warheads and a pathological urge to use them every so often.”

This isn’t to point out I scooped the esteemed Wolf (though I guess I just now have). Rather, it’s to assert that the long-cherished self-image we Americans have of being self-sufficient, mega-brave world-savers is dead as a goose (step). Given, especially, our inability/unwillingness to stop the criminal Bush regime, we’ve forfeited all claims to having the right stuff. Sure, we have a lot of right-wing stuff, but that’s kinda not the same.

When did we change? Did we change? Believers in the righteous American typically cite the heroics of U.S. soldiers during World War II. Whether that really was the “good war,” I’ll defer. I do know, however, that when, years ago, I peered up at the bluffs overlooking Normandy’s Omaha Beach and saw remnants of the German guns right there, it was nearly impossible comprehending anyone surviving D-Day. Thousands didn’t, but more kept coming anyway until a beachhead was forged, the beginning of the end for Hitler and the Nazis.

So, yeah, that took some guts.

Contrast that with the video I saw recently of an American troop in Iraq calmly firing on a taxi, apparently after his buddies had just shot up another vehicle. The narrating soldier breathlessly counts at least five “kills,” gloating: “Yeah, that’s how we do things in the sniper world.” A background voice yells, “Fuck you, Haji!” Granted, I don’t know the incident’s specific context, but I certainly know the overall one: the war is illegal. Therefore, regardless the “provocation,” every person in Iraq who has been killed by a U.S. soldier, or died as a result of the occupation/invasion, has been murdered — with the blood squarely traceable to America’s hands.

So now, we just spill guts.

Nonetheless, I’m sure if you look really, really hard, you may find some folks who consider those troops, and tons more like ’em, to be real Americans, cut from the same cloth as the super-patriot archetype so frequently portrayed and firmly established decades ago by John Wayne. I wonder, though, how many of them would know Wayne never served in the military, receiving not one but two deferments during World War II.

In other words, his persona was an illusion. And so, apparently, is the one we Americans have collectively assigned ourselves since childhood, that of liberty’s uncompromising defender who, upon sensing the slightest hint of mortal danger to the Constitution, would, along with a nation full of equally aroused fellow citizens, do whatever necessary to right the ship.

Don’t look now, but that ship has sunk.

Where were we, the people, as it foundered? Certainly, some fought desperately to save it, but it wasn’t enough as myriad others — paralyzed by fear, anesthetized by American Idol, cowed by a metastasizing police state, divided by media demagogues or busy at the mall — remained immobile. Or, worse, taunted those who wouldn’t.

We Americans can proclaim our toughness all we want, but action speaks louder than, well, inaction. We are inert, impotent. Thus, whether via “targeted government-led sanctions against the U.S. by civilized countries,” as Wolf suggests, or a nation-sized noogie vigorously applied by fed-up lands until Uncle Sam cries uncle, we need assistance reclaiming America from its ruling thugs.

It’s bizarre thinking one need no longer wonder how Hitler could have methodically installed the murderous machinery that fueled his insane fascism while Germans just stood by and watched, a madness that America, and others, finally helped stop.

Now, can the world stop ours?

Copyright 2008 © Mark Drolette. All rights reserved.

Dear World, Please Confront America

Is it possible to fall out of love with your own country? For two years, I, like many Americans, have been focused intently on documenting, exposing, and alerting the nation to the Bush administration’s criminality and its assault on the Constitution and the rule of law – a story often marginalized at home. I was certain that when Americans knew what was being done in their name, they would react with horror and outrage.

Three months ago, the Bush administration still clung to its devil’s sound bite, “We don’t torture.” Now, Physicians for Human Rights has issued its report documenting American-held detainees’ traumas, and even lie detector tests confirm they have been tortured. The Red Cross report has leaked: torture and war crimes. Jane Mayer’s impeccably researched exposé The Dark Side just hit the stores: torture, crafted and directed from the top. The Washington Post gave readers actual video footage of the abusive interrogation of a Canadian minor, Omar Khadr, who was seen showing his still-bleeding abdominal wounds, weeping and pleading with his captors.

So the truth is out and freely available. And America is still napping, worrying about its weight, and hanging out at the mall.

I had thought that after so much exposure, thousands of Americans would be holding vigils on Capitol Hill, that religious leaders would be asking God’s forgiveness, and that a popular groundswell of revulsion, similar to the nineteenth-century anti-slavery movement, would emerge. To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, if torture is not wrong, nothing is wrong.

And yet no such thing has occurred. There is no crisis in America’s churches and synagogues, no Christian and Jewish leaders crying out for justice in the name of Jesus, a tortured political prisoner, or of Yahweh, who demands righteousness. I asked a contact in the interfaith world why. He replied, “The mainstream churches don’t care, because they are Republican. And the synagogues don’t care, because the prisoners are Arabs.”

It was then that I realized that I could not be in love with my country right now. How can I care about the fate of people like that? If this is what Americans are feeling, if that is who we are, we don’t deserve our Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Even America’s vaunted judicial system has failed to constrain obvious abuses. A Federal court has ruled that the military tribunals system – Star Chambers where evidence derived from torture is used against the accused – can proceed. Another recently ruled that the president may call anyone anywhere an “enemy combatant” and detain him or her indefinitely.

So Americans are colluding with a criminal regime. We have become an outlaw nation – a clear and present danger to international law and global stability – among civilized countries that have been our allies. We are – rightly – on Canada’s list of rogue nations that torture.

Europe is still high from Barack Obama’s recent visit. Many Americans, too, hope that an Obama victory in November will roll back this nightmare. But this is no time to yield to delusions. Even if Obama wins, he may well be a radically weakened president. The Bush administration has created a transnational apparatus of lawlessness that he alone, without global intervention, can neither roll back nor control.

Private security firms – for example, Blackwater – will still be operating, accountable neither to him nor to Congress, and not bound, they have argued, by international treaties. Weapons manufacturers and the telecommunications industry, with billions at stake in maintaining a hyped “war on terror” and their new global surveillance market, will deploy a lavishly financed army of lobbyists to defend their interests.

