guerrilla marketing – who’s spinning the wiki’s

Featured Participatory Project: Help Expose the Attempts to Spin Wikipedia (Week 2)

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Source: SourceWatch Project on Tracking Attempts to Spin Wikipedia

Last week we started a new participatory project to expose the government agencies, corporations and lobbying groups that have been censoring, whitewashing or otherwise spinning Wikipedia. (See CMD Senior Researcher Diane Farsetta’s great blog post for some background on this sordid tale.) So far we’ve logged several attempts at spin into the respective SourceWatch profiles, including:

The information here is obviously very important and, thanks to SourceWatch’s high rankings in Google searches, easily accessible to citizens, journalists and policymakers checking out the record of these politically active and high social-impact organizations. There are many dastardly edits left, however, and we need your help to make sure they aren’t lost to history. There’s no need for technical expertise, just head over to the SourceWatch page for the project, where there are complete instructions, examples and an email hotline for support. If this is your first time editing on SourceWatch, you can register here, and learn more about adding information to the site here and here.


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Nuclear hypocrisy

Egypt to build several nuclear power plants

CAIRO, October 29 (RIA Novosti) – Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak announced on Monday that a program will soon be launched to build several nuclear power plants in the country, national news agency MENA reported.

Mubarak said a decree would soon be issued establishing a supreme council on peaceful uses of nuclear energy, which will oversee Egypt’s nuclear plant program.

“We believe that energy security is a key component of building the future of this country, and an integral part of Egypt’s national security,” Mubarak said.

He said the use of nuclear power would enable Egypt to meet its energy needs and diversify sources, allowing the country’s hydrocarbon reserves to last longer.

Egypt intends to build three nuclear plants with aggregate capacity of 1,800 MW, or 600 MW each. The first plant is expected to go online in 2015-16.

Russia earlier announced its intention to take part in a tender to build an atomic power plant in Egypt.

Russia’s nuclear power equipment and service export monopoly Atomstroyexport is currently building five nuclear power plants in China, India and Iran, on contracts worth $4.5 billion, and has also won a tender to build a plant in Belene, Bulgaria.

The company is in talks on building nuclear plants in Morocco, Vietnam, and South Africa.

Link

DEBKAfile Reports: Iranian-Syrian nuclear issues heat up amid growing mistrust of IAEA director in Washington, Paris and Jerusalem

October 29, 2007, 10:33 PM (GMT+02:00)

FRench defense minister Herve Morian visit Saudi King Abdullah

FRench defense minister Herve Morian visit Saudi King Abdullah

French defense minister Herve Morin said Monday, Oct. 29, he has information that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. He thus publicly contradicted remarks made by IAEA director Mohammed ElBaradai that there is no such evidence. Morin, on a visit to the Persian Gulf emirates, spoke at the same time as the IAEA director’s address the UN General Assembly.

DEBKAfile’s sources report that president Nicolas Sarkozy plans a state visit to Jerusalem in a few weeks, during which he will the address the Knesset on the Iranian nuclear threat, counter-measures and his commitment to Israel’s security.

Washington and Jerusalem are in intensive discussions over the prudence of Israel publicly leveling on its Sept. 6 attack on the Syrian installation, in consideration of the risk that a statement by prime minister Ehud Olmert could further raise war tensions. DEBKAfile’s military sources report that Israel’s air force and navy have been on high alert for some days.

Washington and Jerusalem are of one mind about the need to refute ElBaradei’s position that there are no grounds for nuclear allegations against Iran and Syria.

Addressing the UN General Assembly Monday, the IAEA director admitted that Iran was flouting UN Security Council resolutions on two points: uranium enrichment continued and so did the construction of a heavy water plant in Arak. He made no reference to Iran’s current work with plutonium.

The Wall Street Journal quoted a senior American official who has worked extensively on nuclear issues: “I would say there’s no doubt now that Syria was in an early phase of a program.”

Some U.S. diplomats were quoted by the paper as deriding the IAEA for failing to identify the Syrian program itself. Involving the IAEA could have bogged down the Syrian proliferation threat in endless rounds of negotiations with no action. “The Israelis decided to take care of this early on. We don’t want to involve an agency that thinks it’s in control, but isn’t,” said one diplomat.

