Saturday, June 24, 2006

Kicking Open the Gates of Hell

Kicking Open the Gates of Hell
By Mike Whitney

“There’s no way to win an occupation. It’s just a matter of choosing the size of your humiliation.”
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak , nearly two years ago when he cautioned Dick Cheney,

“We have begun shredding documents that show local staff surnames. In March, a few members approached us to ask what provisions we would make for them if we evacuate.” Zalmay Khalizad “Baghdad-memo leaked to Washington Post”

**Saigon and a certain rooftop comes to mind**

06/22/06 "Information Clearing House" -- --- The prospect of an American defeat in Iraq grows greater with every passing day. A memo which was leaked to the Washington Post depicts a situation on the ground which is steadily deteriorating into chaos. The memo, which was written by Iraqi ambassador Zalmay Khalizad, contrasts dramatically with the confident “happy talk” of high-ranking officials in the Bush administration. It offers a bleak “insiders-view” of a society that is progressively crumbling from the nonstop violence and lack of security.

President Bush’s surprise appearance in Baghdad was supposed to shore up support for the flagging mission in Iraq, but according to the memo, even the Green Zone, that one safe-haven in an ocean of resistance, could come under attack in the very near future.

Clearly, if the militia violence and infighting increase much more, American troops will be forced to withdraw quicker than planned. In practical terms, the country is already ungovernable and the newly-elected regime is merely a face to show-off to the anxious American public.

There’s considerable disagreement among critics of the war about how we got to this point. Some believe that Iraq was never going to submit to occupation regardless of how it was carried out. Others argue that the resistance only emerged in reaction to a poorly planned occupation that was unable to provide even minimal security for Iraqi civilians. Most of the criticism has been directed at Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, a man of limited abilities who is incapable of learning from his mistakes. The most scathing rebuke of Rumsfeld came from his own Major General John Batiste in his article “Root Causes of Haditha” which outlines the many grievous tactical and strategic errors Rumsfeld made following the fall of Baghdad. Batiste says:

“America went to war in Iraq with the secretary of defense's plan. He ignored the U.S. Central Command's deliberate planning and strategy, dismissed honest dissent, and browbeat subordinates to build his plan, which did not address the hard work to crush the insurgency, secure a post-Saddam Iraq, build the peace and set Iraq up for self-reliance. He refused to acknowledge and even ignored the potential for the insurgency....Bottom line, his plan allowed the insurgency to take root and grow to where it is today. Our great military lost a critical window of opportunity to secure Iraq because of inadequate troop levels and the decision to stand down the Iraqi security forces.”

Most of what Batiste says squares with the facts as we now know them. There was no plan for occupation and Dick Cheney later admitted on FOX TV that they were frankly surprised at the amount of violence they encountered. The fantasists in the White House expected that the Saddam regime would fall like a house of cards and that the people would greet them as liberators. Contingency plans from the Pentagon and the State Dept were ignored in a breathtaking display of hubris. Even so, Iraqis seemed to take a “wait and see” attitude and it was almost a full year before the resistance was up and running at full speed. If the civilian leadership at the Pentagon had taken the mounting attacks on coalition troops seriously, they may have reversed their strategy and not brushed aside the perpetrators as “dead-enders and ex-Ba’athists”.

Falluja; the turning point

Then there was Falluja. After the killing and desecrating of the 4 Blackwater agents in Falluja, Rumsfeld decided to exact punishment by reducing a city of 250,000 to rubble. Nearly two years later, independent photographers and journalists are still banned from photographing the wreckage.

Many believe that Falluja and Abu Ghraib made the war “unwinnable”; that the “hearts and minds” part of occupation was no longer feasible. Now, American forces must depend on brute force and counterinsurgency operations to pacify an increasingly suspicious and hostile public. That project is failing and mayhem is spreading across the Sunni heartland making occupation more and more untenable.

But the Bush administration faces another dilemma that is even more basic than beating the resistance. They desperately need a strategy for victory and they have no idea of what that might be. There’s no way that Bush can achieve his goals without knowing what those goals are. It seems obvious, but the administration is utterly clueless. Up to now, the strategy has been to simply ensure that “we kill more of them then they do of us”, but that, of course, does not provide a political solution and an end to the conflict.

Representative John Murtha keeps harping away at this one point but, no one in the congress seems to grasp what he’s talking about. They look at him like a madman while they continue to dawdle on meaningless resolutions that merely extend the war into perpetuity.

“There's no plan!” Murtha said on Meet the Press. “You open up this plan for victory. There's no plan there. It's just, ‘Stay the course.’ That doesn't solve the problem. It's worse today than it was six months ago when I spoke out initially. When I spoke out, the garbage wasn't being collected, oil production below pre-War level -- all those things indicated to me we weren't winning this, and it's the same today, if not worse.”

Murtha’s frustration is palpable. He’s the only man in congress who seems to have a grip on the calamity that looms ahead. The rest don’t understand that the United States is losing this war and that a defeat in Iraq will precipitate a seismic shift in the lives of every American.

“The war in Iraq is not going as advertised” Murtha said. “It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion….It is time for a change in direction…. Our military has done its duty. They’ve been fighting a war in Iraq for over two and a half years and now the Administration agrees, Iraq can not be won ‘militarily.’…. We can not continue on the present course. The future of our country is at risk."

“Iraq can not be won ‘militarily’”.

Murtha’s pleas have had little effect on the political landscape. Bush still totters from one photo-op to the next, the media keeps fear-mongering on Al Qaida, and the Congress continues to regurgitate Rove’s silly “cut and run” mantra.

In 3 years of unrelenting bloodshed, the Bush administration has never pursued a political solution. No dialogue, no diplomacy, no negotiations. There’s still the naïve belief that violence alone can achieve their objectives and that America will prevail in any conflict. The administration’s arrogance has set them up for a crushing defeat.

Author Sidney Blumenthal says this about the administration’s approach,

“The Bush way of war has been ahistorical and apolitical, and therefore warped strategically, putting absolute pressure on the military to provide an outcome it cannot provide – ‘victory.’"

As the situation in Iraq continues to worsen, Bush refuses to make any adjustments to his approach; insisting that success is just a matter of “staying the course”. But “victory” is not achievable by perseverance alone; there must intelligence and concrete objectives. An army of 130,000 will not overcome a population of 25 million without tangible goals and a realistic plan for providing security.

Bush ignores military strategist Carl von Clausewitz axiom that “War is politics by other means” Von Clausewitz added, “Subordinating the political point of view to the military would be absurd; for it is policy that creates war. Policy is the guiding intelligence and war only the instrument, not vice versa.” (Thomas Barton)

Bush confuses missiles with foresight, and tanks with political acumen. The results are predictably disastrous.

For Bush, war is a self-ennobling activity that demonstrates the grandiose power of the aggressor but precludes any final resolution. It is merely mindless, indiscriminate violence directed outwards.

After 3 years, the administration still knows next to nothing about its adversary. So far, the resistance has succeeded in all its main aims; frustrating every attempt to establish security, rebuild infrastructure, or to transport oil. The administration has strengthened the resistances’ resolve and swelled their ranks by torturing prisoners, killing civilians, and decimating towns and cities. The vast majority of Iraqis now want the occupation to end and 46% believe that fighters are justified in killing American soldiers.

The United States is now fighting battle-hardened Iraqi nationalists who will not give up or give in until America is compelled to withdraw its troops. But, that is only a small part of the problem. As Khalizad’s memo indicates, the society has broken down into tribal units forming vast, fully-armed militias which have stepped up to fill the security vacuum. The militias have wormed there way into every area of Iraqi society and, now, are active even in the Green Zone; creating a viable threat to the American stronghold.

No wonder Khalizad is alarmed.