Moreover, if elected, Obama will be constrained by his own Democratic Party. America’s political parties bear little resemblance to the disciplined organizations familiar in parliamentary democracies in Europe and elsewhere. And Democrats in Congress will be even more divided after November if, as many expect, conservative members defeat Republican incumbents damaged by their association with Bush.

To be sure, some Democrats have recently launched Congressional hearings into the Bush administration’s abuses of power. Unfortunately, with virtually no media coverage, there is little pressure to broaden official investigations and ensure genuine accountability.

But, while grassroots pressure has not worked, money still talks. We need targeted government-led sanctions against the US by civilized countries, including international divestment of capital. Many studies have shown that tying investment to democracy and human rights reform is effective in the developing world. There is no reason why it can’t be effective against the world’s superpower.

We also need an internationally coordinated strategy for prosecuting war criminals at the top and further down the chain of command – individual countries pressing charges, as Italy and France have done. Although the United States is not a signatory to the statute that established the International Criminal Court, violations of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions are war crimes for which anyone – potentially even the US president – may be tried in any of the other 193 countries that are parties to the conventions. The whole world can hunt these criminals down.

An outlaw America is a global problem that threatens the rest of the international community. If this regime gets away with flouting international law, what is to prevent the next administration – or this administration, continuing under its secret succession plan in the event of an emergency – from going further and targeting its political opponents at home and abroad?

We Americans are either too incapable, or too dysfunctional, to help ourselves right now. Like drug addicts or the mentally ill who refuse treatment, we need our friends to intervene. So remember us as we were in our better moments, and take action to save us – and the world – from ourselves.

Maybe then I can fall in love with my country again.

BUSH/CHENEY CAN’T FIND ANY AL QAIDA TO KILL, SO ANY PAKISTANI WILL DO

Vested Interests Drove New Pakistan Policy

by Gareth Porter

The George W. Bush administration’s decision to launch commando raids and step up missiles strikes against Taliban and al-Qaeda figures in the tribal areas of Pakistan followed what appears to have been the most contentious policy process over the use of force in Bush’s eight-year presidency.

That decision has stirred such strong opposition from the Pakistani military and government that it is now being revisited. Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrived in Pakistan Tuesday for the second time in three weeks, and US officials and sources just told Reuters that any future raids would be approved on a mission-by-mission basis by a top US administration official.

The policy was the result of strong pressure from the US command in Afghanistan and lobbying by the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and the CIA’s operations directorate (DO), both of which had direct institutional interests in operations that coincided with their mandate.

State Department and some Pentagon officials had managed to delay the proposed military escalation in Pakistan for a year by arguing that it would be based on nearly nonexistent intelligence and would only increase support for the Islamic extremists in that country.

But officials of SOCOM and the CIA prevailed in the end, apparently because Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney believed they could not afford to be seen as doing nothing about bin Laden and al-Qaeda in the administration’s final months.

SOCOM had a strong institutional interest in a major new operation in Pakistan.

The Army’s Delta Force and Navy SEALS had been allowed by the Pakistani military to accompany its forces on raids in the tribal area in 2002 and 2003 but not to operate on their own. And even that extremely limited role was ended by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in 2003, which frustrated SOCOM officials.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, whose antagonism toward the CIA was legendary, had wanted SOCOM to take over the hunt for bin Laden. And in 2006, SOCOM’s Joint Special Operations Command branch in Afghanistan pressed Rumsfeld to approve a commando operation in Pakistan aimed at capturing a high-ranking al-Qaeda operative.

SOCOM had the support of the US command in Afghanistan, which was arguing that the war in Afghanistan could not be won as long as the Taliban had a safe haven in Pakistan from which to launch attacks. The top US commander, Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, worked with SOCOM and DO officers in Afghanistan to assemble the evidence of Pakistan’s cooperation with the Taliban. .

Despite concerns that such an operation could cause a massive reaction in Pakistan against the US war on al-Qaeda, Rumsfeld gave in to the pressure in early November 2006 and approved the operation, according to an account in the New York Times Jun. 30. But within days, Rumsfeld was out as defense secretary, and the operation was put on hold.

Nevertheless Bush and Cheney, who had been repeating that Musharraf had things under control in the frontier area, soon realized that they would be politically vulnerable to charges that they weren’t doing anything about bin Laden.

The July 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) was the signal for the CIA’s DO to step up its own lobbying for control over a Pakistan operation, based on the Afghan model – CIA officers training and arming a local militia while identifying targets for strikes from the air.

In a Washington Post column only two weeks after the NIE’s conclusions were made public, David Ignatius quoted former CIA official Hank Crumpton, who had run the CIA operation in Afghanistan after the Sep. 11, 2001 attacks, on the proposed DO operation: “We either do it now, or we do it after the next attack.”

That either-or logic and the sense of political vulnerability in the White House was the key advantage of the advocates of a new war in Pakistan. Last November, the New York Times reported that the Defense Department had drafted an order based on the SOCOM proposal for training of local tribal forces and for new authority for “covert” commando operations in Pakistan’s frontier provinces.

But the previous experience with missile strikes against al-Qaeda targets using predator drones and the facts on the ground provided plenty of ammunition to those who opposed the escalation. It showed that the proposed actions would have little or no impact on either the Taliban or al-Qaeda in Pakistan, and would bring destabilizing political blowback.

In January 2006, the CIA had launched a missile strike on a residential compound in Damadola, near the Afghan border, on the basis of erroneous intelligence that Ayman al-Zawahiri would be there. The destruction killed as many 25 people, according to local residents interviewed by The Telegraph, including 14 members of one family.

Some 8,000 tribesmen in the Damadola area protested the killing, and in Karachi tens of thousands more rallied against the United States, shouting “Death to America!”

Musharraf later claimed that the dead included four high-ranking al-Qaeda officials, including al-Zawahiri’s son-in-law. The Washington Post‘s Craig Whitlock reported last week, however, that US and Pakistani officials now admit that only local villagers were killed in the strike.

It was well known within the counterterrorism community that the US search for al-Qaeda leaders in Pakistan was severely limited by the absence of actionable intelligence. For years, the US military had depended almost entirely on Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, despite its well-established ties with the Taliban and even al-Qaeda.