Link 

Zogby Poll: 52% Support U.S. Military Strike Against Iran

Zogby Poll: 52% Support U.S. Military Strike Against Iran

October 29, 2007

A majority of likely voters – 52% – would support a U.S. military strike to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon, and 53% believe it is likely that the U.S. will be involved in a military strike against Iran before the next presidential election, a new Zogby America telephone poll shows.

The survey results come at a time of increasing U.S. scrutiny of Iran. According to reports from the Associated Press, earlier this month Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice accused Iran of “lying” about the aim of its nuclear program and Vice President Dick Cheney has raised the prospect of “serious consequences” if the U.S. were to discover Iran was attempting to devolop a nuclear weapon. Last week, the Bush administration also announced new sanctions against Iran.

Democrats (63%) are most likely to believe a U.S. military strike against Iran could take place in the relatively near future, but independents (51%) and Republicans (44%) are less likely to agree. Republicans, however, are much more likely to be supportive of a strike (71%), than Democrats (41%) or independents (44%). Younger likely voters are more likely than those who are older to say a strike is likely to happen before the election and women (58%) are more likely than men (48%) to say the same – but there is little difference in support for a U.S. strike against Iran among these groups.

When asked which presidential candidate would be best equipped to deal with Iran – regardless of whether or not they expected the U.S. to attack Iran – 21% would most like to see New York U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton leading the country, while 15% would prefer former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani and 14% would want Arizona U.S. Sen. John McCain in charge. Another 10% said Illinois Sen. Barack Obama would be best equipped to deal with Iran, while Republican Fred Thompson (5%), Democrat John Edwards (4%) and Republican Mitt Romney (3%) were less likely to be viewed as the best leaders to help the U.S. deal with Iran. The telephone poll of 1,028 likely voters nationwide was conducted Oct. 24-27, 2007 and carries a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points.

Clinton leads strongly among Democrats on the issue, with 35% saying she is best equipped to deal with Iran, while 17% would prefer Obama and 7% view John Edwards as the best choice. Giuliani is the top choice of Republicans (28%), followed by McCain (21%) and Fred Thompson (9%). One in five independents chose Clinton (21%) over McCain (16%) and Giuliani (11%). Clinton was the top choice among women (24%), while 14% would be more confident with Giuliani in the White House and 11% would prefer McCain. Men slightly prefer McCain (18%) to Clinton (17%) on this issue, while 15% said Giuliani is best equipped to deal with Iran. The survey also shows there is a significant amount of uncertainty if any of the long list of declared candidates would be best equipped to deal the Iran – 19% overall said they weren’t sure which candidate to choose.

There is considerable division about when a strike on Iran should take place – if at all. Twenty-eight percent believe the U.S. should wait to strike until after the next president is in office while 23% would favor a strike before the end of President Bush’s term. Another 29% said the U.S. should not attack Iran, and 20% were unsure. The view that Iran should not be attacked by the U.S. is strongest among Democrats (37%) and independents, but fewer than half as many Republicans (15%) feel the same. But Republicans are also more likely to be uncertain on the issue (28%).

As the possibility the U.S. may strike Iran captures headlines around the world, many have given thought to the possibility of an attack at home. Two in three (68%) believe it is likely that the U.S. will suffer another significant terrorist attack on U.S. soil comparable to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 – of those, 27% believe such an attack is very likely. Nearly one in three (31%) believe the next significant attack will occur between one and three years from now, 22% said they believe the next attack is between three and five years away, and 15% said they don’t think the U.S. will be attacked on U.S. soil for at least five years or longer. Just 9% believe a significant terrorist attack will take place in the U.S. before the next presidential election.

link


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America – From Freedom to Fascism

Israel Had `No Business’ Bombing Syria, UN Nuclear Chief Says

Israel Had `No Business’ Bombing Syria, UN Nuclear Chief Says
By Lorraine Woellert

Oct. 28 (Bloomberg) — Israel had “no business” bombing Syria and lacks “any evidence at all” that its target was a nuclear facility, the head of the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency said.