In a USA Today article about the memo, the editor says, (The memo) “underscores the uphill battle faced by the fledgling Iraqi government and US forces, the limited time they have to assert control, and even whether that is still possible. …The fundamentalists and militias are fast obtaining the kind of power that destroys governments. To whit: ‘The central government, our staff says, is not relevant.’”

The country is controlled by the militias and the resistance. The United States controls nothing beyond the block-walls and gun-towers of the besieged Green Zone, and now, even that may be in jeopardy. As Patrick Cockburn presciently noted, the memo “portrays a society in the state of collapse.”

Fisk’s Crystal Ball

Months ago, author Robert Fisk said that he could foresee a dramatic event taking place in Iraq that would reshape the public’s attitude towards the war; something comparable to the TET Offensive in Vietnam, which was the turning point for America’s fortunes in that war.

Could the disparate Iraqi resistance actually mount an attack on the Green Zone, the last refuge for America’s puppet regime?

Here’s what Fisk says:

“Sometimes I wonder if there will be a moment when reality and myth, truth and lies, will actually collide. When will the detonation come? When the insurgents wipe out an entire US base? When they pour over the walls of the Green Zone and turn it into the same trashed blocks as the rest of Baghdad? Or will we then be told—as we have been in the past—that this just shows the “desperation” of the insurgents, that these terrible acts only prove that the “terrorist” know they are losing?” (Robert Fisk, “What does Democracy really mean in the Middle East” Aug, 2005)

Khalizad’s frantic memo seems to indicate that such an assault is possible and that the occupants should prepare accordingly.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak anticipated the Iraqi debacle nearly two years ago when he cautioned Dick Cheney, “There’s no way to win an occupation. It’s just a matter of choosing the size of your humiliation.”

That was good advice, but it was ignored.

Bush was also warned strenuously before he began his Iraqi crusade. He was told that if he invaded he would be “kicking open the gates of hell”.

We’ll soon find out whether he’s prepared to deal with the trouble inside.

Newspapers Reject Government Request to Kill Story


Newspapers Reject Government Request to Kill Story
Editor & Publisher

Thursday 22 June 2006

New York - The New York Times and Los Angeles Times on Friday published a major story on government surveillance of private banking records over the objections of the Bush administration.

The same team that produced the Pulitzer-winning National Security Agency (NSA) "domestic spying" program, James Risen and Eric Lichtblau, put together the New York Times' piece. In the middle of the article, they reveal that the White House had asked the paper not to run it. This had happened with the NSA story as well, and the Times put off running the pair's key findings for a year.

"We know the terrorists pay attention to our strategy to fight them, and now have another piece of the puzzle of how we are fighting them," Dana Perino, a White House spokesman said late Thursday. "We also know they adapt their methods, which increases the challenge to our intelligence and law enforcement officials."

Perino added: "The president is concerned that once again The New York Times has chosen to expose a classified program that is working to protect our citizens."

The Risen-Lichtblau story reveals: "The Bush administration has made no secret of its campaign to disrupt terrorist financing, and President Bush, Treasury officials and others have spoken publicly about those efforts. Administration officials, however, asked The New York Times not to publish this article, saying that disclosure of the Swift program could jeopardize its effectiveness. They also enlisted several current and former officials, both Democrat and Republican, to vouch for its value.

"Bill Keller, the newspaper's executive editor, said: 'We have listened closely to the administration's arguments for withholding this information, and given them the most serious and respectful consideration. We remain convinced that the administration's extraordinary access to this vast repository of international financial data, however carefully targeted use of it may be, is a matter of public interest.'

A top official eventually agreed to discuss the classified operation with the reporters after the Times editors told him of the newspaper's decision to go ahead with the story. The Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal also carried stories on the snooping operation on Friday.

The L.A. Times story related: "Bush administration officials asked The Times not to publish information about the program, contending that disclosure could damage its effectiveness and that sufficient safeguards are in place to protect the public."

Dean Baquet, editor of that newspaper, said, "We weighed the government's arguments carefully, but in the end we determined that it was in the public interest to publish information about the extraordinary reach of this program. It is part of the continuing national debate over the aggressive measures employed by the government."

The New York Times article opens: "Under a secret Bush administration program initiated weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, counterterrorism officials have gained access to financial records from a vast international database and examined banking transactions involving thousands of Americans and others in the United States, according to government and industry officials.

"The program is limited, government officials say, to tracing transactions of people suspected of having ties to Al Qaeda by reviewing records from the nerve center of the global banking industry, a Belgian cooperative [known as Swift] that routes about $6 trillion daily between banks, brokerages, stock exchanges and other institutions. The records mostly involve wire transfers and other methods of moving money overseas and into and out of the United States. Most routine financial transactions confined to this country are not in the database."

The complete story can be found at

Robert Parry | Terrorists in Miami, Oh My!


Terrorists in Miami, Oh My!
By Robert Parry
Consortium News

Saturday 24 June 2006

The Bush administration finally took action against alleged terrorists living in plain sight in Miami, but they weren't the right-wing Cuban terrorists implicated in actual acts of terror, such as blowing a civilian Cuban airliner out of the sky. They were seven young black men whose crime was more "aspirational than operational," the FBI said.

As media fanfare over the arrests made the seven young men, many sporting dreadlocks, the new face of the terrorist enemy in America, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales conceded that the men had no weapons or explosives and represented "no immediate threat."

But Gonzales warned that these kinds of homegrown terrorists "may prove to be as dangerous as groups like al-Qaeda." [NYT, June 24, 2006]

For longtime observers of political terrorism in South Florida, the aggressive reaction to what may have been the Miami group's loose talk about violence, possibly spurred by an FBI informant posing as an al-Qaeda operative, stands in marked contrast to the US government's see-no-evil approach to notorious Cuban terrorists who have lived openly in Miami for decades.

For instance, the Bush administration took no action in early April 2006, when a Spanish-language Miami television station interviewed Cuban terrorist Orlando Bosch, who offered a detailed justification for the 1976 mid-air bombing of a Cubana Airlines flight that killed 73 people, including the young members of the Cuban national fencing team.

Bosch refused to admit guilt, but his chilling defense of the bombing - and the strong evidence that has swirled around his role - left little doubt of his complicity, even as he lives in Miami as a free man, protected both in the past and present by the Bush family.

The Bush administration also has acted at a glacial pace in dealing with another Cuban exile implicated in the bombing, Luis Posada Carriles, whose illegal presence in Miami was an open secret for weeks in early 2005 before US authorities took him into custody, only after he had held a press conference.

But even then, the administration has balked at sending Posada back to Venezuela where the government of Hugo Chavez - unlike some of its predecessors - was eager to prosecute Posada for the Cubana Airlines murders.

Summing up George W. Bush's dilemma in 2005, the New York Times wrote, "A grant of asylum could invite charges that the Bush administration is compromising its principle that no nation should harbor suspected terrorists. But to turn Mr. Posada away could provoke political wrath in the conservative Cuban-American communities of South Florida, deep sources of support and campaign money for President Bush and his brother, Jeb." [NYT, May 9, 2005]

Bush Family Ties

But there's really nothing new about these two terrorists - and other violent right-wing extremists - getting protection from the Bush family.

For three decades, both Bosch and Posada have been under the Bush family's protective wing, starting with former President George H.W. Bush (who was CIA director when the airline bombing occurred in 1976) and extending to Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and President George W. Bush.

The evidence points to one obvious conclusion: the Bushes regard terrorism - defined as killing civilians to make a political point - as justified in cases when their interests match those of the terrorists. In other words, their moral outrage is selective, depending on the identity of the victims.

That hypocrisy was dramatized by the TV interview with Bosch on Miami's Channel 41, which was cited in articles on the Internet by Venezuela's lawyer José Pertierra, but was otherwise widely ignored by the US news media. [For Pertierra's story, see Counterpunch, April 11, 2006.]

"Did you down that plane in 1976?" asked reporter Juan Manuel Cao.

