Saturday, January 28, 2006

Vancouver braces for Pickton Trial -

Vancouver braces for Pickton trial
Media onslaught expected as accused serial killer's case opens

Brian Hutchinson
National Post

Saturday, January 28, 2006

VANCOUVER - The world will be watching and for once, this city is not looking forward to being in the spotlight.
Four years after his arrest, and more than a decade after dozens of women began disappearing from Vancouver's streets, accused serial murderer Robert William Pickton finally goes to trial on Monday.
Mr. Pickton is charged with 27 counts of first-degree murder. He is alleged to have lured women from Vancouver's drug-riddled Downtown Eastside to his pig farm in Port Coquitlam, a suburb, from 1995 to 2001. They were never seen again but painstaking efforts were made to collect pieces of their remains, including miniscule samples of DNA, from the Pickton farm.
Police and forensic scientists spent years putting together a case against the 55-year-old bachelor, who was once known to neighbours and customers as "Uncle Willy." For years, Mr. Pickton sold pig meat from his farm direct to friends and local butchers; he and his brother, David Francis Pickton, frequently hosted pig roasts on another property nearby, inside a shed called the Piggy Palace.
After William Pickton was apprehended and accused of murder in February, 2002, fears were raised that pigs sold from his farm may have consumed human remains.
Prosecutors and members of Mr. Pickton's defence team spent months in pre-trial hearings, held inside a courtroom in New Westminster, another Vancouver suburb. That process was completed last autumn. Next week, should Mr. Pickton enter a plea of not guilty, lawyers will begin to argue before a judge the admissibility of evidence they hope to enter during the trial. That process is expected to last at least two months. Opening statements will be made, and the Crown will begin its case against Mr. Pickton.
The public can then expect to be fed a steady diet of gruesome, macabre details. Interest in the case is intense and far-reaching. Dozens of reporters from the Vancouver area, Washington State, and even abroad had to formally apply for court access months ahead of Monday's trial date.
Relatives and friends of Mr. Pickton's 27 alleged murder victims will also be in attendance; they want to know more about how various police investigations were conducted. Members of the Vancouver police and the RCMP were criticized for their work leading up to Mr. Pickton's arrest.
At least 50 women, many of them sex workers, vanished from the Downtown Eastside before the first murder charges against Mr. Pickton were laid. However, in 1997, he was charged with the attempted murder of a prostitute at his squalid pig farm. It was alleged he stabbed the woman in the stomach. The charge was eventually stayed and the disappearances continued.
All will soon come out, a prospect some courtroom aficionados have anticipated with relish. Others, such as unscrupulous U.S. filmmakers, jumped the gun and have begun to exploit the Pickton case.
American-based horror film schlockmeister Ulli Lommel has already shot a movie based on the "shocking true story." A synopsis for the low-budget film, called Killer Pickton, describes in gruesome detail how the central character--"a pig farm maniac" named Billy -- disposed of his victims.
Attempts to locate Mr. Lommel yesterday were unsuccessful. Reached via telephone at her home in Boston, one of the film's actors refused to comment on the project and hung up when asked how she was cast. The movie was completed in October and is expected to be released on video and DVD, not in public theatres.
The trial, meanwhile, will last at least one year and it certain to be the subject of both scrutiny and distress.
Criminal cases that involve allegations of serial murder are always sensational, even in Canada, where rules of disclosure are strict and where pre-trial publicity is contained.
Sometimes they bring shame. People here still shudder at the notoriety local serial child killer Clifford Olsen brought to the community. In 1982, after negotiating with the Crown in a series of cash payments to his wife in exchange for self-incriminating information, the Vancouver native pleaded guilty to 11 counts of murder.
Local shopkeepers, municipal workers and court officials are bracing for the media onslaught. This month, the City of New Westminster held information sessions for residents and business owners, sharing with them plans to control an expected surge in vehicle traffic and parking demands.
The Pickton trial will do nothing to enhance their community's image, even though the alleged murders took place elsewhere. Vancouver's image may also be tarnished. The city prides itself on its natural splendour, and tourism is a major industry here. But there are fears that violent crime, much of it drug related, is already scaring visitors away.
Two weeks ago, the Chinese consulate in Vancouver posted a travel alert on its Web site, warning tourists from China to watch their valuables and passports when roaming the city. Soon people will be hearing and reading about pigs, missing prostitutes and Mr. Pickton, and for a long time to come. His trial is welcome; justice must be done. But the daily reports will be dreadful.
© National Post 2006

Iran Bourse and the U.S. Dollar


By Ed Haas
January 28, 2006

On November 10th 2005, the Muckraker Report published an article that described one of the unspoken reasons why the United States had to invade Iraq; to liberate the U.S. dollar in Iraq so that Iraqi oil could once again be purchased with the petrodollar. See The liberation of the U.S. Dollar in Iraq

In November 2000, Iraq stopped accepting U.S. dollars for their oil. Counted as a purely political move, Saddam Hussein switched the currency required to purchase Iraqi oil to the euro. Selling oil through the U.N. Oil for Food Program, Iraq converted all of its U.S. dollars in its U.N. account to the euro. Shortly thereafter, Iraq converted $10 billion in their U.N. reserve fund to the euro. By the end of 2000, Iraq had abandoned the U.S. dollar completely.

Two months after the United States invaded Iraq, the Oil for Food Program was ended, the country’s accounts were switch back to dollars, and oil began to be sold once again for U.S. dollars. No longer could the world buy oil from Iraq with the euro. Universal global dollar supremacy was restored. It is interesting to note that the latest recession that the United States endured began and ended within the same timeframe as when Iraq was trading oil for euros. Whether this is a coincidence or related, the American people may never know.

In March 2006, Iran will take Iraq’s switch to the petroeuro to new heights by launching a third oil exchange. The Iranians have developed a petroeuro system for oil trade, which when enacted, will once again threaten U.S. dollar supremacy far greater than Iraq’s euro conversion. Called the Iran Oil Bourse, an exchange that only accepts the euro for oil sales would mean that the entire world could begin purchasing oil from any oil-producing nation with euros instead of dollars. The Iranian plan isn’t limited to purchasing one oil-producing country’s oil with euros. Their plan will create a global alternative to the U.S. dollar. Come March 2006, the Iran Oil Bourse will further the momentum of OPEC to create an alternate currency for oil purchases worldwide. China, Russia, and the European Union are evaluating the Iranian plan to exchange oil for euros, and giving the plan serious consideration.

If you are skeptical regarding the meaning of oil being purchased with euros versus dollars, and the devastating impact it will have on the economy of the United States, consider the historic move by the Federal Reserve to begin hiding information pertaining to the U.S. dollar money supply, starting in March 2006. Since 1913, the year the abomination known as the Federal Reserve came to power, the supply of U.S. dollars was measured and publicly revealed through an index referred to as M-3. M-3 has been the main stable of money supply measurement and transparent disclosure since the Fed was founded back in 1913. According to Robert McHugh, in his report (What’s the Fed up to with the money supply?), McHugh writes, “On November 10, 2005, shortly after appointing Bernanke to replace Greenbackspan, the Fed mysteriously announced with little comment and no palatable justification that they will hide M-3 effective March 2006.” (To learn more about Robert McHugh's work, please visit [Read]

Is it mere coincidence that the Fed will begin hiding M-3 the same month that Iran will launch its Iran Oil Bourse, or is there a direct threat to the stability of the U.S. dollar, the U.S. economy, and the U.S. standard of living? Are Americans being set up for a collapse in our economy that will make the Great Depression of the 1930’s look like a bounced check? If you cannot or will not make the value and stability of the U.S. currency of personal importance, if you are unwilling to demand from your elected officials, an immediate abolishment of the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 and the fiat money scheme that the banking cartel has used for nearly a century now to keep our government and our people in a state of perpetual debt, than you are faced with but two alternatives, abject poverty, or invading Iran.

The plans to invade Iran are unspoken, but unfolding before our very eyes. The media has been reporting on Iran more often, and increasingly harshly. For the U.S. government to justify invading Iran, it must first begin to phase out the War in Iraq, which it is already doing. Next, it must portray the Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as a threat to the region and the world. Finally, once naive American people are convinced the “weapons of mass destruction” that were to be found in Iraq are actually in Iran, coupled with the almost daily media coverage of Iran’s nuclear power / weapons program aspirations, and what we will soon have on our hands is another fabricated war that will result in tens of thousands of civilian lives being lost, all because the political elected pawns in Washington DC lack the discipline to return our currency to a gold or silver standard, end the relationship with the foreign banking cartel called the Federal Reserve, and limit the activities of the U.S. government to those articulated in Article I Section 8 of the Constitution for the United States of America.

When a wayward and corrupt fiscal policy and fiat currency, coupled with runaway government spending, forces a nation to only be able to sustain the value of its currency with bullets, the citizenry of the country involved in wars primarily to sustain its currency have historically first became slaves to their government, and then to the nations that finally conquer them. If you question the validity of such a premise, or whether it could happen to the United States of America, study the fall of the Roman Empire. If you read the right books on the subject, you’ll quickly discover that towards the end of the Roman reign, the Roman Empire was doing exactly what America is doing today; attempting to sustain a failed fiat money system with bullets.

