The Coincidence Theorist’s Guide to 9/11

The Coincidence Theorist’s Guide to 9/11

Happy coincidenting!

That governments have permitted terrorist acts against their own people, and have even themselves been perpetrators in order to find strategic advantage is quite likely true, but this is the United States we’re talking about.

That intelligence agencies, financiers, terrorists and narco-criminals have a long history together is well established, but the Nugan Hand Bank, BCCI, Banco Ambrosiano, the P2 Lodge, the CIA/Mafia anti-Castro/Kennedy alliance, Iran/Contra and the rest were a long time ago, so there’s no need to rehash all that. That was then, this is now!

That Jonathan Bush’s Riggs Bank has been found guilty of laundering terrorist funds and fined a US-record $25 million must embarrass his nephew George, but it’s still no justification for leaping to paranoid conclusions.

That George Bush’s brother Marvin sat on the board of the Kuwaiti-owned company which provided electronic security to the World Trade Centre, Dulles Airport and United Airlines means nothing more than you must admit those Bush boys have done alright for themselves.

That George Bush found success as a businessman only after the investment of Osama’s brother Salem and reputed al Qaeda financier Khalid bin Mahfouz is just one of those things – one of those crazy things.

That Osama bin Laden is known to have been an asset of US foreign policy in no way implies he still is.

That al Qaeda was active in the Balkan conflict, fighting on the same side as the US as recently as 1999, while the US protected its cells, is merely one of history’s little aberrations.

The claims of Michael Springman, State Department veteran of the Jeddah visa bureau, that the CIA ran the office and issued visas to al Qaeda members so they could receive training in the United States, sound like the sour grapes of someone who was fired for making such wild accusations.

That one of George Bush’s first acts as President, in January 2001, was to end the two-year deployment of attack submarines which were positioned within striking distance of al Qaeda’s Afghanistan camps, even as the group’s guilt for the Cole bombing was established, proves that a transition from one administration to the next is never an easy task.

That so many influential figures in and close to the Bush White House had expressed, just a year before the attacks, the need for a “new Pearl Harbor” before their militarist ambitions could be fulfilled, demonstrates nothing more than the accidental virtue of being in the right place at the right time.

That the company PTECH, founded by a Saudi financier placed on America’s Terrorist Watch List in October 2001, had access to the FAA’s entire computer system for two years before the 9/11 attack, means he must not have been such a threat after all.

That whistleblower Indira Singh was told to keep her mouth shut and forget what she learned when she took her concerns about PTECH to her employers and federal authorities, suggests she lacked the big picture. And that the Chief Auditor for JP Morgan Chase told Singh repeatedly, as she answered questions about who supplied her with what information, that “that person should be killed,” suggests he should take an anger management seminar.

That on May 8, 2001, Dick Cheney took upon himself the job of co-ordinating a response to domestic terror attacks even as he was crafting the administration’s energy policy which bore implications for America’s military, circumventing the established infrastructure and ignoring the recommendations of the Hart-Rudman report, merely shows the VP to be someone who finds it hard to delegate.

That the standing order which covered the shooting down of hijacked aircraft was altered on June 1, 2001, taking discretion away from field commanders and placing it solely in the hands of the Secretary of Defense, is simply poor planning and unfortunate timing. Fortunately the error has been corrected, as the order was rescinded shortly after 9/11.

That in the weeks before 9/11, FBI agent Colleen Rowley found her investigation of Zacarias Moussaoui so perversely thwarted that her colleagues joked that bin Laden had a mole at the FBI, proves the stress-relieving virtue of humour in the workplace.

That Dave Frasca of the FBI’s Radical Fundamentalist Unit received a promotion after quashing multiple, urgent requests for investigations into al Qaeda assets training at flight schools in the summer of 2001 does appear on the surface odd, but undoubtedly there’s a good reason for it, quite possibly classified.

That FBI informant Randy Glass, working an undercover sting, was told by Pakistani intelligence operatives that the World Trade Center towers were coming down, and that his repeated warnings which continued until weeks before the attacks, including the mention of planes used as weapons, were ignored by federal authorities, is simply one of the many “What Ifs” of that tragic day.

That over the summer of 2001 Washington received many urgent, senior-level warnings from foreign intelligence agencies and governments – including those of Germany, France, Great Britain, Russia, Egypt, Israel, Morocco, Afghanistan and others – of impending terror attacks using hijacked aircraft and did nothing, demonstrates the pressing need for a new Intelligence Czar.

That John Ashcroft stopped flying commercial aircraft in July 2001 on account of security considerations had nothing to do with warnings regarding September 11, because he said so to the 9/11 Commission.