"If I tell you that I was involved, I will be inculpating myself," Bosch answered, "and if I tell you that I did not participate in that action, you would say that I am lying. I am therefore not going to answer one thing or the other."

But when Cao asked Bosch to comment on the civilians who died when the plane crashed off the coast of Barbados in 1976, Bosch responded, "In a war such as us Cubans who love liberty wage against the tyrant [Fidel Castro], you have to down planes, you have to sink ships, you have to be prepared to attack anything that is within your reach."

"But don't you feel a little bit for those who were killed there, for their families?" Cao asked.

"Who was on board that plane?" Bosch responded. "Four members of the Communist Party, five North Koreans, five Guyanese." [Officials tallies actually put the Guyanese dead at 11.]

Bosch added, "Four members of the Communist Party, chico! Who was there? Our enemies ..."

"And the fencers?" Cao asked about Cuba's amateur fencing team that had just won gold, silver and bronze medals at a youth fencing competition in Caracas. "The young people on board?"

Bosch replied, "I was in Caracas. I saw the young girls on television. There were six of them. After the end of the competition, the leader of the six dedicated their triumph to the tyrant.... She gave a speech filled with praise for the tyrant.

"We had already agreed in Santo Domingo, that everyone who comes from Cuba to glorify the tyrant had to run the same risks as those men and women that fight alongside the tyranny." [The comment about Santo Domingo was an apparent reference to a strategy meeting by a right-wing terrorist organization, CORU, which took place in the Dominican Republic in 1976.]

"If you ran into the family members who were killed in that plane, wouldn't you think it difficult?" Cao asked.

"No, because in the end those who were there had to know that they were cooperating with the tyranny in Cuba," Bosch answered.

In an article about Bosch's remarks, lawyer Pertierra said the answers "give us a glimpse into the mind of the kind of terrorist that the United States government harbors and protects in Miami."

The Posada Case

Bosch was arrested for illegally entering the United States during the first Bush administration, but he was paroled in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush at the behest of the President's eldest son Jeb, then an aspiring Florida politician.

Not only did the first Bush administration free Bosch from jail a decade and a half ago, the second Bush administration has now pushed Venezuela's extradition request for his alleged co-conspirator, Posada, onto the back burner.

The downed Cubana Airlines flight originated in Caracas where Venezuelan authorities allege the terrorist plot was hatched. However, US officials have resisted returning Posada to Venezuela because Hugo Chavez is seen as friendly to Castro's communist government in Cuba.

At a US immigration hearing in 2005, Posada's defense attorney put on a Posada friend as a witness who alleged that Venezuela's government practices torture. Bush administration lawyers didn't challenge the claim, leading the immigration judge to bar Posada's deportation to Venezuela.

In September 2005, Venezuela's Ambassador Bernardo Alvarez called the 77-year-old Posada "the Osama Bin Laden of Latin America" and accused the Bush administration of applying "a cynical double standard" in its War on Terror.

Alvarez also denied that Venezuela practices torture. "There isn't a shred of evidence that Posada would be tortured in Venezuela," Alvarez said, adding that the claim is particularly ironic given widespread press accounts that the Bush administration has abused prisoners at the US military base in Guatanamo Bay, Cuba.

Theoretically, the Bush administration could still extradite Posada to Venezuela to face the 73 murder counts, but it is essentially ignoring Venezuela's extradition request while holding Posada on minor immigration charges of entering the United States illegally.

Meanwhile, Posada has begun maneuvering to gain his freedom. Citing his service in the US military from 1963-65 in Vietnam, Posada has applied for US citizenship, and his lawyer Eduardo Soto has threatened to call US government witnesses, including former White House aide Oliver North, to vouch for Posada's past service to Washington.

Posada became a figure in the Iran-Contra scandal because of his work on a clandestine program to aid Nicaraguan contra rebels fighting Nicaragua's leftist Sandinista government. The operation was run secretly out of the White House by North with the help of the office of then-Vice President George H.W. Bush.

Posada reached Central America in 1985 after escaping from a Venezuelan prison where he had been facing charges from the 1976 Cubana Airlines bombing. Posada, using the name Ramon Medina, teamed up with another Cuban exile, former CIA officer Felix Rodriguez, who reported regularly to Bush's office.

Posada oversaw logistics and served as paymaster for pilots in the contra-supply operation. When one of the contra-supply planes was shot down inside Nicaragua in October 1986, Posada was responsible for alerting US officials to the crisis and then shutting down the operation's safe houses in El Salvador.

Even after the exposure of Posada's role in the contra-supply operation, the US government made no effort to bring the accused terrorist to justice.

Secret History

As for the Cubana Airlines bombing, declassified US documents show that after the plane was blown out of the sky on Oct. 6, 1976, the CIA, then under the direction of George H.W. Bush, quickly identified Posada and Bosch as the masterminds of the Cubana Airlines bombing.

But in fall 1976, Bush's boss, President Gerald Ford, was in a tight election battle with Democrat Jimmy Carter and the Ford administration wanted to keep intelligence scandals out of the newspapers. So Bush and other officials kept the lid on the investigations. [For details, see Robert Parry's Secrecy & Privilege.]

Still, inside the US government, the facts were known. According to a secret CIA cable dated Oct. 14, 1976, intelligence sources in Venezuela relayed information about the Cubana Airlines bombing that tied in anti-communist Cuban extremists Bosch, who had been visiting Venezuela, and Posada, who then served as a senior officer in Venezuela's intelligence agency, DISIP.

The Oct. 14 cable said Bosch arrived in Venezuela in late September 1976 under the protection of Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez, a close Washington ally who assigned his intelligence adviser Orlando Garcia "to protect and assist Bosch during his stay in Venezuela."

On his arrival, Bosch was met by Garcia and Posada, according to the report. Later, a fundraising dinner was held in Bosch's honor during which Bosch requested cash from the Venezuelan government in exchange for assurances that Cuban exiles wouldn't demonstrate during Andres Perez's planned trip to the United Nations.

"A few days following the fund-raising dinner, Posada was overheard to say that, 'we are going to hit a Cuban airplane,' and that 'Orlando has the details,'" the CIA report said.

"Following the 6 October Cubana Airline crash off the coast of Barbados, Bosch, Garcia and Posada agreed that it would be best for Bosch to leave Venezuela. Therefore, on 9 October, Posada and Garcia escorted Bosch to the Colombian border, where he crossed into Colombian territory."

The CIA report was sent to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, as well as to the FBI and other US intelligence agencies, according to markings on the cable.

A Round-Up

In South America, investigators began rounding up suspects in the bombing.

Two Cuban exiles, Hernan Ricardo and Freddy Lugo, who had left the Cubana plane in Barbados, confessed that they had planted the bomb. They named Bosch and Posada as the architects of the attack.

A search of Posada's apartment in Venezuela turned up Cubana Airlines timetables and other incriminating documents.

Posada and Bosch were arrested and charged in Venezuela for the Cubana Airlines bombing, but the men denied the accusations. The case soon became a political tug-of-war, since the suspects were in possession of sensitive Venezuelan government secrets that could embarrass President Andres Perez. The case lingered for almost a decade.

After the Reagan-Bush administration took power in Washington in 1981, the momentum for fully unraveling the mysteries of anti-communist terrorist plots dissipated. The Cold War trumped any concern about right-wing terrorism.

By the late 1980s, Orlando Bosch also was out of Venezuela's jails and back in Miami. But Bosch, who had been implicated in about 30 violent attacks, was facing possible deportation by US officials who warned that Washington couldn't credibly lecture other countries about terrorism while protecting a terrorist like Bosch.

But Bosch got lucky. Jeb Bush, then an aspiring Florida politician, led a lobbying drive to prevent the US Immigration and Naturalization Service from expelling Bosch. In 1990, the lobbying paid dividends when Jeb's dad, President George H.W. Bush, blocked proceedings against Bosch, letting the unapologetic terrorist stay in the United States.