Understanding fiat money is not an easy task, and the Federal Reserve, World Bank, and International Monetary Fund have purposely made it that way. They do not want the American people to realize that the money in their wallet loses its value with each new dollar that they print. They do not want people to understand that our money does not become money until it is borrowed. When the Federal Reserve has money printed, when it is in uncut sheets of paper, it is not yet money. After it is cut, bundled, and placed into the Federal Reserve vaults, it still is not money. It only becomes money once it is borrowed. Consequently, if all debt were to be paid, if the United States didn’t have an $8 trillion national debt and the American people were debt free, and if all loans of U.S. dollars made to foreigners were paid in full, there would be exactly zero U.S. dollars in circulation because it will have all been returned to the vaults of the Federal Reserve. This might seem hard to fathom, but it is the gospel of fiat money.

The major news media in the United States, fed by Washington DC which in turn is fed by the Federal Reserve, literally, has already begun conditioning the American people for invading Iran. Media accounts of Iran’s nuclear ambitions along with amplification of the potential instability and core evilness of Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is setting the stage to spring the invasion of Iran on the American people. There does appear to be a direct correlation between the winding down effort underway in Iraq and the increase of anti-Iran rhetoric. How American soldiers ultimately arrive in Tehran is uncertain at this time, but it is reasonable to expect that if the Iran Oil Bourse opens for business in March 2006 as planned, it will only be a matter of time before the United States will have to blow it up.

If the United States invades Iran, or if Israel starts military actions by launches missiles at Iran’s nuclear power facilities, which then opens the door for the United States to intervene, most Americans will believe that our military actions in Iran will be to defend freedom and liberty while spreading democracy, when the truth is that we’ll be fighting a war in Iran because of our nation’s relationship with the Federal Reserve, a so-called bank that is not owned by the federal government, maintains no reserve, and isn’t a bank at all, but a cartel.

Just like our war in Iraq, Americans and foreigners will die in battle so that the historical power bankers and brokers; cartel members such as Rothschild, Morgan, Lehman, Lizard, Schrader, Lobe, Kuhn, and Rockefeller to name a few, can continue collecting interest on every single U.S. coin and dollar bill in circulation, while controlling the U.S. Congress to the extent that the U.S. taxpayer becomes the collateral and lender of last resort to cover bad loans and unpaid debts that these institutions create by loaning money to third world countries, some of which are devout enemies of the United States. Remember the $400 billion savings & loan bailout approved by the U.S. Congress during the Reagan Administration? America is still paying for it – you and me, and so will our children and grandchildren.

It is well overdue for Americans, every American, to do whatever it takes to fully understand the relationship between the United States and the Federal Reserve, along with the grave consequences of our current fiat money system; for even if the United States wanted to continue to sustain the supremacy of the U.S. dollar with bullets, it is historically, impossible. When bullets become the commodity to secure a currency, it is a clear sign of devastating calamity looming. To ignore the warning signs, is to suffer like you have never suffered before, or to die. Harsh words, but true.

© 2006 Ed Haas - All Rights Reserved

Venezuela accuses US embassy staff of spying for Pentagon

Venezuela accuses US embassy staff of spying for Pentagon 2006-01-28 13:16:52

CARACAS, Jan. 27 (Xinhuanet) -- Venezuelan Vice President Vicente Rangel said on Friday that U.S. embassy staffers had collected confidential information for the Pentagon from junior Venezuelan navy officials.

'Officials from the U.S. military mission were involved in this affair. I am not surprised as they were fully involved in the April 11 coup,' Rangel said.

Venezuela has been accusing Washington of assisting an April 2002 coup, which temporarily pushed President Hugo Chavez out of office. The United States denied involvement.

Earlier on Friday, Chavez said John Correa, the U.S. naval attache, had bribed Venezuelan army officials for confidential information.

U.S. ambassador to Venezuela William Brownfield did not comment directly on the charges, but said that he had 'absolute trust in the people of the U.S. embassy and their desire to maintain and improve bilateral relations.'

He said that he would respond to any concrete charges he receives against his officers, but he didn't get any formal reportas the Venezuelan government made the accusations in front of the media.

Washington had been at odds with Caracas over Chavez's accusation of U.S. involvement in the 2002 coup attempt. The most recent row between the two countries erupted after the United States blocked sales of Brazilian and Spanish aircraft and boats containing U.S. technology to Venezuela.

However, trade between the two countries continues to grow despite political rows. In 2005, the U.S.-Venezuelan trade reached 39 billion U.S. dollars, up 35 percent over a year earlier. Enditem"

Canada Losing A Piece of Its Past

Canada Losing A Piece of Its Past

Canada Losing A Piece of Its Past
336-Year-Old Hudson's Bay Co. Agrees to Buyout by U.S. Investor

By Doug Struck
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, January 28, 2006; D01

TORONTO, Jan. 27 -- The Hudson's Bay Co., which once owned nearly one-third of North America and helped build Canada by feeding a 17th-century beaver-pelt craze, is being sold to a South Carolina billionaire.

The board of directors of HBC ended the search for a buyer for Canada's largest chain of department stores by agreeing Thursday to accept a $980 million offer from Jerry Zucker, a Charleston financier and HBC minority shareholder.

Zucker, 55, whose holdings include chemical and textile companies and the South Carolina Stingrays hockey team, has promised to continue operating the unprofitable Bay stores and plans to reinvigorate them. But the purchase by an American of a company so long entwined with Canadian history is a blow to that nation's pride.

"I'm very upset about it. This is a Canadian store. It is the first Canadian company, and now the Americans are buying it," said Themi Kartakis, 54, as she browsed in the home-appliances section of the Bay store in downtown Toronto on Friday.

The store was festooned with yellow clearance-sale signs to move the winter stock, and shoppers who came in from the grip of Toronto's cold talked of their sentimental attachment to the Bay stores.

"It's so traditional Canada. It always felt like home here," said Stella Proestus, 57, a Canadian who now lives in Greece but makes a point to stop at the Bay when she returns. "It's our youth. Our memories. It's the gifts that you gave that were wrapped with paper that said 'The Bay.' "

The company's memories go back 336 years, when it secured a charter from the king of England to give fur traders in French Quebec some competition in the New World.

A group of gentlemen-adventurers set up a series of summer trading posts to collect furs from trappers and Indians. They gave the natives colored beads and silk ribbons, then knives, axes and sturdy blankets. The blankets are still sold at the Bay. In return, the company was able to load its ships with beaver pelts, which were then manufactured into a shiny felt cloth used to make hats that became a rage in Europe.

As creeks were "beavered out," trappers and the trading posts moved farther into the wilderness, exploring and claiming the land. Hudson's Bay Co. eventually laid claim to 3 million square miles. Three of its trading posts became provincial capitals -- Winnipeg, Edmonton and Victoria -- and the outposts served as a check against encroachment by Americans from the south.

"They helped keep out the infernal Americans for a long time," said Ian Radforth, a professor of history at the University of Toronto. "When some American fur traders started moving into what we call the northwest, Hudson's Bay was there to say, 'This is our monopoly.' "

In 1870, under pressure from the crown, the company reluctantly transferred most of its land to the new dominion of Canada. Slowly, the company shed its remote connections -- it sold its stores in the far north of Canada in 1987 to a chain called the Northern -- and concentrated on urban retailing. HBC is Canada's premier chain. In addition to the 98 Bay stores, the company owns 294 Zellers discount retailers, 56 outlets of Home Outfitters -- a kitchen, bed and bath box-store chain -- and 118 small general-merchandise stores called Fields. The company has 70,000 employees.

HBC was better at fur trading than retailing. The company's fortunes have declined slowly since 1981, owing to growing competition from U.S. retailers. The company lost $38 million in the third quarter of 2005. Zucker, who already owns a 19 percent interest in HBC, had publicly complained that the management of the company was lackluster and unresponsive. He offered to buy the whole company in October. The board refused, but when no other buyers were interested, they asked for and accepted a slightly sweeter offer this week.

"Hudson's Bay Company is a great Canadian icon," Thomas d'Aquino, president of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, said from Davos, Switzerland, where he is attending the World Economic Forum. "It is arguably the Western world's oldest company."

He said it is "sad" that the company could not continue with Canadian ownership but noted that foreign ownership in Canadian firms may increase as a byproduct of free trade and open investment policies.

Canadians periodically wring their hands over the sale of their institutions to the Americans. The country's gold-standard hockey icon, the Montreal Canadiens, is owned by a Colorado investor, George Gillett Jr. Molson, the Canadian everyman's beer, merged with Coors. Tim Hortons, a ubiquitous sandwich-and-doughnut chain close to Canadian hearts, is owned by Wendy's, but the American fast-food giant said it would soon spin off its Hortons holdings and list the offering on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

But that fear "is largely misplaced in a globalized world," said Karl Moore, a management professor at McGill University in Montreal. "If someone thinks it's more valuable and they happen to live in the United States, that's life."

In fact, Canadians proportionately own more assets in the United States than the reverse, he said. In 2004, U.S. investors put about $217 billion into Canada, while investors in Canada, with a little more than one-tenth the population, put about $134 billion into their southern neighbor, he said.

Canadian companies own Learjet Inc. parent Bombardier Inc., Brooks pharmacies, Circle K stores and Aldo shoes, among other brands operating in the United States, Moore noted.

There was less public angst this week than there was when the Bay company was briefly courted by Target Corp. in August 2004. As the company continued to lose money, its fate became inevitable.

"I suspect there will be a bit of weeping and wailing, but not too much," said Richard Talbot, president of Talbot Consultants International Inc., a Toronto-based retailing expert. "It's really just nostalgia. At the end of the day, the Canadian consumer is looking for the best product at the best price. They don't care who owns it."

Friday, January 27, 2006

US plans to 'fight the net' revealed

BBC Pentagon correspondent
By Adam Brookes

A newly declassified document gives a fascinating glimpse into the US
military's plans for "information operations" - from psychological
operations, to attacks on hostile computer networks.