One of the counterterrorism officials without a direct organizational stake in the issue, State Department counterterrorism chief Gen. Dell L. Dailey, bluntly summed up the situation to reporters last January. “We don’t have enough information about what’s going on there,” he said. “Not on al-Qaeda, not on foreign fighters, not on the Taliban.”

A senior US official quoted by the Post last February was even more scathing on that subject, saying “Even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and then.”

Meanwhile, the Pakistani military, reacting to the US aim of a more aggressive US military role in the tribal areas, repeatedly rejected the US military proposal for training Frontier Corps units.

The US command in Afghanistan and SOCOM increased the pressure for escalation early last summer by enlisting visiting members of Congress in support of the plan. Texas Republican Congressmen Michael McCaul, who had visited Afghanistan and Pakistan, declared on his return that was “imperative that US forces be allowed to pursue the Taliban and al-Qaeda in tribal areas inside Pakistan.”

In late July, according to the Times of London, Bush signed a secret national security presidential directive (NSPD) which authorized operations by special operations forces without the permission of Pakistan.

The Bush decision ignored the disconnect between the aims of the new war and the realities on the ground in Pakistan. Commando raids and missile strikes against mid-level or low-level Taliban or al-Qaeda operatives, carried out in a sea of angry Pashtuns, will not stem the flow of fighters from Pakistan into Afghanistan or weaken al-Qaeda. But they will certainly provoke reactions from the tribal population that can tilt the affected areas even further toward the Islamic radicals.

At least some military leaders without an institutional interest in the outcome understood that the proposed escalation was likely to backfire. One senior military officer told the Los Angeles Times last month that he had been forced by the “fragility of the current government in Islamabad,” to ask whether “you do more long-term harm if you act very, very aggressively militarily.”

CIA Murders Innocent People and Calls It “Tickling”

CIA using missile strikes to `tickle’ terrorists

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Central Intelligence Agency is using strikes against enemy targets to learn how the groups respond when attacked, the agency’s director said Wednesday.

Speaking at the Air Force Association’s annual conference, Michael Hayden said the clandestine agency is trying to “tickle” enemy groups to provoke a reaction, often with missile strikes targeting just an individual.

“We use military operations to excite the enemy, prompting him to respond. In that response we learn so much,” said Hayden, a retired Air Force general who has led the CIA since 2006.

Hayden said the CIA is working closely with the military in places such as Iraq’s Anbar province, where American troops have fought Sunni insurgents. That experience helped CIA officers develop a strategy to engage Sunni tribal leaders, which Hayden said has contributed to a recent drop in violence in Iraq.

The agency “picked up insights we would not have had” by working with American forces, Hayden said.

Hayden’s speech came on the final day of the Air Force conference, an annual gathering of mostly Air Force officials and defense contractors that supply the service. Hayden retired in July from the Air Force, where he had been head of the service’s intelligence office before leading the National Security Agency for a six-year run that ended in April 2005.

The CIA flies Predator drones, unmanned planes that can hover for hours and carry missiles for precision strikes. While not confirming those tactics, Hayden said that U.S. forces are now able to make pinpoint attacks against specific targets.

“Our pilots are targeting not structures, but individuals,” Hayden said.

Many of those strikes are now conducted along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, where U.S. forces are hunting insurgents and terrorist groups that are believed to be using the loosely governed area as a base. For example, a suspected missile attack from a drone Wednesday in Pakistan killed at least six people.

Hayden said the CIA also was focusing more on sending agents to immerse themselves overseas in duty locations for longer periods of time. More than half of agency analysts have been hired since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

But the U.S. education system has not responded to the latest threats in the way that it focused on the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Hayden said the agency needs more experts in non-Western cultures and languages.

“We have not seen the shift in academia for the current war that we saw for the previous war,” he said.

Militants blew up key bridge in NWFP

Militants blew up key bridge in NWFP
Wed, 17 Sep 2008 23:57:33 GMT

Militants have blown up a bridge on the Indus Highway in Pakistan’s Darra Adam Khel, cutting off the southern regions from Peshawar city.

The militants blew up the fourth link bridge near Shania Klay area Darra Adam Khel in the frontier region of Kohat on Wednesday.

Most southern parts of the North Western Frontier Province were cut off from Peshawar city due to the damage to the bridge, police and local sources said.

The main Indus Highway and Kohat Tunnel remained closed since 20 days ago when militants blew up a bridge near Abbas chowk.

People belonging to Southern parts of the province are facing severe problems because of the closure of Kohat Tunnel and Indus Highway.

Darra Adam Khal, FR Kohat is situated around 45 kilometers away from Peshawar, the provincial capital of North West Frontier Province.

‘FATA not a place for US adventurism’

‘FATA not a place for US adventurism’
Thu, 18 Sep 2008 00:46:38 GMT

Pakistani tribesmen protest US airstrike

A jirga of Pakistani tribal leaders have vowed to take sever action against the US if it launches an incursion into the tribal belt.

The jirga of Ahmedzai Wazir tribe held at Rustam Adda in Wana, South Waziristan on Wednesday announced that the tribe’s 4,000 fighters were ready to repel any US attack on their land.

The eight million tribal people of FATA are ever ready to offer any sacrifice for safeguarding their motherland against foreign forces, the elders and religious leaders told reporters after the meeting.

“We will fight along side our brave army against foreign aggression and would not even hesitate to lay down our lives,” the tribal elders told the jirga.

They said tribesmen were soldiers of the Pakistani Army who will defend every inch of their motherland at any cost and the history of the tribal people was replete with such brave activities.

The tribal jirga strongly condemned an early September attack by the US-led forces against civilians in Angoor Adda in which 20 people were killed.

Pakistan: U.S. did not warn of missile strike

Pakistan: U.S. did not warn of missile strike

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistan said Thursday it was not warned about a suspected U.S. missile strike in its northwest that came the same day a top American official assured Pakistani leaders of U.S. respect for the Muslim nation’s sovereignty.

The reported attack will likely fuel anger in Pakistan over a surge in cross-border operations by U.S. forces — including a Sept. 3 ground assault — that has strained the countries’ seven-year anti-terror alliance.

While denying prior knowledge of Wednesday’s reported strike, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi indicated Pakistan’s civilian leadership wants to defuse tensions through diplomacy, including during upcoming talks in the United States.