That former lead counsel for the House David Schippers says he’d taken to John Ashcroft’s office specific warnings he’d learned from FBI agents in New York of an impending attack – even naming the proposed dates, names of the hijackers and the targets – and that the investigations had been stymied and the agents threatened, proves nothing but David Schipper’s pathetic need for attention.

That Garth Nicolson received two warnings from contacts in the intelligence community and one from a North African head of state, which included specific site, date and source of the attacks, and passed the information to the Defense Department and the National Security Council to evidently no effect, clearly amounts to nothing, since virtually nobody has ever heard of him.

That in the months prior to September 11, self-described US intelligence operative Delmart Vreeland sought, from a Toronto jail cell, to get US and Canadian authorities to heed his warning of his accidental discovery of impending catastrophic attacks is worthless, since Vreeland was a dubious character, notwithstanding the fact that many of his claims have since been proven true.

That FBI Special Investigator Robert Wright claims that agents assigned to intelligence operations actually protect terrorists from investigation and prosecution, that the FBI shut down his probe into terrorist training camps, and that he was removed from a money-laundering case that had a direct link to terrorism, sounds like yet more sour grapes from a disgruntled employee.

That George Bush had plans to invade Afghanistan on his desk before 9/11 demonstrates only the value of being prepared.

The suggestion that securing a pipeline across Afghanistan figured into the White House’s calculations is as ludicrous as the assertion that oil played a part in determining war in Iraq.

That Afghanistan is once again the world’s principal heroin producer is an unfortunate reality, but to claim the CIA is still actively involved in the narcotics trade is to presume bad faith on the part of the agency.

Mahmood Ahmed, chief of Pakistan’s ISI, must not have authorized an al Qaeda payment of $100,000 to Mohammed Atta days before the attacks, and was not meeting with senior Washington officials over the week of 9/11, because I didn’t read anything about him in the official report.

That Porter Goss met with Ahmed the morning of September 11 in his capacity as Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence has no bearing whatsoever upon his recent selection by the White House to head the Central Intelligence Agency.

That Goss’s congressional seat encompasses the 9/11 hijackers’ Florida base of operation, including their flight schools, is precisely the kind of meaningless factoid a conspiracy theorist would bring up.

It’s true that George HW Bush and Dick Cheney spent the evening of September 10 alone in the Oval Office, but what’s wrong with old colleagues catching up? And it’s true that George HW Bush and Shafig bin Laden, Osama’s brother, spent the morning of September 11 together at a board meeting of the Carlyle Group, but the bin Ladens are a big family.

That FEMA arrived in New York on Sept 10 to prepare for a scheduled biowarfare drill, and had a triage centre ready to go that was larger and better equipped than the one that was lost in the collapse of WTC 7, was a lucky twist of fate.

Newsweek’s report that senior Pentagon officials cancelled flights on Sept 10 for the following day on account of security concerns is only newsworthy because of what happened the following morning.

That George Bush’s telephone logs for September 11 do not exist should surprise no one, given the confusion of the day.

That Mohamed Atta attended the International Officer’s School at Maxwell Air Force Base, that Abdulaziz Alomari attended Brooks Air Force Base Aerospace Medical School, that Saeed Alghamdi attended the Defense Language Institute in Monterey merely shows it is a small world, after all.

That Lt Col Steve Butler, Vice Chancellor for student affairs of the Defense Language Institute during Alghamdi’s terms, was disciplined, removed from his post and threatened with court martial when he wrote “Bush knew of the impending attacks on America. He did nothing to warn the American people because he needed this war on terrorism. What is…contemptible is the President of the United States not telling the American people what he knows for political gain,” is the least that should have happened for such disrespect shown his Commander in Chief.

That Mohammed Atta dressed like a Mafioso, had a stripper girlfriend, smuggled drugs, was already a licensed pilot when he entered the US, enjoyed pork chops, drank to excess and did cocaine, was closer to Europeans than Arabs in Florida, and included the names of defence contractors on his email list, proves how dangerous the radical fundamentalist Muslim can be.

That 43 lbs of heroin was found on board the Lear Jet owned by Wally Hilliard, the owner of Atta’s flight school, just three weeks after Atta enrolled – the biggest seizure ever in Central Florida – was just bad luck. That Hilliard was not charged shows how specious the claims for conspiracy truly are.

That Hilliard’s plane had made 30-round trips to Venezuela with the same passengers who always paid cash, that the plane had been supplied by a pair of drug smugglers who had also outfitted CIA drug runner Barry Seal, and that 9/11 commissioner Richard ben-Veniste had been Seal’s attorney before Seal’s murder, shows nothing but the lengths to which conspiracists will go to draw sinister conclusions.

Reports of insider trading on 9/11 are false, because the SEC investigated and found only respectable investors who will remain nameless involved, and no terrorists, so the windfall profit-taking was merely, as ever, coincidental.