In 1992, also during George H.W. Bush's presidency, the FBI interviewed Posada about the Iran-Contra scandal for 6 ½ hours at the US Embassy in Honduras.

Posada filled in some blanks about the role of Bush's vice presidential office in the secret contra operation. According to a 31-page summary of the FBI interview, Posada said Bush's national security adviser, Donald Gregg, was in frequent contact with Felix Rodriguez.

"Posada ... recalls that Rodriguez was always calling Gregg," the FBI summary said. "Posada knows this because he's the one who paid Rodriguez' phone bill." After the interview, the FBI agents let Posada walk out of the embassy to freedom. [For details, see Parry's Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & Project Truth.]

More Attacks

Posada soon returned to his anti-Castro plotting.

In 1994, Posada set out to kill Castro during a trip to Cartagena, Colombia. Posada and five cohorts reached Cartagena, but the plan flopped when security cordons prevented the would-be assassins from getting a clean shot at Castro, according to a Miami Herald account. [Miami Herald, June 7, 1998]

The Herald also described Posada's role in a lethal 1997 bombing campaign against popular hotels and restaurants inside Cuba that killed an Italian tourist. The story cited documentary evidence that Posada arranged payments to conspirators from accounts in the United States.

Posada landed back in jail in 2000 after Cuban intelligence uncovered a plot to assassinate Castro by planting a bomb at a meeting the Cuban leader planned with university students in Panama.

Panamanian authorities arrested Posada and other alleged co-conspirators in November 2000. In April 2004, they were sentenced to eight or nine years in prison for endangering public safety.

Four months after the sentencing, however, lame-duck Panamanian President Mireya Moscoso - who lives in Key Biscayne, Florida, and has close ties to the Cuban-American community and to George W. Bush's administration - pardoned the convicts.

Despite press reports saying Moscoso had been in contact with US officials about the pardons, the State Department denied that it pressured Moscoso to release the Cuban exiles. After the pardons and just two months before Election 2004, three of Posada's co-conspirators - Guillermo Novo Sampol, Pedro Remon and Gaspar Jimenez - arrived in Miami to a hero's welcome, flashing victory signs at their supporters.

While the terrorists celebrated, US authorities watched the men - also implicated in bombings in New York, New Jersey and Florida - alight on US soil. As Washington Post writer Marcela Sanchez noted in a September 2004 article about the Panamanian pardons, "there is something terribly wrong when the United States, after Sept. 11 (2001), fails to condemn the pardoning of terrorists and instead allows them to walk free on US streets." [Washington Post, Sept. 3, 2004.]

But a whole different set of standards is now being applied to the seven black terrorism suspects in Miami. Even though they had no clear-cut plans or even the tools to carry out terrorist attacks, they have been rounded up amid great media hoopla.

The American people have been reassured that the terrorists in Miami have been located and are being brought to justice.

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at It's also available at, as is his 1999 book, Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth.'

Iraqi PM Calls for Withdrawal Timetable


Maliki's Master Plan
By Rod Nordland

Saturday 24 June 2006

A national reconciliation plan for Iraq calls for a timetable for withdrawal of US troops and, controversially, amnesty for insurgents who attacked American and Iraqi soldiers.

A timetable for withdrawal of occupation troops from Iraq. Amnesty for all insurgents who attacked US and Iraqi military targets. Release of all security detainees from US and Iraqi prisons. Compensation for victims of coalition military operations.

Those sound like the demands of some of the insurgents themselves, and in fact they are. But they're also key clauses of a national reconciliation plan drafted by new Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who will unveil it Sunday. The provisions will spark sharp debate in Iraq - but the fiercest opposition is likely to come from Washington, which has opposed any talk of timetables, or of amnesty for insurgents who have attacked American soldiers.

But in Iraq, even a senior military official in the US-led coalition said Friday that the coalition might consider a timetable under certain circumstances. And the official was careful to point out that a distinction needs to be made between terrorists and the resistance.

NEWSWEEK has obtained a draft copy of the national reconciliation plan, and verified its contents with two Iraqi officials involved in the reconciliation process who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the plan's contents. Prime Minister Maliki will present the document to the National Assembly when it convenes on Sunday, and it's expected to be debated over the coming week. Maliki has made reconciliation and control of party militias the main emphasis of his new government. This plan follows a series of secret negotiations over the past two months between seven insurgent groups, President Jalal Talabani and officials of the US embassy. The insurgent groups involved are Sunnis but do not include foreign jihadis like al Qaeda and other terrorist factions who deliberately target civilians; those groups have always denounced any negotiations.

The distinction between insurgents and terrorists is one of the key principles in the document, and is in response to Sunni politicians' demands that the "national resistance" should not be punished for what they see as legitimate self-defense in attacks against a foreign occupying power. Principle No. 19 calls for "Recognizing the legitimacy of the national resistance and differentiating or separating it from terrorism" while "encouraging the national resistance to enroll in the political process and recognizing the necessity of the participation of the national resistance in the national reconciliation dialogue."

The plan also calls for a withdrawal timetable for coalition forces from Iraq, but it doesn't specify an actual date - one of the Sunnis' key demands. It calls for "the necessity of agreeing on a timetable under conditions that take into account the formation of Iraqi armed forces so as to guarantee Iraq's security," and asks that a U.N. Security Council decree confirm the timetable. Mahmoud Othman, a National Assembly member who is close to President Talabani, said that no one disagrees with the concept of a broad, conditions-based timetable. The problem is specifying a date, which the United States has rejected as playing into the insurgents' hands. But Othman didn't rule out that reconciliation negotiations called for in the plan might well lead to setting a date. "That will be a problem between the Iraqi government and the other side [the insurgents], and we will see how it goes. It's not very clear yet."

The senior coalition military official, who agreed to discuss this subject with NEWSWEEK and The Times of London on the condition of anonymity, notably did not outright rule out the idea of a date. "One of the advantages of a timetable - all of a sudden there is a date which is a much more explicit thing than an abstract condition," he said. "That's the sort of assurance that [the Sunnis] are looking for."

"Does that mean the subject of a date is up for negotiation?" he was asked. "I think that if men of goodwill sit down together and exchange ideas, which might be defined either by a timetable or by ... sets of conditions, there must be a capacity to find common ground," the official said.

The US ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, in a recent interview with NEWSWEEK referred to a "conditions-driven roadmap" rather than a timetable. Officially, the US position is that coalition troops would leave as soon as Iraqi government officials say they're able to handle their own security, which leaves some room for diplomatic wiggle if the Iraqis declare their own intended timetable.

Equally contentious from the US point of view is the idea of granting amnesty to insurgents who have attacked and killed American soldiers. That is almost taken as a given by Iraqi negotiators, however. The draft plan calls for the release of all security detainees being held without charges in the country, estimated at as many as 14,000, going far beyond Maliki's announcement two weeks ago that he would be releasing 2,500 such detainees. In addition, the draft plan suggests forming a committee to decide on release of those convicted of crimes already. In both cases, those convicted of common crimes or of terrorism would be exempted from the amnesty.

The devil will likely be in the details. Everyone agrees for instance that a bomb set off in a mosque is terrorism. But if a roadside bomb is set off targeting soldiers, but killing innocent bystanders - is that resistance, or terrorism? "A lot will depend on the exact wording," says Othman.

Maliki's reconciliation plan will undoubtedly be the subject of protracted discussions, and not everyone in the Iraqi government is pleased with it. The document also calls for bringing militias and "death squads" under control - a provision which the powerful Shia party, SCIRI, is not happy with, because it effectively equates militias with the insurgents. Maliki is also Shia but from the Dawa party. And Sunnis, for their part, are reluctant to renounce the insurgency when they are still threatened by Shia militias, and by Shia-dominated police. "The Sunnis have only one card to play, the insurgency," says the senior coalition official. "They don't have enough population and they're not sitting on any of the resources. Therefore their political identity is almost entirely defined by the insurgency."