The suspected strike came as the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, was in Pakistan visiting the prime minister, the army chief and other officials.

The U.S. Embassy said Mullen “reiterated the U.S. commitment to respect Pakistan’s sovereignty and to develop further U.S.-Pakistani cooperation and coordination on these critical issues that challenge the security and well-being of the people of both countries.”

Qureshi, who was among those who met with Mullen, told reporters that Pakistani officials “were not informed” of the suspected strike later Wednesday. Asked about Mullen’s statement, Qureshi said, “it’s a clear, clear commitment to Pakistan to respect Pakistan’s sovereignty.”

“And now if having said that there was an attack later in the night, that means there is some sort of an institutional disconnect on their side, and if so, they will have to sort it out,” he said.

Two intelligence officials told The Associated Press that the Wednesday missile strike targeted a compound in South Waziristan used by Taliban militants and Hezb-i-Islami, another group involved in escalating attacks in Afghanistan.

One of the officials said an unmanned drone of the type used by the CIA and U.S. forces in Afghanistan was heard in the area.

They said informants reported six people had died and three others were wounded. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

U.S. Embassy spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos declined to comment Thursday, in line with usual U.S. avoidance of discussions of alleged missile strikes.

Washington has long been concerned about Taliban and al-Qaeda militants’ use of Pakistan’s lawless tribal regions near the Afghan border as bases from which to plan attacks on American and NATO forces in Afghanistan. A spate of alleged missile strikes, as well as the ground assault, signal American impatience with Pakistani progress in clearing out such sanctuaries.

Pakistan insists it is doing all it can, suffering heavy military losses as a result, and that unilateral attacks will simply deepen tribal sympathy for militants.

Earlier this month, Pakistan army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani issued a strong public rebuke to the U.S., saying Pakistan’s territorial integrity “will be defended at all cost” and denying there was any agreement for U.S. forces to operate there. The army also has said Pakistani troops have orders to fire on intruding forces following the Sept. 3 attack.

Some analysts said it was unlikely Pakistan would risk the huge sums it receives in American aid by targeting U.S. soldiers or aircraft.

Qureshi on Thursday asked Pakistanis to avoid issuing “emotional statements” about cross-border attacks and said he planned to give a “very honest and frank assessment of what we are gaining and what we are losing by such actions” in upcoming talks with U.S. officials.

“Our stance is that we should cooperate with each other, and such incursions cannot improve the atmosphere, and rather they will deteriorate it, and will be counterproductive,” he said.

He also said that Pakistan’s new president, Asif Ali Zardari, would lead a delegation to the United Nations later this month and will meet American leaders on the sidelines.

In violence Thursday, police said two suicide bombers blew themselves up to keep police from entering a school where dozens of militants were holding some 300 children hostage. No one was killed besides the suicide bombers.

The attack occurred at a boys school in a remote village in Upper Dir in Pakistan’s northwest, said police officer Akbar Ali. Villagers and police traded fire with the militants before police reclaimed the building.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

China accuses US of financial WMD

China accuses US of financial WMD
Thu, 18 Sep 2008 08:22:02 GMT

Markets across Asia tumbled as a result of the Wall Street crisis.

Chinese state media has blamed the US for unleashing financial “weapons of mass destruction” and sparking a global market “tsunami”.

China’s official People’s Daily warned on Wednesday that the US had set off a “financial tsunami” by allowing Wall Street lenders to trade in subprime debts and unstable financial derivatives.

In response to market turmoil, China’s central bank cut interest rates for the first time in six years, from 5.85% to 5.31% signalling Beijing’s intent to maintain economic growth and employment.

Regional stocks tumbled across East Asia on Thursday due to panic-selling brought on by fears of a financial meltdown on Wall Street.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index of regional shares fell 4.1% on Thursday as traders in Hong Kong, Japan and China fled equity markets to safer investments such as gold, government bonds and currencies such as the Yen.

Thursday trading saw Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average falling 3.6% while the broader Topix index skidded 3.9%. Japan’s central bank also pumped another Y1.5 trillion into money markets to fund banks increasingly wary about lending to each other.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index now stands at its lowest level in over two years after dropping 7.3% on Thursday and 15.2% in the previous six sessions. HSBC holdings and China Mobile, two of the biggest and most influential stocks on the Hong Kong market, lost 7.4% and 4.6% respectively.

The Shanghai Composite index in China crashed 5.8% while the Taiex in Taiwan sank 3.6%. South Korea’s Kospi index dropped 3.9% after hitting an 18-month low on Tuesday.

Signs of panic spread also spread to consumers with policyholders at troubled insurance giant AIG flocking to regional offices to terminate agreements despite an $85 billion US government bailout.

Asian markets have been hit hard all week after the collapse of investment bank Lehman Brothers and the forced discount sale of brokerage firm Merrill Lynch.

A Furnace Seal’d: The Wondrous Death Squads of the American Elite

A Furnace Seal’d: The Wondrous Death Squads

of the American Elite

Chris Floyd

September 16, 2008

Terror the Human Form Divine
And Secrecy the Human Dress
– William Blake

I.
Another way station on our plunge into darkness was passed last week with the publication of Bob Woodward’s new book, The War Within. Along with the usual backstairs gossip dished out by self-serving insiders eager to plant their spin on events, Woodward revealed — or, rather, confirmed — the existence of what he called the key element to the “success” of Bush’s escalation of the war crime in Iraq: a “secret killing program” aimed at assassinating anyone arbitrarily deemed a “terrorist” by the leaders of the foreign forces occupying the conquered land.

In a TV appearance to puff the book, Woodward celebrated the arbitrary murder, by methods unknown, of people designated “terrorists,” by criteria unknown, as “a wonderful example of American ingenuity solving a problem in war, as we often have.” The White House acknowledged the existence of the assassination program, but insisted that it was the “surge” of troops that was mainly responsible for the drop in violence from the howling hell of 2006 to today’s level, which, as Juan Cole has pointed out, is still greater than some of the most horrific civic conflicts of the last century. (It is a strange country indeed that can celebrate the creation of a blood-gushing sinkhole of violence and destruction as a “success beyond our wildest dreams,” to use Barack Obama’s new take on the surge.)