That heightened security for the World Trade Centre was lifted immediately prior to the attacks illustrates that it always happens when you least expect it.

That Hani Hanjour, the pilot of Flight 77, was so incompetent he could not fly a Cessna in August, but in September managed to fly a 767 at excessive speed into a spiraling, 270-degree descent and a level impact of the first floor of the Pentagon, on the only side that was virtually empty and had been hardened to withstand a terrorist attack, merely demonstrates that people can do almost anything once they set their minds to it.

That none of the flight data recorders were said to be recoverable even though they were located in the tail sections, and that until 9/11, no solid-state recorder in a catastrophic crash had been unrecoverable, shows how there’s a first time for everything.

That Mohammed Atta left a uniform, a will, a Koran, his driver’s license and a “how to fly planes” video in his rental car at the airport means he had other things on his mind.

The mention of Israelis with links to military-intelligence having been arrested on Sept 11 videotaping and celebrating the attacks, of an Israeli espionage ring surveiling DEA and defense installations and trailing the hijackers, and of a warning of impending attacks delivered to the Israeli company Odigo two hours before the first plane hit, does not deserve a response. That the stories also appeared in publications such as Ha’aretz and Forward is a sad display of self-hatred among certain elements of the Israeli media.

That multiple military wargames and simulations were underway the morning of 9/11 – one simulating the crash of a plane into a building; another, a live-fly simulation of multiple hijackings – and took many interceptors away from the eastern seaboard and confused field commanders as to which was a real hijacked aircraft and which was a hoax, was a bizarre coincidence, but no less a coincidence.

That the National Military Command Center ops director asked a rookie substitute to stand his watch at 8:30 am on Sept. 11 is nothing more than bad timing.

That a recording made Sept 11 of air traffic controllers’ describing what they had witnessed, was destroyed by an FAA official who crushed it in his hand, cut the tape into little pieces and dropped them in different trash cans around the building, is something no doubt that overzealous official wishes he could undo.

That the FBI knew precisely which Florida flight schools to descend upon hours after the attacks should make every American feel safer knowing their federal agents are on the ball.

That a former flight school executive believes the hijackers were “double agents,” and says about Atta and associates, “Early on I gleaned that these guys had government protection. They were let into this country for a specific purpose,” and was visited by the FBI just four hours after the attacks to intimidate him into silence, proves he’s an unreliable witness, for the simple reason there is no conspiracy.

That Jeb Bush was on board an aircraft that removed flight school records to Washington in the middle of the night on Sept 12th demonstrates how seriously the governor takes the issue of national security.

To insinuate evil motive from the mercy flights of bin Laden family members and Saudi royals after 9/11 shows the sickness of the conspiratorial mindset.

Le Figaro’s report in October 2001, known to have originated with French intelligence, that the CIA met Osama bin Laden in a Dubai hospital in July 2001, proves again the perfidy of the French.

That the tape in which bin Laden claims responsibility for the attacks was released by the State Department after having been found providentially by US forces in Afghanistan, and depicts a fattened Osama with a broader face and a flatter nose, proves Osama, and Osama alone, masterminded 9/11.

That at the battle of Tora Bora, where bin Laden was surrounded on three sides, Special Forces received no order to advance and capture him and were forced to stand and watch as two Russian-made helicopters flew into the area where bin Laden was believed hiding, loaded up passengers and returned to Pakistan, demonstrates how confusing the modern battlefield can be.

That upon returning to Fort Bragg from Tora Bora, the same Special Operations troops who had been stood down from capturing bin Laden, suffered a unusual spree of murder/suicides, is nothing more than a series of senseless tragedies.

Reports that bin Laden is currently receiving periodic dialysis treatment in a Pakistani medical hospital are simply too incredible to be true.

That the White House went on Cipro September 11 shows the foresightedness of America’s emergency response.

That the anthrax was mailed to perceived liberal media and the Democratic leadership demonstrates only the perversity of the terrorist psyche.

That the anthrax attacks appeared to silence opponents of the Patriot Act shows only that appearances can be deceiving.

That the Ames-strain anthrax was found to have originated at Fort Detrick, and was beyond the capability of all but a few labs to refine, underscores the importance of allowing the investigation to continue without the distraction of absurd conspiracy theories.

That Republican guru Grover Norquist has been found to have aided financiers and supporters of Islamic terror to gain access to the Bush White House, and is a founder of the Islamic Institute, which the Treasury Department believes to be a source of funding for al Qaeda, suggests Norquist is at worst, naive, and at best, needs a wider circle of friends.

That the Department of Justice consistently chooses to see accused 9/11 plotters go free rather than permit the courtroom testimony of al Qaeda leaders in American custody looks bad, but only because we don’t have all the facts.

