Saturday, February 25, 2006

Data mining program continues after lawmakers order it closed

Data mining program continues after lawmakers order it closed

02/24/2006 @ 11:33 am
Filed by RAW STORY

A controversial intelligence data mining program, which was closed by lawmakers over privacy concerns two years ago, has continued to receive funding and remained in operation under different code names in different agencies, according to today's National Journal.

Excerpts from the Journal's article follow:

Research under the Defense Department's Total Information Awareness program -- which developed technologies to predict terrorist attacks by mining government databases and the personal records of people in the United States -- was moved from the Pentagon's research-and-development agency to another group, which builds technologies primarily for the National Security Agency, according to documents obtained by National Journal and to intelligence sources familiar with the move. The names of key projects were changed, apparently to conceal their identities, but their funding remained intact, often under the same contracts.


Two of the most important components of the TIA program were moved to the Advanced Research and Development Activity, housed at NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Md., documents and sources confirm. One piece was the Information Awareness Prototype System, the core architecture that tied together numerous information extraction, analysis, and dissemination tools developed under TIA. The prototype system included privacy-protection technologies that may have been discontinued or scaled back following the move to ARDA. ...

Another key TIA project that moved to ARDA was Genoa II, which focused on building information technologies to help analysts and policy makers anticipate and pre-empt terrorist attacks. Genoa II was renamed Topsail when it moved to ARDA, intelligence sources confirmed. (The name continues the program's nautical nomenclature; "genoa" is a synonym for the headsail of a ship.)


It is unclear when funding for Topsail was terminated. But earlier this month, at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, one of TIA's strongest critics questioned whether intelligence officials knew that some of its programs had been moved to other agencies. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., asked Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte and FBI Director Robert Mueller whether it was "correct that when [TIA] was closed, that several ... projects were moved to various intelligence agencies.... I and others on this panel led the effort to close [TIA]; we want to know if Mr. Poindexter's programs are going on somewhere else."

For the full story, including ties to Iran-Contra's John Poindexter, go here.

Scoop: IDF opens fire on medical team wounding many

Scoop: IDF opens fire on medical team wounding many

IDF opens fire on medical team wounding many

Israeli military opens fire on medical team wounding Palestinian and International medical volunteers

"We were standing in the alley way, everything was quite when suddenly without warning we heard a big explosion and heard gun shots. I then saw Jarar and Ihab liying on the floor. Ihab wasn't moving." Wounded Dutch medical volunteer

At 11:45 this morning an explosion set off by the Israeli military inside the house belonging to Muhammed Abu Hamis Abu Amar caused a fire in the house. Occupation forces prevented fire trucks from accessing the area and told them that they will be detonating further explosions in the same house. Emergency teams accompanied by international volunteers treated children in some of the adjacent houses who were effected by smoke inhalation. Neighbours attempted to put out the fire by bringing buckets of water.

At 12:30 the military set off a series of additional explosions inside the house of Muhammed Abu Amar.

At 1:00 a medical team including two Palestinians and two international volunteers were trapped in an alleyway adjacent to the house belonging to Muhammed Abu Amar. They were standing behind an Israeli Jeep that soldiers had vacated.

At 2:00 without any warning shots they were fired at and a grenade was thrown at them from around the corner. According to the volunteers the shooting came from the direction of the Alleyway where the Israeli soldiers were. A twenty two year old American student was wounded by shrapnel in the hand a twenty nine year old Dutch volunteer was wounded by shrapnel in the thigh and shoulder, Jirar Candola an ambulance driver with the UPMRC was shot in the arm and leg and Ihab Mansour, a medical volunteer working with the Palestinian scientific society, was shot in the head and taken away by the Israeli soldiers.

At 3:00 the soldiers blew up Muhammad Abu Amar's house, thus killing three Palestinian fighters who were inside.

Earlier this morning the Israeli military shot and killed 19 Year old Ibrahim Saadi, who was throwing a stone at the Israeli armored jeeps and 20 year old Naim Abu Sarif, who was shot dead by a sniper while on the roof of his house.

Blogs are vital alternative media sources / Comment & analysis / Letters - Blogs are vital alternative media sources

Blogs are vital alternative media sources
>By Caroline Kay
>Published: February 25 2006 02:00 | Last updated: February 25 2006 02:00


From Ms Caroline Kay.

Sir, Your article on blogs bears no resemblance whatever to the world I see when I go online ("Time for the last post", FT Weekend, February 18/19).

I have never visited a gossip blog at all. The blogs I visit are those whose contributors are lawyers, economists and other academics, political strategists, media people of various sorts and ordinary citizens representative of many other occupations.

Some of these people write well and some do not but the ones I read consistently have ideas that are worth thinking about - ideas that never would have seen the light of day if we were only allowed to read what the US corporate media have dished up for our entertainment.

No human can possibly absorb all the informational and disinformational material available to us now.

There is a huge advantage in having many eyeballs patrolling the sources of information, many minds with many varieties of experience free to express their thoughts in an open forum - discussion that is not chosen and/or edited by people whose living may depend on not offending the powerful.

Maybe since your reporter works for a non-American newspaper he is not familiar with how our media kowtow to powerful people, refusing to call them on their obvious lies and hypocrisies.

If we did not have blogs, we might never know about the latest assaults on truth, and we certainly would not know the details. We assuredly would not have the audio and video evidence.

None of us individually would have the resources to dig up the stories and the quotes from the past that often totally debunk what's being said currently.

Carolyn Kay

US conducts subcritical nuclear test.

US conducts subcritical nuclear test. 24/02/2006. ABC News Online

The Energy Department has confirmed the United States has carried out a subcritical nuclear experiment at an underground test site in Nevada on Thursday (local time).

The test was aimed at gathering ''scientific data that provides crucial information to maintain the safety and reliability of... nuclear weapons without having to conduct underground nuclear tests,'' the department said.

Some anti-nuclear groups are concerned that the Bush administration is trying to accelerate its efforts to develop new nuclear arms through such tests.

Anti-nuclear groups have criticised and continue to urge Washington to stop the tests, saying they are undermining the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty on nuclear weapons.

The US argues that subcritical tests are fully consistent with the nuclear test moratorium it has maintained since 1992.

It says the tests do not violate the treaty because they do no involve a nuclear chain reaction and are necessary to ensure the safety of nuclear stockpiles.

The department said the Los Alamos National Laboratory and Britain's Atomic Weapons Establishment ''successfully'' undertook the latest experiment in an underground laboratory of horizontal tunnels about 290 metres beneath the surface.

According to the department, subcritical tests ''examine the behaviour of plutonium as it is strongly shocked by forces produced by chemical high explosives".

''The experiments are subcritical, that is, no critical mass is formed and no self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction can occur, thus, there is no nuclear explosion,'' the department said.

The test, conducted together with Britain, represented the first since May 2004 and the ninth under the administration of President George W Bush.

It was the second carried out with Britain following one in February 2002.

U.S. Military DU Movie--if you watch nothing else on this site!!! watch this!!!

U.S. Military DU Movie

Why Has Our Military Refused to Show This Training Video To Our Troops Now Serving In Iraq?


Depleted Uranium Hazard Awareness

click here

source file

Between October and December 1995, the U.S. Army's Depleted Uranium (DU) Project completed a series of training videos and manuals about depleted uranium munitions. This training regimen was developed as the result of recommendations made in the January 1993 General Accounting Office (GAO) report, "Army Not Adequately Prepared to Deal with Depleted Uranium Contamination."

The training materials were intended to instruct servicemen and women about the use and hazards of depleted uranium munitions. In addition, the training regimen included instructions for soldiers who repair and recover vehicles contaminated by depleted uranium.

Throughout 1996, these videos sat on a shelf, while U.S. soldiers continued to use and work with depleted uranium munitions. In June 1997, Bernard Rostker, The Department of Defense (DoD) principle spokesperson for their investigation of Gulf War hazardous exposures, stated that the depleted uranium safety training program would begin to be shared by a limited number of servicemen and women in July 1997.

STILL TODAY the vast majority of servicemen and women in the U.S. military, and likely in the armed forces of other countries which are developing or have obtained depleted uranium munitions, are unaware of the use and dangers of depleted uranium munitions, or of the protective clothing and procedures which can minimize or prevent serious short-term exposures.

David Sirota | The Dirty Little Secret behind the UAE Port Security Scandal

David Sirota | The Dirty Little Secret behind the UAE Port Security Scandal

The Dirty Little Secret behind the UAE Port Security Scandal
By David Sirota
Working for Change

Wednesday 22 February 2006

Politicians and the media are loudly decrying the Bush administration's proposal to turn over port security to a firm owned by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) - a country with ties to terrorists. They are talking tough about national security - but almost no one is talking about what may have fueled the administration's decision to push forward with this deal: the desire to move forward Big Money's "free" trade agenda.

How much does "free" trade have to do with this? How about a lot. The Bush administration is in the middle of a two-year push to ink a corporate-backed "free" trade accord with the UAE. At the end of 2004, in fact, it was Bush Trade Representative Robert Zoellick who proudly boasted of his trip to the UAE to begin negotiating the trade accord. Rejecting this port security deal might have set back that trade pact. Accepting the port security deal - regardless of the security consequences - likely greases the wheels for the pact. That's probably why instead of backing off the deal, President Bush - supposedly Mr. Tough on National Secuirty - took the extraordinary step of threatening to use the first veto of his entire presidency to protect the UAE's interests. Because he knows protecting those interetsts - regardless of the security implications for America - is integral to the "free" trade agenda all of his corporate supporters are demanding.

The Inter Press Service highlights exactly what's at stake, quoting a conservative activists who admits that this is all about trade:

"The United States' trade relationship with the UAE is the third largest in the Middle East, after Israel and Saudi Arabia. The two nations are engaged in bilateral free talks that would liberalise trade between the two countries and would, in theory at least, allow companies to own and operate businesses in both nations. 'There are legitimate security questions to be asked but it would be a mistake and really an insult to one of our leading trading partners in that region to reject this commercial transaction out of hand,' said Daniel T. Griswold, who directs the Center for Trade Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, a Washington-based libertarian think tank."

Look, we've seen this before. Just last year, Congress approved a US taxpayer-funded loan by the Bush administration to a British company to help build nuclear technology in Communist China. Despite major security concerns raised - and a legislative effort to block the loan - Congress's "free traders" (many of whom talk so tough on security) made sure the loan went through so as to preserve the US-China free trade relationship that is allowing lawmakers' corporate campaign contributors export so many US jobs.

There is no better proof that our government takes its orders from corporate interests than these kinds of moves. That's what this UAE deal is all about - the mixture of the right-wing's goal of privatizing all government services (even post 9/11 port security!) with the political Establishment's desire to make sure Tom-Friedman-style "free" trade orthodoxy supersedes everything. This is where the culture of corruption meets national security policy - and, more specifically, where the unbridled corruption of on-the-take politicians are weakening America's security.

The fact that no politicians and almost no media wants to even explore this simple fact is telling. Here we have a major US security scandal with the same country we are simultaneously negotiating a free trade pact with, and no one in Washington is saying a thing. The silence tells you all you need to know about a political/media establishment that is so totally owned by Big Money interests they won't even talk about what's potentially at the heart of a burgeoning national security scandal.

William Fisher | A Tale of Two Gitmos: Where Was the MSM?

William Fisher | A Tale of Two Gitmos: Where Was the MSM?

A Tale of Two Gitmos: Where Was the MSM?
By William Fisher
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Wednesday 22 February 2006

Last June 17, US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told reporters, "If you think of the people down there (at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba), these are people, all of whom were captured on a battlefield. They're terrorists, trainers, bomb makers, recruiters, financiers, (Osama bin Laden's) bodyguards, would-be suicide bombers, probably the 20th 9/11 hijacker."

Yet two recent reports, based on the Defense Department's own documentation, reach conclusions that are dramatically different than Mr. Rumsfeld's. And, despite the millions of words journalists have written about Gitmo during the past few years, the mainstream press has largely ignored these new reports.

One report, prepared by a team headed by Mark Denbeaux, a law professor at Seton Hall University in New Jersey - who is a lawyer for two of the Guantánamo detainees - found that more than half of the terror suspects being held have not been accused of committing hostile acts against the United States or its allies.

Compiled from declassified Defense Department evaluations of the more than 500 detainees at the Cuba facility, the report says just eight percent are listed as fighters for a terrorist group, while 30 percent are considered members of a terrorist group and the remaining 60 percent were just "associated with" terrorists.

The evaluations were completed as part of the Combatant Status Review Tribunals conducted during 2004 to determine if the prisoners were being correctly held as enemy combatants. So far, just ten of the detainees have been formally charged with crimes and are headed for military tribunals.

According to the report, 55 percent of the detainees are informally accused of committing a hostile act. But the DOD's descriptions of their actions range from a high-ranking Taliban member who tortured and killed Afghan natives to people who possessed rifles, used a guesthouse or wore olive drab clothing.

The report also found that about one-third of the detainees were linked to al-Qaida; 22 percent to the Taliban; 28 percent to both; and seven percent to either one or the other, but not specified.

Lolita C. Baldor of The Associated Press filed a story on the report on February 7, 2006. But few US newspapers have run the story.

The DOD documents, which are publicly available, were declassified versions of evaluations that contain additional information about each detainee. Those additional details were not made public. The Pentagon had no comment on the report for the AP, which has filed a lawsuit seeking the release of the classified versions of the documents.

"The government has detained these individuals for more than four years, without a trial or judicial hearing, and has had unfettered access to each detainee for that time," said the Denbeaux report.

Of the approximately 760 prisoners brought to Guantánamo since 2002, the military has released 180 and transferred 76 to the custody of other countries.

The second report, written by Corine Hegland for the fiercely nonpartisan National Journal (NJ), was based on a review conducted by the magazine of files on 132 prisoners who have asked the courts for help, and a thorough reading of heavily censored transcripts from the Combatant Status Review Tribunals conducted in Guantánamo for 314 prisoners.

Its conclusion: most of the "enemy combatants" held at Guantánamo - for four years now - are simply not "the worst of the worst" of the terrorist world.

"Many of them are not accused of hostilities against the United States or its allies. Most, when captured, were innocent of any terrorist activity, were Taliban foot soldiers at worst and were often far less than that. And some, perhaps many, are guilty only of being foreigners in Afghanistan or Pakistan at the wrong time. And much of the evidence - even the classified evidence - gathered by the Defense Department against these men is flimsy, second-, third-, fourth- or 12th-hand. It's based largely on admissions by the detainees themselves or on coerced, or worse, interrogations of their fellow inmates, some of whom have been proved to be liars," the magazine said.

NJ reported, "Notwithstanding Rumsfeld's description, the majority of them were not caught by American soldiers on the battlefield. They came into American custody from third parties, mostly from Pakistan, some after targeted raids there, most after a dragnet for Arabs after 9/11."

It added, "Much of the evidence against the detainees is weak. One prisoner at Guantánamo, for example, has made accusations against more than 60 of his fellow inmates; that's more than ten percent of Guantánamo's entire prison population."

"The men in the orange jumpsuits, President Bush said, were terrorists," the NJ recounted. "They were the most dangerous, best-trained, vicious killers on the face of the earth, Rumsfeld said. They were so vicious, if given the chance they would gnaw through the hydraulic lines of a C-17 while they were being flown to Cuba, said Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff."

But, says the magazine, the CIA didn't see it that way. "By the fall of 2002, it was common knowledge around CIA circles that fewer than ten percent of Guantánamo's prisoners were high-value terrorist operatives, according to Michael Scheuer who headed the agency's bin Laden unit through 1999 and resigned in 2004."

According to Scheuer, "Most of the men were probably foot soldiers at best" who were "going to know absolutely nothing about terrorism." Guantánamo prisoners might be pumped for information about how they learned to fight, which could help American soldiers facing trained Islamic insurgencies. But the Defense Department and FBI interrogators at Guantánamo were interested more in catastrophic terrorism than in combat practicalities. They kept asking "every one of the guys about 9/11 and when was the next attack," questions most of these low-level prisoners couldn't answer.

Even as the CIA was deciding that most of the prisoners at Guantánamo didn't have much to say, Pentagon officials were getting frustrated with how little the detainees were saying. So they ramped up the pressure and gave interrogators more license, according to the magazine.

By June 2004, conditions were so bad at Guantánamo that the International Committee of the Red Cross, the only civilian group allowed to meet with detainees, sent a furious confidential report to the White House charging that the entire system in Cuba was "devised to break the will of prisoners at Guantánamo," making them "wholly dependent on their interrogators" through "humiliating acts, solitary confinement, temperature extremes, use of forced positions," according to a Defense Department report leaked to The New York Times.

The report called the operations "tantamount to torture." Pentagon officials, meanwhile, were citing the "safe, humane, and professional detention operation at Guantánamo that is providing valuable information in the war on terrorism." And members of Congress were touting the prison's excellent cuisine.

Gabor Rona, international legal director for Human Rights First, told IPS, "If most of these guys are not al Qaeda, i.e., are vanilla-flavored civilians or mere Taliban foot soldiers, then it gives the lie to the single mantra that the administration has left when attempting to defend itself against allegations of abuse in Gitmo: that the 'terrorists' are trained to make false allegations of abuse."

Rona said it reminds him of a story he sees as emblematic of the legal process at Guantánamo. "The story is about a guy who, after relentless interrogation, finally admitted to knowing Osama - 'Yes, OK, I know him, I've seen him on al Jazeera.' - upon which basis the Combatant Status Review Tribunal was informed that 'the individual admits to knowing bin Laden.' And upon this information, he was adjudicated an 'enemy combatant.' "

Some reports disputing the Bush Administration's versions of conditions at Guantánamo have received widespread coverage in the US press. For example, Amnesty International created a media firestorm with a report in which it referred to the prison as a "Gulag." Also widely covered was the recent report from investigators for the United Nations Human Rights Commission, recommending that Guantánamo be closed down. On the other side of the ledger, the recent report from a United Nations team of experts from the UN Human Rights Commission received relatively little attention in mainstream media. It recommended closure of the Guantánamo prison.

Similarly, the Seton Hall and National Journal reports found the media largely asleep. It may well be that local editors feel their readership is suffering from Gitmo-overload.

Bush's Mysterious 'New Programs'

Bush's Mysterious 'New Programs'

Bush's Mysterious 'New Programs'
By Nat Parry
Consortium News

Tuesday 21 February 2006

Not that George W. Bush needs much encouragement, but Sen. Lindsey Graham suggested to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales a new target for the administration's domestic operations - Fifth Columnists, supposedly disloyal Americans who sympathize and collaborate with the enemy.

"The administration has not only the right, but the duty, in my opinion, to pursue Fifth Column movements," Graham, R-S.C., told Gonzales during Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Feb. 6.

"I stand by this President's ability, inherent to being Commander in Chief, to find out about Fifth Column movements, and I don't think you need a warrant to do that," Graham added, volunteering to work with the administration to draft guidelines for how best to neutralize this alleged threat.

"Senator," a smiling Gonzales responded, "the President already said we'd be happy to listen to your ideas."

In less paranoid times, Graham's comments might be viewed by many Americans as a Republican trying to have it both ways - ingratiating himself to an administration of his own party while seeking some credit from Washington centrists for suggesting Congress should have at least a tiny say in how Bush runs the War on Terror.

But recent developments suggest that the Bush administration may already be contemplating what to do with Americans who are deemed insufficiently loyal or who disseminate information that may be considered helpful to the enemy.

Top US officials have cited the need to challenge news that undercuts Bush's actions as a key front in defeating the terrorists, who are aided by "news informers" in the words of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Detention Centers

Plus, there was that curious development in January when the Army Corps of Engineers awarded Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root a $385 million contract to construct detention centers somewhere in the United States, to deal with "an emergency influx of immigrants into the US, or to support the rapid development of new programs," KBR said. [Market Watch, Jan. 26, 2006]

Later, the New York Times reported that "KBR would build the centers for the Homeland Security Department for an unexpected influx of immigrants, to house people in the event of a natural disaster or for new programs that require additional detention space." [Feb. 4, 2006]

Like most news stories on the KBR contract, the Times focused on concerns about Halliburton's reputation for bilking US taxpayers by overcharging for sub-par services.

"It's hard to believe that the administration has decided to entrust Halliburton with even more taxpayer dollars," remarked Rep. Henry Waxman, D-California.

Less attention centered on the phrase "rapid development of new programs" and what kind of programs would require a major expansion of detention centers, each capable of holding 5,000 people. Jamie Zuieback, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, declined to elaborate on what these "new programs" might be.

Only a few independent journalists, such as Peter Dale Scott and Maureen Farrell, have pursued what the Bush administration might actually be thinking.

Scott speculated that the "detention centers could be used to detain American citizens if the Bush administration were to declare martial law." He recalled that during the Reagan administration, National Security Council aide Oliver North organized Rex-84 "readiness exercise," which contemplated the Federal Emergency Management Agency rounding up and detaining 400,000 "refugees," in the event of "uncontrolled population movements" over the Mexican border into the United States.

Farrell pointed out that because "another terror attack is all but certain, it seems far more likely that the centers would be used for post-911-type detentions of immigrants rather than a sudden deluge" of immigrants flooding across the border.

Vietnam-era whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg said, "Almost certainly this is preparation for a roundup after the next 9/11 for Mid-Easterners, Muslims and possibly dissenters. They've already done this on a smaller scale, with the 'special registration' detentions of immigrant men from Muslim countries, and with Guantanamo."

Labor Camps

There also was another little-noticed item posted at the US Army Web site, about the Pentagon's Civilian Inmate Labor Program. This program "provides Army policy and guidance for establishing civilian inmate labor programs and civilian prison camps on Army installations."

The Army document, first drafted in 1997, underwent a "rapid action revision" on Jan. 14, 2005. The revision provides a "template for developing agreements" between the Army and corrections facilities for the use of civilian inmate labor on Army installations.

On its face, the Army's labor program refers to inmates housed in federal, state and local jails. The Army also cites various federal laws that govern the use of civilian labor and provide for the establishment of prison camps in the United States, including a federal statute that authorizes the Attorney General to "establish, equip, and maintain camps upon sites selected by him" and "make available ... the services of United States prisoners" to various government departments, including the Department of Defense.

Though the timing of the document's posting - within the past few weeks - may just be a coincidence, the reference to a "rapid action revision" and the KBR contract's contemplation of "rapid development of new programs" have raised eyebrows about why this sudden need for urgency.

These developments also are drawing more attention now because of earlier Bush administration policies to involve the Pentagon in "counter-terrorism" operations inside the United States.

Pentagon Surveillance

Despite the Posse Comitatus Act's prohibitions against US military personnel engaging in domestic law enforcement, the Pentagon has expanded its operations beyond previous boundaries, such as its role in domestic surveillance activities.

The Washington Post has reported that since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, the Defense Department has been creating new agencies that gather and analyze intelligence within the United States. [Washington Post, Nov. 27, 2005]

The White House also is moving to expand the power of the Pentagon's Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA), created three years ago to consolidate counterintelligence operations. The White House proposal would transform CIFA into an office that has authority to investigate crimes such as treason, terrorist sabotage or economic espionage.

The Pentagon also has pushed legislation in Congress that would create an intelligence exception to the Privacy Act, allowing the FBI and others to share information about US citizens with the Pentagon, CIA and other intelligence agencies. But some in the Pentagon don't seem to think that new laws are even necessary.

In a 2001 Defense Department memo that surfaced in January 2006, the US Army's top intelligence officer wrote, "Contrary to popular belief, there is no absolute ban on [military] intelligence components collecting US person information."

Drawing a distinction between "collecting" information and "receiving" information on US citizens, the memo argued that "MI [military intelligence] may receive information from anyone, anytime." [See, Jan. 31, 2005]

This receipt of information presumably would include data from the National Security Agency, which has been engaging in surveillance of US citizens without court-approved warrants in apparent violation of the Foreign Intelligence Security Act. Bush approved the program of warrantless wiretaps shortly after 9/11.

There also may be an even more extensive surveillance program. Former NSA employee Russell D. Tice told a congressional committee on Feb. 14 that such a top-secret surveillance program existed, but he said he couldn't discuss the details without breaking classification laws.

Tice added that the "special access" surveillance program may be violating the constitutional rights of millions of Americans. [UPI, Feb. 14, 2006]

With this expanded surveillance, the government's list of terrorist suspects is rapidly swelling.

The Washington Post reported on Feb. 15 that the National Counterterrorism Center's central repository now holds the names of 325,000 terrorist suspects, a four-fold increase since the fall of 2003.

Asked whether the names in the repository were collected through the NSA's domestic surveillance program, an NCTC official told the Post, "Our database includes names of known and suspected international terrorists provided by all intelligence community organizations, including NSA."

Homeland Defense

As the administration scoops up more and more names, members of Congress also have questioned the elasticity of Bush's definitions for words like terrorist "affiliates," used to justify wiretapping Americans allegedly in contact with such people or entities.

During the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing on the wiretap program, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, complained that the House and Senate Intelligence Committees "have not been briefed on the scope and nature of the program."

Feinstein added that, therefore, the committees "have not been able to explore what is a link or an affiliate to al-Qaeda or what minimization procedures (for purging the names of innocent people) are in place."

The combination of the Bush administration's expansive reading of its own power and its insistence on extraordinary secrecy has raised the alarm of civil libertarians when contemplating how far the Pentagon might go in involving itself in domestic matters.

A Defense Department document, entitled the "Strategy for Homeland Defense and Civil Support," has set out a military strategy against terrorism that envisions an "active, layered defense" both inside and outside US territory. In the document, the Pentagon pledges to "transform US military forces to execute homeland defense missions in the ... US homeland."

The Pentagon strategy paper calls for increased military reconnaissance and surveillance to "defeat potential challengers before they threaten the United States." The plan "maximizes threat awareness and seizes the initiative from those who would harm us."

But there are concerns over how the Pentagon judges "threats" and who falls under the category "those who would harm us." A Pentagon official said the Counterintelligence Field Activity's TALON program has amassed files on antiwar protesters.

In December 2005, NBC News revealed the existence of a secret 400-page Pentagon document listing 1,500 "suspicious incidents" over a 10-month period, including dozens of small antiwar demonstrations that were classified as a "threat."

The Defense Department also might be moving toward legitimizing the use of propaganda domestically, as part of its overall war strategy.

A secret Pentagon "Information Operations Roadmap," approved by Rumsfeld in October 2003, calls for "full spectrum" information operations and notes that "information intended for foreign audiences, including public diplomacy and PSYOP, increasingly is consumed by our domestic audience and vice-versa."

"PSYOPS messages will often be replayed by the news media for much larger audiences, including the American public," the document states. The Pentagon argues, however, that "the distinction between foreign and domestic audiences becomes more a question of USG [US government] intent rather than information dissemination practices."

It calls for "boundaries" between information operations abroad and the news media at home, but does not outline any corresponding limits on PSYOP campaigns.

Similar to the distinction the Pentagon draws between "collecting" and "receiving" intelligence on US citizens, the Information Operations Roadmap argues that as long as the American public is not intentionally "targeted," any PSYOP propaganda consumed by the American public is acceptable.

The Pentagon plan also includes a strategy for taking over the Internet and controlling the flow of information, viewing the Web as a potential military adversary. The "roadmap" speaks of "fighting the net," and implies that the Internet is the equivalent of "an enemy weapons system."

In a speech on Feb. 17 to the Council on Foreign Relations, Rumsfeld elaborated on the administration's perception that the battle over information would be a crucial front in the War on Terror, or as Rumsfeld calls it, the Long War.

"Let there be no doubt, the longer it takes to put a strategic communication framework into place, the more we can be certain that the vacuum will be filled by the enemy and by news informers that most assuredly will not paint an accurate picture of what is actually taking place," Rumsfeld said.

The Department of Homeland Security also has demonstrated a tendency to deploy military operatives to deal with domestic crises.

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the department dispatched "heavily armed paramilitary mercenaries from the Blackwater private security firm, infamous for their work in Iraq, (and had them) openly patrolling the streets of New Orleans," reported journalists Jeremy Scahill and Daniela Crespo on Sept. 10, 2005.

Noting the reputation of the Blackwater mercenaries as "some of the most feared professional killers in the world," Scahill and Crespo said Blackwater's presence in New Orleans "raises alarming questions about why the government would allow men trained to kill with impunity in places like Iraq and Afghanistan to operate here."

US Battlefield

In the view of some civil libertarians, a form of martial law already exists in the United States and has been in place since shortly after the 9/11 attacks when Bush issued Military Order No. 1 which empowered him to detain any non-citizen as an international terrorist or enemy combatant.

"The President decided that he was no longer running the country as a civilian President," wrote civil rights attorney Michael Ratner in the book Guantanamo: What the World Should Know. "He issued a military order giving himself the power to run the country as a general."

For any American citizen suspected of collaborating with terrorists, Bush also revealed what's in store. In May 2002, the FBI arrested US citizen Jose Padilla in Chicago on suspicion that he might be an al-Qaeda operative planning an attack.

Rather than bring criminal charges, Bush designated Padilla an "enemy combatant" and had him imprisoned indefinitely without benefit of due process. After three years, the administration finally brought charges against Padilla, in order to avoid a Supreme Court showdown the White House might have lost.

But since the Court was not able to rule on the Padilla case, the administration's arguments have not been formally repudiated. Indeed, despite filing charges against Padilla, the White House still asserts the right to detain US citizens without charges as enemy combatants.

This claimed authority is based on the assertion that the United States is at war and the American homeland is part of the battlefield.

"In the war against terrorists of global reach, as the Nation learned all too well on Sept. 11, 2001, the territory of the United States is part of the battlefield," Bush's lawyers argued in briefs to the federal courts. [Washington Post, July 19, 2005]

Given Bush's now open assertions that he is using his "plenary" - or unlimited - powers as Commander in Chief for the duration of the indefinite War on Terror, Americans can no longer trust that their constitutional rights protect them from government actions.

As former Vice President Al Gore asked after recounting a litany of sweeping powers that Bush has asserted to fight the War on Terror, "Can it be true that any President really has such powers under our Constitution? If the answer is 'yes,' then under the theory by which these acts are committed, are there any acts that can on their face be prohibited?"

In such extraordinary circumstances, the American people might legitimately ask exactly what the Bush administration means by the "rapid development of new programs," which might require the construction of a new network of detention camps.

UAE Gave $1 Million to Bush Library

UAE Gave $1 Million to Bush Library

UAE Gave $1 Million to Bush Library
By Wendy Benjaminson
The Associated Press

Thursday 23 February 2006

A sheik from the United Arab Emirates contributed at least $1 million to the Bush Library Foundation, which established the George Bush Presidential Library at Texas A&M University in College Station.

The UAE owns Dubai Port Co., which is taking operations from London-based Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co., which operates six US ports. A political uproar has ensued over the deal, which the White House approved without congressional oversight.

The donations were made in the early 1990s for the library, which houses the papers of former President George Bush, the current president's father.

The list of donors names Sheik Zayed Bin Sultan al Nahyan and the people of the United Arab Emirates as one donor in the $1 million or more category.

The amount of the gift grants them recognition on the engraved donor wall in the library entrance or on the paving bricks that line the library's walkways, according to library documents.

Roman Popaduik, chairman of the Bush Library Foundation that collects donations, said he could not discuss details of the gifts except to say the amount category and whether it was before or after 1997.

The chief executive of the Dubai company, Ahmed bin Sulayem, did not donate individually.

The hundreds of large donors include longtime Bush associates, including Vice President Dick Cheney and other administration officials as well as business titans - such as Enron Corp. founder Kenneth Lay - and big Republican donors.

Other Arab donors include the state of Kuwait, the Bandar bin Sultan family, the Sultanate of Oman, King Hassan II of Morocco and the amir of Qatar. The former Korean prime minister and China also gave tens of thousands of dollars to the library.

Pentagon quietly builds up South American bases- Teresa Gutierrez/ WWinternational

Published: Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Bylined to:
Teresa Gutierrez
Teresa Gutierrez: Pentagon quietly builds up South American bases
Workers World (Teresa Gutierrez): At the very same time that the working class and progressive movement in Latin America is rapidly shifting to the left, invigorating anti-imperialist sentiment around the world, Washington is quietly and ominously militarizing the Americas.
From the US/Mexican border to many parts farther south, US imperialism is setting up more and more military bases throughout the region and stealthily sending ever more U.S. troops and mercenaries to Latin America.
Under the guise of fighting the so-called drug war or seeking “Al Qaeda terrorist cells,” Washington’s real intention is to prepare to overcome the rising movements against US imperialism that are sweeping the region.
Washington’s intense escalation of military force is extremely dangerous for the oppressed people of the Americas and should be energetically fought by the anti-war movement in the United States.
As Conn Hallinan wrote last November in Foreign Policy in Focus, “Indeed, it is feeling a little like the run-up to the sixties and seventies, when Washington-sponsored military dictatorships dominated most of the continent, and (secret) armies ruled the night.”
The growing US military threat
Although it only recently came to light, last year the Bush administration sent 400-500 US troops to Paraguay, alarming many Latin Americans.
This action takes place within the context of a growing number of US military bases built in the region in the last several years, and within the context of Plan Colombia, a $3-billion-plus military initiative for Colombia, was passed under the Clinton Administration. Plan Colombia is the military wing of the stalled Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA).
What cannot be wrested from the people of Latin America by its operators in three-piece suits, Washington clearly aims to steal through its agents in military fatigues.
There are approximately 25 known US military bases or land-based radar stations in Latin America and the Caribbean. These include military bases in Guantanamo, Cuba; Comalapa, El Salvador; Reina Beatriz, Aruba; Fort Buchanan and Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico; Hato Rey, Curacao; Manta, Ecuador and Soto Cano, Honduras.
In January 2006, Cuban Radio Havana revealed that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had authorized the expansion of US military bases in the summer of 2005. These expanded military bases were called CSL’s -- Cooperative Security Locations -- and set up at the Mariscal Estigarribia airbase in Paraguay and elsewhere.
  • According to Radio Havana, these bases, while staffed by a relatively small number of troops, “have the capability to ramp up military operations at short notice.”
Developments in Paraguay are alarming progressives across that country’s borders in Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia, where Indigenous peasant leader Evo Morales recently took office as president. According to an article in the January Political Affairs, the Bush administration in December 2004 canceled $330 million in aid to several South American countries because they had refused to grant US soldiers immunity from prosecution for crimes committed in those countries.
Paraguay did sign the immunity agreement in a secret session of its congress on May 26, 2005, authorizing an 18-month stay for US soldiers, which can be extended repeatedly.
The US troops that arrived in Paraguay last July 1 are only 120 miles from Bolivia at a base near Mariscal Estigarribia, Paraguay. The base has a runway long enough to accommodate large military transport planes such as B-52 bombers and Galaxy C-5 cargo planes. It also has barracks space for 16,000 troops, a huge radar system and vast hangers.
Prominent Paraguayan journalist and human rights activist Alfredo Boccia Paz stated recently that “immunity from prosecution for US soldiers, extension of their stay, and joint military exercises all provide the groundwork for the eventual installation of a U.S. base in Paraguay.”
  • Furthermore, last July a high-powered meeting of Bush administration officials met with Paraguay’s vice president.
Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Robert Noriega met with Paraguay Vice President Luis Castiglioni and concluded that “experts would soon be going to Paraguay to develop a planning seminar on systems for national security.”
The FBI also announced that in 2006 it would open an office in Paraguay.
The U.S. troops stationed in Paraguay are already up to no good. The Southern Command, according to several sources including Radio Havana, announced an upcoming “saber rattling” military exercise to take place in Paraguay called “Fuerzas Comando 06 (Operation Commando Force 06).”
Stan Goff, a former sergeant in the US Special Forces, often points out in his denunciations of US intervention that it can be misleading to judge the impact of a US intervention only by the number of US troops involved. If these troops are Special Forces, for example, they can train local mercenaries or pave the way for thousands of ground troops.
Bush administration officials deny that Mariscal Estigarribia will become or is a US military base.
Manta, Ecuador
In 2001, the Pentagon came under criticism for opening a military base in Manta, Ecuador. The base is located 20 minutes from war-torn Colombia’s borders. Those in Colombia who resist neocolonial domination there consider the base opening an act of war. Many US Congress members also opposed Manta and tried to block the Manta project.
The first thing the base in Manta housed was E-3 AWACS surveillance planes. According to the Washington Post (January 25, 2001), with the troops and the planes, “Manta will become the main hub for US surveillance flights over the vast cocaine-producing areas of Latin America.”
  • The US pays no rent at Manta. It signed the deal with a former Ecuadorian president, Jamil Mahuad, who fled to exile in the US and was under indictment for abuse of power.
One year before Ecuador opened the Manta base it adopted the US$ as the national currency.
A rose is a rose
In the usual Pentagon and Washington double talk, government officials have taken to doctoring up the language of the militarization of Latin America to make it palatable for the US public.
In the case of both Manta, Ecuador, in 2001 and Mariscal Estigarribia, Paraguay now, government officials called the bases “Forward Operating Locations” or “Cooperative Security Locations” to avoid calling them bases.
Washington has mislabeled the militarization of Latin America as part of the fight against drugs, just as some of the media have mislabeled the Minutemen militarizing the US-Mexican border as freedom fighters.
In reality, the strengthening of military bases and the sending of US troops is aimed to subvert the rising revolutionary movements in Latin America. It is aimed against Presidents Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and Evo Morales in Bolivia and at Fidel Castro in Cuba.
But the tide for an end to colonial and imperialist domination has turned in favor of the oppressed and no military base can turn it back.

General News of Wednesday, 22 February 2006

General News of Wednesday, 22 February 2006

Ghana to host US military base

The United States of America is seriously considering the establishment of a military base in Ghana for the sole purpose of protecting its access to West African oil reports the Insight newspaper

Marine General James L. Jones, Head of the US European Command, who made the disclosure said the Pentagon was seeking to acquire access to two kinds of bases in Senegal, Ghana, Mali and Kenya and other African Countries.

The new US strategy based on the conclusions of May 2001 report of the President’s National Energy Policy Development group chaired by Vice President Richard Cheney and known as the Cheney report.

The report simply says that African Countries provided 14 per cent of total US oil imports but by 2015, West Africa alone will supply25 per cent of America’s imported oil.

An article published in review of African Political Economy (No98: 573-584) says “ of particular significance is the fact that many West African streams are lighter, higher valued crude oils that are tailored made for the US East Coast market and are able to offer an alternative to Middle eastern supplies.”

“ In its efforts to promote greater diversity in oil supplies, the Bush Administration is focusing its attention on six African countries, Nigeria, Angola, Gabon, Congo Brazzaville, Chad and Equatorial Guinea.”

The article by Daniel Volman is silent on the dangers faced by countries, which elect to host US military bases around the world.

The major risks associated with hosting US military installation include terrorist attacks, the destruction of national culture and more direct US control over the lives of the host people.

The Insight newspaper said the Tamale Airport, according to speculation is to be turned into a US air force base if current consultations are concluded.

This could make Ghana a major target for Al-Quaeda and other terrorist groups around the world.

Pentagon to Identify Detainees

Pentagon to Identify Detainees

Pentagon to Identify Detainees
Military to Comply With Court Order at Guantanamo Bay

By Josh White
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 25, 2006; A02

Pentagon officials are preparing to release the names of several hundred detainees at the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the first time the government will publicly link names to previously revealed information about many captives at the island prison.

The change came when the government decided this week not to appeal a federal judge's order to provide names that were redacted from documents released under a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the Associated Press. Although the government has previously released thousands of pages related to hearings on whether individual detainees are "enemy combatants," it has always withheld the names of the prisoners who participated in those hearings.

U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff ordered the Defense Department to release the names by next Friday. Pentagon officials said yesterday that the decision not to appeal the ruling, made by the Justice Department, came over the strong objections of the Defense Department general counsel's office, which has been seeking to prevent the release of the names.

The names of hundreds of detainees have become public since the Supreme Court in June 2004 allowed them to file federal court cases contesting their imprisonment. Others have been identified in the media and by advocacy groups, some after they were released. Over the past several years, The Washington Post has independently confirmed the names of approximately 450 people who were detained at Guantanamo Bay for some part of the past four years.

But the Pentagon has refused to discuss individual detainees in its custody.

The document release could include information gleaned from International Committee of the Red Cross letters that detainees used to defend themselves in "combatant status review tribunals," meaning the names of detainees' family members could also be a part of the disclosure.

"The Department of Defense will comply with the judge's decision in this matter," Navy Lt. Cmdr. J.D. Gordon, a Pentagon spokesman, said yesterday.

Defense officials made it clear yesterday that the release will not be a roster of the approximately 490 detainees now held at Guantanamo Bay. Instead it will contain names associated with about 390 hearing transcripts. Some detainees did not participate in the hearings.

Bill Goodman, legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, said yesterday that the ruling is a step in the right direction but will not quell concerns about the U.S. detention system. The center oversees federal cases filed on behalf of hundreds of the detainees in Cuba.

"The government has detained prisoners without due process; lied about who these people are; concealed their treatment from the public and denied basic information to the very people who are authorized to represent the detainees," Goodman said in a written statement. "This administration prefers to operate in the shadows, but Judge Rakoff's ruling helps shine a light that can make this process more open and democratic."

The Defense Department, however, has given the ICRC access to detainees at Guantanamo Bay, escorted news media representatives and members of Congress through the facility, and allowed international human rights officials to visit. But department officials have strictly limited contact with detainees.