Internet cafe in Iraq
The document says information is "critical to military success"

Bloggers beware.

As the world turns networked, the Pentagon is calculating the military
opportunities that computer networks, wireless technologies and the
modern media offer.

From influencing public opinion through new media to designing
"computer network attack" weapons, the US military is learning to
fight an electronic war.

The declassified document is called "Information Operations Roadmap".
It was obtained by the National Security Archive at George Washington
University using the Freedom of Information Act.

Officials in the Pentagon wrote it in 2003. The Secretary of Defense,
Donald Rumsfeld, signed it.

Information Operations Roadmap
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The "roadmap" calls for a far-reaching overhaul of the military's
ability to conduct information operations and electronic warfare. And,
in some detail, it makes recommendations for how the US armed forces
should think about this new, virtual warfare.

The document says that information is "critical to military success".
Computer and telecommunications networks are of vital operational


The operations described in the document include a surprising range of
military activities: public affairs officers who brief journalists,
psychological operations troops who try to manipulate the thoughts and
beliefs of an enemy, computer network attack specialists who seek to
destroy enemy networks.

All these are engaged in information operations.

US Defense Secretary at the Pentagon
The wide-reaching document was signed off by Donald Rumsfeld

Perhaps the most startling aspect of the roadmap is its
acknowledgement that information put out as part of the military's
psychological operations, or Psyops, is finding its way onto the
computer and television screens of ordinary Americans.

"Information intended for foreign audiences, including public
diplomacy and Psyops, is increasingly consumed by our domestic
audience," it reads.

"Psyops messages will often be replayed by the news media for much
larger audiences, including the American public," it goes on.

The document's authors acknowledge that American news media should not
unwittingly broadcast military propaganda. "Specific boundaries should
be established," they write. But they don't seem to explain how.

"In this day and age it is impossible to prevent stories that are fed
abroad as part of psychological operations propaganda from blowing
back into the United States - even though they were directed abroad,"
says Kristin Adair of the National Security Archive.

Credibility problem

Public awareness of the US military's information operations is low,
but it's growing - thanks to some operational clumsiness.

When it describes plans for electronic warfare, or EW, the document
takes on an extraordinary tone. It seems to see the internet as being
equivalent to an enemy weapons system

Late last year, it emerged that the Pentagon had paid a private
company, the Lincoln Group, to plant hundreds of stories in Iraqi
newspapers. The stories - all supportive of US policy - were written
by military personnel and then placed in Iraqi publications.

And websites that appeared to be information sites on the politics of
Africa and the Balkans were found to be run by the Pentagon.

But the true extent of the Pentagon's information operations, how they
work, who they're aimed at, and at what point they turn from informing
the public to influencing populations, is far from clear.

The roadmap, however, gives a flavour of what the US military is up to
- and the grand scale on which it's thinking.

It reveals that Psyops personnel "support" the American government's
international broadcasting. It singles out TV Marti - a station which
broadcasts to Cuba - as receiving such support.

It recommends that a global website be established that supports
America's strategic objectives. But no American diplomats here, thank
you. The website would use content from "third parties with greater
credibility to foreign audiences than US officials".

It also recommends that Psyops personnel should consider a range of
technologies to disseminate propaganda in enemy territory: unmanned
aerial vehicles, "miniaturized, scatterable public address systems",
wireless devices, cellular phones and the internet.

'Fight the net'

When it describes plans for electronic warfare, or EW, the document
takes on an extraordinary tone.

It seems to see the internet as being equivalent to an enemy weapons

"Strategy should be based on the premise that the Department [of
Defense] will 'fight the net' as it would an enemy weapons system," it

The slogan "fight the net" appears several times throughout the roadmap.

The authors warn that US networks are very vulnerable to attack by
hackers, enemies seeking to disable them, or spies looking for

"Networks are growing faster than we can defend them... Attack
sophistication is increasing... Number of events is increasing."

US digital ambition

And, in a grand finale, the document recommends that the United States
should seek the ability to "provide maximum control of the entire
electromagnetic spectrum".

US forces should be able to "disrupt or destroy the full spectrum of
globally emerging communications systems, sensors, and weapons systems
dependent on the electromagnetic spectrum".

Consider that for a moment.

The US military seeks the capability to knock out every telephone,
every networked computer, every radar system on the planet.

Are these plans the pipe dreams of self-aggrandising bureaucrats? Or
are they real?

The fact that the "Information Operations Roadmap" is approved by the
Secretary of Defense suggests that these plans are taken very
seriously indeed in the Pentagon.

And that the scale and grandeur of the digital revolution is matched
only by the US military's ambitions for it.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Canada's Harper rebukes US over Arctic claims in first address -

Canada's Harper rebukes US over Arctic claims in first address -

OTTAWA (AFX) - Prime Minister-elect Stephen Harper blasted Washington's denial of Canada's Arctic sovereignty, reducing expectations that his new Conservative government would seek closer US ties.

Canada's first conservative prime minister in 12 years was expected to try to improve the sometimes-tense relations that outgoing Prime Minister Paul Martin had with Washington.

But in his first public address Thursday, Harper chided US Ambassador David Wilkins for lambasting his plans to bolster Canada's Arctic military presence.

'The United States defends its sovereignty. The Canadian government will defend our sovereignty,' Harper told reporters outside the House of Commons.

'I've been very clear in the campaign that we have significant plans for national defense and for defense of our sovereignty, including Arctic sovereignty,' he said.

Canada's northern territorial claims became an election issue following reports that a US submarine traveled unannounced through Canadian Arctic waters in December.

Harper pledged to spend 5.3 bln cad over five years to 'dramatically increase Canada's military presence' north of the 60th parallel and 'make it clear to foreign governments -- including the United States -- that naval vessels traveling in Canadian territorial waters will require the consent of the government of Canada.'

A watched America is not a free America

Capitol Hill Blue: A watched America is not a free America

A watched America is not a free America
Publisher, Capitol Hill Blue
Jan 26, 2006, 08:30
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I stopped for gas on my way home last night, inserting my credit card into the reader at the gas pump at the Exxon station on North Main Street in Floyd, Virginia. It cost just under $40 to fill the 19-gallon gas tank on my Jeep Wrangler.

With the tank filled, I retrieved the receipt and climbed back into the Jeep but before I could start the engine a bank of high speed computers operated by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) at 3801 Fairfax Drive in Arlington, Virginia, 300 miles away, already knew I had purchased 17.3 gallons of unleaded regular at $2.29.9 a gallon in a small community in the Blue Ridge Mountain.

The computer compared that purchase with my last gas purchase – 14.7 gallons at the Travel America Truckstop just outside Roanoke four days ago and added the information to the computerized profile it keeps on me and millions of other American citizens.

That same computer also knew that, before leaving my studio for the day, I purchased software from MacMall in Torrance, California. It registered the purchase within seconds after the bank authorized my purchase on my VISA card.

DARPA knows my electric bill increased 316 percent during the cold, icy weather of December, which prescription drugs my wife and I use and, in a linkup with the National Security Agency, who I talk to on my home, office and wireless phones and how long we talk to them. In many cases, they have recordings of the conversation.

Paranoid fantasy? I wish it were. Welcome to America 2006, a totalitarian police state far beyond anything George Orwell imagined in his book, 1984, which, not coincidently, is on the watch list for suspicious material if you happen to check it out of your public library. Most of this takes place under the so-called “Terrorist Information Awareness” program, a data mining operation Congress thought it had shut down but – as chronicled on this web site last year survived when the Bush administration moved it into the Pentagon’s “black bag” operations, a super-secret area where Congressional oversight is not allowed.

Most Americans are watched 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year – 366 in leap years. The federal government watches their actions, catalogs their movements, tracks their spending and travel and then uses the information to build profiles – profiles based on the belief that every American is a potential threat to the peace and security of the United States and cannot be trusted.

Those who support such actions say that if we have done nothing wrong we have nothing to fear from such surveillance. They’re lying. People whose only crime is speaking out against an oppressive government cannot board a commercial airline flight because the Transportation Security Agency put them on a “No-Fly” list that contains the names of 80,000 other Americans.

No one knows for sure how many innocent victims have been seized without warrants and held incommunicado without due process under the USA Patriot Act but most estimates run into the thousands.

"Most people just don't understand how pervasive [US] government surveillance is,” says U.S. military analyst John Pike. “Frankly, they can get what they want.”

Dan Smith, a military-affairs analyst for Foreign Policy In Focus, is also a retired US Army colonel, and a senior fellow on military affairs at the Friends Committee on National Legislation.

“More than buildings were brought down that September 11,” Smith says. “Historical protections of speech, assembly, protest, and privacy enjoyed by U.S. citizens and legal residents (“U.S. persons”), also came under attack as a stampeded Congress, goaded by a panicked and paranoid administration, abdicated its constitutional role—rather, its constitutional duty—to prevent the undue concentration of power in the Chief Executive.”

Publicly, Smith says, the face of this expansion is the “Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004” (PL 108-458). “Among other provisions, the law increases the number of individuals engaged in collecting and analyzing information—what is known as Human Intelligence or HUMINT. (One estimate is that 4,000 agents were added just to the military programs.),” he says.

But, as we now know, the government doesn’t need any stinking laws to put the screws to the freedoms that Americans used to enjoy.