That the White House balked at any inquiry into the events of 9/11, then starved it of funds and stonewalled it, was unfortunate, but since the commission didn’t find for conspiracy it’s all a non issue anyway.

That the 9/11 commission’s executive director and “gatekeeper,” Philip Zelikow, was so closely involved in the events under investigation that he testified before the the commission as part of the inquiry, shows only an apparent conflict of interest.

That commission chair Thomas Kean is, like George Bush, a Texas oil executive who had business dealings with reputed al Qaeda financier Khalid bin Mafouz, suggests Texas is smaller than they say it is.

That co-chair Lee Hamilton has a history as a Bush family “fixer,” including clearing Bush Sr of the claims arising from the 1980 “October Surprise”, is of no concern, since only conspiracists believe there was such a thing as an October Surprise.

That FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds accuses the agency of intentionally fudging specific pre-9/11 warnings and harboring a foreign espionage ring in its translation department, and claims she witnessed evidence of the semi-official infrastructure of money-laundering and narcotics trade behind the attacks, is of no account, since John Ashcroft has gagged her with the rare invocation of “State Secrets Privilege,” and retroactively classified her public testimony. For the sake of national security, let us speak no more of her.

That, when commenting on Edmond’s case, Daniel Ellsberg remarked that Ashcroft could go to prison for his part in a cover-up, suggests Ellsberg is giving comfort to the terrorists, and could, if he doesn’t wise up, find himself declared an enemy combatant.

I could go on. And on and on. But I trust you get the point. Which is simply this: there are no secrets, an American government would never accept civilian casualties for geostrategic gain, and conspiracies are for the weak-minded and gullible.

http://rigorousintuition.blogspot.com/2004/08/coincidence-theorists-guide-to-911.html

Bush on Blackwater USA

The real axis of evil

link 

The Top 10 big news items the U.S. media largely missed in the past year

1. GOODBYE, HABEAS CORPUS

The Military Commissions Act, passed in September 2006 as a last gasp of the Republican-controlled Congress and signed into law by Bush that Oct. 17, made significant changes to the nation’s judicial system. The law allows the president to designate any person an “alien unlawful enemy combatant,” shunting that individual into an alternative court system in which the writ of habeas corpus no longer applies; the right to a speedy trial is gone; and justice is meted out by a military tribunal that can admit evidence obtained through coercion and presented without the accused in the courtroom–all under the guise of preserving national security.

Habeas corpus, a constitutional right cribbed from the Magna Carta, protects against arbitrary imprisonment. Alexander Hamilton, writing in the Federalist Papers, called it the greatest defense against “the favorite and most formidable instruments of tyranny.”

The Military Commissions Act has been seen mostly as a method for dealing with Guantánamo Bay detainees, and most journalists have reported that it doesn’t have any impact on Americans. On Oct. 19, 2006, editors at The New York Times wrote, in quite definitive language, “this law does not apply to American citizens.”

Investigative journalist Robert Parry disagrees. The right of habeas corpus no longer exists for any of us, he wrote in the online journal Consortium. Deep down in the lower sections of the act, the language shifts from the very specific “alien unlawful enemy combatant” to the vague “any person subject to this chapter.”

“Why does it contain language referring to ‘any person’ and then add in an adjacent context a reference to people acting ‘in breach of allegiance or duty to the United States’?” Parry wrote. “Who has ‘an allegiance or duty to the United States’ if not an American citizen?”

Reached by phone, Parry said that “this loose phraseology could be interpreted very narrowly or very broadly.” He said he’s consulted with lawyers who are experienced in drafting federal security legislation, and they agreed that the “any person” terminology is troubling. “It could be fixed very simply, but the Bush administration put through this very vaguely worded law, and now there are a lot of differences of opinion on how it could be interpreted,” Parry said.

Though U.S. Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Arlen Specter, R-Pa., moved quickly to remedy the situation with the Habeas Corpus Restoration Act, that legislation has yet to pass Congress, which some suspect is because too many Democrats don’t want to seem soft on terrorism. Until tested by time, exactly how much the language of the Military Commissions Act may be manipulated will remain to be seen.

Sources: “Repeal the Military Commissions Act and Restore the Most American Human Right,” Thom Hartmann, Common Dreams Web site, Feb. 12, 2007; “Still No Habeas Rights for You,” Robert Parry, Consortium, Feb. 3, 2007; “Who Is ‘Any Person’ in Tribunal Law?” Robert Parry, Consortium, Oct. 19, 2006.