Breaking that Shia/Sunni impasse won't be easy. But as the US ambassador says, "Every war must come to an end," and few on any side in Iraq any longer believe they can kill their way to peace. The only alternative is to try to talk their way there.

yet more data thefts

July 2, 2006 -- There has been another theft of sensitive personal data in the continuing epidemic of such thefts across the United States. WMR has been reporting the thefts are part of a covert Bush administration program to populate Total Information Awareness (TIA) databases secretly maintained by the National Security Agency. This time the target was, once again, the American Red Cross's blood donor database. A laptop computer containing the names, dates of birth, and diseases, including sexually transmitted diseases, of donors in Texas and Oklahoma, was stolen from a locked Red Cross office closet in the Dallas area. A similar theft of a laptop containing similar Red Cross blood donor information from the same office was reported in June 2005. The American Red Cross contends that in both thefts of donor data the information was encrypted and required a password. However, considering these thefts are being carried out by a covert, carve-out team of contractors working for U.S. intelligence, commercial-grade encryption is easily broken.

June 30, 2006 -- After the Veterans Affairs Department claimed it recovered the lap top containing the personal details on 28.7 million veterans and active duty personnel and then claimed that the data had not been accessed (a spurious claim considering current data recovery technology), comes word of yet another personal data theft. The Minnesota Department of Revenue has reported that a data tape containing the names and Social Security Numbers of 2400 Minnesota taxpayers, in addition to data on 48,000 businesses, was possibly stolen from the U.S. Postal Service after being mailed from the department's Brainerd office. The physical theft of personal data, as previously reported by WMR, is part of a covert U.S. intelligence program to populate Total Information Awareness surveillance databases.

The theft of personal data

FBI Says Data on VA Laptop Not Accessed
Thursday June 29, 2006 11:31 PM
....Under House questioning, the VA also:

-Disclosed it had lost sensitive data in at least two other cases. In Minneapolis, a VA employee put a laptop containing data for more than 60 veterans in the trunk of his car, which was then stolen. There have been two reports of identity theft from that incident, according to Buyer.

In Indianapolis, a back-up tape containing files on as many as 16,357 legal cases involving veterans was lost from a VA regional office. Nicholson said authorities and the VA inspector general were investigating, and those whose information was lost would be provided credit monitoring.....

June 25, 2006 --
We have yet another report of personal data being stolen from an office. This time it was a computer stolen from an Allstate office in Huntsville, Alabama that contained personal information on Allstate policy holders. Allstate policy holders in Alabama received the following statement in a letter from Allstate, "an unfortunate situation involving the theft of a computer from your Allstate agent's office ... the computer contained personal information including images of your policy and correspondence."

June 23, 2006 -- The theft of personal data by what WMR has reported is a covert team of U.S. intelligence agents determined to populate Total Information Awareness surveillance databases has reached a new level of absurdity. Ten days ago, two Federal Trade Commission (FTC) laptops containing personal data on 1100 FTC employees were stolen from the car of an FTC attorney. Ironically, the FTC is charged with combating identity theft in the United States. Meanwhile, the FBI continues to sit idly by, choosing instead to round up Miami residents, including a Haitian ringleader, and charging them with planning to carry out "Al Qaeda" terrorist attacks around the United States, including the Sears Tower in Chicago.

WMR has received "over the transom" letters from the Hawaii Attorney General and Senator Charles Grassley concerning the epidemic of personal data theft throughout the nation. WMR has received further confirmation from government sources that the ongoing thefts are part of an off-the-books and illegal U.S. intelligence operation and the FBI has been ordered to "stand down" on any criminal investigations.

Miami Seven Stand Accused of Thought Crime

Another Day in the Empire

Saturday June 24th 2006, 8:32 am

"...the point here is to scare the pants off clueless Americans perched before their idiot tubes, digesting pablum dispensed by the Ministry of Neocon Lies and Fantastic Campfire Stories..."

In regard to arrested Nuwaubians in Miami, Time Magazine writes: “The arrested men appear to be part of a cult organization proclaiming itself to be Muslim—although a member of the same religious group says it is, in fact, based on a homebrew of Islam and Christianity, and calls itself ‘Seas of David.’ Its members, mainly Americans and Haitan (sic) immigrants, clearly have an enthusiasm for emulating and following al-Qaeda. But their only ‘connection’ with al-Qaeda appears to have been the fact that a government informant who had infiltrated their ranks had apparently convinced the alleged conspirators that he was, in fact, a Qaeda operative. The oaths of allegiance to the organization alleged by the indictment to have been taken by the accused were administered not by any representative of the organization, but to a U.S. government agent posing as a Qaeda operative.”

In other words, they were entrapped, same as the “terrorists” in Ottawa.

It is now apparently a crime to have “enthusiasm for emulating and following al-Qaeda,” absurd as this is on its face, especially for members of a cult not strictly based on “Islam and Christianity,” as the stenographers at Time would have us believe.

Nuwaubianism is an odd mélange of Madame Blavatsky influenced spiritualism and alien cryptozoology, among other things, and is not based on Sunni fundamentalism. Nuwaubianism is counter to the austere monotheism of Wahhabism and no doubt an operative from “al-Qaeda” would find the religion heretical and his young charges unacceptable for a holy war against the United States.

But then the “operative” behind the bust is an FBI agent, not a Sunni fundamentalist hailing from the fantastical “al-Qaeda,” a movement essentially created by western intelligence, Pakistan’s Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, and funded by Saudi Arabia.

Time Magazine admits these Nuwaubian influenced “terrorists” were basically harmless, “strutting around a poor black neighborhood in military-style uniforms, wearing turbans, standing guard around the abandoned warehouse in which they lived and conducting late-night exercise drills, while telling neighbors that they had ‘given their lives to Allah.’ The basic habit of trained terrorists is secrecy and stealth; they do their utmost to fit in with their surroundings rather than stand out. The Miami seven, according to reports thus far, seemed to have been doing the exact opposite, behaving more like a Hollywood B-movie version of terrorists than the real thing.”

However, for the government and the corporate media, “Hollywood B-movie” terrorists are just what the doctor ordered, as Americans are surrounded by Hollywood stereotypes and these work just fine on their collective psyche.

“The London bombings last summer were carried out by a self-taught group of British-born men who had no direct connection with al-Qaeda, yet sought to emulate it. But that grouping, perhaps having learned from the Qaeda terror manuals widely available on jihadist web sites, seem to have observed many of the same principles of secrecy that a group like the 9/11 plotters would have . Friends, family and neighbors were shocked to learn that young men in their midst who seemed no different from any others turned out to be terrorists. The extent of the danger represented by such groups depends on their capacities: Are they able to operate undetected? Do they have the means to carry out attacks? Do they have workable plans for such attacks?”

Never mind that the London bombings were masterminded by a known MI6 asset, Haroon Rashid Aswat, and Iyman Faris, supposedly an “al-Qaeda” operative who supposedly plotted to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge, was an FBI asset, or in the weeks before nine eleven, the alleged hijackers were monitored by numerous intelligence agencies as they attempted to bone up on their miserable flight skills. It is of little significance Israeli “art students” (i.e., young Mossad agents) followed around and kept close tabs on Mohammed Atta and his key accomplice, Marwan al-Shehi.

“After 911 these so called terrorists have been allowed to go on with business as usual, despite the ‘war on terror’ and in many instances have been protected. It seems that the authorities find it more useful to restrict the liberties of law abiding citizens by introducing draconian restrictive laws such as the Patriot act and Free speech zoning, whilst allowing those they label as terrorists to go undetected,” writes Steve Watson.