“With barely a ripple of congressional ‘oversight,’ those newly empowered must have thought almost any practice would be permitted,” Smith says. “After all, the president and most other officials insisted that in the much-changed post-9/11 world the old rules and the old legal signposts were completely outdated and had to be rewritten. The problem? The White House and the Pentagon didn't want to wait for the rules to be changed. In fact, as chronicled by the New York Times (December 11), NBC Nightly News (December 13), and the Los Angeles Times, U.S. Army counter-intelligence agents undertook a nation-wide program to infiltrate organizations the military deemed potential “threats” to military personnel and bases.”

Not to mention the President of the United States ignoring the law and ordering the warrantless spying on Americans by the NSA, an action that attorney general Alberto Gonzales admits was taken because “we were advised that that [obtaining a legislated change to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] would be difficult, if not impossible.”

Bush attempts to justify his illegal actions by constantly claiming he is a “wartime president” who uses powers granted to him as “commander in chief.”

But Peter Irons, in his book, War Powers: How the Imperial Presidency Hijacked the Constitution, notes that our Founding Fathers limited the "commander in chief’s" powers to “ordering troops to repel an invasion force.” The title, they felt, was more ceremonial than actual. Those same founding fathers would be shocked at the loss of freedoms in today’s America.

And it will only get worse. The Federal Highway Administration, through its Office of Transportation Studies, announced $11 million in grants in December for work on a nationwide monitoring system that would allow state and federal governments to track where Americans drive through Global Positioning Satellite monitors placed in cars.

The grants are based on pilot projects the feds have been running in Oregon and Washington State, supposedly to allow states to tax motorists on the miles they actually drive, and based on the results of the project, they hope to make it nationwide. The highway administration report also cites two Supreme Court decisions, U.S. v Knotts and U.S. v Karo that say Americans have no expectation of privacy when traveling on public roads.

Even more chilling is a survey hyped by the Department that says their studies shows “less than 7 percent of the respondents expressed concerns about recording their vehicle's movements.”

A tyrant's best ally has always been an apathetic populace. Citizens of Germany learned that awful truth in 1939.

Venezuela charges officers gave secrets to Pentagon

Venezuela charges officers gave secrets to Pentagon

Venezuela charges officers gave secrets to Pentagon
Wed Jan 25, 2006 9:49 PM ET

By Patrick Markey

CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) - Venezuela said on Wednesday several military officers had been caught passing state secrets to the U.S. government in a charge that could further strain ties between the two countries.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a socialist ally of Cuba sharply at odds with Washington, has often accused U.S. officials of backing attempts to overthrow him since he survived a 2002 coup in the world's No. 5 oil exporter.

"Some low-ranking officers were passing information to the Pentagon ... handing over secrets of the state," Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel said when asked about local reports that some naval officers were under investigation for spying.

"It seems that some of them have left the country," he said without giving any further details.

A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Caracas said, "We have received no communication from the Venezuelan government on this issue."

Washington has repeatedly dismissed Chavez's U.S. plot charges as nationalist saber-rattling. But the U.S. government has branded the former army officer as a growing threat to Venezuela's democracy and to regional stability.

Local newspapers reported that authorities had ordered some naval officers arrested after they were suspected of spying and handing information to U.S. officials.

Calls to the military prosecutor's office were not answered and a Navy spokeswoman said she had no details on the case.

Alonso Medina, an attorney for one man held in the probe, said his client was a civilian who had been detained on charges of espionage and threatening the security of the armed forces. The lawyer dismissed the charges.

"They accuse him of having relations with the U.S. Embassy," Medina told Reuters by telephone.

Relations between Venezuela and its chief oil client, the United States, have steadily deteriorated since Chavez came to office. He has moved to reduce his country's traditional cooperation and alliance with the U.S. military.

After he survived the April 2002 coup and loyal troops returned him to government, Chavez quickly purged the armed forces of suspected dissidents.

Months later, scores of dissident military officers occupied a Caracas plaza to call for their fellow soldiers to join them in a civil rebellion against Chavez. The protest eventually fizzled out and many of the officers fled the country.

A retired army paratrooper, Chavez led a failed military rebellion in 1992 and spent two years in prison before he won a sweeping election victory and promised to reverse years of neglect of the poor majority by previous governments.

(Additional reporting by Tomas Sarmiento)

Pak denies reports of CIA infiltrating ISI - Asia News -

Pak denies reports of CIA infiltrating ISI - Asia News - "Pak denies reports of CIA infiltrating ISI
Islamabad | January 25, 2006 4:38:06 PM IST

Pakistan has categorically denied that the CIA had successfully infiltrated Pakistan's intelligence, the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).

Senior intelligence officials said that talks of the CIA penetrating the ISI were utter rubbish, adding that the agency had a very secure system for its communication process, and used secret codes for passing highly sensitive communication.

'Absolutely rubbish, I categorically deny these allegations as nothing of the sort is happening in the ISI. We have very secure systems for all our communications, especially for sensitive communication for which there are secret codes,' The News quoted a senior intelligence official as saying.

'Of course, we are aware that the Americans have highly sensitive technical gadgetry and we are aware of the manner that they pick up information on unguarded lines but this does not mean that we let our guard down for a minute,' he said.

Time magazine had in a report said that the CIA was monitoring the ISI for people believed to be sympathetic to the Taliban and the Al Qaeda, and had also planted people within the agency who were capable of directly reporting to their CIA bosses.

'Nothing could be further from the truth. The Army rotates officers in a routine manner and there is no one at this institution working in any area on a permanent basis. If at some stage, because of certain policies, there were such people, then all of them have been removed from such sensitive posts,' the official added. (ANI)"

Canada likely to move closer to U.S.

Canada likely to move closer to U.S.

Canada likely to move closer to U.S.


Considering its size, wealth and distinguished history, Canada has always had a puzzlingly low international profile. Monday's general election result is unlikely to reverse that long-term trend. But -- for now at least -- Canada has caught the world's attention.

The country's emphatic swing to the right is not as disastrous as has been portrayed by some liberals. The Conservative Party certainly has performed an impressive comeback after defeat only two years ago. But it is still short of an outright majority.

A coalition with the leftist New Democratic Party is likely, which will ensure the new government cannot become too reactionary. And some of the Conservative Party's plans are not especially controversial. There is no reason why the new regime should not spend more on the Canadian military and give more autonomy to the provinces. That seems to be what most Canadians voted for.

But there are, nevertheless, causes for concern, particularly regarding the outlook of the young leader of the Conservatives, Stephen Harper.

Unlike recent Canadian prime ministers, Harper does not place a high premium on safeguarding the global environment. He rejects the Kyoto Protocol approach of emission capping as a response to global warming. Harper also seems to be something of a social reactionary, judging by his stance on gay marriage and abortion. This is an unfortunate image for such an enlightened nation as Canada to project to the rest of the world.

But perhaps the biggest change, and one with the most profound implications, is that Harper is keen on forging a closer relationship with the president of the United States. Harper, who supported the invasion of Iraq, now suggests he will review Canada's decision not to rejoin the U.S. anti-ballistic missile shield.

This election result clearly is important in symbolic terms. Canada has been something of a liberal bulwark against the Bush administration in recent years. We must assume that is about to change.

There are also powerful symbolic implications for British politics. In Canada, a center-left party won power in 1993 after years in the electoral wilderness. The Conservatives were almost wiped out in a humiliating result. Two years ago -- after a decade of power -- the prime minister handed over to his ambitious and impatient finance minister. Despite that finance minister's outstanding economic record, he proved to be a poor prime minister. He has now been swept away by a fresh-faced Conservative challenger who was able to shed his party's wretched public image. The parallels are remarkable. Gordon Brown will no doubt be fervently hoping that history does not repeat itself.

As for the rest of us, perhaps we should simply savor this rare moment when everyone seems to agree that Canadian politics have come alive.
The Independent is published in Britain.

U.S. deploys news Global Hawks to Iraq

United Press International - Security & Terrorism - U.S. deploys news Global Hawks to Iraq: "U.S. deploys news Global Hawks to Iraq

SAN DIEGO, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- The first production models of the RQ-4A unmanned aerial vehicle have reported for duty in Iraq where they will be used in surveillance missions.

A pair of the Global Hawks built in California by Northrop Grumman were shipped to Iraq by the Air Force earlier this month and put through some final test flights before beginning real-world operations.

The RQ-4A is designed to provide ground commanders with high-resolution aerial photographs in nearly real time while at the same time remaining in the air for extended periods of time.

Global Hawk can loiter over an assigned area for more than a day or can be re-tasked to gather information over hot spots at a moment's notice,' said Northrop Grumman Vice President Jerry Madigan. 'Once the Global Hawk is over the specific area, commanders can view problem areas quickly and make crucial decisions within minutes.'

The aerospace company said the Global Hawk's single-mission range amounts to 40,000 square-miles, an area about the size of Illinois. It cruises at an altitude of 60,000 feet where it is above inclement weather and cannot be seen from the ground.

Global Hawk demonstrators have seen service in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The UAVs that are newly arrived in the Gulf are the first production models to come off the assembly line."

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Audit Describes Misuse of Funds in Iraq Projects

Audit Describes Misuse of Funds in Iraq Projects

A new audit of American financial practices in Iraq has uncovered irregularities including millions of reconstruction dollars stuffed casually into footlockers and filing cabinets, an American soldier in the Philippines who gambled away cash belonging to Iraq, and three Iraqis who plunged to their deaths in a rebuilt hospital elevator that had been improperly certified as safe.

The audit, released yesterday by the office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, expands on its previous findings of fraud, incompetence and confusion as the American occupation poured money into training and rebuilding programs in 2003 and 2004. The audit uncovers problems in an area that includes half the land mass in Iraq, with new findings in the southern and central provinces of Anbar, Karbala, Najaf, Wasit, Babil, and Qadisiya. The special inspector reports to the secretary of defense and the secretary of state.