Mohamed ElBaradei, chief of the Vienna-based UN nuclear watchdog group, called the Sept. 6 raid “very distressful” and a violation of UN rules that require member nations to alert investigators if there is evidence of nuclear activity.

“To bomb first and then ask questions later, I think it undermines the system and it doesn’t lead to any solution,” ElBaradei said on CNN’s “Late Edition” program.

Israeli officials have indirectly acknowledged the raid, while refusing to discuss the details. North Korea denied newspaper reports that it might be helping Syria build a nuclear plant. Satellite photographs taken of the site since the attack show it cleared of all debris.

Syrian officials told ElBaradei that the cluster of buildings targeted by the Israeli air force was a “military facility,” and has “nothing to do with nuclear,” the IAEA chief said.

Israel has provided no evidence to support a claim that the buildings hit were connected to a nuclear program. The UN has purchased its own commercial satellite images of the site and is studying them, ElBaradei said.

“Until today, we have not received information about nuclear-related activities, clandestine nuclear-related activities in Syria,” ElBaradei said.

The Israeli air attack was aimed at a partly built atomic reactor site to demonstrate Israel’s unwillingness to allow neighboring Syria to possess nuclear weapons, the New York Times reported Oct. 13, citing unidentified U.S. and foreign officials with access to intelligence reports. President George W. Bush and members of his administration have refused to confirm whether the bombing took place or whether the U.S. was consulted beforehand.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lorraine Woellert in Washington at lwoellert@bloomberg.net .

Blackwater Down

Blackwater Down

by JEREMY SCAHILL

The men from Blackwater USA arrived in New Orleans right after Katrina hit. The company known for its private security work guarding senior US diplomats in Iraq beat the federal government and most aid organizations to the scene in another devastated Gulf. About 150 heavily armed Blackwater troops dressed in full battle gear spread out into the chaos of New Orleans. Officially, the company boasted of its forces “join[ing] the hurricane relief effort.” But its men on the ground told a different story.

Some patrolled the streets in SUVs with tinted windows and the Blackwater logo splashed on the back; others sped around the French Quarter in an unmarked car with no license plates. They congregated on the corner of St. James and Bourbon in front of a bar called 711, where Blackwater was establishing a makeshift headquarters. From the balcony above the bar, several Blackwater guys cleared out what had apparently been someone’s apartment. They threw mattresses, clothes, shoes and other household items from the balcony to the street below. They draped an American flag from the balcony’s railing. More than a dozen troops from the 82nd Airborne Division stood in formation on the street watching the action.

Armed men shuffled in and out of the building as a handful told stories of their past experiences in Iraq. “I worked the security detail of both Bremer and Negroponte,” said one of the Blackwater guys, referring to the former head of the US occupation, L. Paul Bremer, and former US Ambassador to Iraq John Negroponte. Another complained, while talking on his cell phone, that he was getting only $350 a day plus his per diem. “When they told me New Orleans, I said, ‘What country is that in?'” he said. He wore his company ID around his neck in a case with the phrase Operation Iraqi Freedom printed on it.

In an hourlong conversation I had with four Blackwater men, they characterized their work in New Orleans as “securing neighborhoods” and “confronting criminals.” They all carried automatic assault weapons and had guns strapped to their legs. Their flak jackets were covered with pouches for extra ammunition.

When asked what authority they were operating under, one guy said, “We’re on contract with the Department of Homeland Security.” Then, pointing to one of his comrades, he said, “He was even deputized by the governor of the state of Louisiana. We can make arrests and use lethal force if we deem it necessary.” The man then held up the gold Louisiana law enforcement badge he wore around his neck. Blackwater spokesperson Anne Duke also said the company has a letter from Louisiana officials authorizing its forces to carry loaded weapons.

“This vigilantism demonstrates the utter breakdown of the government,” says Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights. “These private security forces have behaved brutally, with impunity, in Iraq. To have them now on the streets of New Orleans is frightening and possibly illegal.”