Of course, Woodward, the consummate Beltway courtier, embraces this bipartisan conventional wisdom about the success of the surge. And he is certainly right, at least from one point of view, as we noted here recently:

The “surge” — which in addition to an influx of troops included the ruthless ethnic cleansing of Baghdad, the walled ghettoization of vast swathes of the city, and the arming and funding of violent sectarian militias across the land — certainly succeeded in extending the duration of the murder, suffering and chaos engendered by America’s armed and belligerent presence in Iraq. So it is indeed a great “success” …  in the same way that, say, Albert Speer’s miraculous efforts to keep the Nazi war machine going from 1943 to 1945 — resulting in the deaths of millions of people, including the worst ravages of the Holocaust — was a “success.”


But beyond this little insider quibble over the most effective element in the prolongation of the war — Woodward, a former military intelligence officer, naturally plumps for the covert op, while the White House ballyhoos the high-profile presidential directive to increase troop levels — what is most noteworthy about the “revelations” is that they have provoked no controversy at all. The United States admits that it is operating secret death squads in Iraq, and this barely rates a passing mention in the press, and certainly no comment whatsoever on the campaign trail, no debate among the national leadership. And this despite the fact that, as Woodward makes clear, the targets of the American death squads are not merely “terrorists,” as the general public broadly understands the term — i.e., religious extremists in the al Qaeda mold — but anyone arbitrarily designated an “insurgent” or a leader in “the resistance.”

That is, anyone who resists the invasion and occupation of his native land is deemed a legitimate target for a secret death squad. For execution without charges, without trial, without evidence. And this, to Woodward, is “wonderful” and “amazing.” By this logic, of course, the Nazis were fully justified in murdering leaders of the French resistance in World War II. The British would certainly have been justified in sneaking into George Washington’s house and killing the insurgent leader in his bed. (And his wife too, no doubt, as an acceptable level of “collateral damage.”) In fact, Woodward sternly warns members — members, mind you, not just leaders –  of “the resistance” to “get your rear end out of town;” i.e., leave your native land or else be murdered in your bed by secret assassins of the occupying power.

This is the heroic, honorable stance of the American elite in the 21st century. What the Nazis did, we do, and for the same reason: to secure the forcible occupation of a land we conquered through an unprovoked war of aggression.  It is indeed wonderful and amazing that such a state of affairs — such an abyss of depravity — is accepted so calmly by the great and good among us….and by tens of millions of our fellow citizens.

II.
But as noted above, there is really nothing new about Woodward’s “revelations.” I’ve been writing here, and elsewhere, for several years about the “global death squad” of the Terror War. These reports were based not on any insider knowledge but on universally accessible stories from the most staid and respectable media sources: mainstream papers, news agencies, leading magazines, etc.

And of course, it began long before the war crime in Iraq. As I noted in 2005:

On September 17, 2001, George W. Bush signed an executive order authorizing the use of “lethal measures” against anyone in the world whom he or his minions designated an “enemy combatant.” This order remains in force today. No judicial evidence, no hearing, no charges are required for these killings; no law, no border, no oversight restrains them. Bush has also given agents in the field carte blanche to designate “enemies” on their own initiative and kill them as they see fit.

The existence of this universal death squad – and the total obliteration of human liberty it represents – has not provoked so much as a crumb, an atom, a quantum particle of controversy in the American Establishment, although it’s no secret. The executive order was first bruited in the Washington Post in October 2001. I first wrote of it in my Moscow Times column in November 2001. The New York Times added further details in December 2002. That same month, Bush officials made clear that the dread edict also applied to American citizens, as the Associated Press reported.

The first officially confirmed use of this power was the killing of an American citizen in Yemen by a CIA drone missile on November 3, 2002. A similar strike occurred in Pakistan this month, when a CIA missile destroyed a house and purportedly killed Abu Hamza Rabia, a suspected al Qaeda figure. But the only bodies found at the site were those of two children, the houseowner’s son and nephew, Reuters reports. The grieving father denied any connection to terrorism. An earlier CIA strike on another house missed Rabia but killed his wife and children, Pakistani officials reported.

But most of the assassinations are carried out in secret, quietly, professionally, like a contract killing for the mob. As a Pentagon document unearthed by the New Yorker in December 2002 put it, the death squads must be “small and agile,” and “able to operate clandestinely, using a full range of official and non-official cover arrangements to…enter countries surreptitiously.”

The dangers of this policy are obvious, as a UN report on “extrajudicial killings” noted in December 2004: ” Empowering governments to identify and kill ‘known terrorists’ places no verifiable obligation upon them to demonstrate in any way that those against whom lethal force is used are indeed terrorists…  While it is portrayed as a limited ‘exception’ to international norms, it actually creates the potential for an endless expansion of the relevant category to include any enemies of the State, social misfits, political opponents, or others.”

It’s hard to believe that any genuine democracy would accept a claim by its leader that he could have anyone killed simply by labeling them an “enemy.” It’s hard to believe that any adult with even the slightest knowledge of history or human nature could countenance such unlimited, arbitrary power, knowing the evil it is bound to produce. Yet this is what the great and good in America have done.

And this is what they continue to do, to this very day, this very hour, as the non-response to Woodward’s macabre and freakish celebration of covert murder demonstrates so clearly.

(Continued after the jump.)
In Iraq, the death squads were in operation almost from the start. For example, one of the earliest reports about the American formation of “paramilitaries” and “commando squads” to “track down” insurgents came from the Washington Post in December 2003:

Two weeks ago, the U.S. occupation authority decided to form a paramilitary unit to track down insurgents. The unit, composed of Iraqi militiamen from the country’s five largest political parties, will work with U.S. Special Forces soldiers, and their operations will be overseen by U.S. military commanders. Since the summer, the CIA has recruited and trained some former Iraqi intelligence agents to help identify the insurgents…


An even earlier Post report, in August 2003, also noted the hiring of Baathist operatives to hunt “insurgents.” As I put it in the Moscow Times that month:

Here’s a headline you don’t see every day: “War Criminals Hire War Criminals to Hunt Down War Criminals.”

Perhaps that’s not the precise wording used by the Washington Post this week, but it is the absolute essence of its story about the Bush Regime’s new campaign to put Saddam’s murderous security forces on America’s payroll.