2. MARTIAL LAW: COMING TO A TOWN NEAR YOU

The Military Commissions Act was part of a one-two punch to civil liberties. While the first blow to habeas corpus received some attention, there was almost no media coverage of a private Oval Office ceremony, held the same day the military act was signed, at which Bush signed the John Warner Defense Authorization Act, a $532 billion catch-all bill for defense spending. Tucked away in the deeper recesses of that act, Section 1076 allows the president to declare a public emergency and dispatch federal troops to take over National Guard units and local police if he determines them unfit for maintaining order. This is essentially a revival of the Insurrection Act, which was repealed by Congress in 1878, when it passed the Posse Comitatus Act in response to Northern troops overstaying their welcome in the reconstructed South. That act wiped out a potentially tyrannical amount of power by reinforcing the idea that the federal government should patrol the nation’s borders and let the states take care of their own territories.

The Warner Act defines a public emergency as a “natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident, or other condition in any state or possession of the United States” and extends its provisions to any place where “the president determines that domestic violence has occurred to such an extent that the constituted authorities of the state or possession are incapable of maintaining public order.” On top of that, federal troops can be dispatched to “suppress, in a state, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy.”

So everything from a West Nile virus outbreak to a political protest could fall into the president’s personal definition of mayhem. That’s right–put your picket signs away.

The Warner act passed with 90 percent of the votes in the House and cleared the Senate unanimously. Months after its passage, Leahy was the only elected official to have publicly expressed concern about Section 1076, warning his peers on Sept. 19, 2006, that “we certainly do not need to make it easier for presidents to declare martial law. Invoking the Insurrection Act and using the military for law enforcement activities goes against some of the central tenets of our democracy. One can easily envision governors and mayors in charge of an emergency having to constantly look over their shoulders while someone who has never visited their communities gives the orders.”

In February, Leahy introduced Senate Bill 513 to repeal Section 1076. It’s currently in the Armed Services Committee.

Sources: “Two ‘Acts’ of Tyranny on the Same Day!” Daneen G. Peterson, Stop the North America Union Web site, Jan. 20, 2007; “Bush Moves Toward Martial Law,” Frank Morales, Uruknet.info, Oct. 26, 2006.

3. AFRICOM

President Jimmy Carter was the first to draw a clear line between America’s foreign policy and its concurrent “vital interest” in oil. During his 1980 State of the Union address, he said, “An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.” Under what became the Carter Doctrine, an outpost of the Pentagon, called the United States Central Command, or CENTCOM, was established to ensure the uninterrupted flow of that slick “vital interest.”

The United States is now constructing a similar permanent base in Africa, an area traditionally patrolled by more remote commands in Europe and the Pacific. No details have been released about exactly what AFRICOM’s operations and responsibilities will be, or where troops will be located, though government spokespeople have vaguely stated that the mission is to establish order and keep peace for volatile governments–that just happen to be in oil-rich areas.

Though the official objective may be peace, some say the real desire is crude. “A new Cold War is under way in Africa, and AFRICOM will be at the dark heart of it,” Bryan Hunt wrote on the Moon of Alabama blog. Most U.S. oil imports come from African countries–in particular, Nigeria. According to the 2007 Congressional Budget Justification for Foreign Operations, “disruption of supply from Nigeria would represent a major blow to U.S. oil-security strategy.”

Though details of the AFRICOM strategy remain secret, Hunt has surveyed past governmental statements and reports by other independent journalists to draw parallels between AFRICOM and CENTCOM, making the case that the United States sees Africa as another “vital interest.”

Source: “Understanding AFRICOM,” Moon of Alabama, Feb. 21, 2007.

4. SECRET TRADE AGREEMENTS

As disappointing as the World Trade Organization has been, it has provided something of an open forum in which smaller countries can work together to demand concessions from larger, developed nations when brokering multilateral agreements. At least in theory. The 2006 negotiations crumbled when the United States, the European Union and Australia refused to heed India’s and Brazil’s demands for fair farm tariffs.

In the wake of that disaster, bilateral agreements have become the tactic of choice. These 1-on-1 negotiations, designed by the U.S. and the EU, are cut like backroom deals, with the larger country bullying the smaller into agreements that couldn’t be reached through the WTO.

Bush administration officials, always quick with a charming moniker, are calling these free-trade agreements “competitive liberalization,” and the EU considers them essential to negotiating future multilateral agreements.

But critics see them as fast tracks to increased foreign control of local resources in poor communities. “The overall effect of these changes in the rules is to progressively undermine economic governance, transferring power from governments to largely unaccountable multinational firms, robbing developing countries of the tools they need to develop their economies and gain a favorable foothold in global markets,” states a report by Oxfam International, the antipoverty activist group.

Sources: “Free Trade Enslaving Poor Countries” Sanjay Suri, Inter Press Service, March 20, 2007; “Signing Away the Future” Emily Jones, Oxfam Web site, March 2007.