Agents from the inspector general's office found that the living and working quarters of American occupation officials were awash in shrink-wrapped stacks of $100 bills, colloquially known as bricks.

One official kept $2 million in a bathroom safe, another more than half a million dollars in an unlocked footlocker. One contractor received more than $100,000 to completely refurbish an Olympic pool but only polished the pumps; even so, local American officials certified the work as completed. More than 2,000 contracts ranging in value from a few thousand dollars to more than half a million, some $88 million in all, were examined by agents from the inspector general's office. The report says that in some cases the agents found clear indications of potential fraud and that investigations into those cases are continuing.

Some of those cases are expected to intersect with the investigations of four Americans who have been arrested on bribery, theft, weapons and conspiracy charges for what federal prosecutors say was a scheme to steer reconstruction projects to an American contractor working out of the southern city of Hilla, which served as a kind of provincial capital for a vast swath of Iraq under the Coalition Provisional Authority.

But much of the material in the latest audit is new, and the portrait it paints of abandoned rebuilding projects, nonexistent paperwork and cash routinely taken from the main vault in Hilla without even a log to keep track of the transactions is likely to raise major new questions about how the provisional authority did its business and accounted for huge expenditures of Iraqi and American money.

"What's sad about it is that, considering the destruction in the country, with looting and so on, we needed every dollar for reconstruction," said Wayne White, a former State Department official whose responsibilities included Iraq from 2003 to 2005, and who is now at the Middle East Institute, a research organization.

Instead, Mr. White said, large amounts of that money may have been wasted or stolen, with strong indications that the chaos in Hilla might have been repeated at other provisional authority outposts.

Others had a similar reaction. "It does not surprise me at all," said a Defense Department official who worked in Hilla and other parts of the country, who spoke anonymously because he said he feared retribution from the Bush administration. He predicted that similar problems would turn up in the major southern city of Basra and elsewhere in the dangerous desert wasteland of Anbar province. "It's a disaster," the official said of problems with contracting in Anbar.

No records were kept as money came and went from the main vault at the Hilla compound, and inside it was often stashed haphazardly in a filing cabinet.

That casual arrangement led to a dispute when one official for the provisional authority, while clearing his accounts on his way out of Iraq, grabbed $100,000 from another official's stack of cash, according to the report. Whether unintentional or not, the move might never have been discovered except that the second official "had to make a disbursement that day and realized that he was short cash," the report says.

Outside the vault, money seemed to be stuffed into every nook and cranny in the compound. "One contracting officer kept approximately $2 million in cash in a safe in his office bathroom, while a paying agent kept approximately $678,000 in cash in an unlocked footlocker in his office," the report says.

The money, most from Iraqi oil proceeds and cash seized from Saddam Hussein's government, also easily found its way out of the compound and the country. In one case, an American soldier assigned as an assistant to the Iraqi Olympic boxing team was given huge amounts of cash for a trip to the Philippines, where the soldier gambled away somewhere between $20,000 and $60,000 of the money. Exactly how much has not been determined, the report says, because no one kept track of how much money he received in the first place.

In another connection to Iraq's Olympic effort, a $108,140 contract to completely refurbish the Hilla Olympic swimming pool, including the replacement of pumps and pipes, came to nothing when the contractor simply polished some of the hardware to make it appear as if new equipment had been installed. Local officials for the provisional authority signed paperwork stating that all the work had been completed properly and paid the contractor in full, the report says.

The pool never reopened, and when agents from the inspector general's office arrived to try out the equipment, "the water came out a murky brown due to the accumulated dirt and grime in the old pumps," the report says.

Sometimes the consequences of such loose controls were deadly. A contract for $662,800 in civil, electrical, and mechanical work to rehabilitate the Hilla General Hospital was paid in full by an American official in June 2004 even though the work was not finished, the report says. But instead of replacing a central elevator bank, as called for in the scope of work, the contractor tinkered with an unsuccessful rehabilitation.

The report continues, narrating the observation of the inspector general's agents who visited the hospital on Sept. 18, 2004: "The hospital administrator immediately escorted us to the site of the elevators. The administrator said that just a couple days prior to our arrival the elevator crashed and killed three people."

White House Declines to Provide Storm Papers

White House Declines to Provide Storm Papers

WASHINGTON, Jan. 24 - The Bush administration, citing the confidentiality of executive branch communications, said Tuesday that it did not plan to turn over certain documents about Hurricane Katrina or make senior White House officials available for sworn testimony before two Congressional committees investigating the storm response.

The White House this week also formally notified Representative Richard H. Baker, Republican of Louisiana, that it would not support his legislation creating a federally financed reconstruction program for the state that would bail out homeowners and mortgage lenders. Many Louisiana officials consider the bill crucial to recovery, but administration officials said the state would have to use community development money appropriated by Congress.

The White House's stance on storm-related documents, along with slow or incomplete responses by other agencies, threatens to undermine efforts to identify what went wrong, Democrats on the committees said Tuesday.

"There has been a near total lack of cooperation that has made it impossible, in my opinion, for us to do the thorough investigation that we have a responsibility to do," Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, Democrat of Connecticut, said at Tuesday's hearing of the Senate committee investigating the response. His spokeswoman said he would ask for a subpoena for documents and testimony if the White House did not comply.

In response to questions later from a reporter, the deputy White House spokesman, Trent Duffy, said the administration had declined requests to provide testimony by Andrew H. Card Jr., the White House chief of staff; Mr. Card's deputy, Joe Hagin; Frances Fragos Townsend, the domestic security adviser; and her deputy, Ken Rapuano.

Mr. Duffy said the administration had also declined to provide storm-related e-mail correspondence and other communications involving White House staff members. Mr. Rapuano has given briefings to the committees, but the sessions were closed to the public and were not considered formal testimony.

"The White House and the administration are cooperating with both the House and Senate," Mr. Duffy said. "But we have also maintained the president's ability to get advice and have conversations with his top advisers that remain confidential."

Yet even Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, objected when administration officials who were not part of the president's staff said they could not testify about communications with the White House.

"I completely disagree with that practice," Ms. Collins, chairwoman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said in an interview Tuesday.

According to Mr. Lieberman, Michael D. Brown, the former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, cited such a restriction on Monday, as agency lawyers had advised him not to say whether he had spoken to President Bush or Vice President Dick Cheney or to comment on the substance of any conversations with any other high-level White House officials.

Nevertheless, both Ms. Collins and Representative Thomas M. Davis III, a Virginia Republican who is leading the House inquiry, said that despite some frustration with the administration's response, they remained confident that the investigations would produce meaningful results.

Other members of the committees said the executive branch communications were essential because it had become apparent that one of the most significant failures was the apparent lack of complete engagement by the White House and the federal government in the days immediately before and after the storm.

"When you have a natural disaster, the president needs to be hands-on, and if anyone in his staff gets in the way, he needs to push them away," said Representative Christopher Shays, a Connecticut Republican and member of the House investigating committee. "The response was pathetic."

Even before the House and Senate investigations began, Democrats called for the appointment of an independent commission, like the one set up after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to investigate the response to the most costly natural disaster in United States history. The 9/11 Commission, after extensive negotiations, questioned Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney and received sworn testimony from Condoleezza Rice, then the national security adviser.

"Our fears are turning out to be accurate," Representative Henry A. Waxman, Democrat of California, said Tuesday. "The Bush administration is stonewalling the Congress."

Mr. Duffy, along with officials from the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security, said that although not every request had been met, the administration had provided an enormous amount of detailed information about nearly every aspect of the federal response to Hurricane Katrina.

The Department of Defense, for example, has provided 18 officials for testimony, and 57 others have been interviewed by Congressional staff members, said Maj. Paul Swiergosz, a Pentagon spokesman. It has also turned over an estimated 240,000 pages of documents.

Russ Knocke, a spokesman for the Homeland Security Department, said his agency, which oversees FEMA, had been similarly responsive, providing 60 officials as witnesses and producing 300,000 pages of documents.

But the White House and other federal agencies have been less helpful, members of the investigating committees said, particularly the Pentagon and Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, who is the subject of the sole subpoena issued so far.

"We have been trying - without success - to obtain Secretary Rumsfeld's cooperation for months," Representative Charlie Melancon, Democrat of Louisiana, said in a letter to Representative Davis on Monday. "The situation is not acceptable."

Mr. Davis, in a written response to Mr. Melancon on Tuesday, said he felt that the Pentagon, after the subpoena, had largely honored the committee's requests.

The Congressional investigations began in September, shortly after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, flooding New Orleans, devastating much of the rest of the region and causing more than $100 billion in damage.

Both of the committees are rushing to try to complete their investigations - the House by Feb. 15, and the Senate by the middle of March - in part because of the approaching Atlantic hurricane season, which starts on June 1.

The separate action this week by the Bush administration to oppose an effort to create what would have been called the Louisiana Recovery Corporation evoked great disappointment among state officials.

Mr. Baker's bill would have bought out owners of ruined homes, offering them at least 60 percent of their pre-storm equity, while also giving mortgage companies 60 percent of their loans on damaged properties. The bonds needed for the project would have been paid off by selling developers federally acquired land.

"The Baker bill as a tool was very efficient in terms of helping people sell out, or clear title to the land," said Sean Reilly, a member of the Louisiana Recovery Authority. "We're going to have to go back to the drawing board and do the best with the tools we have."

Donald E. Powell, the Bush administration's Gulf Coast recovery coordinator, said in a statement that the government was prepared to help victims in other ways.