Yes, the sahibs in Bush’s Iraqi Raj are now doling out American tax dollars to hire the murderers of the infamous Mukhabarat and other agents of the Baathist Gestapo – perhaps hundreds of them. The logic, if that’s the word, seems to be that these bloodstained “insiders” will lead their new imperial masters to other bloodstained “insiders” responsible for bombing the UN headquarters in Baghdad – and killing another dozen American soldiers while Little George was playing with his putts during his month-long Texas siesta.

Naturally, the Iraqi people – even the Bush-appointed leaders of the Potemkin “Governing Council” – aren’t exactly overjoyed at seeing Saddam’s goons return, flush with American money and firepower. And they’re certainly not reassured by the fact that the Bushists have also re-opened Saddam’s most notorious prison, the dread Abu Ghraib, and are now, Mukhabarat-like, filling it with Iraqis – men, women and children as young as 11 – seized from their homes or plucked off the street to be held incommunicado, indefinitely, without due process, just like the old days. As The Times reports, weeping relatives who dare approach the gleaming American razor-wire in search of their “disappeared” loved ones are referred to a crude, hand-written sign pinned to a spike: “No visits are allowed, no information will be given and you must leave.” Perhaps an Iraqi Akhmatova will do justice to these scenes one day.


So here — in August 2003 — the leading newspaper in the nation’s capital is openly reporting that goon squads are being sent to take care of insurgents and “terrorists,” while the leading newspaper in the capital of America’s war ally, Britain, is openly reporting that the notorious Abu Ghraib prison is being glutted with new captives — including children — sealed off behind American razor wire. The seedbed of the whole panalopy of the horrors to come was already there, in the open, from the very beginning.

And so it went on. As I noted early last year:

As Sy Hersh has reported (“The Coming Wars,” New Yorker, Jan. 24, 2005), after his re-election in 2004, George W. Bush signed a series of secret presidential directives that authorized the Pentagon to run virtually unrestricted covert operations, including a reprise of the American-backed, American-trained death squads employed by authoritarian regimes in Central and South America during the Reagan Administration, where so many of the Bush faction cut their teeth – and made their bones.

“Do you remember the right-wing execution squads in El Salvador?” a former high-level intelligence official said to Hersh. “We founded them and we financed them. The objective now is to recruit locals in any area we want. And we aren’t going to tell Congress about it.” A Pentagon insider added: “We’re going to be riding with the bad boys.” Another role model for the expanded dirty war cited by Pentagon sources, said Hersh, was Britain’s brutal repression of the Mau Mau in Kenya during the 1950s, when British forces set up concentration camps, created their own terrorist groups to confuse and discredit the insurgency, and killed thousands of innocent civilians in quashing the uprising.

Bush’s formal greenlighting of the death-squad option built upon an already securely-established base, part of a larger effort to turn the world into a “global free-fire zone” for covert operatives, as one top Pentagon official told Hersh. For example, in November 2002 a Pentagon plan to infiltrate terrorist groups and “stimulate” them into action was uncovered by William Arkin, then writing for the Los Angeles Times. The new unit, the “Proactive, Pre-emptive Operations Group,” was described in the Pentagon documents as “a super-Intelligence Support Activity” that brings “together CIA and military covert action, information warfare, intelligence and cover and deception.”

Later, in August 2004, then deputy Pentagon chief Paul Wolfowitz appeared before Congress to ask for $500 million to arm and train non-governmental “local militias” to serve as U.S. proxies for “counter-insurgency and “counterterrorist” operations in “ungoverned areas” and hot spots around the world, Agence France Presse (and virtually no one else) reported at the time. These hired paramilitaries were to be employed in what Wolfowitz called an “arc of crisis” that just happened to stretch across the oil-bearing lands and strategic pipeline routes of Central Asia, the Middle East, Africa and South America…

Brazen daylight raids by “men dressed in uniforms” of Iraqi police or Iraqi commandos or other Iraqi security agencies swept up dozens of victims at a time. For months, U.S. “advisers” to Iraqi security agencies – including veterans of the original “Salvador Option” – insisted that these were Sunni insurgents in stolen threads, although many of the victims were Sunni civilians. Later, the line was changed: the chief culprits were now “rogue elements” of the various sectarian militias that had “infiltrated” Iraq’s institutions.

But as investigative reporter Max Fuller has pointed out in his detailed examination of information buried in reams of mainstream news stories and public Pentagon documents, the vast majority of atrocities then attributed to “rogue” Shiite and Sunni militias were in fact the work of government-controlled commandos and “special forces,” trained by Americans, “advised” by Americans and run largely by former CIA assets. As Fuller puts it: “If there are militias in the Ministry of Interior, you can be sure that they are militias that stand to attention whenever a U.S. colonel enters the room.”

…With the Anglo-American coalition so deeply embedded in dirty war – infiltrating terrorist groups, “stimulating” them into action,” protecting “crown jewel” double-agents no matter what the cost, “riding with the bad boys,” greenlighting the “Salvador Option” – it is simply impossible to determine the genuine origin of almost any particular terrorist outrage or death squad atrocity in Iraq. All of these operations take place in the shadow world, where terrorists are sometimes government operatives and vice versa, and where security agencies and terrorist groups interpenetrate in murky thickets of collusion and duplicity. This moral chaos leaves “a kind of blot/To mark the full-fraught man and best indued/With some suspicion,” as Shakespeare’s Henry V says.

This week the US Congress is debating SRES 580 and House Res. 362.

This week the US Congress is debating two non-binding resolutions which, if passed, will greatly increase the likelihood of military intervention against Iran.

Bush could still attack Iran

Stefan Simanowitz
Westminster Committee on IranDespite the main finding in the latest report from the International Atomic Energy Agency that it “has been able to continue to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran”, the western media has focused on the issue of Tehran’s lack of transparency over the IAEA investigation into recent intelligence allegations (Report, September 12). These involve missile re-entry vehicle projects and have been rejected by the Iranians, who have not even been permitted to see the documents upon which the allegations are founded.