5. SHANGHAIED SLAVES CONSTRUCT U.S. EMBASSY IN IRAQ

Part of the permanent infrastructure the United States is erecting in Iraq includes the world’s largest embassy, built on Green Zone acreage equal to that of Vatican City. The $592 million job was awarded in 2005 to First Kuwaiti General Trading and Contracting. Though much of the project’s management is staffed by Americans, most of the workers are from small or developing countries like the Philippines, India and Pakistan and, according to David Phinney of CorpWatch–a San Francisco Bay Area organization that investigates and exposes corporate environmental crimes, fraud, corruption and violations of human rights–are recruited under false pretenses. At the airport, their boarding passes read Dubai. Their passports are stamped Dubai. But when they get off the plane, they’re in Baghdad. Once on site, they’re often beaten and paid as little as $10 to $30 a day, CorpWatch concludes. Injured workers are dosed with heavy-duty painkillers and sent back on the job. Lodging is crowded, and food is substandard. One ex-foreman, who’s worked on five other U.S. embassies around the world, said, “I’ve never seen a project more fucked up. Every U.S. labor law was broken.”

These workers have often been banned by their home countries from working in Baghdad because of unsafe conditions and flagging support for the war, but once they’re on Iraqi soil, protections are few. First, Kuwaiti managers take their passports, which is a violation of U.S. labor laws. “If you don’t have a passport or an embassy to go to, what do you do to get out of a bad situation?” asked Rory Mayberry, a former medic for one of First Kuwaiti’s subcontractors, who blew the whistle on the squalid living conditions, medical malpractice and general abuse he witnessed at the site.

The Pentagon has been investigating the slavelike conditions but has not released the names of any violating contractors or announced penalties. In the meantime, billions of dollars in contracts continue to be awarded to First Kuwaiti and other companies at which little accountability exists.

As Phinney reported, “No journalist has ever been allowed access to the sprawling 104-acre site.”

Source: “A U.S. Fortress Rises in Baghdad: Asian Workers Trafficked to Build World’s Largest Embassy,” David Phinney, CorpWatch Web site, Oct. 17, 2006.

6. FALCON’S TALONS

Operation FALCON, or Federal and Local Cops Organized Nationally, is, in many ways, the manifestation of martial law forewarned by Frank Morales (No. 2). In an unprecedented partnership, more than 960 federal, state and local police agencies teamed up in 2005 and in 2006 to conduct the largest dragnet raids in U.S. history. Armed with fistfuls of arrest warrants, they ran three separate raids around the country that netted 30,150 criminal arrests. The Justice Department claimed the agents were targeting the “worst of the worst” criminals, and then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said, “Operation FALCON is an excellent example of President Bush’s direction and the Justice Department’s dedication to deal both with the terrorist threat and traditional violent crime.”

However, as writer Mike Whitney points out on Uruknet.info, none of the suspects has been charged with anything related to terrorism. Additionally, while 30,110 individuals were arrested, only 586 firearms were found. That doesn’t sound very violent, either.

Though the U.S. Marshals Service has been quick to tally the offenses, Whitney says the numbers just don’t add up. For example, FALCON in 2006 captured 462 violent sex-crime suspects, 1,094 registered sex offenders and 9,037 fugitives.

What about the other 7,481 people? “Who are they, and have they been charged with a crime?” Whitney asked.

The Marshals Service remains silent about these arrests. Whitney suggests those detainees may have been illegal immigrants and may be bound for border prisons currently being constructed by Halliburton (see sidebar, No. 13).

As an added bonus of complicity, the Justice Department supplied local news outlets with stock footage of the raids, which some TV stations ran accompanied by stories sourced from the Department of Justice’s news releases without any critical coverage of who exactly was swept up in the dragnets, and where they are now.

Sources: “Operation Falcon and the Looming Police State,” Mike Whitney, Uruknet.info , Feb. 26, 2007; “Operation Falcon,” SourceWatch, Nov. 18, 2006

7. BLACKWATER

The outsourcing of war has served two purposes for the Bush administration, which has given powerful corporations and private companies lucrative contracts supplying goods and services to American military operations overseas and quietly achieved an escalation of troops beyond what the public has been told or understands. Without actually deploying more military forces, the federal government instead contracts with private security firms like Blackwater to provide heavily armed details for U.S. diplomats in Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries where the nation is currently engaged in conflicts. Blackwater is one of the more successful and well-connected of the private companies profiting from the business of war. Started in 1996 by an ex-Navy Seal named Erik Prince, the North Carolina company employs 20,000 hired guns, training them on the world’s largest private military base.

“It’s become nothing short of the Praetorian Guard for the Bush administration’s so-called global war on terror,” author Jeremy Scahill said the on Jan. 26 broadcast of the TV and radio news program Democracy Now! Scahill’s Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army was published this year by Nation Books.