Blackwater is not alone. As business leaders and government officials talk openly of changing the demographics of what was one of the most culturally vibrant of America’s cities, mercenaries from companies like DynCorp, Intercon, American Security Group, Blackhawk, Wackenhut and an Israeli company called Instinctive Shooting International (ISI) are fanning out to guard private businesses and homes, as well as government projects and institutions. Within two weeks of the hurricane, the number of private security companies registered in Louisiana jumped from 185 to 235. Some, like Blackwater, are under federal contract. Others have been hired by the wealthy elite, like F. Patrick Quinn III, who brought in private security to guard his $3 million private estate and his luxury hotels, which are under consideration for a lucrative federal contract to house FEMA workers.

A possibly deadly incident involving Quinn’s hired guns underscores the dangers of private forces policing American streets. On his second night in New Orleans, Quinn’s security chief, Michael Montgomery, who said he worked for an Alabama company called Bodyguard and Tactical Security (BATS), was with a heavily armed security detail en route to pick up one of Quinn’s associates and escort him through the chaotic city. Montgomery told me they came under fire from “black gangbangers” on an overpass near the poor Ninth Ward neighborhood. “At the time, I was on the phone with my business partner,” he recalls. “I dropped the phone and returned fire.”

Montgomery says he and his men were armed with AR-15s and Glocks and that they unleashed a barrage of bullets in the general direction of the alleged shooters on the overpass. “After that, all I heard was moaning and screaming, and the shooting stopped. That was it. Enough said.”

Then, Montgomery says, “the Army showed up, yelling at us and thinking we were the enemy. We explained to them that we were security. I told them what had happened and they didn’t even care. They just left.” Five minutes later, Montgomery says, Louisiana state troopers arrived on the scene, inquired about the incident and then asked him for directions on “how they could get out of the city.” Montgomery says that no one ever asked him for any details of the incident and no report was ever made. “One thing about security,” Montgomery says, “is that we all coordinate with each other–one family.” That co-ordination doesn’t include the offices of the Secretaries of State in Louisiana and Alabama, which have no record of a BATS company.

A few miles away from the French Quarter, another wealthy New Orleans businessman, James Reiss, who serves in Mayor Ray Nagin’s administration as chairman of the city’s Regional Transit Authority, brought in some heavy guns to guard the elite gated community of Audubon Place: Israeli mercenaries dressed in black and armed with M-16s. Two Israelis patrolling the gates outside Audubon told me they had served as professional soldiers in the Israeli military, and one boasted of having participated in the invasion of Lebanon. “We have been fighting the Palestinians all day, every day, our whole lives,” one of them tells me. “Here in New Orleans, we are not guarding from terrorists.” Then, tapping on his machine gun, he says, “Most Americans, when they see these things, that’s enough to scare them.”

The men work for ISI, which describes its employees as “veterans of the Israeli special task forces from the following Israeli government bodies: Israel Defense Force (IDF), Israel National Police Counter Terrorism units, Instructors of Israel National Police Counter Terrorism units, General Security Service (GSS or ‘Shin Beit’), Other restricted intelligence agencies.” The company was formed in 1993. Its website profile says: “Our up-to-date services meet the challenging needs for Homeland Security preparedness and overseas combat procedures and readiness. ISI is currently an approved vendor by the US Government to supply Homeland Security services.”

Unlike ISI or BATS, Blackwater is operating under a federal contract to provide 164 armed guards for FEMA reconstruction projects in Louisiana. That contract was announced just days after Homeland Security Department spokesperson Russ Knocke told the Washington Post he knew of no federal plans to hire Blackwater or other private security firms. “We believe we’ve got the right mix of personnel in law enforcement for the federal government to meet the demands of public safety,” he said. Before the contract was announced, the Blackwater men told me, they were already on contract with DHS and that they were sleeping in camps organized by the federal agency.

One might ask, given the enormous presence in New Orleans of National Guard, US Army, US Border Patrol, local police from around the country and practically every other government agency with badges, why private security companies are needed, particularly to guard federal projects. “It strikes me…that that may not be the best use of money,” said Illinois Senator Barack Obama.

Blackwater’s success in procuring federal contracts could well be explained by major-league contributions and family connections to the GOP. According to election records, Blackwater’s CEO and co-founder, billionaire Erik Prince, has given tens of thousands to Republicans, including more than $80,000 to the Republican National Committee the month before Bush’s victory in 2000. This past June, he gave $2,100 to Senator Rick Santorum’s re-election campaign. He has also given to House majority leader Tom DeLay and a slew of other Republican candidates, including Bush/Cheney in 2004. As a young man, Prince interned with President George H.W. Bush, though he complained at the time that he “saw a lot of things I didn’t agree with–homosexual groups being invited in, the budget agreement, the Clean Air Act, those kind of bills. I think the Administration has been indifferent to a lot of conservative concerns.”

Prince, a staunch right-wing Christian, comes from a powerful Michigan Republican family, and his father, Edgar, was a close friend of former Republican presidential candidate and antichoice leader Gary Bauer. In 1988 the elder Prince helped Bauer start the Family Research Council. Erik Prince’s sister, Betsy, once chaired the Michigan Republican Party and is married to Dick DeVos, whose father, billionaire Richard DeVos, is co-founder of the major Republican benefactor Amway. Dick DeVos is also a big-time contributor to the Republican Party and will likely be the GOP candidate for Michigan governor in 2006. Another Blackwater founder, president Gary Jackson, is also a major contributor to Republican campaigns.

After the killing of four Blackwater mercenaries in Falluja in March 2004, Erik Prince hired the Alexander Strategy Group, a PR firm with close ties to GOPers like DeLay. By mid-November the company was reporting 600 percent growth. In February 2005 the company hired Ambassador Cofer Black, former coordinator for counterterrorism at the State Department and former director of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, as vice chairman. Just as the hurricane was hitting, Blackwater’s parent company, the Prince Group, named Joseph Schmitz, who had just resigned as the Pentagon’s Inspector General, as the group’s chief operating officer and general counsel.

While juicing up the firm’s political connections, Prince has been advocating greater use of private security in international operations, arguing at a symposium at the National Defense Industrial Association earlier this year that firms like his are more efficient than the military. In May Blackwater’s Jackson testified before Congress in an effort to gain lucrative Homeland Security contracts to train 2,000 new Border Patrol agents, saying Blackwater understands “the value to the government of one-stop shopping.” With President Bush using the Katrina disaster to try to repeal Posse Comitatus (the ban on using US troops in domestic law enforcement) and Blackwater and other security firms clearly initiating a push to install their paramilitaries on US soil, the war is coming home in yet another ominous way. As one Blackwater mercenary said, “This is a trend. You’re going to see a lot more guys like us in these situations.”

The Prince of Blackwater

Frameshop: The Prince

Sat Oct 20, 2007 at 11:10:02 AM PDT

While the mainstream media has been murmuring about murders committed by Blackwater in Iraq, the last remnant of real American journalism has shed light on a darker story: Blackwater’s operations here at home.

Blackwater, it seems, is not just the key player in Bush’s coalition of the willing, but a secret weapon in Bush and Cheney’s plan to extinguish the American tradition of constitutional power and ignite a new era of royal power.

When seen through the Blackwater incident, all of Bush’s talk about his right to sole commanding authority over the army starts to make sense–Medieval sense.

And while the story of human rights abuses to Iraqis at the hands of Blackwater is important, the tale to be told in this incident is about a President who invaded a foreign country not to save the people therein, but as a strategy for transforming his own office–the office of the Presidency–into a form of rule reminiscent of the great royal estates that defined Europe before the age of constitutions.

The key to royal power, of course, is  not just unilateral decision making, but private armies–armies loyal not to the people or to the system or even to profit, but only to the throne.

Royal Power at Street Level
For most Americans, the image of royal power they hold in their heads comes from an engraving by Paul Revere of the 1770 Boston Massacre.  The ‘Red Coat’ soldier, loyal to King George III, fired upon the people to squelch dissent.  In our collective memory, this image of the king’s soldiers firing upon the people is the spark that sets the revolution in motion–it is our point of origin as a people.

The problem is  not just Blackwater.  There are now dozens and dozens of private armies hired by the Federal government, loyal too the President, and seemingly outside of any Constitutional process.

In the light of that image of the Boston Massacre we all hold in our minds by virtue of being Americans, consider Jeremy Scahill’s description of this incident in New Orleans–not Iraq, but Louisiana–following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina:

Within two weeks of the hurricane, the number of private security companies registered in Louisiana jumped from 185 to 235. Some, like Blackwater, are under federal contract. Others have been hired by the wealthy elite, like F. Patrick Quinn III, who brought in private security to guard his $3 million private estate and his luxury hotels, which are under consideration for a lucrative federal contract to house FEMA workers.

A possibly deadly incident involving Quinn’s hired guns underscores the dangers of private forces policing American streets. On his second night in New Orleans, Quinn’s security chief, Michael Montgomery, who said he worked for an Alabama company called Bodyguard and Tactical Security (BATS), was with a heavily armed security detail en route to pick up one

of Quinn’s associates and escort him through the chaotic city. Montgomery told me they came under fire from “black gangbangers” on an overpass near the poor Ninth Ward neighborhood. “At the time, I was on the phone with my business partner,” he recalls. “I dropped the phone and returned fire.”

Montgomery says he and his men were armed with AR-15s and Glocks and that they unleashed a barrage of bullets in the general direction of the alleged shooters on the overpass. “After that, all I heard was moaning and screaming, and the shooting stopped. That was it. Enough said.”

Then, Montgomery says, “the Army showed up, yelling at us and thinking we were the enemy. We explained to them that we were security. I told them what had happened and they didn’t even care. They just left.” Five minutes later, Montgomery says, Louisiana state troopers arrived on the scene, inquired about the incident and then asked him for directions on “how they could get out of the city.” Montgomery says that no one ever asked him for any details of the incident and no report was ever made.

(full story here)

Of all the well-deserved hand wringing over the Blackwater massacres of civilians in Iraq, the Quinn massacre of Americans is hardly known, barely reported.  As such the conversation has not even begun about private armies paid for by federal agencies and loyal, it seems, to nobody but themselves and the President of the United States.

The U.S. military, for its part, seems to have accepted that the king has for-hire militia at his disposal and that they give the House the kind of carte blanche it has been seeking vis-à-vis street level deployment of non-police, non-military, non-national-guard, non-federal-marshal deadly force. All those other uses of force fall under some kind of jurisdiction, but not the Blackwater’s and Quinn armies of America. They are under the jurisdiction of contract law, business outsourcing by government.  And George W. Bush has restructured that government enough to allow for these firms to play a central role anywhere he wants, without approval or oversight from anyone.

Loyal To King or Country
‘Royal power’ means that power is a direct extension of the will of the executive, no longer tempered by the balance of powers set up with such genius by the frames of the U.S. Constitution.  But to see royal power as it has been extending into American politics–both at home and abroad–we need to pay look at these incidents in an entirely new way.

When the massacres of the Vietnam War came to light or even the massacre of Kent State, these were incidents where enlisted men made bad choices as a product of policies gone mad and cultural divide.  Soldiers who killed villages in Vietnam were not loyal to the President any more than anyone else.  They were drafted and enlisted men caught in a confusing policy that twisted their souls and turned them brutal.  When national guardsmen fired on college students in Ohio, it was not because they were hired  to do a job and saw themselves as working for nobody by the man at the top, but the product of a social chasm open so wide that it swallowed up lives.

Blackwater and its kind are different.  They are not just soldiers, not just police.  They are lines of loyalty bought, paid for and hidden from public view by the obfuscating jargon of Federal budgets.   Their loyalty is sternly vertical, extending through the CEO to the President in a perfect reinvention of vassal obligation.

Blackwater may be ‘boots on the ground’ in Iraq or Katrina, but in political terms they are an extension of the king’s body.

Royal power extends from the king to the people, from top down, but it cannot unfold if the army belongs to the people and not to the king.  As Machiavelli described it, mercenaries and auxiliary armies can help extend rule for a short period of time, but for the will of the prince to become the will of the state, the king must make the army ‘his own.

continued