They call on the US president to “increase economic, political and diplomatic pressure on Iran to verifiably suspend its nuclear enrichment activities”, and demand “stringent inspection requirements” of all goods entering or leaving Iran and an embargo of refined petroleum products to Iran. Although both resolutions exclude authorisation for military action, the embargo will require a naval blockade. Such a blockade could result in skirmishes with the Iranian navy which could rapidly escalate.

The US is massing the largest armada of warships in the Gulf since 2003. Two aircraft carrier task forces are already there and a third was dispatched on August 22. French and British warships and carrier groups are also reportedly on their way. This has increased speculation that George Bush might authorise military attacks against Iran before the end of his term in office in January, or before the November elections to boost to the likelihood of a McCain presidency.

George Bush sent to Bolivia his Ambassador of Ethnic Cleansing

George Bush sent to Bolivia his Ambassador of Ethnic Cleansing

[original title translated from the Spanish]


He presented his credentials before President Evo Morales on October 13, 2006; but three months before his arrival in Bolivia, when he was still in Pristina fulfilling his role as head of the US mission in Kosovo, it was already being said that the new US ambassador designated by George Bush for this Andean country, Philip Goldberg, would come to take part in the separatist process that was being cultivated in the background to pierce the Bolivian regime.

On July 13, 2006, the journalist for El Deber of Santa Cruz, Leopoldo Vegas, published a report indicating that “in the view of three political scientists interviewed after learning about the White House’s decision, the experience acquired by Goldberg in eastern Europe which produced ethnic conflict after the separation of the former Yugoslavia can be used in Bolivia, using as an opportunity the changes that the government itself is trying to introduce.”

One of those interviewed by Vegas was the academic Róger Tuero, former head of the Political Science department at Gabriel René Moreno Autonomous University (Uagrm) in Santa Cruz, who stated that characteristics of each ambassador are determined by US diplomacy. “It’s not by chance that this man was moved from Kosovo to Bolivia,” said Tuero.

Ambassador Goldberg today is one of the principal political and logistical supporters of still-Governor of Cochabamba, Manfred Reyes Villa, who created the worst ethnic, social, regional, and institutional crisis one can remember in the history of the Republic of Bolivia.

Who is Philip Goldberg?

According to the curriculum vitae officially distributed by the United States Embassy in La Paz, Philip Goldberg was involved from the beginnings of the civil war in Yugoslavia that erupted in the nineties, until the fall and prosecution of Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic.

Between 1994 and 1996 he was the State Department’s “Bosnia Desk Officer”, at the point when the conflict between Albanian separatists and Serbian and Yugoslav security forces erupted.

During the same period, he served as Special Assistant to Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, who was the author of the disintegration of Yugoslavia and the fall of Milosevic. “In the latter capacity” – states the Embassy – “he was a member of the American negotiating team in the lead-up to the Dayton Peace Conference and Chief of Staff for the American Delegation at Dayton.”

Ambassador Goldberg was also a political-economic officer in Pretoria, South Africa, and later a consular and political officer at the US Embassy in Bogotá, Colombia, where he began to become interested in Latin American politics.

After exercising his charge as Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Santiago, Chile from 2001 to 2004, Goldberg returned to the Balkans to direct the US mission in Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, where he supported the prosecution in The Hague of the former dictator Milosevic (who died March 11, 2006).

From Kosovo to Bolivia

Before his transfer to Bolivia, Goldberg worked from Kosovo for the separation of the states of Serbia and Montenegro, which occurred in June of last year, as the last remaining aftertaste of the disappearance of Yugoslavia.

The disintegration of Yugoslavia unfolded during a bloody decade of civil war created to divide up through processes of “decentralization” and “autonomy” that which was finally imposed with the US military intervention and the presence of NATO and UN troops who occupied the Balkans to pacify the region.

The Yugoslav civil war had as its principal feature what is called “ethnic cleansing,” which consists of the expulsion or annihilation of the traditional ethnic groups that make up the territory of Yugoslavia. The cruelest of this racial extermination occurred between the Serbs and the Croats.

Bolivia, only three months since the arrival of Ambassador Goldberg, began to suffer an exacerbation of racism and separatist autonomous movements, as in the Balkans, which was initiated from the eastern city of Santa Cruz, where the governing elite made up of, among others, Croatian businessmen, created a federalist movement called “Camba Nation.”

One of the main Santa Cruz leaders of this separatist movement is the agro-industrial businessman and partner of Chilean capitalists, Branco Marinkovic, who in February 2007 became head of the Civic Committee of Santa Cruz, the entity behind the mobilization of pressure against the government of Evo Morales.

The separatist autonomous movement

The “Camba Nation” lumps together with Santa Cruz the departments [states] of Beni, Pando and Tarija (where one finds the largest reserves of natural gas in Bolivia), whose populations voted in favor of departmental autonomy in a referendum held in July of 2006, comprising the so-called “half moon” that represents the eastern half of the country.

The western departments of La Paz, Chuquisaca, Potosí, Oruro and Cochabamba voted “no” on autonomy, maintaining their direct link to the central government of Evo Morales and in effect separating the four autonomous departments of the “half moon.”

This autonomous separatism – which should be recognized by the new constitution by virtue of a Law of Incorporation in the Constituent Assembly [the body drafting a new constitution] – was made worse by a off-the-cuff decision taken by former president Carlos Mesa in 2004, when the “Camba Nation” was creating pressure through city governments and civic strikes for the direct election of prefects (department governors). Previously, prefects were chosen directly by the president, maintaining the unity of the Executive Branch, a power that new president Evo Morales was not able to exercise and who is now obligated to govern almost completely separated from the four autonomous prefects.

In Cochabamba, a department that falls exactly between the east and the west – and where an alternative to separatism, with the proposal of mega-regional autonomy instead of departmental autonomy, began to gestate – its prefect, Manfred Reyes Villa, abusing his elected position, attempted to reject the results of the July 2, 2006, referendum and illegally force another vote in order to annex Cochabamba to the “half moon,” breaking the fragile balance between autonomous and non-autonomous departments.

The attack in Cochabamba

Despite it being something decided by the ballot boxes, Reyes Villa tried to force a new autonomous referendum to unite Cochabamba with Santa Cruz, mobilizing the most conservative urban sectors of Cochabamban society.