Source: “Our Mercenaries in Iraq,” Jeremy Scahill, Democracy Now!, Jan. 26, 2007

8. KIA: THE NEOLIBERAL INVASION OF INDIA

A March 2006 pact, under which the United States agreed to supply nuclear fuel to India for the production of electric power, also included a less-publicized corollary–the Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture. While it’s purportedly a deal to assist Indian farmers and liberalize trade (see No. 4), critics say the initiative is destroying India’s local agrarian economy by encouraging the use of genetically modified seeds, which in turn is creating a new market for pesticides and driving up the overall cost of producing crops. The deal provides a captive customer base for genetically modified seed-maker Monsanto and a market for cheap goods to supply Wal-Mart, whose plans for 500 stores in the country could wipe out the livelihoods of 14 million small vendors.

Monsanto’s hybrid Bt cotton has already edged out local strains, and India is currently suffering an infestation of mealy bugs, which have proven immune to the pesticides the chemical companies have made available. Additionally, the sowing of crops has shifted from the traditional to the trade-friendly. Farmers accustomed to cultivating mustard, a sacred local crop, are now producing soy, a plant foreign to India.

Though many farmers are seeing the folly of these deals, it’s often too late. Suicide has become a popular final act of opposition to what’s occurring in their country.

Vandana Shiva, who for 10 years has been studying the effects of bad trade deals on India, has published a report titled Seeds of Suicide, which recounts the deaths of more than 28,000 farmers who killed themselves in despair over the debts brought on them by binding agreements ultimately favoring corporations.

Hope comes in the form of a growing cadre of farmers hip to the flawed deals. They’ve organized into local sanghams, 72 of which now exist as small community networks that save and share seeds, skills and assistance during the good times of harvest and the hard times of crop failure.

Sources: “Vandana Shiva on Farmer Suicides, the U.S.-India Nuclear Deal, Wal-Mart in India and More,” Democracy Now!, Dec. 13, 2006; “Genetically Modified Seeds: Women in India take on Monsanto,” Arun Shrivastava, Global Research, Oct. 9, 2006

9. THE PRIVATIZATION OF AMERICA’S INFRASTRUCTURE

In 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower ushered through legislation for the greatest public-works project in human history–the interstate highway system, 41,000 miles of roads funded almost entirely by the federal government. Fifty years later, many of those roads are in need of repair or replacement, but the federal government has not exactly risen to the challenge. Instead, more than 20 states have set up financial deals leasing the roads to private companies in exchange for repairs. These public-private partnerships are being lauded by politicians as the only credible financial solution to providing the public with improved services.

But opponents of all political stripes are criticizing the deals as theft of public property. They point out that the bulk of benefits is actually going to the private side of the equation–in many cases, to foreign companies with considerable experience building private roads in developing countries. In the United States, these companies are entering into long-term leases of infrastructure like roads and bridges, for a low amount. They work out tax breaks to finance the repairs, raise tolls to cover the costs and start realizing profits for their shareholders in as little as 10 years.

As Daniel Schulman and James Ridgeway reported in Mother Jones, “The Federal Highway Administration estimates that it will cost $50 billion a year above current levels of federal, state and local highway funding to rehab existing bridges and roads over the next 16 years. Where to get that money, without raising taxes? Privatization promises a quick fix–and a way to outsource difficult decisions, like raising tolls, to entities that don’t have to worry about getting reelected.”

The Indiana Toll Road, the Chicago Skyway, Virginia’s Pocahontas Parkway and many other stretches of the nation’s public pavement have succumbed to these private deals.

Cheerleaders for privatization are deeply embedded in the Bush administration (No. 7), where they’ve been secretly fostering plans for a North American Free Trade Agreement superhighway, a 10-lane route set to run through the heart of the country and connect the Mexican and Canadian borders. It’s specifically designed to plug into the Mexican port of Lázaro Cárdenas, taking advantage of cheap labor by avoiding the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, whose members are traditionally tasked with unloading cargo, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, whose members transport that cargo that around the country.

Sources: “The Highwaymen” Daniel Schulman with James Ridgeway, Mother Jones, February 2007; “Bush Administration Quietly Plans NAFTA Super Highway,” Jerome R. Corsi, Human Events, June 12, 2006

10. VULTURE FUNDS: DEVOURING THE DESPERATE

Named for a bird that picks offal from a carcass, this financial scheme couldn’t be more aptly described: Well-endowed companies swoop in and purchase the debt owed by a Third World country, then turn around and sue the country for the full amount–plus interest. In most courts, they win. Recently, Donegal International spent $3 million for $40 million worth of debt Zambia owed Romania, then sued for $55 million. In February an English court ruled that Zambia had to pay $15 million. Often, these countries are on the brink of having their debt relieved by the lenders in exchange for putting the owed money toward necessary goods and services for their citizens. But the vultures effectively initiate another round of deprivation for the impoverished countries by demanding full payment, and a loophole makes it legal.

