Saturday, May 20, 2006

Raytheon bids for border contract

Raytheon bids for border contract
By Jay Fitzgerald
Boston Herald General Economics Reporter
Saturday, May 20, 2006 - Updated: 12:17 AM EST

A vast sensor system being used in Brazil’s Amazon forest could be the high-tech model for a similar “virtual fence” along America’s borders - if Waltham-based Raytheon has its way.

Raytheon is now preparing its official multibillion-dollar bid proposal in response to the U.S. government’s recent call for ideas on how to better monitor the Mexican and Canadian borders to prevent illegal aliens and potential terrorists from sneaking into the country.

Bids are expected on May 30 - and a final contract for the so-called “SBInet” system will be awarded this fall by the Department of Homeland Security.

Raytheon is hoping its past effort to build an electronic monitoring system in Brazil will give it a leg up on competition for the U.S. contract.

Four years ago, Raytheon finished up its $1.4 billion contract to construct Brazil’s “System for the Vigilance of the Amazon,” whose high-tech monitoring devices are intended to catch drug traffickers and people cutting down trees in the 2 million-square-mile region of the Amazon.

The idea is to tie together ground and satellite sensors, planes flying above, mobile radars, and other high-tech gadgets to track people and trucks within the Amazon.
“All of the (information) feeds into one central command system,” said Lynford Morton, a spokesman for Raytheon, a defense contractor that’s increasingly moving into non-military business areas.

In March, four airports in the New York City area gave Raytheon a $100 million contract to build anti-terrorist monitoring systems at the airports.

That contract came after New York officials visited the Amazon, Morton noted.
“It’s (similar) to what we’re doing in Brazil,” said Morton of the U.S.-border system federal officials envision.

House of War--The Pentagon and the Disastrous Rise of American Power

Pentagon paranoia -- a vicious cycle
General's son describes a self-perpetuating mind-set
Reviewed by Chuck Leddy
Sunday, May 21, 2006

House of War

The Pentagon and the Disastrous Rise of American Power

By James Carroll


Conventional wisdom holds that the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, forever changed the way the United States relates to the rest of the world. Not so, says James Carroll, who has written a book that is among the most important works of history produced in the past few years. Carroll offers an exhaustively researched chronicling of the Pentagon's continuity over the past six decades, and also describes how the Pentagon has profoundly influenced his own life (Carroll's father was a general who worked in the building).

What distinguishes Carroll's book is not just this blending of the personal and the institutional -- a blending that brilliantly illuminates his thesis that the Pentagon's growth has been fueled by a bipolar view of the world that depends on paranoia and deceit -- but also Carroll's willingness to ask basic moral questions that almost never get asked amid the Pentagon's Orwellian language of "collateral damage" and "asymmetric warfare." Carroll wants to understand the psychological and institutional underpinnings that have motivated those who've shaped the Pentagon, people like his father. More frighteningly, Carroll also believes the building has developed a life of its own, one dedicated to a self-perpetuating ideology that is often inimical to the civilian authorities it "serves."

It all started during World War II, when President Roosevelt needed more space to house the burgeoning military bureaucracy. He intended the Pentagon as temporary. Carroll discusses the man who supervised construction, Gen. Leslie Groves, who afterward oversaw the Manhattan Project. Carroll then offers us a fascinating examination of President Truman's fateful decision to drop the atomic bomb, a decision, he says, that was made in the context of horrific Allied firebombing of civilian populations in Dresden, Tokyo and other cities. Carroll points out that the firebombing of Tokyo, which killed perhaps 100,000 civilians, was a precursor to the more destructive raid on Hiroshima. Carroll notes that humanitarian concerns were brushed aside by those obsessed with the impersonal metrics of destruction.

Carroll shows that the dropping of the atomic bomb was also meant to send a message to Moscow, carving out more power for the United States in the postwar world. With the Cold War, the Pentagon adopted a bipolar mind-set that continues to this day -- the enemy is totally evil, while we represent all that's good in the world. There can thus be no other course but total war and absolute victory. Those who dare ask questions are disloyal, unpatriotic and subversive.

Carroll details the development of a paranoid line of reasoning whose "intellectual" groundwork was laid by George Kennan, James Forrestal and Paul Nitze. This view had a very practical effect -- the skyrocketing of Pentagon budgets. In his final speech as president, Dwight Eisenhower warned against the growing power of the military-industrial complex, but his complaint was made when the onetime military leader of World War II was already exiting the scene.

When Nixon became president, his secretary of defense, Melvin Laird, warned Congress about the Soviets' ability to launch a nuclear first strike against the United States. What Nixon and Laird wanted was congressional funding for a hyper-expensive anti-ballistic missile system (ABM) to shoot down Soviet missiles. Unfortunately, Laird's testimony about Soviet first-strike capability was directly contradicted by existing U.S. intelligence, intelligence gathered by Carroll's father. Carroll surmises that Laird went to his father and requested a re-evaluation of his findings. Shortly after Carroll's father refused to fudge this intelligence, he was out of a job. Later, the intelligence was indeed altered.

Carroll meticulously analyzes the cycle of fear that led to the growth of Pentagon power during the Cold War and beyond. This fear-based worldview is bolstered by intelligence that supports the initial premise. Such intelligence spurs more funding that increases our military arsenals. Increased arsenals on our side lead to countermoves by the enemy. Those countermoves help make the case for still more Pentagon spending. The cycle perpetuates.

Carroll does not believe the myth that President Reagan's toughness finally ended the Cold War. Again and again, it was Soviet Premier Gorbachev who unilaterally took the initiative to dismantle his nuclear arsenals. Reagan's crucial role was in not opposing these moves, a role Reagan assumed, Carroll says, because he needed political cover from the disgrace of the Iran-Contra scandal. With the Soviet enemy gone, the United States could have begun demilitarizing. But the Pentagon's bipolar mind-set never disappeared, and two factors helped re-energize it: Saddam Hussein and the terrorists of Sept. 11. Now, we're fighting an open-ended war against "evil-doers" across the globe.

The way to break this paranoid cycle, Carroll says, is to face the fear, bring it to the surface and name it. And to oppose the lies and embrace hope. For in a democracy, even one burdened with a massive military-industrial complex embodied by the Pentagon, people retain the power to choose their future, whether they decide to exercise it or not.

Chuck Leddy, a writer and book reviewer from Massachusetts, is a frequent contributor to The Chronicle.

Should Gen. Hayden Be Confirmed or Court-Martialed?

Should Gen. Hayden Be Confirmed or Court-Martialed?
By Ray McGovern
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Saturday 20 May 2006

"Court-martialed," says one highly-respected former DIRNSA (which, for the uninitiated, stands for "Director, National Security Agency"). The comment came amid a private burst of indignation at the news that Gen. Mike Hayden had bowed to administration pressure to skirt the law and violate what until then was the NSA's "First Commandment" - Thou Shalt Not Eavesdrop on US Citizens.

Another highly respected former DIRNSA, Adm. Bobby Ray Inman, on May 8, expressed serious reservations over the administration's flouting of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978 by ordering warrantless eavesdropping on Americans. During a New York Public Library panel discussion including New York Times reporter James Risen, who originally broke the eavesdropping story, Inman said, "In my view, this activity was not authorized by a [congressional] resolution.... There clearly was a line in the FISA statutes which says you couldn't do this." Inman also pointed out the "extra sentence put in the bill that said, 'You can't do anything that is not authorized by this bill.'"

Adm. Inman added, "My problem is not going through the Congress to revise the statute," if FISA needed to be amended to deal with issues not anticipated in 1978. He spoke proudly of the earlier ethos at the NSA, where "it was deeply ingrained that you operate within the law and you get the law changed if you need to." As for now, Inman insisted, "What you want is to get away from this idea that they can continue doing it." He placed the blame squarely on Vice President Dick Cheney, whose attitude, he said, has not changed from when he was chief of staff for President Gerald Ford. Inman gave this account of Cheney's input:

"We don't need law. The president has authorized these in the past and can authorize them now."

Inman added that this is "why no activity moved forward to pursue changing the law, to do it in the courts." Whether the president changes course and decides to work with Congress will depend on "whether the president walks away from the vice president on this issue."

But the George W. Bush administration did take soundings in Congress. And this has been known since December 19, 2005, when attorney Alberto Gonzales, in an unguarded moment, responded to a question as to why - if FISA was inadequate - the administration did not seek new legislation to enable it to conduct such a program legally. Why the "backdoor approach?" he was asked. Gonzales's response was a masterpiece of casuistry, but it escaped wide notice:

"This is not a backdoor approach. We believe Congress has authorized this kind of surveillance. We have had discussions with Congress in the past - certain members of Congress - as to whether or not FISA could be amended to allow us to adequately deal with this kind of threat, and we were advised that that would be difficult, if not impossible."

You do not need a law degree to ask the obvious question: If you believe you already had congressional authorization, why approach Congress for authorization? Earlier, at the December 19 press conference, Gonzales had adduced a twin argument that the eavesdropping program was legal: (1) Congress's post-9/11 authorization to use force; and (2) the president's "inherent authority under the Constitution, as commander-in-chief, to engage in this kind of activity." (During his confirmation hearing before the Senate on May 18, Gen. Hayden referred only to the commander-in-chief-Constitution Article II-argument, and it appears that the administration has now recognized that even though the Article II argument is quite a stretch, the force-authorization approach stretches beyond the breaking point.)