"We share the common vision, the common objective of Congressman Baker, to assist uninsured homeowners outside the flood plain," Mr. Powell said.

Mr. Powell's spokeswoman, D. J. Nordquist, said the administration was open to discussion if the community development money turned out to be insufficient.

Adam Nossiter contributed reporting from New Orleans for this article.

US accused of using gangster tactics over terror suspects

US accused of using gangster tactics over terror suspects

· Washington 'outsourced torture', says senator
· Critics attack lack of evidence in report
Nicholas Watt in Strasbourg
Wednesday January 25, 2006

Europe's human rights watchdog accused Washington yesterday of using "gangster tactics" by flying in terrorist suspects to countries where they would face torture, and criticised European countries who appear to have done nothing to intervene.

"If a country resorts to the tactics of gangsters I say no," Dick Marty, a Swiss senator, said at the Council of Europe's winter session in Strasbourg. "There are different elements that allow me to say that governments were aware of what was happening."

Mr Marty, who is investigating allegations of "extraordinary rendition", estimated that more than 100 people have been flown to prisons in third countries where they may have been tortured. "There is a great deal of coherent, convergent evidence pointing to the existence of a system of 'relocation' or 'outsourcing of torture'," Mr Marty told the 46-nation council.

"Individuals have been abducted, deprived of their liberty and transported to different destinations in Europe, to be handed over to countries in which they have suffered degrading treatment and torture. It is highly unlikely that European governments, or at least their intelligence services, were unaware."

Mr Marty highlighted two examples. One is the abduction by suspected US agents in 2003 of Abu Omar, an Egyptian citizen who had been granted political asylum in Italy. Another example is the arrest in Macedonia of Khaled al-Masri, a German citizen of Lebanese origin who was reportedly flown to Kabul for interrogation.

"I am scandalised that a few kilometres from where I live people can be lifted by foreign governments. When someone goes on holiday in Macedonia they are lifted by foreign agents," said Mr Marty.

Mr Marty is frustrated with the US and some European governments for offering little cooperation as he seeks to unravel allegations, which surfaced in the Washington Post last year, that the CIA has been hiding and interrogating suspects at secret detention centres in eastern Europe or flying suspects to third countries where they are tortured.

While Mr Marty believes that "extraordinary renditions" do take place, he appeared to back away from allegations that the CIA set up secret detention centres in eastern Europe. "There is no formal, irrefutable evidence of the existence of secret detention centres in Romania, Poland or any other country," he said.

Britain revealed a little more yesterday. Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, wrote to Tony Lloyd, a British member of the Council of Europe assembly, to say that between May 1997 and this month the US asked Britain to allow four people to be transported through the UK to face trial in the US. Britain had allowed two to pass through and blocked the other two. This took place in 1998 when Bill Clinton was president.

The lack of cooperation from governments prompted criticism that Mr Marty had relied too much on press cuttings in his interim report. Mike Hancock, a Lib Dem member of the assembly, said: "This report and further reports need to have more substance and more evidence of what has happened if the truth is going to come out. Many of the issues have been clouded by myth and a desire to kick America."

Denis MacShane, the former Europe minister who sits on the assembly, said: "The Marty report has more holes than a Swiss cheese. I have read it carefully and there is nothing new, no proof, no witness statement, no document that justifies the claims made."

But human rights groups welcomed the report. Shami Chakrabarti, the director of Liberty, said: "It is time for our government to come straight - not about what it did not know but what it is going to do about such serious alleged violations of human rights and UK sovereignty."

DARPA seeks supercavitation submarine

United Press International - Security & Terrorism - DARPA seeks supercavitation submarine

DARPA seeks supercavitation submarine

WASHINGTON, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is looking for a really fast, really small submarine.

It's also seeking a major breakthrough in physics: making supercavitation actually work on a large scale.

Supercavitation refers to a process of displacing water around a submerged vessel so that it travels in a gaseous or vaporous cavity. Theoretically, that can be done either by propelling a blunt-nosed vessel at a very high speed -- its nose forces the water out of the way -- or by injecting gas into a partially developed cavity, according to DARPA.

The U.S. Navy has experimented with the technology, as have the Russians, but no one has mastered maneuverability and control for larger vessels at such high speeds.

The Russians have a supercavitation rocket-propelled torpedo called Shkval which can travel at 230 miles per hour. It attains that speed by producing a thin envelope of bubbles all over its skin. Because the metal is not in contact with the water, drag is significantly reduced and the high speed is possible.

"The ability to generate and maintain the large cavity needed for this scale vehicle has never been demonstrated, nor has a control system for maneuvering the vehicle," DARPA states.

DARPA envisions an eight-foot diameter craft that would carry a small unit -- presumably Navy SEALS -- or high-value cargo quickly through coastal waters.

The military is also interested in the possibility of supercavitation for bunker-busting missiles.

February 1 is the deadline for responses to a solicitation for the Underwater Express Program.

The Real Story of John Walker Lindh

The Real Story of John Walker Lindh

By Frank Lindh, AlterNet
Posted on January 24, 2006

Editor's Note: The public has heard little about John Walker Lindh since the media frenzy over his capture in the winter of 2001. On January 19, John's father Frank Lindh delivered an address at The Commonwealth Club of California. Lindh explained that he and his family have avoided the press for nearly four years; he now wants the public to understand the truth about his son, who he says didn't stand a chance of getting a fair trial in the emotional days following 9/11. Immediately characterized as a "terrorist" by the press and politicians, Lindh faced a jury in Northern Virginia, just a few miles from the Pentagon. The trial date scheduled by the judge was the anniversary of 9/11. Initially facing 11 criminal counts -- most relating to terrorism -- the only charge that John Lindh was found guilty of was violating economic sanctions by supporting the Taliban government, for which the 20-year-old was sentenced to 20 years in prison. The following is excerpted from Frank Lindh's speech.

I believe the case of John Lindh is an important story and worthy of this audience's attention. In simple terms, this is the story of a decent and honorable young man, embarked on a spiritual quest, who became the focus of the grief and anger of an entire nation over an event in which he had no part. I refer to the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001. The reason I think this story is important is because our system broke down in the case of John Lindh. My goals today are first, just to tell you the story of John Lindh. Second, to ask you to reflect, based on the fact of John's case, on the importance and the fragility of the rights we enjoy under our Constitution. And my third point is to suggest that the so-called war on terrorism lacks a hearts and minds component.

I want to begin by asking you to call to mind the September 11th terrorist attacks and the shock and horror they engendered in the hearts of everyone. On that awful day, a band of terrorists, who claimed Islam as their cause, hijacked four airplanes and flew three of them full of passengers into occupied buildings without warning -- the World Trade Center Twin Towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington. They crashed the fourth airplane, also filled with passengers, into a field in Pennsylvania. Three thousand innocent Americans lost their lives that day.

But for those attacks, John's activities, which I will describe, would have been treated with indifference, or perhaps curiosity here in the United States. But, viewed through the prism of the September 11th attacks, those very same activities caused this young man to be vilified as a traitor and a terrorist.


John was born in February 1981 in Washington, D.C., during a time when I was working for the federal government. He's the second of my three children. John was the kind of kid that any parent would want. From the time he was a baby, he was very centered, peaceful and content. Later, after he converted to Islam, I told John that I thought he had always been a Muslim, and he simply had to find it for himself.

I'm a practicing Catholic myself, and we raised John as a Catholic. He attended Sunday school along with his brother in Washington. In 1991, when John was 10 years old, we moved from the D.C. area to the Bay Area. At age 12, John saw the movie "Malcolm X" by Spike Lee and became deeply interested in Islam. He later wrote in his autobiographical statement for the court, "I had first become interested in Islam during 1993, after becoming aware of the Hajj, in which thousands of Muslims all over the world gather at Mecca, a holy site in Saudi Arabia. I learned that all Muslims are required to make this religious journey at least once in their life. I was very moved by the image of thousands of people praying together. Perfectly equal and perfectly humble. I began to read all that I could about Islam."

When he was 16, John formally converted to Islam at a mosque in Mill Valley in Marin County where we live. An elder at the Mill Valley mosque testified in John's case and wrote a statement for the court in which he said that in all of his experience in knowing Americans who had converted to Islam, "no one has come close to John in the embodiment of piety and of the true noble Islamic character." By the time he was 17, John was ready to embark on a course of studies overseas and he went to Yemen to study Arabic.

Travels in the Middle East

His first trip to Yemen lasted from July of 1998 to May of 1999, and then his visa expired, so he came home for a few months. Then, in February of 2000, just before his 19th birthday, John returned to Yemen to continue his study of classical Arabic and Islam at a school in Sanaa, Yemen. Again, he had visa trouble, so in November of 2000, John made a decision to go to Pakistan and to continue his Islamic study, memorizing the Koran. It's the goal of every scholarly Muslim to memorize the entire Koran verbatim, and John's goal was to become both fluent in Arabic and to memorize the Koran so that he could then go on and become a Muslim scholar. His goal was to attend the Islamic university at Medina in Saudi Arabia or a comparable world-class Islamic university.

It is November of 2000 when John goes to Pakistan with my blessing. In late April of 2001, John wrote to me and his mother to say that he wanted to go up to the mountains of Pakistan to get away from the heat. That made sense. John never tolerated the heat in Washington, D.C. What he didn't tell us, what we didn't learn until later was that John was going over the mountains, into Afghanistan, intent on volunteering for military service in the army of Afghanistan.