***makes you wonder just who the govt is waging war on, doesn't it?***

As well, the authorities, with the help of a complaisant corporate media, find it useful to set-up and frame young African-Americans who may or may not espouse al-Qaedaism, with more than a little help from the FBI.

“From the indictment it is clear that the men had no shortage of ambition, asking for al-Qaeda training to wage a ‘full ground war’ to ‘kill all the devils we can.’ To his end, the group asked the undercover agent for a wish-list of equipment that included boots, uniforms, machine guns, bullet-proof vests, radios and vehicles—as well as $50,000 in cash,” Time continues. “The group’s leader also provided the government agent with ‘a list of shoe sizes for the purchase of military boots for his “soldiers”.’ The idea that these seven men could wage a ‘ground war’ in the U.S. seems to have more in common with the fevered thinking behind various deadly cults over the years than with the operations of international terror networks.”

In other words, without the help of the FBI, determined to establish a “homegrown” terrorist threat, as elucidated by FBI head honcho Robert Mueller in Cleveland as the bust unfolded in Miami, these “terrorists,” hailing from a cult that believes in shape-shifting reptiles, would have gone nowhere.

“We’ve already seen this new face in terrorism in Madrid, London and Toronto,” Mueller told the City Club in Cleveland. “They were persons who came to view their country as the enemy,” a view helped along by FBI “informants,” also known as agents provocateurs, practicing a form of entrapment perfected during the halcyon days of COINTELPRO—now back with a vengeance, as the neocons are in the process of demonizing Muslims of all stripe, even if said Muslims blend Moorish Science, nominally Islamic, with the belief their leader, Malachi Z. York, is from the planet Rizq.

“Fevered minds can be very dangerous, of course. But the threat they present is quite different from that of transnational terror groups. After all, the government appears to have had no problem infiltrating and exposing this group, which was hardly making itself inconspicuous or impregnable—unlike the New York subway plot reported in TIME this week, whose perpetrators slipped into the U.S., conducted their surveillance, prepared the operational details of poison gas attacks, then aborted them on instructions from al-Qaeda leaders and departed America, all with U.S. security none the wiser.”

It appears the “fevered minds” of the Nuwaubians were exploited by the FBI, a possibility that does not seem to bother Time Magazine, as it is staunchly behind the effort to convince Americans, weary of war and terrorism, they face “homegrown” terrorism, a threat, however preposterous, more ominous than the alleged threat posed by “transnational terror groups,” most in fact created by the CIA, MI6, Mossad, the Pentagon’s DIA, and other intelligence outfits working in the shadows.

Finally, although we were initially told these putative Nuwaubian al-Qaedaites wanted to kill “white devils,” now we are told they wanted to “levy war against the government of the United States.” It is absurd to believe impoverished kids from a Miami ghetto would be capable of taking on the government, especially when they are reduced to begging for boots and money from the FBI. As usual, rationality does not figure into the equation, as the point here is to scare the pants off clueless Americans perched before their idiot tubes, digesting pablum dispensed by the Ministry of Neocon Lies and Fantastic Campfire Stories.

However, this did not stop U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta from declaring: “You want to go and disrupt cells like this before they acquire the means to accomplish their goals.” It also helps to plant an agent provocateur in their midst to egg them on and offer assistance. In effect, Acosta is accusing the “Miami Seven” of little more than thought crime.

But then thought crime in America, as in Orwell’s Oceania, is a punishable offense.

Ex-DIA analyst admits spying for China -- World Peace Herald


Ex-DIA analyst admits spying for China
By Bill Gertz
The Washington Times
Published June 23, 2006

A former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst has pleaded guilty to illegally holding classified documents and admitted in a plea agreement to passing "top secret" information to Chinese intelligence officials.

Ronald N. Montaperto, the former analyst who held a security clearance as a China specialist at a U.S. Pacific Command research center until 2004, pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful retention of national defense information, according to court papers and law officials familiar with the case, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

"Montaperto admitted to verbally providing [Chinese military] attaches a considerable amount of information that was useful to them, including classified information," according to a statement of facts submitted in the case.

Montaperto told investigators he could not recall specific information he gave Chinese attaches Col. Yang Qiming, Col. Yu Zhenghe and other Chinese officers during his 22-year career in government. But the statement said it included both "secret" and "top secret" data. It also said he had close unauthorized relationships with the two officers.

The guilty plea was part of an agreement reached Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria. The conviction can carry fines of up to $250,000 and a prison term of up to 10 years. Sentencing is set for Sept. 8.

A Pentagon official said Montaperto's value to China included both the secrets he shared and his role facilitating Chinese deception of U.S. intelligence by providing feedback on how those efforts were working.

A senior U.S. intelligence official bluntly stated, "He was a spy for China."

During questioning by investigators in Hawaii in 2003, where he was dean of the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, Montaperto said he verbally gave Col. Yang and Col. Yu both "secret" and "top secret" information, the statement said.

"He admitted to passing classified information to military attaches who the FBI determined were Chinese intelligence officials," said a law-enforcement official involved in the case.

Montaperto, 66, joined the DIA in 1981 and eight years later sought a post at the CIA that eventually led to suspicions he was a spy for China. An investigation of his links to Chinese intelligence in 1991 was dropped for lack of evidence.

He had been part of a DIA program involving authorized contacts with Chinese embassy officials. However, the statement said Montaperto failed to report his contacts, as required by security rules.

After leaving DIA, Montaperto continued in government at the National Defense University and then became the dean of the Pacific Command think tank until his dismissal in 2004.

A second investigation that led to his guilty plea was started in August 2001 and led to the discovery of classified documents in his Springfield residence.

Reached by telephone Monday at his home in Morehead City, N.C., before the plea agreement was finalized, Mr. Montaperto declined to comment.

Investigators from the FBI and Naval Criminal Investigative Service started a sting operation in July 2003 that involved asking Montaperto to join a China-related intelligence program that required him to undergo polygraph testing. Under questioning prior to the test, he made the admissions about passing secrets to China, the statement said.

The information supplied to the Chinese included top secret details of the sale of Chinese military equipment and missiles to the Middle East, the statement said.

***oh, let me guess...Iran?***

The plea agreement requires Montaperto undergo debriefings and forbids him any contact with foreign agents. "He's already given a lot of information," one official said.

According to U.S. intelligence officials, Montaperto was among a number of U.S. intelligence officials who came under suspicion of being informants following the defection of a Chinese intelligence official in the late 1980s. The defector revealed that Beijing had successfully developed five to 10 clandestine sources of information here.

Montaperto also was part of an influential group of pro-China academics and officials in the U.S. policy and intelligence community who share similar benign views of China. The group, dubbed the Red Team by critics, harshly criticizes anyone who raises questions about the threat posed by Beijing's communist regime.

Terror Suspects Had No Explosives and Few Contacts


Terror Suspects Had No Explosives and Few Contacts
Sears Tower Plan Never Finished, Authorities Say

By Peter Whoriskey and Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, June 24, 2006; A03

MIAMI, June 23 -- Federal authorities announced charges here Friday against seven men they described as "a homegrown terrorist cell" that planned to blow up Chicago's Sears Tower and other buildings. But officials conceded that the group never had contact with al-Qaeda or other terrorist groups and had not acquired any explosives.

The group, which operated from a small, warehouse-like building in Miami's impoverished Liberty City neighborhood, adhered to a vague and militant Islamic ideology, claimed the U.S. government had no authority over it, and was led by a charismatic Haitian American named Narseal Batiste, according to officials and the four-count indictment. All but one of the members were citizens or legal residents of the United States.

The case underscores the murkiness that has been common to many of the government's terrorism-related prosecutions since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, cases that often hinge on ill-formed plots or debatable connections to terrorism. It is also the latest in a series of FBI-run stings involving informants or government agents who pose as terrorists to build a case.

The indictment, which charges the men with seeking support from al-Qaeda to wage a "ground war" on the United States, is based primarily on Batiste's interactions with an unidentified government informant who posed as an al-Qaeda "representative" and discussed plans for bombings and assaults on the Sears Tower, the FBI office in Miami and other targets. Batiste and the six others also allegedly swore an oath of loyalty to al-Qaeda during meetings with the informant, according to the charges.

"On or about December 16, 2005, Narseal Batiste provided the 'al Qaeda representative' (actually the FBI informant) with a list of materials and equipment needed in order to wage jihad, which list included boots, uniforms, machine guns, radios and vehicles," the indictment said. The indictment said the group's aim was to " 'kill all the devils we can' in a mission that would 'be just as good or greater than 9/11.' "

But officials said the plot never progressed beyond the early planning stages and the group had no known contact with al-Qaeda. Batiste allegedly recorded video of the U.S. courthouse and other federal buildings in Miami as part of a casing operation, but the camera was provided by the government informant, the indictment said.

Deputy FBI Director John S. Pistole said at a news conference in Washington that the talk of attacking the 110-story Sears Tower -- the tallest building in the United States -- was "aspirational rather than operational." He said none of the men appeared on U.S. terrorism watch lists.

But Pistole and other U.S. officials said aggressive policing and early arrests were necessary to ensure that potential terrorist attacks -- no matter how improbable they may seem -- are thwarted. Prosecutors say that the group's alleged actions, including the video recordings and the requests for weapons and explosives, amounted to overt acts that can be prosecuted under federal anti-terrorism laws.

"Our philosophy is that we try to identify plots in the earliest stages possible, because we don't know what we don't know about a terrorism plot, and that once we have sufficient information to move forward with the prosecution, that's what we do," Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales said at the Washington news conference.

Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert who heads the Washington office of the Rand Corp., said that the Miami plot appears to be "embryonic at best" but that "amateur terrorists can kill as effectively as the professional kind."

"It seems clear that their ambitions were serious; what's not clear is whether they had any real capabilities to pull it off," Hoffman said. "This is the difficult balance that we're trying to strike between being vigilant and not overreacting and equating this with 9/11 or something."

The group came to the attention of authorities when its members began to seek the aid of foreign agents who could help them, federal officials said at a Miami news conference. One of the people the group sought aid from tipped terrorism investigators. A federal informant then presented himself to the group as an al-Qaeda representative, officials said.

On Dec. 16, 2005, Batiste met in a hotel room with the informant and, around the same time, said he was trying to build an "Islamic Army" to wage jihad, according to the indictment. He also asked for boots, uniforms, machine guns, radios, vehicles and $50,000 in cash.

But the suspects received little other than military boots and the video camera from the false al-Qaeda representative, according to the indictment. By May, the indictment suggests, the plan had largely petered out because of organizational problems.

Batiste appeared in federal court in Miami on Friday along with four other defendants who had been arrested during the FBI raids Thursday: Patrick Abraham, Naudimar Herrera, Burson Augustin and Rotschild Augustine. Another defendant, Lyglenson Lemorin, was arrested in Atlanta, while the seventh, Stanley Grant Phanor, was already in custody on a probation charge.

Five of the men are U.S. citizens. Abraham is a Haitian illegally in the country, and Lemorin is a Haitian with legal residency here, officials said. At least six of the seven appear to have faced criminal charges before, according to records, for marijuana possession, battery, assault and concealed weapons.

Phanor had worked in construction, his family said, and took up studying Islam at the warehouse-like building a year ago. He called it "the temple."

"He does not have the heart to kill people," his disbelieving mother, Elizene Phanor, said, falling to her knees. "I swear to God."

The men gathered daily at the building, neighbors said. It used to be a sandwich shop, but less than a year ago the men moved in and remodeled, a neighbor said.

The men sported a variety of dress -- sometimes they were seen in black fatigues, sometimes in ski masks, sometimes in fezzes and dashikis -- and at one point they arranged flags from a number of nations, including Jamaica, Haiti and Cuba, around the building, according to neighbors.

They were not well funded: Neighbors said the men drove old cars and some of them made money by selling shampoo and hair tonic on the street. At Friday's hearing, the defendants said they were self-employed, and all qualified to be represented by a public defender. Batiste, who did stucco work, told the judge he made about $30,000 a year.

"We used to wonder, 'What are they doing? Who are they?' " said Babalu Nesbitt, 67, an immigrant from the Bahamas who collects cans for recycling for a living and who lives close to the building. "But they were the kind that only wanted to talk to their own."

They held readings of the Koran at times, and at others could be seen practicing martial arts outside. After Hurricane Wilma knocked out the electricity in the area for days last fall, the group passed out water from a silver van, some neighbors recalled.

Christopher Johnson, 37, a bodyguard and former Navy SEAL, said he recalled watching the martial arts they were using and being surprised that it seemed to be less about self-defense and more about attack. "A little bell went off," he said. "I thought, 'There's got to be a bigger purpose.' But I let it ride."

In Chicago, Police Superintendent Philip J. Cline told reporters that Batiste used to live in Chicago and was once arrested on a misdemeanor property damage charge. But he said the Miami group never came close to mounting an attack there.

"There was never any imminent danger to the Sears Tower or Chicago," Cline said.

Eggen reported from Washington. Staff writer Peter Slevin in Chicago and researcher Julie Tate in Washington contributed to this report.

Harrisburg Paper Breaks News of Yet Another Possible Atrocity in Iraq

Published: June 23, 2006 2:15 PM ET

HARRISBURG Two Pennsylvania National Guardsmen are being investigated in connection with the shooting death of an Iraqi civilian earlier this year and have not returned to the United States with the rest of their unit, a Guard spokesman said Friday.

The two soldiers, Spc. Nathan B. Lynn, 21, of South Williamsport, and Sgt. Milton Ortiz Jr., 36, of Islip, N.Y., were both members of a combat team whose members began returning home earlier this month after a yearlong deployment.

Lt. Col. Chris Cleaver, spokesman for the Pennsylvania National Guard, said the Army is handling the investigation. He said he could not release other details.

Army Sgt. Doug Anderson, a military spokesman in Baghdad, had no immediate comment.

The Patriot-News of Harrisburg, which reported on the investigation in Friday's editions, quoted an unidentified member of Lynn's unit as saying that the civilian was shot during a February search of a home in Jazeera, near Ramadi.

Lynn's father, Williamsport police Capt. William Lynn, told the newspaper that his son maintains his innocence. William Lynn did not immediately return a phone message left at his office by The Associated Press on Friday.

Lynn joined the Guard in 2002, Ortiz in 1991; both are with a unit a based in Williamsport.

The allegations surfaced as seven Marines and a Navy medic are facing charges they killed an Iraqi civilian and covered up the crime in April, and four Army soldiers are facing murder charges in the shooting deaths of three Iraq civilians in May.

A group of Marines is also under investigation in the deaths of 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha last year.

GOP Candidate's Call for Labor Camp Rebuked--one step closer...


GOP Candidate's Call for Labor Camp Rebuked

The Associated Press
Friday, June 23, 2006; 10:05 PM

WASHINGTON -- A Republican gubernatorial candidate's call for creation of a forced labor camp for illegal immigrants drew rebukes Friday from two GOP lawmakers, who labeled it a low point in the immigration debate.

Don Goldwater, nephew of the late Sen. Barry Goldwater, caused an international stir this week when EFE, a national news agency of Spain, quoted him as saying he wanted to hold undocumented immigrants in camps to use them "as labor in the construction of a wall and to clean the areas of the Arizona desert that they're polluting."

The article described Goldwater's plan as a "concentration camp" for migrants.

Goldwater, a candidate for governor in Arizona, said in a statement Friday that his comments were taken out of context. He said he was calling for a work program for convicted nonviolent felons, similar to "tried and tested, effective and accepted practices" used by state and local jails.

But two Republicans, Arizona Sen. John McCain and Rep. Jim Kolbe, called Goldwater's comments "deeply offensive" and asked state Republicans to reject his candidacy in the Sept. 12 primary.

"That Mr. Goldwater is either unaware of or indifferent to the loaded symbolism, injustice and un-Americanism of his 'plan' to address the many serious issues caused by illegal immigration reveals his flaws as a candidate and a stunning lack of respect for the basic values of a generous and decent society," McCain said in a statement.

Kolbe said that if the comments are true, Goldwater "has demonstrated his complete unworthiness for public office, and I am confident he will be soundly rejected by Republicans from the party of Barry Goldwater, who consistently demonstrated his compassion and respect for all people. This is a sad day in the national debate on immigration policy."

McCain and Kolbe favor a guest-worker program for illegal immigrants.

Goldwater made a similar comment at an April anti-immigration rally.

"Build us that wall _ now!" Goldwater said, referring to a proposal to add 700 miles of fences along the U.S.-Mexico border. He promised then that if elected, he would put illegal immigrants in a tent city on the border and use their labor to build the wall.

Barry Goldwater, the former Arizona senator, was the Republican presidential nominee in 1964.


Miami "terror" arrests—a government provocation
By Bill Van Auken
24 June 2006

There are many incongruities surrounding the arrest of seven men from the impoverished Liberty City neighborhood of Miami on charges of conspiracy to "wage war on the United States" that suggest it, like so many previous "terrorist plots" announced by the Bush administration, is a government-inspired provocation mounted for reactionary political ends.

None of the claims made by the government and repeated uncritically by the media concerning the arrest of these young working-class men can be accepted as good coin. Both the flimsiness of the criminal indictment and the lurid headlines surrounding it mark this event as an escalation in the anti-democratic conspiracies of the Bush administration.

There is every indication that this latest purported terrorist threat—described by some media outlets as "even bigger than September 11"—was manufactured by the FBI, which used an undercover agent posing as a terrorist mastermind to entrap those targeted for arrest.

While the Justice Department declared that the arrests had foiled a plot to blow up the tallest building in the US, the Sears Tower in Chicago, authorities in that city assured its residents that there had never been any threat to the structure.

The four-count indictment presented by the Justice Department in a Miami federal court on Friday contains not a single indication of an overt criminal act or even the means to carry one out. The brief 11-page document consists almost entirely of alleged statements made by the defendants to the FBI informant, referred to in quotes throughout the indictment as "the al Qaeda representative."

The government chose to consummate its entrapment plan by unleashing dozens of combat-equipped federal agents, dressed in olive drab fatigues and carrying automatic weapons, on the predominantly African-American Liberty City neighborhood, one of the poorest in the country. Liberty City was the scene of riots that broke out in 1980 after the acquittal of white police officers for the beating death of a black motorist.

On Thursday, the government's paramilitary squads confronted residents with pictures of the accused, demanding to know their whereabouts. The seven defendants are representative of the impoverished working class population of Miami, including Haitian immigrants.

It appears they were targeted by the FBI because they had formed a religious group, calling themselves the "Seas of David," which reportedly incorporated elements of Christianity and Islam. One of their crimes, according to the FBI's deputy director, John Pistole, was that the Seas of David "did not believe the United States government had legal authority over them."

According to some residents of the neighborhood, the group lived together in the warehouse that was raided by the FBI, using it for religious worship and as a base of operations for a construction business.

Elements of the federal indictment are so self-incriminating as to border on the ludicrous. Among the charges are that the defendants "swore an oath of loyalty to al Qaeda." Who administered this oath? The "al Qaeda representative," AKA, the paid informant of the FBI.

Aside from this "loyalty oath" solicited by the FBI, only one of the seven defendants is accused of any overt act, outside of driving the FBI informant to meetings.

The only action with which this one individual is charged—all else is words—is taking pictures of the FBI headquarters in Miami. Who supplied the camera? The "al Qaeda representative"—i.e., the FBI agent provocateur.

The indictment further charges two of the accused with driving "with the `al Qaeda representative'" to a store in Dade County, Florida to purchase a memory chip for a digital camera to be used for taking reconnaissance photographs of the FBI building. The document does not say who paid for the chip, but there is hardly room for doubt.

In one of the more curious sections of the indictment, one of the accused, Narseal Batiste, is accused of asking the FBI informant to provide various items for his group, including footwear, for which he provided a "list of shoe sizes." Apparently the FBI delivered the shoes.

Pistole, the FBI deputy director, admitted that the supposed plots to blow up buildings had been "more aspirational than operational." In the raids carried out by the FBI squads, no weapons and no explosive substances were found.

"We preempted their plot," declared Pistole. But the indictment and the facts of the case indicate that the alleged plot would never have existed had the government not planned and instigated it in the first place.

At a Washington press conference, US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales acknowledged that the alleged plot had posed no actual danger. He claimed this was because the authorities had intervened "in its earliest stages."

So "early" was the preemption that officials associated with the supposed targets of the plot dismissed the government's indictment. Barbara Carley, the managing director of the Sears Tower, told the press, "Federal and local authorities continue to tell us they've never found evidence of a credible terrorism threat against Sears Tower that's ever gone beyond just talk."

Her remarks were echoed by Chicago Police Superintendent Phil Cline, who said, "There never was any credible threat to the Sears Tower at all."

In his press conference, Attorney General Gonzales asserted that the Miami group represented a "new brand of terrorism" created by "the convergence of globalization and technology."

What these words mean is anyone's guess. There is no indication that those charged, who were living in a warehouse in the poorest city in America, had access to any technology, and their supposed contact to the wider world was an informer planted by the FBI. The suggestion that the seven men were a "home-grown" terrorist group inspired by contact with Al Qaeda elements over the Internet is supported neither by evidence nor the charges contained in the government's own indictment.

R. Alexander Acosta, the United States attorney in South Florida, told the media that the defendants had "lived in the United States for most of their lives, but developed a hatred of America." This is presented as though it constituted evidence of a crime.

It is hardly surprising for someone living in Liberty City to hate the poverty and oppression that prevail there, or for Haitian immigrants to despise the imprisonment and repression that Washington metes out to those attempting to escape the brutal conditions imposed by US imperialism upon their homeland.

What is highly noteworthy is that the federal government decided to intervene in this situation to concoct a phony Al Qaeda connection and trumped up "terror plot."

What is the government's motive in manufacturing such a plot? Whose interests are served? Under conditions in which the majority of the American people have turned against the Iraq war and support the withdrawal of American troops, the Bush administration is desperately attempting to once again link its neo-colonial venture in Iraq with a supposed "global war on terror" waged to defend the American people against another 9/11.

To sustain such a fiction, fresh evidence of terrorist threats is periodically required. And it has been forthcoming on a regular basis. Every several months another "conspiracy" is unveiled, invariably involving an FBI informant and hapless individuals ensnared in a plot orchestrated by the government.

Until now, these "sting" operations have been targeted at Muslim immigrants. Last month, for example, Pakistani immigrant Shahawar Siraj in New York City was found guilty of plotting to blow up the Herald Square subway station in a "plot" that the evidence indicated was based entirely on suggestions from an FBI informant. The FBI agent provocateur taunted the defendant with photographs of Abu Ghraib torture victims and demanded to know how, as a Muslim, he could fail to take action.

Similarly, in Albany, New York two years ago, the FBI recruited a Pakistani immigrant, promising him leniency on minor fraud charges, to ensnare two other immigrants in a fictitious scheme to help a non-existent person buy a weapon for a fake terrorist plot.

These provocations and conspiracies are symptomatic of a government that is both ruthless and desperate. Confronting a population that is increasingly hostile to its political agenda of reaction at home and war abroad, it is driven to manufacture an endless series of terrorist threats aimed at disorienting and intimidating public opinion.