The popular movement and above all the agrarian and indigenous organizations from the 16 provinces of this department, came to the city demanding an agrarian joint partnership in the prefect’s administration in the face of the exclusionary, nepotistic and corrupt manner with which Reyes Villa governed from the city of Cochabamba (capital of the department), they arrived here to demand from the prefect a change in his politics.

Instead of seeing to the just demands from the provinces, Reyes Villa encouraged the organization of a group of fascist youth, advised by the Santa Cruz Youth Union (UJC) which operates in Santa Cruz, with the objective of “expelling the Indians from the city.” In this manner erupted the tragic day of January 11, 2007, when a violent attack was provoked, culminating in two dead and 120 gravely injured; the majority being farmers. In pursuit of the truth, the September 14th Plaza (the prefect’s seat and symbol of departmental power) has been occupied by more than 50,000 indigenous from the 16 provinces, demanding the resignation of Reyes Villa.

The day that thousands of “daddy’s sons” carried out the attack armed with clubs, baseball bats, golf clubs, iron tubes and firearms, Reyes Villa abandoned the city and headed to La Paz to meet with the four autonomous prefects and individuals from the US Embassy.

Though the government could have opened many spaces for dialog, Reyes Villa systematically refused meet with the provincial representatives, “self-exiling” himself in Santa Cruz, where until now he tries to transform the problem into an explosive national conflict, threatening the stability and democracy of this country, presided over by an indigenous man.

The CIA and Reyes Villa

The influence of the CIA and of Ambassador Goldberg on the political actions of Reyes Villa (a former captain of the army associated with the dictatorships of Banzer and Garcia Meza) is irrefutable.

The separatist prefect has systematically blocked a peaceful solution to the conflict and in its place has developed a raging campaign of misinformation that seeks to create the conditions for confrontation on a national scale.

The US Embassy is deploying an effort of collective indoctrination against the indigenous crisis, promoting racial hatred and separatism that was evident during the events of January 11, 2007, in unison with business organizations such as the Chamber of Industry and Commerce (Cainco) in Santa Cruz, which openly supports Reyes Villa and his “advisors.”

But the US meddling during this conflict is not only occurring on the ultra-right, but also through the infiltration of the government of MAS [Movement Towards Socialism – Morales' party].

In mid-January 2007, the morning paper La Razón in La Paz published a photo which revealed the diversion of provisions and supplies belonging to the state Civil Defense body (that are destined for victims of natural disasters) to the farmers in the September 14th Plaza in Cochabamba.

It’s been established that a former NAS agent (a DEA-financed anti-drug program) identified as Juan Carlos Chávez, who strangely functioned as an advisor to the Ministry of Justice, involved himself with Civil Defense without having the authorization to order the diversion of state resources. The photograph of the irregular act, taken by outsiders, was curiously published by a paper in La Paz, 650 kilometers from Cochabamba. Chávez was fired for the act and will have to make clear he is a former DEA agent exercising powerful influence inside the Ministry of Justice.

The media campaign to tarnish the indigenous mobilization in Cochabamba is part of a psychological war, CIA-style, and is one point in the separatist strategy headed from Santa Cruz by the still-prefect of Cochabamba, Manfred Reyes Villa.

The Balkanization of Bolivia seems to have begun.

This text was translated from the Spanish by Scott Campbell, who is a member of Tlaxcala, the network of translators for linguistic diversity, and editor of the blog http://angrywhitekid.blogs.com/weblog.

First pubished by Rebelion.org, 19 January 2007

International Day of Action to Stop War on Iran!


September 27

International Day of Action to Stop War on Iran!
Help build locally-coordinated actions in 100 cities
March, rally, speak out, picket, teach-ins – in cities large or small, campuses & schools
what you do can make a difference

Stop the War on Iran before it starts!
Money for Jobs, HealthCare, and Education, Not War and Occupation!

  • Stop War on Iran!
  • U.S. Out of Iraq & Afghanistan
  • No U.S. attack on Iran through Israel
  • No to all U.S./NATO war threats
  • Money for human needs, not war!

The Bush administration is using the election as a cover, as it increases threats against Iran.  It has quietly assembled the largest naval armada in one place since World War II – in the Persian Gulf, with guns aimed at Iran.

They have now deployed 18 NATO ships to the Black Sea and raised threats against Russia, while opening a new front of bombing attacks.  Meanwhile, no troops have been withdrawn from the disastrous wars in Iraq & Afghanistan.

There are always billions of dollars for war and billions more to bail out the big banks and mortgage companies, but no assistance for the 600,000 working people laid off this year, or the 2 million small homeowners being foreclosed in record numbers, or the more the 50 million people without health care.

We need money for jobs and housing -
not for another war!

While the situation is growing dire for many, Washington’s cutbacks in domestic programs continue.  The fiscal year beginning on October 1 will bring drastic cuts. A new U.S. war will bring only more suffering here as well as massive destruction abroad.

The recent Hurricane Gustav highlighted the failure of Washington to do anything to rebuild the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  Three years after the disaster, thousands of people are still homeless, as the money that could have been spent on meeting human needs has gone to fund the Pentagon and the agenda of endless war.  Every social program and every aspect of the economy has been impacted by the billions of dollars wasted on war.

We must take action now!  Here are some ways you can help:

Organize a local September 27 action to Stop War On Iran, whether it is a march or rally, speak-out, picket line, walk-out, or teach-in–in cities large or small.   What you do can  make a difference.  List your action at http://www.stopwaroniran.org/sept272008volorgcent.shtml, so activists in your area can contact you and get involved.

Make a donation to help with vital mobilizing expenses for September 27 protests and to help this movement grow. Or contribute to campaigns to get the truth out about the war danger by literature production, international emails and holding meetings. You can donation online at http://stopwaroniran.org/donate.shtml.

This campaign is truly dependent on grass-roots donations from all over the country;  this is how every leaflet, sign, mailing and newsletter—every expense—is funded.    We can only do what our supporters enable us to do.

Donate online at  www.StopWarOnIran.org

All of our volunteer staff and organizers thank you for your continued support and dedication to the campaign to prevent a new war in Iran or anywhere else.

In solidarity and with our appreciation,
Stop War on Iran staff and national organizers