Civil war in Afghanistan

The Soviet Union, as you know, invaded Afghanistan in 1979. They imposed a communist puppet government upon the country. From the time of that invasion, right up through 2001, Afghanistan was engulfed in constant war. After the Soviets withdrew, the country descended into a civil war among the factions -- many of whom had been funded by the United States in the war against the Soviets, and the consequent civil was resulted in terrible devastation in the country.

Afghanistan had by far the largest refugee population in the world. Many of these refugees lived in terrible conditions in refugee camps in Pakistan, across the border. Eventually, the Taliban, which rose up out of those refugee camps, managed to consolidate power over most of the country. So by the year 2001, they had consolidated power over all except the Northeastern region of the country, which was still controlled by the Russian-backed Northern Alliance, a group of warlords.

America's allegiance with the anti-Russian factions in Afghanistan extended not only through the presidency of Carter, Reagan and the first President Bush, but also to the current Bush administration. In the spring of 2001, roughly at the same time John went to Afghanistan, Secretary of State Colin Powell personally announced a grant of $43 million to the Taliban government for opium eradication, which the New York Times then refers to as "a first cautious step towards reducing the isolation of the Taliban incoming by the new Bush administration." Secretary of State Powell released a press release in which he said "we will continue to look for ways to provide more assistance to the Afghans." This is the context in which John goes to Afghanistan.

When he did go into Afghanistan, John received infantry training at a government-run military training camp. But the training camp was funded by Osama bin Laden. Osama bin Laden really had two operations going on. One was to finance the Afghan army operations -- these training camps for infantry. But he also, as we all know now, had a terrorist organization under way, a highly secretive terrorist organization that we call al Qaeda.

Twice in the course of his training there, John actually saw Osama bin Laden and met him on one occasion. He came away from those encounters very skeptical about bin Laden because John recognized instantly that bin Laden was not an authentic Islamic scholar based on what John himself knows. In the course of John's subsequent criminal cases, attorneys hired a professor named Rohan Gunaratna. He is the world's leading authority on al Qaeda and author of the book "Inside al Qaeda."

Gunaratna has been employed by the U.N., but also by the government of the United States as an expert in al Qaeda, and he interviewed John extensively. After all these interviews, he made this following conclusion: "Those who, like Mr. Lindh, merely fought the Northern Alliance, cannot be deemed terrorists. Their motivation was to serve and to protect suffering Muslims in Afghanistan, not to kill civilians."

U.S. in Afghanistan post-9/11

After the September 11th attacks, the United States goes to war with Afghanistan. There's a period of one month in which the United States attempts to negotiate the extradition of bin Laden and his terrorist group. Those negotiations failed, and so, in October, almost a month later, the United States begins an invasion.

I wanted to introduce an important player in these events. It's a notorious Northern Alliance warlord named Abdul Rashid Dostum. Dostum had served as an officer in the Soviet-backed communist puppet government in Afghanistan. The New Yorker magazine last year said he was "perhaps Afghanistan's most notorious war lord," and he's viewed by most human rights organizations as among the worst war criminals in the country. Throughout the 1990s as well as during the U.S. invasion of 2001, Dostum was involved in numerous documented cases of torture and murder of prisoners of war. He dominates the area of North Central Afghanistan around the city of Masari Sharif.

In the period in late 2001, Taliban forces in Northern Afghanistan were overrun by the Northern Alliance forces after an aerial bombing by the United States. The American strategy was to use Northern Alliance troops as a proxy rather than commit American troops to the ground. This may have been a sound military strategy; however, it appears that the American generals who planned this invasion made no provision for the handling of the prisoners of war.

What happened as a consequence was the murder of thousands of Taliban prisoners by the Northern Alliance during the period of November and December of 2001, the same time when John's case comes to our attention. These war crimes have been documented by Physicians for Human Rights and in the mainstream media here in the United States, including a cover story in Newsweek magazine.

Capture in Afghanistan

Let us return now to the story of John. In early September, before the 11th, John arrived at the frontline in Tahar. The two armies there -- the Taliban army and the Northern Alliance army, were locked in an old-fashioned stalemate. John arrived, he was issued the standard rifle and two hand grenades and performed sentry duty there at the front. He never fired his weapons. After the American bombing campaign began in October, the line broke. Again, no American troops are here in Tahar, it's all Northern Alliance troops, but the American bombing happens.

The frontline breaks, the Taliban soldiers retreat to the capital of Tahar -- Kunduz. It's a confused retreat. Many of them are killed. If they're captured by the Northern Alliance, they're killed. There's a chilling series of pictures in the New York Times of a prisoner as he's taken, castrated and then killed. This is what John faced. He was very desperate and near dead by the time he got to Kunduz.

Then there's a deal made by General Dostum for safe passage of these prisoners from Kunduz to a city in the west called Herat, near the border of Iran. John is one of the 400 that are part of this deal with Dostum. They make this deal, and a large amount of money is given to Dostum in return for the safe passage. The only condition Dostum imposes is that the soldiers must give up their weapons before he'll allow them to pass through. So they give up the weapons and then immediately Dostum breaks the deal. He diverts the prisoners from their path into his fortress -- a place called Kuala Jungi. It's an old 15th- or 16th-century walled fortress near Mazari Sharif. And there all hell broke loose.

The next morning, John was brought out along with these other prisoners, with their hands tied behind their backs for interrogation. There are no American troops present here, but there are two American CIA agents, and they're doing the interrogation of the prisoners as they're brought out of the basement. Their arms are tied behind their backs at the elbow, and they are being very brutally abused by Dostum's troops. All of them are afraid that they are going to be killed by Gen. Dostum given his reputation.

John is struck in the back of the head with a rifle butt by one of the Northern Alliance troops as he's brought out of the basement just moments before some video was taken of John being interrogated by the two U.S. agents. They threatened John with death. John remained silent (Lindh believed the two agents were working for Dostum.) His only goal was to get to Herat so that he could get back to Pakistan.

Moments after this video is shot, the last of the remaining 400 or 500 prisoners, as they're brought out of the basement, jumped Dostum's guards, seized their weapons, and a melee broke out. Dostum's troops panic and begin to shoot down all the prisoners in the yard, most of them, like John with their hands and arms tied behind their backs. Dozens and dozens of these Taliban prisoners are killed on the spot. John gets up and starts to run. He is shot immediately in the thigh.

He lay on the ground there for 12 hours, pretending to be dead while the carnage continued around him. That night, some of the survivors managed to get back down into the basement of the building where they had been taken when they first were brought to the fortress. They went in among the dead and found the wounded and brought them down into the basement. John was one of them.

In the days that followed, there was a deliberate effort by Dostum, supported by the United States Special Forces, to simply exterminate all of the Taliban prisoners in the fortress. By the end of that week, most of them were dead. John and a group of them were still holed up. They were unarmed, they were wounded, and they were in the basement of the fortress. They dropped hand grenades down, they poured burning oil down. At one point, they attempted to drop a 1,000-pound bomb on the building, but it was misdirected and actually killed some of Dostum's troops, so they stopped with the bombing, but they continued to try to exterminate these prisoners.

There was a British journalist there named Luke Harding, and he wrote at the time that "Dostum's Northern Alliance and his British and American allies had only one plan: to kill all those in the compound." On Friday, the 30th of November, after six days, they flooded the basement with water from an irrigation stream and that killed many of the remaining soldiers down there in the basement. As Luke Harding wrote, "For those who had died, it had been a cold, terrifying, and squalid extinction." Harding wrote, "We had expected slaughter, but I was unprepared for its hellish scale."

Media storm

John was discovered among the 86 survivors of this massacre in the basement of the building, and he instantly became an international sensation. He was quickly dubbed the "American Taliban" in Newsweek magazine which initially broke the story. The coverage from the beginning was overwhelmingly negative and prejudicial, and falsely linked John with terrorism. After the prisoners emerged from the basement of the fortress, they were taken to Sheberghen -- a town nearby -- for medical treatment. They were all starving, they had nothing to eat the entire week. They were suffering from exposure, and pretty much all of them were wounded, including John.

John had the AK-47 bullet in his thigh and numerous shrapnel wounds. He was very near death when he arrived at Sheberghen. As he's lifted onto a gurney by attending medics, a CNN cameraman named Robert Pelton began to film John. The tape shows John saying to Pelton, "Look, you don't have my permission to film me. If you're concerned about my welfare, don't film me." The ethical thing to do at that point would have been to turn off the camera. But Robert Pelton did not do the ethical thing. He kept the camera running and the microphone on as John was interviewed.

The sensation that resulted from the CNN interview is difficult to describe. I think you probably all have seen it. The interesting thing about the CNN interview, from my perspective, is that it was completely exculpatory. He was injected with morphine, and of course then begins to talk, and he forgets about turning off the camera. He tells his story and it's completely exculpatory. He says everything that I've told you -- "I was in the Taliban army, I met bin Laden," and then all the terrible events around this massacre, but the effect in the United States at that time, given the post-9/11 mood, was just terrible. The effect of this video seemed to confirm people's suspicions that John was a terrorist.

It wasn't just the television media that caused this prejudice, it was the print media as well. Newsweek magazine published a terrible cover story saying that John had supported the 9/11 attacks. The tabloid media was on to the case as well. The National Enquirer, which appeared at grocery store checkout lines throughout the country, featured a cover story with John's picture saying "America's traitor tells all." But even worse than this coverage by the tabloids, I believe, was the treatment that John received in the mainstream media including the New York Times.

On Tuesday, the 11th of December 2001, the Times published a front page article above the fold featuring a very compelling photograph of the funeral of Mike Spann, the CIA agent who had been killed at Kuala Jungi at the uprising. The theme of the entire story was that John had fought against his country and had caused the death of Mike Spann.