On December 19, Gonzales was asked a second time: "If FISA didn't work, why didn't you seek a new statute that allowed something like this legally." Gonzales read from the same notes, but then added the disingenuous argument that going to Congress would have risked revealing the program and killing it - which has become a favorite administration line. Inman addressed that argument directly on May 8 saying, "I don't happen to think it's valid." And there are few, if any, top intelligence officials with as much experience in this area as Inman has.

Add to this that in the immediate post-9/11 atmosphere in which the draconian Patriot Act sailed through Congress, it seems clear that the skids would have been greased for any sensible proposal to amend the already flexible FISA. Indeed, panelist James Risen quipped, "In October 2001 you could have set up guillotines on the public streets of America." It is hard to escape the conclusion that the program (since dubbed "The Terrorist Surveillance Program") was of such scope and intrusiveness into our civil rights that it had not a prayer for passage.

I am sorry to have to be the one to tell you all this. The New York Times has been reporting all week on the Hayden nomination, and had a sensible editorial on the subject on May 19. But what about previous NSA director Inman's contribution to the discussion? Did James Risen forget to file a story? Or did his editors deem it short of the threshold of All The News That's Fit to Print? Or did a Risen story get put in the "Hold Until After November" file? Was no one on the Senate Intelligence Committee aware of Inman's remarks even though they were available ten days before Hayden's nomination hearing Thursday? What about the Washington Post, whose ads say, "If you don't get it, you don't get it." Well, you would not have gotten it there either.

How did I learn all this? From a story on Steve Clemons's blog, The Washington Note, which included a link to a transcript of the May 8 New York Public Library event: "Listening In: Eavesdropping and the National Security Agency." Amy Goodman also mentioned it on Democracy Now on May 17.

So What About Hayden?

On CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight on May 17, Adm. Inman gave Gen. Hayden a relatively favorable review, despite Hayden's willingness to obey what Inman implicitly said were illegal orders, and Hayden's willingness to take the lead in defending the eavesdropping program. It is likely that Inman's overly charitable approach can be attributed to professional courtesy. Inman himself certainly would not have behaved as Hayden did. A thorough professional, Inman would not have put on the back burner his oath to defend the Constitution of the United States and the universal obligation not to obey an illegal order.

And there is more. The Cheney-esque ethos of contempt for Congress still rules, facilitated by party partisans in Congress. House Intelligence Committee Chair Pete Hoekstra, for example, speaks of "vigorous oversight" of the NSA, but evidence is lacking. Late last year, for example, the current head of the NSA, Army Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander, deliberately misled House Intelligence Committee member Rush Holt (D-NJ) on the eavesdropping program. On December 6, Rep. Holt called on Alexander and NSA lawyers to discuss protecting Americans' privacy. They all assured Holt that only with a court warrant would the NSA eavesdrop on Americans.

Later that month, when the disclosures in the New York Times made it clear that Gen. Alexander had deliberately misled a member of his committee of jurisdiction, Hoekstra merely suggested that Holt write a letter to Alexander to complain. The inescapable message to Alexander? Fear not: Hoekstra the fox is watching the hen house. Alexander was accorded the privilege of briefing the Senate Intelligence Committee on NSA operations the day before the hearing on Gen. Mike Hayden's nomination to be the next director of the CIA. There is no sign that any of those Senators were gauche enough to ask Alexander why the general had lied to one of their House counterparts. And there is every sign that Roberts's committee will give its approval to the president having another yes-man as director of the CIA.

It is interesting, if not surprising, that Senate Intelligence Committee chairman, party loyalist Pat Roberts, decided to call no previous NSA director to testify at the Hayden nomination hearing. Adm. Inman would have been the most experienced and able witness (especially in view of his intimate knowledge of the history of FISA). Roberts would have been well aware that for Inman it is one thing to praise Hayden to Lou Dobbs, and quite another to state under oath that Hayden had not already disqualified himself for the job. It is altogether understandable that Roberts would be reluctant to subject a basically honest officer like Inman to withering cross-examination by the likes of Sen. Russ Feingold.

Call my thinking "quaint" or "obsolete," but I can find no excuse for an officer who lets nearness to absolute power, together with hired-gun lawyers, corrupt and blur his oath to defend the Constitution and responsibility not to obey illegal orders. When I was an Army officer, both were drummed into us; and if we reneged on those promises, we were liable to being drummed out. So I would agree with the first former NSA director quoted above. Hayden should be court-martialed, not confirmed. And Alexander, too.


Ray McGovern served nine CIA directors and seven presidents as a CIA analyst from the administrations of John F. Kennedy to George H. W. Bush. He is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

Analysis: Sino-Russian ties gaining momentum

Analysis: Sino-Russian ties gaining momentum
By Edward Lanfranco
United Press International
Published May 19, 2006

BEIJING -- The strategic partnership forged between China and Russia as a counterweight to American predominance on the world stage a decade ago is gaining momentum.

Analysts monitoring the development of the Sino-Russian alliance characterize developments this week as a combination of coordinated policies on major diplomatic issues to foster a multilateral international order, while at the same time both countries are taking incremental steps to deepen their bilateral relationship.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with his counterpart Li Zhaoxing to discuss the latest developments on the international situation, using Beijing as a platform for tough words for Washington.

Describing discussions Tuesday with his host as "long and pragmatic," Lavrov told a press conference that the two countries were united against sanctioning the use of force in the United Nations to thwart Iranian and North Korean nuclear ambitions.

In a veiled warning against unilateral action by the Bush administration Lavrov stated, "We confirmed today that neither Russia nor China will be able to support the Security Council's possible resolution that would contain a pretext for coercive, let alone military, measures."

Challenging U.S. efforts to isolate Iran, Lavrov said President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had been invited to attend the June 15 leadership summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

This year marks the fifth anniversary of the regional grouping which includes the Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The association, which analysts say is largely financed and directed by China with Russian support, is the PRC's first foray into regional strategic bloc building. Energy access and security underpins the Chinese strategy for expanding its influence.

China is using its growing economic muscle to forge closer trade and security links with member states. The group's influence is expanding, as the SCO granted Mongolia observer status in 2004 then added Iran, Pakistan and India as observers in 2005. Several countries have expressed interest in becoming full-fledged members.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao would not confirm Thursday if Ahmadinejad had accepted the invitation, saying the SCO would "respect the decision made by observer states on the representative they chose to send."

Liu was evasive responding to a question about increasing membership. He stated the topic had come up at the SCO foreign ministers' meeting on Monday with "several formal and informal requests to join" expressed. The spokesman said "the legal basis for more members was being studied."

Besides nuclear diplomacy and the SCO, China and Russia also agreed to coordinate efforts concerning Iraq, Afghanistan and U.N. reform, Lavrov told reporters.

During his meeting with the Russian foreign minister Tuesday, Chinese President Hu Jintao was quoted in state-run media expressing the hope that both sides "will intensify bilateral cooperation in major projects covering economic and trade issues, including energy, investment and technology, to achieve quick results."

The foreign ministry spokesman said Thursday "energy cooperation would hasten their comprehensive relationship," calling it "an important part of their complimentary economies."

Liu stated China was "satisfied" with collaboration with Russia on energy issues, mentioning crude oil shipments surpassed 10 million tons in 2005 and that ongoing work for crude and natural gas pipelines "were part of the ways to build mutual trust and a win-win situation."

While no progress on energy was reached during Lavrov's visit, he said "bilateral relations had reached unprecedented levels since the March summit meeting between Hu and Vladimir Putin." The two presidents will meet at the SCO gathering in June, followed by the G8 summit in St. Petersburg in July, then again at the APEC summit this autumn, he noted.

There were several subtle, yet key, developments during Lavrov's visit, designed to improve bilateral ties, step-by-step.

First was an agreement signed to rebuild a bridge over the Argun River, one of three islands on rivers of their nearly 2,700 mile long common border, which needs to be delimited. Since 1991, the two countries have resolved more than 98 percent of their border issues. Liu said negotiations on the remainder had been "thoroughly solved" and the demarcation agreement finalized in 2007.

The other measure was to set up a working commission on immigration. There are concerns in the sparsely populated Russian far east that China and its vast population has designs on annexing the area, with illegal immigrant workers the first step towards that goal.

Liu tried to allay such fears, saying his country "firmly opposes illegal immigration to Russia and other countries." He added that the commission will work on management and coordination of their borders.

"It is unnecessary to worry about such a threat," the spokesman said.

Is US fading as superpower?

Is US fading as superpower?
Critics argue that war in Iraq has sapped US ability to influence world events.
By Tom Regan |

For the past five years, since the 9/11 attacks, US President George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair have helped shape key world events. But now, some influential media and political critics are saying that both men, and the US in particular, no longer can get the world to do as they wish. In a recent article entitled, "Axis of Feeble," the Economist argues that "the debacle in Iraq and problems at home have turned both leaders from soaring hawks into the lamest of ducks."

This week Mr Bush's popularity drooped to 31 percent in the polls; his party faces a beating and the possible loss of one or both houses of Congress in November's mid-term elections. In Britain meanwhile, much of the Labour Party, which Mr Blair reinvented and led through three consecutive election victories, wants to bundle its saviour into retirement and replace him with Gordon Brown.

Neither man is going right away. Mr Blair may hang on for another year. Unpopular lame duck though he may be, Mr Bush will stay in office until January 2009. And the path may not be all downhill: the dysfunctionality of the Democrats may yet let the Republicans limp home in the mid-terms. But an era is plainly drawing to an end. No matter how long they remain in office, the self-confident and often self-righteous political partnership that shaped the West's military response to Al Qaeda and led the march into Afghanistan and Iraq is now faltering.

For those who would "rejoice" at the end of this partnership, because of the idea that "in a world of one superpower, some say, people are safer when its president is too weak for foreign adventures," the Economist says they are wrong.

That Mr. Bush has made big mistakes in foreign policy is not in doubt. He oversold the pre-war intelligence on Iraq, bungled the aftermath, betrayed America's own principles in Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib, ignored Mr. Blair's pleas to restart peace diplomacy in Palestine. But America cannot fix any of these mistakes by folding its tents and slinking home to a grumpy isolation. On the contrary. In his belief that America needed to respond resolutely to the dangers of terrorism, tyranny and proliferation, Mr. Bush was mainly right. His chief failures stem from incompetent execution.'s OnPoint recently looked at the question "Is America losing its luster?" (audio link). The conclusion reached by panelists on the show was that while the US continues to be militarily powerful, the "notion of irresistible power" no longer is the case. David Kennedy, professor of history at Stanford University, argued that the US is learning "[t]he world is a recalcitant place and does not yield itself to us easily." He added that the notion the US could shape the world as it wished proved to be an illusion. The US is learning the lesson that all great powers have learned, Kennedy said, that no matter how much power a country has, the world will not just go along with its wishes.

Kennedy also argues that after World War II, the US used its position as a dominant power to work with other countries to create new global initiatives. But since the start of the Bush administration, the notions of cooperation, diplomacy, and multilaterialism have been replaced by a unilaterial approach that has led much of the world to "push back" or even work to "check our power."

United Press International reports that a new survey by the Pew Research Center, part of a new book "America against the World," also illustrates the problem for the US. More than 70 percent of the 91,000 people around the world interviewed for the survey believe that the US needs a rival superpower.

It found individualistic traits, such as US military operations, have turned off the rest of the world that considered the United States to be the light of democracy in the past. Suicide attacks on US forces in Iraq are OK according to half of Lebanese, Jordanians and Moroccans polled. The survey found anti-American sentiment is at its highest level ever – even higher than in 1983 when a Newsweek survey found about 25 percent of French, Japanese and German citizens were supportive of US policies.

President Bush's troubles at home are also playing a role in the global reaction to US intiatives.'s editorial director Dick Meyer wrote earlier this week that Bush is "a lame duck."

Short of another disaster on the scale of 9/11, George Bush no longer has the power, credibility or ability to effectively govern for the rest of his term in office. Contrary to what you hear on television, governing remains more important than campaigning. Government is more important than elections — to the extent the two can be differentiated anymore.

Bush's realm of efficacy will be limited to areas where he can make unilateral decisions, mostly in war and foreign policy. The tax cuts that oozed through Congress last week may well be his last "significant" piece of domestic legislation; I put quotations around significant because they are, in fact temporary. The entire menu of Bush tax tinkering is set to expire in 2010 on someone else's watch, an apt metaphor for this administration.

Jonah Goldberg, of the National Review, argues that President Bush should be getting a lot more credit on several fronts, especially how well the economy is doing. The war in Iraq, however, colors everything else the President does.

In the 1990s, the James Carville catechism "It's the economy, stupid" was hailed as the distilled essence of all electoral wisdom among liberals. Nonpartisan political scientists assure us that economic performance is the indispensable factor in presidential popularity. The main reason Bush doesn't get a lot of credit for the booming economy is almost surely Iraq. The war makes many people feel the country is "on the wrong track" - a view normally, but not necessarily, prompted by a weak economy.

Finally, David Wood writes in a column for the Newhouse News Service that while surveys like the Pew Research Center poll show that there is an ominous turn against the US, it's important to keep the big picture in mind.

No question this is bad news [the Pew survey] – but put it into perspective, urged Richard Solomon, the veteran diplomat and negotiator who is president of the US Institute of Peace, a federally funded think tank. "It's an attractive aspect of our culture that we worry about what other people think," Solomon said. "The French couldn't care less if they make people unhappy." Much of the enmity aimed at the United States is because Americans have tackled difficult jobs like removing Saddam Hussein from power, Solomon said, while the Germans and French took a pass. "One of the costs we bear for taking on these responsibilities is that people get nervous when they see an 800-pound gorilla willing to jump. "But being liked is important," he added, because public support goes either "to us or to the bad guys."

Is America Becoming a Police State?--Yes, because perpetual war means dictatorship at home

Is America Becoming a Police State?
Yes, because perpetual war means dictatorship at home
by Justin Raimondo

Editor's note: Justin Raimondo's column will return Monday.

There are many reasons to oppose war, both moral and practical. Aside from abhorrence of mass murder, however, libertarians such as myself dedicate so much of their energies to this issue because the price of interventionism is liberty itself. With each war, the power of government increases, until, at some point, it spills over the dike of the Constitution, washes away the Bill of Rights, and drowns us all in a flood tide of tyranny......

In the question and answer session following a speech given at the American Enterprise Institute, Karl Rove blurted out the truth. Although no doubt inadvertent, this unusual incident of truth-telling is nevertheless shocking to those of us who have grown used to an administration that lies as a first resort. In front of an audience of politicians, policy wonks, and journalists, the president's grand strategist admitted that, while Americans are content with their economic lot, they are in a "sour" mood because of the Iraq war: "I think the war looms over everything," Rove said:

"There's no doubt about it. Being in the middle of a war where people turn on their television sets and see brave men and women dying is not something that makes people happy and optimistic and upbeat."

While it is no doubt true that Americans are disturbed and saddened by the sight of their soldiers falling in combat, it isn't the fact of war per se that has soured them on this administration, and, more broadly, the GOP. If television cameras had been present to chronicle, say, the War of 1812, one can hardly imagine that the sight of Washington burning would have lessened their zeal to keep up the fight. To take a more recent example, Americans would not have caviled and turned against Franklin Roosevelt even as they watched the battle of Bataan and the fall of Corregidor broadcast live: the reaction might even have increased support for the Roosevelt administration as the public rallied around their commander in chief and determined to fight the "Japs" – as the newspapers of the day routinely referred to the enemy – with renewed fury.

During World War II, Americans knew – or thought they knew – why they were fighting, and had to fight. No such certainty is present in their minds as they watch the tragedy of Iraq unfold on the nightly news.

As Hitler's armies occupied the Eurasian landmass, in the early years of WWII, and Japan gobbled up the Philippines, Southeast Asia, and threatened Hawaii, Americans believed they were in a fight for their very survival. They believe no such thing when it comes to the war in Iraq. Most Americans are skeptical of this administration's announced war aims: they correctly perceive the invasion and conquest of Iraq as a futile crusade to "democratize" a region that has never known anything but the rule of thugs. They see their sons and daughters dying, not to protect the homeland or even to defend capital-D Democracy, but to ensure the survival of an Iraqi government made up of authoritarian mullahs and their armed gangs.

Americans do not fear adversity, nor do they quail at the sight of brave men and women dying – as long as it's in a good cause. The only causes one can discern in the current conflict, however – a lust for oil, and the seductive power of America's pro-Israel lobby – are hardly enough to inspire a crowd much bigger than the editorial staff of the Weekly Standard.

Rove is right when he says the war looms over everything. As the cost of our Iraq campaign approaches the trillion-dollar mark, the entire Republican agenda of less government and lower taxes has been fatally undermined by the Napoleonic foreign policy championed by this White House. And we aren't even winning! If this is the price of defeat, one has to wonder what victory would cost us.

While the astronomical cost in dollars and cents has an immediate and readily apparent impact, the price we are paying in other ways – in damage to our core values and institutions – is even dearer. The Bush administration may be losing the war against the Iraqi insurgency, but they are doing much better with their war on the American people – reading our e-mails, gathering up our phone records, and instituting a hi-tech spy system such as no Russian commissar ever dreamt of. The news that the feds are tracking phone calls made by and to major news organizations, including ABC News, the Washington Post, and the New York Times – ostensibly to find evidence of "security leaks" – is just the latest in a series of outrages against civil liberties and common decency.

The price of perpetual war is a police state, one in which a permanent state of "emergency" – the threat of a terrorist attack – is utilized to break down institutional safeguards, the system of constitutional checks and balances, that protect us from dictatorship.

A foreign policy driven by the imperial impulse is bound to have grave domestic consequences, none of them conducive to the American form of government. The Founders envisioned a republic, not an empire: they set up a system designed to govern the 13 former colonies, not the world. Foreign policy was a matter of avoiding reabsorption by the British and quashing the ambitions of the other European empires in their quest for North American colonies. Domestic policy was the main concern of every major American political figure and political party, right up until World War II. With the advent of the Cold War, however, and the rise of the national security state, the focus was increasingly on foreign policy.

Garet Garrett, the Old Right author and editor, saw the dawn of the new day and was quick to discern its meaning. In his 1951 philippic "Rise of Empire" [.pdf file], Garrett described what he called the "marks of empire," the signs that say the republic is no more and "Hail Caesar!" There were, I recall, five or six of them: the first was the ascendancy of presidential power over the other two branches of the federal government. We see this, today, in the neoconservative theory of the "unitary executive," which puts special emphasis on the president's role as commander in chief of the armed forces. Militarism goes hand in hand with this Bonapartist impulse, quite naturally, and this, in Garrett's words, gives rise to:

"A second mark by which you may unmistakably distinguish Empire is: Domestic policy becomes subordinate to foreign policy.

"That happened to Rome. It has happened to every Empire. The consequences of its having happened to the British Empire are tragically appearing. The fact now to be faced is that it has happened also to us. The voice of government is saying that if our foreign policy fails we are ruined. It is all or nothing. Our survival as a free nation is at hazard.

"That makes it simple, for in that case there is no domestic policy that may not have to be sacrificed to the necessities of foreign policy – even freedom."

That was written just as the first frosts of the Cold War blew arctic gusts across Europe, and the freezing wind of witch-hunts and loyalty oaths deadened the political atmosphere in America. Yet it could easily have been written today, as America gets ready to launch a new global struggle – the president calls it his "global democratic revolution" – against a new enemy. We are in a war, the president and his allies tell us, that will last for at least a generation. Small wonder, then, that the current administration is launching a large-scale assault on civil liberties of a kind not seen since the passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts, spying on and trying to intimidate journalists, trampling on what remains of the Founders' libertarian legacy.

There are many reasons to oppose war, both moral and practical. Aside from abhorrence of mass murder, however, libertarians such as myself dedicate so much of their energies to this issue because the price of interventionism is liberty itself. With each war, the power of government increases, until, at some point, it spills over the dike of the Constitution, washes away the Bill of Rights, and drowns us all in a flood tide of tyranny.

As recent events have shown, the danger is not theoretical or postponed to some future time: we are not speaking here of some dark dystopia as a kind of "what if" experiment. The danger is imminent: the dystopia is here and now. The only question is: will the American people stand for it?


Our spring 2006 fundraising drive was a great success: once again, our readers have come through for us, and words can't even begin to express the gratitude all of us at feel. We raised close to $65,000, so far, and the contributions are still coming in. It's enormously gratifying to see this level of support coming so consistently from our readers. But we aren't letting this vote of confidence go to our heads: we're working to improve, offering more commentary and other original material, and expanding our efforts to give you the best coverage of world affairs available on the Internet.

Again, thank you all for your support: we couldn't continue without it, and we'll do our best to keep earning it.

NYT: Bush breaks pledge made in 1999 to veto any tax increases

NYT: Bush breaks pledge made in 1999 to veto any tax increases

05/20/2006 @ 12:35 pm

Filed by RAW STORY

President Bush appears to have broken a pledge he made in 1999 to veto any tax increase bills, according to an article set for Sunday's New York Times, RAW STORY has found.

"The $69 billion tax cut bill that President Bush signed last week tripled tax rates for teenagers with college savings funds, despite Bush's 1999 pledge to veto any tax increase," reports David Cay Johnston.

In 1999, the conservative group Americans For Tax Reform convinced Bush - and the other candidates seeking the GOP nomination for president at the time - to sign anti-tax increase pledges (link).

"If I were elected president," Bush pledged. "I will oppose and veto any increase in individual or corporate marginal income tax rates or individual or corporate income tax hikes."


Doc shines light on homeless Iraq vets

Doc shines light on homeless Iraq vets

By Daniel TrottaFri May 19, 3:05 PM ET

The nightmare of Iraq was bad enough for Vanessa Gamboa. Unprepared for combat beyond her basic training, the supply specialist soon found herself in a firefight, commanding a handful of clerks.

"They promoted me to sergeant. I knew my job but I didn't know anything about combat. So I'm responsible for all these people and I don't know what to tell them but to duck," Gamboa said.

The battle, on a supply delivery run, ended without casualties, and it did little to steel Gamboa for what awaited her back home in Brooklyn.

When the single mother was discharged in April, after her second tour in Iraq, she was 24 and had little money and no place to live. She slept in her son's day-care center.

Gamboa is part of a small but growing trend among U.S. veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars -- homelessness.

On any given night the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) helps 200 to 250 of them, and more go uncounted. They are among nearly 200,000 homeless veterans in America, largely from the Vietnam War.

Advocates say the number of homeless veterans is certain to grow, just as it did in the years following the Vietnam and Gulf wars, as a consequence of the stresses of war and inadequate job training.

Homeless veterans have remained in the shadows of the national debate about Iraq, although the issue may gain traction from the film "When I Came Home," which won an award this month for best New York-made documentary at the city's Tribeca Film Festival.

The documentary tells the story of Iraq war veteran Herold Noel as he lived in his car. It will get a screening in June at the U.S. Capitol in Washington.

U.S. Rep. Bob Filner (news, bio, voting record), a California Democrat, calls it a "national disgrace" that homelessness among veterans has not been solved and held an informal hearing on Thursday to highlight the issue.

"We've seen the same thing with Agent Orange and Gulf War syndrome," Filner said of ailments from prior wars. "The bureaucracy is denying that there's anything wrong. First it's deny, deny, deny. Then they admit it's a small problem. And later they admit it's a widespread problem.

"We're not talking about a lot of money (to solve the problem) compared with overall spending on the war in Iraq. We're spending a billion dollars every two and a half days," he told Reuters.


One theme of the documentary is that veterans who risked their lives in war are too easily discarded by society once they are out of the military. The film shows Noel being denied housing by New York City's housing agency.

Gamboa had a similar experience.

"They put me in this roach-infested hotel. I was there for 10 days," Gamboa said. "Then they said I wasn't eligible to stay in a shelter because I could stay with my sister, who lives in a studio apartment with her husband. And I haven't spoken to her in six years."

Now her luck is improving.

Unlike many low-ranking soldiers, Gamboa received army training with civilian applications -- logistics -- and started a job with a fancy Fifth Avenue clothing store this week.

And despite an Army snafu that nearly denied her U.S. citizenship, the Guatemalan-born Gamboa, who moved to Brooklyn as a child, took her oath before the U.S. flag on Friday.

Military recruiters target poor neighborhoods like Gamboa's Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn. Young adults with few job skills join the Army. When they get out, many have fallen behind their contemporaries, experts say.

The stresses of combat and military life contribute to post traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse and mental illness, which are especially taboo subjects to soldiers trained not to admit failure easily.

About half of all homeless veterans suffer from mental illness, and more than two-thirds suffer from alcohol or drug abuse problems, the VA says.

Gamboa has avoided those pitfalls, but female veterans are three times more likely to become homeless than women in the general population, the American Journal of Public Health reported.

Repeated deployments -- a hallmark of the Iraq war -- and separation from family can also portend future problems.

"Then the downward spiral begins with substance abuse and problems with the law," said Amy Fairweather of Iraq Veteran, which helps war veterans in San Francisco.

"If you wanted to put together all the repercussions that put people at risk for homelessness, you couldn't do better than the Iraq war."

Venezuela intends to import the bulk of weapons from Russia – ambassador

Venezuela intends to import the bulk of weapons from Russia – ambassador

19 May.
Venezuelan Ambassador to Russia Alexis Navarro Rojas in an interview with Interfax expressed the intentions of his country to negotiate Russian arms deliveries to Venezuela.

"Venezuela needs to renew its arms systems. Several years ago we decided that we won't buy weapons from the United States and that the bulk of new orders will be placed with Russia. Our military experts have studied the parameters of the arms that Russia is offering and concluded that they are the best in the world," the ambassador said.

Rojas said there are several reasons why Venezuela is switching from importing U.S.-made weapons to Russian-made products, including the "aggressive foreign policy of Washington" and "irresponsibility in the fulfillment of contracts."

"The weapons we are getting from Russia come with guarantees of further maintenance services and personnel training," he said.

The Venezuelan government is preparing for talks on the delivery of Su-35 fighters from Russia, Rojas said.

"Our pilots have flown on Su-27 and Su-30 fighters already. They have simply fallen in love with the aircraft. They have also tried piloting Su-35. Now we are waiting for talks to begin," he said.

Russia has already delivered Mi-17 helicopters, which Venezuela is using for transportation and also for border patrols to prevent drug trafficking. The delivery of Mi-26 and Mi-35 helicopters is also expected, Rojas said.

In the near future Venezuela will also receive 100,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles. "Some people are trying to underestimate the importance of the weapons, but they are very important for us as we will use them to replace outdated guns that had been used for over 55 years," the ambassador said.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is planning to visit Russia at the end of August - beginning of September, Rojas said.

"President Chavez has approached the Russian leadership asking to visit Moscow at the end of August - the beginning of September. We are awaiting a reply from the Russian side. President Chavez likes visiting Russia," he said.

The foreign minister will accompany Chavez. Rojas said that the Venezuelan defense minister may also visit Russia in June to discuss Russian arms deliveries, as well as space cooperation.

Speaking of relations between Venezuela and the United States the ambassador said: "We don't want a war, but even less do we want to give in to the imperialist policy of the United States."

"In the past few years Washington has been pursuing an aggressive policy and is in a state of war with other countries, as part of its search for cheap sources of energy," he said.

"In these conditions it would be irresponsible of the Venezuelan government to sit doing nothing in the face of aggression. Presently the threat is quite real," he said.
Venezuela will resort to an asymmetric response should it be subject to foreign aggression, the ambassador said.

Speaking of international affairs he mentioned the Iranian nuclear program. "Iran should be given the right to a nuclear program as has been the case with other countries, namely Pakistan, India and Israel," he said.

He said the Venezuelan authorities have no plans to stop oil deliveries to the United States.

"We have never spoken about stopping shipments of oil to the United States under previously signed commercial contracts," he said.

Rojas said oil cooperation can be severed only at Washington's initiative.
The Venezuelan authorities could blow up all of the country's oil wells in the event of a U.S. military operation in Venezuela, he said.

"We will have to defend our energy reserves in the event of aggression. No country has the right to aim to control our natural resources. We will defend them," he said.

U.N. tells U.S. to close detention camps

US News
U.N. tells U.S. to close detention camps
May 19, 2006, 19:00 GMT

WASHINGTON, DC, United States (UPI) --
The White House Friday responded to a U.N. call to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, saying interrogations conducted at the prison are within U.S. law.

The U.N. Committee Against Torture called for an end to \'secret\' detention facilities and urged \'immediate measures\' to stop all forms of torture and ill-treatment of detainees in an 11-page report issued in Geneva.

\'It is important to note that everything that is done in terms of questioning detainees is fully within the boundaries of American law,\' White House spokesman Tony Snow told reporters. He also noted the committee declined to inspect the Guantanamo prison in person.

Hundreds of prisoners have been incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, as well as at facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The BBC said the U.N. report called for more information on secret facilities.

\'The state party should investigate and disclose the existence of any such facilities and the authority under which they have been established and the manner in which detainees are treated,\' the report said.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Drug Addiction Lucrative for Neolib Banksters, CIA

Drug Addiction Lucrative for Neolib Banksters, CIA
Kurt Nimmo

Thursday May 18th 2006, 7:05 pm

"An American counternarcotics official was killed and two other Americans wounded in a suicide bombing in western Afghanistan today, while heavy fighting between Taliban insurgents and Afghan police continued in two southern provinces, officials said," reports the New York Times. "We confirm that a U.S. citizen contractor for the State Department Bureau of International Narcotic and Law Enforcement, working for the police training program in Herat was killed in a vehicle-borne I.E.D. attack," Chris Harris, an American Embassy spokesman, told the newspaper. After this mention, the Times moves on to detail the increasing violence between Afghan puppet police and "militants," that is to say Afghans fighting against the occupation of their country, an entirely natural occurrence.

Of course, the Times does not bother to mention that the Afghan opium trade—in fact much of the opium trade in the so-called "Golden Crescent" (Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan)—was cultivated and nurtured by the United States government and the CIA, leading to countless cases of miserable heroin addiction in America and Europe. Reading the Times, we get the impression the Taliban—at one time sponsored by the CIA and Pakistan’s intelligence services, so long as they were kicking Russian hindquarter—are responsible for the opium trade all on their lonesome. As usual, the Times twists the story through omission.

"ClA-supported Mujahedeen rebels … engaged heavily in drug trafficking while fighting against the Soviet-supported government," writes historian William Blum. "The Agency’s principal client was Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, one of the leading druglords and a leading heroin refiner. CIA-supplied trucks and mules, which had carried arms into Afghanistan, were used to transport opium to laboratories along the Afghan/Pakistan border. The output provided up to one half of the heroin used annually in the United States and three-quarters of that used in Western Europe. U.S. officials admitted in 1990 that they had failed to investigate or take action against the drug operation because of a desire not to offend their Pakistani and Afghan allies," and also because selling heroin and spreading misery is highly profitable. In fact, the Soviets attempted to impose an opium ban on the country and this resulted in a revolt by tribal groups eventually exploited by the CIA and Pakistan.

"Reports issued by the UN and Drug Enforcement Administration in the early 1980s stated that by 1981 Afghan heroin producers may have captured 60 per cent of the heroin market in Western Europe and the United States. In New York City in 1979 alone, the year the CIA-organized flow of arms to the mujahiddeen began) heroin-related deaths increased by 77 per cent. There were no Superbowl ads that year about doing drugs and aiding terror. You could say that those dead addicts had given their lives in the fight to drive back Communism," write Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair.

Making sure heroin addiction continues unabated is such a lucrative business for the CIA and Wall Street investors, Bush decided "not to destroy the opium crop in Afghanistan. President Bush, who previously linked the Afghan drug trade directly to terrorism, has now decided not to destroy the Afghan opium crop," Charles R. Smith reported for NewsMax on March 28, 2002, as Bush’s illegal invasion of the country was well underway. "Several sources inside Capitol Hill noted that the CIA opposes the destruction of the Afghan opium supply because to do so might destabilize the Pakistani government of Gen. Pervez Musharraf…. The threat to overthrow Musharraf is motivated in part by Islamic radical groups linked to the Pakistani intelligence service, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). The radical groups reportedly obtain their primary funding through opium production and trade." In fact, destroying the opium crop would have put a terrible financial squeeze on the agency and angered financiers who routinely trade in misery and death.

Naturally, the Times did not bother to mention the fact the Taliban attempted to eradicate opium production and this was likely one of the reasons Bush the Junior invaded Afghanistan. "Although the Taliban had virtually stamped out poppy production, the country now accounts for two-third of the world’s heroin. As hard as it may be to believe, there is compelling evidence that the US (via the CIA) may be directly involved in narco-trafficing," notes Mike Whitney, who cites the following from Portland Independent Media:

Before 1980, Afghanistan produced 0% of the world’s opium. But then the CIA moved in, and by 1986 they were producing 40% of the world’s heroin supply. By 1999, they were churning out 3,200 TONS of heroin a year—nearly 80% of the total market supply. But then something unexpected happened. The Taliban rose to power, and by 2000 they had destroyed nearly all of the opium fields. Production dropped from 3,000+ tons to only 185 tons, a 94% reduction! This enormous drop in revenue subsequently hurt not only the CIA’s Black Budget projects, but also the free-flow of laundered money in and out of the Controller’s banks.

It also put a pinch on the criminals and gangsters in Pakistan. "The Taliban’s actions … (destroying the opium crop) severed the ruling military junta in Pakistan from its primary source of foreign revenues and made bin Laden and the Taliban completely expendable in the eyes of the Pakistani government. It also cut off billions of dollars in revenues that had been previously laundered through western banks and Russian financial institutions connected to them," explains From the Wilderness (see previous link). "Prior to the WTC attacks, credible sources, including the U.S. government, the IMF, Le Monde and the U.S. Senate placed the amount of drug cash flowing into Wall Street and U.S. banks at around $250-$300 billion a year," not exactly small potatoes.

In 2004, according to research conducted by the Democratic Policy Committee, after "decreasing dramatically under the Taliban regime, Afghanistan now [2004] produces nearly 3/4 of the world’s opium. CIC [Center for International Cooperation] found that 'opium production, processing, and trafficking have surged, with revenues equaling roughly half of the legal economy of Afghanistan.’ It is estimated that 1.7 million people, or 7 percent of the total population now grow poppies," all of this under the United States installed government of Hamid Karzai, the ex-Unocal employee.

But then none of this should be surprising—the CIA and neolib financiers and moneymen have long dabbled in drug dealing and drug addiction profiteering.

In addition to turning immense profits for societal parasites and other cockroach infestations on Wall Street, drug dealing is a great way for the government to intervene in the business of other nations, as Oliver North well understands (as the Contra was funded by the smuggling of cocaine). "The CIA functionally gains influence and control in governments corrupted by criminal narco-trafficking. Politically, the CIA exerts influence by leveraging narco-militarists and corrupted politicians… This is really NEO-narco-colonialism, whereby local criminal proxies do the bidding of the patron government seeking expanded influence. But because of the quid-pro-quo of protecting the criminal proxies’ illicit pipelines, the result is still a functional narco-colonialism, involving a narcotics commodity in the actual practical execution of policy, with the very different twist of covert action," summarizes the CIA & Drugs website.

So it is not surprising, as the New York Times puts it, there is a "Sudden Rise of Violence in Afghanistan" and the predictable murder of "a U.S. citizen contractor for the State Department Bureau of International Narcotic and Law Enforcement." In Afghanistan, the Hegelian dialect is working overtime—the U.S. government engineers the Afghan opium trade, thus resulting in social problems and violence associated with illicit drug distribution and consumption, and then turns around and organizes police training programs to combat the scourge it has spawned.

As well, for the Fabian socialist globalists, it is a great way to break down borders and implement "free trade zones," that is to say unhindered thievery zones. Call it a "war on drugs" or the endless war against "terrorism" (yet another Hegelian contrivance), it is all engineered to turn the world into a large slave plantation ruled by a decadent and debased elite cadre of neoliberal criminals.

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Pentagon report said to find killing of Iraqi civilians deliberate

Pentagon report said to find killing of Iraqi civilians deliberate

By Drew Brown

05/18/06 "Knight Ridder" -- -- WASHINGTON -
A Pentagon report on an incident in Haditha, Iraq, where U.S. Marines shot and killed more than a dozen Iraqi civilians last November will show that those killings were deliberate and worse than initially reported, a Pennsylvania congressman said Wednesday.

"There was no firefight. There was no IED (improvised explosive device) that killed those innocent people," Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., said during a news conference on Iraq. "Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them. And they killed innocent civilians in cold blood. That is what the report is going to tell."

Murtha's comments were the first on-the-record remarks by a U.S. official characterizing the findings of military investigators looking into the Nov. 19 incident. Murtha, the ranking Democrat on the Defense Appropriations subcommittee and an opponent of Bush administration policy in Iraq, said he hadn't read the report but had learned about its findings from military commanders and other sources.

Military public affairs officers said the investigation isn't completed and declined to provide further information. "There is an ongoing investigation," said Lt. Col. Sean Gibson, a Marine spokesman at Central Command headquarters in Tampa, Fla. "Any comment at this time would be inappropriate."

Both Gibson and Pentagon spokeswoman Cheryl Irwin said that the military has yet to decide what, if any action, might be taken against Marines involved in the incident.

"It would be premature to judge any individual or unit until the investigation is complete," Irwin said. Said Gibson, "No charges have been made as we have to go through the entire investigatory process and determine whether or not that is a course of action."

Three Marine commanders whose troops were involved in the incident were relieved of duty in April, but the Marines didn't link their dismissals to the incident, saying only that Gen. Richard Natonski, commander of 1st Marine Division, had lost confidence in the officers' ability to command. Gibson reiterated that point Wednesday. "It's important to remember that the officers were relieved by the commanding general of 1st Marine Division as a result of events that took place throughout their tour of duty in Iraq," he said.

The dismissed officers were Lt. Col. Jeffrey R. Chessani, commander of 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, and two of his company commanders, Capt. James S. Kimber and Capt. Lucas M. McConnell. Gibson said all three have been assigned to staff jobs with the 1st Division.

U.S. military authorities in Iraq initially reported that one Marine and 15 Iraqi civilians traveling in a bus were killed by a roadside bomb in the western Iraq insurgent stronghold of Haditha. They said eight insurgents were killed in an ensuing firefight.

But Lt. Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, the ground commander of coalition forces in Iraq, ordered an investigation on Feb. 14 after a reporter with Time magazine told military authorities of allegations that the Marines had killed innocent civilians.

After CNN broke the news of the initial investigation in March, military officials told Knight Ridder that the civilians were killed not in the initial blast but were apparently caught in the crossfire of a subsequent gun battle as 12 to 15 Marines fought insurgents from house to house over the next five hours. At that time, military officials told Knight Ridder that four of the civilians killed were women and five were children.

Subsequent reporting from Haditha by Time and Knight Ridder revealed a still different account of events, with survivors describing Marines breaking down the door of a house and indiscriminately shooting the building's occupants.

Twenty-three people were killed in the incident, relatives of the dead told Knight Ridder.

The uncle of one survivor, a 13-year-old girl, told Knight Ridder that the girl had watched the Marines open fire on her family and that she had held her 5-year-old brother in her arms as he died. The girl shook visibly as her uncle relayed her account, too traumatized to recount what happened herself.

"I understand the investigation shows that in fact there was no firefight, there was no explosion that killed the civilians on a bus," Murtha said. "There was no bus. There was no shrapnel. There was only bullet holes inside the house where the Marines had gone in. So it's a very serious incident, unfortunately. It shows the tremendous pressure these guys are under every day when they're out in combat and the stress and consequences."

Murtha, who retired as a colonel after 37 years in the Marine Corps, said nothing indicates that the Iraqis killed in the incident were at fault.

"One man was killed with an IED," Murtha said, referring to a Marine killed by the roadside bomb. "And after that, they actually went into the houses and killed women and children."

Knight Ridder Newspapers correspondent Steven Thomma contributed to this report

Army Sgt. Kevin Benderman--He Refused To Return To Iraq sentenced to 15 months in prison

Army Sgt. Kevin Benderman, 40,
He Refused To Return To Iraq sentenced to 15 months in prison
July 30, 2005
In Praise of Kevin Benderman
by Norman Solomon
Conscience is not in the chain of command.
"Before being sentenced to 15 months for refusing to return to Iraq with his Army unit, Sgt. Kevin Benderman told a military judge that he acted with his conscience, not out of a disregard for duty," the Associated Press reports. Benderman, a 40-year-old Army mechanic, "refused to go on a second combat tour in January, saying the destruction and misery he witnessed during the 2003 Iraq invasion had turned him against war."
Three weeks ago, his wife Monica Benderman wrote: "He returned knowing that war is wrong, the most dehumanizing creation of humanity that exists. He saw war destroy civilians, innocent men, women, and children. He saw war destroy homes, relationships, and a country. He saw this not only in the country that was invaded, but he saw this happening to the invading country as well – and he knew that the only way to save those soldiers was for people to no longer participate in war. Sgt. Kevin Benderman is a conscientious objector to war, and the Army is mad."

Friday, May 19, 2006

Inflated Terrorism - Propaganda Lies

Inflated Terrorism - Propaganda Lies

By Peter Phillips

The Bush administration is paltering to the American public with exaggerated misconceptions of worldwide terrorism to frighten us into supporting a global police state. With seven hundred military bases and a budget bigger than the rest of the world combined, the US military has become the new supreme-power force repressing "terrorism" everywhere.
Vice President Dick Cheney's keynote address at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference March 7, 2006 is a telling example of neo-conservative global dominance thought in the current administration. Here are his exact words, "Israel, and the United States, and all civilized nations will win the war on terror. To prevail in this fight, we must understand the nature of the enemy. Šas America experienced on September 11th, 2001, the terrorist enemy is brutal and heartless. This enemy wears no uniform, has no regard for the rules of warfare, and is unconstrained by any standard of decency or moralityŠ.The terrorists want to end all American and Western influence in the Middle East. Their goal in that region is to seize control of a country, so they have a base from which to launch attacks and wage war against governments that do not meet their demandsŠ ultimately to establish a totalitarian empire that encompasses a region from Spain, across North Africa, through the Middle East and South Asia, all the way around to Indonesia."
Cheney claims that evil terrorists everywhere are plotting for the ruin of "civilized" nations. In order to stop them we must militarily control all the regions they are threatening in a permanent global war. Cheney's military empire, set to prevail over the totalitarian terrorists, will inevitably expand global resistance to US domination. Large coalitions of freedom fighters, fundamentalists, patriots, religious zealots, nationalists, and ideologues of various beliefs will emerge from within the regions the US occupies.
Widespread resistance is exactly what is happening in Iraq. Le Monde Diplomatique on May 2, 2006 described the Iraq insurgents - terrorists to Cheney - as "armed opposition often divided into a set of wholly independent categories which apparently do not have much in common. The categories include the patriotic former army officers, the foreign terrorists, the Sunni Arabs determined to regain power, the Muslims opposed to any kind of foreign occupation, the tribal factions pursuing their own specific vendettas, the die-hard Ba'athists - and the "pissed-off" Iraqis (in coalition soldier jargon, POIs) who are simply sick of the foreign forces occupying their country."
For Cheney and other global dominance neo-conservatives, the terrorist label is so broad that it can be applied to any individual, group, or nation that resists US military occupations, US threats, or US corporate interests anywhere in the world. In reality, the US military is the world's foremost totalitarian force.
Three years ago I met a Dutch journalist, Willem Oltman, at the International Campaign Against US Aggression on Iraq in Cairo, Egypt. Oltman described his teen years during World War II in the Dutch resistance movement. "The Nazi's called us terrorists," he exclaimed. "Now as the US invades and occupies other countries you do the same thing," he added.

Maintaining an US military global police force enriches defense contractors and enflames resistance. There is no worldwide terrorism threat other than the one we create when we make war on other peoples. Addressing world poverty, sickness, and environmental issues will go much further in preventing single acts of terrorism inside the United States than any military actions we can muster. It is time to challenge the neo-conservative global dominance agenda and stand up for human rights and the traditional American values of grass-roots democracy, due process, governmental transparency, and individual freedoms for ourselves and the rest of the world.

Peter Phillips is a professor of Sociology at Sonoma State University and director of Project Censored a media research group. He is co-editor with Dennis Loo of the forthcoming book, Impeach the President: The Case Against Bush and Cheney, from Seven Stories Press, summer 2006.

Mexico Condemns US Border Fence Plan

Mexico Condemns US Border Fence Plan
The Associated Press

Friday 19 May 2006

Mexico City -
Mexico and four Central American nations condemned the US plan to build hundreds of miles of triple-layered fencing on its southern border, saying it would not stop illegal immigration.

In a joint news conference in Mexico City late Thursday, the foreign ministers of Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Mexico said that building barriers was not the way to solve problems between neighboring nations.

"The position of Mexico and the other countries is that walls will not make a difference in terms of the solution to the migration problem," said Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez.

On Wednesday, the US Senate approved a proposal to build 370 miles of triple-layer fencing along parts of the 2,000-mile border separating the US and Mexico. The Senate also agreed to give many illegal immigrants a shot at US citizenship.

Guatemalan Foreign Minister Jorge Briz said major immigration reform in the United States was the only way to stop the wave of people heading northward.

"All of us are looking for a comprehensive migratory regulation so that millions of Latin Americans can continue working in and supporting the United States economy," Briz said.

Earlier Thursday, Mexico's Foreign Relations Department sent a note to the US State Department outlining the nation's concerns about the proposed barrier.

Honduran Foreign Minister Milton Jimenez said he expected several South American and Caribbean countries to join Mexico and the Central Americans in issuing a joint declaration on the matter soon.

In December, the US House approved a bill to build a fence about twice as long as the one approved by the Senate. The House plan sparked a wave of criticism from Latin American leaders, with Mexican President Vicente Fox comparing such a barrier to the Berlin Wall.

Fox reiterated his criticisms on Thursday.

"Building walls, constructing barriers on the border does not offer an efficient solution in a relationship of friends, neighbors and partners," Fox said in the border city of Tijuana. "We will go on defending the rights of our countrymen without rest or respite. With passion we will demand the full respect of their human rights."

On the border with Arizona, bedraggled migrants who had been turned back by the border patrol said that more fences would not keep them from crossing but only make smugglers charge more money for the trip.

"I had to leave my three children, walk for three days in the desert, and now I'm here with more debts than ever," said Edith Martinez, a 40-year-old from Oaxaca who walked back over the border bridge to the Mexican town of Nogales. "Now I have to work in the United States to pay my debts from the trip."


One Step Closer to a Police State

One Step Closer to a Police State
By Joshua Holland

Thursday 18 May 2006

Placing National Guard troops on the border could be a violation of the Posse Comitatus Act. And that's just fine with the Bush administration.

President Bush's plan to deploy 6,000 National Guard troops to the Mexican border, widely seen as a political gambit, is coming under fire from both left and right.

It's likely that the move is a violation of the Posse Comitatus Act, a law established after the Civil War that prohibits the use of U.S. troops for domestic law enforcement. Passed in 1878 to prohibit federal troops from running elections in the former confederate states, it is considered a bulwark against the development of a police state.

A central issue of Bush's plan is that the troops would be under federal authority. One of the exceptions built into the Posse Comitatus Act is that troops may be deployed to support law enforcement agencies, but with the exception of insurrections and riots, nuclear attack or interdiction of drug smuggling (when working directly with law enforcement agencies), they must be under the authority of a state governor.

The ACLU sent a letter to the administration warning that turning immigration "into another military operation is not the answer," adding that it "violates the spirit of the Posse Comitatus Act." The libertarian Cato Institute agreed, writing that "the same training that makes U.S. soldiers outstanding warriors makes them extremely dangerous as cops." Larry Korb, an assistant secretary of defense under Ronald Reagan, said that the military "is trained to vaporize, not Mirandize."

In 1997, a Marine corporal deployed in the border area shot and killed Esequiel Hernandez, an 18-year-old goat herder. The incident led to a congressional review that criticized the Justice Department's handling of the case and ended the Marines' involvement in policing the border.

But while some conservatives are joining civil liberties groups in expressing concern over the deployment, the Republican leadership is reportedly pursuing another course: rolling back the protections of Posse Comitatus once and for all.

Ray McGovern, a 27-year veteran of the CIA who maintains close connections in the national security community, reports that, according to "a credible source on the Hill," the Senate "is moving to amend [or] repeal the Posse Comitatus Act, ostensibly to allow greater options for National Guard troops on the border. The move would remove National Guardsmen "from governors' authority" and place them "under the president."

The move comes in the context of an administration that has consistently expressed disdain for Posse Comitatus, and the constraint it puts on the use of troops in domestic actions. As James Bovard reported for AlterNet in 2004:

From its support of the Total Information Awareness surveillance vacuum cleaner, to its use of Pentagon spy planes during the Washington-area sniper shootings in late 2002, to its attempt to empower military officials to seize Americans' financial and other private information without a warrant, the Bush administration gives grave cause for concern about the growing role of the armed forces in our daily life.

As far back as 2002, the president issued a national security plan calling for a "review" of Posse Comitatus. Gen. Ralph Eberhart, who headed the Northern Command said that he "welcomed" changes in the law if necessary. "My view has been that Posse Comitatus will constantly be under review as we mature this command," he told the New York Times.

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the calls for using troops in federal disaster relief grew. In September of last year, then-Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita called the Posse Comitatus Act "very archaic," and said that it hampered disaster response. Bush echoed that sentiment two weeks later, saying he wanted "a robust discussion about the best way for the federal government, in certain extreme circumstances, to be able to rally assets for the good of the people." A week later, Bush called for the possible use of federal troops to respond to a bird flu outbreak, saying "I think the president ought to have all options on the table."

But as William Arkin, military analyst for the Washington Post noted, there's no reason in the world to modify or repeal Posse Comitatus to respond to disasters:

Nothing in law prevents the president from employing the military in a Katrina-like emergency if state and local government really breaks down. In fact, the 130-year-old Posse Comitatus Act more symbolizes the military's subordination to civil authority than it actually restricts what the military can do.

Arkin warned that "Donald Rumsfeld and his ever-growing industry of military complexes ... seem to be intentionally badmouthing Posse Comitatus ... in order to earn themselves greater operational flexibility in the United States."

He also reported on a plan developed under Rumsfeld that predicted "a scenario in which the Defense Department would have to take 'the lead' from ... civil agencies, and the states, that is, to act without civil authority." He added: "I think we call that martial law."

And the military is not leaving domestic surveillance up to the NSA. Last month, Robert Dreyfus, writing in Rolling Stone detailed how Bush, "operating in secret" soon after Sept. 11, established the Counterintelligence Field Activity agency (CIFA), and "in a move that received little public attention," charged it "with consolidating all Pentagon intelligence."

Last year, a commission appointed by Bush urged that CIFA be empowered to collect and analyze intelligence "both inside and outside the United States." Dreyfus says that the Pentagon "is systematically gathering and analyzing intelligence on American citizens at home" and cites several examples of the new agency spying on antiwar protesters.

After it was revealed that a new intelligence unit in the California National Guard was spying on the Raging Grannies, a group that organized a Mother's Day protest against the war, an outraged California state senator, Joe Dunn, called for the Guard's intelligence unit to be dismantled, saying: "Our fear is that this was part of a federally sponsored effort to set up domestic surveillance programs in a way that would circumvent the Posse Comitatus Act."

The danger is that a president who even conservatives concede has consolidated more power in the White House than any administration since Lincoln's, and who has little faith in the rest of the government will lean more heavily on the military than he already does. Add to that this administration's well-known contempt for dissent, and there's a real potential for slipping into a full-blown police state.


What Is the Real Purpose of Bush's NSA Surveillance?

What Is the Real Purpose of Bush's NSA Surveillance?
Patriot Daily | Editorial

Thursday 18 May 2006

The Baltimore Sun reported today that Bush rejected President Clinton's effective, legal surveillance program that did not invade privacy to adopt the current NSA spying program, which is ineffective, illegal and invasive of citizens' privacy rights. So, the question jumping off the page may be: Why would Bush use a program that does not actually assist the finding of terrorists, yet also has the disadvantage of invading Americans' privacy rights?

The Clinton surveillance program, called ThinThread, was created during the late 1990s to "gather and analyze massive amounts of communications data without running afoul of privacy laws." Several bloggers provide excellent posts on the components and nature of the program.

The key to evaluating Bush's true motive for his NSA program is that testing of ThinThread showed it was far better in finding potential threats and protecting privacy than the current NSA program that Bush chose in its stead. "For example, its ability to sort through massive amounts of data to find threat-related communications far surpassed the existing system, sources said. It also was able to rapidly separate and encrypt U.S.-related communications to ensure privacy." But, Gen. Hayden of NSA decided not to use these two tools or the monitoring feature to prevent abuse of the records. The problem is that not using the ThinThread program has "undermined the agency's ability to zero in on potential threats." Moreover, "ThinThread could have provided a simple solution to privacy concerns."

Incredibly, the ThinThread program was far superior to the NSA program in place in 2004:

A number of independent studies, including a classified 2004 report from the Pentagon's inspector-general, in addition to the successful pilot tests, found that the program provided 'superior processing, filtering and protection of U.S. citizens, and discovery of important and previously unknown targets,' said an intelligence official familiar with the program who described the reports to The Sun. The Pentagon report concluded that ThinThread's ability to sort through data in 2001 was far superior to that of another NSA system in place in 2004, and that the program should be launched and enhanced.

The upshot is that the NSA's warrantless surveillance program is ineffective at finding terrorists:

Without ThinThread's data-sifting assets, the warrantless surveillance program was left with a sub-par tool for sniffing out information, and that has diminished the quality of its analysis, according to intelligence officials. Sources say the NSA's existing system for data-sorting has produced a database clogged with corrupted and useless information. The mass collection of relatively unsorted data, combined with system flaws that sources say erroneously flag people as suspect, has produced numerous false leads, draining analyst resources, according to two intelligence officials. FBI agents have complained in published reports in The New York Times that NSA leads have resulted in numerous dead ends."
And, Bush did not adopt ThinThread's privacy protections even though the "encryption feature would have been simple to implement" in minutes. One explanation may be that "encryption would have required analysts to be more disciplined in their investigations, however, by forcing them to gather what a court would consider sufficient information to indicate possible terrorist activity before decryption could be authorized.

So, using ThinThread would have required compliance with legal search standards, something that the Decider says is just not technically feasible with his program. Sounds like a convenient method for chipping away at constitutional safeguards.

While Bush proclaims that his NSA program is for the purpose of finding terrorists, this article says it is not effective for that purpose. On the other hand, the former head of NSA operations division told the 9/11 Commission that "ThinThread could have identified the hijackers had it been in place before the attacks." Is that why Bush team often states that NSA surveillance would have permitted the identification and capture of the 9/11 hijackers had it been in place prior to 9/11? That is, the general statements made by Bush are true for ThinThread, which is a NSA surveillance program, just not the program that Bush is using. So, in accordance with Bush's parsing practice, his statements would be technically true, just misleadingly false.

Finally, the article points out that ThinThread was rejected partially because it too aggressive and could violate civil rights. After 9/11, NSA lawyers reversed position by adopting Bush's theory of his war powers. However, one intelligence official stated that ThinThread is legal regardless of whether the US is at war. So, did Bush reject ThinThread partially because he could not then use the terror card as a pretext to expand presidential powers?

Given that a perfectly legal program which could actually accomplish the stated objective of capturing terrorists before attacking Americans exists, but was rejected by Bush, would could be the real underlying purpose for Bush's NSA surveillance program that has a minor, if any, impact on anti-terror objectives?

Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that if Bush is to actually succeed in finding terrorists with the program he is using, this program requires more data about Americans. That is, phone records are not sufficient for this objective, so more data would be required. Like the camel who first sticks its head in the tent, Bush may have wanted pretextual grounds to keep expanding the nature and amount of information about Americans that he collected and deposited in databases.

As noted by one expert, the NSA program Bush is using is apparently not effective at finding terrorists, not unless more data is obtained by the government in addition to phone records. Public reports indicate the NSA is using social network analysis to find terrorists, which is not effective without more data. If the NSA wants to use mathematics to root out terrorists, it would have to use a different type of profiling technique called formal concept analysis, which requires more than phone records: "For instance, you might group together people based on what cafes, bookstores and mosques they visit, and then find out that all the people who go to a certain cafe also attend the same mosque (but maybe not vice versa)."

Additional information indicates Bush wanted more than phone records. Statements by telecom company officials indicate that Bush wanted long-distance carriers, not local telecoms, which expands the nature and amount of information the NSA can obtain. Technical experts say long-distance calling records may provide information not only on long-distance customers but also "traffic that the carriers connect on behalf of others, including some calls placed on cellphones or on Internet voice connections."

Finally, the equipment that AT&T whistleblower Mark Klein says was installed by NSA in AT&T's secret switching room is apparently Narus, which has the capacity to be the "best internet spy tool:"

Anything that comes through (an internet protocol network), we can record," says Steve Bannerman, marketing vice president of Narus, a Mountain View, California, company. "We can reconstruct all of their e-mails along with attachments, see what web pages they clicked on, we can reconstruct their (voice over internet protocol) calls.
* * *
The combination can keep track of, analyze and record nearly every form of internet communication, whether e-mail, instant message, video streams or VOIP phone calls that cross the network.

So, what is the real purpose of Bush's NSA spying program? Is terrorism being used as a cover to collect reams of information about Americans to establish a central database? Could there be political motives?

Given this history, is it such a stretch to think the White House might find this information useful in helping Republican candidates hold on to national power in 2008? You really think it would never occur to Bush or Karl Rove that private knowledge of which Democratic supporters were contributing to which candidates, or which campaign advisers were leaking to which reporters, would be an advantage in a tough campaign? Or that a little listen-in to their conversations might produce a few votes? We don't know that this thought ever crossed their minds, but there's so much we don't know about what they are thinking. So we just have to trust the integrity of the administration's public statements. Oh, goodie. Do you feel safer now?

Given that Bush rejected the ThinThread program that is reported to be both effective at finding terrorists and provide protection to privacy rights, one just has to wonder at the real reason for the NSA program.

Go to Original

NSA Killed System That Sifted Phone Data Legally
By Siobhan Gorman
The Baltimore Sun

Wednesday 17 May 2006

Sources say project was shelved in part because of bureaucratic infighting.

Washington - The National Security Agency developed a pilot program in the late 1990s that would have enabled it to gather and analyze massive amounts of communications data without running afoul of privacy laws. But after the Sept. 11 attacks, it shelved the project - not because it failed to work - but because of bureaucratic infighting and a sudden White House expansion of the agency's surveillance powers, according to several intelligence officials.

The agency opted instead to adopt only one component of the program, which produced a far less capable and rigorous program. It remains the backbone of the NSA's warrantless surveillance efforts, tracking domestic and overseas communications from a vast databank of information, and monitoring selected calls.

Four intelligence officials knowledgeable about the program agreed to discuss it with The Sun only if granted anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

The program the NSA rejected, called ThinThread, was developed to handle greater volumes of information, partly in expectation of threats surrounding the millennium celebrations. Sources say it bundled together four cutting-edge surveillance tools. ThinThread would have:

* Used more sophisticated methods of sorting through massive phone and e-mail data to identify suspect communications.

* Identified U.S. phone numbers and other communications data and encrypted them to ensure caller privacy.

* Employed an automated auditing system to monitor how analysts handled the information, in order to prevent misuse and improve efficiency.

* Analyzed the data to identify relationships between callers and chronicle their contacts. Only when evidence of a potential threat had been developed would analysts be able to request decryption of the records.

An agency spokesman declined to discuss NSA operations.

"Given the nature of the work we do, it would be irresponsible to discuss actual or alleged operational issues as it would give those wishing to do harm to the U.S. insight and potentially place Americans in danger," said NSA spokesman Don Weber in a statement to The Sun

"However, it is important to note that NSA takes its legal responsibilities very seriously and operates within the law."

In what intelligence experts describe as rigorous testing of ThinThread in 1998, the project succeeded at each task with high marks. For example, its ability to sort through massive amounts of data to find threat-related communications far surpassed the existing system, sources said. It also was able to rapidly separate and encrypt U.S.-related communications to ensure privacy.

But the NSA, then headed by Air Force Gen. Michael V. Hayden, opted against both of those tools, as well as the feature that monitored potential abuse of the records. Only the data analysis facet of the program survived and became the basis for the warrantless surveillance program.

The decision, which one official attributed to "turf protection and empire building," has undermined the agency's ability to zero in on potential threats, sources say. In the wake of revelations about the agency's wide gathering of U.S. phone records, they add, ThinThread could have provided a simple solution to privacy concerns.

A number of independent studies, including a classified 2004 report from the Pentagon's inspector-general, in addition to the successful pilot tests, found that the program provided "superior processing, filtering and protection of U.S. citizens, and discovery of important and previously unknown targets," said an intelligence official familiar with the program who described the reports to The Sun. The Pentagon report concluded that ThinThread's ability to sort through data in 2001 was far superior to that of another NSA system in place in 2004, and that the program should be launched and enhanced.

Hayden, the president's nominee to lead the CIA, is to appear Thursday before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and is expected to face tough questioning about the warrantless surveillance program, the collection of domestic phone records and other NSA programs.

While the furor over warrantless surveillance, particularly collection of domestic phone records, has raised questions about the legality of the program, there has been little or no discussion about how it might be altered to eliminate such concerns.

ThinThread was designed to address two key challenges: The NSA had more information than it could digest, and, increasingly, its targets were in contact with people in the United States whose calls the agency was prohibited from monitoring.

With the explosion of digital communications, especially phone calls over the Internet and the use of devices such as BlackBerries, the NSA was struggling to sort key nuggets of information from the huge volume of data it took in.

By 1999, as some NSA officials grew increasingly concerned about millennium-related security, ThinThread seemed in position to become an important tool with which the NSA could prevent terrorist attacks. But it was never launched. Neither was it put into effect after the attacks in 2001. Despite its success in tests, ThinThread's information-sorting system was viewed by some in the agency as a competitor to Trailblazer, a $1.2 billion program that was being developed with similar goals. The NSA was committed to Trailblazer, which later ran into trouble and has been essentially abandoned.

Both programs aimed to better sort through the sea of data to find key tips to the next terrorist attack, but Trailblazer had more political support internally because it was initiated by Hayden when he first arrived at the NSA, sources said.

NSA managers did not want to adopt the data-sifting component of ThinThread out of fear that the Trailblazer program would be outperformed and "humiliated," an intelligence official said.

Without ThinThread's data-sifting assets, the warrantless surveillance program was left with a sub-par tool for sniffing out information, and that has diminished the quality of its analysis, according to intelligence officials.

Sources say the NSA's existing system for data-sorting has produced a database clogged with corrupted and useless information.

The mass collection of relatively unsorted data, combined with system flaws that sources say erroneously flag people as suspect, has produced numerous false leads, draining analyst resources, according to two intelligence officials. FBI agents have complained in published reports in The New York Times that NSA leads have resulted in numerous dead ends.

The privacy protections offered by ThinThread were also abandoned in the post-Sept. 11 push by the president for a faster response to terrorism.

Once President Bush gave the go-ahead for the NSA to secretly gather and analyze domestic phone records - an authorization that carried no stipulations about identity protection - agency officials regarded the encryption as an unnecessary step and rejected it, according to two intelligence officials knowledgeable about ThinThread and the warrantless surveillance programs.

"They basically just disabled the [privacy] safeguards," said one intelligence official.

Another, a former top intelligence official, said that without a privacy requirement, "there was no reason to go back to something that was perhaps more difficult to implement."

However two officials familiar with the program said the encryption feature would have been simple to implement. One said the time required would have involved minutes, not hours.

Encryption would have required analysts to be more disciplined in their investigations, however, by forcing them to gather what a court would consider sufficient information to indicate possible terrorist activity before decryption could be authorized.

While it is unclear why the agency dropped the component that monitored for abuse of records, one intelligence official noted that the feature was not popular with analysts. It not only tracked the use of the database, but hunted for the most effective analysis techniques, and some analysts thought it would be used to judge their performance.

Within the NSA, the primary advocate for the ThinThread program was Richard Taylor, who headed the agency's operations division. Taylor who has retired from the NSA, did not return calls seeking comment.

Officials say that after the successful tests of ThinThread in 1998, Taylor argued that the NSA should implement the full program. He later told the 9/11 Commission that ThinThread could have identified the hijackers had it been in place before the attacks, according to an intelligence expert close to the commission.

But at the time, NSA lawyers viewed the program as too aggressive. At that point, the NSA's authority was limited strictly to overseas communications, with the FBI responsible for analyzing domestic calls. The lawyers feared that expanding NSA data collection to include communications in the United States could violate civil liberties, even with the encryption function.

Taylor had an intense meeting with Hayden and NSA lawyers. "It was a very emotional debate," recalled a former intelligence official. "Eventually it was rejected by [NSA] lawyers."

After the 2001 attacks, the NSA lawyers who had blocked the program reversed their position and approved the use of the program without the enhanced technology to sift out terrorist communications and without the encryption protections.

The NSA's new legal analysis was based on the commander in chief's powers during war, said former officials familiar with the program. The Bush administration's defense has rested largely on that argument since the warrantless surveillance program became public in December.

The strength of ThinThread's approach is that by encrypting information on Americans, it is legal regardless of whether the country is at war, according to one intelligence official.

Officials familiar with Thin Thread say some within NSA were stunned by the legal flip-flop. ThinThread "was designed very carefully from a legal point of view, so that even in non-wartime, you could have done it legitimately," the official said.

In a speech in January, Hayden said the warrantless surveillance program was not only limited to al-Qaida communications, but carefully implemented with an eye toward preserving the Constitution and rights of Americans.

"As the director, I was the one responsible to ensure that this program was limited in its scope and disciplined in its application," he said.