Investigative reporter Greg Palast broke the story for the BBC’s Newsnight, saying that “the vultures have already sucked up about $1 billion in aid meant for the poorest nations, according to the World Bank in Washington.”

With the exception of the BBC and Democracy Now!, no major news source has touched the story, though it’s incensed several members of Britain’s Parliament as well as the new prime minister, Gordon Brown. U.S. Reps. John Conyers, D-Mich., and Donald Payne, D-N.J., lobbied Bush to take action as well, but political will may be elsewhere. Debt Advisory International, an investment consulting firm that’s been involved in several vulture funds that have generated millions in profits, is run by Paul Singer–the largest fundraiser for the Republican Party in the state of New York. He’s donated $1.7 million to Bush’s campaigns.

Source: “Vulture Fund Threat to Third World,” Newsnight, Feb. 14, 2007.

11. THE SCAM OF “RECONSTRUCTION” IN AFGHANISTAN

Sources: “Afghanistan, Inc.: A CorpWatch Investigative Report,” CorpWatch, Oct. 6, 2006; “Why It’s Not Working in Afghanistan” Ann Jones, Tomdispatch.com, Aug. 27, 2006.

12. ANOTHER U.N. MASSACRE IN HAITI

Source: “U.N. in Haiti Accused of Second Massacre,” HaitiAction.net, Jan. 21, 2007.

13. BUSH PUSHES IMMIGRANT ROUNDUPS FOR POLITICAL ENDS

Sources: “Migrants: Globalization’s Junk Mail?” Laura Carlsen, Foreign Policy in Focus, Feb. 23, 2007; “Workers, Not Guests,” David Bacon, The Nation, Feb. 6, 2007.

14. IMPUNITY FOR U.S. WAR CRIMINALS

Source: “A Senate Mystery Keeps Torture Alive–and Its Practitioners Free,” Jeff Stein, Congressional Quarterly, Nov. 22, 2006.

15. CHEMICALS DAMAGING DNA

Source: “Some Chemicals are More Harmful Than Anyone Ever Suspected,” Peter Montague, Rachel’s Democracy and Health News, No. 876, Oct. 12, 2006.

16. NO HARD EVIDENCE CONNECTING OSAMA BIN LADEN TO SEPT. 11

Source: “FBI Says, ‘No Hard Evidence Connecting Bin Laden to 9/11,” Paul V. Sheridan and Ed Haas, The Ithaca Journal, June 29, 2006.

17. FACTORIES EXCEED WATER POLLUTION LIMIT

Sources: “Green Fuel’s Dirty Secret,” Sasha Lilley, CorpWatch, June 1, 2006; “Factories, Cities Across USA Exceed Water Pollution Limits,” Sunny Lewis, Environment News Service, March 24, 2006.

18. MEXICO’S STOLEN ELECTION

Sources: “Mexico’s Partial Vote Recount Confirms Massive and Systematic Election Fraud,” Al Giordano, Narco News Bulletin, Aug. 14, 2006; “Welcome to the Nightmare: Al Qaeda de Mexico?” John Ross, CounterPunch, Sept. 13, 2006; “Evidence of Election Fraud Grows in México,” Chuck Collins and Joshua Holland, AlterNet, Aug. 2, 2006.

19. BOLIVIA REJECTS IMF AND FTA

Source: “Is the U.S. Free Trade Model Losing Steam?” American Friends Service Committee, Trade Matters, May 3, 2006.

20. ANIMAL RIGHTS ACTIVISTS ARE NOW TERRORISTS

Source: “Response to Andrew Kohn: The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act Is Invidiously Detrimental to the Animal Rights Movement (and Unconstitutional as Well),” David Hoch and Odette Wilkens, Vermont Journal of Environmental Law, March 9, 2007.

21. U.S. SEEKS WTO IMPUNITY FOR ILLEGAL AGRIBUSINESS SUBSIDIES

Source: “U.S. Seeks ‘Get-Out Clause’ for Illegal Farm Payments,” Oxfam, June 29, 2006.

22. NORTH INVADES MEXICO

Source: “Border Invaders: The Perfect Swarm Heads South,” Mike Davis, TomDispatch.com, Sept. 19, 2006.

23. CALIFORNIA SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN’S CONFLICT OF INTEREST IN IRAQ

Source: “Senator Feinstein’s Iraq Conflict,” Peter Byrne, North Bay Bohemian, Jan. 24, 2007.

24. MEDIA EXAGGERATES THREAT FROM IRAN’S PRESIDENT

Source: “‘Wiped Off the Map’–the Rumor of the Century,” Arash Norouzi, Global Research, Jan. 20, 2007.

25. NATIVE ENERGY FUTURES

Source: “Native Energy Futures,” Brian Awehali, LiP, June 5, 2006.

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