Interestingly, directly alongside of this incredible damaging article on page 1 of the New York Times, there appeared a leading article that same day about the widespread killing of the Taliban prisoners by General Dostum and the Northern Alliance. The byline of the article was Sheberghen, the very place where John had been taken and filmed by the CNN crew. But the New York Times overlooked the fact that this was the context in which John had been found, that John was the fortunate survivor of a mass killing of prisoners by the Northern Alliance.

Mistreatment by the military

Upon his capture, John was quickly transferred from Dostum's custody to the custody of the U.S. military. I would have thought at that point that John was in safe hands, and John himself thought the same thing because he said so in a brief letter that he dictated to the Red Cross who visited him that first day. But an order, emanating directly from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, instructed the U.S. military to "take the gloves off" in the questioning of John Lindh.

Rumsfeld's order is documented in a letter that was provided to John's lawyers by the prosecutors, and it also has been reported as a front-page story in the L.A. Times. I do not want to dwell here on the military's mistreatment of my son, but I will say categorically that he was treated in a way that is shameful to our nation and its ideals. John's bullet wound was left festering and untreated; he was blindfolded and bound hand and foot with tight plastic strips that caused severe pain. He was stripped naked and duct-taped and, in this condition, blindfolded, bound naked to a stretcher and then left in the cold in an unheated metal shipping container on the desert floor in Afghanistan.

After one initial visit, the Red Cross was denied any further access to John. The letters I wrote to John through the Red Cross were never delivered to him. All of this conduct was in violation of the Geneva Conventions of war. It was beyond what any civilized nation should tolerate. Yet, despite the fact that the torture and abuse of John Lindh was fully disclosed in the press, there was no outcry here in the United States, so strong was the emotion at that time against this young man.

What I find most troubling about this treatment, however, was that it was completely gratuitous and unnecessary. John Lindh did not need to be tortured in order to tell American forces what he knew, where he had been and what he had seen. He was glad to be rescued, he had nothing to hide. I cannot fathom why the military would have felt it necessary to humiliate him in this way.

Prejudicial commentary

I would venture to say that never before in the history of this country has any criminal defendant been subject to anything approaching the kind of prejudicial statements made by officials in John's case. Interestingly, though, in the very beginning, when John was first captured, President Bush had a sympathetic response. He said, "I don't know what we're going to do with the poor fellow" in an interview with Barbara Walters. And he referred to him by name, he said, "John." Sen. John McCain had sympathetic words, and Sen. Orrin Hatch also said that he thought that John was on a spiritual quest. But after the CNN interview was aired, the whole mood shifted.

It was both parties, Republicans and Democrats. All of these statements were broadcast and covered in the national media and came into everyone's home in the country. In an Oval Office interview on December 21st, President Bush said, "Obviously Walker is unique in that he is the first American al Qaeda fighter we have captured."

John had never even heard of al Qaeda.

Sen. Hillary Clinton, in a nationally televised interview on "Meet the Press," calls John a "traitor." Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld says, "John Lindh was captured by U.S. forces with an AK-47 in his hands." Imagine the prejudice to John from such a false and inflammatory statement. Secretary of State Colin Powell, the same Colin Powell who had sent the money to Afghanistan in April says, "John Walker Lindh has brought shame upon his family." Former President George Herbert Walker Bush says this: "He's just despicable. I thought of a unique penalty: Make him leave his hair the way it is and his face as dirty as it is, and let him go wandering around this country and see what kind of sympathy he would get." This was on Good Morning America, December 19th.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert, said that John was a "terrorist" who belonged to "an organization that took American lives and came against the American Constitution." Sen. McCain says, "I'd like to take him to Ground Zero, and show him Ground Zero and see how he feels after that." Rudy Giuliani was the person of the year in Time magazine, and what does he do with that bully pulpit? He says, "When you commit treason against the United States of America, particularly at time when the U.S. is in peril of a further attack, I believe the death penalty is the appropriate remedy to consider."

But the most prejudicial commentary of all came from Attorney General Ashcroft. He held two nationally televised press conferences in John's case. I have a copy of the New York Times, the page 1 article on the first of those conferences. This was on the 15th of February. Mind you, John is still overseas, still hasn't even had a chance to visit with his lawyer. He says, "We cannot overlook attacks on America when they come from United States citizens." This is announcing the criminal complaint against John. He's the leading prosecutor in the United States. The same day he says, "We may never know why he turned his back on our country and its values, but we cannot ignore that he did. Youth is not absolution for treachery, and personal self-discovery is not an excuse to take up arms against one's country."

In the second of these conferences, announcing the indictment, the attorney general says, "The reasons for his choices may never be fully known to us, but the fact of those choices is clear. Americans who love their country do not dedicate themselves to killing Americans." As any lawyer would know, it is a breach of professional ethics for a prosecutor to make prejudicial comments about a criminal defendant who is awaiting trial.

Criminal case

Then we get to the criminal case which the Boston Globe refers to as a "collapsed terror case." Initially, the government charged John with 11 criminal counts, most of terrorism-related charges such as supporting al Qaeda. In the end, the government dropped all of the terrorism-related charges in a plea bargain. The one charge that John pleaded guilty to was providing assistance to the Taliban government in violation of the economic sanctions that President Clinton had imposed.

I think it's clear that the government really had to stretch to find any criminal statute that John's conduct had actually violated. But for that one offense, and because he carried a weapon in the commission of the offense, John has been sentenced to 20 years in federal prison, and he's serving that sentence now in Southern California.

On the basis of the inherent unfairness, and also the fact that John has been a model prisoner from the beginning, John's lawyers have filed a petition with President Bush asking that John's sentence be commuted, and that petition is currently pending with the president.


Quickly, I have three conclusions that I have based on the facts of John's case. First, the rights we enjoy as citizens under the Constitution at times of war and national crisis, and they can be undermined by politicians and the media. Recall that every one of the government officials who I quoted took an oath of loyalty to the Constitution when they were sworn into office. And yet look how quick they were to disregard the Constitution in order to make rhetorical points about John Lindh.

As I tell law students when I speak with them about John's case, the Constitution of the United States does not live in a vault at the National Archives, the Constitution lives in our hearts, and it's up to us as people to maintain the values embedded in the Constitution. We cannot trust the politicians and the media to do the job for us. I think I have to say, too, that it was only the intervention of a courageous legal team, headed by Jim Brosnahan, that literally saved my son's life. I cannot even contemplate what might have happened if these lawyers had not stepped up to defend John.

I think it's clear that the United States really made a mistake in treating Taliban footsoldiers and the Afghan army as if they were al Qaeda terrorists. This was unjust in the eyes of the whole world, but especially among Muslims. And finally, I hope you will indulge me when I say that the mistreatment and the imprisonment of John Lindh was and is a human rights violation. It was based purely on an emotional response to the 9/11 attacks, and not on an objective assessment of John's case.

Patriot Police

Unfathomed Dangers in Patriot Act Reauthorization
Patriot Police


A provision in the "Patriot Act" creates a new federal police force with power to violate the Bill of Rights. You might think that this cannot be true as you have not read about it in newspapers or heard it discussed by talking heads on TV.

Go to House Report 109-333 -USA PATRIOT IMPROVEMENT AND REAUTHORIZATION ACT OF 2005 and check it out for yourself. Sec. 605 reads:

"There is hereby created and established a permanent police force, to be known as the 'United States Secret Service Uniformed Division'."

This new federal police force is "subject to the supervision of the Secretary of Homeland Security."

The new police are empowered to "make arrests without warrant for any offense against the United States committed in their presence, or for any felony cognizable under the laws of the United States if they have reasonable grounds to believe that the person to be arrested has committed or is committing such felony."

The new police are assigned a variety of jurisdictions, including "an event designated under section 3056(e) of title 18 as a special event of national significance" (SENS).

"A special event of national significance" is neither defined nor does it require the presence of a "protected person" such as the president in order to trigger it. Thus, the administration, and perhaps the police themselves, can place the SENS designation on any event. Once a SENS designation is placed on an event, the new federal police are empowered to keep out and to arrest people at their discretion.

The language conveys enormous discretionary and arbitrary powers.
What is "an offense against the United States"? What are "reasonable grounds"?

You can bet that the Alito/Roberts court will rule that it is whatever the executive branch says.

The obvious purpose of the act is to prevent demonstrations at Bush/Cheney events. However, nothing in the language limits the police powers from being used only in this way. Like every law in the US, this law also will be expansively interpreted and abused. It has dire implications for freedom of association and First Amendment rights.
We can take for granted that the new federal police will be used to suppress dissent and to break up opposition. The Brownshirts are now arming themselves with a Gestapo.

Many naive Americans will write to me to explain that this new provision in the reauthorization of the "Patriot Act" is necessary to protect the president and other high officials from terrorists or from harm at the hands of angry demonstrators: "No one else will have anything to fear." Some will accuse me of being an alarmist, and others will say that it is unpatriotic to doubt the law's good intentions.

Americans will write such nonsense despite the fact that the president and foreign dignitaries are already provided superb protection by the Secret Service. The naive will not comprehend that the president cannot be endangered by demonstrators at SENS at which the president is not present. For many Americans, the light refuses to turn on.

In Nazi Germany did no one but Jews have anything to fear from the Gestapo?

By Stalin's time Lenin and Trotsky had eliminated all members of the "oppressor class," but that did not stop Stalin from sending millions of "enemies of the people" to the Gulag.

It is extremely difficult to hold even local police forces accountable. Who is going to hold accountable a federal police protected by Homeland Security and the president?

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached at: